To judge from the response to tvparty.com, there must be quite a few people out there who are interested in all of those kooky cowboys, captains, clowns, and cops who hosted local TV shows for kids across the country.
I have been interested in this topic myself for almost 30 years now, but never thought it would be possible to gather all the information together into one source. Well, maybe it wasn't possible, but the result of trying is the new book HI THERE, BOYS AND GIRLS! AMERICA'S LOCAL CHILDREN'S TV PROGRAMS, released on November 1, 2001, by the University Press of Mississippi.
This 384-page (more or less) volume is the only published attempt to document the local kid shows from every TV market in every state in the USA, from the largest (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago) to the absolute smallest (Glendive, Montana). Yes, there is no doubt that some shows were overlooked or have faded into such oblivion that they could not be documented... but there are more shows here than not! This was not an easy task to accomplish.
While some individuals and web sites (such as tvparty.com's "Lost Kid Shows") provided basic data, there were many, many more TV markets on which absolutely no information was available at all. For those (and many of the others thought to be documented already), I had a three-part plan.
First, I sent e-mails to as many TV stations as I could contact through that method. For those I could not, and the ones that did not respond to my e-mails satisfactorily, I resorted to the U.S. mail and sent a letter to either the general manager or the program director. The results were quite encouraging, but there were still some holdouts. That's when it was time to pick up the telephone, call each reluctant station, and try to squeeze information out of them like trying to get the last drop of toothpaste out of a used-up tube. When it was all done, I could truthfully say that there is no U.S. TV market not included in the book.
Yes, some of them are only one short paragraph, but at least rudimentary information is there. There were only a handful for which I had to throw up my hands and state that no information was available; if you happen to live in Burlington, Vermont, you will be disappointed in what this book has to offer... but everyone else should be reasonably happy.
HI THERE, BOYS & GIRLS is available nationwide through many different sources. Your favorite local bookstore will have no problem ordering it, and in fact, the large chains have already put in substantial orders for stocking it in their stores.
COMMERCIAL WITHIN A COMMERCIAL: If you ever vacationed in the Southern quarter of the United States prior to 1971, you might also want to check out one of my other books, DIXIE BEFORE DISNEY: 100 YEARS OF ROADSIDE FUN, also published by UPM in 1999. It reads like a favorite scrapbook of summer vacation memories. Click here to order.
If you have any interest in the children's TV history of one particular TV market... Birmingham, Alabama... you might want to see COUSIN CLIFF: 40 MAGICAL YEARS IN TELEVISION, available for $15.00 (including postage) from Campbell's Publishing, P.O. Box 310727, Birmingham, AL 35231. Click here to order. END OF BOTH COMMERCIALS!