Tony Saletan

  • Years at WGBH: 1955 to the present, off and on.
  • Position(s): Music talent (Channel 2’s first host).

From Tony Saletan — 2000

My main connections with WGBH started with hosting the initial Channel 2 program (and series), when we first went on the air. I remember eight such connections. There may be some that have slipped from memory.

1. May 2, 1955, “Come and See,” which I initially co-hosted with Mary Lou Adams (later Von Klock? And still later Cubbage). The program was aimed at young children, aired three or four times a week that first year. Mary Lou (who left after four months) died ca. 1996 of kidney failure. I just located our producer-director, Ralph Tangney, had a good phone talk.

2. “Music Grade II” (what an imaginative title!) about 1957, for in-school viewing by second grade classes.

3. “Sing, Children, Sing” After a two-year tour of Asia and Africa singing American folk songs, I returned in 1961 to revise and expand “Music Grade II” into “Sing, Children, Sing” which was distributed nationally.

4. The series referred to by Al Hinderstein on “Tony Saletan’s What’s New Specials comprised a series of programs used in two different ways: Locally (Eastern MA, southern NH and RI) it was part of the in-school schedule, known as “Field Trip Specials.” Nationally, NET (National Educational Television, predecessor of PBS) used these on-location programs as part of “What’s New” which was a series for home viewing, aimed primarily at upper elementary and Junior High viewers.

I may have forgotten some of the venues where we made programs, but I remember the Charles W. Morgan at Mystic, CT; Plymouth Plantation (and maybe the Mayflower III?), Old Sturbridge Village, USS Constitution (Old Ironsides), Fort Ticonderoga, Paul Revere’s Boston, Saugus Ironworks, the Shaker Community in New Lebanon, NY and Hancock, MA, the Museum of Transportation then in Brookline — anybody remember others?

5. Three music series that I wrote and hosted for Western Instructional Television in Hollywood. One of them is “Let’s All Sing” which aired for some years on WGBH-TV.

6. I remember doing a humorous fund-raising promotion with David Ives and many of the ‘GBH staff (looking sour at David’s song before joining in scattered polite applause).

7. The holiday special, “Circle of Lights,” produced by WGBH with Pete Seeger, Bernice Reagon, the Pennywhistlers, Doc Watson and others. It aired in December for many years.

8. My main current connection with Channel 2 is annually being a volunteer auctioneer. I love doing that, and it’s nostalgic for me. Live TV is all we had on “Come and See” 45 years ago. Any mistakes went right out to the public. (Oh, if these old lips could talk!)

Off-screen, I call contra dances (and square dances), give concerts of songs nobody else sings, and make occasional recordings. The night of the WGBH 2000 reunion (Saturday from 8 to 11 pm) I’ll be calling at the Scout House, 47 Walden Street in Concord. Anybody wearing a WGBH Reunion 2000 T- or Sweatshirt is welcome as my guest.

Singing with my stepson, Charlie Murphy, 12 1/2.

Personal: Irene Saletan, my first wife, sings with me on some of the programs. We made the front page of the Boston Globe Magazine in an antique car promoting one of the Field Trip Specials. Our daughter Nina, a recent Babson MBA, is in the Peace Corps in Mali. Our son Jesse recently switched from the public sector and now does tech work for Quintus.com in Austin, Texas.

Last November, I married WGBH supporter and pediatric dermatologist Jill Rosenthal, and acquired 12-year-old stepson Charlie, who accompanied me to the recent Folk Heritage “20 Years with Dick Pleasants” celebration — a rare WGBH-FM moment in an otherwise WGBH-TV-connected life.

(Photos by Jill Rosenthal)

29 Comments

  1. Norm
    Posted October 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    You can now view an episode of LET’S ALL SING and the complete audio from the SONG BAG stereo LP at the following YOUTUBE links, uploaded from my private collection.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TDEAbC0ayI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feclszHb8y8

    Norm

  2. Posted June 3, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I love “The Song Bag”by Tony Saletan great series at 84 Tony looks great.

