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March 12, 2023 7:50 pm  #1

Why Execs. Hated The First Hit TV Show Ever Made For Pre-School Kids

Since I'm on a bit of a nostalgia kick, what with this thread, it's something of a weird coincidence that I came across this article about a TV show so old, even I don't remember it. Although I've certainly heard of it. And I'm betting there are some seniors at this site who do recall it fondly.

It was called "Ding Dong School" and it was aimed at kids who weren't actually in school yet. It aired way back in the early 1950s, when Chicago TV execs. were trying to come up with a show for a pre-kindergarten audience. 

It was hosted by a woman named Frances Horwich and those in charge of the station where it aired, WNBQ-TV in Chicago, hated it so much they only agreed to show it one time, since they went to the expense of making it. 

"A pilot episode was filmed. One horrified station executive said the show was so bad it would kill television and make viewers listen to the radio again. So it was decided to air the program just once. WNBQ didn’t issue a press release announcing it or promoting it in any way. They figured they’d let it die of its own embarrassment."

But a funny thing happened on the way to cancellation. The show proved so popular with its target audience and pleased parents because their toddlers were kept busy while it was on, that the station was almost forced to make more. Pretty soon, it spread to the network and "Miss Frances" and her "Ding Dong School" got a ringing endorsement and ran for the next several years. 

It preceded Romper Room by about a year and is generally considered the very first ever show for pre-school kids from this newfangled medium called television. 

The woman who created kids’ television