RT Cunningham

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Years of Entertainment Choices

Tagged with entertainment, netflix, philippines, radio, streaming media, television, united states, youtube on February 6, 2024

entertainment choices I’m not old enough to remember entertainment life before broadcast television. I am old enough, however, to remember life before color television signals, and before commercial cable television programs.

With all that I’m sharing in this article, I’m sure I’ve left things out.

Radio Entertainment

Although my parents, and aunts and uncles, could remember radio shows from when they were younger, they didn’t seem to have fond memories of them. Way back in the 1940s and early 1950s, families used to huddle around the radio in the living room (or whatever they called that room) and wait for their favorite radio shows to start airing.

When I was young, in the 1960s, music was the main thing that came out of any radio speakers I was around. In 1974, the first year I lived in Hawaii, my male siblings and I listened to old-time radio shows while waiting to fall asleep. I barely remember “Tales of the Macabre” and “The Shadow”.

The only time I listen to radio is in the United States is when I’m traveling by car. It’s the same way in the Philippines. Most of the time, it isn’t what I care to listen to, and that’s why I carry gigabytes of music on my phone.

Streaming audio services, like Spotify, make their money through advertising or subscriptions, or both. I won’t mention the most expensive service, but it’s streamed via satellite.

Television Entertainment

Most families didn’t have a single TV in their homes until the mid-1950s. The signal was black-and-white, what some people today would call grayscale. Even though broadcast television programs converted to color signals in the mid-1960s, most people couldn’t afford color TVs until years later.

I had no way of knowing that the characters on “Gilligan’s Island” had blue and red shirts in the second and third seasons, or that the shirts of the original “Star Trek” were gold, blue, red, and green until I watched the reruns in the 1970s.

Broadcast television is still around, but I don’t know much about it. I know they have digital channels, but I don’t know if they still have analog channels. Are they still using VHF and UHF signals?

Cable Television

Although it was invented earlier, original programming over cable television didn’t start until 1972. I remember seeing a box with the letters “CATV” on it near the front of my home in Hawaii, sometime between 1974 and 1977. What it stood for was a mystery to me, and I really didn’t care.

When I lived in an apartment for six months at my first military duty station, I subscribed to cable television for the first time. That was in 1980, and the only channels I really remember from that period were HBO and MTV. I’m sure there were more, but I only had a couple of hours a day to check them out during the week. My weekends were dedicated to other endeavors, away from where I worked or lived.

I didn’t have cable television at any time between 1981 and 1992, when when my family and I moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Not long after I bought my house in 1994, we had one of those huge C-Band satellite dishes installed so we wouldn’t be limited to what cable television had to offer in our area.

My wife, Josie, wanted to watch NBA basketball and none of the cable channels we received carried it, or only carried some of the games. I wanted to watch certain channels that the cable television provider didn’t offer.

Little did I know at the time that a newer type of dish, with multiple channels, would be available in just a couple of years. My dish had to move, and point to whatever satellite was sending what I was trying to receive.

Videotapes and DVDs

I started renting movies from video rental places as early as 1988, after I returned from being stationed on the island of Okinawa in Japan. Some were little mom-and-pop places, but the one I rented from the most was the one most people were familiar with, “Blockbuster”. I snickered when I saw Captain Marvel crash into one of those places in that movie, which was supposed to take place in 1995.

When I got tired of not being able to get the latest blockbuster movie at any video rental store, I subscribed to Netflix sometime after they started their DVD‑by‑mail movie rental service. I patronized Netflix until Josie and I sold the house and left for the Philippines in 2006.

Theatrical Movies

I can only remember watching three or four movies at cinemas or drive-ins before I joined the military. Where I lived in Arizona, they would show the same movie for a week on one single screen. I watched most movies on broadcast television. Although I could probably list those that I watched at the cinema (that I remember), it isn’t worth the effort.

While I was in the military, before I got married, I watched a lot of theatrical movies, when I wasn’t wasting quarters at various arcades. Many theaters would show three movies in a row, repeating them all night long on the weekends. I wouldn’t be able to list any of them without scanning movie lists by year on Wikipedia.

I only remember what I consider memorable movies, and there really weren’t that many before the year 2002.

Streaming Video

Netflix launched their streaming service in 2007. I was in the Philippines at the time. Thee only thing I watched between the time I arrived in the Philippines and the date I left the Philippines in 2012, to visit family, was local cable television. I didn’t watch much of it because most of it was aimed at Filipinos.

My younger son, Jon, watched animated programs when he wasn’t going to college and when he wasn’t playing one video game or another. I probably spent more time blogging, or reading blogs, than anything else.

I subscribed to a streaming service in 2023 for the first time, but it wasn’t Netflix, and it cost less than half of a Netflix subscription. My children and their families are subscribed to multiple streaming video services. I have five of those services on my phone, and they sometimes work with my VPN.

Geographical restrictions are nonsense. Nevertheless, I don’t watch a lot of anything these days, other than YouTube videos. I spend way too much time on YouTube, and that’s without paying for YouTube Premium, which is a lot less expensive in the Philippines than it is in the United States.

The reason many people stopped subscribing to cable television is because it became too expensive, offering channels that most people didn’t want but still had to pay for. Now, we’re facing the same thing with streaming video services. If I want to watch everything that interests me, I will have to pay more than $100. I’m sure they carry content I will never be interested in.

Image by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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