Her name is positively legendary in West Texas. Especially to those who grew up here in the late 70's and early 80's. Sunshine Sally entertained area children with a morning television show from 1976 to 1980. A show that rose in prominence, and became an unmistakable hit for four years.
Sunshine Sally captivated young hearts and minds in West Texas. And even though she's been off the air for more than 20 years now, to this day she is still one of the most admired and highly regarded role models to ever hit the air in West Texas. It was a show kids adored and parents admired.
"I didn't realize how popular it was until I went off the air," says Sally Strouth.
With her blonde hair and signature red hat, Sunshine Sally brightened the worlds of children every morning -- Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 9:30. Her half hour show was given a three month trial period to prove itself. Sunshine Sally almost single-handedly turned her three months into four years on Lubbock's KLBK-TV.
"Every morning, Mr. Leroy would come in with the mail. And I'd say, 'There's Mr. Leroy, let's go get the mail.' And I'd stand at the mailbox and just read the jokes and laugh," says Sally.
And it was that infectious laugh and personality that captured a huge following on the South Plains. All the jokes read on her show were written by local children, just one piece of her entirely local show. Sunshine Sally soon became Lubbock's most well known and lovable television personality.
"I knew I was getting popular when I started getting letters from adults," says Sally.
That's how Sally spent part of her afternoons, reading letters. Sometimes 125 letters a day.
"I read every letter they sent," says Sally.
And she wasn't just entertaining children, but also educating them. She spent the other half of her afternoons in the library researching show ideas. At the end of her four year run, she had taught kids about everything from good manners to U.S. state capitals. The show even called for a trip to Orlando, where they taped three shows in one day at Seaworld. All from one lady's imagination running wild. Sunshine Sally knew what kids wanted.
"We went to Mackenzie Park to record the show introduction and the kids just love it because Sally can swing," she says.
But eventually, her segment was pushed off the air on weekday mornings because of a surge at that time in morning news programming.
"I missed it at first, but our business is so busy, I don't miss it like I used to," says Sally.
Today, Sunshine Sally and her husband Ken run a very successful photography business out of their home in central Lubbock: Accent Photography.
"In our photography business, we are now doing brides who watched our show years and years ago," says Sally.
And all these years later, she's still a local celebrity. Riding in parades across the South Plains and doing what she can to make kids laugh.
"The last one I rode in, my emotions just ran away with me. I could here it (the crowd saying) 'Sunshine Sally, Sunshine Sally,' and you don't think about it because I haven't been on the air in 22 years, and it's so needed. Kids need a hero to believe in," says Sally.