Big Jon & Sparkie
“Big Jon & Sparkie” was a children’s program that originated on a local Chicago station around 1947 and went nationwide on the ABC Radio Network beginning in 1950. Jon Arthur, the show’s creator, played the part of Big Jon, and Sparkie was “the little elf from the land of make-believe who wants more than anything else in the world to be a real boy.” The show ran for 30 minutes weekday afternoons but was reduced to 15 minutes in 1951. It found a much larger audience a few years later when ABC moved it to a two-hour block on Saturday mornings under the title “No School Today.”
Both shows began with the unforgettable theme, “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” (“If you go down in the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise…”) as sung by Ann Stephens, and featured recorded songs and stories, like Little Orly (created and narrated by Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum, better known as Mr. Green Jeans on TV's "Captain Kangaroo"). Another integral part of the show was its cast of fantasy characters, like Yukie Butcha (the comic cab driver), Daffodil Dilly, Mayor Plumpfront of Cincinnati, and Gil Hooley Mahoney and his Leprechaun Marching Band.
The weekday “Big Jon & Sparkie” show aired Monday thru Friday afternoons at 5:00 until 1954. Saturday morning’s “No School Today,” which aired at 9:00 for two hours before being shortened to 90 minutes, ended its run in 1958. Both shows were popular with the kids and were heard on WSUN in the 1950’s.
1950 - 1958 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (Featured Program)