I am a Columbia native. I have lived here all of my 52 years of life. In this day of so many changes, the one constant we could depend on might be taken away from all of us. It was announced that KOMU-Channel 8 is canceling its long-time running TV show “Pepper & Friends” of 27 years after Sept. 18.
Paul Pepper has been at KOMU-TV for 40 years. When I was just 12 years old, I remember watching this young weatherman with beautiful, thick black hair, a toothy grin, massive eyebrows and a voice so smooth that it made you just want to listen — yes, that was Paul Pepper — one of Columbia’s most beloved treasures. Later in 1982 the TV show “Pepper & Friends” aired, then in 1983 James Mouser joined the show that they both host. James, another beloved treasure.
For 27 years, the service they both have brought our entire community and beyond is priceless. They come into our homes Monday through Friday and bring a wealth of knowledge to all viewers. They also provide us with entertainment and cooking segments, showcase animals that need good loving homes, and offer important information about our community that we would not know about if it wasn’t on the show.
James Mouser also hosts the show. He has a daily “Kids Korner” segment that lets our children come on and show their many talents. It also lets adults come on and entertain and educate our children as well. Another treat for all is to see Mouser when he does one of his cartooning segments — he creates wonderful characters right in front of our very own eyes.
But the most important thing about “Pepper & Friends” is the impact it has had on so many lives in our community and beyond. I can speak firsthand about this because when I was a young mother, I had very few communications outside of my home. I have four children, one of them autistic, and spent most of my time at home trying to take care of my kids. Every day when “Pepper & Friends” came on, that is the one time of the day I would put aside to be entertained by music and cooking segments, and educated about upcoming events and happenings. I guess you might say that “Pepper & Friends” was my reach to the world beyond my home.
Paul and James always have made you feel like you are part of their show and actually you are — whether you are on the show or viewing it from your comfort of your home, you are there. I have learned so much important information from the show.
One part that is very important is that the sponsors can come on the show and advertise their goods and services. I, like so many others, support these sponsors because of their involvement with “Pepper & Friends.” Now, I hear that KOMU has decided after 27 years to cancel our beloved show. Marty Siddall, general manager, cited that “the high cost of production and tough advertising environment made it impossible to keep the show.” I find this statement to be unbelievable. I just can’t see how a show that has a never-ending supply of sponsors (many of them being long-time, since-the-show-started sponsors) could use the excuse that it is losing money on the show.
Paul and James have done so much over the years on the show and outside the show to help out our entire community and beyond. Now it is time for all of us to do all that we can to make sure that our one-of-a-kind Columbia treasure is not taken away from us because if this happens, it would be a tragic loss for all.
Please help out by contacting the following people and asking them to reverse this terrible decision to cancel “Pepper & Friends” before it is too late:
Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services
319 Jesse Hall
Columbia, MO 65201-1250
c/o Marty Siddall
5550 Highway 63 South
Columbia, MO 65101