NY Times: “Recalling the Imperfect Radio and TV Reception of the Past”

TV-Analog-Noise-SnowMany thanks to my dear friend, BJ Leiderman, for sharing this brilliant piece by Dana Jennings in the NY Times.

I’m only including a few quotes from this piece (below), so please visit this link to read the full article about the adventures, charm and nostalgia of analog TV and radio:

by Dana Jennings

I miss the television snows of yesteryear. And I don’t mean easy nostalgia for the inevitable reruns of “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

I’m talking real television snow, a longing for static, ghost images and the picture endlessly rolling and flip-flopping. While we’re at it, I ache for well-used vinyl crackling like bacon sizzling in a skillet … and the eerie whistles and wheezes from terrestrial radio.

This eccentric pining for the primitive electric hiss and sputter of my 1960s childhood is an honest reaction to our modern culture’s unhealthy addiction to (apparent) perfection. We want it all, we want it now, and we want it sublime.

We not only demand our television, radio and music in unblemished HD on whatever device we choose, but also our weddings, children, houses and bodies. And in our heedless embrace of digital cosmetic surgery, we’ve forgotten that it’s the flaw that makes a thing all the sweeter — like the bruise on a peach.[…]

[Like TV, my] radio needed the human touch, too. As I listened to Boston Red Sox night games, I’d grip the radio like a vise, its hot, orange guts stinging my hand; my skin would lobster up, but I didn’t care, because I could hear the game better. (That radio, a yellowing white Sylvania, also hummed constantly, kind of like the ringing in your ears hours after a Metallica concert.)

Then there was the utter delight of reeling in a far-away station late at night: from Montreal, from Wheeling, from Nashville. Even more bewitching were the otherworldly soundscapes to be found between station stops: eeps and boops, trills and squeals, shrill dronings from the ether that maybe signaled an alien invasion, or first contact with another galaxy.[…]

Read the full article on the NY Times…

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2 thoughts on “NY Times: “Recalling the Imperfect Radio and TV Reception of the Past”

  1. Ken

    When I was a kid in the 1950s we like so many others had an ugly big antenna on the roof. Our local station was fine but the American networks were hit and miss. We lived just across the border in Vancouver, Canada. One day in about 1960 or 1961 there
    was a knock at the door. My mom answered and it was a man from a TV cable company. We had read about it in the newspaper and were very envious of those people living with a few miles of their office. All the stories of static free TV left us wishing we were closer.

    The man at the door was from that cable company. They were running a line out to a suburb called Burnaby and the avenue we lived on was chosen as the route. Anyone living on that avenue would be hooked up. Even those who had a corner lot but their house faced onto a cross street were out of luck. We signed up on the spot. I remember coming home from school that first day and turning on the TV. I couldn’t believe my eyes! 🙂 Our exclusive cable access lasted at least a year before they started branching out up and down the streets from our main line.

    I remember friends of my mom and dad’s coming over constantly to watch special programs until they got their own cable. My my….how things have changed. 🙂


  2. Erica Cole

    Thanks for sharing! That’s a really good article. I love the way the author talkS about her youth. Very evocative


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