Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Remembering the toon days of my youth

When I was young, and this was well before NBC's Today had competition in the morning hours, mind you, I can recall watching cartoons for a little bit before leaving for school, and then, as I got older, with the advent of cable, catch a few toons after school before the parents got home from work. Yeah, those days are gone, as these days, local stations don't run cartoons during weekdays anymore, unless they're daring enough to program reruns of current primetime shows like Family Guy or The Simpsons or the former Fox series King of the Hill before 6 pm local time. If you want to start your day or come home after school for your toon fix, you've got to have cable or own a satellite dish. What I want to do is take you back to the halcyon days of the 70's and get a handle on what it was like.

For me, since I had to be out of the house and off to school before Captain Kangaroo came on, I'd try to catch some of the syndicated toons that then-CBS (now ABC) affiliate WTEN ran ahead of the Captain. That meant a steady diet of Looney Tunes. At one point, WTEN even tried running The Porky Pig Show on weekdays as part of its Looney Tunes package. Bugs Bunny and friends alternated with Popeye, and either way, these shorts would run six days a week, filling a half hour on Saturdays meant for a CBS cartoon series that the station decided not to run. See, I missed the era when Three Stooges films aired on the channel. I missed out on Ted Knight, who'd later become an Emmy winning actor, as local host "Windy" Knight before he went to Hollywood. Hey, what can ya do?

After school, WAST (now WNYT) was the place to be in the late 70's, as they were the local home for Battle of the Planets. Before that, WAST & WRGB each took turns carrying reruns of the live-action Batman. WRGB, the current CBS affiliate, also had something called the Laugh-a-Lot Club, and their idea of an opening was one of those mechanical teeth sitting on a table somewhere, running amok. Meh. WAST, at one point in the early 70's, experimented with morning programming, and I can recall repeats of Fury, starring a pre-Mission: Impossible Peter Graves, airing around 8.

It's just too bad the local library got rid of its microfilm machines recently, otherwise, I could pull a few TV listings from the past and begin to piece everything together. Just as unfortunate is the fact that WTEN's 5 minute newscast for kids, The Good Ship News, and its successor, Young People's News, aren't available on video via YouTube. These mini-newscasts provided the bridge to Captain Kangaroo, and, when WTEN shifted to being an ABC affiliate, it would move up an hour to lead into Good Morning, America.

Now, what was it like for you when you were a kid?


Samuel Wilson said...

Try the Schenectady Gazette back issues in the Google News Archive; they ought to provide TV listings for your area. Start at and track it down alphabetically and you should be in business before you know it.

hobbyfan said...

How far back does it go, Sammy? I'd like to try to find listings from the 60's & 70's, if I can for research purposes.

connan said...

I remember eating bowls of cereal in the morning watching "Captain Planet" and "The Flintstones" growing up as a kid, and now that I'm older I enjoy watching FOX's Animation Domination shows. I got the Hopper so that I don’t have to remember to schedule my prime time shows on CBS, NBC, FOX and ABC. The Hopper PrimeTime Anytime feature automatically records these networks for me everyday in HD, and I can skip my commercials using the Hoppers Auto Hop feature. I work for Dish and I can also tell you that customers can record up to six shows at once during prime time hours, and were now offering new customers the Hopper free!

hobbyfan said...

Thanks for the free advertising.