While my sister and her family were visit-a-tating Rancho Yesteryear over the holidays, WSB-TV, the ABC affiliate in Atlanta, started televising a “crawl” at the bottom of the screen warning Charter Cable subscribers that come January 1, 2014, they might not see WSB or digital subchannel Me-TV on their system…and they were nice enough to provide Charter’s toll-free number so that we could call them and let them know we’d like to keep WSB and Me-TV.
I’m not going to lie to you. The very notion of losing one of the few stations I watch (that would be Me-TV) made me panicky at first…but instead of throwing a big stinky fit, I carefully reasoned that I have enough classic TV-on-DVD in the dusty Thrilling Days of Yesteryear archives to help me weather the ensuing storm. So my Concern-o-Meter was registering low numbers…but what really brought on unbridled joy was the idea that my father would be forced to go through a bout of local news withdrawal.
Honestly, I’m not a cruel man…at least, I don’t think I am. Being denied access to WSB would be tough love for Dad. The man watches—by my calculations—an estimated three-and-a-half hours of WSB news on the weekdays. He watches the noon telecast, then switches over to Channel 2 at 4 and watches more news for two hours until Mom calls him in for dinner. He’ll bolt dinner in roughly the same amount of time it takes a pit crew to change a tire during a NASCAR race, and then get to the TV set to finish the news at 6:30…he’d watch until 7, but he likes to listen to Brian Williams’ nightly pronouncements at that time. He’s not a casual news watcher—he’s a junkie with a serious habit.
Dad’s news obsession on the blog in the past…and in all honesty, it’s probably petty of me to endlessly mock the subject—but I’m powerless to resist. Local news is the worst. If they’re not clogging the airwaves with mindless stories of stabbings, shootings, car crashes, water main breaks or fires, they’re pandering to the lowest common denominator exploiting children who are missing or have life-threatening diseases. (I have compassion for these kids, I really do—I just get nauseated at the freak show the local news people make of their day-to-day existence.) It wouldn’t be so bad if it were just one hour out of the day…but when he’s finished watching at noon, he returns to it at four—and the news has not changed one iota. “Dad,” says I, “the reason the stories repeat is because no one is supposed to sit down and watch three hours of this stuff—the actual tolerance level has been measured at twenty minutes, tops.”
When my father is not watching WSB…he’s watching MSNBC. We can debate the merits or demerits of this cable talk fest at a later date (or if you’re in tune with any of my right-leaning friends on Facebook, the debate pretty much goes on all the time) but I’m positively flummoxed as to how someone can sit there hour after hour after hour listening to same tired political talking points being regurgitated constantly. The script never changes—only the talking heads do.
I had Me-TV on in the back bedroom earlier today, and all that was on it was a ticker from Charter announcing how disgusted it was that WSB was demanding a higher fee to allow the system to continue to carry the station. (Maybe I’m talking out of turn here…but if anyone should refrain from lecturing about charging higher fees, it’s Charter.) Well, around 1:30pm Me-TV was restored to Charter’s graces (right in the middle of a Gunsmoke rerun I had already seen) and WSB came back shortly after, meaning sanity has now been restored to the House of Yesteryear. (If I were a betting man, I’d gamble that today’s Capital One Bowl game—Wisconsin squaring off with the South Carolina Gamecocks—brought both parties to the negotiating table quicker than expected.)
Well. It was nice while it lasted. Tonight, I will drift off into dreams of a local news-free household, and life will be good.