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Whither Bozo, WGN?

By Karl Klockars in Miscellaneous on Nov 27, 2009 10:30PM

2_bozofloat.jpg.jpg If you weren't able to go downtown to check out yesterday's Thanksgiving Parade, and you'd like to poke through the broadcast (which went around the nation on WGN America), you can check out each and every marching band, balloon and waving princess on the WGN website. But it's something WGN itself did yesterday that gave us pause. On the WGN Float is the whole gang: Tom Skilling, Pat Tomasulo and Ana Belaval from the morning show and...Bozo the Clown. The same Bozo the Clown that was unceremoniously dumped from the station's lineup in 2001 after more than four decades of bringing joy to Chicagoland kiddies.

Bozo apparently still has enough popularity and cache to entertain the crowds but not enough to actually have him on the air? You may recall how after years of entertaining a generation of kids during their lunch hour on WGN, and another generation (mine) before school and after episodes of Jem and MASK. Then, in 1994, the show was re-purposed and chopped back to just one hour on Sunday mornings to fill FCC requirements for educational programming. WGN finally put a bullet in Bozo's head on August 26, 2001. Despite an outcry from fans, WGN believed that they couldn't compete with all the other options for children's programming and ended the show as a sad shadow of what it used to be.

And yet there he is, smiling and waving, while WGN tries to have it both ways. Can you ditch a beloved TV personality after tearing apart the program - and then trot him out whenever you like to garner a few extra whistles and waves from a crowd? Sure, it's nice seeing the guy again, but using the character in public while he remains the shining example of the death of locally produced children's television (at least to media geeks like us) leaves us a bit out in the cold.