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Channel 12 host Aaron Harber's digital dilemma

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After channels 7, 9 and 20 converted from analog to digital broadcasting on April 16, many local viewers who thought they'd adequately prepared for the switch discovered serious reception issues, usually through no fault of their own; read the January Message column "The Digital Conversion Will Leave Some Coloradans in the Dark" for some of the reasons why. In contrast, Channel 12 personality and recent Colorado Secretary of State candidate Aaron Harber has yet to pick up a converter box. Rather, he decided to wait, in order to see how much he would miss the stations he could no longer see -- including his own. Channel 12's analog antenna was damaged in January, forcing the outlet to go digital earlier than the vast majority of broadcasters.

Harber has written a column about his adventures in the digital-free world entitled "DTV Slow Turkey: The Delayed Digital Revolution." To read it, click "Continue."

"DTV Slow Turkey: The Delayed Digital Revolution"

By Aaron Harber

The Digital Revolution may be surrounding me, but I haven't surrendered. With the original date of the transition from analog to digital broadcasting delayed from February 17th to June 12th, thanks to slugs such as yours truly who did not either purchase a converter box and antenna or sign up for cable or satellite service, our personal decision also was delayed.

Now, as someone who works in the television industry, it does seem strange I did not "go digital." I love watching television and wish I could watch more but, because my primary duty is to raise my daughter, I have avoided anything other than over-the-air television. And even then, until recently, my daughter was limited to one hour of television a week when at home.

I figured if we had cable or satellite, she and I would both be seduced by the 100-plus available channels. After all, between all the 24/7 news programs and SpongeBob Squarepants, all I would do is watch television.

My theory about television was similar to that for Cheetos -- my most important food group. If they're in the house, I'll devour them. However, if I don't purchase them, I won't eat them.

So, if we're limited to the fare offered by over-the-air stations, my assumption was we would not watch much television. To date, this has been true despite my fondness for news programs, The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Two And A Half Men.

My original plan was to go cold turkey and see how long we would last without television. Between reading several newspapers daily, viewing reports on the Web and receiving hundreds of e-mails daily with links to stories, I don't suffer from a lack of information.

When the switchover date was postponed, my cold-turkey approach got trifurcated. My own station, KBDI-TV Channel 12 (Colorado Public Television), already had made the switch to digital due to the failure of its analog antenna. A prudent decision was made to go all-digital rather than waste six figures repairing the antenna only for temporary use.

I now was in a position where I could not conveniently watch my own show. (It also is on COMCAST, but I didn't have cable. It is on ION but at a very early time. And not all shows are on our website.) This actually wasn't a big deal, because I rarely watched it anyway, and my daughter never watched it. Whenever she did come across it, she would scream and change the channel faster than you could say "HDTV."

Next, KMGH-TV Channel 7, KUSA-TV Channel 9, and KTVD-TV Channel 20 went digital on April 16th. My "slow turkey" withdrawal took a big hit that day, because I lost Adele Arakawa, Ann Trujillo and a host of other great people, along with a few shows I liked.

I took the loss harder than my daughter. Her favorite shows were Smallville, America's Next Top Model and Gossip Girl. All of them were on KWGN-TV/Channel 2, so she didn't experience any withdrawal pains.

I now have until June 12th to either (a) purchase converter boxes, (b) subscribe to cable (which may not be available here on my farm) or (c) join a satellite service. Due to my tendency to procrastinate, my screen actually may go dark. Then I want to see how my teenager responds. The truth, however, is I'll probably give in to her protestations and have everything available -- with Cheetos -- by June 12th.

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