Public television, when I was a kid in the 1960s, was a weak and watery thing.  It was the fifth and feeblest of the stations broadcasting where I lived (the others were the three major networks and a local independent station that mostly showed old movies and reruns).  PBS (in Portland: KOAP / Channel 10) was always full of static, and often faded in and out.  My mother didn’t like it when I watched it; she was afraid that the static actually harmed the TV set.  (People – especially my mother – believed lots of crazy things in those days.)



I was a nerdy child, and I was fascinated by the bizarre variety of shows on Channel 10: cooking shows, language shows (I remember “Beginning Finnish”), college lectures. (Frankly, I got some part of my education, and my intellectual curiousity, from Channel 10, and god bless them for it.)



Something happened in the late 1960s.  “Sesame Street.”  “Masterpiece Theatre.”  All of a sudden, people were watching public TV, and talking about it.



It’s a pillar of the temple nowadays: news programs, science, commentary, foreign programming, odd programming.  Who else would have broadcast an entire series of Peter Brook’s “Mahabharata”?  Who else would show an animated version of the “Popol Vuh”?



Cable has taken away some of PBS’s uniqueness, but PBS is still free, still broadcasting away.



And the Republicans have always hated it, and want to take away its federal funding.



Kids: tell the Republicans to go to hell. Vote Democrat, and give to PBS.



About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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