December 8, 2013

Reflecting on the media — past, present and future

I’m a media fan. It’s built into my genes. It would be so, even if I hadn’t spent many decades in the business.

I’m innately curious about people, places and things. I want to feel connected and spend a lot of time paying attention to what others are paying attention to. It’s always been that way. 

As a little Little, I would listen to old radios in our house. We couldn’t afford anything new, so my frugal dad bought things at thrift stores.

Our first radio was operated by a 6-volt car battery. With no speaker and only one set of earphones to listen, my mother would place a large, ceramic mixing bowl on the table, set the earphones inside and we would gather to the hear the news and our favorite programs amplified by the bowl. It might have looked funny, but it worked for us.

Then, we got a portable radio, which was perched on top of the ice box. Walter Winchell brought us news of the war. Later, my dad came home with the neatest electric grandfather clock with a radio inside. It was a gem and I often wonder what happened to it. 

There were early television sets, but not until I was in high school, with snowy TV signals brought in by an antenna on the roof. It required climbing high to strap the antenna to the chimney and screwing “stand-offs” into the side of the house to guide the wire. There were only a couple of stations available, but when we put a “rotor” on the roof, it was great fun to turn the dial on top of the old Fada television set and watch one snowy scene evolve into another.

After moving to Plattsburgh, I bought a white TV set shaped like a Sputnik. Welcome to the space age. I bought my first color set from Sears near the intersection of Broad and Cornelia streets and signed up for the first cable system, called “Dimension Cable TV.” It was the brain child of the late Beardsly VanEtten and operated with a huge tower on the hill here in Morrisonville.

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