Media is an ever-changing form of information sharing. Throughout the last 30 years, the media has changed significantly. Kim Staton, a 49-year-old from Russell, Kentucky, speaks on her experience growing up in a rapidly evolving media environment.
In 1990, Staton was 18 years old. The majority of her time was spent at school, online, or on the phone with her friends – mostly gossiping about boys and school. But even the act of talking on the phone has changed drastically since 1990.
“Cellphones did not exist.” Staton says, “So we used to talk, you know, on the landline. And it was corded, it was not a cordless phone. And you know when call waiting came out that was like the big thing – that was big stuff.”
Staton didn’t really care about things going on in the world. She mostly got her news from TV stations her dad would play around the house. Her father, Johnny Ray, had subscriptions to two physical newspapers he would receive daily. These newspapers were from towns close to Russell, KY because Russell did not have its own paper.
“My dad actually received two newspapers. He had got one in the morning and one in the afternoon from two different cities – local cities. He would get the “Ashland Daily Independent” and “The Huntington West Virginia Herald.”
Ray later changed his “Ashland Daily Independent” subscription to the “Lexington Herald-Leader” because he felt it contained more relevant statewide information.
Staton contributes most of her news education to her father. Since Ray was a police officer, he felt it was important to stay up to date on things happening locally, specifically with crime. To do this, he would keep a constant stream of television news stations running in her childhood home.
“He thought it was important to know what was going on, so he had a TV in the kitchen. It was funny because he had a little boxy black and white TV in the kitchen. So, he didn’t have it on while we ate dinner, but he would sit in there and watch while mom cooked dinner, and me and Uncle Robert were in the living room watching cartoons.”
Entertainment came a lot from cartoons while growing up, but once in highschool, talking on the phone and watching TV was all the rage. MTV started to become popular in the 80’s, so a lot of Staton’s time was spent watching music videos on the television. One of the first major media developments in her life was based around news with the start of CNN programming.
“When I think back to the 80’s, I think that was a huge time for media. Because that was when, like, CNN and 24-hour news came out, and MTV came out with the music videos and they were 24 hour music videos. They just had music videos and that was a defining moment for media back then because it was the first time there had been something like that.”
While Staton was never super into music growing up, her high school sweetheart and current husband was a big music buff.
“He was much more into music than I was. Back then, they had what was called Columbia music, and so it was like a mail order subscription. And they always ran these ads, so you’d get, like, nine cassettes for a penny and then you had to buy so many after that for regular price, and then you could cancel your subscription. He was all about that.”
Growing from kitchen TVs to handheld portable computers is quite the contrast, but Staton is happy to be in a time of ever growing information.