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There’s nothing I liked more as a kid than a “snow day.” Watching the weatherman on the 6pm talk about the big storm that was going to come overnight and blanket the area with a couple inches of the white fluffy stuff was exciting. But even more exciting was getting up early, turning on the radio and listening for my school to be mentioned in the list of closings and delays.
I remember tuning into “Operation Snowflake” on WARM as Harry West would read the announcements which sometimes took a full 20 minutes only to be repeated again 10 minutes later. Frankie Warren on WILK did the same with their “Blizzard Wizard.” Radio is where you turned for the announcements because there was no Internet and the television stations, with their crawl, we’re too slow.
Soon television got a technology upgrade with fancy graphics and the highly annoying “shrunken screen” that reduced the visible program area to that of a postage stamp while the stations logo and closings dominated the tube. Stations began to embrace this new found annoyance and wrapped newscasts, breaking news and other events around the “shrunken screen.” Then came the Internet.
What used to take 20 minutes on a snowy morning now consisted of, “for the latest closings and delays, visit our website at….” Television, however, continued chugging along pissing off viewer after viewer with these announcements that could simply be scrolled at the bottom of the screen, but now are accompanied by ads for law firms, weather maps, and yes – the program – shoved up into the right hand corner of the screen. Some even let you know the screen was going to shrink by causing uncontrolled urination due to the blaring of some loud beep or buzz as if the world was coming to an end.
In northeast Pennsylvania we have an ABC affiliate, WNEP, who launched a second channel called WNEP2. Prior to last week it ran re-runs of the day’s newscasts and other locally produced programs. The on-screen format was, well, you guessed it…. annoying. Up in the right corner was the program, the stations logo down the left side of the screen, lower left was weather radar and bottom right was scrolling PSA’s announcing the latest chicken dinner or some other garbage.
It was truly a waste of bandwidth.
Then with much hype, WNEP announced that on November 9th, WNEP2 would become an affiliate of RTN, the Retro Television Network. Awesome! Now one can view episodes of Dragnet, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Night Gallery and more. Having RTN as part of my television lineup in Florida, I was excited to see that I would be getting this channel when I was in Pennsylvania.
That waste of bandwidth I mentioned above, just got bigger.
The geniuses in charge of WNEP decided to broadcast RTN using the scrunched screen format. Can you say, “stupid?” Here is an opportunity for them to capture an audience who enjoys vintage television, only to turn them away by giving them a far from acceptable viewing experience.
When I first tuned into the channel, I laughed. Then I realized that while the lights may be on in their building on Montage Mountain Road, nobody is home. I posted in one radio forum that I frequent where this topic was discussed, “are there that many people in NEPA who want to know where the latest chicken dinner is being held that they need to keep this screen format?”
To show you just how the station is delivered, I have two photos for you to look at. The first is how RTN is seen on WNEP2 in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and the second is how RTN is displayed everywhere else.
Which one would you watch? I thought so.
Come on WNEP, give your viewers something to watch, can the annoying screen and take a lesson from school closings and delays – put the chicken dinners on your website.