Mark Laurence...Boston TV Past And Present

One of the big TV broadcast networks might be pulling the plug on its Boston TV channel. For a while people speculated that NBC might be going off the air, moving to cable-only, or to a much smaller TV station in Manchester, New Hampshire. Years ago, that would have been unthinkable!

I remember when Boston’s TV stations switched networks 21 years ago (almost exactly on the date I’m writing this in January 1995.) One night NBC was on channel 4 like it always had been, and a minute later it was on channel 7, swapping places with CBS. It happened not too long after David Letterman changed networks, so even though all the other shows changed, Letterman ended up on the same channel.

Here’s some nostalgia from those days: I miss Liz Walker!

That was a big deal. For months people programmed the wrong channels on their VCRs and couldn’t figure out the prime time shows on the stations everybody watched. Fortunately we had TV Guide to help us out! You may remember, the Internet was just getting started in 1995, and you wouldn’t be Googling anything for almost 4 more years.

Now, it still makes the news, but you can almost hear a collective shrug all over Boston. Nobody’s worried about finding Saturday Night Live or Chicago Fire. Your DVR will find it for you if you haven’t already set it up to record every episode wherever it turns up. And if you miss anything by accident, you can watch it the next day on Hulu. The big broadcast networks are still entertainment powerhouses, but it’s nothing like the last time we shuffled the TV stations in Boston.