Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Things I miss from days gone by - #1 - Youth talent shows

Local amateur talent TV shows for kids. I grew up in Upstate New York where the major TV channel was WRGB. For many years running there were two amateur shows. Juvenile Jamboree for younger talent aired on Saturday afternoons. Teen-Age Barn for older youth appeared on Friday evening at early prime time. Both were produced by Tommy Sternfeld.

Groups, duos and individuals were all represented in every possible talent area. There were vocalists, ethnic dance groups, ballet dancers, ventriloquists, musicians, acrobats, as well as any other talent that you can think of.
Short interviews before each act relaxed the performers and instilled pride in the communities mentioned. Each act had to audition for each appearance so some performers only appeared once or twice while others became regulars. A few eventually went on to professional careers in the entertainment world while others enjoyed careers as attorneys, CPAs, teachers, hair dressers, and owners of various businesses in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area but nearly all were remembered as former Juvenile Jamboree or Teen Age Barn "stars."

I don't even know if kids still take ballet lessons, learn to be ventriloquists, etc. any more. If not, it's too bad as excellence in these pursuits is satisfying and leads to self-esteem as well as keeping kids out of trouble. Viewers looked forward to the shows and paid sponsors must have been abundant as one of the shows ran for 17 years. (Juvenile Jamboree did not last quite as long as Teen Age Barn.)

Why don't we do this any more? We still have kids with talent, an abundance of TV commercials, and time slots where such a show would be an improvement. It may also be that we owe our communities' children a little more than we're giving them. For sure, if I owned a company able to buy TV commercials, I would look into the cost effectiveness of buying a commercial spot that was certain to capture the loyalty of some talented local performers, their parents, and the communities in which they lived.

Is anybody listening?


Judith Thelen said...

I perfomed on WRGB on the Tommy Sternfeld Show, Juvenile Jamboree and Teen Age Barn in the 1950s and 60s. These times were some of the best memories of my dance career. I am now retired from the dance world but will always be a "dancer". Judy Thelen

Zan said...

Judy -- I remember you! My mother knew your mother from the Van Dyck and I can remember when she told us that you would be going to New York. Have occasionally seen mention of you on the Internet and know that you had a wonderful career as a dancer. Thanks for commenting.