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Hi There, Boys and Girls! America's Local Children's TV Programs

Hi There, Boys and Girls! America's Local Children's TV Programs

Copyright Date: 2001
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    Hi There, Boys and Girls! America's Local Children's TV Programs
    Book Description:

    Whatever happened to Bozo the Clown, to Aunt Norma, to Solomon C. Whiskers, those television celebrities who hammed it up between cartoons and contests during local kids' shows?

    InHi There, Boys and Girls! America's Local Children's TV Programs, Tim Hollis tracks down the story of every known local children's TV show from markets across the United States.

    There have been many books about children's television on the networks, and such shows asCaptain Kangaroo,Howdy Doody, andSesame Streetare legends in broadcasting.

    However, the local branch of children's programming has received much less attention. For every performer on the scale of a Captain Kangaroo or a Buffalo Bob, there were five or six local personalities who were just as beloved by their viewers--and sometimes even more so--since these local stars could be counted on for appearances at stores, children's hospitals, and shopping centers, where kids could meet them face-to-face.

    Anyone over the age of thirty who grew up with a TV set will remember at least one or two of these productions. Whether it was hosted by a cowboy character, a clown such as the one on the many-franchised Bozo shows, a policeman, a sea captain who showed Popeye cartoons, or one of the gentle and lovely ladies who presided overRomper Room, these hometown stars were some of the Baby Boomers' first friends. Although children loved them, these hard-working performers garnered less respect from the rest of the TV industry.

    Hi There, Boys and Girls!includes a capsule history of this programming from the earliest days of radio to the early 1970s, when a combination of social changes and broadcast regulations sent most of the hosts into retirement.

    Walt Disney once observed that while there is very little adult in a child, there is a lot of child in every adult. This book will bring back a flood of long-submerged memories for anyone who was a child during this golden era.

    Tim Hollis lives in Birmingham, Alabama. His previous books includeDixie Before Disney: 100 Years of Roadside Fun(University Press of Mississippi) andCousin Cliff: 40 Magical Years in Television.

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-408-7
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XIV)

    It took a little over three and a half years to compile the data on locally produced children’s TV shows, data that appears in the pages that follow. During that period, there was one question that I heard six thousand times, from former hosts themselves as well as others: “How did you ever get interested in researching this?” The question was asked in the same tone that would have been used had they been asking, “Why do you collect pocket lint?” or “Why do you have two heads?”

    In my previous work,Dixie before Disney: 100 Years of Roadside Fun,...

    (pp. 1-24)

    Although the vast majority of TV-reared baby boomers are unaware of the fact, most of the programming formats that became standard for television actually had their roots in the glorious days of radio. From roughly the early 1920s to the late 1940s, this wondrous piece of talking furniture poured forth a variety of entertainment that, although now forgotten by the general public, continues to influence show business today.

    The ever-popular situation comedy was born from radio shows such asFibber McGee and Molly, in which a set cast of eccentric characters got into new predicaments each week. The highly successful...

  5. The Shows

      (pp. 25-35)

      In September 1969, Birmingham TV personality “Cousin Cliff” Holman left his successfulPopeye Showto help start a new UHF station, WHMA, Channel 40, in the eastern Alabama city of Anniston. His new series retained theThree Stoogesshorts he had featured in Birmingham and added the Hanna-Barbera cartoonsWally Gator, Lippy the Lion, and Touché Turtle. Holman also traded his former nautical attire for a ringmaster-style red coat and black top hat. Sponsored by McDonald’s for most of its run,The Cousin Cliff Showaired until the summer of 1972.

      The first children’s TV show in Birmingham was hosted...

    • ALASKA
      (pp. 35-36)

      Regardless of the location, if there are people present, there are going to be children as well, and those children have to be entertained and/or educated somehow. Admittedly, local programming for kids was somewhat spotty in the frozen north; the 1961–62 NAB survey of such shows turned up only one in Alaska,School for Funon KTVF, Channel 11, in Fairbanks. The description, “a program of stories, music, toys, and personal hygiene,” sounds rather like someone got the idea from seeingRomper Roomdown in the Lower 48. The NAB also noted that the hostess/teacher planned lessons in advance...

