Why, Nickelodeon? Why?

I would not have believed it if I hadn’t heard it from Moose A. Moose himself.

“Mom! Come out here! You’re not going to believe this!” Cooper called, as I was getting out of the shower. I grabbed a towel and ran into my bedroom just in time to hear the end of Moose A. Moose’s explanation that “Noggin” will henceforth be known as “Nick Jr.”

“They’re changing Noggin!” Cooper said, in utter shock. Maddie looked from her older brother to me, trying to understand the import of what was clearly an earth-shattering moment in her young life. And I almost threw up.

But hold on a sec, we might not need to panic here. This press release makes it clear that exactly nothing is changing, except the name. Moose A. Moose will still be there, singing his annoying song about how jokes are the funniest and troubles, they’re the none-iest, everywhere he goes; although they’re going to have to change that other one. He can’t really sing with conviction that he “used his Nick Jr today.”

So if nothing is changing, really they swear, except the name, why bother? According to the press release, they wanted us all to understand that Noggin’s programming is part of the Nickelodeon family. Apparently a few of us weren’t clear on that. I was. Before taking this drastic measure, they did try to get us all to say “Nick Jr’s Noggin” for a while and that didn’t really take. It could be worse. “The N,” which was the teen channel spun off when Noggin went 24 hours with their programming (a day that will live forever in my fond memory), will now be called “TEENick,” and “The N” was certainly a lame title but at least I can tell how I’m supposed to pronounce it.

What the Nickelodeon people probably have yet to discover is that moms liked Noggin precisely because it seemed so separate from Nickelodeon, or the Disney Channel, both of which start their annoying tween programming way too early in the day. Moms of little kids dread Nick, with its seizure-inducing cartoon pace. Moms of little kids like Noggin. As the blogosphere is making clear. I think Noggin as a brand name was more valuable than the good folks at Viacom realize. This switch might eventually help improve the negative, commercialist connotations some parents have about Nick, but they might have been better off renaming Nick “Noggin Senior.”

If Noggin– sorry, Nick Jr.– really was as “like preschool” as they claim, they would have understood that randomly changing the name of their channel one morning, without warning, would be deeply upsetting to the preschoolers who watch– not to mention their mothers, who count on Ni Hao Kai Lan! every morning as 22 minutes in which to apply makeup and blow dry their hair. It’s all good, Kai Lan will still be around, but they sure scared me for a minute there.

Just the latest example of fixing stuff that doesn’t need to be fixed, which I can say from personal experience is the raison d’etre of the broadcast television industry. Boo! Viacom, you did NOT use your noggin today.