Whatever happened to …

… television antennas?

Growing up, it was how we got television signals. Typically, we got Channel 8 from Wingham, Channel 10 from London, and Channel 13 from Kitchener. It’s not as rich as it sounds – Wingham and London were CBC affiliates and had much of the same programming.

At least, there were options to get Hockey Night in Canada.

When I was really young, we had to go outside and manually turn the antenna to pick up the signal. It was a two person job; one to do the turning and the other to be in the house and wave through the window when the television picked up the signal coming in.

No channel surfing without a lot of effort and collaboration here.

Eventually, we got a rotor that sat on top of the television and you could turn it to pick up the different stations without going outside.

On a cloudy day, we could sometimes pick up American television from Bay City/Saginaw. That changed everything – provided it was cloudy. There was also this mysterious station called Global from Paris that occasionally was available on really, really cloudy days.

At university, I rented various apartments and the television just was connected to the wall and picked up something called cable television. It was amazing; so many channels and you could stay inside and just press a button to pick up channels. There were no antennas on houses. I’ve seen the future.

A number of years ago, we bought a digital television and the vendor “threw in” a digital antenna. While the plan was to watch satellite television, this opened a whole new world. There was more than Channel 9 from Windsor and Channels 2, 4, 7, and 62 from Detroit! There are channels like 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc. A lot of them are shopping channels but there’s one that shows a big favourite “I Love Lucy” from the days of black and white television.

It’s Saturday morning as I type this and Jaimie and I just got back from our morning walk to the corner and back. Don’t laugh; according to my watch, it’s 3.5km. We saw three of our neighbour houses with antennas on the roof.

For a Sunday, put down that remote and share your thoughts in the comments.

  • did you live in a house that had an outside antenna?
  • if you did, did you have to go outside and adjust when you wanted to change the channel?
  • did you get more channels depending on the weather?
  • how do you watch television these days – over the air, satellite, cable, internet television, ?
  • how many channels do you have at your disposal?
  • do you have a digital antenna for your television?
  • do you purchase premium services like Crave, etc.?
  • language freeks – antennas or antennae?
  • does your world seem like a Bruce Springsteen song at times?

We’re getting into Christmas television specials season so please give us some advice about what you’re watching and how.

This is a regular Sunday feature around here. You can check them all out here.


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