Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cartoons in the Afternoon (and in the Morning too!)

Long ago and faraway, there was a time when kids had a vast selection of cartoons to choose from when they came home from school. When you turn on the TV today, where are the toons? With the exception of the Cartoon Network, and The Simpsons, The Family Guy, and King of the Hill (the last three seeming to be adult-oriented), there isn't much in the way of cartoons today.

Up through at least the late 70's - and probably later than that - the Philadelphia stations that fill the afternoons with their judge programs (Channel 29), and "talk" shows that should at least be on late at night (Channel 17 with their Maury and Steve Wilkos shows) once had the hours from 2:00 through 5:00 dedicated to entertaining kids. Parents knew when their kids came home from school, they were able to sit down to watch harmless programming. Add to that lineup the now-defunct WKBS, Channel 48, and they had their choice of many cartoon shows. They may not have gotten their homework done after school, but at least they weren't getting an eyeful of trash.

For the kids yet too young to go to school, there were programs in the AM too. Channel 6 - then WFIL TV - had both Sally Starr's Popeye Theater and the Happy the Clown programs. (It was alleged that Happy was a nasty fellow who would berate the kids during commercial breaks - obscenities included - then come back on the air full of smiles for the viewing audience. The source, a friend of my mother's, is pretty reliable. She said she took her kids to be part of the peanut gallery one fine day, and would never bring them back). I don't believe the other two VHF stations had kids programming, but for at least an hour, the young ones had something to watch besides Good Morning America.


... Dr. Don Rose, the DJ from then-popular AM top-40s station WFIL, keeping kiddies occupied during commercial breaks with his cornball quips on Channel 48. Along with various cartoons, this station also broadcast the Our Gang/Little Rascals comedies of the 30s and 40s.

... Looney Toons filling a good part of the afternoon on WTAF-TV, Channel 29.

... Wee Willie Webber, the uncle-like moderator of programs on WPHL-17. Mr. Webber recently passed away, another icon of my childhood now gone.

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