      (pp. 36-40)

      For all practical purposes, the TV signal coming from Phoenix covered the rest of Arizona as well. KPHO, Channel 5, was the first TV station in the state when it arrived in December 1949. As was often the case in those early days, one of its first shows for children was actually a carryover from radio:The Lew King Show(also sometimes known asThe Lew King Ranger Show). It was basically a showcase for local talent, but what made it appeal to the kids was the opportunity it provided to become a “Lew King Ranger.” That meant opening a...

      (pp. 40-43)

      The El Dorado, Arkansas, TV market actually serves the southern portion of that state and the northern part of Louisiana. The only TV station actually located on the Arkansas side of the state line went on the air in December 1955 as KRBB, Channel 10. It was later changed to KTVE, which it remains today. The station produced several different programs aimed at kids, but the names are all that seem to remain of some of them. Weatherman Clay Scott donned an Air Force uniform as “Colonel Clay.” The El Dorado version ofRomper Roomwas taught by a Miss...

      (pp. 44-61)

      Bakersfield, California, is a good example of a community that developed as an all-UHF TV market, with no VHF stations to provide unfair competition. Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case, the names and precious few sketchy details are all that remain of the area’s several children’s programs.

      KPWR, Channel 17 (today known as KGET), seems to have been the most active when it came to the Bakersfield kids’ TV needs. Its most notable character was one of those wonderful examples of utilizing the call letters in a most ingenious fashion: Terry Geiser starred onCaptain K-Power. Later, the same letter...

      (pp. 61-65)

      It doesn’t take much research into Colorado television history to learn that practically everything connected with the medium was based in Denver. However, a couple of other cities had TV too, and while their offerings were necessarily limited by their size, they are still well worth mentioning.

      In Colorado Springs, one Russell Scott had been fascinated by circus clowns since he was a child. His father took him to any circus that came to the area, and young Scott even managed to strike up a friendship with some of the itinerant buffoons. So impressed were they with his interest that...

      (pp. 65-68)

      For all practical purposes the whole state of Connecticut is composed of a single TV market (except possibly the far southwestern corner, which is served by New York City). When WNHC (for New Haven, Connecticut), Channel 6, went on the air in June 1948, it had the proud distinction of being the first TV station between Boston and New York. In December 1953, WNHC’s channel allocation was moved to 8, and still later the call letters were changed to WTNH, which is how it is known today.

      By anyone’s standards, New Haven was a real haven for kid shows. One...

      (pp. 68-72)

      The nation’s capital has long been famous for all sorts of antics going on in the government, but all of that tomfoolery pales in comparison with the shenanigans taking place in the city’s children’s programming. It should have been obvious that television and national politics were going to be very compatible bedfellows, because Washington, D.C., got its first station, WTTG, Channel 5, way back in November 1946.

      Peter Jamerson arrived as a staff announcer at WTTG in 1952 and soon found himself doing more than just announcing. The station wanted someone to host cartoons in the afternoons and gave Jamerson...

      (pp. 72-80)

      During the main era of local TV programming, there was only one TV station in Fort Myers, the unforgettably named WINK, Channel 11. With a name like that, it would have seemed natural for the station to have had a show starring someone called Uncle Winky or Winky the Clown, but such appears not to have been the case. In the late 1950s, WINK was incorporating its channel number into a Western program known asThe Lazy Bar 11,but that seems to have been about as creative as they got. This show was hosted by Vernon Lundquist as “Cousin...

      (pp. 80-88)

      The solitary TV station in Albany was, and is, WALB, Channel 10. Apparently their primary attempt at reaching the kid audience wasCaptain Mercury, no relation to theMajor Mercuryseen in Orlando, Florida. Albany’s “Captain Mercury” was Grady Shadburn, who had briefly hosted theThree Stoogesfilms in Augusta in the late 1950s before moving across Georgia to the smaller Albany market. When the NAB documented Shadburn’s WALB program in 1961 and 1962, it was bearing the more lengthy title ofCaptain Mercury and the Space Explorers,and the description went into some detail: “An audience of 25 children,...

    • HAWAII
      (pp. 88-90)

      As anyone can verify who has seen the famous opening credits onHawaii5-O, that tropical-island paradise is simply crawling with children. Therefore, it should come as so surprise that, even before Hawaii attained its full statehood in 1959, there were kids’ TV shows being beamed out of the capital city of Honolulu.

