The Portland TV scene has exploded. It’s essentially free, random, stupid, alien if you weren’t alive in the ’70’s or ’80’s, but its existence can’t be denied especially if you’re too broke for cable or if you are uninitiated in the ways of Apple TV, Roku or other forms of streaming. This television landscape can be discovered with an antenna, and it’s a nostalgia blast smorgasbord overload of programming that will be at your channel surfing finger tips.
Anyone remember the digital conversion? This happened a few years back. The end result was analog TV sets became obsolete for reception without a converter box. This is one reason old TV sets continue to be abandoned on street corners at an alarming rate. Digital tuners in current television sets pick up digital signals with antennae. Our local channels have added sub channels. KATU, channel 2, has become 2.1 and spawned two sub channels, 2.2 and 2.3. Many subchannels carry networks pumping out old TV shows and movies. There are now more opportunities than ever for you to spend your invisible TV dollars.
Other channels to rot your brain include shopping channels, Spanish language stations, (learn telenovela Spanish!) religious channels, although I’m distraught because I can’t get Hope TV (channel 36.3) or maybe I’m dying to know what I’m missing. Then there’s the often weird and low-budget Channel 17 out of Salem featuring appearances by an under dressed weatherman.
Yes, I can get nostalgic, but I don’t often have the time or attention span for an old 70’s show like The Rookies. Who does? I did experience warm memories from seeing the closing credits of Welcome Back, Kotter. I was looking at a kid wearing a winter coat riding a unicycle as the theme song played when feelings of warmth and of being with my family flooded over me and brought me back to those days when I was either procrastinating doing my homework or waiting for the next show to come on.
But who under the age of 30 or 40 or even 50 finds much relevance in seeing Telly Savalas playing Kojak. I do think his “who loves you baby” is one of the greatest catch phrases ever written, but the uninitiated would have to be wondering how this guy got a television show.
This is TV worth watching at least for the sake of checking it out. There’s little financial investment other than the price you pay for a decent antenna which should equal the cost of a month’s worth of cable. Then cast your eye on the freak out reflected by the shows we watched in the 70’s: Sleestaks on Land of the Lost, a TV show about Kung Fu known as Kung Fu, and potentially politically incorrect portrayals of Native Americans. All of this TV watching has raised a question: What the hell is a Sweathog?
Another caveat is that free TV isn’t really free, not when you have to sit through some of the worst infomercial style commercials imaginable–and lot’s of them. There don’t seem to be any ads of the mildly entertaining football game variety. It’s a trade-off that might have you pondering whether a show or especially a movie is worth watching while enduring constant and endless commercial breaks. It does inspire more channel surfing. There were a few times, during my recent recovery from a bike mishap, that I made an effort to try to find something on one of these many channels. I was left uninspired. The pilot for the never produced Horshack show was the lone exception.
A Selected Portland, OR area TV lineup:
2.2 ME TV Nostalgia abounds! Lucy, Gunsmoke, Hogan’s Heroes. Ask your grandparents about how there was once was a comedy on TV about American POWs in a German prison camp.
2.3 Comet This channel features Sci-Fi, B-movies, cool promos and Mesothelioma commercials. It’s the place you are most likely going to catch Godzilla movies.
6.2 Get TV They seem to be into the 80’s shows and classic movies.
6.3 Decades flaunts it’s nostalgia proudly airing documentaries about decades past and comedy shows in black and white.
8.2 Justice TV As the name implies, this station is heavy on shows about police work.
8.3 Estrella TV This is the home to my favorite pink haired clown who does double duty as a talk show host.
10.3 OPB Want to listen to the radio on TV? You can do that here.
12.2 COZI TV Get cozy and watch some of your favorite shows like Murder, She Wrote and the Six Million Dollar Man.
12.3 LAFF TV When you need a laugh or you want to catch a Drew Carey Show rerun.
17.1 KWVT This station originates from Salem. It’s got a public access feel but mostly it runs YouToo America shows.
22.1 ION Catch reruns of syndicated police dramas of the NUMB3RS variety.
22.2 qubo It’s kids stuff.
22.3 IONlife This is about as close as you can get to HGTV type programming without paying for cable.
22.4-22.6 Shopping Channels If you dare buy things off of TV then there are three stations pumping out merchandise for you.
27.1 retro TV A mixed bag here, but you can find Lucy and Dr. Who on this channel.
KNMT-TV (various channels) Local religious programming
32.2 ANT TV It’s a reference to TV antennas not bugs. You’ll find sitcoms and Carson reruns here.
32.3 This TV Catch movies, mostly from the 90’s it seems, on this channel.
36.3 Hope TV Nothing but a sad, black screen of despair.
46.1 KGWZ I’m not sure what’s going on here but when I tuned it was a static shot the Portland city skyline.
47.3 Grit TV Real manly programming is featured here. There’s plenty of cops and cowboys.
49.2 Escape Another station devoted to airing detective, investigator and Dateline type shows.