Fondly recalling Watergate: A time without soaps


NOTE: The 40th Anniversary of the Watergate Hearings begins May 17: Read about those times and how they affected the life of one young man and his friends and co-workers in my recently released novel, “Jackson Flats.” Find it on Amazon.com and as a Kindle book.
We’re now in the season of remembrance for a great american event – great for me as a young man of the early 1970s.
That event, the Watergate Hearings – were significant in American history because of their suspense – the actions of the most powerful man in the world were under minute scrutiny – and because they did another great thing. It was a time when daily soaps were kicked off the air so all us good American citizens could see our constitution in action through those hearings. In America, we had learned in school, no president is above the law .
I was particularly happy with that circumstance because as a young newspaper reporter at the time, I often worked nights covering meetings. That meant I could take compensatory time (the famous, or infamous in the world of small newspapers, Comp Time) during the day. On many afternoon away from the office, I would snap on my television – I had just gotten my first color TV with my first few paychecks on that job – to lull me into a nap.
But I soon discovered I would not have the luxury of sleep because soaps dominated that time of day – the days before multi-channel cable TV. Not being a soap fan, I would snapped off my TV and pass time listening to music or playing my guitar – or reading. Not that that was bad, but I often need sleep.
So, I was overjoyed, actually, to some live news to watch on those days in my apartment.
I didn’t care if it was a governmental hearing, I would watch anyway. I was a newsman and I covered dull, dry meetings, so that kind of thing was not new to me. Besides, it would be the Congress that would be holding hearing on the President of the United States. Not some county committee questioning a road employee’s behavior or something equally mundane.
I got a big surprise when I realized these hearings would be something different; indeed, they would not only be compelling, but historic. So, ironically, Watergate TV kept me from naps, too.
Watergate grew from a “third-rate burglary” to the first major governmental scandal – on the federal level – in the television age, and as such, not only kicked the soaps off the air on the particular network covering the hearings – the three major networks at the time alternated daily coverage – but became a soap opera of its own.
The hearings opened on May 17, 1973, with ABC drawing the first day of coverage. And although those who lived through that time and might have been soap fans might have thought they dragged on forever, they didn’t. That is, the live coverage didn’t. Real time coverage ended on August 7, that year. I recall being saddened when that happened. But from then on, I got my rest.

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About cwanager77

Hi, I'm Chuck, and I'm the author of "Jackson Flats," which you can find on Amazon.com and Kindle books. My Web page is charleswanager.com. The novel's packed with humor and is a fast read. I also like to travel. I'm especially happy when I can do both and tell others about my experiences. I write about my travel over the globe and close to home. With my posts, you read not only about my travels but about ways to travel lightly and cheaply, and where to stay for less. Travel the world close to home and far away with my posts.
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