KTVU -- Where Have all the Local Kids Shows Gone?
by Linda Carroll
In the early days of television in the 1950’s, KTVU provided interactive children’s shows at their downtown studios in Oakland. Television was new; the shows provided a world of magic to Bay Area children, including those who were otherwise shut-in, ill, isolated, or not looked after. Some children maintained social well-being by associating the hosts and guests as friends. Local Boy and Girl Scout troops were invited to attend the tapings and got to participate in the magic of television and win prizes or candy. Shows such as King Norman, Captain Satellite and Romper Room created a stir in the community and provided an outlet for children to learn something new, be entertained for free, and put Oakland on the map. Along with providing constructive shows for the children, the hosts went out into the community for autograph signings, ribbon cuttings, and hosting special days at Children’s Fairyland. Hundreds of children showed up with their parent/s in tow and community spirit was felt all around Oakland. KTVU children’s shows opened up a whole new world of imagination and wonder for children of the Bay Area. The local shows provided a well-needed boost of community involvement to make Oakland a better, happier place to be. For the first time ever children were considered a valuable demographic. Local Oakland shows were the precursor to well-thought-out future shows such as Sesame Street.
For those lucky enough to have had the experience of being one of the participants on the early Oakland children’s shows, the memory of being a part of the Oakland community remains dear to their hearts.  Many a Bay Area child waited in front of their television set each morning hoping that Miss Nancy, looking glass wand in hand, would call out their name. If their name was called they felt special all day. As the shows transitioned from local to national, the sense of community withered and the East Bay has not been the same since. The community no longer had the shows or events to share which can be a metaphor for the devolvement of Oakland.
Though the 1950’s local children’s shows in Oakland might have been new, experimental, and were ended in favor of running cartoons without hosts, they introduced the world of possibility and of interactive children’s shows as well as making Oakland community proud. The hosts on the early shows were also positive role models for all the children who tuned in. There were positive results all around. A bevy of sophisticated, educational, and well researched shows such as Sesame Street, and The Electric Company raised the bar as the result of KTVU taking a chance on children in the Oakland community. What started as a small, and interactive, Bay Area children’s show, grew into a national movement to give children a sense of belonging, emotional bonding, family surrogacy, diversity in race, acceptance of physical differences, cultures, and education.
 MisManure blogged, I met Captain Satellite when I was a little girl. He was such a wonderful, nice person, I watched his show faithfully.
 Diane DeCoite in an interview, remembered going to the King Norman show with her friend and being asked to pick a song for the show, she won a record player for her answer; she was thrilled.
 In fact, in a 2013 blog, Damon Pardue at age 66 still remembers Captain Satellite and he is sad that his children and grandchildren cannot have this connection to the Oakland community and shows like he had.
Clifford, Brian R., Barrie Gunter, and Jill McAleer. Television and Children: Program Evaluation, Comprehension, and Impact. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 1995.
Fisch, Shalom M. and Rosemarie T. Truglio. “G” is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2001.
Hollis, Tim. Hi There, Boys and Girls! America’s Local Children’s TV Programs. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2001.
Johnston, Jerome and James S. Ettema. Positive Images: Breaking Stereotypes with Children’s Television. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1982.
Polisky, Richard M. Getting to Sesame Street: Origins of the Children’s Television Workshop. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1971.
Oakland Tribune, Archived at: Hayward Area Historical Society. Ed Levitt, The Tribune. “East Bay People, Our Newest Star: Miss Sharon of ‘Romper Room’, 1987
Brian Daley, SF Cable TV Examiner. “Captain Satellite”, 2010
www.captainsatellite.com. Captain Satellite Final Episode 1 of 6, You Tube, Vitti VHS, 13 videos
Captain Satellite Final Episode 1 of 6, You Tube.
Personal Interview: Diane DeCoite, remembrance of King Norman show, 2013.