TechTV Changes

2:22 PM
Another sad Friday afternoon here.

It was almost a week ago that TechTV took time out to catch up with its viewers. For an entire hour the programming focused on interact and community. The intent was to see if we, the viewers, were doing okay in light of the terrorists attacks that rocked the nation.

To me it was a powerful hour. It showed us all how important that we are to them — and it was good to hear from a lot of the folks I’ve met in chat and that they were okay.

The hour was hosted by Leo Laporte and co-hosted by Laura Burstein, who was at the chat desk. Heather Frank handled the netcam calls. In the chatroom all of the volunteer chat hosts were on hand along with Robyn Huggiebear and Christopher Swanner. The hour went great. It was really powerful and frankly, this is the only thing I’ve taped to keep for myself off of TechTV in quite a long time.

TechTV had a lot of flack last week in the chat. Chatters questioned why TechTV went on with commercials (especially the inappropriate movie commercials that they scrambled to pull), while all the other stations were going commercial free. As the fallout in the networks over the past week has proven, the decision to run commercials, while seemingly inappropriate at the time, was probably a good thing as they didn’t face the huge losses other stations faced by dumping commercials. Let’s face it, no matter what we think of TechTV — it’s still a small cable operation and needs every source of revenue it can get.

I didn’t really care either way for the commercial controversy. It was just another thing from chat among many many topics last week. Chat became a place to turn to in the time of tragedy. For a lot of the hardcore TechTV community, chat was the place we immediately turned to see what was going on in the world. Chat also provided a brief break from the events of the day. In the midst of the horrible events, what helped a lot of people through it was the fact that the folks at TechTV let us speak our minds and they let us get our grief out. I am forever thankful for Robyn H., Chris S., Heather F. and Laura B. for keeping their chins up and listening to our comments and our vents and for keeping a cool head during the crisis, even when their hearts were aching as much as ours were.

It saddens me that TechTV followed up a week that showed how important chat was to all of us with the announcement that they were cutting the on-air chat talent in half as Laura and Heather are being reassigned and taken off the air.

The timing of the news was horrible to say the least. Chat is a very tight group and a lot of us are quite fond of both Laura and Heather. They’re the afternoon team. If we want to hang out and have fun we go talk to with Laura and Heather. Afternoons won’t be as fun anymore with just Robyn or Chris at chat. While I like them both, they’re not the afternoon team, they’re the morning team and splitting them up is another issue to talk about at another time.

It seems like TechTV just doesn’t get it these days. This is just another move that I don’t agree with. As your average viewer I’ll tell ya, I’m watching and taking part in TechTV a lot less than I used to.

When they cut the 9-11 AM chats I hated it. They changed the hours into market coverage and lately they have Erica alone on that gigantic set. Instead of compelling the viewer to watch with an incredibly active, vibrant, set, it looks like she’s the last shopper at an empty mall. From 9-10 I watch WKRP on TNN. From 10-11 I flip channels.

When they dumped Becky from Call For Help and turned it into the Gnome Show, I stopped watching. I watch “Guiding Light” on West Coast CBS instead. Why? Other than I’m a weirdo and have been watching it off and on since 1983, the fact is I can’t stand the Gnome. It’s not his fault that he’s annoying. To me it’s like those people who used to get seizures when Mary Hart was on “Entertainment Tonight,” his voice gives me a headache and I can’t watch. He’s toned it down, but still, I can’t watch.

When they pretty much killed the chat and demo segments from 4-5 Eastern and went with more market coverage (ugg), I stopped watching that hour. I flip or I find other things to do.

And now they rob of us the fun that was the afternoon chat shift.

It just doesn’t make sense. Are they openly TRYING to drive us away?

I so don’t want to know the answer to that.

Heather, Laura, we’ll miss you.