Vintage WUAB-43 KidsLand Club Membership Card (Circa-1989)

Perhaps my earliest memories go back to when I was three years old. I can still specifically recall watching Halloween specials with my dad in that year of 1989, for example. Less specific, but rather more general, are the memories of watching cartoons on WUAB-43‘s KidsLand line-up during those formative years. Actually, right now I’m not quite sure if all those memories are completely of my watching ‘live’ or of later watching the VHS recordings my mom made for me. Maybe a bit of both. Either way, I was there, and as such, WUAB’s KidsLand is positively burnt into my memory.

Which is why this find from just yesterday was such a huge deal personally. Whoda thunk that a small piece of paper, roughly (but I don’t think exactly) the size of any ‘regular’ trading card, would have been such a monumental acquisition for me? Actually, I would have thunk it beforehand, had it crossed my mind. I don’t think it ever did, but needless to say, it was.

Dig this:

Good golly, when I came across this, it was one of those lightning bolt “oooh!” reactions (does anyone else get those, or is it just me being weird?), accompanied by a rapid snatching of the object that would have made Bruce Lee proud (maybe). The moment my eyes fell upon that logo, the registration with my brain was instantaneous, and thus there was absolutely no doubt whatsoever that it was coming home with me. I’m not a man moved to violence, but had competition been afoot, well, I could very possibly be incarcerated right now. (Okay, things probably wouldn’t have gone that far… but hopefully I’ll never be put in a position to where I’ll have to find out.)

We’ll look at the back of the card momentarily, but for now I’ll just say there’s no date anywhere on this thing, which is why you got a “Circa-1989” in the post title above. Why go with ’89? Because I can say with total confidence that that’s when this logo was in usage – because I was there, man! KidsLand was pushed extensively at that time, and that was the logo they used. It’s engraved on my psyche or something like that. I don’t know how long it was used for, though; I want to say it was around at least as early as 1988, but that’s a statement I can’t make with certainty. At any rate, it had changed by some point in 1990 to a more updated, 90s-appropriate look. Same name, same club, different logo. Savvy?

So what was WUAB’s KidsLand Club? KidsLand was the branding for 43’s morning/afternoon kid shows – you know, a KidsLand. Hosted by “Liz,” in-studio or on-location host segments, contests and the like could appear during the commercial breaks, which, while maybe not too atypical of local children’s programming blocks found across the U.S., certainly added a nice local flavor to both the hot syndicated programming of the time (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Real Ghostbusters, G.I. Joe) as well as some of the old favorites (Tom & Jerry, etc.) running on the station.

Liz was cool, like a big sister that didn’t torture you (a statement I make despite never having had a big sister, or sister of any kind for that matter.)

As for the specific KidsLand Club though? Sad to say, I was never actually a member, so first-hand accounts of the benefits of joining are not something I can give. I’m guessing it was free to become a member, but maybe parents had to shell out a few bucks, I dunno. Besides the card, maybe kids periodically received updates or activities or whatnot in the mail? Perhaps they could be invited to special KidsLand events held about town? Or maybe it was all honorary, just something for kids to hang their figurative hats on, so to speak?

It kinda stands to reason that there’d be ‘more’ to joining than just owning an admittedly-spiffy membership card, but look, while I absolutely remember the graphics and branding and programming of KidsLand, I’m not claiming to be any sort of authority on the subject. Which of course doesn’t change the fact that I’m certainly nostalgic for my time with it and, needless to say, paraphernalia pertaining to it.

Some kid’s name is still written on the back of the card; evidently he didn’t feel the need to hold on to it some 30+ years later, so to a thrift store it went – his trash was my treasure! Obviously I’m not going to flash his name or (just to be on the safe side) membership card number across the web for all to see. Hence the big black bars you’re seeing above, provided by my advanced usage of technology. (AKA my computer’s paint program.)

Actually, the kid wrote his name in pencil; I suppose I could erase it and put my own moniker there, should I be interested in being a disingenuous piece of human garbage. As previously stated, I was never actually a member of the club, and therefore writing my name here would be hurtful and fraudulent. And superfluous; this is a terrific piece of local television memorabilia as well as a link to undeniable childhood memories on my part, but where practicality is concerned, there’s not much I can really do with it. I mean, the KidsLand Club hasn’t existed in decades; I’m just speculatin’ here, but I imagine it was bye-bye by the mid-90s. Maybe, at least, when 43 affiliated with UPN and started running their cartoons? I don’t know.

‘Course, should I scrawl my name on the back here (and, fun fact, my penmanship is generally sloppy enough to be mistaken for a kid’s handwriting), I then might be tempted to keep the card in my wallet as if it were a valid form of state I.D. I mean, it should be, but it isn’t. (Is it?) The main problem there is that I’d be threatening extra wear on the card, which could not only hurt whatever collectability this thing may have, but also prove problematic if/when I hand the card to the tattoo artist and ask them to put that logo on my face.

ANYWAY, taking a closer look at the back of the card here, you’ll notice that a member was entitled to club privileges. What were they? Like I said a bit ago, I couldn’t say. Coulda just been bragging rights, for all I know. Also evident: a KidsLand secret code key, though again, I have no idea what it pertains to. Both things definitely point towards there being more than a kid just being a “mere member” of the club, if that makes any sense.

I admit, I figured out what my first name would translate to in secret KidsLand code. You never know when information like this will come in handy, he said as if he hadn’t already forgotten the series of numbers.

You know what’s additionally cool about this card to me? The time period in kid’s TV it signifies. Remember, I was there, and in my eyes, it really was a murderers’ row of cartoons: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, C.O.P.S., The Real Ghostbusters, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, G.I. Joe, probably more I’m forgetting. And that’s not even counting standbys like Scooby-Doo, Tom & Jerry, Popeye and the like; stuff that, you know, never goes out of style. Or at least shouldn’t ever go out of style. And don’t forget the local programming like Barnaby or, even though I don’t think he was officially part of KidsLand beyond being advertised during it, Superhost.

Add a healthy dose of fantastic late-80s/early-90s advertising and of course those KidsLand host segments with Liz, and it should be no wonder why I’m so nostalgic for the time period. Certainly I’m biased, but as far as I’m concerned, it was a wonderful time to be alive. The late-80s and early/mid-90s, before the internet took over everything everywhere, it was a great time to be a kid.

Oh, and the icing on the cake here? WUAB is one of the top local stations I always, ALWAYS love collecting memorabilia from. No joshin’, it’s one of my personal “big four” stations. So the fact that there’s a nostalgic connection for yours truly here only adds to the enamor.

So there you have it: an old school WUAB-43 KidsLand Club membership card. Maybe some former (?) members can chime in with their experiences being part of it. But whether they do or don’t, it’s still a fantastic representative of a bygone era in local television, and THAT, my friends, makes it invaluable.

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