NoTube: Day One

As promised, my TV has gone blank. Well, almost.
As promised, my TV has gone blank. Well, almost.

I fired-up my Advent Friday morning to see if anything was on, and most stations were still broadcasting before 9 am. The exception: KCTS, which has always been a digital pioneer. I received an email from Daphne Adair, the station's communication specialist on Thursday. She said the following:

[W]e'ꀙre eager to find this will change viewing habits for our viewers. Our web traffic has increasing nicely lately, but interestingly, Nielsen says that web viewing and TV viewing are on the rise together — web viewing doesn'ꀙt seem to decrease TV viewing. And, more people are watching more TV than ever before....

That's good for us, but it'ꀙs also kind of perplexing, since anecdotally, we know a lot of people like you who'ꀙre no longer going to use TV sets to watch TV. It's going to be interesting to see what the Nielsen numbers are like six months or a year from now — and to compare the Puget Sound region's numbers with the rest of the country. We've had higher over-the-air viewership and slow uptake of the coupon program for a long time — but I don't have to tell you that the people who live here are special, and like it that way.

I'm not sure in what way she means "special." We're technologically early adopters here (the Microsoft effect), but many, like me, are also foot-dragging Luddites for whom setting up a converter is one fiddle too far, so she might mean special as in "Special Olympics."

Adair says KCTS is working hard to get shows online faster and PBS has launched a (beta) player that the station is planning to integrate with their website later this year.

Since this morning, everyone is off that air save KING-TV (Channel 5). I've got it on now and it's a recorded feature in which a middle aged white guy is saying things about converters, coupons, co-ax, UHF, VHF, DVD, AV, Tivo and whatever blah blah. It's eerie, though. Just an endless loop of a guy in a bunker explaining what happened. He's the Maytag Repairman of analog TV, the loneliest guy in broadcast. It reminds me of one of those disaster movies where the only guy who survived the end of the world is the Postmaster General who's running the country from a cave. This is alternated with a loop explaining things in Spanish. A good idea, but what about the other 60 languages they speak in the South End? Are we just writing off the Somalis?

As repetitive as it is, it's a little fresher than the endless repetitions of that show about that poor geezer in Alaska on Channel 9 who is always trying to build his log cabin. I mean, he must have started in 1950 and he still isn't finished! Tune in to KCTS for Kafka's Cabin Hour!

I'm sure he's still working hard somewhere in the new digital world, but I won't miss his futility.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.