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Rabbit Ear Technology and Re-Discovering Public Television

I’m probably the last person in the world who would disconnect from what is commonly known as “cable TV.”  In my case, I was a customer of A&T’s U-verse TV service.   My HD stream came through my phone line which was a pretty interesting technological feat.  Old school telephone companies – telcos – needed a way to fight back the cable companies who were taking away Internet and even phone service from their customers.

I Wasn’t Just Any Customer of AT&T’s U-verse TV Service

When AT&T was based in San Antonio, the company had beta (trial) customers to who could try this new service.    I was not only a beta customer, one of my clients was a fabless semiconductor company, who provided core technology for AT&T’s set top boxes that enabled the distribution of the signal throughout the home.

But wait, there was even more.

I was so enthralled by the advent of what was known as IPTV, I even created a blog, 3Screens, which attracted national media coverage, and even got me this segment on Good Morning America.  IPTV went mainstream, and I scaled back posting content to 3Screens and went on to do other projects, including being a contractor to write about a new industry standard for the wired home network known as

Re-Tooling My Media Consumption Habits

As 2012 was coming to an end, I was starting to think about the year ahead, and the changes I wanted to make in my life – one of which was re-thinking how I watch “television,” and what I wanted from it.

Part of my decision was financial.

Part of it was just wanting to make changes in my daily habits.  It was hard for me to think that I would go without CNN, CNBC, MTV, HBO and the like.  Realizing that nothing was permanent, I thought why not give it a try for at least 30 days and see how things would go.

I called AT&T, and in one phone call, I eliminated my TV service and kept the Interent service.  I immediately was saving $100 per month on my TV service, and with the first month’s savings, I purchased an AppleTV.  We already had a subscription to Netflix, do adding it to my AppleTV was a zero sum game.  I also went to Best Buy, and purchased a $10 HD TV antenna that my friend, John Navarette helped me with.

Re-Discovering Public Television

When the children were small, we did not have ‘cable,” for many years.  For the most part, they grew up on PBS watching shows like Mr. Rogers, Barney, and Reading Rainbow.

KLRN, our local PBS affiliate, had not only great programming, but local events that tied into some of the shows.   I remember the thrill of meeting “Speedy Delivery,” Mr. McFeely in San Antonio, and buying cool things for our home during the KLRN Auction.

Once I returned to “cable” and became an early pioneer in IPTV adoption, I’d watch PBS in bits and pieces, but not like I used to.  With the switch from cable to rabbit ears, I decided to take a second look at PBS / KLRN – our local affiliate.  I was pretty amazed that I could get such a great quality picture with $10 rabbit ears, and the audio still sounded great on my home theater platform.

Four PBS Channels?

I had no clue about this, but our local PBS affilate offered not one, but four channel offerings, KLRN (the one I knew), KLRN World , KLRN VME, and KLRN Create.   I decided not to follow any programming guide or schedules.  Rather, I would turn on the TV when I was home, surf the four channels and watch something that I would not traditionally tune into.

I tried Sing Along With Mitch, Martha Stewart, Downton Abbey, a bunch of travels shows, and several British comedy shows.  I also re-discovered The McLoughlin Group and Jacques Pepin.   The cast of characters got a bit older, and they now talked about Twitter and Facebook;  but the constant and quality remained in tact.

Do I Miss “Cable” TV?

When I decided to cut the cord, I thought that if it was really that painful, I could always come back.

But I don’t plan to.

The money I am saving went to a health club membership at Gold’s Gym.  If I really need to watch CNN, Fox, or MTV, they have TV screens galore.  I  am not only saving money, but I am now 11 pound lighter and hopefully on my way to losing more.  And my head his not cluttered with the crap that I was watching.

Taking the Leap

Whether or not you decide to do this, it not really an issue.

You can stay with cable all day long.

My personal experience has been a choice in wanting to change things around up in my life, mix up and consume new content, and maybe – just maybe realize that my tax dollars at work in support of PBS actually has paid off big time.

If you’re still into doing something new in 2013, consider re-discovering your local PBS affiliate.  I’ll bet they not only have great content from around the world, but local programming and events as we do.

It’s in that vein that my local affiliate, KLRN provides the ties that bind.





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