Associate Vice President Enrollment Management & Marketing
Photo by Phil Shockley
REMEMBER WHEN THERE WERE ONLY FOUR CHANNELS ON YOUR TV, AND ONLY THREE OF THEM WERE ANY GOOD? Let’s face it, PBS was at its most riveting when you were young enough to long for Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, The Electric Company or the best of them all, Sesame Street. If you only had three channels on your TV that was three feet thick, then you most likely recall the fact you had no remote control. You either had to remain fairly loyal to your network of choice, or burn calories and upset your popcorn bowl by getting up and down to turn the dial on the front of your set every hour. As cable television options spread across the region, more choices became available. Cardinals, Braves and Cubs baseball could be viewed nightly during the summer. Children’s programming became popular through avenues like Nickelodeon. Goodbye Big Bird, hello Spongebob! And then, as if a Wal-Mart on every corner wasn’t enough, someone decided to create a home shopping network option. For those late night August 2010 | 80
viewers who really need the combination can opener/power washer, get your Visa card ready. Now we can tune in to a guy who dines on beetles from Bangladesh. Do we really need to follow the antics of a licensed exterminator from Bossier City, Louisiana? Why am I drawn to a show consisting of a guy ingesting more calories than you should eat in a week or a jalapeño hamburger so hot it could melt iron? Can audiences actually get on the edge of their seat to watch a couple trying to decide on the townhouse with the spacious kitchen in town or the cute cottage with a yard in the suburbs? Remember when MTV played music videos? And let’s not get started on the reality of reality TV. But I’ve left out perhaps the greatest addition to cable television of all time: ESPN. All sports, all the time. Suddenly we were introduced to obscure things which heretofore had gone unnoticed. Like Big Ten Football. We saw fans in strange colors and players in unusual helmets at games by 11 a.m. Weird. But if you are like me and you hear the lead-in music to College Game-
day, your pulse quickens and you remember why ESPN is so cool. Now conferences and schools are dreaming of and launching their own networks. It’s an expensive proposition, very time consuming, and possibly risky. Not all content is created equal, after all. Everyone stand up who feels the motivation to watch Northwestern duke it out with Purdue in the three-meter diving competition. I think they should start a Cowboy channel. Show John Wayne and Clint Eastwood flicks. Sports would consist of OSU, Dallas and Wyoming games, plus full complements of bull riding, roping and various other official cowboy activities. Once a month they would show Tombstone and Lonesome Dove. The news would be done by Pistol Pete. Not a lot of talking. Just some nodding and waving a gun around now and again. The network’s primary color: orange. GO POKES!