"Every one (year) was a pleasure -- everything was a pleasure," he said. "From the moment I got into television and radio it was just terrific. I feel best in a studio. I walk into a studio and I breathe well."
In some ways, the aura of Ranger Hal still roams the area. Youngsters who grew up with Baranek's face every morning from 7:05-7:50 still remember.
"I was at a business meeting in Atlanta and during the course of the meeting we had a representative of the phone company come in," he recalled. "Everybody introduced themselves and she said 'You know, you look familiar' -- she was from Orange Park. This happens all the time."
It's no wonder that those who saw Baranek as children now remember him. During the show's first week, he received 7,000 pieces of mail. The program had been intended merely as a 13-week replacement for the vacationing Captain Kangaroo, but turned into a local phenomenon.
Though Saturday was the only day that children actually appeared on the show, Baranek saw many of his fans both in the studio and during personal appearances.
"One of the first times I went out to make a personal appearance I got out into a crowd and a fellow about 8 said 'Are you a real ranger?' And I said I could work with the rangers whenever I wanted to -- I was lying," Baranek said sheepishly.
"Then the kid says 'Do know how to operate the alidade (surveying instrument)?' Now I never knew what an alidade was -- I realized that the kids study...the children are not idiots. So I took him over to the side and I asked him 'Do you really want to know?' And he said 'No.' That to me was more information about what I was doing than you can go to college for years and find out."
Baranek's 10 years as Ranger Hal hold fond memories for him.
"One morning, someone told me I had some visitors in the lobby," he said. "When I got out there, there was a mother, a dad, and two sons...the older boy who was about 8 was wearing glasses and he got on the couch.
"The parents explained he was going...to have an eye operation. The kid was aware that he might not be able to see after the operation...so he wanted to come see Ranger Hal up close and run his hands over my face so that when we met next time, if he couldn't see, he could still tell it was me.
"I tell you," Baranek said quietly, "that'll knock you out."