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What if they had a TV show, and nobody watched?

Stop the Presses column by Chris Graham

As you probably don’t know, my TV show was recently canceled.
(Repeat after me: Aw-w-w-w-w!)
Yes, it was tragic. I guess.

I mean, here’s the thing that I don’t know – that even a single person outside of me ever watched it.

The show, “Virginia Viewpoints,” was on public TV – WVPT-Virginia’s Public Television out of Harrisonburg, for those keeping score at home.

I’m sure that they have to try to gauge the ratings of their various offerings at least occasionally – I don’t know, but I would assume that everybody in that business does that at some point in time.

All I know is, nobody ever shared the ratings of my show with me.

“Seriously, you had a TV show?” my best friend Eli asked me when I told him the bad news about the cancellation.

“Yeah. Like, for close to a year,” I replied.

“Was it an action-adventure?” Eli’s college roommate Mordecai chimed in.

We were out at the batting cages in Harrisonburg across from the movie theater. My hands were so raw from the effort that they were beginning to get bloody.

“No. It was …”
“Had to be a talk show. You can’t act,” Eli interrupted.

It was a talk show, actually – and a darned good one, if I have to say so myself.

Obviously I have to say so myself.

I used to complain to the director that I didn’t think the station was doing all that it could to promote the show – but really, looking back on it, I don’t know what else they could have done.

OK, so an interstate billboard or two would have probably gotten us something – at least a few more months to have developed an audience.

You know, of more than one.

“What … so you were doing, like, ‘Oprah’ for the Valley, or something?” my sportswriter friend Dobie Madison inquired.

“It wasn’t ‘Oprah.’ ”

“Conan O’Brien?”

“Humor on public television? Mark Russell’s contract wouldn’t allow that,” Mordecai said.

I couldn’t believe that not even my close friends had tuned in – but looking back on it, I shouldn’t have been that surprised.

“I’m assuming that you didn’t come in and out of breaks with scantily-dressed dancers,” Eli assumed correctly.

“Um, it was public TV. They don’t have breaks, and they don’t allow scantily-clad dancers.”

“So what was there to see? Your big head yapping about something that I don’t care about?”

When you put it that way …


Chris Graham is the author of Stop the Presses: A Collection of Columns. Information on the book is available online at

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