Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content
Emmys 2017
Every unforgettable moment, every gorgeous dress.Click here


No more cable snow: Welcome to the future!

Posted on

Poltergeist_l Amid the hubbub about the switch to digital TV, one aspect of the shift escaped my notice: The death of cable snow.I didn’t even think of it, but Paul Saffo, a “futurist”* at the San Francisco Chronicle, pointed it out in a column recently.

The jittery static is something special, Saffo argues. “The universe started out very small and very hot, and has been expanding and cooling ever since. As it cools, the Big Bang’s fossil radiation sheds radio energy in the same way a cake on a cooling rack gives up heat. And when those indescribably ancient radio waves run down the rabbit ears and into your analog TV, the TV’s circuitry interprets it as an image, and voila! — Snow.“That is indeed cool.

But this is irking me because: Ugh, someday I’m going to have to explain this to my kids, the way my parents had to explain to me what network sign-offs were. I don’t remember ever seeing a sign-off in actual life, but I remember asking about it when it came up in movies we were watching. So when I show my future tykes Poltergeist, it’s going to have to come with TWO warnings: One, this movie is pretend, so don’t be too freaked (except in real life, the film was tooootes cursed, so be a little freaked, haha), and two, that used to happen to old-fashioned TVs.

Who’s aboard the nostalgia train with me, PopWatchers?

*Best job title ever?