Those who have followed my rooftop adventures, uninspiring as they may be, are perhaps wondering what has happened to all the TV antennas and related gear that I have erected then displaced with the next great thing, all in search of a solid signal. Fear not, environmentally conscious defenders of our planet, nothing has gone to the landfill but rather most has been recycled. Just like folks who upgrade their computers every few years, I do my best to find new homes for my old equipment. True, much ends up in my garage attic waiting for a need to arise, but some has gone to helping one of the most frugal people I know: my mother.
I won't tell you how old Mom is but let's just say she remembers watching the (one) television in the house, my big brother...a baby...on her lap the day we lost JFK. A radio fanatic all her life, she has seen her TV viewing habits wax and wain over the years. As teenagers, my brother and I took a sawzall to her 1940s vintage crankup tower attached alongside her 1920s era house, so convinced she would never need an antenna to watch over-the-air television again. Local channels on cable were enough, at least for a brief time back in the 1990s, and the picture quality was so much better than with a rooftop antenna. At some point, she was simply bored with television and dropped cable all together, being satisifed with the occasional evening movie on VHS tape or DVD.
Then came the transition to digital TV and her first flat, widescreen TV. A whole new world opened up, and she was hooked. An indoor antenna with a merely adquate signal was enough to introduce her to the new world of free, "hi def" TV, but erecting a small antenna array on the front second story of her house made a huge difference in reliable signal reception. (The location was great, being easily accessible from the front porch roof). Ripping out the old coax installed by the cable company on the house exterior and replacing cable runs with new RG-6 quad shielded cable made a big difference preventing interference as well, greatly reducing signal breakups.
The best part of this transition to digital for my mother was the cost, essentially zero. I had---and was familiar with---most all of the (used) antennas and mounting supplies from previous projects on my own roof. Second hand or not, it still works! She is now happily enjoying WKBT (CBS), My Network TV, KTTC (NBC), The CW Network, WXOW (ABC), This TV, WLAX (FOX), WEAU (NBC), WHLA(PBS), The Wisconsin Channel, and Create...more television than she has time for and all for FREE. What's more, she has stepped up to recording her shows with a DVR, but that is a story for another day.
See, even the elderly can learn something new. (I am so going to pay for that comment if she ever gets internet access).