Home is where you know the call letters

Terri and I have been talking recently about where “home” is. When we go to Pennsylvania to visit my parents, I say “I’m going to visit my parents” or “I’m going to The Farm” but to me, home has not really been there since I was 18.

That said, I have lived in Somerville or Cambridge for almost 12 years now, and I still have no idea what the local TV network affiliates are. I know there is a channel 7, and I think it might be Fox. I know there is a WBZ and I think it is CBS, but I don’t know what its number is. I know there are 3 variants of WGBH and that is PBS. All I really know for sure is that on RCN in Somerville, the Red Sox are on NESN which is channel 30, and Turner Classic Movies is channel 62.

But I can still name the ones I grew up with in Pittsburgh: 2 is KDKA, a CBS affiliate (one of the few if not the only “K” stations east of the Mississippi). 4 is WTAE, an ABC affiliate. 11 is WPXI, NBC (and it used to be WIIC which I was reminded of when we were at Nora and Jim’s the other week: they had a Pittsburgh Steelers WIIC mug!). And 13 is WQED, the oldest public TV station in the US.

That said, Somerville definitely feels more like home to me than Pittsburgh, but it’s weird to have lived here so long without being able to name a single network affiliate.

6 thoughts on “Home is where you know the call letters”

  1. Well chances are the reason you have no idea what the local affiliates are is that all of broadcast tv is more or less junk. If you were a Simpsons or, God forbid, Idol fan then you’d probably have more of a grasp of where the local Fox channel was. But, even more so with the advent of Tivo when you don’t have to be somewhere at a specific time, just highlighting through a channel guide and recording, chances are you’re not going to soak up what’s where and when. On the other hand, you likely remember all the Pittsburgh stations that much better because you were tuning them in over the air (at least for part of your life) and they were mostly the only channels you got.

    As for KDKA, yes it is one of the few K’s east of the Mississippi, but not the only one. Off the top of my head, I know there’s KYW in Philadelphia and I have a nagging suspicion there’s another one somewhere in upstate New York. Dammed if I can remember it though. Turnabout being fair play, there’s also a smattering of W’s west of the Mississippi; WFAA in Dallas springs to mind. And before you ask, yes I did have these at the top of my mind because I’m just that big a geek.

  2. WBZ (4) and WHDH (7) switched affiliates in 1990 or so; WBZ switched from NBC to CBS and WHDH, vice-versa. For the life of me, though, I still forget which is which. Sundays are particularly challenging, since CBS now has AFC games, so the Patriots are typically on 4. When I was a kid, NBC had them, also on 4 (although most home Patriot games were blacked out,l as the team sucked then). It confuses the hell out of me.

  3. I am in such a broadcast media blackout that I thought at first you were talking about your favorite section of a Library of Congress system library. Up the Ps! (Always root for the home team.)

  4. Until I moved to Austin I never lived anywhere long enough for the local call letters to become engrained in my memory. Even after 13 years in Austin I couldn’t tell you any of the call letters except for KLRU, the local PBS affiliate. I agree with Tim about Fox and the Simpsons. That’s the only reason I know what channel Fox is on but I don’t know the call letters.

    I have a great tv but I don’t have cable and apart from DVDs (which I do watch a lot of) I don’t really use it for anything else. About once a month I’ll check the weather/traffic report on News 8 before leaving for work. Other than that, I think the last time I watched over 5 minutes of television was when I caught an episode of Charlie Rose. I think that was over 3 months ago.

    I do, however, know most of the FM radio stations in town. If numbers and call letters are the metrics for determining where one’s home is then it would be radio and not TV for me.

  5. Any good programmer will tell you that the edge cases and the boundary values are the tough ones. KSTP is east of the Mississippi (by about 2 miles) and WCCO is west by a mile or so. I’m sure that investigating not only the Cities Twin but also St. Louis and perhaps Nawlins would yield more.

  6. TV is different now. We have way more stations, and somehow it’s less personal. Local television networks used to air holiday greetings in December that showed all of their workers and such. I’m sure I’ve never seen anything like that here (though I suppose I could just be missing it). (Tangent–that reminds me of one episode of Moonlighting.) You watched more network TV when you were a kid because you didn’t have cable (it has to be said). But even so, I had cable when I was a kid and I can tell you that I knew WPIX (Channel 11 from New York), WOR (Channel 9 from New York), WJAC (NBC, Channel 6), WTAJ (CBS, Channel 10) , and WNEP (ABC, Channel 8). But again, I don’t think we had more than 20 or 30 channels, even with cable. I watched a lot of reruns (I Love Lucy and My Three Sons were on WPIX, I think) and cartoons (WNEP).

    I know what you mean, though. Somerville/Cambridge are home and yet they’re not. Feeling at home takes a long time, and time goes a lot more quickly now than it did when I was six.

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