I am sitting here in Elk City, Oklahoma, occasionally glancing up at what is laughingly referred to as "Local Access Programming" on the channel guide . . .
. . . slates advertising local businesses (no actual commercials - just sort a of message board with pictures) accompanied by godawful music from the 1960s and 1970s - the same sort of crap you hear in any restaurant which assumes its customers are all so close to death that all they want to listen to is old music.
In Fayetteville, if you look on the Cox channel guide, you will also see "Local Access Programming" - who knows, they may have actually changed it to Fayetteville Public Access Television by this time. Even though no programs are listed if you switch over to the channel, you will find not ads and stale music best meant for a funeral home, but television programming produced by folks from Northwest Arkansas.
Public access in Fayetteville has proudly served as this region's only true religious, political, entertainment and educational - plus much more - channel - for over three decades. Men and women from all over Washington County have long used public access in Fayetteville, and it is something a city can be truly proud of . . . a true good neighbor policy which has long honored the creativity of our friends and neighbors.
I think about that when I switch on the "Local Access Programming" channel here and listen to someone asking if someone will still them tomorrow, over an ad for an air conditioner service.
Elk City is an essentially conservative city, beliefs reinforced by two local newspapers. So I wonder what public access would look like, if the city government had enough faith in their fellow citizens to provide such a service. But so what if most of the programming were to be conservative in nature?
Some dismiss public access as either too radical or too silly for any community to take seriously, and that view seems to inform the ideas of all too many. But these people, quite frankly, are talking through their hats. Those who disparage the political impact of those who use public access are snobs, and those who deny the very real talent of those who utilize it - from those who sing, or tell stories, recite poetry or dance - are snobs in quite another way altogether.
I miss public access when I am not in Fayetteville, even though I can still watch it online. For me, it just isn't the same as watching it on TV.
Still, online is better than what is offered to the folks in Elk City, Oklahoma, and other communities where folks aren't given a chance to show their creativity, or express their ideas to others.
Quote of the Day
I'd rather be a poor winner than any kind of loser. - George S. Kaufman