  3. Bryan Hopper
    Posted March 27, 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    I had a cat and my cat pleased me
    I fed my cat by yonder tree
    Cat goes fiddle eye fee, fiddle eye fee.

  4. Diana
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Is there any way that you could offer “Let’s All Sing” on DVD? I loved that show. I still remember the opening song, and Tony Saletan with his guitar. I didn’t realize he had such a successful career as a folk singer. Today there aren’t any good musical, educational tv programmes like this one.

  5. Posted January 30, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    What Tony Saletan did with his show “The Songbag” on PBS was great!! As a child I loved that show and I watched it at home and they showed it in Elementary School because of it’s educational value- it was always a treat to me. It was probably my first real introduction to American Folk music!!! It wasnt until recent years that I became aware of Tony’s successful career in Folk music and his non-stop from the heart contributions to Folk music and humanity in general. He is truly a great American. For me, “The Songbag” is a timeless classic and it was a important part of my child-hood education.

  6. Jeff Elder
    Posted May 16, 2013 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Tony Saletan? Holy Cow, I remember that guy! Maybe I should say Holy Donkey. I think I remember seeing him with a donkey somewhere. Ya, I remember his “Let’s All Sing” program on TV. That was my entire music lesson in 2nd grade back in 1975. Great thing about that program is it made you forget you were even in school. Made the afternoon go by much faster. Wow, that would be awesome to see that program again on DVD. Music teachers could learn a lot from that program too.

  7. brad millar
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    to tony saletan
    how are you doing
    would you please send 3 photographs 8x10s
    of tony saletan
    pleasesend them to brad millar
    po box 76 vernon ont
    koa-3jo canada
    or please email meat bradcmillar@gmail.com

  8. Kevin
    Posted August 25, 2012 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    I sure remember having to watch Tony Saletan’s TV show The Song Bag back in 1974 when I was in the first grade. I was attending catholic school (UGGGH!) and TV time was always a breath of fresh air from the screaming nuns. Other shows I remember were All About You with Louise McNamara and, of course, Davy and Goliath. If I remember correctly The Song Bag and All About You were part of The 21inch Classroom series by WGBH.

    • Duffy
      Posted October 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      “Sing Children Sing”, used to see it in class back at West St School in Southbridge , Ma, as part of the 21 Inch Class Room Programs. I loved the music, still rememeber and can play the Opening/Closing Title tune, and one other “Tingaleo, come little donkey come.” Taught them to my kids. Funny story, working as a package delivery driver I pulled up to a customers house in CT, who had a donkey in the back yard. I called over “hey Tingaleo!”, the customer said, “how did you know his name” we both started singing ” My donkey walk, my donkey talk, my donkey eat with a knife and fork”, laughing our heads off. I loved when we stopped school work to watch and sing along with Tony’s show.

    • Randy
      Posted December 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Holy Bananas! I have been trying to find this guy’s name for ages! I remember the Song Bag too, but was never able to remember the name of the show or the guy’s name!

  9. Jon Melick
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I remember Tony from when he came to Memorial School in Newton’s Oak Hill Park to teach music to the kindergarteners; and I can still hear him singing “Tingalayo”. Then, I can remember him coming back and teaching us the “Sparow’s School Song” (it can be found on http://1nichi.wordpress.com). Still later, I and my classmates would watch “Sing, Children, Sing”; and to this day if I hear someone say “Hello, everybody”, I will always sing to my self “yes, indeed.”

  10. Gary Maloney
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    My neighbor told me about your show today. I take care of the yard work and chat with her and her dog Niko. Her name is Martha Flanders (Koyro at the time) and she also did the Come and See segment. I’m looking online for any clips but so far just you singing the Five time Five song. Have a nice day.

  11. Gorg Bozak
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:22 am | Permalink

    I watched Tony in kindergarten, in the mid-60’s, on big black and white tube tv the teacher would roll into the classroom. I don’t remember all of the songs, but I do remember waiting in anticipation to see him. The one song had a verse that went something like “Chi Chi, Pa Pa, Chi, Pa Pa.” Are any of those programs around…on DVD? Can Tony be seen anywhere…on TV or DVD? The best to you Tony. Thanks for being able to insert some memorable and wholesome joy into the childhood of a troubled little boy.

