Here’s one of many Zoom 1972 facts you should know: It was on January 9th of that year that a new half-hour educational television program — originating from Boston’s WGBH-TV and aired around the country on PBS — made its debut. And it’s opening theme, sung by the show’s young cast, beckoned viewers on with the lyrics, “Come on and zoom, zoom, zoom-a zoom.”
Get ready for more Zoom 1972 facts: The show became an overnight success with pre-teens, even spawning huge merchandise sales. Created mostly by children, each season (the series would run until 1978) features a different cast of seven kids, known as Zoomers, who open the show with charismatic — sometimes wacky — singing and dancing, followed by activities such as games, plays, videos, poems, recipes, jokes, movies and science experiments, all based on viewer suggestions.
Continue reading to learn more about this groundbreaking children’s program and uncover more fascinating ZOOM 1972 facts!
The series was embraced by viewers and critics alike
Have you ever wanted to send ideas to a TV show and see them brought to life? Well the Zoomers took the time to write to the producers and suggest activities called Zoomraps, which were informal chats on topics ranging from hospitals to schools, family and more.
In response, in one week alone more than 20,000 fan letters poured in with over 1.5 million arriving over the course of the first three seasons. Beyond Zoomraps, at the end of each half-hour show, the cast would also perform a choreographed song.
Such a hit was this PBS series, and so strong the connection between the cast and viewers, that in Season 2 there was an extraordinary demand for cast member Bernadette to explain her “arm thing.”
This was a helicopter-like series of arm moves that she displayed regularly on different episodes, much to the bewildered delight of viewers who needed to know how. Just one of the reasons the show was beloved by audiences and critics, which resulted in Zoom winning a Daytime Emmy Award in its second season.
ZOOM 1972 was made for kids, by kids
Inspired by educational shows like Sesame Street and The Electric Company, and wanting to model interpersonal relationships amongst youngsters, Zoom had a few major differences from other scholastic shows.
There were no adults on screen and the show was mainly unscripted. The program even featured its own language called Ubbi-Dubbi, and the young actors were known for wearing striped rugby shirts and jeans, performing barefoot in Seasons 1 and 2, but then transitioned to shoes — all ideas from either the child stars themselves or write-in requests.
The Zoomers’ identities were kept anonymous
This is particularly interesting amongst Zoom 1972 facts: No child stars emerged from this show since their contracts prohibited them from making TV appearances or doing commercials. An extra measure to keep young Zoomers anonymous was the decision that they would only be identified by their first names.
And with one of television’s first truly diverse casts, Zoom shined a light on kids’ unique backgrounds, personalities and abilities. The distinct cast was intentional, since producers made efforts to include children of multiple cultures and backgrounds throughout its six seasons.
More fun ZOOM 1972 facts
While each episode began with a catchy tune, so did the end, with the entire cast concluding things by belting out the Boston zip code where the show was produced: “0-2-1-3-4.”
Activities were introduced with such titles as Zoomovie, Zoom Play of the Week, Zoomgame, Zoomdo, Zoomgoody, Zoomphenomen and more Zooms.
In 1973, cast members from the first season released an album called Playgrounds, which was available only through mail order. In 1977, Rounder Records released Zoom Tunes, featuring cast members from the 4th season.
Two books for children were based on the Zoom series: The Zoom Catalog and Do a Zoomdo.
At the time of the show’s 50th anniversary in 2022, WGBH posted all surviving episodes online.
The Ritch Ratch TV Series was an Israeli spin-off and co-production of Zoom that aired from 1975 to 1980.
In the first two seasons, a word game called “Fannee Doolee” was featured. It was eventually revealed that fictional character Fannee Doolee — who phrases were made up about — loved all words with double letters and hated all words without them. Thus, Fannee Doolee likes sweets, but hates candy.
Several episodes were available with captions for the hearing impaired.
The series was sold to more countries worldwide than the other popular PBS show, Mister Rogers Neighborhood.
In 1999, Zoom was revived and aired again on PBS until 2005.
Discover even more 1970s television facts below!