      KONA (later KHON), Channel 2, schooled Hawaiian children in the ways ofRomper Roomand also joined the rest of the country on the mainland in the Western craze by featuringSheriff Ken. Their big star was “Captain Honolulu,” a rather solemn looking host who might have...

    • IDAHO
      (pp. 90-91)

      Even though there is no question that the standard characters of local kid shows—clowns, cowboys, sea captains—had their own charm that should be preserved, it is also delightful to find a host who was intended to typify his specific native area. Therefore, even though no details about him seem to have survived, it is somewhat comforting to know that during the 1950s, KTVB, Channel 7, in Boise, Idaho, presented a host with the all-Idahoan name of “Sheriff Spud.” He may not be well remembered today, but at the time his show was certainly no small potatoes.


      (pp. 91-108)

      There was, and is, only one TV station physically located in this small market, WCIA, Channel 3. To be perfectly fair, in some ways Champaign is actually considered to be a part of the Springfield-Decatur TV market, but the relationship is somewhat one-sided. Since the Springfield-Decatur stations are all UHF outlets, in the days before cable they could usually not be received in Champaign—but WCIA was so powerful with its channel number of 3 that it more than covered Springfield and Decatur. For our purposes, we are considering the kid shows of Champaign to be a market all its...

      (pp. 108-117)

      As we move through the states and their various TV markets, a strange phenomenon seems to take place. There are many cities whose kid shows were rather mundane—nothing wrong with them, but nothing really out of the ordinary, either. Then there are other markets where, for no apparent reason, talent, enthusiasm, and creativity seemed to be concentrated to an almost dangerous degree. Evansville, Indiana, is a prime example of this latter category. It was not a broadcasting center on the same level as Chicago or New York, but it had a collection of children’s entertainment that would have been...

    • IOWA
      (pp. 117-123)

      Cedar Rapids is one of those few cities with an exception to the east/west of the Mississippi River rule for naming broadcasting stations. Channel 2 was originally known as WMT, but today the call letters have been brought into line with the rest of the West, and it is known as KGAN. Under either name, it began its first children’s programming in the early 1950s. There was aMiss Ruth Ann’s School,a program that most likely was an unauthorized clone ofRomper Room, and between 1953 and 1960 the imposing “Marshal J” made WMT his home on the range...

    • KANSAS
      (pp. 123-125)

      It’s really too bad that Dorothy got blown off to the Land of Oz back in 1900, because if she had been a little girl in Kansas half a century later she would have found some highly entertaining TV programs aimed at her age group. There were actually only two television markets in Kansas itself; the eastern part of the state got most of its programming out of either Joplin or Kansas City, Missouri. Of the two markets actually located in Kansas, Topeka was the less active, probably because until the 1970s it had only one TV station.

      WIBW, Channel...

      (pp. 125-129)

      Kids in Bowling Green had a ball when it was TV time. (“Bowling! Ball! That’s a joke, son!”) The only TV station in town was WLTV, Channel 13, and from its beginning in June 1962 it made sure there was something for those little Kentucky colonels’ kids to watch. Its original show wasUncle Albert’s General Store, with WLTV weatherman George Albert Goldtrap as the proprietor. This 1962–63 production featured a daily episode of the unsettlingClutch Cargoseries and might have run longer if Goldtrap had not decided to lock up the ol’ general store and meander on...

      (pp. 129-135)

      For such a comparatively small geographic area, Louisiana had a surprising number of TV markets. Admittedly, many of them were areas with only one TV station per market, but they still managed to sell advertising directed at the children’s audience. A good example of this is KALB, Channel 5, in Alexandria, which sits almost in the center of the state.

      Around 1959, Henry Clements arrived at KALB and was assigned to host a daily kid show. Reaching back into his theatrical background and experience, he pulled out a character he had portrayed in the stage playVisit to a Small...

    • MAINE
      (pp. 135-137)

      Maine has only two TV markets, one that covers the southern part of the state (Portland) and another that beams its signal to the central and northern areas (Bangor). WABI, Channel 5, was the first Bangor station, emerging from the northern woods around 1953. The busiest actor around this station was Mike Dolley, who appeared year round as WABI’s Bozo the Clown, and then annually exchanged his clown clothes for a red suit and hosted a long-runningSanta Clausprogram. Like most such Christmastime productions, Dolley’s Santa show was sponsored by a local department store, Freese’s. Along with St. Nick,...