  12. Posted November 6, 2011 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    It was first grade for me at the Perrin School in Wellesley MA, Spring 1961. Tony was my whole happy memorable first grade, though the ‘GBH show and set only got wheeled in on Fridays. I’m sure all the songs touched me…but, now I so remember the farewell song, a sad time ~ “Tony Saletan saying goodbye, Tony Saletan saying goodbye, sing children sing.” I began paying guitar and singing in 1972 and have played ever since. Thank you, Tony! Blessings!

  13. Dave Adamson
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Of all the people I have met, Tony Saletan is a great guy and a great singer. Tony and I have spoken through e-mails. I was 5 years old in 1973 when “Let’s All Sing” was on Public TV. I wish Tony could do another “Let’s All Sing” for children. One of my friends on Facebook wrote me and told that Tony is loved by the kids in Seoul. They play Tony’s songs on an old LP record. Not long ago, I found a video on YouTube called “Five Times Five.” The video lasted about 1.30 seconds. I wish “Lets All Sing” was on DVD and in stores to buy. Tony Rocks.

    • Dave Adamson
      Posted September 9, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      Hey Tony have you done other videos on YouTube? Please call Western TV and ask them to put “Lets All Sing”on DVD. Tony Garbriel from Souel says the kids over there love you and your music. I would love to get a free copy of “Singing Down The Road.” P.S.There are over 63 some memebers in the facebook room “Lets All Sing.”

    • Lawri
      Posted December 10, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      I’m about your age; I went to a Catholic school in southern CA, and occasionally we would watch this show in class. To this day, I sometimes wake up in the morning with that theme song stuck in my head! Happened this morning, which was what finally prompted me to see if Tony was still out there, and if anyone else remembered that show.

  14. Kim Virginia
    Posted June 15, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    I was watching John Sebastian’s “Folk Rewind” special on PBS just now. During the pledge break he said something about “I’ve been a loyal PBS viewer beginning with Sesame Street.” I thought, I know PBS has been around longer than that!

    I was trying to remember my earliest memories of public television: “Sing Children Sing”! My second grade teacher in Enfield CT used to wheel out the black and white TV once a week so we could watch it in class.

    I remember the theme song: “Hello Everybody Yes Indeed, Sing Children Sing” and I remember certain songs would stick with me like glue: “I wish I was a mole in the ground, I wish I was a mole in the ground, If I was a mole in the ground, I would root that mountain down, Oh I wish I was a mole in the ground.”

    I was hoping I could find some “Sing Children Sing” clips on youtube! But I’m glad that I at least found this link on google. And I watched a couple of your youtube clips — Good to see you again Tony after all these years!

    Those “Sing Children Sing” episodes were a major musical influence! You are appreciated!!

  15. RL
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    In 1974, I was in the 2nd grade and watched you in school and remember Tingalao (I don’t know the spelling).

    But, I fondly remember the song: Tingalao, run little donkey run, Also, I remember you playing:

    Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
    Merry merry king of the bush is he
    Laugh Kookaburra laugh Kookaburra
    Gay your life must be.

    Those sure were different times. Mr Saletan you rock. I have been a life long musician and I think of you from time to time and the songs you sang to all of us kids.

    Thank you very much for some of the first musical memories of my life.

  16. Shannon Baker
    Posted May 3, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    In writing my biographical information about how I came to recognize a call to ministry, I had to begin by mentioning you, Tony! My mother tells me that it is because of your show on PBS that I began to ask my mother who Noah was. I believe my questioned stemmed from a song about “brother Noah” building an ark. (Around 1980?) Disturbed that I did not know, she began to take our family to church on Sunday mornings. Thank you for planting the seeds of faithful inquiry in my heart!

    In Christ’s Love,
    Shannon

  17. Evan Rodgers
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    The Song Bag was a great show. I was born in 1971 and was really lucky to have PBS presenting
    such amazing programing. People like Tony Salatan really gave me an appreciation for folk music,
    an appreciation that I have to this day. I learned so much about art and culture and diversity through PBS. Thank you, Tony.

