TV Powww

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TV POWWW was a franchised television game show format, in which home viewers controlled a video game via telephone in hopes of winning prizes.


The TV POWWW format, produced and distributed by Florida syndicator Marvin Kempner, debuted in 1978 on Los Angeles station KABC-TV as part of A.M. Los Angeles, and by the start of the next decade was seen on 79 local television stations (including national superstation WGN as part of Bozo's Circus) in the United States, as well as several foreign broadcasters. While most stations had dropped TV POWWW by the mid-1980s, stations in Australia and Italy were still using it as late as 1990.[1]

Stations were originally supplied with games for the Fairchild Channel F console, but following Fairchild's withdrawal from the home video game market, Intellivision games were used. Kempner later unsuccessfully attempted to interest both Nintendo and Sega in a TV POWWW revival.[2]

While the underlying technology was standardized across participating stations, the format of TV POWWW's presentation varied from market to market. Many presented TV POWWW as a series of segments that ran during the commercial breaks of television programming (a la Dialing for Dollars), while some (such as KTTV in Los Angeles) presented TV POWWW as a standalone program.


In the video game being featured, the at-home player would give directions over the phone, while watching the game on their home screen. When the viewer determined that the weapon was aiming at the target, they said "Pow!", after which that weapon would activate.

Accounts vary as to what kind of controller technology was involved. Some sources state that the gaming consoles sent to the stations were modified for voice activation.[2] However, a 2008 WPIX station retrospective claimed that for the station's version, where the player said "Pix" (Pron: picks), an employee in the control room manually hit the fire button when the caller indicated a shot.[3]

One of the pitfalls of the gameplay was that, due to broadcasting technicalities, there was significant lag in the transmission of a television signal. The player would experience this lag when playing at home, which likely made playing the game somewhat more difficult. (For similar reasons, such a game would be impossible in digital television without the use of a second video chat feed for the player, due to the time it takes to process and compress the video stream; most stations also mandate a seven-second delay to prevent obscenities from reaching the air.)

Featured games[edit]

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Channel F[edit]

  • Shooting Gallery


TV POWWW variants[edit]

City/Market Local name Host Show Featured on Network Air dates
Baltimore, Maryland TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WMAR Unknown
Battle Creek, Michigan TV Powww! Unknown Star Blazers WUHQ Unknown
Brazil TV Powww! Unknown N/A SBT 1985-1986
Calgary, Alberta Switchback Unknown Unknown CBRT 1985
Chicago, Illinois
United States (Nationwide Cable)
Bozo's TV Powww! Frazier Thomas Bozo's Circus WGN
Superstation WGN
Cleveland, Ohio TV Powww! Bob Zappe Zap WKYC 1978-1979
Columbus, Georgia TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WYEA Unknown
Dallas, Texas TV Powww! B.J. Cleveland Unknown KXTX Unknown
Dayton, Ohio TV Powww! Unknown
Clubhouse 22 (Kids' Version)
Evening (Adult Version)
WKEF Unknown
Flint, Michigan TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WEYI Unknown
Green Bay, Wisconsin TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WRLE Unknown
Greensboro, North Carolina TV Powww! Unknown Captain Triad WGGT Unknown
Hartford, Connecticut TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WTXX Unknown
High Point, North Carolina TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WGHP Unknown
Hobart, Tasmania TV Powww "Jim Shoes" Saturday Fun Show TVT6 1980s
Honolulu, Hawaii TV Powww! Unknown Unknown KHNL Unknown
Houston, Texas TV Kid POWWW Unknown Unknown KHTV Unknown
Jacksonville, Florida TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WAWS Unknown
Kingsport, Tennessee TV Powww! Frances Eden N/A WKPT 1981
Los Angeles, California TV Powww! Unknown A.M. Los Angeles KABC 1978-?
John Rovick TV Powww KTTV 1979 TV Powww Unknown Unknown KCOP Unknown
New York City, New York TV Pixxx Ralph Lowenstein N/A WPIX 197?-1982
Oakland, California TV Powww! Unknown Unknown KTVU Unknown
Perth, Western Australia TV Powww Chris Mills N/A GWN7 1980s
Phoenix, Arizona TV Powww! Unknown Unknown KPNX Unknown
Raleigh, North Carolina TV Powww! "Barney" Barney's Army WPTF 1982
Rochester, New York TV Powww! "Ranger Bob" N/A WUHF 1981
Sacramento, California TV Powww! Mitch Agruss Cap'n Mitch KTXL 1980
San Diego, California TV Powww! Unknown Unknown KCST Unknown
San Francisco, California TV Powww! Pat McCormick Unknown KTVU 1970s-1980s
United Kingdom TV Powww Unknown Get Set for Summer BBC1 1980s
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales TV Powww Unknown Unknown RVN2 Unknown
Waterbury, Connecticut TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WTXX Unknown
Wodonga, Victoria TV Powww Unknown Unknown AMV4 Unknown
Youngstown, Ohio TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WYTV Unknown

TV PIXXX[edit]

One notable version of TV POWWW was used by New York based television station WPIX, called TV-PIXXX (a play on the station's call letters). Hosted by station staff announcer Ralph Lowenstein, it was aired during the traditional weekday afternoon slot of children's TV as an interlude. Participants would be called at home to play a videogame that appeared on their screen.[1]

Participants interacted with the game by saying the word "PIXX" to perform game-related actions. Prizes included T-shirts and $10 U.S. Savings Bonds. They could double their prize or win a bonus prize (such as advance tickets to see upcoming films) by guessing a "Magic Word". For a chance at playing, children could send a postcard with their name, address, and phone number to TV PIXXX.

WPIX's program lasted until 1982; for many New York viewers, TV PIXXX was their first glimpse of the Intellivision home game system.[2]


Switchback aired on CBC Television station CBRT in Calgary, Alberta in 1985, also including Intellivision games.


Zap aired in the mornings from 1978-1979 on Cleveland, Ohio NBC station WKYC which had a feature similar to TV Powww.

United Kingdom[edit]

The game was also a regular part of the BBC Saturday morning children's show 'Get Set For Summer' in the early 80s.[4]


In the early 1980s, Golden West Network (GWN) had a version (also called TV Powww - or maybe TV Pow). Hosted by Chris Mills. There was a spaceship game, a boxing game, a soccer/football game.


  1. ^ a b Erickson, Charles (June 9, 2002). "When the Future of TV Was a Youngster Yelling 'Pow!'". New York Times. pp. 27, sect. 2. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  2. ^ a b c Intellivision Lives website: Newsletter, March 2002
  3. ^ Tsiokos, Costa (June 15, 2008), Population Statistic: "TV PIXXX: Remote Gaming, 80's Style", retrieved 2009-11-05 
  4. ^

See also[edit]