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OPINION: Learning to fly Elon Musk’s starship may be the challenge I need
David Carroll
David Carroll is a news anchor for WRCB in Chattanooga, Tenn.

At this stage of my life, I need a challenge. It’s time to take on something most people will never conquer. Sure, I could go the easy route and become a rocket scientist. Nah, let’s go with brain surgery, that might test my limits. Or if I wanted to excel physically, I could climb Mount Everest. But none of those will do. I want to truly go where no man has gone before. I want to figure out how to get the best deal on TV viewing by cutting the cord.

My hometown cable provider is strongly encouraging me to make new choices. Programming, they say, has become too expensive, so they want to cut their losses by shedding a few thousand of us from their customer list. They are more than willing to keep up my internet and my landline phone, but cable boxes are now as antiquated as a, well… a landline phone. (I’ll open that can of worms in a future column).

So they have told me to start streaming. I have already dipped a toe in the water by subscribing to a couple of streaming services. They have such cute names. Let’s see, there’s Sling, Fire Stick, Cube, Hulu, Roku, Vudu, Philo, Pluto, Fubo, Burp, Snort, Furball, HackySack, Slurp, Stirr, Groucho, Chico and Harpo. OK, I may have made a few of those up.

The point is, the choices are overwhelming. In my childhood, the entertainment options were 3, 9, 12 or go outside. Now, even with basic cable, one can spend hours flipping between endless reruns of Gunsmoke, Law and Order, and the most recent Tim Allen sitcom. You know, the one in which Tim switches out daughters more frequently than I change the air filters.

In the early days of cable TV, Bruce Springsteen wrote a song called “57 Channels (and Nothin’ On).” He had no idea where this was going. Now there are thousands of channels. Some are devoted to poker, cornhole and movies that didn’t even attract moths to the big screen. There are infomercials galore, ranging from preachers who will send you a “gift” in exchange for $99.95 to miracle cures for fungus-damaged toenails.

Having said that, all I really want to watch are my local channels, the major network news and sports channels, a few good movie channels and, of course my beloved Atlanta Braves.

Regular readers may know that I have followed the Braves since childhood. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, I stuck with them through thin and thin.

Of course, now the defending World Series champions are a valuable commodity, and those of us who have spent our youth and adult lives watching them for little or nothing will soon have to pay the price.

Bally Sports, whose channels now carry most Braves games, is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, which is not a charity. It has been reported that Sinclair is actively negotiating the rights to move their major league sports programming to streaming apps, which could cost customers around $25 a month.

With sports programming prices skyrocketing (hey, someone’s got to pay Freddie Freeman’s salary), your neighborhood cable company will soon draw the line, if they haven’t already. So that’s why I am now furiously earning my degree in Cord Cutting.

After posing the question on Facebook, I got 314 different answers from 314 different people. In our relatively new digital broadcast environment, some are fortunate enough to receive signals from their local stations via antenna, but others are not. The digital signals are fantastic if you live in the flatlands, but in our hilly region, not so much.

Some folks have spent days and weeks researching the pluses and minuses of various apps and streamers, and are patching together their own packages of news, entertainment and sports, only to learn that the accumulated total of the various subscriptions rivals or surpasses the cable packages they left behind.

There are no easy answers, and whatever you choose in 2022 could be obsolete or overpriced in 2023.

For now, I sit juggling my four remote controls, confidently knowing that if I ever master them, I could surely learn to fly Elon Musk’s new Starship.

David Carroll is a Chattanooga news anchor. You may contact him at