Here in the U.S., the days of analog television are coming to an end. In fact, last week they were supposed to come to an end, but Congress delayed the actual official switchover date to June. Even so, a number of stations switched anyway. That gave me some pause. I grew up watching over-the-air broadcasts. I knew all about the art of fine tuning rotary dials on a television, how to adjust the antenna and use your body as an amplifier to pull in more signal. We have an HDTV in the family room. I got it to watch the Bears lose the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. However, we have an old nineteen inch color set up in our bedroom. I went upstairs and blew off about an inch of dust (gives you an idea of how often we use it) and flipped it on.
Normally we could pick up four channels from Rockford on the set upstairs. Right off the bat, two of them were missing. The NBC and CBS affiliates were no longer on the air at all as far as analog broadcasting was concerned. I confirmed that on the Internet. However, the ABC station was still broadcasting. In between the snow and the static, I managed to make out a public service announcement about the digital switchover. The color kept flickering in and out, making it kind of hard to watch. I wasn’t getting enough of a signal for the closed captions to read more than a few garbled words here and there.
There are times when I know my nostalgia is misplaced. While I have happy memories of watching television together with my family as a kid, I also remember quite vividly the day cable arrived in our Schaumburg subdivision. Except for brief periods shortly after moving from one house or another, I’ve had cable or satellite continuously for about twenty five years. I let go of the antenna leads and let the television screen turn to bright blue from loss of signal. In the next couple of months, I might hook up the old VCR up there long enough to tape something. It will be good to play for the grandkids someday when I have to tell them how hard life was before the digital transition.