Every Saturday was Trooper Terry time, if you had a good antenna

You didn’t have to live in Augusta – even near Augusta – to be a fan of Trooper Terry.

You’ve likely read or heard about the death April 11 of Terry Sams, the veteran Augusta broadcaster whose biggest claim to fame was playing host to a popular local children’s show on TV station WJBF (Channel 6) for 20 years. Dressed in the cowboy hat and badge of a country lawman, Mr. Sams would entertain live audiences of enthusiastic children as Trooper Terry.

How many kids appeared on the show over the years? Estimates run from 150,000 to 250,000. Who knows how many hundreds of thousands more kids watched the show at home?

I was one of those kids.

I grew up in an old house on a red-clay road in rural south Georgia. As the crow flies it’s between the cities of Statesboro (which you might have heard of) and Metter (which you might not).

The Christmas right after I turned 8, my parents gave me what at the time I thought was an insane extravagance – a 12-inch portable television for my room. It was a black-and-white Sanyo, with VHF and UHF dials. Only city kids had cable TV. Forget satellite dishes.

With very little effort, you could pick up the three major TV stations out of Savannah and the public television station that had a transmitter in Pembroke.

With a little more effort – and I was one of those kids who liked to go the extra mile – you could fiddle with the antenna, when the weather was right, and pick up stations in Augusta. During the week I’d get Gilligan’s Island reruns on Channel 12. I could pick up the The PTL Club on Channel 26 but wouldn’t watch it.

But Saturdays? Early in the morning – and reception always was better in the morning – I’d gently twist the antenna until I could hear that familiar voice boom out: “Hey, kids, iiiit’s Trooper Terry tiiiiiime!”

Trooper Terry’s show stood out. It wasn’t some network-produced cartoon show. It was live. Kids got involved. And it was especially exciting if you lived in Augusta because you might even see a kid or two in the audience whom you actually knew! On TV!

And the host of it all was an adult who never had a harsh word for you. His job was to make sure you had fun. And he always encouraged you to do better, and to do right.

It was a fun memory of growing up. Thank you, Trooper Terry.

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mooseye
266
Points
mooseye 04/20/14 - 12:48 pm
0
0
The

one show that stands out in my mind, and you can flag this as racist or offensive or what ever, was the one with a large group of black children. Several of the little girls were giggling and fidgeting till Trooper Terry asked them what was so funny. One of the girls replied (and this is a quote from live TV) "Leroy fa-ted."

Bodhisattva
6309
Points
Bodhisattva 04/23/14 - 08:11 am
0
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Is Joe confusing his local kids tv shows?

His show air weekdays in the afternoon. Bwana John was on Saturday am, and perhaps others, but it was a long time ago. They might have run some shows or reruns on Saturdays, but with a local legend like Terry Sams, the Chronicle can't even get when his show aired right? What is the problem with this editorial staff? BTW: What difference does it make what color the kids were? Couldn't you just a said a group of kids?

Joe Hotchkiss
4
Points
Joe Hotchkiss 04/23/14 - 11:24 am
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*shrugs*

All I know is that I watched Trooper Terry on occasional Saturdays when I was a kid. Growing up about 90 miles south of Augusta, I don't recall having access to Augusta TV listings, so no, I have no idea how often the show was broadcast.

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