Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

August 2, 2013

‘Vast wasteland’ revisited

Daytime TV offerings sadly lacking

By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun

— It was 1961 when then-Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton Minnow declared that television was “a vast wasteland.”

From my personal observation of the “tube” after a couple of days of channel surfing this week, I’d suggest we can “renew” Minnow’s comments - at least in regards to daytime television.

Admittedly, I’m not what you’d probably classify as an “average” viewer. Generally, if I have the TV on during the day, it’s to follow the news or monitor the weather - not to be “entertained.”

And, based on the present offerings I observed “across the dial” this week (there are no more “dials,” of course - my age is showing again) it’s a good thing I wasn’t expecting to be “entertained” - because it wasn’t going to happen.

It seems that virtually anyone can get a talk show again. (I recall a similar cycle a couple of decades ago.) Watching some of them, though, is like watching a fish flopping around on the deck of a boat, eyes bugging out, gasping for air and waiting to be thrown back in. But enough about Kris Kardashian …

And a couple of old standbys are still cranking out a daily show - and that’s just sad. I “get” that there’s probably some kind of audience for Jerry Springer - it’s primarily because the audience and the guests are generally interchangeable. But Connie Chung needs to take Maury Povich on a long cruise or something. I think even the younger viewers are no longer impressed with “faux-dramatic DNA ’who’s the daddy’ reveals” anymore that seem to be Maury’s “go to” topic. Maury, that might have been interesting several decades ago when technology and traditions were different. Today, well, not so much …

Even my “go-to” programming of choice - the news channels -  can be hard to predict. Sometimes you don’t know if you are going to find an actual newscast or a so-called panel of experts picking apart every syllable of every word spoken by someone. And, yes, even those “we report, you decide” folks are guilty of that one.

There may be folks out there who need to have someone explain to them what they’ve just heard - but I’m not one of them. I’d rather make up my own mind about how I feel about something, thank you - not be told how I should feel. But apparently that approach “sells” - so more power to them, I suppose.

It was so bad one day this week that I finally settled on a channel showing a Time/Life info-mercial for old pop music co-hosted by Neil Sedaka. It reminded me of an old George Carlin comedy bit …

“That’s right, get 947 of the world’s greatest hits for only 8 cents a pound!”

And, that kinda reminds me of the old Springsteen - “57 channels and nothing on …”

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Bob Belcher is Managing Editor of the Daily Sun. His column appears on Saturdays. He may be reached by email at Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: