Joan Ganz Cooney may not be a household name. But Joan Ganz Cooney revolutionized viewing habits from toddlers to teens. Cooney is co-founder of the Children’s Television Workshop, a mainstay on Channel 13 since its launch in 1969. It is a perfect inclusion to FishbowlNY’s special series of interviews and posts dedicated to WNET’s 50th anniversary.
The CTW was producing programming solely for public television. Like national syndication today, it was made available for public TV stations across the country. The first show that Cooney and her CTW employees created was Sesame Street.
While each station made the decision when to air Sesame Street, Cooney had strong views for the start time.
“I didn’t want it in competition with Captain Kangaroo [8 a.m. on CBS], the only other quality children’s show at the time,” Cooney says.
To avoid the “Captain’s wrath,” CTW was encouraging PBS stations to air Sesame Street at either 7 a.m. or 9 a.m.
WNDT, (the original call letters of WNET), was not as accommodating. In a rarely remembered tibdit, Sesame Street actually had its debut on WPIX/Channel 11.