It was a sunny here on Saturday, June 13, the day after most TV stations eagerly turned off their kilowatt-consuming analog transmitters. I decided to go running, perhaps do a short circuit of six or seven miles along the country roads near my home. Leaving the house, I was equipped with my traditional gear: hat, mace, headphones and my trusty portable AM/FM/Weather/VHF TV radio.
The radio, a wonderful Sony model, has served me for years. In fact, I think this one may be the sixth or seventh unit I’ve owned over the thousands of miles I’ve run. This particular radio is rugged, highly reliable and, equally important, it is energy efficient. One AAA cell will last weeks or months, depending on how many miles I burn up.
The radio can take its share of abuse too. I usually wear out a couple sets of headphones long before the radio quits. And even then, it’s usually because I’ve broken the waist clip, not because the radio actually fails. This little model has become a true partner in my quest for fitness.
I’d reached only about halfway into my run when I became bored with the traditional listening fare. My favorite AM news-talk station was playing a 30-minute commercial for some cure-all vitamin. Listen to these types of shows often enough, and you’ll self-diagnose yourself into all kinds of illnesses.
The local public radio station was broadcasting "Prairie Home Companion," which I hate. What now?
No problem, I thought. I’ll just listen to television. I switch to the TV band.
Uh oh. Channel 4 has nothing, just hiss. Channel 5, same nothing but hiss. Here we go; Channel 9 has audio.
It took only about five seconds of listening to discover the audio was nothing but a loop of “KMBC has ceased transmitting in analog. Tune your digital television or converter box ... blah, blah, blah. This message will be repeated in Spanish.”
OMG! I suddenly realized analog television was gone. I would no longer be able to listen to the "CBS Sunday Morning" show while jogging around my parks and roadways. I wouldn’t be able to catch the evening newscasts from ABC, FOX or NBC while biking. I began to realize how much enjoyment I received from listening to television while running. Now that pleasure was gone forever.
I’m sure there’ll be portable digital TV receivers someday, but that won’t happen soon. Besides, early receivers will focus on video, not audio. And they’ll be expensive, battery-killing devices. I know I’ll never be able to buy a portable DTV receiver for the $15 my little Sony radio cost.
The technology shift could be seen as reason to upgrade to an MP3 player and listen to music while running. But, if you’re a news-talk radio fanatic like me, music just doesn’t “do it.” I’ve never found a music beat that I could run with. It might have something to do with the fact that I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. For me, there’s just something about being able to connect with live events and people via radio and television that make that type of programming my preference.
It’s also an immediacy thing. News/talk is now. You can’t download real-time news/talk. These are live, not recorded, events. It’s impossible to record the 6 p.m. news at 4 p.m. so you’ll have it on your player for your later evening run.
I miss the technology that served me well over the many thousands of miles I’ve jogged. Analog television, it and I, have had a good run together.
Tell me your thoughts about the analog cutoff.