EDITORIAL: It’s not just ‘Big Bird’: Watch Panhandle PBS

Jackie Smith, Panhandle PBS programming and viewer services director, and Chris Hayes, content director, screen video for a new program.

There is a little TV station that lives down on the lower-numbered channels. It is a little station that few of us settle on when we’re just searching for something to zone out on. It’s a station that has been there for us since childhood but now that we’re older gets neglected like an old friend we don’t call often enough.

Whether we visit it or not, Panhandle PBS has been offering us so much we never even knew we were missing. There is a misconception that public broadcasting is for toddlers and old people. While it’s true that PBS was important to us when we were kids, it also has programs that still can be important to us as adults.

Where we used to have Reading Rainbow, Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, we now have Austin City Limits, Downton Abbey, Sherlock and Independent Lens. And of course, Bob Ross painting happy little trees is good anytime, anywhere.

Amarillo College students should feel a special attachment to Panhandle PBS, because it is owned by the college and is broadcast right from our Gilvin Broadcast Center. Many AC students get broadcast experience and serve internships with the station.

More than that, it belongs to all of us because it is public. The programs are not bound by any commercial interests.

We pay for the shows through donations and taxes, so they can be made just for us. Rather than needing to attract the largest possible audience by appealing to the lowest common denominators of our culture, PBS has the freedom to keep its focus on quality and on our own community.

We choose to take ownership of Panhandle PBS. Not just because it’s public and we pay for it or the fact that it broadcasts from AC.

It belongs to us because it reflects our shared experience of living in the Panhandle. It is part of our community. It is local. It also can belong to us as a part of our lives because most of us grew up with it.

Sometimes we dismiss PBS in favor of our Duck Dynasty or our 16 and Pregnant or any of the other, shall we say, less challenging options. Sometimes we forget about it entirely, all the way down there on Channel 2, where all but a few adventurous channel surfers end up. It’s a closer neighbor to C-Span than it is to MTV.

For those willing to venture down into the deep end of their television dial, surprising treasures can be found. And they already belong to all of us.

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