Touchdown, Fort Worth

Hulk Hogan in Super Bowl commercial

Hulk Hogan in Super Bowl commercial

A Seinfeld reunion, interspecies love, Tebow on the moon. In standard day-after-Super Bowl form everyone is buzzing about the best of last night’s ads. Because, well, what else is there to buzz about after that game?

True Fort Worth natives and enthusiasts, like myself, are  beaming with pride for the big win last night for our own hometown team: Radio Shack.  The company’s first ever Super Bowl commercial made a huge  splash on the big stage! Our slogan at Bloom is “Established in Fort Worth, rooted in community,” so this kind of Fort Worth fandom is only natural for us.

The Fort Worth-based company ponied up the big bucks for the Super Bowl spot, came up with a great idea, lined up a star studded cast and executed an awesome plan to drive home a point they have been trying to sell for years –  Radio Shack is not a dated concept of the past.  In order to make that point, Radio Shack pretty much faced the issue head on. The company solicited a long line of pop culture icons from the ‘80’s to break free from their cobwebs. Characters from Mary Lou Retton to Cliff from Cheer’s to Erik Estrada and Hulk Hogan invaded a bland Radio Shack store to reclaim dated technology and allow for a “new” Radio Shack with present-day relevancy.

As a child of the ‘80’s, this brought back so many neon-hued memories,  memories of the pop culture  I was a child of and memories of a Fort Worth past. I grew up with Tandy Corp (Radio Shack’s official corporation name until 2000) as a huge employer of and economic contributor to Fort Worth. When I was young, Tandy was cool and on the cutting edge.  It was one of the first companies to start the personal computer revolution. They also came out with some of the first lap computers, a line of floppy disks for external storage (which was mind blowing at the time) and even the predecessor to the Palm Pilot. Just think, all of this techie coolness straight out of Downtown Fort Worth, America!

Even The Tandy Center Towers, where the company was headquartered, were impressive. In fact, at the time, they were nothing short of glamorous. The Radio Shack/Tandy complex included two 20-story buildings in central downtown with a mall, ice-skating rink and even an operational subway below (again, mind blown)!

Tandy Subway Station circa 1998

Tandy Subway Station circa 1998

I have many fond memories at that ice rink, the site of many childhood birthday parties and a Christmas Eve tradition skating with dear friends and family. More than anything, those twin towers were probably best known for their clever light displays. I still vividly remember two red candles with flickering flames standing tall for all to see from miles away. The towers would use their light capabilities to spell out messages vertically. Each year in January, one tower would read “Stock” and the other “Show,” or “Go Rodeo”. The lights would change along with notable Fort Worth events to read “Tandy Center”, “May Fest”, “The Cure” or “Piano City”.

Tandy Center towers message in lights during the Walk for the Cure

Tandy Center towers message in lights during the Walk for the Cure

The faces of the twin Tandy Center towers had hundreds of light bulb sockets that allowed workers to configure lights to create images or spell out messages.

The faces of the twin Tandy Center towers had hundreds of light bulb sockets that allowed workers to configure lights to create images or spell out messages.

Sadly, eventually the lights went out. The towers, along with so many other Fort Worth structures, were damaged during an infamous tornado in 2002. Radio Shack moved on to build a river front campus downtown. But, on the subject of renovating the look and reinvigorating the popularity, it’s not just the Radio Shack stores that are bringing on a modern and hip vibe.  Currently, the former Tandy Center twin towers are being remodeled as a part of “City Place”, the largest mixed-use redevelopment project in downtown Fort Worth.  One City Place began opening office space at the end of January with a refurbished Subway car in the lobby as an ode to the past, and plans for the future promise a street-level promenade with 30,000 square feet of retail space  and a 2.5 acre outdoor plaza with green space.

City Place renovated tower today. Photo by Brian Luenser

City Place renovated tower today. Photo by Brian Luenser

Only time will tell if the new structures bring my three children, and other children of “the aughts” new light-filled memories. But, last night’s ad made me hopeful that Radio Shack will be providing techy trends in our city’s backyard for many years to come.

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