This coming Friday at midnight, the transition from analog to digital television broadcasting in the U.S. will be complete. Standard analog sets that faithfully carried the glory and horror of television into our homes since the technology emerged in the 1950's will no longer work without a converter box or a connection to some kind of service provider. Think of it. The end of an era!
I know. I'm exhausted from trying to think of the ends of eras.
The printed newspaper era, the General Motors-is-solvent era, the incandescent light bulb era - all of them are vanishing and I am getting to be too old and parched to squeeze out a tear for every single one. I need to retain as much moisture as possible as a reserve against the next big collapse of whatever it is that we thought would never change.
In an effort to come up with something to point to that some people might actually miss with the demise of analog television, I went to You Tube and discovered this:
Yes, even this is on You Tube. A series of test patterns.
When I was a boy, the thrill in seeing one of these was that it meant you were up so late the people at the TV station had left their posts, and had probably gone out dancing or drag racing or whatever the most glamourous people in the world did when they weren't on TV. The certainly hadn't gone home, because as far as I was concerned, their home was our home. They lived inside the box, and when the test pattern was on, they were out, doing secret, fascinating things.
The test pattern meant standard programming had ended.
Anything could happen.
And this Friday, all standard programming ends. Or at least the standard technology behind it.
So, how will you spend this landmark evening?
May I suggest that it would be delightful to spend it in the company of Iris DeMent, a singer with a musical style and family background that are pretty much the opposite of what television has become.
Radio Heartland is giving away 3 pairs of tickets to Iris's June 12th concert at the Cedar Cultural Center. Enter the drawing between now and 1 p.m. tomorrow.
Specific rules apply.