Remembering the First "Barney"
Posted September 26, 2007
Ask a kid about Barney, and they'll probably tell you about the purple dinosaur.
But if you grew up in our area in the late 1970s and early 1980s, you might have grown up with a very different Barney. Do you remember the kids' show "Barney's Army"? It aired weekdays at 3 p.m. on the defunct WPTF-TV, Channel 28, until about 1983.
Short history: Back in the 1950s, Durham Life Insurance, which owned WPTF Radio, battled with Capitol Broadcasting for the Channel 5 TV license for Raleigh. We won, and WRAL-TV went on the air in 1956. Durham Life bought Channel 28 in the late 1970s and signed on WPTF-TV as an NBC affiliate. The station never attracted much of an audience, and Durham Life unloaded it in the early 1990s.
The show had a lot of afterschool fare. Barney was the host and main character on the show. He was an "Aniform," a form of live animation using a puppet. (I'm trying to learn more about how it worked.) The show featured some great local rock bands from the early 80s, cartoons and a weird interactive video game called "TV Pow." Kids would watch the game, call in, shout "POW!" which would fire a gun at space invaders. Revolutionary for its time.
Hal Earp, a Raleigh graphic designer, has launched a wonderful Web site about "Barney's Army." It's full of information, pictures and video clips.
Hal asked me to let you know about it. He's looking for any Barney-related material to add to the site. Check out barneysarmy.com and click "contact" to get in touch with him.