PBS Kids Show 'City Island' a 'Love Letter' to NYC

‘City Island’ on PBS Kids
(Image credit: PBS Kids)

PBS Kids premieres City Island December 26. The show, a series of animated digital shorts starring a lightbulb named Watt, shares its name with a waterfront neighborhood in the Bronx. The show is, in some ways, "a love letter for this city," said creator Aaron Augenblick of New York, but City Island is its own metropolis. 

The show targets early elementary school-age kids and covers topics such as cooperation, conflict resolution and city planning, intended to help children understand how cities and communities work. Every car, tree and building is its own character. 

Augenblick runs an eponymous studio in Brooklyn. “I have great, great love for New York City,” he told B+C. “As I created the idea for City Island, it bloomed into a love letter for this city.”

The theme song and score for the series are composed by Tunde Adebimpe, who is the lead singer of TV on the Radio, which came out of Brooklyn.

Sara DeWitt, senior VP and general manager, PBS Kids, said the show “tackles civics…in such a vibrant and engaging way.”

Augenblick executive produces with Daniel Powell and Gemma Correll. Augenblick and Powell founded children’s animation studio Future Brain Media in 2021. 

The City Island neighborhood is in the northeast Bronx, located in the Long Island Sound, off of Pelham Bay Park.

Augenblick called City Island “my dream project.” Sesame Street, The Muppets and Peanuts are inspirations. He described the show as New York City “on its very, very best day,” but stressed that City Island’s influences don’t come from New York alone.

“New York is definitely a big inspiration,” Augenblick said, “but the whole country is an inspiration.” ■

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the L.A. Times and New York magazine.