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What Ever Happened To Cheap Local Television?: A Philadelphia Story - Monkey See Blog : NPR

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Evelyn McCorristin Peters: What Ever Happened To Cheap Local Television?: A Philadelphia Story - Monkey See Blog : NPR

Evelyn McCorristin Peters

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12.01.2009

What Ever Happened To Cheap Local Television?: A Philadelphia Story - Monkey See Blog : NPR

Just a little touch of nostalgia...really only for those of us who grew up in the Philadelphia area.
What Ever Happened To Cheap Local Television?: A Philadelphia Story - Monkey See Blog : NPR
by Linda Holmes
News broke this weekend of the death of Al Alberts -- a development that probably means absolutely nothing to you unless you were a child within the Philadelphia viewing area between about the mid-70s and the early '90s, in which case you know that Al Alberts was the host of the long-running (like, really long-running) Al Alberts Showcase....
As you will see in the above clip, The Al Alberts Showcase involved small children who were surprisingly unpolished (not pageant kids, so much, just overprepared in an entirely different way) wearing ridiculous costumes and belting. Question: What's more painful than an adult singing "I'm Henry The Eighth I Am"? The same song from a small child. [Shudder.]
This was part of an entire array of local programming on the Philadelphia ABC affiliate that I'm not sure exists anymore to nearly the same degree. In addition to Al Alberts, there was also Captain Noah And His Magical Ark, notable for its theme song (which I just discovered is safely stored in my brain, probably thirty years after the last time I watched it). (It goes, "Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue; I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too." You're welcome, Philadelphians and former Philadelphians, for the earworm.)
The one I had completely forgotten until I started digging around was Chief Halftown, a kids' talent show hosted by ... well, Chief Halftown, an actual full-blooded member of the Seneca tribe (which is far less upsetting than I half-expected when I went to explore the story of a show from my youth called Chief Halftown).
The Chief also got his music, I should mention, from Larry Ferrari, an entirely separate Philadelphia icon who had a show for many, many, many years in which he played the organ. Yes, that was pretty much the whole thing. "Sunday morning, watch this guy play the organ." And, I should point out, people did.
I can't claim to specifically miss The Al Alberts Showcase, but it seems a little sad that cheap local kids' shows (and organ-playing shows) don't flourish the way they used to. I mean, Captain Noah was just a guy -- a guy whose very intense Philadelphia accent had totally slipped from my memory until I heard it again. But he is something of a secret handshake among Philadelphia kids of the era, I find. I'm a little regretful that corny local variety shows no longer flourish. Kids today! Now they just have to hum "I'm Henry The 8th, I Am" to themselves.

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