Tuesday, November 29
The Satellite Dish Is Always In Bloom in the Mountain State
(I'm from West Virginia, but I hever had a dish).
Ever since my days in college (the mid 80s) in Philippi, West Virginia (a town that in those days fought the big cable companies to operate its own cable system) I've joked that the satellite dish was the unofficial state flower of West Virginia. Driving on any highway or back road revealed the dish constantly in bloom. As the years went by they spread across the mountains and the valleys. Back then those large dishes took up space in the front yard and were the envy of neighors for miles around. It was seen as a status symbol as much as any above ground swimming pool or trampoline.
The dishes helped people in the hollers and up on the hills tune in to HBO and other cable programming because cable TV wasn't coming down their dirt road or the terrestrial signals from the local stations faded depending on what time of summer it was.
Today one Beckley man, Al Jessup, has his own garden of satellite dishes. Many of the dishes he has are smaller (but you still see some of the large ones scattered across the landscape like so many junk cars or trucks up on cinder blocks). The house-mounted modern dishes offer so many more choices than 20 years ago. Jessup tells the Register-Herald he has 12 dishes (looking to install number 13) and he scans the sky for radio and television programming.
He says he stopped counting when he lined up 5000 channels. He has package deals from DISH network but also pulls down free signals and stations from around the globe. Imagine what it's like flipping through the channels in that house.