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Guest Column: Seniors left out in Rockford

August 22, 2012

By John Russell Ghrist

When it comes to entertainment in Rockford, seniors and anyone with any musical taste are getting ripped off and shortchanged. First, let me start with television. Has anyone noticed how really bad TV is here in this city? The stations merely pipe in every bit of network garbage that they can get. Except for the local and national newscasts and an occasional ball game, TV appears to be for people between 16-35 years old. It is indeed a “vast wasteland.”

Yes, we are told that this is programming for the masses, but do most people with any intelligence really care that some lame popular celeb type is getting divorced or what they are wearing? This information passes for “news” in the media. Then there are all those dumb reality shows, too. Does anyone watch this trash, or are they just satisfied that this is all that’s on? The same goes for our radio businessmen who are not really broadcasters, who fill each day with boring talk shows that also air as cable TV audio, along with lots of rock music. All of this satellite or syndicated programming takes away jobs in the local industry.

When digital TV started, it was supposed to offer more choices and better programming. We all got those converter boxes, and many subscribe to local cable. Instead, it’s just more of the same junk on all the channels. Why doesn’t some broadcaster bring in Retro or ME-TV out of Chicago, which presents good vintage comedies and mysteries? If I am not watching trashy Rockford TV, then I am also not seeing their advertising, either.

Next, I saw the list of acts that the Rockford Park District is offering this summer. There is nothing on it that an older person would want to see. What is the age of the person making these decisions? They must be choosing what they call “entertainment” to suit themselves. Once again, if no one complains, the people who pick the “entertainment” will think that this is what people want.

Local entertainment is always sponsored by some bank or so-called financial expert. They seem to have all the extra cash lying around to fund “entertainment” for young people. Does anyone remember last year when 260 people turned out for a free big band dance at Veterans Memorial Hall with the Bill Engberg Orchestra and singer Angie Fellows? It was quality entertainment that people of all ages enjoyed, and the dance floor was filled all afternoon, thanks to the publicity generated by good music broadcaster WTPB LP 99.3 FM. The only group that followed up on this was a dance club who wanted to play CDs rather than hire real musicians. Could some company sponsor a once-a-month dance with a good orchestra?

Our population is getting older, but we seniors pay taxes, utility bills, buy groceries, insurance, cars, fuel, and have bank accounts. Who is entertaining us? We have a voice, opinions and value. It just seems like every TV show, park program, or event is for young people around here.

My TV set is currently unplugged and will stay that way until better programming is presented on television in this city. All that will be on my set will be dust. I do not plan on sitting in a mosquito-filled park to watch bad music acts, either. I will remember this lack of concern for the likes and dislikes of older people when I vote or do any business in Rockford. Seniors are being left out when it comes to the presentation of quality entertainment in this city.

John Russell Ghrist is a local resident.

From the Aug. 22-28, 2012, issue

4 Comments

  1. John Beck

    August 22, 2012 at 10:53 am

    It’s unfortunate that this writer feels there was nothing for seniors in the Rockford Park District Music in the Park concert series lineup. A significant percent of the patrons attending this summer’s concerts were seniors and we received many compliments from them regarding the performance schedule. This schedule included the Rockford Concert Band (which performed on six separate dates), the Navy Band, the Phantom Regiment, the Rock Valley Festival Orchestra, the Flat Cats (A vintage swing band), Ac Rock (a cappella quartet singing classic rock from the 50s through the 80s), the Decatur Park Singers (a perennial favorite) and the Moonlight Jazz Orchestra. In fact, 13 of the 20 concerts could easily be labeled “senior friendly”. We strive to provide a variety of genres and performers to meet the musical interests of as many citizens as possible and will continue to do so.

  2. John Russell Ghrist

    August 22, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    The posted flyer list that I saw this year did not have anything good for seniors. I remember when the groups that Mr. Beck mentioned came here in previous years and those programs were well-attended. I have even interviewed Mr. Beck on my radio program after a packed Banjo Buddies show. In addition, all that noise at Davis Park is enough to make our dentures rattle two miles away…

  3. John Russell Ghrist

    August 22, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    First of all, thanks for printing my letter. I’m sure that your fine paper gets lots of them and we all must wait our turn to get published. The only release about the park concerts that I saw was a poster in the window at the Stockholm Inn about the summer events.. It listed nothing but rock concerts sponsored by BMO Bank. Does this mean that BMO is only promoting peformances for young people? Why didn’t the poster list all of the park events? Doesn’t BMO want to identify with good music? Had I known that there was something better in the park, I would have risked West Nile Disease and went and seen it. John Russell Ghrist

  4. John Russell Ghrist

    August 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I appreciate the comments made by listener Paul G. Yes, I messed up. I saw one paid poster on a store window that only promoted rock concerts. This was pushed by a local bank who apparently does not wish to identify with older residents and what they would like to hear. Isn’t a senior’s money worth the same as a younger person who patronizes the same bank? It was also my wrong assumption that the parks department would not have something nice for older people. They did and those events featuring concert bands were well-attended and appreciated. Why wasn’t there a poster that listed all events? I have asked the park department and the media to use WTPB LP 99.3 FM to promote good music events in this city in the past. If they put something in the local papers, I’m sorry that I did not see it and don’t check their website. I did see someone’s rock guitar collection written up on the front page of the daily today in the mail Apparently, all the media is concerned about is items like this and not the good music that most everyone enjoys. I hope that the public learns of my Internet comments listed here. I am sorry for the confusion but still claim that good music and decent programs are being ignored in the media in favor of what the young masses want.

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