Over the years, the numbers dwindled from that peak in the 60's and 70's to just one in the year 2001: WGN Chicago. Now, the last part of the Bozo empire is coming to an end as the last part of what represented early children's TV is coming to an end. The ranch has been sold and the animals have been sold as the Bozo farm closes down.
WGN, which had the longest running locally produced Bozo program in the country. taped their final show Tuesday in front of about 200 people at a WGN-TV studio.
"Bozo: 40 Years of Fun," will be aired July 14.
WGN's reach as a cable "superstation" meant its production of Bozo was seen by more kids around the United States than any of the 180 or so locally produced Bozo shows that have already died.
Adults brought their children to see firsthand a show that was a big part of their own childhood, and recounted the days when the wait for tickets to "Bozo's Circus" stretched as long as a decade.
"To anybody 20 years or older, especially in Chicago, the show was a big part of our lives," said Billy Corgan, formerly the leader of the rock group Smashing Pumpkins.
Carol Bell, the widow of Bob Bell, WGN's original Bozo, said having fun was the whole point of the show. "Bob's thing was 'I'm not going to teach them their ABC's, I'm just going to make them laugh,"' she said.
The last show included a lot of the kind of fun children enjoyed during the show's 40-year run. There was the grand prize game, where a kid throws balls in a line of six buckets. There were magic tricks, corny jokes and even a pie in the face for a member of Corgan's band.
Where on TV can today's children be that entertained anymore? Most all local TV stations no longer produce children's programming. Local TV stations no longer run children's fare as syndicators of children's programming dried up unless they can get them from UPN, WB, or Fox, but the children are stuck with such poor choices for entertainment with Pokemon, Men in Black, and Pepper Ann.
The audience included Alan Livingston, who created Bozo at Capitol Records for a children's record in 1946. "It will probably be the thing I will be most remembered for," said Livingston, who went on to become president of Capitol Records.
By the time the cast gathered Tuesday night, the 9,500 shows broadcast had been watched by almost 2 million "boys and girls, moms and dads" in the studio audience and countless more in their homes.
The blocks will be including five new series and fresh episodes of the cult talk show "Space Ghost Coast to Coast."
The rotating lineup of "Adult Swim" will be anchored by new episodes of "Home Movies," the animated half-hour series that aired briefly on UPN in spring 1999. Another UPN castoff, From Soup 2 Nuts, will also be airing in the blocks.
The other new series:
-- "Sealab 2021," a kitschy update of a Hanna-Barbera production about an undersea city, featuring the voice of Erik Estrada;
-- "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," a cartoon that follows an elite group of detectives who are also human-sized food products;
-- "Harvey Birdman," an animated courtroom drama that will try the crimes and misdemeanors of the cartoon world; and
-- "Leave It to Brak," a parody of the classic family sitcom featuring demented space alien Brak.
"Adult Swim" will be aiming their cartoons for the PG and R set, but not go as extreme as Comedy Central's South Park has been doing since 1997.
All of the series promise edgy humor, but the high-water mark the network is aiming
for is "The Simpsons." They will do things that have adult appeal but never anything
that could be seen as antisocial or mean-spirited or go out of the way to be offensive.
Nummy Muffin Returns! (June 2001)
From: "Roy Janik" firstname.lastname@example.org
This is Roy. I just wanted to tell you that my radio show, Nummy Muffin Cocoa Butter is back on the airwaves. It's been over two years since we've had a real shift (unrestricted choice of music and an actual FM broadcast), but now we're rollin' again.
For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it started in Alabama. We play nutty/zany/kooky/crazy music, much as you would expect. The show now resides at KVRX 91.7 in Austin, TX, and can be heard on Sunday mornings from 7 to 9 am (Central Time).
I'm also on a holy quest. In addition to being the host of NMCB, I'm also in charge of the entire comedy library for KVRX, from which all DJs draw their music. It is woefully understocked. I'm trying to correct this. With this in mind, CDs can be sent to:
Nummy Muffin Cocoa Butter
KVRX Student Radio c/o UT
P.O. Box D
Austin, Texas 78713-7209
But at very least, have a listen. You can request stuff on the internet, too, also at www.kvrx.org.