Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Morning Turns 30 Years Old

For many people, sunday mornings are a time to go to church, to sit in pews and to listen to the sermon - and perhaps sing a hymn or two. In a recent CBS poll, about 30% of Americans say they go to religious services at least once a week. Aside from Catholic kindergarden, where I was in church at least once a week (and getting yelled at for touching the holy water with my left hand), I have never been of that group. For much of my life, my sunday mornings have had a different ritual - in some ways a secular but sacred ritual. I watched CBS' Sunday Morning, first with Charles Kuralt and later with Charles Osgood. It was, for the first 6 or so years of my life, the only program outside of Connecticut Public Television that was really ever on while I was in the room. My parents' rule about commercial television did not extend to this quiet, languid news program that highlighted - among other stories - a bike messenger in New York City, and a guy who spent his days waving to passersby and wishing them a good day.

Sunday Morning has been on the air for 30 years today. Over time, its format has changed very little; it is still a calm port in the excitable news channels. When it premiered, there was no Fox News, no MSNBC, no C-Span. Now, its slow pace is an even more enjoyable aspect. Its style is more in line with those PBS shows, like the NewsHour. And the hour and a half program always ends with a shot of nature. In many ways, Sunday Morning is as regimented for me as church going is for others. There are times I have strayed. In college, a friend and I would attempt to get up on sunday mornings in order to watch Sunday Morning, because she had the same familial experience. We failed, more often than not. And I don't remember both of us staying awake during the broadcast on the mornings we made it. But Sunday Morning is there, comfortable and familiar. And so, I am glad it has been a constant in my life, and hope that it continues to be a constant in the years to come.

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