While searching through the Vast and Dusty Scratchbomb VHS Archives, looking for something I hope to digitize and post to the site very soon (shh! it’s a secret!), I ran across not one, not two, but three full episodes of Steampipe Alley. They’re like the Dead Sea Scrolls of kids’ show camp!
Once I made this discovery, I did a quick tour of the interwebs and discovered–TO MY HORROR–that there is virtually no online record of Steampipe Alley‘s existence. THIS ENDS HERE!
If you didn’t grow up in the Tri-State Area and/or you aren’t of a certain age, you may have never heard of Steampipe Alley. It aired on WWOR, channel 9. Nowadays, it’s a “My” station whatever the hell that means, but back then, it was an independent station with Superstation aspirations that broadcast out of Seacaucus, NJ.
Once upon a time, every local TV channel had its own self-produced kids’ show with a goofy host, contests, sketches, and cartoons. By the 1980s, almost none of them did. In fact, by that time, there were very few independent stations left at all. Channel 9 was a rare outpost for ultra-local programming (and a budget to match), wedged in between Cosby Show reruns, old movies, and other syndicated fare.
In 1988, for some anachronistic reason, WWOR decided to produce its own kids’ show called Steampipe Alley. Info on the interwebs about the program’s origins (or anything else about it) is spotty at best. Here’s all you really need to know: it was hosted by Mario Cantone.
You may know Mr. Cantone from Sex and the City, or you may have seen him on a Comedy Central Roast or two, or you may have seen him do his standup act. But if you’ve seen him in any form, you know that he’s high energy, to say the least. And he loves campy, old timey references that he’s way too young to namecheck. He’s equal parts Robin Williams, Rip Taylor, and Charles Nelson Reilly.
Did he tone it down a bit when he hosted a kids’ show? I think you know the answer to that question already.