I am old enough to remember when cable television became available to the general public. Trenches were dug throughout the neighborhood. This was back in the day when people were excited about progress and didn’t complain about their landscape being ruined. It was a temporary issue in the name of being able to watch HBO and MTV.
Which means I am old enough to remember when television was free. It was inconvenient at times. On occasion, in the name of needing a clear picture, someone had to hold the antennae or the television was bedecked with an aluminum foil sculpture. Another biggie, we had to be home when the actual program aired. You knew where your friends were Tuesday night at 7 p.m. They were in their living room watching Happy Days. There was no need to ask what someone was doing on Friday night. They were watching Dukes of Hazzard and then Dallas. And let’s not forget the Saturday festivities. Yes, that would be Hee Haw.
I also remember when people my current age told us children about the day bread was a nickel. If any of those people are around they wouldn’t say anything knowing that people who pay over $3 for a loaf would consider paying a nickel in the Cindarella and Gingerbread Man category. In other words it is a fairy tale meant to teach us a lesson.
Free is different than a nickel. We didn’t get much for free, but we did get four channels: ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS. Television programming came complete with commercials with jingles many of us can still sing today. My husband will attest to the fact that I am a commercial writer’s dream viewer. If the television said I need it, I must have it. It was win-win-win for the viewer, the advertisers and the network. The cut the cable cord movement of the younger generation listened to our stories and understood that somebody stuck their finger in the money pot.
When we moved to the far, far north we decided to join the younger generation. We eliminated the cable-sattelite t.v experience and opted for the simplicity of free t.v. We didn’t plan that one too well. Our home is so far north we don’t get a signal. “That is o.k.,” I said, “we can go online and watch the news.” The last time I checked broadcast journalism was a public service. Apparently thanks to satellite providers that isn’t the case. Video clips of specific stories are available otherwise we are out of luck.
In other words heaven help us if a serial killer is on the loose in this part of the state. Since I’m the type of person that would invite the killer in, make him or her a cup of coffee and a sweet treat of some sort, we’d have the pleasure of making our acquaintance with death.
The same networks make their sports programs available via live streaming. A.k.a sports programs are free. If this isn’t a state of address on our culture I don’t know what is. Last night, we watched the Super Bowl, and ate buffalo wings and veggie platters in the comfort of our living room. We knew firsthand who won.
Which explains why gossip is such a powerful thing up here. Nancy or Edith from down the way, will be here (with sweet treats) and tell me about the construction in Great Falls, or about the recent bout of flu and the accompanying symptoms and news about potential serial killers. This information will be peppered with tidbits that include who is dating whom and who was at such and such persons wedding.
In the absence of the distracting 500 channels of things I’ll never see, this experience has me wondering: is this an unintentional yet blaring statement on the necessity of the new media. Have they been relegated to a genre similar to Keeping up With the Kardashians or the quirky videos my husband watches on YouTube. Is broadcast journalism considered entertainment versus my understanding that they present the need to know content? And when did that happen?
And thus the transition into life in small town Montana has opened our eyes to the world in which we live. The message remains the same. It is the people you see on a day to day basis that have the biggest impact on your life. Cherish them, appreciate them and always have sweet treats to share with them.