The Ramblin' Rod Show 1990-1997

As Ramblin' Rod entered the 1990s, Rod Ander's youthful looks and child-like enthusiasm belied his nearly 60 years. The show and its host would continue to make appearances from his KPTV studio and in venues around Oregon. It seemed, for a time, as if "The Ramblin' Rod Cartoon Show" would go on forever. 

Opening titles to the show, mid-1990s.


But, nothing is forever.

The cartoons that were a staple of Rod's program for three decades were quickly becoming the exclusive property of child-oriented cable networks. With fewer animated shorts available to air, less time could be filled, and KPTV cut "Ramblin' Rod" back to a half-hour in 1994. The children's TV market, which was once the domain of locally-produced shows, was now divided among an abundance of cable channels. Finding kid-friendly advertisers to fund morning TV became more difficult, and stations began turning to local news to fill their morning schedules.  Struggling to compete in the morning news arena, KPTV made a decision that would spell the end of local cartoon shows in Portland.  

In the late summer of 1996, the newly re-branded "Oregon's 12" launched "Good Day Oregon" in the 7:00-9:00am time-period. After 32 years as a weekday entry, Rod was transplanted to a sixty-minute slot on Saturday mornings.

Ramblin' Rod greets his viewers with a wide smile.  


Now competing against both cable and network children's programming, "Ramblin' Rod" struggled.  Rod Anders, nearing retirement age, and increasingly busy with other interests and opportunities, decided the time had come to say goodbye.

On Wednesday March 26, 1997, Ramblin' Rod taped his final show. Although many in the bleachers that day were relatives and old friends, Rod had kept the news of his "retirement" out of the papers. So it was a shock to many in attendance, when he announced that this would be his final show. 

As he pushed his boat off stage for the last time, a teary-eyed Rod smiled and waved to a sustained standing-ovation from the audience. After nearly 33 years, presumed to be a record for a local children's show hosted by a single performer, "The Ramblin' Rod Cartoon Show" sailed into the sunset.


Smile Contest Song (mp3)

Birthday Song (mp3)

KPTV took the show on the road to the Oregon State Fair in
1994, one of many trips Ramblin' Rod took around Oregon
during the show's run.

Even dark glasses can't disguise Rod from his adoring fans at
the Oregon State Fair.

Rod's trusty boat, sporting a new paint job and logo, seems to be
in better shape than the 1960s version,
perhaps reflecting the
growing fortunes of KPTV's owner, Chris-Craft.

One of several buttons that featured Ramblin' Rod, created in
1996 when KPTV became "Oregon's 12."

Ramblin' Rod with two of his long-time friends, "Uncle Hunt"
Decker, (left), director of
The Ramblin' Rod Cartoon Show, and
"Uncle Larry" Neet, floor director (the guy who, among other
things, got the kids to wave their arms and cheer).

Guests on the program, on the Oregon's 12 version of the set,
which was painted to match the Willamette River location of
KPTV's new studios.

A visit from "Chipper the Squirrel" from Oaks Park is a delight
to kids and their parents alike.

Three decades since The Ramblin' Rod Show began, and it's
sill all about children smiling.

Ramblin' Rod greets the day's birthday guests.

A colorful title screen appears upon returning from a
commercial break.

Another view of the set. Notice the Marquam Bridge and
downtown Portland behind Rod's boat.

The final show: "So long, everybody!!!!"  Ramblin' Rod waves
and smiles bravely, but viewers can tell it's a sad goodbye to
the children he has loved for nearly 33 years.

The closing titles come up on screen... and The Ramblin' Rod
Cartoon Show is history.

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This page last updated on January 02, 2006

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