Hey, you guyyyyys! The Electric Company Circuit Tour lit up Town Point Park in October when WHRO and Norfolk Festevents brought the television-show-turned-multimedia-event to the Virginia Children’s Festival. You may remember The Electric Company as an educational program on WHRO in the 70s and 80s. It featured live action sketches, talking silhouettes and a gorilla named Paul, all with the goal of teaching children basic phonetic and grammar concepts. The show ended production in 1977 and reruns stopped in the mid-80s, but this year its producers launched an updated version of the former hit that is recharged for today’s child.
The new Electric Company, which airs on WHRO weekdays at 5 p.m., has been redesigned with decades of further educational research on literacy and revamped for 21st century learners. The diverse castmembers sing, dance, and rap through every episode, animating words and making reading fun. Since its debut in January 2009, the new Electric Company has become a sensation in homes, classrooms, and community centers nationwide, using technology and pop culture as effective tools to combat the literacy crisis facing America today.
Deciding to bring the magic of the television program to life, the Company began the “Electric Company Circuit Tour,” visiting 20 communities across the United States, including the 21st Annual Virginia Children’s Festival in Norfolk. The Children’s Festival took place on Saturday, October 10th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Leading up to the Electric Company’s show, which was considered the main event, WHRO staff and volunteers were present in full force and gearing up children for the action.
WHRO’s Director of Children Services, Angie Callahan, and Early Childhood Specialist, Martha Razor, coordinated the WHRO booth, which included a 10’ Electric Company Monster Mural for children to color and sign, and a 103’ plasma screen showing PBS KIDS programming. Our tech savvy staffers set up a Smartboard displaying the Electric Company’s website, so children could come play games from the site on a giant interactive whiteboard. Educational freebies of all kinds were given out, including Electric Company magazines and children’s books, as well as program information for parents. Staff and volunteers handed out Electric Company All Access Passes for children to participate in the show and surveys for parents to provide feedback when the show was over. PBS KIDS characters also stopped by to meet and greet their fans: Chief Communications Officer, Bobbie Fisher, was Word Girl and Martha Razor’s daughter, Brittany, was Super Why.
PBS KIDS characters also stopped by to meet and greet their fans:
Chief Communications Officer, Bobbie Fisher, was Word Girl being led by Chief Financial Officer, Colleen Ingraham
PBS KIDS characters also stopped by to meet and greet their fans: Martha Razor’s daughter, Brittany, was Super Why
WHRO President Bert Schmidt kicked off the Electric Company’s show on the main stage, calling out to the crowd “Hey, you guyyyyys,” the famous tagline from both the original and the new Electric Company programs. Actor Chris Sullivan, who plays Shock on the 2009 Electric Company, hosted the show and beatboxed the crowd to their feet. Shock transformed sounds into words while he dealt with a group of pranksters who stole the “H” from his name. Children and adults alike participated in spelling, sounding out words and finally transforming “Sock” back into “Shock” – learning how an “H” can transform words completely!
WHRO President Bert Schmidt kicked off the Electric Company’s show on the main stage, calling out to the crowd “Hey, you guyyyyys,” the famous tagline from both the original and the new Electric Company programs.
After the show, Angie hosted several games on stage using words with the letter “H.” Children from Clarence Cuffee Community Center and Sewells Point Elementary School were invited to participate, and it was evident that Shock’s “Transformer H” performance stuck with them. WHRO staffers gave out 500 Electric Company backpacks filled with educational goodies in exchange for completed parents’ surveys – and the games and giveaways continued until the last child was gone.
Angie Callahan, Director of Children Services, hosted several games on stage
using words with the letter “H.”
Children had fun learning the fundamentals of beatboxing, while picking up important grammar skills. Adults, many of whom had watched the original Electric Company, learned about the new, updated version and the latest ways they can use it to help their kids. Like the new Electric Company, WHRO embraces new technology to offer kids of all ages the best educational experiences available!
The Electric Company airs on WHRO TV15 on Monday through Friday at 5pm
and again on Sundays at 11am. It’s on WHRO Kids every weekday at 7am and 8pm.
View the slideshow for a preview of the day's events.