Coffee heat rising

Bye, Little TV Set; Bye, Evening NewsHour

Speaking, as we were yesterday, of Evan Mecham, Arizona’s late great moronic governor—a man who could whip W in an Olympic-level stupidity contest, hands-down—in just a few weeks now I will lose the TV set that allows me to watch the PBS Evening NewsHour. This is the only source of in-depth national news that’s easily and consistently available to me.

NPR does run some news, but most of it is commentary and yak. The actual news reports are short and perfunctory. And because I listen to NPR mostly in the car, getting the news this way is a catch-as-catch-can process.I try to read a national newspaper in the morning—the local metropolitan paper has been converted to a tabloid and no longer carries much news at all—but there just isn’t enough time to do more than skim the front page. Often I can’t even get that much read.

What does ole’ Evan have to do with a television set, and why is it about to go away?

Evan Mecham’s tenure in the Governor’s mansion was a nonstop sideshow. Every day he would open his mouth and something ludicrous would come out. It soon got to be so outrageous and so hilarious that everyone went out and bought a small, cheap television set for their office so as to catch the latest antics as they happened. I picked up one at Smitty’s, the now-defunct supermarket chain, for about $40 (can you imagine?).

Mecham was thrown out of office in 1988. But my little Evan Mecham television set still runs cheerfully, after more than 21 years of faithful service.

dcp_2326These days the Evan Mecham television resides on top of the refrigerator. I’m usually fixing dinner right about the time Jim Lehrer comes on, and so that’s when I turn the TV on to watch the news. The little television set is so old it probably doesn’t have a connection for the new HDTV box that we’re being made to purchase if we want to keep watching TV off the air, nor is there room on the fridge for the box and special HDTV rabbit-ears: two new dust-catchers.

[Oh, lovely: 4:22 in the morning and the locals are shooting at each other. That sounded like a semiautomatic pistol, rather than the usual streetsweeper. Close enough to set the dog off…jerks!]

Where were we? Oh yes, the television: Our beloved government’s enforced changeover to something many of us don’t especially want or care about will render my old friend unusable. And in doing so, it will bring a stop to my watching the evening news. It will close off a major source of news for me.

The local PBS station does rerun the NewsHour on one of its new ancillary HDTV channels later in the evening, but by the time I’m ready to sit down in front of the bigger television, I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. I usually fall asleep within a half-hour after I turn the thing on.

To my mind, a TV set is no decorator item. I do not want a battleship-gray eye staring at me in my living room, and I consider it rude to have the thing nattering on and on while guests are here. The main TV resides in one of the back bedrooms (so designated “the TV room”), and there is noooo way I’m bringing that thing and its ugly HDTV rabbit ears and its dust-catching HDTV box into the front of the house. Even the smallest of new TV sets, at least as far as I can tell, are so absurdly expensive that I can’t afford to replace the little guy.

So, come February and the mandated switch to HDTV broadcasting, it’s good-bye to Jim Lehrer.

Amazing,isn’t it,how these technological advances enrich our lives?

7 thoughts on “Bye, Little TV Set; Bye, Evening NewsHour”

  1. Because I shared your frustration with trying to catch NPR programs I value on the air during drivetime, I purchased an iPod Nano. It’s been a God-send. While I have an extensive music library stored on my iPod, 95% of my use of it is for listening to NPR programs such as “This American Life”, “Left, Right, and Center”, and lately, “Planet Money”.

    Little did I know that my iPod would introduce me to outstanding NPR, American Public Media (great documentaries and investigative reports), and other programming that is not aired by my local stations. For example, “Think” is a really intelligent daily program produced by the Dallas, Texas NPR affiliate that I’d never heard of until I met the iTunes Store. And none of this downloaded programming costs a penny, although I do support the fund-raising campaigns of the stations associated with the best content.

    You can download iTunes without purchasing an iPod and listen to the available programming via your PC, but that doesn’t help make use of drivetime. And speaking of drivetime again, it’s wonderfully liberating to be able to schedule your own listening, instead of having the stations do that for you.

