CNN started the series “The Eighties” tonight, March 31, 2016, with a two-hour special, focused on the growth of television in the decade. That follows the way CNN had introduced series on the 60s and 70s.
The long episode seemed excessive, as the political and social issues (most of all, HIV, but also the fall of the Berlin Wall, Chernobyl, the Challenger, and other big events) have to wait for later.
Walter Cronkite resigned in early 1981, and major changes happened at all networks. But CNN had been founded in Atlanta, and to everyone’s surprise, a news channel took off. As the decade began, media was “trusted” and news reporting tended to be concise, often only fifteen minutes. (That I don’t recall – but since I was working I usually wasn’t home for news.)
Television got more “creative” (borrowing ideas from daytime soap opera and gravitating toward reality TV) as the show “Dallas” started out the decade – I had moved to Dallas myself in 1979. SNL got started, as some skit about Bush-Dukakis were shown. Yet, televisions series in the 80s, for my recollection, weren't as memorable as the big grand films of the decade. "80s" is still a style of epic filmmaking.
I recall how effective PBS was getting, particularly covering AIDS and other health issues, and also covering the growth of the PC and introducing Steve Jobs. I remember recording some programs on a Beta VCR, which was clumsy to use. I also remember the disco music of the era, and miss it.
Local television stations tended to communicate more with the public, even the gay community. I was able to get letters about AIDS read on WFAA. I also remember a weather man Harold Taft and his tornado coverage, when the barometer “was just too low”.