Monday, June 15, 2009

Jiggling rabbit ears

"Prior to Americorps arriving to install a converter box, Burnett Roane, 64, watches Divorce Court on his analog television at his Baltimore home, Thursday, June 4, 2009. The full switch to digital television is June 12."

This past week marked the change from analog to digital TV and I was assigned to shoot local Baltimore resident Burnett Roane as he went from a fuzzy, one-channel reception, to having a digital converter installed and to a clear view of his favorite programs.

However, it wouldn't be that easy.

Roane, a 63-year-old widower and great-grandfather, was anticipating a free, in-home converter installation by AmeriCorps volunteers who were to switch his TV from analog to digital television signal reception.

I arrived 30 minutes early prior to the AmeriCorps folk and reporter showing up. I basically made some frames as Roane watched Divorce Court on his rabbit ear TV. The picture was horrendous. It barely filled the screen and looked like a beach. Grainy. Not to mention, it was almost impossible to tell what was going on.

Nonetheless, his appointment for 5:30 p.m., was pushed back by the volunteers until 7 p.m. So the reporter and I opted to come back in an hour. I grabbed dinner. He went back to the office.

When we got back, they showed up. They were two hours late, and would leave minutes later... without the task being completed.

Roane didn't have a converter box and was left confused. But a volunteer explained that they were there only to hook up the converter box, a procedure that takes only a few minutes, not provide the necessary components.

Thanks to a series of misunderstandings, I wasn't able to make the frames my editor wanted, the reporter wasn't able to write the story his editor was expecting, and Roane was left exasperated, as he wasted his entire day waiting for his TV to be converted.

While my picture may have not have been of volunteers installing a converter box, I still liked the simple view of Roane watching TV analog style in his bedroom.


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