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Published October 13, 2020



Free TV is now my best friend

By John Toth / The Bulletin

It’s been about a month or so since I called DIRECT-TV and asked them to pull the plug, and I am happy to report that we have done just fine.

Better than fine. The other day the rain came down in buckets, and no message came across the TV screen saying “searching for signal.” That was a nice change. I could still see the forecast - it said that it would rain. Correct.

I’m not much of a TV watcher and could not justify getting 250 channels that I wasn’t watching. Through signal-boosting antennas, I am now getting 80 channels that I am not watching, but at least I am not paying not to watch them.

When I do watch, it’s the local news and TV shows I grew up with, which are abundant on the sub-channels. Most of the time, I just have it on for noise, anyway.

How did we ever grow up watching only three networks and a few locally operated stations? It was not that difficult. Not having cable takes me back to those days when commercial television was king.

The only thing still missing are the Saturday morning cartoons. As a kid, I carefully plotted out my watching schedule in the national TV Guide magazine, which came in the mail each week. It was an escape from reality, even the commercials. Then to top it off, I watched “American Bandstand.” What a great way to spend Saturday mornings.

I liked the half-hour situation comedy shows also. They were entertaining and easily absorbed. I actually learned a lot of English by watching shows like “Bewitched” and “Get Smart.”

I had all those shows circled in the nationally published TV Guide, along with “Star Trek” and “Mission Impossible.” Then I memorized the schedule until next season.

A lot of these shows are still running. I just don’t have a TV Guide to circle their time slots anymore. It’s sort of pot luck.

One thing I really don’t miss after the death of cable in the Toth household are the 24/7 news channels. News doesn’t change whether you watch it once a day, read it the next morning or follow it minute by minute on cable.

There are ways to watch those channels on the Internet, but after a few days, I even gave that up.
Another thing I don’t miss is the hefty cable bill, which added up to more than $1,200 annually, and that’s without premium channels.

I thought I would miss watching the Astros on cable, but that isn’t the case, either. First, it’s not the same Astros as last year. Second, it’s not the same type of season as last year.

Third, I can listen to the games on the radio for free.

Fourth (I know there are supposed to be only three), I can watch them on commercial TV if they make it deep enough into the playoffs.

There is a way to get Astros games on the Internet even when they are blocked out - but not interested. I gave my MLB-TV password to my son-in-law, who is definitely making better use of it than I would. He is more of a fan than I am.

Free TV, I am yours. Not to belittle cable TV, but I am doing just fine without it.

I doubt that I’ll get back on it, as long as I have a good antenna with a signal booster. I think I paid $28 for it. It was a great investment.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)