Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon Preempted by Golf

Every year, for literally decades, KOMU has always joined the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon after its 10 o'clock news on Sunday night. I have never known a time when they preempted the telethon for anything, until this Labour Day. This Labour Day my brother and I were watching the telethon when, suddenly at 1:00 PM, KOMU switched to NBC's coverage of some golf tournament. The golf tournament ran from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, taking out nearly the whole part of the telethon on Labour Day afternoon.

To say the least I was shocked. After joining the telethon at 11:00 PM Sunday night, KOMU has never preempted any portion of it. That they did so this year surprised me. And I must admit I was a bit dismayed. Okay, I'll confess I only watch a very small portion of the telethon each year. For the most part the entertainers featured on the telethon do not appeal to my tastes (although they did have Cheap Trick on this year). That having been said I watched the telethon when I was a kid growing up when all we could get were two television stations (we didn't even have an ABC affiliate then), so it is somewhat of a holiday tradition. Besides which, I do enjoy seeing how our local fund raising efforts for the MDA Association are going. Neither of those reasons, however, are why I was a bit dismayed at the MDA Telethon being preempted by golf.

Instead, I can think of a more important reason, and that is the fact that the Jerry Lewis MDA Marathon does raise a good deal of money for the MDA Association. And to me it makes sense that the more time the telethon spends on the air, the more money will be donated to the cause. In preempting the MDA Marathon for golf, then, KOMU effectively reduced the amount of money that could have been donated to the MDA Association. Now I realise that during coverage of the golf tournament KOMU could have still gone to cutaways of the local fund raising efforts--I don't know if they did or not--but I rather suspect that it would not have mattered if they did. I rather suspect that most of the audience simply switched the channel when the golf tournament came on. I know that is what my brother and I did. While I have no doubt that golf is an enjoyable game to play, I have never had any real desire to watch it.

Of course, a less important reason that I was displeased when KOMU preempted the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon is simply that to me it is a tradition. It is to Labour Day what the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is to Thanksgiving or It's a Wonderful Life is to the Yuletide. One simply does not overturn decades of tradition simply for a golf game. Television has so few traditions now, it seems a shame to do away with what few they have had. Indeed, I would not have been happy if they had preempted it for a Cardinals or Rams game, sports I might watch!

I do realise that almost from the beginning other stations have preempted portions of the telethon. Since the Seventies, WGN has preempted it for baseball (either the Chicago Cubs or the White Sox). And I know in the past some CBS affiliates have broken away from coverage of the telethon to air coverage of the U.S. Open during Labour Day afternoon. But I never thought KOMU would be one of those stations which would preempt the Labour Day Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon for anything but the most important news (assassinations, disasters, terrorist attacks, and so on). While I still think KOMU (along with our other mid-Missouri stations) is among the best stations in the United States, I was a bit disappointed in KOMU this Labour Day.

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