More and more people that I run into lately feel frustrated by increasing costs for television content. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Comcast / Xfinity or a DirecTV customer, people continue to feel the content pinch year-after-year. As providers seek to keep up with streaming content through apps like Hulu, Netflix, and now Disney+, their cost to provide that digital infrastructure and content continues to drive up the bottom line of our monthly bills.

Years ago, my husband and I decided to “cut the cord” on TV service. It was shortly after we had our first son. We just decided that the content we were getting wasn’t worth it.

We tried several things — we started with a Blu-ray player that was wireless-capable to bring app content, later upgrading to a “smart TV” after our son painted our old TV with yogurt. If you’re looking for a TV, I highly recommend the TCL Roku line, personally.

But one of the first questions I ask people when they say, “I could never do that. I just like TV too much,” is: “Well, have you tried a digital antenna?”

“An antenna?” People are sometimes shocked. They perceive it as an “old” technology. It’s like we’ve almost forgotten about antenna technology. Remember when we all had to upgrade to those digital antenna boxes years ago?

Now, digital antenna technology admittedly has also advanced in capability and costs have come down as more technology competitors have entered the antenna manufacturing market. People often don’t realize how much better today’s antennas are compared to those old, original, first-generation digital receivers of the 2000s.

Digital antennas aren’t metallic “robotic rabbit ears” anymore like they used to be. Ours is a flat black sheet of plastic about the size of a piece of paper with a coaxial cord that goes into our TV. Our antenna was about $30 and has a 50-mile reach radius for high-definition content. I looked up current digital antennas — since ours is a couple of years old — models on sale today commonly now have an 80-mile reach radius.

Just with our 50-mile reach antenna, we get about 15 channels. They include common regional channels like KIRO, FOX, and others, along with some other various genre channels. I also personally enjoy TVW, which broadcasts live and recorded legislative and government content, along with news shows and other things.

Our favorite channel is KBTC Public Television. KBTC is the regional PBS-affiliate based at Bates Technical College in Tacoma. They air some really interesting content, and if you sign up for KBTC membership, they mail you a monthly content guide. They air children’s content in a programming block daily.

If you weren’t aware, KBTC (and others) get great reception all the way down through Lewis County with a digital antenna.

Since incorporating our 15 free channels into the mix of our $7 and $10 per month content subscription, we really haven’t missed TV at all. We still get 85 to 90 percent of all Seattle Seahawks games with our antenna. EPSN aired over KIRO last Monday for the Seahawks vs. 49’ers game.

If you’re looking for a great Christmas gift this year for your family, I couldn’t recommend a digital antenna more highly! Not only will you get some good content, but you might be able to save yourself $50 to $100 per month, depending on your current service provider.

•••

Thank you so much to everyone who has sent items for the homeless this fall. Last week, 120 hand warmers, a dozen pairs of gloves, and another 250 mylar blankets showed up and were distributed directly to the Hub City Mission and their Severe Weather Shelter.

You can continue to send hand warmers and gloves to The Chronicle at ATTN: Hand warmers / gloves, 321 N. Pearl Street, Centralia, WA 98531. Hand warmers and gloves will go out directly to organizations that interact with members of the homeless community.

•••

Brittany Voie is a columnist for The Chronicle. She lives south of Chehalis with her husband and two young sons. She welcomes correspondence from the community at voiedevelopment@comcast.net.

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