TV Iowans Grew Up On

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It didn’t matter where you grew up, you remember the TV you watched as a kid.

It was a chance to see cartoons, animals and some silliness. If you were lucky, you got it all in 30 minutes. You’d rush off the bus and turn on the tube and see Floppy or Betty Lou or the Canyon Kid.

Coming up on Sunday, you can experience more of the “TV Iowans Grew Up On” as part of Iowa Public Television’s Festival.

The series is one you may have seen before, but there are some new twists and additions to the program.

During the week I’ve posted a few YouTube videos from the IPTV channel.

Good stuff to see here if you grew up in the Quad Cities and remember Captain Ernie. I came to KWQC-TV long after Ernie Mims was off the air, but people still talked about him as if it were yesterday that they got to come aboard the steam engine and see Captain Ernie. This clip features Ernie and Ivan Owens. If you didn’t work at TV6, you probably didn’t know Ivan. But if you watched TV6, you knew Ivan Owens and his handiwork. Ivan built set after set for the old WOC-TV, now KWQC-TV. Ivan retired after 50 years of working Brady Street hill.

In this piece, you’ll see an interview with now Des Moines Register reporter Clark Kauffman and also with Quad City Times columnist Bill Wundrum. Billy can give great context to any event involving the QC.

Also featured is the Canyon Kid of KCAU-TV in Sioux City. Canyon talks about how he got his name. Jim Henry was the Canyon Kid and in the clip, he talks about the buttons on his vest and how he continued to receive those pins his whole career. Here’s a clip from the Canyon Kid.

Then we go back to eastern Iowa. WMT-TV, now called KGAN-TV had a long running children’s program as well. Dr. Max and Mombo came into our homes for decades. This was the TV market I grew up in, so I have memories of the show. So did many of you who saw the post earlier in the week.

Christine Darby Weydert remembers the time she got to met Mombo at a diner in Jesup. One of Dan Scharnhorst’s earliest memories involve getting a “shout out” from Dr. Max while Dan sick with the chickenpox as a 3-year-old.

Or if you lived in split TV markets where you got twice the choices. Like Mr. Joel Poppen, he grew up in Charles City. He could enjoy Dr. Max and also Bart’s Clubhouse on KIMT-TV. Derek M also remembers visiting family in Cedar Rapids and watching Mombo after seeing Floppy or Betty Lou while growing up in Des Moines.

At each station I’ve worked at, I’ve had to quickly learn about the past when talking to viewers. When I was working the assignment desk at WHO-TV, it was not uncommon to get requests weekly for the November 12th, 1982 Floppy show. Or the April 3rd, 1976 version when the caller got a chance to be in studio and maybe even kiss Floppy.

TV was different then. The programs were local. Bart’s Clubhouse was cheap TV to produce. Syndicated programming was not the norm like it is today. Now we see Oprah instead of Betty Lou. In that sense, kids don’t have it better today than we did back then. TV was innocent and educational and there was a chance YOU were could be in-studio and get the chance to be on TV and tell your friends you got your picture with Floppy.

You can relive those memories Sunday night at 7p on IPTV. I’ll be on-air pledging the event with Jeff Stein of Wartburg College. Stein authored a book “Making Waves: The People and Places of Iowa Broadcasting. We’ll have a very special pledge gift that has only limited availability.

Here’s the official show page for Sunday night. Tune in to see Floppy or Betty Lou or even Romper Room on the air again. And as always, operators are standing by. We’d love to hear from you. You can give your support now by going to this site.

Will our children say they remember when they stopped by the IPTV Kid’s Clubhouse to see Dan Wardell? Let’s hope so. Right now, he is Noah’s childhood TV show memory.


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