COLUMBIA — At midnight on Tuesday, KOMU went blank on my television. Around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, I had it back on. And I still get my Internet and cable from Mediacom.
If you're a Mediacom subscriber, there are a few different options for watching your favorite NBC shows — mine is "The Office" — but most are online. You can view them through Mediacom's OnDemand features using a digital cable box, but if you want to watch the Thursday night comedy lineup on NBC, you'll have to wait until at least Saturday because the OnDemand shows are delayed.
The way I decided to get KOMU back into my living room was through an over-the-air HD antenna. After some Googling, I decided it was time to buy.
I went to Best Buy and wandered around the television section until I saw the small selection available. A salesperson came over and informed me that they have been selling fast in the past few days.
I chose an RCA model with an amplifier to help boost the signal before it goes to the television. After paying for the $40 unit, it was back to my home to give it a shot.
The setup seemed simple enough: Plug the coaxial cable into my television and the power cord to the wall, then get HD television for free. And that's basically how it went — eventually.
After positioning the two rabbit-ear pieces that extended from the back of the unit as they were pictured on the box, I ran an auto-detect channel scan on my television. It found three non-HD channels.
Not quite the 15 the salesman at Best Buy told me about.
I repositioned the antennas and tried again. Still only three channels.
I moved the antenna closer to the large, north-facing window. Same result.
I turned the amplifier off. No change.
Then I pulled the antenna to my coffee table to fiddle with it some more.
Suddenly, I heard a woman talking about brown rice and toasted almonds. It was the one, the only Rachael Ray. I looked up and she was chopping cilantro.
I had KOMU again.
I pulled my hands off the antenna and the picture froze; Rachael's voice muted. I touched it again and she was garnishing the plate. Apparently my body improved the reception just enough to bring in KOMU.
On a hunch, I went to my closet and grabbed a metal coat hanger, hung it on the crisscrossed antennas, then stepped away. Sure enough, the show was back just in time for me to see what she'd be cooking tomorrow.
This old-school solution to a new-school technological problem might not be quite as simple as pulling up the menu on a cable box and pushing a button, and it isn't ideal, but let's hope it is just temporary.
Alex Giddings is a senior in the Missouri School of Journalism. He is a reporter and photographer for the Missourian.