Sunday, June 2, 1996
Just a little more TV news than we need

The Cincinnati Enquirer

You probably know by now that Monday is the big day.

If you have any lingering questions - any at all - Carol and Clyde and Kit and Rob will be more than happy to answer them. Over and over and over again. Thanks to a series of special reports and exhaustive explanations and interviews, not to mention an information line, I think I finally understand what is going on here.

Channels 9 and 12 are changing network affiliations.

This means that all our "favorite shows" still will be on ABC and CBS. Or NBC. Or, actually, on 19 or 48 or 54 or 64. Or ESPN. Or C-Span.

Billboards let us know that Norma and Charlie will still be right where they were before. Same place. Same time. Thank goodness. We'd hate to think they were having dinner with Peg and Al Bundy.

Peter and Carol

WCPO-TV (Channel 9), typically, has handled this change as a news event, sending anchor Carol Williams to New York to interview its new network stars. It was fairly low-key, but as a longtime friend of Carol's, I suspect the whole thing was just a trumped-up excuse to meet Peter Jennings.

She knows most of her friends have a secret crush on him, and I think it's just another chance to lord it over us. As if it weren't enough to have a terrific kid, a terrific job and a terrific personality. Really, Carol, we may have to ask you to buy lunch next time.

As for WKRC-TV (Channel 12), well, it's chosen to educate us with a painful half-hour special, which it has thoughtfully aired Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. I have taped it in case I need to refer back to it this week in all the confusion.

The station also reminded us that it gets Edie Magnus, who started out on Channel 12 and now is on CBS News. WKRC has done this, I believe, because the folks there know that everybody who does not have a crush on Peter Jennings has a crush on Edie.

By the way, none of us has a crush on Dan Rather, who is coming to town to talk to a Chamber of Commerce gathering - where he will no doubt explain the Israeli election and show us poor rubes how to find Mike Wallace and Morley Safer.

Murphy Brown and The Nanny have come forward to let us know where they'll be as of Monday. They must have heard a rumor that the Midwest has suffered tornadoes and flooding and feared that all the TV Guides and the Enquirer TV Weeks were destroyed. They are obviously concerned that we won't have the wit to figure out where to find them without a lot of instruction.

Give us a little credit

Where have these people been? Don't they know that even here in the heartland, most homes have a remote control and a man who knows how to use it.

I'm proud to say that my own husband is capable of moving seamlessly from channel to channel, enabling both of us to watch a little bit of a lot of things. This seismic, local broadcasting decision probably won't faze him a bit.

Have they actually deluded themselves into thinking that the average television viewer has some sort of network loyalty? When David Letterman left NBC, do they think that the hipsters just left the dial on Jay, then Conan?

My colleague John Kiesewetter, who knows about these things, says Channel 12's viewers, who skew younger than the folks who watch Channel 9, will happily channel-hop to find potential nudity on NYPD Blue and a potential new hairpiece for Sam Donaldson on Primetime Live.

"I think Channel 12 is worried," John says, "that people who have been watching Channel 9 since the days of Gunsmoke won't switch, that they'll just stay where they are."

As a person who is mad about Paul and Jamie, not to mention Cybill, I hope I can reassure Channel 12 that no matter how hard the network has tried to hide them, I followed them from Thursday to Sunday to Monday and back. And I can't imagine that a true believer in the Guiding Light will just succumb to General Hospital.

Do they think we're stupid or something?

That, of course, is the question that has been answered most thoroughly.

Laura Pulfer's column appears in The Enquirer Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU-FM (91.7 MHz) and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.