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EDUCATIONAL TELEVISION The Channels Are Set Aside, Education on the Power, S New Medium in Its Impact \(Harvey Herbst, formerly of the production staff of WFAA-TV. Dallas, and . now on the sales staff of KTBC-TV, Austin, got his B.A. from the University of Denver in radio, TV, and the dramatic arts, his M.A. from Syracuse University in radio advertising, and did graduate work at New York University. This is his Clear Channels contribution while Jack AUSTIN Logic would seem to demand that the smartest among us should be devoting their time to educating the rest of us in the most reasonable ways to cope with life in this world we live in. If we presume that education is the way to prove that ethical, Godly living is not only the comfortable, but the most efficient method of obtaining a near-perfeet adjustment to our society, we add our voice to the hue and cry for better schools, better librariesand better impact upon those exposed to educational benefits in their youth. A magnificent number of persons conquer the prescribed methods of mental procedure in a matter of 12 or 14 years of formal schooling. A terrifying number of persons presume that, having learned these prescribed methods, they are then educated. No reasonable person would argue that the limited experience and judgment of the average person under 20 years of age would equip him to deal with or even understand the accumulated knowledge of the centuries that is paraded before him in school like the passing of autos on a busy street corner. And no reasonable person would argue that the apprentice radio repairmen, having learned the tools of the trade, is educated on the But the Educators Need Some cope, and Flexibility of the on the Adult Mind underlying theories of nature and physics that make the mechanical-electronic radio set actually function as a receiver for sound waves transmitted into the air waves at some distant point. The average college graduate is merely adequately prepared to be educated. Then the very exigencies of living contrive to exhaust the energies and time of every man so that few have the time or inclination to explore the recorded knowledge that they are then capable of understanding. To provide means for adult man to be come educated fur ther to make him fit into the complicated Sketch lay Bartlett responsible adult life, is a challenge which those of us who call themselves educators must consider a paramount purpose. Yet an obvious means for the education of adult man is being. ignored: the television transmitter. Many of our erudite educators will not leave their ivory towers to consider sin cerely one of steel and aluminum parts. A TELEVISION time salesman, selling precious minutes at the rate of one hundred dollars each, becomes quickly aware of the fantastic value which our mercenary world places upon the power and impact of television broadcasting as a sales medium. A manufacturer, spending a quarter of a million dollars each week to attract the American people to his three minutes of sales message carefully cushioned between attractive theatrical devices, knows by careful market research that his money is spent to gain a well-calculated and worthwhile return. Television channels are worth millions to their enviable stewards who hurriedly promise to operate “in the public interest, convenience and necessity.” Yet we are presently confronted with the bizarre circumstance in which the educators seem to be the only ones not smart enough to realize the intrinsic value of television communication. Some years ago, when a group of serious-thinking men in Washington were setting up the plan for television broadcasting in the United States, the scarcity of television channels became an obvious problem. Facing this scarcity honestly, they knew what most. Americans do not yet know certainly: That a television channel had yet uncalculated influence, power, and monetary value. In order to preserve some of these channels for the free use of the generations of the future, the Federal Communications Commissionat the request of some far-seeing intellectualsset aside a bountiful slice of the television spectrum to be used non-commercially for educational and public service purposes. Having done this great thing, the F.C. C. Commissioners had every right to congratulate themselves. But instead, they found themselves in the curious position of having to sell the educators on the worth of televiiion. To this day, merely a handful of the educational channels have been utilized. In our own state, the University of Houston is to be congratulated on its courage and diligence in making the first educational TV station a success. The story of Channel 13 in Dallas and Fort Worth, and Channel 9 in San Antonio, is not such a happy one. These two channels in the ch oice rangeworth millions commerciallyare being left to dry up and become as useless as a parched field well within the irrigation range of a .brimfilled lake. TV channels, like the land, are subject to the erosion of time. Already, forces are at work to reclaim them for commercial