      (pp. 137-141)

      Quite obviously the only TV market in Maryland is Baltimore, and probably due to this city’s proximity to the nation’s capital, it was one of the real powerhouses in children’s television—if for no other reason than the fact thatRomper Roomwas born and nurtured there. The longtime home to this world-famous video kindergarten was also the first station to come on the air in the city, WMAR, Channel 2, which began broadcasting in October 1947.

      Although WMAR was not actually whereRomper Roomgot its start, by the time the show began its national franchising it was the...

      (pp. 141-149)

      This well-known city, as we all know, played an important part in several chapters of United States history, but its role in television history has been somewhat ignored. Boston did not have TV as early as New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, but it still managed to get into the business during its B. B. (Before Berle, not Baked Bean) era. During June 1948 two TV stations came to Boston within days of each other, and they would be doomed to battle it out forever after.

      WBZ, Channel 4, edged a slight margin ahead to become the first Boston TV...

      (pp. 149-156)

      This dual TV market was located far, far away from all of the frantic broadcasting activity that was going on in the southern half of Michigan, so its offerings for kids tended to be much more low-key. One of the leading ones belonged to WTCM (today WTOM), Channel 4, and starred Don Melvoin as “Deputy Don.” A quite versatile actor and a remarkable quick-change artist, Melvoin would also appear as a number of other ethnic characters on theDeputy Donshow from time to time, including “Indian Joe” and “Chico the Mexican.” Somewhat unusually, the show did not feature cartoons...

      (pp. 156-161)

      As will be very obvious shortly, TV activity in Minnesota was almost exclusively confined to the Minneapolis–St. Paul area. However, a couple of smaller markets did exist to serve the populace too far away from any of the major markets, and Duluth was one of these. Children in this region got most of their entertainment from WDSM (today KBJR), Channel 10. Shortly after this outlet signed on in the mid-1950s, the Warner Bros. cartoon package went into syndication, and WDSM brought in one of its radio division’s announcers, Ray Paulsen, to host the looney toons. The show was given...

      (pp. 161-163)

      It seems somewhat odd that the northernmost TV market in Mississippi would be some distance toward the middle part of the state, but it makes perfect sense when one realizes that the northern third of the Magnolia State gets its TV signal from other sources, primarily Memphis, Tennessee, and Florence, Alabama (whose market overlaps the northeastern corner of Mississippi). Kids’ TV history in Columbus can be summed up in two words: Uncle Bunky.

      When he was still a child, Robert Williams was nicknamed “Bunky,” after an infant in a newspaper comic strip by Billy DeBeck (the cartoonist behindBarney Google...

      (pp. 163-173)

      In some states, the capital city is also the leader in the broadcast industry, but such is not the case in Jefferson City, Missouri, and its companion in the TV market, Columbia. KRCG, Channel 13, had a show that went through several formats during the thirty years of its life, but it was usually known simply asShowtime. Premiering in 1955,Showtimewas hosted by various individuals until 1968, when weatherman Bill Ratlief took over the duties and stayed with it until the program ended in 1985. Supporting characters came and went as the studio staff changed. For a while...

      (pp. 173-175)

      The original TV station in Billings was KTVQ, Channel 2, which signed on in November 1953. For one reason or another, it never became very active in children’s shows, limiting its offerings to a fifteen-minute show starring Lloyd Larson as cowboy character “Sacrifice Cliff” (which also happened to be the name of a local landmark).

      Competitor KGHL (today KULR), Channel 8, had a few more programs than did KTVQ, but it was still not the television capital of the West. Maury White hostedMaury’s Carnivalfor a while, and Pete Perlain made buddies onPete and Friends. Herb McAllister brought...

