Tuned In

JP Radio: Say It Loud, I Watch TV and I'm Proud

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I did an interview yesterday with Brian Lehrer, who hosts an excellent daily talk show at public radio station WNYC. Those of you outside The Capital of the Universe, as well as New Yorkers who were for some reason not glued to the radio at 10:40 a.m., can find the streaming audio here. I’m just as annoying as in print, but with sound too!

The interview was fairly wide-ranging (takeaways: Mad Men and 30 Rock are really good, a lot of people like to watch a lot of different shows) but to me the most interesting part was the listener call-in segment. Turns out public-radio listeners actually watch the television set nowadays! And are willing to admit it! And not just Ken Burns and Charlie Rose either.

We talked a little bit at the top of the program about how “TV isn’t a vast wasteland anymore” etc., which even we acknowledged has been true for quite a while now. But it did get me thinking. When I started writing about TV full-time, I used to get the “But there’s so much junk on TV” line from people all the time when I told them what I did for a living. (They were right, of course–just like there’s a lot of junk in bookstores.) Especially among the public-radio types, among whom I count many of my friends and neighbors (and myself).

But I encounter fewer and fewer people nowadays who claim that they never watch TV. The old snobby line used to be “I never watch TV, except for PBS”; now it’s “…and HBO, and Showtime, and FX, and Bravo, and AMC, and Lost, and Law & Order, and…”

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but do you think the stigma about TV as a medium is finally dead? Do you still know anyone who refuses to watch TV (or, at least, insists on pretending that they don’t?)