From the cerebral and educational to the spiritual to the entertaining, Public Broadcasting occupies an essential niche in the lives of many Americans. For those who don’t get cable or satellite, the programs featured on PBS are one of the few sources of educational programming available, to say nothing of the Britcoms and other exclusive content offered by these stations. Unfortunately, they area also usually the first to face the chopping block when it comes to budget cuts. However, when one examines the benefits and services these channels provide, it becomes apparent that, as concerned citizens, everyone should do what they can to help these stations continue to provide their quality programming.
Nova and Nature-Two of the greatest series shown on the PBS stations, these two series cover numerous aspects of science and wildlife. Significantly, both are easily accessible to the average layperson, granting audiences in rural areas the opportunity of learning about branches of knowledge they might otherwise have access to. Also, these particular programs are very useful in high school classrooms, as their material is often relevant to material taught in many high school science courses. Both series have won several awards from various sources, indicating their incredible educational quality.
British Comedies and Other Imports-PBS stations are also home to numerous series from other countries, the most consistently popular of which are the British Comedies (such as Are You Being Served, Keeping up Appearances, As Time Goes By, and many more,) Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and The Red Green Show. All of these series are of exceptional quality, and many of them have remained in syndication for many years after the series was no longer in production. Agatha Christie’s Poirot, for example, features David Suchet, whose portrayal of the detective Hercule Poirot has been hailed as one of the most convincing of any.
Gospel Music and Lawrence Welk-Appealing primarily to those in the older generations, the gospel music of Bill Gaither and the variety show of Lawrence Welk are staples to the Saturday nights of many television viewers. For an older person looking for quality programming on a Saturday night, the programs offered on PBS are a safe haven, especially if that person does not have cable or satellite.
Children’s Education-From the famous Sesame Street to The Magic School Bus and many other programs, PBS is home to some of best quality kids’ programming available anywhere. For those who don’t have access to cable channels, PBS can be the source of extraordinary education material for children of all ages. Even for those with access to cable, the quality of the material found here usually exceeds that found on the more mainstream channels.
Individualized Programming, Antiques Roadshow, and More-PBS is also home to a number of programs specific to these channels and, in some cases, produced by them. One example is Antiques Roadshow, a favorite of even the most novice of antique hunters. Furthermore, PBS often features specific compilations and programs on such wide-ranging topics as Broadway stars, U.S. Route 30, the roadways of Pennsylvania, and so much more, all of which can only be found on PBS.
Although those with cable or satellite might sneer or scoff at PBS, these channels are a vital part of our continuing effort to increase our cultural literacy. Slashing their funding drastically decreases these channel’s ability to provide quality programming, and this is particularly true in smaller states with suffering economies such as West Virginia. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that every person, regardless of age or social class, do what they can to help these stations. Even if it is simply tuning in on a Saturday morning or night, or even on a weekday, every effort is necessary to save these channels. Losing them could spell cultural disaster, something which we can never afford.