Public access says a lot about Ames

Erik Hoversten

There is only one Ames mystery that I have yet to gain any insight on despite my four years here. Why on Earth is the cable service so bad here?

There’s a bright side to everything, though. I end up watching more public access that way. I think public access gives you a lot of insight into the community in which you live.

Ames somehow has four public access channels. They probably need two, one for Ames and one for Iowa State, but that’s the beauty of public access.

Channel 7 is the Ames High channel, which features blurry junior varsity basketball. Channel 7 is a testament to the greatness of the game of basketball. I’ve caught myself rooting for the Little Cyclones JV squad and waiting to see if they can come from behind against Mason City.

My high school has a similar channel, Burnsville Eagan Access Television or the BEAT. Most Eagan High and Burnsville High varsity games are broadcast on the BEAT, as well as other major events at either school.

However, the Ames channel puts everything that happens on from school spirit bonfires (we would never have gotten away with that) to the cheerleading banquet. I almost feel like I go to school there by channel surfing alone. It’s definitely a smaller town feel, and kind of creepy, too.

Iowa State is supposed to be a technological powerhouse with some terrific journalism department. I don’t think ISU9 reflects that assumption, which implies either that it doesn’t get much support from the university, or else that the assumption isn’t true.

There are 26,000 people that go to this school, and there’s not a whole lot to do here. Why we don’t have an awesome channel is beyond me.

The people at ISU9 are doing a good job with what they’ve got. It couldn’t cost that much to pay some people to tape concerts and plays the university puts on or even some non-revenue sports, like baseball or gymnastics.

Channel 10 has two programs for one channel. One is bad community dance theater and the other, my favorite, is the Ames Baptist Church taped sermons.

I have learned quite a bit from these sermons and been entertained along the way. I usually hang around Catholic churches, where the priests, who all had to be educated at seminaries, confine their homilies to 10 or 15 minutes. This allows them to have a focus, be fairly concise and stick to the point.

At Ames Baptist Church, the ministers talk for a really long time, don’t really have a point and make up a ton of funny stuff along the way. I was hooked the first time I watched and learned that there is no such thing as pure carpet. I have no idea what that means, but it’s an entertaining notion.

Then they got a new preacher from down South somewhere. He yells at the top of his lungs the whole time, so whenever he tries to emphasize something, he can’t because he’s already at the limit of his vocal cords.

According to this preacher, Satan is speeding up time, and Jesus puts all of our sins at the bottom of the Marrianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean. I’d be interested to know where he gets that information. He also drives around Ames at 3 in the morning looking at houses and wondering if the inhabitants have been saved. At least that’s what he says.

I was initially upset that Channel 10 was putting church services on public access, but then I changed my mind. I would never have found out that there are people in Ames fabricating Biblical baloney every week, and that they actually have an audience. It’s unsettling but very entertaining.

Channel 12 leads a double life. By day I think it’s the Ames government channel, but by night it’s the arts channel. Just this Friday I saw the funniest thing I’ve seen on television in weeks. It was an Ames city council meeting, and this guy was showing transparencies of urban revitalization areas in Ames. One of them was North Hyland Avenue, where I happen to live.

This highlights the differences between the Ames City Council and myself.

First of all, there’s nothing “urban” about N. Hyland, and secondly, I don’t think it needs much revitalization. If you’re ever in Minneapolis, I’ll take you to some places that I think could use some urban revitalization. I sure hope they didn’t get any federal money for that.

If you want to watch a non-Christian music video in Ames at all Channel 12 in arts channel mode is the only place to see them, except for “Video Plus” on Channel 9. Granted, the videos on Channel 12 are very strange. One of my favorites is a Mozart tune set to video footage of people cooking hundreds of sausages. This probably says something about Ames, too, but I couldn’t even begin to imagine what.

Erik Hoversten is a senior in math from Eagan, Minn. Go see the physics demo shows at Physics Hall Saturday!