Wish*a*roo Park

PBS (ended 1999)


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Wish*a*roo Park

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This was the only attempt by WVIZ in Cleveland at a full-scale, nationally-distributed children's television series. WVIZ, a former ITV dynasty, became "presenter" of Wish*a*roo Park in June 1999 after three pilot programs (listed here as Shows 1, 2 and 3) were tested off-air in select markets. Paula Luciano, a Clevelander, had been spending almost ten years getting her Wish*a*roo Park from concept to air. Wish*a*roo was the matriarch of the series. Much the way Ben Vereen anchored Zoobilee Zoo but didn't get involved in the plots, wise Wish*a*roo deferred the spotlight to her Park Pals. There was Cali Flower, the artistic rabbit. There was Monkey B., the musician. There was Pomp O'Dor, the leather-jacketed skunk with an image to uphold. And then there were incidental characters who backed up the three major players. The Duckles, Dan-Dan and Della, who mostly told jokes and didn't get in anyone's way. Wisherfish read stories to Mermee (a young mermaid) and the other Park Pals to convey the episode's message. And Ranger Bob was the man who took care of the trees. The name "Wish*a*roo" conveyed the ideal that children are the most avid wishers and dreamers anywhere. Thus the song Wish*a*roo sang at the end of Shows 4-13: Wherever you go Whatever you do Wish with a smile Just be who you are And your wish will come true. Except for the last line, this was the kind of music Fred Rogers would sing. At first, Wish*a*roo Park appeared to go in the right direction. Over its first eight months on the air, the series notched a 50% clearance, according to their producing agency. Seven new shows had been planned for release in the spring of 2002 (those synopses can be found in the "Our Future" section of the existing Wish*a*roo Park Web Site). But the undisclosed underwriters did not provide the funds for production. That was the beginning of the end for Wish*a*roo Park. From February 2000 to June 2001, poorer clearances and decreased promotion proved to be the series' undoing. Part of the doom was the fact that Wish*a*roo Park was probably the last children's television series that did not advertise a Web site of any kind when the series' clearance began to shrink. There was also the failure to penetrate certain markets, such as parts of Texas or the Carolinas. By January 2001, only five stations were still running Wish*a*roo Park: WTVP in Peoria, WLRN in Miami, WNYE in Brooklyn, WVIZ in Cleveland, and WYBE in Philadelphia. None (to the best of our knowledge) were promoting the series on-air. Then, of course, WVIZ was forced to publish their program guide by themselves after the local Avenues magazine folded. The WVIZ program guide shrank to a leaflet, and that leaflet didn't bother to even mention Wish*a*roo Park or its imminent doom. It was the television equivalent to the baseball trade of the late Eddie Mathews from Atlanta to Houston. The founder of the Wish*a*roo Park guide can honestly say he watched the very first broadcast of Wish*a*roo Park in Cleveland and the very last Wish*a*roo Park broadcast in Philadelphia. It is for this reason (and the initial belief that the series had never had a Web site) that this guide is enshrined at TV Tome. The life span of Wish*a*roo Park: B: 9:30 A.M. EDT, Sunday, June 6, 1999, WVIZ, Cleveland, Ohio D: 3:56 P.M. EDT, Tuesday, June 5, 2001, WYBE, Philadelphia, Pa. WE WILL NOT DIM THE MEMORY OF THEIR DEEDSmoreless