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Guest Column: Seniors left out in Rockford
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