Opinion

Valley Meanderings

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One of the joys of living up in the Seattle area is the wide

scope and breadth of the local media. We have it all up here,

from weekly to alternative newspapers, to a wide range of radio

stations (unfortunately, I can't get KVI in my office, probably

to the relief of my co-workers), as well as real, no-kidding,

big-city television affiliates.

Unfortunately, most of the time those big-city television

affiliates - particularly in a tough market like Seattle - are

owned and operated by large media conglomerates. Here, the keys

are the financial bottom line and a professional, homogenous

appearance to the news and other programming.

So I guess it's no real surprise that KING-5 has announced the

cancellation of 'Almost Live,' a regional Saturday

night fixture for 15 years. The reasons given were - surprise! -

financial.

Oh, the infamy.

I was first introduced to 'Almost Live' in the late

1980s, when I started making regular trips up here from Southern

California to visit my brother and his family at NAS Whidbey

Island. When I moved back to Puget Sound from far northeastern

Pennsylvania in September 1996, one of the first things I did was

to plant myself in front of the TV every Saturday night at 11:35

p.m., to get the week's update on doings in Ballard, Kent,

Auburn, and other locales.

To be honest with you, one of the reasons I wanted to move

back up here from the Rogue Valley was so I could watch

"Green Riverdance," "Ballard Drivers School,"

Billy Quan, sports commentary on Bobby Ayala and the rest.

Admittedly, the show wasn't always funny. Like any comedy

company, when John Keister and the gang hit the target, they were

bang on; but the misses could be spectacular. Still, they got it

right the vast majority of the time.

Now the show is going away, and I'm truly depressed.

'Almost Live' was one of those things that made Seattle

and the region truly unique - an icon, as it were - and unlike

other big cities. I'm afraid this is just more proof that we're

becoming a nation of sameness, with the same wall-to-wall housing

developments and strip malls; where every town looks like

Lynnwood or Plano or Issaquah and where the TV personalities all

talk with the same diction and vocal inflection. Nowadays, you

can plop down just about anywhere in this great nation of ours,

and not know where you are.

So, I assume we're now doomed to an early start of

"Saturday Night Live," which hasn't been the same since

the late 1970's (at least, for those of us who are old enough to

remember it with its original cast).

It's sad, it's tragic, and it's truly an end of an era. To

John Keister; Pat Cashman - who fortunately, recently landed at

KOMO radio; Bill Stainton; Tracey Conway; Steve Wilson; Bob

Nelson; 'Capable Woman' herself, Nancy Guppy; and the

rest of the staff, thanks for all you've done, and good luck.

Hopefully we'll see the cast in occasional specials on KING 5,

but I have a funny feeling that will never pan out.

This whole turn of events is truly depressing; the next thing

you know, 'Frasier' will be moving back to Boston.

Oh, by the way, the other reason I wanted to move back up here

was so I could resume watching CBC - the Canadian Broadcasting

Company. There is absolutely nothing like watching The

'National' evenings for a look at world news, and spending

Saturday evenings with Don Grapes Cherry and

Hockey Night In Canada

What? You say the local cable operator doesn't carry CBC?

That's it, time to move back to Oregon ... or better yet,

Kelowna.

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