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Children’s Hospital TV Pioneer Returns After 30 Years

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(credit: CBS) Liz Collin
At 15 years old, Liz Collin made her broadcast debut covering...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – After a tour of duty in Vietnam, Larry Johnson started making good use out of his degree in broadcasting from the University of Minnesota.

He took a job as a security guard at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis and started a television show for kids in 1978. He came back to the show on Tuesday for the first time in 30 years.

When Johnson came back to the Children’s Hospital closed-circuit kids TV show, he was greeted by technology that did not exist in 1978.

He started the show, “The Kids Clubhouse,” with an old security camera and an idea to make kids feel better while they were in the hospital.

“We were hearing things like that was the best thing that happened to me while I was in the hospital, it made my day, it helped me cut over the things that hurt,” said Johnson.

What Johnson lacked in technology he made up for with creativity, like playing music from an old faucet.  He also had a puppet named “Tyler the Earthworm,” and a musical bubble pipe.

It’s stuff kids loved then and still love now. Kids like 6-year-old Ashley Boesel, who is a Justin Bieber fan.

“I liked it when they blowed the bubble in the horn, and they showed Justin Bieber,” said Boesel.

And because the Children’s Hospital TV shows use the latest technology, everything that is on in the Minneapolis location is also seen at St. Paul Children’s Hospital.

It’s a project Johnson can be proud of for pioneering.

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