Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Climate Change in TV Viewing

I just realized something this morning: I no longer watch cable TV; everything I see is either a DVD or streaming. Everything. I should hop (!) online and cancel my cable subscription--except for Internet services, of course.

What a change ... what changes in my lifetime!

I was born in north central Oklahoma in 1944. I remember not having a TV set at all--and I remember the first one I ever saw at a friend's house. The screen was round. Black-and-white. Blurry. Absolutely amazing. A wooden console set that looked--except for the circular screen--like the full-size wooden radio consoles we had--and my grandparents had. The one in the photo I stole from the Internet is dated 1952. That's about right. I was 8 then--though it must have been earlier because I saw this before we owned a set..

We got our first TV in the early 1950s, too--not long before Dad was called  back into active duty--the Air Force--for the Korean War. We got as far as Amarillo, Tex., the Air Force Base there. We were there a little under two years.

Anyway, back in Okla., our first set--also wooden but with the square/rectangular screen--wooden case. We had only a couple of stations we could access--one in Oklahoma City (when the weather and antenna cooperated), one in Enid, where we lived. Both signed off at 1 a.m., and nothing but what they called a "test pattern" ran all night. Can't believe I just found this image online--it's the pattern of the very Okla City station we watched!

When we moved to Amarillo, we took our set with us, but it sat quietly, unused, the whole time we were there. No TV stations in Amarillo at the time. Our set was just another piece of furniture. So we listened to radio programs on the big wooden radio--Fibber McGee and Molly, The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, etc.

Back in Enid in 1953, our set went back on, and we used the radio only for events that were not telecast. I still remember listening to Rocky Marciano fights on the wooden radio in our grandparents' house. And baseball games. My older brother and grandpa listened to the Saturday opera broadcasts at the Met.

But still ... just two TV channels.

And need I say that all of this was in black-and-white? Color sets were rare--were special. On family car trips I remember seeing large signs outside of motels: COLOR TV! I remember that we once stopped for the night at such a place, only to discover, sadly for us kids, that the only COLOR TV! was in the motel lobby.

We didn't get our first color TV until I was in high school--now living in Hiram, Ohio, where we could get (aerials and/or rabbit ears cooperating) the three Cleveland stations--one for each of the major broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, NBC.

In 1966, when my parents left for Drake Univ. in Des Moines, Iowa, and when I began my teaching career in Aurora, Ohio, they left me the old b&w set and the rabbit ears; that set adorned my little bachelor pad in Twinsburg, Ohio, where I watched my favorite shows (rabbit ears cooperating): Mannix was one I liked, a CBS detective show. The Virginian (I'd read the eponymous Owen Wister Western novel in high school study hall).. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Etc. That old set was ... temperamental. Sometimes I had to slug it in the side for the picture to sharpen.

The first color set I owned was a hand-me-down from Tom and Annabelle Coyne, whose daughter, Joyce, had mysteriously agreed to marry me late in 1969. We watched that one for quite a while.

And  then we bought our own sets. Cleveland, by then, had added a UHF station (channel 43) to compete with the VHF regulars.

I can't remember when we got our first cable connection. But we loved it--watched all those incredible HBO shows (The Sopranos!) and so many movies ...

Soon, there were so many cable stations--so many options--that it was absolutely overwhelming. What to watch? And why? 

Soon, we got a DVR, courtesy of the cable company, and were thereby able to watch shows that weren't ... convenient ... at the time. SNL (too late!) + other shows we'd decided to watch at our convenience. (Don't dare use the cliche "sea change" here--do not say "see change," for Shakespeare, who used the phrase in The Tempest, will be disappointed in you!)

And then ... video stores (buh-bye) ... and Netflix discs (still get them occasionally) ... and streaming services. (PS: Spell-checker just recommended I replace "Netflix" with "needfuls.")

And, as I said, we never watch cable now.

So, okay, I agree: It is a See Change. (Sorry, Will.)

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