      (pp. 175-177)

      Quiz time: What sort of geography most immediately comes to mind when thinking about central Nebraska? If you said “a jungle,” you obviously think along the same lines as the folks at KHGI, Channel 13, in Kearney, where Tom Nuss hacked his way through the underbrush as “Jungle Tom.” Not exactly fitting in with the tropical–rain forest setting was Jungle Tom’s puppet sidekick, Scratch the Rooster, described by some as an unaltered Foghorn Leghorn toy. One viewer from the mid-1950s had this brief anecdote relating to the show: “Jungle Tom once escaped from some jungle trouble thanks to an...

    • NEVADA
      (pp. 177-178)

      Did Las Vegas ever gamble on children’s television? Well, somewhat, but odds are that kid shows were not a very big deal there. In January 1955, KLAS, Channel 8, debuted a show calledRascal Rabbit, the creator of which was future Big Bird portrayer Carroll Spinney. Spinney recalls, “I was paid $10 a week. I never saw the show (no video tape then) and didn’t even have a monitor, so that puppet show must have been pretty terrible. Still, I had viewership … lots of mail to Rascal Rabbit, a puppet who originally was the White Rabbit from myAlice...

      (pp. 178-180)

      As we have seen—and will be seeing again—there are several states that had only one TV market each, and an even greater number of TV markets that had only one station each during the golden age of children’s shows. However, New Hampshire does all of the others one better: there was only one TV market, with one TV station, in the entire state, that being Manchester and its WMUR, Channel 9. Because of its location, WMUR’s signal covered not only most of southern New Hampshire, but also western Maine, eastern Vermont, and north-central Massachusetts. With an area like...

      (pp. 180-181)

      Famous as the city where Bugs Bunny should have taken a left toin, Albuquerque was responsible for all of New Mexico’s children’s TV—and it is no wonder good old Bugs got lost there, because Albuquerque’s kid shows had more twists and turns than a Rocky Mountain highway.

      KOB, Channel 4, was the first Albuquerque station on the air, beginning in November 1948. For many years their main show for junior New Mexicans wasK Circle B Time(look at the call letters to see where that name came from), hosted by Western bandleader Dick Bills. His country-western aggregation was...

    • NEW YORK
      (pp. 181-204)

      There just might be some validity to the claim that Schenectady was the birthplace of the United States’ television industry. For several years the development of a medium that would transmit pictures, in addition to sound, through the air was linked arm-in-arm with the birth of radio, but obviously the audio-only side of the project was perfected first. A group of dedicated scientists kept plugging away at something bigger, though, and the official sign-on date for General Electric’s WRGB (now Channel 6) in Schenectady is given as January 13, 1928. It should come as no surprise that very few people...

      (pp. 204-211)

      The original resort city of the Great Smoky Mountains debuted its long-running children’s show in 1959, when Bill Norwood joined WLOS, Channel 13, hostingMr. Bill.(No, he had no connection with the accident-prone Play-Doh character made famous onSaturday Night Livemany years later). Norwood had actually created his kid-show persona a few years earlier in Greenville, but it was in the mountains of western North Carolina that he found his biggest success. Concerned that his own children would be subjected to ridicule by their schoolmates if he acted too silly, Norwood decided that “Mr. Bill” was not going...

      (pp. 211-212)

      Obviously, some states were more active in children’s programming than others, and North Dakota was one of the more lethargic ones. In the capital city of Bismarck, the original station was KFYR, Channel 5, and what little kids’ TV was done in the city originated there.Marshal Billwas hosted by Bill Owen, who later went on to host the ABC network’s Sunday-morning educational children’s showDiscovery. (In 1972, he and fellowDiscoveryhost Frank Buxton authored one of the first books on the history of radio.) In Bismarck, Owen wore a sheriff’s uniform, complete with holstered cap pistols. One...

    • OHIO
      (pp. 212-228)

      Television in Cincinnati goes back to a station that was already well known for its place in radio history. WLW Radio had been one of the original outlets of the Mutual Network, and its TV counterpart, WLWT, took to the air in February 1948, originally on Channel 4 but spending most of its life on Channel 5. Appropriately for a station so steeped in the golden age of radio, WLWT’s earliest children’s program starred a former network radio comedian named Glenn Rowell. His career dated back to 1930, when he first teamed up with Gene Carroll to form a comedy...

