From The Editor

Just when you thought you were thru ‘rescanning’ your TV…

When the ten-year transition to digital TV ended, over a decade ago, you needed either a digital converter box for your old TV, or a brand new digital TV, if you were to receive the many new local stations – but first, you had to “rescan” the tuner, in the TV’s menu, to get them. Suddenly you had a lot more local TV stations than you ever had before, many in high definition, and all with perfect pictures. Fine and dandy.

But as new channels came on the air, you had to rescan again to get those. And, over the last couple of years, you had to repeatedly rescan your tuner to keep receiving many local stations as they changed the frequencies they transmitted on – so the U.S. Government could sell more and more of the former 82-channel TV band to the wireless companies. 

Now the TV band runs from Channel 2 to channel 36, and that’s it. However, TV stations can continue to name themselves by their old channel numbers to help you find them, and the channels they say they are on are used to help your TV to keep them in the same position on your TV tuner as they always were, no matter what channels they actually transmit on now.

All these previous frequency changes were mostly mandated by the government, and the stations were forced to make these changes – but for their trouble, the costs of doing so were often reimbursed to the stations by the government, from the pot of money they made selling the parts of the TV band that these stations had been using.

Finally, last fall, it seemed to be all over – but wait!  There’s more!  And you already may know about it, since the latest frequency shuffle took place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 28. And this time, the stations themselves are responsible for the change – which required you to rescan your digital TV’s tuner to keep receiving some of the stations you were getting free from an antenna.

You see, it’s been over ten years since the “ATSC-1” digital format introduced you to the extra channels being broadcast in Portland, and the splendid pictures that went with them. Now, the broadcasters want to upgrade to a newly-authorized advanced digital TV format called “ATSC-3”.

This “next generation” of digital TV can support even higher definition – although if you don’t have a really huge screen TV, you may not notice the difference. The new format is supposed to work better in cars – but it would have to be for back-seat-use-only to be legal.

And more importantly for the broadcasters, it is supposed to help the TV stations better market products and services to you – often tailored specifically for you, by mixing the broadcast with additional data your TV is supposed to get keyed specifically to you, over the Internet. You may or may not want that extra level of tailoring, which requires that broadcasters know ever more about you and your tastes.

Most importantly for you, the new ATSC-3 format is – alas – incompatible with ATSC-1. So, unless you have a very new TV with the capability of also receiving ATSC-3 signals, you’ll only see the ATSC-1 broadcasts you’ve gotten used to. To get more, you would have to buy a brand new digital converter box (there are very few available yet), or else buy yet another new TV with the new type of tuner in it.

Alas, you may not have very many years to get that converter box, or that new TV, before the ATSC-1 broadcasts start disappearing. There will be no ten-year transition with both formats on the air this time, because this is not a government mandate but just a TV station project.

They agreed on switching two existing full-power TV channels – KRCW, channel 32, and KPDX, channel 49 – and both stations are now broadcasting entirely in the new ATSC-3 format, for the participating stations to share. All four of KRCW’s former channels, and all four of KPDX's former channels, have now moved to several different transmitters  but are still to be found under their familiar channel numbers after you rescan your TV. That’s what happened on July 28.

If you watch local TV from cable or satellite, those providers took care of this switch for you, and you should still be getting what you got before, without having to do anything.

There’s still good reason to use an antenna to receive all four dozen local TV broadcasts – it’s free, you get the best available picture on each, and get some channels you might not receive through a cable or satellite service.  But if you DO watch the fifty digital Portland TV channels free from an antenna, and if you haven’t rescanned your TV recently, you’d better do it now – to get back those channels that in late July seemed to vanish.

Not many local media, including the TV stations themselves, tell you the whole story behind these frequent changes we’ve seen lately in local live TV broadcasts, as received free from an antenna. So THE BEE keeps up with all this stuff for you, so you don’t have to.

Letters to the Editor
“Sellwood Glory”
“Sellwood Glory”

Reader grows “Sellwood Glory” dahlia


[Here’s] “Sellwood Glory”, loving life on Yukon Street [in mid-July]. ’Tis the season for dahlias, which is what Sellwood Glory is. It definitely has a cool history, being from the neighborhood and all –

It would be cool for the photo to have a spot in THE BEE. I really love the paper, and look forward to reading it every month. You all do an amazing job!

Kevin Howells


“Physical distancing”


I am writing to encourage everyone to use the term “physical distancing” rather than “social distancing” when referring to our efforts to keep six feet or more away from others in public spaces. There are a number of compelling reasons to make this change in our language: First, “physical distancing” more accurately describes what we are really doing when we keep 6+ feet between us and others. Second, the pandemic has put incredible psychological and emotional stress on many people. I believe that, subtle as it may seem, asking us to “socially distance” ourselves from others compounds the anxiety and strain of wondering how we are going to survive, to keep our homes, or feed our families.

