When I was really young, I watched Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on NET (now I’m really dating myself). NET was succeeded by PBS (who picked up the aforementioned programs). My mom used to watch The French Chef (with Julia Child) on PBS, as well as many other “educational” programs. But mostly, I remember the music.
As a child, I used to love watching/listening to Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra on PBS. I also tried never to miss Evening at Pops with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. When I was older, it was on PBS that I first saw John Adams’ Nixon in China and the films Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi, which featured music by Philip Glass. I remember countless broadcasts of Live from Lincoln Center, the Mostly Mozart Festivals, Ithak Perlman, Sherrill Milnes, Dave Brubeck, and lots more.
Now, when I turn on PBS, I see Celtic Woman. I see the band America, or Heart, or Beck. Hey, I like Heart. I like Beck. I’ve even been known to sing along with “A Horse With No Name” when nobody’s looking. But it’s not like these sorts of performers don’t have lots of other outlets.
Lynn Neary examined this phenomenon today. I wish the folks in Washington would put some dollars back into supporting the arts so that PBS wouldn’t have to become little more than a commercial network.
Think they’ll be re-running Nixon in China during an upcoming pledge week? Not a chance.