      (pp. 228-233)

      Oklahoma City was the first Oklahoma city to have its own TV station when WKY (today KFOR), Channel 4, appeared in June 1949. Like many early stations, WKY’s first children’s performer had his background in radio. Danny Williams had been known as “Uncle Dan” on San Antonio radio for a few years when he joined WKY Radio in 1950 as “Spavinaw Spoofkin, the Chief Spoof Spinner” ofThe Gismo Goodkin Show. With that sort of reputation, it was obvious that he was going to have to transfer his talents to the video screen, and in 1953 he blasted off as...

    • OREGON
      (pp. 233-235)

      For a relatively small market, Eugene featured several shows for its local kids. KEZI, Channel 9, seems to have been the most active, but as usual some of its early shows are only vague memories today. It is known that a performer named Bob Adkins, who apparently had a talent for anagrams, was on the air as “Addy Bobkins” in the late 1950s. The 1961 NAB survey turned up a KEZI program titledJack’s Kartoon Clubhouse,with the setting of “a crude but actual tree house,” in which various cartoons (including the Warner Bros. package and Larry Harmon’sBozo the...

      (pp. 235-248)

      Egad, it’s eerie how early Erie entered the television era: WICU, Channel 12, crept into town in March 1949, long before many much larger cities had a video outlet. What is even eerier is the way this market’s kid shows have vanished like a specter in the night. Apparently the best-known of these phantom programs was WICU’sThe Pappy Show,with Skip Lecher as whatever “Pappy” was. Erie eyeballs could also see WSEE, Channel 35, but what they actually saw is somewhat in question. Supposedly there was an ErieRomper Roomthere, and another show that station management knows only...

      (pp. 248-250)

      Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the Union, geographically speaking, but there was nothing small about the list of kid shows that came out of its sole TV market, Providence. Activity there began early, when WJAR began operations as Channel 11 in July 1949, dropping to its more familiar Channel 10 in May 1953. Unfortunately, while a number of WJAR children’s shows are known from oldTV Guidelistings, very little detail can be found on any of them. An early morning program was known asHey Wake Up, and a weekend show drew on the titleSunday...

      (pp. 250-253)

      Charleston had danced into TV land by the mid-1950s, with WCSC, Channel 5, and WUSN, Channel 2. The two stations had drastically different approaches to children’s programming, but WCSC gained an early lead withUncle Charlie’s Playhouse, with station executive and resident character “Uncle Charlie” Hall as the host. While Hall would be involved in most of what went on at WCSC in future years, it would not usually be in an on-the-air capacity.

      In 1959, the WCSC promotions department was involved in a publicity campaign for Robin Hood Flour; one of their stunts was to stick feathers in simulated...

      (pp. 253-256)

      Rapid City lived up to its name by getting television as early as 1955, with the debut of KOTA, Channel 3. By 1959, the station had attracted a really big name to be the host of its children’s program: Glenn Rowell, the ex-network radio comedian (ofGene and Glennfame), who had previously been a kid-show kingpin down in Ohio. He retired to Rapid City, and for KOTA he recreated his earlier shows asCaptain Glenn’s Fun Wagon. Al McDonald was the puppeteer who operated the various characters who stuck their heads out of the eponymous wagon. (Rowell died in...

      (pp. 256-268)

      The city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, sits in the shadow of Lookout Mountain, home of such nationally famous tourist attractions as Rock City (of “SEE ROCK CITY” fame). This has been a very fine thing for the area’s tourism industry, but it definitely threw a mountain-sized monkey wrench into the works when it came to TV reception. For several years, Chattanoogans had to depend on TV signals from Atlanta, Georgia (over one hundred miles away), and even then parts of the city could not receive television because the peak of Lookout was in the way.

      Finally, on Easter Sunday 1954, Chattanooga’s...

    • TEXAS
      (pp. 268-285)

      Anyone at all familiar with geography should not be surprised that Texas, the largest of the forty-eight contiguous states, would have the most TV markets of any territory in the Union. This naturally stems from the pre-cable days when a broadcast signal could only be expected to travel so far, requiring more stations to cover the huge geographic area. Admittedly, with the exception of metropolitan areas such as Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, most of the Texas TV markets were small, with only one or two stations per city.

      That brings us to Abilene, where the only station in the early...

