A reader, Kris Jensen-Van Heste, emailed me recently with some pretty bad news: Philadelphia's WHYY-TV is relegating "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood" from Monday – Friday at 1pm to Sundays at 6am.
It's not a terribly surprising decision, but it is alarming.
In the absence of new shows (Mister Rogers taped his last show in 2001), or Mister Rogers himself (Mister Rogers passed away on February 27, 2003), I can understand (but not endorse) how the network might think they need to evolve with the times.
In the era of Teletubbies (sponsored by Langers Juice), Clifford (sponsored by Chuck E. Cheese), and Curious George (sponsored by Universal Studios), I imagine the honest-to-goodness non-profit Family Communications doesn't stand much of a chance. Likewise, all those bright colors, quick cuts, and nonsensical songs.
Of course, I don't agree with the decision. In fact, I'm afraid that the program's marginalization is just a step towards complete cancellation, which would be a huge loss for us all.
I've encouraged Kris to start her own website, and a petition. And I'd encourage you to send a letter, and email, or make a call to the station's program director. In fact, I've written it for you; just click here to download it, then sign it, stamp it, and send it. Or you can contact WHYY yourself:
Mr. Paul Rubinsohn
Program Director WHYY-TV
Independence Mall West
150 N. 6th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Tel: (215) 351-1200
Fax: (215) 351-0398
Whether we save the show from extinction or not, we raise or voices together in defense of our values: substance over form, patience over pace, and intimacy over anonymity.