Thursday, December 3, 2009

Magical Windows

The way we entertain ourselves has changed since I was kid. Television is just one such example.


I remember waking up to test patterns on each of the four channels we could get at the time. Around five or six am the test pattern would fade and a video of our national anthem would be played. Then Jack Lalanne would come on the air to offer words of motivation and then he would lead his viewers into some morning calisthenics.



Following Jack, programming here in Des Monies would be filled with original local shows until the national game shows came on. At noon each of the stations provided a 15-30 min news update. WHO only did a fifteen minute newscast followed by 15 minute airing of the local Floppy and Friends show. This was followed by an afternoon movie, and then Floppy and Duane would return around 3:00 for a live 30 minute show. (I was on the show twice.)




KCCI and WOI played Soap Operas in the afternoon but each of them had also original programming. KCCI had The Mary Brubaker Show and WOI had “The Magic Window”

The Magic Window (aka The House of The Magic Window) aired Monday through Friday and was hosted by Betty Lou Varnum. The show was produced in Ames Iowa and ran from 1951-1994. During the show Betty Lou would make crafts and interact with puppets Gregory Lion, Dusty the Unicorn, and Catrina Crocodile. Between steps in the craft making Betty Lou would have the puppets turn on the Magic Window. The magic window was a screen set up behind the puppets. Betty would say something “let’s check in with Felix the Cat or let’s see what’s happening on Tales of the Riverbank. The camera would turn to the screen, a puppet would say “tada!” and then an episode of Felix the Cat or Tales Of the Riverbank would come on.
(I’m not 100% certain but I seem to recall some vintage Astro Boy cartons as well.)
After the short we came back to see how Betty’s project was coming along. The one show that I recall is a Christmas episode in which Betty cut out paper snowflakes to decorate her tree.

I miss the days of original programming. The things we consider entertaining these days fall far short (or rather they have gone to far) in my opinion. And sadly today we have 150 channels of programming with nothing on, many morning hours are filled with nothing but infomercials or crooked TV evangelists who are trying to sell you a miracle handkerchief.

Thankfully in a world so full of chaos there is this growing thing we all love called Podcasting. The shows are original and they allow us as consumers to find the type of content we enjoy. I first discovered this world in March of 2007. I had no idea that this phenomenon would change parts of my life. Over the past few years I have meet many of the Disney podcasters and their fans. I have made friendships that stretch across the country. It’s simply amazing and everyone I have met so far has been wonderful to get to know.

The first podcast I ever downloaded was Paul Barrie’s “Window to the Magic.” I was immediately drawn in by Paul’s in park audio. I could finally take an Imagication (a term which was later to be defined by WTTM.) I enjoyed and still enjoy putting on my headphones and stepping out onto Mainstreet USA and mentally taking a trip to the Disney Parks. Through Paul’s show I can sit on my front steps, close my eyes and picture a horse drawn trolley passing by. It’s the next best thing to actually being in the parks.


“Window to the Magic” often steps out of the parks to cover other Disney related happenings. Recently on episode #213, Paul visited the Walt Disney Family Museum and took in a screening of one of my favorite Disney films “The Three Caballeros” The screening was introduced by author JB Kaufman and a discussion of the film and JB’s latest book “South of the Border With Disney: Walt Disney and the Good Neighbor Program, 1941-1948”

Paul mixes the discussion with audio he recorded during the film. The sound clips provide a theater feel that I have yet to achieve at home.

You never know what new Disney insight you might learn from the world of Disney podcasting. In episode #213 I first heard about the Hidden Mickey and Pluto in “The Three Caballeros.” My attention was never focused on the lower corning of the screen to catch that detail but I found it.


“Window to the Magic” has remained in my top list of shows which I listen to on a regular basis. I had the pleasure of meeting Paul, Tairy and Patrick at Mousefest 2007.

My current podcast play list includes, All About the Mouse, Window to the Magic, WDW Radio, Those Darn Cats, The Disney Dudes, Trapped on Vacation, and NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me. Occasionally I listen to WDW Today.

Who are you listening to and what do you miss about your younger days?

6 comments:

Chris said...

Wow, have you thought about becoming a history teacher or something? You organize your thoughts extremely well, and the presentation is always inviting as well. Great job on this post, Jeff!

Now, I'm a bit younger and don't remember the shows you talk about (although I have seen them here and there), but believe it or not, we didn't watch much TV back when I was younger. We had one, but rarely watched it till my father dicovered "sound" in the mid 80's. He's become quite the audiophile over the years...amazing transition. I'd say the only Christmas TV I recall is the old Rudolph,of course, while stringing popcorn for the many trees we had in the house. One TV...many Christmas trees..go figure. Oh, and the hot cocoa and candy cane. :-)

I agree that podcasting has changed media for sure. TV is pretty much for sports now (for me anyhow) and I listen to radio and podcasts otherwise. My first podcast was Lou's/Nathan old show (can't recall the name, but it sounded like NPR! LOL) then the Dis-Unplugged, felt like I was part of the roundtable, and then a little show called AATM. Still my favorite now because of how personally connected I feel to the show and the community. I said the same thing to Bryan when I got my AATM #, it's just fun, no intimidation (no rules, just right, was taken...LOL) Sorry for the long post!!!

Amanda said...

What a great post. It really made me stop and think about what I watched as a child and how shows use to entertain without going to extremes.

I love podcasts. They have changed how we get information on topics we love. I currently listen to about 55 different podcasts regularly...Then there are some I just catch sometime. Wow - I've never counted how many I listen to, perhaps I'm a tad obsessed...

I love getting to know the hosts and the way they format their shows. The information is great and even the listeners get in on the act.

Fun topic - thanks for this one!

Khristina said...

I found a really cool Old Time Radio podcast that only does Westerns everyday. These shows are Portals into another time and I love them. Here is the site just in case you wanted it, http://www.otrwesterns.com . Great post btw.

Jeff W. said...

Khristina, Thanks for that link. I am passing it along to my Dad. He is always buying old Western books on tape to listen to while traveling in his RV. He'll enjoy this.

Matt said...

Well, I haven't been listening to podcasts as of late (for about 3 months now) but I do still get the downloads, so I guess that counts. I listen to AATM, WDW Radio, WDW Today, Those Darn Cats, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and the podcast forms of Fox News Sunday, Meet the Press and This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Yes, I am a nerd...

Jennifer said...

What do I miss? I miss Creature Features with Bob Wilkins, on Oakland's channel 2! I miss Liar's Club on that same station, and Kimba the White Lion.....I could go on and on!