    • UTAH
      (pp. 285-286)

      Television was introduced into Utah in 1948 through the courtesy of KDYL, Channel 4, in Salt Lake City. A few years later, the station was bought by Columbia Pictures and the call letters were changed to KCPX to reflect the new ownership. This paved the way for their first big hit host, Bernie Calderwood, as “Captain K. C.,” with the remainder of the station identification making up the second character inCaptain K. C. and the Pixie. The pointy-eared puppet figure Pixie was also used as part of KCPX’s logo, right alongside Columbia’s famous lady with the torch. Another KCPX...

      (pp. 286-286)

      During the main era of local programming, there was only one TV station in Vermont’s solitary television market, Burlington’s WMVT (today WCAX), Channel 3. Unfortunately, trying to find out what sort of children’s programs this station had is something like wading through a gallon of maple syrup. This is how WCAX initially responded to a request for information: “Your question is a good one, but unfortunately all television was done on a live basis back then and we have no video records of what we aired. We did have, as did most stations, a guy with a puppet who introduced...

      (pp. 287-291)

      In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, on the trail of the lonesome pine, WHSV, Channel 3, documented a solitary children’s show in the NAB’s 1961 study. No one there seems to remember anything about it today, so the description is all that remains ofCaptain Treasure:“Host is captain of the shipBonnie Belle,and with the assistance of his humorous sidekick, relates worldwide travels and experiences, natural wonders, weather facts, and subtle hints for living.”

      The first TV station in Norfolk was WTAR (today WTKR), Channel 3, dating to April 1950. While it seems children’s shows were never...

      (pp. 291-294)

      As we all know, the bluest sky you’ve ever seen is in Seattle—and the hills are the greenest green in Seattle—but there was also an incredible TV scene in Seattle! It all began with KRSC, Channel 5, which debuted in November 1948. This station eventually decided to change its call letters to spell something, and didn’t wimp out when it came time to do so—the new name, under which it is still known today, was KING.

      KING’s first loyal subject in the kids’ realm was “Sheriff Tex,” host ofSafety Corners;he was reportedly a former singer...

      (pp. 294-298)

      These two towns lie in extreme southern West Virginia; Bluefield is actually so far south that it is partially in Virginia as well. Beckley was the first of the two to get television when WOAY, Channel 4, came to town in the fall of 1954. Unfortunately, the station history does not acknowledge any children’s programs being done there, not even the most basicCowboy Rex. WOAY seems to have concentrated more on country music shows and wrestling.

      That was not the case down in Bluefield, where a knock-down, drag-out fight had to be waged just to get the station on...

      (pp. 298-303)

      To some extent, the Eau Claire TV market overlapped with that of Minneapolis/St. Paul, from whose stations Wisconsin kids could see Axel, Casey Jones, and all of their friends. However, those same kids had a more homegrown friend of their own in the personage of “Sheriff Bob,” alias Bob Dawson, on WEAU, Channel 13. He had received his initial kid-show experience at a short-lived Des Moines, Iowa, station known as KGTV, Channel 17. There he had been solidly a part of the “dairy cowboy” craze, sponsored by Northland Dairies as he hosted oldHopalong Cassidymovies.

      When KGTV closed, as...

      (pp. 303-304)

      With such a comparatively small population, especially in the early days of television, it might seem that a local children’s show would not have a ghost of a chance in Casper, Wyoming. The market turned out to be friendlier toward the idea than one might expect, which brings us to bewhiskered old “Tumbleweed,” played to toothless perfection by Dick Frech on KSPR, Channel 2.

      Shortly after this typical Western format appeared in the autumn of 1958, a promotional recording for it was assembled by KSPR to help sell the show to potential sponsors. This surviving tape gives a fascinating look...

    (pp. 305-308)

    Well, boys and girls, it has been an amazing journey. We have literally traveled from Maine to Florida, from the hills of North Carolina to the bright lights of California, and even on to Alaska and Hawaii, with innumerable stops in between. Looking back on what we have seen, the most logical question becomes, What did it all mean?

    The local children’s programs never became national institutions on the same scale as their more prominent network cousins. This was only natural, since shows such asHowdy DoodyandCaptain Kangaroo(which in many ways were only bigger-budgeted versions of what...

    (pp. 309-322)
  8. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 323-324)
  9. Index
    (pp. 325-361)