Public television: make it yours

Sitting in front of the television in our only air conditioned bedroom – our reprieve from the 90-degree temperatures – we waited for Redwall to begin.

Redwall is an animated adventure taking place in a medieval setting with mice, mole and badger heroes defending their lifestyles in Redwall Abbey against rat, ferret, and fox villains. It is based on books by Brian Jacques (Ja-kes, he pronounces) who introduces each show – all something new to me.

Yes, I watch cartoons with my kids, and, yes, sometimes I feel guilty that I should be doing some grown-up, constructive work instead, but more often I watch and feel fortunate to be enjoying and understanding the same thing the kids are.

We don’t subscribe to any special television service – cable, dish, or the like. Although this limits our scope of viewing, I rarely feel we are missing anything. Luckily, our home is in a location that allows us to pick up adequate stations with just the television’s antenna: NBC, ABC, and CBS, which air from Youngstown, and PBS, which transmits from Alliance – Channel 45.

As we waited for our show, a short promotional clip for their children’s programming said, “It’s all in how you look at it.”

“Now doesn’t that say so much, so well!” I said to the girls as I considered all the shows on PBS that teach kids to be tolerant thinkers.

“I love Channel 45,” Josie said with a light passion behind her words. “I wish all kids could grow up with it.”

She did grow up with public television. I have enjoyed PBS programming since it began (in the 50′s) when we watched WQED, Channel 13 from Pittsburgh. I finally became a member of Channel 45 around the time Josie came along, when Barney billowed into the scene. My former employer offered a matching gift contribution that was well worth taking advantage of. We’ve looked forward to the program guide that comes with membership ever since, telling us what great entertainment lies ahead.

Josie went on to explain that she still enjoyed Sesame Street occasionally (she’s starting high school this fall) – especially the spots still being used from when she was little. I knew what she meant; I

reminisce, too, over some of the same bits I remember from 30-plus years ago.

To squelch her slightly apologetic tone in admitting to liking a “kiddie” show, I was quick to let her know I understood. “You’re appreciating it from a more adult level now,” I said.

All the children’s programs PBS offers, through excellent planning, writing, and producing, can be viewed from the adult prospective of the wonderful way these shows can reach a young mind and leave an impression like nothing else can.

Wishbone, for example, is an endearing Jack Russell terrier who plays roles in classic stories to inspire an understanding of literature and, hopefully, promote reading. It is ingenious and extremely entertaining.

Kids who are exposed to quality programs like these gain a special edge that they carry with them all their lives.

When the kids’ shows are over, then comes the real stuff – “TV worth watching” is the slogan. We hear great music – all types – and see great theater, drama, mystery, history, nature shows, comedy (our favorite), and the best national and world news available. A few months ago Channel 45 presented the best special on Ohio agriculture I have ever seen. Where else could we find a program like that? It’s about us!

Public television belongs to us. I have written to Channel 45/49 more than once and received a personal response each time. Its business is giving its members the best TV viewing possible for their dollars – a terrific investment. We are afforded world class entertainment with the best accommodations – no travel time, parking worries, our own comfortable seats, full facilities for refreshments, and a familiar bathroom with every necessity. Home sweet home.

Without being bombarded by commercials that make us consumers look like bigger goofs than we are, here is wonderful television that is truly the cream at the top of the milking pail.

PBS, Channels 45/49, Channel 13 are in need of the financial support of new and current members to keep this great thing going. I’m asking you to buy in. Call 1-800-672-4549 or check with the PBS station in your area. Start using the program guide. I guarantee you’ll feel great about sustaining the best television programming out there.

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