Children’s Hospital TV Pioneer Returns After 30 Years

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.

More from Liz Collin
  • Shavi

    How is this on a news web site? Who does this guy know? Hardly anything of interest in this story.

    • Sara

      I would rather hear about this than another shooting/stabbing/murder. News does not need to be about something bad happening. Although that is what we are used to hearing, it is nice to hear a good story for once. This man brings happiness and laughter to children that are very sick and that is something to be proud of. If you don’t want to read stories like this, then don’t click on the headline. Other people like hearing happy news stories every now and then.

  • kris boesel

    What an amazing expirence for our family. Thank you WCCO. I wrote about it on our daughters caringbridge sight. With many ups and downs in our daughters leukemia treatment. It was nice to have something to look forward to.

    blessings to you.
    the boesel family


    I need to tell you something. You are obviously someone who has never had a child at Mpls. Children’s Hospital for an extended period of time. Larry Johnson is a hero in many people’s eyes. His TV station and the fun little programs has helped raise many spirits of the children who are battling cancer and other diseases at Children’s.. I know it for a fact. One of my former students was in the hospital battling cancer for many years and during those long stays – Larry’s TV programs kept her going. It gave her a chance to be a kid
    and brought laughter and happiness to her on her darkest days. To me – Larry is right up there with Dr. Bendel.
    My little buddy died four years ago and I still can see her smiling face and hear her little laugh at the wonderful programs that Larry created.
    So, Shavi – just to let you know – you are right – this guy DOES know people in high places – like in heaven where many kids are smiling tonight to know he got some recognition for the wonderful joy he brought to their lives.

    • Tom D

      So true Teacher. There are way too few bright spots in this world like Larry Johnson. It just goes to show that the pioneering spirit is alive and well. I love this kind of story…it is pure inspiration…and I’ve never seen a show of Larry’s, but I can feel the thousands of people he has blessed with his show.

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