When television arrived in Detroit on March 4, 1947, the first few weeks of programming were limited to live sporting events, cooking shows, man on the street interviews and filmed segments. With the bulk of receivers in the city residing in hotel and theater lobbies, bars and other public places, TV manufacturers needed to convince consumers that TV belonged in the home. Philco, RCA and General Electric decided the best way to do that was to sponsor an afternoon block of family friendly children’s programs.

 Junior Jamboree, sponsored by RCA and Ned’s Auto Supply, was Detroit’s first TV kid’s show. WWJ’s Women’s Editor Fran Harris made the leap from radio to television to become the show’s producer and host. Harris’ only directive from the sponsor was “We want a children’s show that’s as good as Kukla, Fran and Ollie,” and “Put in anything else you think might fit.”

 Junior Jamboree aired weekdays from 4:45 to 5:15. A typical episode featured puppets, magic by Karrell Fox, contests and games, interviews with local athletes and celebrities, birthday greetings and stories illustrated by a live artist.  Toby David, a decade before he became Captain Jolly, supplied the voices for the puppets used in the RCA commercials.

A 1948 review praised Harris’ work on the show. “Her personality and presentation are tailored right to win the small fry.” 

 Playtime aired from 5:15 to 5:30. Ruth Noyes and the Detroit Civic Players travelled daily down Fable Lane to present live versions of classic fairy tales. The show was self sustaining, meaning that it had no sponsor, a common practice in the early days of television.

 Philco’s Fun And Fables filled the 5:30 to 6:00 timeslot. The format was simple. Host Jane Durelle read stories while a camera focused on the illustrations. Born in Toledo, Ohio, Durelle was a former schoolteacher who studied radio and speech at Wayne University. The videogenic Durelle not only narrated the stories, she also chose the material, wrote the script and worked out the presentation of the drawings. Cartoonist Phil Wagner handled the commercials by working Philco and the initials of a home viewer into an amusing drawing, which was then mailed to the viewer.

  At 6:00, General Electric sponsored a half hour of educational films. The station then signed off for the afternoon, returning to the air at the seven o’clock hour for their evening programming.

 The block of kid’s programming was a huge success. Children gathered in droves to watch the new programs in the store windows of their local department stores. When they went home they begged and pleaded for television. Thousands of sets were sold and the prices came down, making both the sponsors and consumers very happy. But the sponsors decided that the programs sold enough TV sets, so Junior Jamboree, Playtime and Fun and Fables were unceremoniously given the axe. Jane Durelle’s show was retooled and returned to the airwaves a few months later as Our Story Book. It aired until 1951. The other shows, like all old TV programs, disappeared into the ionosphere.