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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.
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.
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. 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.
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.)
- Shooting Gallery
- Tic Tac Toe
- Moving Target (a game similar to Breakout)
- NFL Football
- Major League Baseball
- NBA Basketball
- Space Battle
- Sharp Shot
TV POWWW variants
|City/Market||Local name||Host||Show Featured on||Network||Air dates|
|Baltimore, MD||TV Powww!||Unknown||Unknown||WMAR||Unknown|
|Battle Creek, MI||TV Powww!||Unknown||Star Blazers||WUHQ||Unknown|
|Ray's TV Powww!, Bozo's TV Powww!||Ray Rayner, Frazier Thomas||Ray Rayner and His Friends, Bozo's Circus||WGN
|Cleveland, OH||TV Powww!||Candy Cramer||Video Arcade||WCLQ||1982–1984|
|Columbus, GA||TV Powww!||Unknown||Unknown||WYEA||Unknown|
|Dallas, TX||TV Powww!||B.J. Cleveland||Unknown||KXTX||Unknown|
|Dayton, OH||TV Powww!||Unknown
|Clubhouse 22 (children's version)
Evening (adult version)
|Flint, MI||TV Powww!||Unknown||Unknown||WEYI||Unknown|
|Green Bay, WI||Clubhouse Powww!||Gerald "Uncle Jerry" Drake
|Weekday afternoons||WLUK-TV||c. 1979–1981|
|Greensboro, NC||TV Powww!||Unknown||Captain Triad||WGGT||Unknown|
|Hartford, CT||TV Powww!||Unknown||Unknown||WTXX||Unknown|
|High Point, NC||TV Powww!||Unknown||Unknown||WGHP||Unknown|
|Hobart, Tasmania||TV Powww||"Jim Shoes"||Saturday Fun Show||TVT6||1980s|
|Honolulu, HI||TV Powww!||Unknown||Unknown||KHNL||Unknown|
|Houston, TX||TV Kid POWWW||Unknown||Unknown||KHTV||Unknown|
|Jacksonville, FL||TV Powww!||Gary Rogers||Unknown||WAWS||Unknown|
|TV Powww!||Frances Eden||Unknown||WKPT
|Los Angeles, CA||TV Powww!||Unknown||A.M. Los Angeles||KABC||1978–?|
|John Rovick||TV Powww||KTTV||1979|
|New York, NY||TV Pixxx||Ralph Lowenstein||N/A||WPIX||197?–1982|
|Oakland, CA||TV Powww!||Pat McCormick||Unknown||KTVU||Unknown|
|Perth, Western Australia||TV Powww||Chris Mills||N/A||GWN7||1980s|
|Phoenix, AZ||TV Powww!||Unknown||Unknown||KPNX||Unknown|
|Raleigh, NC||TV Powww!||"Barney"||Barney's Army||WPTF-TV||1980–1982|
|Rochester, NY||TV Powww!||"Ranger Bob"||N/A||WUHF||1981|
|Sacramento, CA||TV Powww!||Mitch Agruss||Cap'n Mitch||KTXL||1980|
|San Diego, CA||TV Powww!||Unknown||Unknown||KCST||Unknown|
|San Francisco, CA||TV Powww!||Pat McCormick||Unknown||KTVU||1970s–1980s|
|São Paulo, Brazil||TV Powww!||Luis Ricardo
|Spokane, WA||Q6 Powww!||Cal Fankhouser||Unknown||KHQ-TV||Unknown|
|United Kingdom||TV Powww||Unknown||Get Set for Summer||BBC1||1980s|
|Wagga Wagga, New South Wales||TV Powww||Unknown||Unknown||RVN2||Unknown|
|Waterbury, CT||TV Powww!||Unknown||Unknown||WTXX||Unknown|
|Wodonga, Victoria||TV Powww||Unknown||Unknown||AMV4||Unknown|
|Youngstown, OH||TV Powww!||Unknown||Unknown||WYTV||Unknown|
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.
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" (originally common everyday words, later in the last 2 years one of the 50 U.S. states). 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.
A basic version of Space Invaders was broadcast daily after school hours in Rockhampton, north-east coast of Australia during the early 1980s. Children would yell "Pow!" over the telephone, with the host pressing the fire button in the studio. Reaction time varied with the mood of the host. The game was often chaotic, with contestant rapid firing, and sync abandoned when the host was unable to keep up.
The game premiered on SBT in August 1984 and its first host was Paulo Barboza. Shortly thereafter, other hosts like Tânia Alves, Mara Maravilha, Luís Ricardo, Sérgio Mallandro, Gugu Liberato and Christina Rocha presented the game. TV Powww! became a segment of the Bozo show in 1986 and continued until 1989.
Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation aired the version of TV Powww in the 1980s.
- The Golden Shot (similar British program with a play-at-home element)
- 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.
- Intellivision Lives website: Newsletter, March 2002
- Tsiokos, Costa (June 15, 2008), Population Statistic: "TV PIXXX: Remote Gaming, 80's Style", retrieved 2009-11-05
- Obituary for Gerald Drake from Legacy.com, 6/2013
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-26. Retrieved 2014-10-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)