The Disappearing Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
Our mothers tell us that the main thing that helped us survive to see adulthood was the kid’s programming on PBS. When they had enough of us, they’d park us in front of the television for the song and dance stylings of Sesame Street, followed by the calming Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
When Fred Rogers died in 2003, it took us weeks to regain the ability to look at a cardigan without tearing up. We consoled ourselves with the idea that any children we may have could have the same fond memories for the nurturing television host.
But we learned earlier this week that PBS has drastically reduced the number of times Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is aired.
Instead of airing the show several times a day as it was during our childhood, the network is airing it only once a week, as SaveMisterRogers.com explains.
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.
Surely WGBH would make the effort to play the classic show more often. We checked the local PBS station’s site, and were dismayed to find Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood airs only on Saturday mornings at 6 a.m.
Lucy Sholley, Director of WGBH Marketing and Promotion, tells Boston Daily that the network is sticking with the once-weekly airings.
“WGBH will continue to broadcast the beloved children’s series Mister Rogers on Saturday mornings at 6 am on WGBH 44. Fred Rogers was one of the pioneers of public broadcasting and his values are embedded in all the work we do for children’s programming. His legacy continues to inspire WGBH’s productions for children, which include Curious George, Arthur, Peep and the Big Wide World, and our new show premiering on September 1st, Martha Speaks,” Sholley writes in an email.
While we’ve been known to watch an episode of Arthur once in a while (and Rogers himself lent his voice to the animated series before his death), the new shows just aren’t the same.
There was nothing flashy about Rogers’ show, and that’s what appealed to us as kids and we still appreciate as adults. Mr. Rogers just chatted with us through the TV about the stuff we worried about (like going to school) or just enjoyed (playing video games) without the flashy graphics and jarring soundtrack of most new kids’ shows.
You can join the Save Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Facebook group, and the site also provides information on how to pressure PBS and your local affiliate to make every day a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Photo from Presidential Medal of Honor web site