Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ah, the delights of out-of-the-way places (even in Texas)

I enjoyed this story about "The Texas Country Reporter," a television program comprised of human interest features from obscure corners of Texas, mostly rural and non-metro places that would otherwise go unnoticed, unknown. Host Bob Phillips has produced more than 2,000 programs in his 35-year career, and he's about to go national.

Here's a nice quote about what the program represents culturally, and in the context of 21st century journalism.
“For many of us who grew up here, Bob tells us about the Texas we remember and that is probably vanishing,” said Tony Pederson, professor and Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism at Southern Methodist University, Mr. Phillips’s alma mater. “His is a stop-and-smell-the-roses style of reporting that is so deceptively simple and yet so effective in terms of the quality of storytelling he produces. There’s a pretty good journalism lesson in that.”
Ah, there's that rural nostalgia thing again . . . I was also interested to learn that, in addition to being broadcast weekly on 25 Texas stations, the program is beamed eight times a week on the "rural satellite and cable network RFD-TV," which reaches 30 million households nationally. I'd never heard of this network, but then I don' t have cable. It's a clever name, though. For those of you who don't know, RFD stands for "rural free delivery," an initiative of the U.S. postal service early in the 20th century to deliver mail to rural residents, rather than require them to pick it up at a post office.

In light of all this, I assume the word "country" in the program's name is meant to connote "rural" (as in city mouse and the country mouse), rather than Texas's sense that it is a country (nation-state) unto itself.

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