  18. Tonya
    Posted March 14, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    “Let’s all sing a song today, a song today, a song today, Let’s all sing a song today with Tony Saletan”

  19. Joe Hermann
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    I remember a show that used to air on my PBS station as a kid. It was such a great show, it was called The Songbag and if my memory is correct, I remember you used to sing a song called Come and See my Farm — it is so pretty and hoky poky, penny a loafy, or something like that — am I correct? Thanks.

    • Tony Saletan
      Posted March 9, 2011 at 12:41 am | Permalink

      Joe, you’re right about my having a series called, “The Song Bag” which included many songs. And you’re also correct that on public television I sang a song which starts “Come and see my farm” in English translation, or “Mi Chacra” in the original Spanish. I also sang the song “Hail to Britannia” which has a chorus that includes the text, “Hokey pokey pennny a loafy, taste before you buy.” So your memory is almost entirely accurate. I actually used the two songs that you mentioned not on “The Song Bag” but on a related series titled “Let’s All Sing.” The two series, plus a third called “Singing Down the Road,” were all produced by Western Instructional Television and distributed to public TV stations for viewing in elementary schools. Some families watched them at home.
      Tony

      • Joe Herrmann
        Posted March 9, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        I have another question for you. Was there was another song that went something like this? “Chairs to mend oh chairs to mend,” or something like that.

        Also, are there any DVD’s or plans to put lets all play on the computer for an archive site? I would love to see those episodes again.

        Also one more question, i love collecting 8×10 pictures of people who have had an impact on my life, and your songs were so good, is there a way i could get a picture of you?

        Thanks so much…

        • Mark L. Levinson
          Posted March 17, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          Chairs to mend would be this one, right? —
          http://kristinhall.org/songbook/PartSongsAndRounds/ChairsToMend.html

          I don’t remember where I learned it, but likely it was from Mister Saletan. He used to personally make the rounds of the elementary schools in the suburb where I grew up. That was before he was a well-known TV personality, I guess, but any time he showed up in the classroom was a time of wholehearted enjoyment for us.

  20. Diane Porter
    Posted January 4, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Absolutely thrilled to have found my ‘favorite’ singer that no one else knew. For years I’ve been searching for ‘Tony Salentine’–the name in my memory. So glad Google figured me out and sent me to the Shaker Village Work Group page at Wikipedia, which led me here.

    Your PBS show circa 1974-6 (when I was ages 4-6) instilled a great love of music into my life. Thank you so very, very much!!

  21. Jay Collier
    Posted December 14, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    We often receive questions about archived programs through this website. Here’s an example, with the answer from Tony. If you can shed additional light, please do!

    Question: Where can I find video of a show titled “What’s New?” that aired during the 1960’s. I vaguely recall watching this as a child, and would love to see it again. This show had a catchy theme intro song … something like, “In out and roundabout, etc.”

    Answer (Tony Saletan): “What’s New” was an NET (National Education Television) series which included segments produced by various public television stations. I was the host of some of the segments, which were produced by Boston’s station, WGBH-TV. (NET was the predecessor of PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service.)

    I believe that the entire National Educational Television collection was donated to the Library of Congress, so you might inquire there. I don’t know whether the NET collection is available in a form that’s playable on current media, nor whether it’s cataloged. I’d be happy to hear from you if you find out.

    Recently, I came across one complete “What’s New” episode, complete with the “In and Out and Round About” theme. Al Binford was the national host of the “What’s New” Series, and I was the local host of this particular episode. It’s now part of a 90-minute DVD titled “The Shakers on Television, 1966-1991″ compiled by Roger Hall. The DVD is available for purchase; details are at

    http://www.americanmusicpreservation.com/shakermusic2.htm#theshakersontelevision

    Best of luck,
    Tony Saletan

  22. Mary Ratcliff
    Posted October 25, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Tony Saletan is the coolest guy ever. His songs that he sang on his TV shows will never be forgotten.

    I hope they give him another show on PBS so he can bring the joy to a new generation! Come back, Tony!!!

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