I suppose you could say I listen to a good amount of non-commercial radio. That would include both college radio and public radio. And looking back I can also safely add public TV to that grouping. You might know it as PBS. The funny thing about PBS is that I think I was reading not long ago on Wikipedia that it’s actually not that old, like the late 60’s. So it was born right around the time that I was. It was created because nobody knew how many stations would one day exist, so they wanted to carve out a little space for the “public good.” The upsides of these stations are quite numerous, even in today’s world, but one of the best perks is the lack of commercials. The downside of the deal is “pledge time.”
And so, on about 3 radio stations I listen to they’ve had fund raisers/marathons/pledge drives during the last 2 weeks. Tonight I discovered that my local PBS station WTTW is ALSO having a pledge drive. I knew that because I saw a TVGuide listings for Wayne Dyer, and he’s pretty much the canary in the coal mine of PBS fund raising. And tonight I saw a listing for a show that sounded pretty good, and 20 minutes into the program they stopped for the drive (you know, where they have the upbeat people standing up talking about how great the station is, while in the background upbeat seated people answer loudly ringing phones). But I didn’t even know the name of the program was watching-turns out it was called Hidden Chicago, and it airs again on the 13th and 17th of March. And I like learning things about my home town. I do. I’ve even got a book checked out of the library with a similar theme called Wild Chicago, which I believe is a companion to a similarly titled PBS show.
But the reason this program’s great is not just because it was done well, but Chicago itself! I love the city. The only city I have ever lived in where the people loved their own city was New York. I didn’t get that vibe in LA or Tokyo or even Caracas down in Venezuela. But you talk to a New Yorker, and my God, they simply can’t imagine themselves living any place else on earth. But the thing about Chicago is, to Chicagoans, I’m afraid maybe more of a take it for granted kind of thing. But I can see its greatness; in fact I’ve always loved the city. I have distinct memories of being a kid and enjoying things that I knew were only here. A few nights ago I was talking to a friend about my possible move back to LA and the fact that I feel the urge to go on a trip. Oddly enough, just on a whim, I emailed her some pictures of downtown Chicago I took a few years ago-just to show her the city. But I still couldn’t think of any place to go! I really have no place on the planet I’d like to take a short trip to right now, and I’m only going back to LA for career stuff. I like THAT city too by the way-but mainly because it’s a surprisingly easy place to live. I hadn’t seen “help wanted” or “for rent” signs in decades before I moved to LA. But Chicago everyday is fine. It’s not always a bowl of cherries, but it’s town you can just LIVE in.
And Chicago’s history is what makes it great. In fact I even wrote a piece about Harold Washington not long ago because of the history changing nature of his tenure. So much history is right here and right under the surface. SO many things happened here, and SO many people of note either came through, were born or lived here. So this PBS program Hidden Chicago points out a lot of that history. Like, you probably know that the first skyscraper was made here. But did you know Mr. Ferris made his first “wheel” here too? Or that softball was invented here? Yeah, anyway, let’s get to the photo recap, because the words can only convey so much. (check pt2. for more details)