Assignment

UGA is home to the prestigious Peabody Awards and the Peabody Media Center. While the Pulitzer recognizes achievements in writing, Peabody, established in 1940, honors stories that matter from electronic media (historically radio and television). UGA’s Special Collections Library houses its incredible archive, and you will get a VIP tour! For this project, you’ll select an artifact from this archive and as your project, explore its cultural/historical significance in written and/or A/V form.

Guidelines: You have been invited to contribute to a new digital papers project for the Peabody Media Center, which will be composed entirely of paper artifacts from Peabody submissions past. From the George Foster Peabody Awards Collection in the Hargrett, you’re responsible for selecting one artifact submitted by a US TV program (either scripted or non-scripted) prior to 1995 and documenting its significance using a circuit of culture approach.

Initial Abstract

In 1983, The Great Space Coaster won a Peabody award for its excellence in children’s educational broadcasting. Co-created by Kermit Love and Jim Martin (a duo that would see later success on Sesame Street), the program is remembered for its public service-oriented content, but it was actually privately funded by Hasbro and distributed on its network. During a time of contention regarding the legislation of children’s television, leading up to the divisive Children’s Television Act of 1990, the fact that The Great Space Coaster was so critically acclaimed and beloved, but short-lived, raises the the question of if it can be used as an example of the success of self-regulation of television, or if it was a merely a precursor to the shift to stricter government legislation of children’s educational programming. The Great Space Coaster being well-made and educational may add credibility to sponsored children’s programming, but overall I submit that this program actually increased the outcry for more publicly funded children’s educational programming.


For this paper I looked through a lot of primary materials in the Peabody Awards Collection (specifically on the Hargrett side, if you’re trying to recreate this project). I was drawn to The Great Space Coaster after reading the reviews and comparisons to contemporaries at the time, like Sesame Street, while being completely funded Hasbro. This kind of intersection between industrial realities and cultural perceptions is something that always fascinates me.

This paper actually helped me get a job in the Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection as a student worker!