Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An Open Letter to WAND-TV (Decatur-Springfield-Champaign)


I write to you to in the hope that you realize what a dumbass you are.

Yes, I am aware that it is February 18, which means that this morning at 12:00 AM, you were converting to a digital only signal. I have been aware of this for quite sometime now. Not only has the government been warning me for close to three years, but I am also reminded by you every commercial break - sometimes two or three times per break. As a matter of fact, you continued to remind me AFTER the digital transition, which makes absolutely no sense to me.

I'm sure that at midnight there were some analog customers watching, but I seriously can't imagine it was more than a couple hundred. Assuming your total viewership is around a half million customers, let's take the national average of current analog or "over-the-air" viewers, 13%. According to a recent study, 70% of those 65,000 were expected to get a digital converter box and 10% expected to switch over to pay service, leaving only 20% or 13,000 without service on February 18. Now, seeing as that you are an NBC affiliate, and NBC is "America's Late Night leader," your share of late night television among over-the-air viewers is right around 20%. Though, we first have to assume that at 12:00 AM on a Wednesday morning, only around 15% of the nation is watching television. 15% of 13,000 is 1,950, and 20% of that is 390. So, my estimates were slightly off, though they were fairly liberal. So at best, you had 390 analog/over-the-air viewers who got that message. Of them, I bet at least 300 had absolutely no clue what the message was telling them anyhow.

Normally I would not be so anal about losing less than a minute of a broadcast, but this was a crucial moment in television history we're talking about here. Late Night with Conan O'Brien is in in last week of new shows. When Conan moves to the earlier Tonight Show spot, he will most definitely have to tone down his material a bit for the new audience. This means, no more masturbating bear. So tonight, nearly halfway through the program at approximately 11:59 PM, Conan brought out said bear for one last visit. The bear was to be frozen in Carbon (like Han Solo in Star Wars) and was asked if he had any last words/actions. We all knew what was coming next. The bear cocked his head to the right, reached towards his crotch, the music erupted, and ----

I checked my remote control, the cable, the power, everything and anything I thought that may have caused this Sopranos series finale-like disaster. No more than 15 seconds passed, but it seemed like an eternity before I heard "WAND-TV is scheduled to make the Digital Transition on February 17th..." and the screen came back from black. But there was no Conan, no bear and sadly, no masturbating.

After your brief, untimely interruption Conan returned, and a sad bear, frozen in Carbon. Then out came an aged Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia). I thought, great I haven't missed anything. The bear will be saved by Leia!

But before Conan could come even realize who had walked on set, ZAP! Back to black the TV faded, followed by a nearly identical message as before: "WAND-TV is scheduled..."

Ridiculous. Now not only did I miss perhaps the last jerk, I don't even know the fate of the bear. And while I am aware of Hulu, youtube, and full episodes of Late Night on, like I told my friend Chris soon after, something about not watching a bear masturbate for the last time with the rest of the nation just lacks significance for me. I am sure the same holds true for the approximate 5,382 Conan fans (I did the math, just take my word for it here) in the WAND-TV market.

Now I will not be boycotting your station in anyway. Honestly, Leno and Conan are the only programs remotely worth watching on NBC these days, and your local newscast is equivalent to public access programming. However, for the emotional stress, punitive damages and other hardships suffered, I demand a public apology, a payment in the sum of $50,000, and an autographed photo of the Masturbating Bear, delivered to me promptly. Let's not let this turn into a civil class-action suit, so just do as I say and hand over the goods.

I expect immediate action on your part, or you will be hearing from my attorneys within the next 48 hours.

Ryan Brokamp