The Digital Switcheroo

May 22, 2009

Photo Courtesy of CNL822 on Flickr

Watching baseball last week with all the jitters, smears, and pauses of digital broadcasting,  I realized I haven’t officially bitched about the digital switchover. All this info (well, except for the Kanye part) I think is pretty valuable:

  • With good reception, digital broadcasts look good. It is a huge step forward for television clarity.  Admittedly.  It does work.  So, if you get a new TV, yay, you get a new TV with potentially much better quality and more channels.  Everybody wins!(?)  The following bullet is much more important…
  • DIGITAL SIGNALS ARE NOT CRYSTAL CLEAR. It’s true.  Before I got a digital converter I didn’t realize this, my coworker didn’t realize this, so I assume some of you have been (or are in the process of being) mislead as well.

Now that people are using digital receivers, we’re realizing that digital TV reception is as bad or worse than analog TV.  Those that haven’t gone digital yet (or in some cases can’t even afford to), hear the Networks pitching the switcheroo and it’s like they’re doing you a favor.  It’s important to know that TV Networks/the government/Big Businss are NOT just doing it for your benefit.

I’m not one for conspiracy theories, hell, any rant that mentions “the government” usually makes me tune out.  But this is true, apparently: The initial digital switch plan (I shit you not) was a delayed reaction to  Post-9/11 communication issues. According to Bloomburg

The government mandated the switch to free up airwaves for advanced wireless services and emergency workers’ radios, to raise money and to provide clearer pictures and more programming.

Broadcast networks volunteered to give their analog frequencies over to  emergency police and fire communications.  Though, “volunteered” is a stretch.  Television networks were well aware that this act, which appears fairly selfless and sensible, had an overwhelming business-minded upside.

Giving up these frequencies and moving to a digital signal would mean that every American that does not subscribe to a cable subscription (~20% of the population, skewed towards the less affluent) must buy a brand new TV, update their televisions on their own dime (that’s 285 million sets as of ’05),  or  get cable.  It was a sweetheart deal all around, exemplified by the nifty bullet points below:

  • Government gets low-freq emergency channels (Which is great… whoopdie-doo.)
  • Broadcast Networks, who have been trying to go digital anyway, get to do so with the government bankrolling them, and in the name of public good.
  • Broadcast Networks now have multiple channels to run second-tier content on, which can steal share back from cable stations like The Weather Channel, Univision, Telemundo, and in NBC Universal’s case —  ESPN.
  • Cable companies  profit off of new subscribers unwilling to make the digital switch
  • Electronic stores (namely Radio Shack) make a killing on digital converter box sales, and on selling peripherals around the digital conversion.
  • Everybody gets to pretend they’re helping John Q. Public

That last bullet is the kicker, because, if you installed the digital converter box you quickly realize that reception can, and does, still suck.  What’s worse, broadcast channels that used to come in a little fuzzy on an analog television will not even register through the digital box.  No longer do you have the option of watching a fuzzy screen — it’s all or nothing now.

Digital TV is a snob — if it’s not crystal clear, you’re not allowed to watch it.   You cannot even manually tell your digital converter to include a channel that is not registering — this is what is happening to CBS (WBBM) on my TV and a friends in Chicago.  I wonder if they’re losing ratings because the digital boxes they forced on their viewers refuse to recognize it as a channel.

The funniest part is those antannae… you know the ones you were supposed to be able to throw away…  those rabbit ears they made fun of in the “swtch to digital” PSAs earlier this year?  Yeah… you have to buy a new one.

volcano! Rumblings

October 1, 2008

To follow up on my previous volcano! post, the Chicago boys will be leaving The States for a massive euro tour later this month, but will be doing an in-store at Reckless Records in Wicker Park this Sunday (10/5), at 4pm… the free set should perfectly complement the Bears Victory Afterglow this weekend promises.

Vocalist/Guitarist Aaron With facebooks:

last US volcano[!] show for 2 months – this Sunday 10/5

Mon 11:42pm
hey everybody….one last show before the European tour – this Sunday 10/5 at Reckless Records at 1532 N. Milwaukee Ave. Early show – starts at 4pm. would be great to see you. because otherwise its gonna be really awkward just us blasting away some awkward record store clerks.

The tragedy being, this band was BUILT as a fine-tuned Awkward Record Store Clerk machine!  In addition, if you’re curious how Aaron The Facebooking Headsinger looks without pants… curiosity: satisfied!

Once again, via facebook:

new volcano! video

Monday, September 15, 2008 at 10:03pm
hello friends

volcano! has a new music video up on our facebook page
its also up on our volcano! YouTube Channel (

this video, as you will plainly see, consists of me running around a park in the rain in underwear and singing. that’s the jist. plus some super powers.

the video is for our new single “Africa Just Wants to Have Fun” off our new LP “Paperwork”….it was volunteer directed by our awesome friends Pat Meegan & Peter Galassi

we’ll have some new live video up on the channel as well very soon

hope you like it


If you’re curious, the Leaf label page has their Fall Tour itinerary posted, where they’ll even do some shows with Xiu Xiu, Daniel Higgs, and Why?… a good ecclectic buncha bands:

Wed 15 Oct 2008: Debaser, Malmö, SWEDEN
Thu 16 Oct 2008: Pusterviksbaren, Gothenburg, SWEDEN
Fri 17 Oct 2008: Revolver, Oslo, NORWAY
Sat 18 Oct 2008: Debaser Slussen, Stockholm, SWEDEN
Sun 19 Oct 2008: Loppen, Copenhagen, DENMARK (with Xiu Xiu)
Tue 21 Oct 2008: Lido, Berlin, GERMANY (with Xiu Xiu)
Wed 22 Oct 2008: Asta Kneipe, Rosenheim, GERMANY
Fri 24 Oct 2008: Ortosonico, Giussago, ITALY
Sat 25 Oct 2008: Interzona, Verona, ITALY
Wed 29 Oct 2008: La Fleche D’Or, Pairs, FRANCE
Thu 30 Oct 2008: Soy Festival, Nantes, FRANCE
Fri 31 Oct 2008: UBU, Rennes, FRANCE (with Fuck Buttons)
Mon 3 Nov 2008: Paradiso (upstairs), Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS
Tue 4 Nov 2008: De Kreun, Kortrijk, BELGIUM (with Daniel Higgs)
Wed 5 Nov 2008: Botanique, Brussels, BELGIUM (with Why?)
Fri 7 Nov 2008: The Fox & Firkin, London, UK
Sat 8 Nov 2008: Korova, Liverpool, UK
Sun 9 Nov 2008: The Roadhouse, Manchester, UK
Mon 10 Nov 2008: The Arches, Glasgow, UK
Tue 11 Nov 2008: The Tunnels, Aberdeen, UK
Thu 13 Nov 2008: Bodega Social Club, Nottingham, UK
Fri 14 Nov 2008: SWN Festival, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, UK
Sat 15 Nov 2008: The Gander, Bournemouth, UK
Sun 16 Nov 2008: Portland Arms, Cambridge, UK
Mon 17 Nov 2008: Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London, UK
Tue 18 Nov 2008: Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK
Wed 19 Nov 2008: Whelans (upstairs), Dublin, IRELAND
Thu 20 Nov 2008: Roisin Dubh, Galway, IRELAND