The Arrival of Digitial TV at My Neighbor’s House, Why People Don’t Watch Local TV News Anymore and How to Communicate With a 20-Something.

As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve been on the road a lot recently for business and haven’t had much time nor inclination to blog.  I’m now trying to catch up on the wackiness that I call “business as usual in Memphis”.   While I was out of town, I received a call from one of neighbors asking if I might be able to help him get his new digital TV set up and running.  He doesn’t have cable and was trying to get local signals with a set of “rabbit ears.”   I told him I would stop by when I got back in town and that’s what I did.  Now, I’ve not hooked up a TV to an antenna in many many years and wasn’t sure what to expect.  Turns out it wasn’t that difficult.  I did find that unlike the old analog signal, the new digitial signal is either there or it isn’t.  Specifically, if you have a strong signal, then the picture and sound are good.  If’ it’s marginal, it just pixalates and locks up.  The old analog signal would at least be fuzzy but it might be watchable.  I also found that I could get WREG, WMC, WPTY, and WLMT tuned in with a good signal but WHBQ and WKNO didn’t have a strong signal.  And when I fot those two tuned in, the others pixalated.  It was making me crazy.  I finally told my neighbor he might have to get an outside antenna or resort to cable or satellite.  Moving on…

An interesting editorial was posted a few weeks ago in the Commercial Appeal titled: TV news dealing overdose of violence.   It makes for good reading.  I used to work with Dr. Lurene Cachola Kelley before she saw the light and left the world of TV news to get her doctorate and teach.  And before someone chimes in with the old saw “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach” let me just say I have the utmost respect for Dr. Kelley and she and I have had frank discussions about being honest about what college students should expect should they decide to enter the world of TV news.  She says she is honest with them and I believe it.  But getting back to my point about the editorial that Dr. Kelley and Joe Hayden co-wrote.  If one goes only by what they see on the local news, one would think that if one walks out the door then you stand a pretty good chance of being a victim of crime.  That’s because stories about crime makes up about half of the daily newscasts, at least according to a U of M research project concerning  local news.  Crime is easy to cover and according to research that TV newsrooms seem to operate on, that’s what people want to see.  Also, the editorial touched on race when it comes to covering crime.  I know while I was working as a reporter that, generally speaking, I found that when the victim of a crime turned out to be black/African American, I had much less trouble getting a family member to talk on camera than if the crime victim was white/European American.  I also found that getting the required photograph of the victim was much much easier if the victim was black than white.  Maybe it’s a cultural thing I don’t know.    I do know that as I have traveled around and talked to various folks over the last few months that the issues about local news are echoed from South Florida (Miami) to Baltimore, MD.   People tell me that they are tired of watching the local news because it’s all about crime and I’m told that the news stations run the same thing over and over on various news casts after, of course, they tease and tease the story.   And one person told me that part of the problem is that too many of the newscasts look alike.  It was described  like this: “When we had just a couple of newscasts, it was MUST SEE TV and similar to a good strong cup of coffee.  But with a bunch of newscasts, the product, like coffee, has been diluted to the point that it watery thin and not worth much more than a sip.”  I’m just sharing.  Moving on

I’ve discovered that when it comes time to communicate with my two 20-something nieces who have smart phones and who live in the Memphis area that even though they have cell phones, don’t bother trying to call them.  They rarely answer and they rarely check voice mail.  No, if you want to contact them, you must email them or you must TEXT them.  TEXTing is the best way to reach them.  Go figure.  Is voice communication becoming a thing of the past?  Not for an old fart like me it ain’t.  My thumbs don’t work well for texting.  Maybe one day I will have a phone that will convert voice to text.  For now, I will have to do things the old fashioned way if I do it at all.

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7 Comments on “The Arrival of Digitial TV at My Neighbor’s House, Why People Don’t Watch Local TV News Anymore and How to Communicate With a 20-Something.”

  1. Tom Kemp Says:

    Tell your neighbor if he wants to continue with Rabbit ears for reception to purchase a amplified antenna set.

  2. joelarkins Says:

    Tom, Do you care to elaborate on what the difference is between plain old rabbit ears and an amplified antenna set? Just asking as you sound like someone who knows the technical side.

  3. you can use a service from to send SMS by Voice. That might help!

  4. Chris in Brasil Says:

    Having 2 teenagers, one on his way to college this August, I can tell you that voice communication is going by the wayside. And working with college students here in Sao Paulo, it’s the same with them as well. I often times feel like the old fart as well. “Kids” nowadays use Facebook, texting, Twitter and chat programs. I even had to “up” my cell phone plan to include more texting. Rarely do I “speak” to anyone anymore!

  5. Doug Johnson Says:

    hey! U get my txt?

  6. Pam Crittendon Roberson Says:

    Joe, my kids must have contributed to this blog post. They have told me the best way to contact them is texting…”voicemail is so yesterday” I’ve been admonised.

  7. Joe G. Says:

    I’ve been wanting to get rid of my landline phone for years, but having kids about, I’d like to have access to 911 if necessary. Still, some of us “old-timers” were gathered ’round the cracker barrel the other day. We all noticed that we hadn’t had long conversations on the landline in years. Myself, I text the wife quite regularly and learned about MJ from the web, and FB. In fact it’s been years since I learned about breaking news from seeing a cut-in on TV. Usually I get a TXT or see it on the web.

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