1. Who created ZOOM?
Christopher Sarson created ZOOM and was the producer the first three seasons. He originally pitched Zoom In/Zoom Out, which was rejected by another Boston station. When repackaged, he pitched it successfully to GBH as ZOOM. The program premiered January 9, 1972, on PBS and ran for six seasons. A British native, Sarson also secured rights for GBH to broadcast another blockbuster: MASTERPIECE.
2. What was the predecessor of ZOOM?
In the one-season Summer Do, also produced by Christoper Sarson, GBH’s large mobile camera truck followed groups of Boston children bicycling around their neighborhoods and discovering favorite places.
3. What were some influences on ZOOM?
A 1971 GBH promotion for ZOOM compares it to the sketch comedy show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In, the satirical political variety show Great American Dream Machine (produced by New York City’s WNET) and Sesame Street. The creator was also intrigued by the children’s magazine KIDS (1970-75), founded in the Boston suburb of Cambridge.
4. Why is the program called ZOOM?
It’s a shortened version of a program the creator originally conceptualized, Zoom In/ Zoom Out, which zoomed in on kids’ lives and zoomed out to provide broader perspectives.
5. Who wrote the ZOOM theme song?
Newton Wayland, a New England Conservatory of Music graduate composed “Come on and Zoom.” He was ZOOM’s music director from 1971 to 1978 and also wrote the "Send it to ZOOM" address song featuring the unforgettable 0-2-1-3-4 GBH zip code.
6. Why did cast members wear rugby shirts?
Total coincidence. Sears had rugby shirts on sale when the pilot was being filmed. The shirts aimed to mirror the show’s message that we all share a common humanity.
7. How many kids auditioned every season?
As producer, Christopher Sarson auditioned every kid who applied — one thousand kids per season.
8. How popular was ZOOM?
It was one of the nation’s most successful noncommercial children’s series. By the mid-1970s, ZOOM had received between 1.5 and 2 million letters. To deal with the deluge, GBH enlisted adult volunteers to sort the incoming mail into categories. ZOOM won national Emmys for children’s programming in 1973, 1974 and 1977.
9. How were ZOOMguests selected?
ZOOMguest segments were short documentaries that offered glimpses into the lives of a diverse range of children. Suggestions came from a variety of sources including letters sent in by viewers. Selections were made to capture a diverse range of locations and experiences and those whose stories were rarely told on television.
10. Was ZOOM ever re-booted?
The success and lasting impact of the original ZOOM inspired GBH to produce a second-generation ZOOM series for broadcast on PBS (1999-2005).
Explore 50 years of ZOOM here.