    Who loves my iPod more than me? My greyhound. In the 18 months I’ve owned it, our daily walks have gotten longer and longer. I happily walk for miles now that I can be intellectually challenged and/or entertained while going the distance. Also worth mentioning, I made the 14-hour drive to Texas and back last summer by myself and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed my time in the car.

    And yes, “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” is available for free by podcast subscription.

  2. Perhaps I should clarify. When I said, “In the 18 months I’ve owned it…”, I was referring to the iPod, not my greyhound. My greyhound is a dearly beloved “she”, not an “it”.

  3. LOL! I loved my greyhound more than the gadgetry, too. 🙂

    My son set up an AirPort for me, so that I can listen to iTunes in the front part of the house, unless my own or a neighbor’s microwave is going. It’s susceptible to interference, but it really IS a neat thing! Right now, the truth is I get more of my news through the Internet than over the broadcast waves. Clearly, that’s going to become more and more the case for all of us as time passes.

    Surely as other news outlets die, these programs will not remain free for the taking off the Net. Reporters and editors and producers and webmasters have to eat. No doubt over time we’ll find ourselves paying for these services. But for the nonce, it is good to be able to get them at no charge.

  4. Agreed. But with viewer- or listener-financed programming, you can direct your media dollars to what is truly valuable to you–and do everything in your power to ensure those quality content providers remain viable by helping them expand their audience.

    I’m not familiar with the AirPort concept, but it sounds like something I need to investigate. It would be nice to be free of the headphones when I’m cleaning the house. Which I’d better get moving on!

    By the way, I discovered your blog about four weeks ago and have truly enjoyed following your life. It’s quite a bonus to read a blog where the writing doesn’t get in the way of the insights. Be well.

  5. On the plus side, there are an increasing number of quite small LCD TVs available in the 12-15″ range (it just needs to have a built in DTV tuner – you may or may not need rabbit ears. My shiny new TV did fine with just a piece of coax hanging out the back; my mom’s older TV needed ears). So it’s possible one might pop into what you consider a reasonable price point soonish.

    On the other hand, this whole DTV transition is pissing me off so much. I am 100% for digital TV but everyone involved with the transition has showed ZERO understanding regarding the real number of people this will impact. I’ve set up 3 (5 if you include the pieces of junk my grandparents initially were given for their coupons) and none of them were easy set ups. And none were even remotely within the abilities of my aged (84 & 88) grandparents who just want to watch the local news and sports. I’ve even seen reasonably competent boomers totally flummoxed. The whole plan needed another 5 years until there was better market penetration of flat panels with built-in tuners. There also needed to be a design competition for the remotes because with bad eyesight and severe arthritis the junk packaged with the boxes are a joke for older users; and I can’t get slightly better universal remotes to talk to the boxes yet.

    Ok. Deep breath. That’s my rant. I am currently delivering it almost daily. Youngins like me who are reading: go see if any older person you know needs help. Shoo. This is what we’re good for.

  6. Thank you! I couldn’t have ranted better!!!!

    My son is very clever with electronic doodads. He schlepped to Fry’s Electronics and bought me a box thingie, absent whatever offer was to be had from the gummint. And it did take him a while to attach the thing.

    Most infuriating is that channels that used to come in just fine now break up or deliver a “no signal” error message. Damn it! We paid WHAT to be told the box and the TV set won’t pick up ordinary broadcast stations????? I can’t watch freaking ABC on your wonderful HD television?

    If they think this is going to force this old bat to pony up cash to subscribe to cable TV, they are sooooo wrong. I spent 13 years of my life growing up without television, and I can spend the remaining 13 year sor so of my life in the same deprived status. The public airwaves belong to the taxpayers. We should not have to pay to access them.

    But we old bats and codgers DO appreciate young people who can and will set up these systems for us. {love}

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