So I'm passing along this e-mail from reader Susan Vanderbout of Citrus Heights, lamenting that "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" is no longer airing as part of the children's morning programming on Channel 6 (KVIE).
Man, did I build up a full head of steam. It was not going to be a beautiful day for David Hosley, KVIE's president, when I asked him why he hates our dear, departed Fred Rogers.
As it turns out, Hosley ducked my calls (OK, in reality, he was on vacation), so I left a meek voicemail instead for someone to call me back and explain this heresy.
David Lowe, KVIE's vice president for marketing and development, promptly ringed back and was as calm and soothing as Rogers himself in explaining why the "Neighborhood" was kicked to the curb.
(Sacramento-area viewers who also get San Francisco PBS affiliate KQED are out of luck, as well. "Mister Rogers" is off the air there, too.)
"We did our schedule change in the fall, right after Labor Day, and we haven't heard too many (complaints) from viewers," Lowe says. "The thing was, we had access to new programming. 'Curious George,' for instance. From 8 to 10 a.m., we have sort of a live host, 'Miss Lori,' who introduces the animated shows. So people who like real people talking will be happy...We've even got one of 'Mister Rogers' ' sweaters hanging in the background on the set."
Replaced by a monkey? That's harsh. Also, by a big red dog, too. A second half hour of "Clifford" runs in "Mister Rogers' " old spot.
Well, the empty sweater on the set apparently is not sufficient enough for viewers like Vanderbout, who writes in her cyber missive: "Fred Rogers used to say that we can do a lot of harm or a lot of good by what we put on television. He chose to do good, leaving a legacy of programs for our children to watch. However, this legacy will go to waste if these programs aren't aired anymore. This would be a tragedy."
Lowe's response: "I'm a fan of 'Mister Rogers,' too. It's really the parents, more than the kids, who enjoy that show for the nostalgia."