While poking about, I discovered a new cooking, gardening, and outdoor living show called Dig In Dallas, which runs on our local Fox affiliate at 6:00 on Saturday mornings. I regret that I missed out on last weekend’s interview with Leslie Halleck of North Haven Gardens, but I also admit that I probably wouldn’t have caught the show. I can understand running it at a timeslot that’s both available and relatively inexpensive, but 6 in the morning?
This may sound academic, but I was thinking about this a couple of years ago, when the hype about seeking younger gardeners was in full swing. Specifically, this was at a garden show where, with the exception of a few kids brought there by their grandparents, I was probably the youngest person in the entire exhibition hall who wasn’t working for the company hosting the show. Everyone was talking “young”, but the show wasn’t pitched to them. It wasn’t advertised in venues where anybody under the age of 65 would have noticed. Worse, it contained no content that would have made them brave Dallas traffic on a beautiful autumn day. (The only time we’re overloaded with worse drivers than when we get snow is when we have a truly spectacularly beautiful day, because that’s when the real dingbats decide to go to the mall.) The vendors were there, and ready, but how was anybody supposed to know the show was there for them?
This isn’t to say that gardening television and radio shows have to be remade in some horrible Disney Channel format. A lot of the effort can come with the timing. Many moons back, half of Dallas’s punk and metal community was absolutely addicted on the late Jack Horkheimer’s PBS-syndicated show Star Hustler. We’re talking about characters with the longest and sharpest Liberty spikes you’ve ever seen, hanging out in front of clubs and shading their eyes from streetlights in order to spot Mars because Jack had taught them where Mars was located at what time. It wasn’t hard to get hooked on Jack’s goofy enthusiasm, but the timing had to be just right. Our PBS affiliate would run Star Hustler just before it shut down for the night, which was usually about a half-hour after closing time at most clubs. This meant a lot of viewers started by coming home after a long night slamdancing, turning on the television for background noise while winding down, and finding themselves confronted by someone who made them give a damn about planetary astronomy.
Not that this couldn’t be done with a gardening show, but it would have to be handled carefully. Let’s face it: it’s hard to make horticulture dramatic, even if British television keeps trying. And trying. And someone much more eloquent than I sums up my feelings about the old PBS stalwart The Good Life:
Now, there’s nothing wrong with existing gardening programs, because they fill a niche. I just figure that, for all of the noise about getting younger gardeners into the fold, some extra effort should be made to encourage those younger gardeners to watch. Something darker and more gonzo, perhaps. How about this as a starting point for an opening credits theme?