What better day to launch a television network that immerses viewers in the past than Memorial Day?
Monday marks the debut of Decades, the new digital subchannel from CBS Television Stations and Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting. Each day’s programming will focus on a different era or theme through vintage series, popular movies and historical news footage.
In Chicago, Decades will air on WBBM 2.2, a subchannel of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, and local cable systems, including Comcast Channel 338 and Wide Open West Channel 172.
“We are working hard to create something unique in the diginet space with the Decades Network,” said Neal Sabin, vice chairman of Weigel Broadcasting and the programming genius behind MeTV, Me-Too, The U and Heroes & Icons, among others. “Our goal is to present information, movies and TV series that prompt viewers to relive, remember and relate to our cultural past.”
Initially airing on 35 stations representing more than 45 percent of the country, Monday-through-Friday programming will be presented in six-hour blocks repeated four times each day. Weekends will consist of binge marathons of such classic series as as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Untouchables,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Dark Shadows” and “I Love Lucy.”
Centerpiece of the new network is “Through the Decades,” a one-hour weekday program hosted by Bill Kurtis, utilizing the archives of CBS News and “Entertainment Tonight,” among other sources. Joining Kurtis are correspondents Ellee Pai Hong and Kerry Sayers.
Monday’s premiere edition will explore the Memorial Day holiday in American history, including the debut of “Star Wars” on this weekend in 1977 and the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 near O’Hare Airport in 1979.
Opening day programming also will present the anti-war movie musical “Hair” along with the comedy series “Hogan’s Heroes” and the drama series “The Rat Patrol,” delivering contrasting depictions of combat and patriotism in entertainment.