I remember as a kid when we switched our TV set from black and white to color. It was a big deal. With the rabbit ears on top of the set tuned in just right, we could get 4 channels that I recall. We had the 3 major networks of the time and PBS. The shows on PBS were funded by viewers like me. I didn’t have a clue what that meant, but it sounded sort of warm and cozy.
One of the shows I watched as a child was Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Mr. Rogers was gentle, he was kind, he was dependable. He came in each day, changed his shoes, changed into a sweater, and as he talked about things that were important to kids, he changed lives. He really was the best neighbor ever.
His show was the longest running show on PBS and it won 4 Emmy Awards.
Now there is an effort to save Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.
PBS will cease transmitting the program as part of their daily syndicated lineup beginning in September. Instead, PBS will provide member stations with a single Neighborhood episode on weekends. This unfortunate decision essentially silences the special nurturing voice of Mister Rogers in the daily lives of today’s children.
Local public television stations, who make the final decisions about which programs to offer and when to air them, can still opt to broadcast Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood each weekday, but they are much less likely to do so without the program being included in PBS’s syndicated feed.
I suppose there are network executives who would argue that faster-paced, in-your-face programming is the norm these days. So-called reality shows and tell-all talkshows dominate the airwaves. All the more reason, I say, to preserve a little corner of sanity, of gentleness, in one corner of the neighborhood.
If you would like to take a stand for preserving a classic, there are many things you can do. First, you can spread the word to others. You can also contact your local PBS station to request that they keep running Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood daily. Finally, you can contact PBS to ask them to keep the show in their daily syndication feed. Here are some thoughts from the Save Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood site:
Contact PBS Headquarters
Let Public Broadcasting Service know how you feel about their decision to remove Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood from their syndicated weekday lineup. Consider mentioning that the burden placed on some member stations that want to continue showing the program Monday through Friday is substantial. Suggest that they reconsider their decision.
Tell PBS how important you feel the Neighborhood program is. You might want to relate a personal story of how Mister Rogers touched your life, or the life of a child you know.
Writing your message on a postcard will expedite delivery as all envelopes are subject to a security screening. You can send mail to PBS Headquarters at the following address:
Public Broadcasting Service
2100 Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA 22202
ATTN: Linda Simensky
Senior Director, Children’s Programming
Amy Hollingsworth, author of The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers, left this comment on the Save Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood comment page:
When I asked Fred Rogers why he chose TV as his life’s work, he said: “I got into television because I saw people throwing pies at each other’s faces and that to me was such demeaning behavior. And if there’s anything that bothers me, it’s one person demeaning another. That really makes me mad!” Now, fifty years later, “throwing pies” has evolved into reality television and shows like “Jackass.” So maybe our task is less about needing to save Mister Rogers and more about needing Mister Rogers to save us. Please help keep “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” on the air!
It isn’t about nostalgia. It isn’t about retro. This effort is about preserving a little bit of dignified, quality television programming. I think Mr. Rogers said it best.