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If CSI Can Exist, So Should HVAC Programming

May 26, 2008
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Mark Skaer

I am going to sound like a broken record, but it has to be said over and over and over again until we, as an industry, do something collectively to get more young people into this industry. No ands, ifs, or buts.

If you have been reading my blog lately (and, if not, why not?), I’ve been preaching that we definitely need to get a weekly TV show placed on the airwaves that deals with HVACR. There is no better way, in my mind, to catch the eye of this future generation than by the TV screen. American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. By the age of 70, they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV.

Around 90 percent of American kids under the age of two and 40 percent of babies under three months are regular TV watchers, according to a recent pediatric study. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes the average American child watches four hours of TV a day and that kids under two should be limited to two hours of kid-oriented programming a day.

“We don’t know from the study whether [TV] is good or bad. What we know is that it is big,” said study conductor Frederick Zimmerman of the University of Washington.

Amen.

TV is powerful, too. No question. Look what “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” has done for forensic science. People have unrealistic expectations of forensic science thanks to the success of the TV show and its spin-offs, “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: New York,” experts say. Evidence submitted to forensic labs has shot up as a result of the programs, at a time when many have large backlogs, science investigators claim.

Lawyers also fear the effect because jurors have a distorted view of how forensic evidence is used. The issue was discussed at a major science conference held recently in Washington, D.C. “This TV show comes on and everyone starts watching it, including the cops and prosecutors, and submissions to forensic laboratories go through the roof,” commented Max Houck, who runs a forensic science graduate course at West Virginia University, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The American forensics expert said there were roughly 200,000 to 300,000 backlogged DNA samples in U.S. labs. Yet, these constituted just 10 percent of the total test backlog, said Houck.

At the same time, he admitted the show has had positive effects on the field. “My university course started with four graduates in 1999; we’re now the largest major on campus with 400 students,” he said.

Not a bad jump. And it’s not because Houck is an excellent teacher. TV is just a strong recruiter.

ARE YOU ON BOARD?

While it would be nice to have an HVACR-related TV program for different age groups, that’s not reality. Getting one on CBS, ABC, Fox, or NBC will be a task in itself, but it must be done.

If this industry can apply pressure to the political side of issues, we can certainly lobby the entertainment world, right?

Commenting on my thoughts regarding the topic, blog-reader Mark Clemons suggested, “How about a reality show which targets extremely bad HVAC systems and does a complete makeover to create a new environment in a building/home? Maybe we could put something together and post it to YouTube or some such. We need to do something to bring awareness of the HVACR world to our young people.”

Another blog reader, Kari Palutis, passed on this: “Wanted you to know that I just saw ‘Juno’ this weekend, and the dad is an HVAC contractor. Even called it ‘h-vac’ like how the cool people say it. So perhaps the HVAC industry isn’t entirely unsung.”

I would not go that far. We still have a long, long way to go before we get young people flocking to this industry. I have to believe anything is possible, especially now that the cost of gasoline is $4 a gallon and we might have an African-American or female as the next president of the United States.

If you can help the cause or have input, shoot me an e-mail. And, keep reading my blog for future installments regarding the issue. There is still plenty to say and do before this can ever become reality, but we have to act now.

Publication date: 05/26/2008
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