use. Once lostthey are irreplaceable. The constant excuse heard from edu eators is lack of funds. The myth of the skyscraping costs of television is a well promoted one. It looks expensive. But if costs can be related to worth, and there is no other reasonable way to consider them, television is one of our least expzrsive means of mass ccmmunic Look at the advertiser again. The onehundred-dollar minute is often cheaper for himin consideration of impact and resultsthan an expenditure of onetenth as much in another medium. Ask an advertiser. But, the argument is still heard in terms of actual outlay, for about the cost of maintaining a good chemistry laboratory, a television station may be maintained. For about the cost of the average college newspaper plant, a television station may be built. For the cost of the average high school stage, a television studio may be equipped with the necessary scenery devices. For less than even the smallest high school athletic plant, a TV station can be built and maintained. No, it isn’t the actual cost, either. THE FACT IS that our educators have not yet allowed themselves to grasp the actual relationship of television broadcasting to our society. The average television set is on four hours a dayspewing information of one sort or another into a tremendous majority of the homes of our nation. What other single force occupies our mass attention so much? It is time for our educators and leading citizens to awaken to the force of TV to take the bull by the horns and harness it to our mutual benefit. Certainly we look to commercial television to continue to supply our various wants in the entertainment field. Commercial TV has been a great asset to our total economic picture, but there is room for something else with a separate purpose. Subscription TV is not the answer. It can merely supply more “spectaculars” of which we already have more than there is talent for. Educational television stations offer the greatest challenge to teachers since the initiation of free public schools. Let us hope that it will be recognized before it is too late. Wild Peppermint and Grapes at a Riverbank; Comments On the Kinship of Cypress and Cedar .. ON THE FRIO RIVER I remember Youngblood springs on the Frio River near Leakey, from my short pants days. My Dad and Mother and brother and I used to goto Concan and Leakey to camp and fish and broil steaks on a wood fire. Youngblood was the place where we saw the biggest fish and caught nothing at all. The water was very clearFrio is a river of mountain springs tumbling over rounded rocks and bouldersand you could stand on the bank and look right down on bass of liar’s-tale length. You kne ,t they knew about you and your kind. We used to tail the most luscious silversides we could find in the bait bucket and angle them down in front of them. They would flick their tails and swim away irritably, or just ignore it. If you bumped their noses with the bait they turned and swam off. Things are different now from what I remember. They’ve put a new superhighway through Frio Canyon and it pulls you off the river. People -have bought up the creekfront and posted it. “No loitering, fishing, swimming, or camping.” The natives and the tourists used to poach freely, but now the storekeepers in Leakey tell you even they can’t fish at the holes where they used to. To make everything a little worse, the Frio doesn’t have much water in it. This afternoton I was stranded in Leakeyforced to stay 24 hours longer than I had planned. These days the good things happen when I’m not doing what I should be doing. Our brakes had failed on a mountain ma 3 north of Leakey and Jeanstaring down at a precipice 500 feet aheadhad stopped the car by the rather direct expedient of bumping it against the rock wall at the side of the road eight times. I shipped the family on home and prepared for the delays of auto repairs in a small town. The repair man, Shackford, told me how to get to the river half a mile outside of Leakey. Where the road crosses the river bed there are fences on both THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 September 7, 1955 sides. The water flows from a clear pool through. three corrugated pipes under the road onto a rocky creekbed. It goes on downstream over marble, green, and brown rocks, waving green weeds at the edges, eddying and rippling. The upstream bank is worn grey by picnickers; there are two tables; it is posted. I climbed the fence and saw that the water bellied out to a 50-foot channel behind a large clump of Johnson weeds that obscured it from the road. Moss extends out from both banks ten feet and is clotted out in the middle where the current lets it be. Further upstream the wide surface is covered with a dust-like film,..