A Vast Wasteland

“…sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air…and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland.”

Newton Minnow, Chairman of the FCC,  May 9, 1961.

My, what would Newton say today, nearly fifty years later? In sixty-one, there were three channels, today there are hundreds.

And it is still a vast wasteland.

I don’t watch television. Every once in a while, I’ll watch a live sporting event, but for the most part, my television sits silently in the corner of my den. I don’t have cable or a satellite, but I do have a HD antenna so that I can pick up one of the four broadcast stations if I want to watch a ballgame, or a match or a race.

“Man came by to hook up my cable tv
We settled in for the night my baby and me
We switched ’round and ’round ’til half-past dawn
There was fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on”

Bruce Springsteen, “Fifty Seven Channels.”

For some, the television is flipped on at 7:00 AM and stays on until 11:00 PM. Others just watch select programs.

There is some good stuff on television – the History Channel, Discovery and some news programs, but it hardly is worth it to pay a cable service $50 – $80 a month just so you can watch a few hours of programing.

I won’t even pretend that there wasn’t a time when I was just as hooked on television as anyone else. Did they ever determine who was actually the boss? Now we know who shot JR, but that’s old news.  What I really want to know is why can the guy on television can solve a terrorist plot in twenty-four hours but our fifteen spy agencies can’t foil a man with explosives tucked away in his underwear?

Well, my fellow bloggers, what do you watch on the boob tube?

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under Media

8 responses to “A Vast Wasteland

  1. G-STIR

    I am a victim of the deadly triad: i.e., cold beer, my lazyboy recliner and cable TV. When you throw in AC and a VCR, it becomes even more addicting!

    As an offset, I read books and play guitars during commercial breaks. My dogs leave the room when I pick up a guitar; even an acoustical model. I feel like Rodney Dangerfield.

    Damn critics!

    Can too much TV cause a rash? And where?

    Oh well………

  2. 6176746f6c6c65

    Primarily live sporting events. This time of year, MLB, and this year some World Cup matches.

    Otherwise, during “prime time”, House; Glee; Castle.

    I watch some shows on the Food Network (Good Eats; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; Barefoot Contessa; Paula Dien; and whatever Giada is doing); if something piques my curiosity on the History Channel or Discovery Channel, I’ll take a look.

    And, my two favorites on PBS: This Old House and Hometime.

  3. tosmarttobegop

    I went almost a decade without cable, when mom decided she wanted more then the local stations and paid for cable. I was shocked at what I was seeing, I had no idea that the partisanship had gotten so bad.
    I still watch History, Discovery and the Military channel often.

    Not so much the Political cable channels these days, MSNBC is getting way to much as ridiculous as Fox is.
    Too much like watching the bus heading toward the edge of the cliff and no one shouting stop they are more cheering drive faster!

    But yeah, cable seems only to expend the same uninteresting programs to more channels to flip through.

  4. PBS; Frontline, Nova, Nature, and specials like The Civil War, etc.
    Well worth watching. Support public TV and Radio.

    College basketball, GO JAYHAWKS!

    History Channel. Pawn Stars, American Pickers, and any actual history they may happen to show.

    Disclaimer: I record all shows with commercials and skip the commercials on playback. I refuse to support the BS hyper-consumerism that has become so damned american.

  5. We have 300 channels of nothing on around here, available on five televisions spread throughout the house. The ones in the office and family room are used, the others not so much.

    The television is rarely turned on before late afternoon (in time to catch the 5 o’clock local news) in the summer time, earlier in the winter when the days are much shorter. We watch more television in the winter time.

    I watch sports of all kinds — college basketball is my fav but I also enjoy auto racing, and all sports when they get to the championships. I’m looking forward to tonight’s Celtics Lakers game (when we were in Boston recently the city was buzzing with excitement and all decorated with banners at every intersection…).

    Monday evenings I try not to miss Antiques Roadshow.

    Somehow, someway, I don’t understand how or why I got hooked on ‘Survivor.’ It’s the only reality show I’ve ever watched and they reeled me in hook line and sinker.

    I like old movies of all genre. I’ve spent some lazy dreary winter evenings and weekend days happily watching old movies.

  6. Freebird1971

    The only reasons I have cable are the History,Military,Discovery and Sci Fi Channels. And in the fall or when I need a football fix,the NFL network.

  7. wicked

    Long ago, I watched TV as much as possible. We had a satellite, early on in those days. One of those big ones in the yard. Watching movies became a passion. As time went on and more became scrambled, the less I watched.

    Network TV always cancels my favorite shows after one (maybe 2?) years. I almost hate to get hooked on anything.

    My one ‘must watch’ is Criminal Minds, closely followed by Castle on Monday, Parenthood on Tuesday, and the aforementioned CM on Wednesday. I started watching Lie to Me on Steven’s recommendation and look forward to it’s return this summer. The rest of the week is free, although I try to always watch Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO on Fridays. I only watch on Saturdays in the evening when I’m at my daughter’s. She’s addicted to everything. LOL

    With grandkids here all day, we have the cartoon/kids tier, and the movie tier for Hallmark, Lifetime, and others for me. I don’t watch often, but once in a blue moon I can be found on a Sunday when no one is here, on the sofa as I watch Lifetime or Hallmark movie after movie go by.

    I also love old movies, so AMC and TCM are a must have, although I rarely manage to see anything.

    I could live without TV, as long as I had books.

  8. The Science Channel, History Channel, The discovery channels, NCIS, Burn Notice, Royal Pain, Castle, Lie to Me, and now that it’s back, So You Think You Can Dance 🙂