The End of Our Broadcasting Day
Back in the day, when I was small, I remember waking up too early for TV to be on. I woke up too early for TV to be on.
If you are under 20, you have no idea what I just said. My brothers and sisters would run downstairs in our jammies on a Saturday morning to watch cartoons, but TV didn’t come on until 6 am, so it was possible to wake up too early.
You’d walk over to the TV (which was a piece of furniture with a protective doily and a plastic bowl of plastic fruit on it) and you’d pull out the “on” knob and you’d wait three minutes for it to warm up.
And if you got up too early, you’d see a test pattern.
I remember staying up past the late show that was over at midnight and hearing an announcer say, “That brings us to the end of our broadcasting day.”
The Star Spangled Banner would play. The test pattern would cover the screen. You’d walk over to the TV and push in the “on” knob and a little dot of light from the cathode ray would crawl back into a vacuum tube and go to sleep with Andy and Opie and Lucy and Ricky.
I’m in Las Vegas for the Netroots Nation conference of bloggers. My grandchildren live 90 miles from here in Mesquite.
They have never seen the End of a Broadcasting Day. They were born as natural citizens of the Net Nation, and they are both the subject and the object of this conference of gentle, passionate activists who get up too early and go to bed too late and write for no other reason than that someone out there might be listening and might hear and might act.
I blog in the hopes of reaching someone who loves children and sees, as I do, the door of a public school leading to something better for a child and therefore better for our world. Yesterday I didn’t write. I talked. And talked. And talked.
Ok, so yesterday wasn’t any different from any other day. I’m a teacher. We got into the business because we love to talk. But yesterday, I also listened to the Net Nation.
To moms and dads who want to simply be able to take care of their beloved children. They told me they needed schools to love their whole and happy children, and not see them as test score assets or liabilities on an accountability ledger.
A man wanted to know why poor children and rich children live in a world with a digital divide when access to technology today is as essential as access to indoor plumbing. A woman wanted children to be able to protect themselves against the dangers of teen pregnancy.
Another talked about the growing “educational industrial complex” where privateers and profiteers were becoming greater influences in school policy decisions and few in the public were following the money.
I met three women who were running for the school board, perhaps the least glamorous, most thankless unpaid job in the universe. I asked one why. She said, “I live in Texas where even picking a history textbook has become watching theater of the absurd. There comes a time when you have to stop shaking your head, and you have to act.” She said, “I can’t not do this.”
Each of these writers has a following of tens or hundreds or thousands of ordinary people who, in the early dawn or the wee hours, will open a browser and find them. They will sip a cup of coffee or pop a beer and read and react and - here’s the best part - think. They’ll think because they looked for this blog. They sought it out.
They are part of its community. There’s no passive “on” knob where eyes just follow the blue glow. The readers are interested in what the writer says. They respond and contribute and question and argue as the spirit moves them.
I have fond memories of watching TV in my jammies on Saturday mornings when cartoons were on every channel and every channel meant three.
But we have reached the end of that simple, sleepy innocence, and we have reached the End of Our Broadcasting Day. People have found a new voice that can make its way to any screen. They are using that voice in profoundly important ways. When you find one that reaches you, touches you, you cannot not act.