-the sun rays pouring through and past the cypresses and sycamores on the opposite bank to form patterns on the surface. Sitting on the bank at the base of a cypress, watching the waterdragons flit through . the sunlight into the shadows, the waterflies spotting the surface. like raindrops in a slow summer sprinkle, you feel yourself in primeval time. No one can be nearby; there is no need for modesty. You are alone with a musty liquid fertility. Retracing to the bridge, I explored downstream a little and returned to the road. Then I saw a young man and a boy. the older one seated ..on one of the tables plunking thoughtfully at his guitar, a Western styled instrument that looked new and storebought. The boy seemed about 13. Leaning on the fence, I aeked if there was any fishing. Thus began a certain adventure. with a Texas naturalist, a conversation between. an educated boy and an ignorant man. THIS, they told me, \(first one, then the other responding to my questions over the dOance ‘separattin of Austin owns it. It tuns back up about a mile and a ‘iaif. Yeah, they’s fish out there! Big ones! They catch ’em rodnreel and cane pole. “A man stretch a trout line that tree over thar to thar would catch ‘im a mess a ’em,” the boy said. ‘If he knows how,” said the young man. “Which too many don’t.” With that the young man resumed his guitar pluckinga rather strange thing, there in a pecan grove by a river and a road with a boy outside Leakeyand the boy started toward the place where the fence r eaches the water. “Dja ever eat wild peppermint?” he asked as he passed. “No, I haven’t,” I said. “Or watercress?” “1 .think maybe so.” “I’ll get you some.” “Good.” We crossed the road and he got down by the water. “Here it is. Smell it. Just like peppermint, only it’s wild.” I ate a leaf. It was good, strong. I spat out the cud and ate more leaves. “How do you tell it?” “Well, see these leaves? An’ the stem’s purple.” We crossed the river on the bridge. “Here’s some more.” He took a twig of it and cleared the stems of all the leaves in one bite. He didn’t spit anything out. “There’s some watercress the other side,” he said. We crossed. Tiny frogs hopped away from underfoot. “They’re wart frogs, wouldn’t touch ’em if I uz you, they’ll leave a wart on you,” , “They will?” “Yeah.” “What they use for ‘bait?” “Frogs. But silversides are best. Those’ big ones.” “They sell ’em in town?” “Yeah, but they aren’t any good in town. I like the ones you get out a the ..river. Lookthere’s some watercress. There.” It was a green sprig in the . middle of a shallow cove at the base of a tree. “But I can’t get it. This is good drinkin’ here though.” He rested his hands on the tree’s roots and ducked his mouth to the water. Then I did. It was cool and pure, moving slowly under your face. “They catch big ones in here. Five pounds to fifteen. Fifteen is about as big as they get. That’s about like this.” He held his hands apart three feet. “Sandy Miller caught one was fourteen. About like this.” We saw a whitewall tire in the shallow water. “That looks like a good tire,” he said. “It does.” “I’m goin’ in after it. I’m a country hick.” I laughed. “There aren’t enough of ’em left.” “No, I’m not.” Sketch by Bartlatt “Why not?” “Water mock’skins. That may be one out there in the middle. We’ll soon find out.” He threw a stick out. to the middle. I didn’t see the snake chain slipping through the water. “Guess not,” I said. “Why not?” “You can see ’em on the surface.” “Some of ’em go down under water and stay there for an hour.” “I didn’t know that … What’s that dusty film over the water up there a ways?” “It’s not dust, it’s from the trees. It ‘fleets from the sun. It’s not dust.” HE WAS a slender boy, about four feet tall, in faded red sport . shirt and faded blue jeans, shuffly like he was at home there. He had on a military cap, too. He had been in the Boy Scouts but isn’t now. “Where’d you get the cap? R.O.?” “Army -.” He is in the fifth grade. “But I didn’t start till I was eight.” “Why not?” “Oh, my tonsil was too big. Hey, wanna see somethin’?” “Sure.” “Come on. I’ll be back directly, Stanley,” he yelled to his friend. We went upstream along the bank over ground I had covered, seeing nothing he saw. “See that? It’s an iceweed. I don’t know why they call it that. Those are poison berries. Those red ones. I wouldn’t eat them if I uz you. That’s a cypress tree. Over there’s a ‘can, and that’s a mulberry. Nowait, it’s not. Let’s find one. It’s not time for mulberries. Wanta know how I know that’s not a mulberry?” “Yeah.” “The way that leaf hooked around. There’s one over there.” We walked a way. “See this?” He pulled a big leaf off a tree with a slender trunk growing in a curve until it was almost parallel with the ground toward the top.’ “When do pecans start fallin’?” “About four more weeks.” We walked back to Ale river ‘bank. “You like wild grapes?” he asked. “Sure.” “You ever eat any?” “No.” “Want to?” “Sure.” “There’s some along here. Here they are!” It was a tree with a tall thin trunk but the vines hanging down almost concealing it. He pulled off two bunches of pea-sized purple grapes. I ate one at a time; he just opened his jaw and pulled Off mouthfuls and chomped away. I imitated that. They were mostly seeds; they left in your mouth a wine grape flavor; you spat out the seeds, chewed the rest, then spat out the skins. “It’s good to be where you can eat wild , things,” he said. “Wanna see somethin’ else?” “Sure.” \(Continued on Page