Wednesday, December 03, 2014

1417 Public Broadcasting

PBS’s latest annoying begathon is underway.  That gives stations the excuse they need to justify the “public” in their names.

People who don’t belong on TV go on camera to plead with you for money because they fear all their corporate underwriters may soon be under water.

Usually these endless pleading sessions are led by heart-on-the-sleeve locals who recently graduated from sincerity school.  And their pitches are surrounded by “special” programs “you can’t see anywhere else.”  

There are reasons you can’t see them anywhere else. How many times can you watch a Victor Borge routine or a lecture from a college psych professor who believes all the world’s problems can be solved with hugs?

They must have realized that dead comedians hugging lessons and washed up faux folk music trios no longer bring in the big bucks.

So they’re interrupting regular programming with their information- free infomercials.  “We’ll be back with more of the Antiques Road Show after a few words from your neighbor Godzilla McNamara-Avocado.  (There’s a quota -- and bonus points at PBS and NPR for people with hyphenated names.)

You can practically hear the viewers saying “Oh goodie!  I’ll just dial in and contribute.  And I can’t wait to get my gluten-free Channel 13 tote bag so I can show off my intellectuality at Whole Foods.”

Try ShopRite.  Everyone at Whole Foods has a gluten-free Channel 13 tote bag.

“A Blu Ray collection of Downton Abbey?  Where do I sign up?”

“Gwen Ifill is the best writer on television.  But I can read her excellent blogs on the PBS website.  So until they get back to a real program, let’s switch over to HLN and watch the next five “back to back” episodes of “Forensic Files” even though they haven’t made a new one in ages, and we’ve seen most if not all of the 750 old ones.”

The “contributor credits” have expanded to full length (but oh, so intelligently framed) commercials.  But sometimes you have to wonder about where those sponsors got their money.

The William T. Grant Foundation:  funny they have a lot of bucks even though Grant’s low-pay, mid-price  variety stores shut down in 1976, in what was then the largest bankruptcy in US history.

The Knight Foundation:  Knight-Ridder had some really good newspapers.  But its focus drifted into financial paper shuffling and KR was held hostage by institutional investors who wanted out and forced the sale of the company.

PBS could take a hint from Madison Avenue and its customers by publicly answering the question “what kind of return are we getting on our investment in Godzilla McNamara-Avocado’s dreary appearances?”


-Gwen Ifill really IS the best writer currently working in national television and you really CAN read her posts on the NewsHour website.

-”Forensic Files” narrator Peter Thomas, known for his near-tears style of announcing, is 90 years old and still working.


--The 2015 edition of is under construction.  Your non-prophet is open to suggestions for inclusions.  Please respond to the email address below.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014

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