Early days of children's TV were 'Wirth Watching'

Published 06/30 2014 02:12PM

Updated 06/30 2014 03:20PM

For most adults today their first memories of TV were of a kid's show. They filled the mornings and afternoons.

Craig Wirth went through the vaults for some rare glimpses of the shows.

When we start the video time machine of Utah’s first TV station in 1990 and zoom back even further than the 1970s and the 1960s and go clear back to 1948, we find one format that lasted for nearly 50 years: the kids TV shows.

Fireman Frank was one of the early hero's of kids TV. Every one knew Fireman Frank, but few kids knew his real name Ron Ross.

“I was on the Empire State Building and a girl ran up to me and said, ‘Hi Fireman Frank!’” said Ross.

And of course he had a message for each kid don't play with matches

Craig Wirth started his channel 4 career on the Fireman Frank show 44 years ago when dozens of kids waited to get into the station which was located here on Social Hall Avenue. His job was to ring the fire bell to start the show.

Captain KC also commanded the kids at channel four. You joined his club promising to be truthful and share with your sister and help mom. You wrote the Captain who displayed your letters on the deck of the SS KC-Pix as KTVX was KCPX TV then.

Then there was Captain Scotty an astronaut who visited martians in space and kids at the earthy supermarket.

And finally two BYU students checked in to Hotel Balderdash a generation knew cannonball, Harvey and their sidekick Raymond.

They did 480 shows a year over 240 mornings and afternoons.

How did they do it? Harvey says Raymond was a good source of material.

“He would chew bazooka bubblegum and bring in wrappers and we would do bits off the wrappers.”

They taped 5 days of shows one night a week with 100 kids crammed into the studio and 20 on each day's shows.

People would actively come down and be part of the show. It was entertainment.

It’s hard to imagine these shows disappeared. And because video tape was so expensive, few actual shows survive.

Early morning news shows and the expansion of shows such as Good Morning America ended a number of the kid’s shows as well as a change in demographics.

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