We do not need to be socially isolated, even when we are physically distant (e.g., we have phone calls, can talk with neighbors from the front porch to the sidewalk, Zoom and FaceTime chat with families and friends. Who knows, writing letters may come back into fashion!).

And, finally, the concept of “social distance” is laden with class, race, and economic connotations. It can be traced back to 1831, when it was used in France to separate social classes; and in 1919, the Social Distance Scale was used to emphasize the difference and separation of blacks and whites in America. I encourage you to go online –

Clearly, in 2020, we are asking for change that reflects equality and equity. So please, wear your mask, keep six feet away, but don’t be socially distant from others!

Ardy Dunn
S.E. Malden, Sellwood


Clarification: Sellwood-Moreland “Historic Listings”


I would like to offer a correction to a caption under my photograph in last month’s BEE. Within its boundaries, the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood has only three buildings that have been awarded “National Register of Historic Places” status. They are the “Carmen’s Clubhouse”, the “Oaks Pioneer Church”, and the “Sellwood YMCA” (later the Sellwood Community Center, now the Sellwood Community House).  I prepared the nomination for the Sellwood YMCA, but not for the church.

Eileen Fitzsimons
via e-mail

“Questionable claims”


For some reason Beeson Clinic [BEE Letters, June 2020] claims 80% of the population have “mild” symptoms [from COVID-19]. 1) what research are they familiar with that discounts as yet undected [sic], long term symptoms that are just now emerging?, 2) unless they can identify who exactly comprise that 80% population, wouldn't the prudent person conduct themselves as if they are a member of the 20%? My family and I certainly do.

Mentioning the importance of masks and social distancing would, I think, be important for a health professional to reinforce.

Yes, vaccine studies should be thorough and focus on safety as well as effectiveness. A properly developed vaccine is still our best hope to return to a normal, healthy world. [Go online to]

Jim Houser
Brooklyn Neighborhood

EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer may have overlooked that the single most dangerous characteristic of the COVID-19 coronavirus is that at least half of those infected experience mild symptoms – or even none. The CDC is among those warning of this, which is the reason the wearing of masks by EVERYONE, and maintaining social or physical distancing is mandatory for EVERYONE, despite the chafing by those who are impatient to get back to normalcy. Lapses involving family or social gatherings have proven severe, since some of those in such gatherings are infected and don’t know it. This very infectious disease is being spread by these people every time any relaxation of restrictions occurs, and some of those infected as a result do experience serious and in some cases permanent physical damage, or – as we have seen – death. And not only are the elderly and infirm dying; now even some of the much younger people who take the pandemic lightly are as well.


Unwanted letter


I live on S.E. 19th here in Westmoreland. I received an [unsigned letter] in my mail box July 10. This is in response to my Black Lives Matter sign in my yard. I am not sure how many others got these today too. It would be great to see THE BEE call out these cowards. I am disgusted by this act. Thank you.

Nycole Ferguson
via e-mail

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ms. Ferguson attached a snapshot that appears to be of an unsigned printed form letter, alleging that BLM is a radical organization. Unsigned letters certainly do not show courage, as she points out, and are generally not credible.

Letters to the Editor may be submitted via e-mail by clicking HERE.

All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.

Charles Darwin Otto
Charles Darwin Otto

Charles Darwin Otto

August 12, 1934 – March 15, 2020

With the tumult caused by the arrival of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the spring of 2020, the passing on March 15 of Sellwood antique dealer Charles Darwin Otto went largely unnoticed, except by his close friends.

His longtime partner in “Stars and Splendid, Inc.”, Brent Heeb, told THE BEE about the man known as Darwin Otto.

“Darwin came to Sellwood in the mid 1970's when he opened up his antiques shop, ‘ETC Antiques’. He ran his shop until we started up ‘Stars Antiques Malls’ in 1990. He previously had lived close to Reed College, but then moved into the Sellwood neighborhood several years after opening his shop.  So he has been a fixture in Sellwood for quite some time.

“The partners came together in 1987 to produce a lifestyle country antiques show at Montgomery Park called ‘The Magic of Oregon’. After doing these shows for several years, we decided to open up an antiques mall.  Darwin was familiar with this concept from his days of shopping on the East Coast. Tom Brown had the space in Westmoreland, and we just did it. Thirty years later we are still in business.”

Otto was important to Inner Southeast Portland, Heeb reflected, “Because he believed in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood, both having a business in Westmoreland and living here for many years. He supported the idea of neighborhoods that were vital with shops and services that enhanced its livability. And, he lived to see the transformation of Sellwood and Westmoreland over the last 50 years.

Going “junking” was Darwin’s passion, and he did this despite the crippling effects of Parkinson’s Disease until the last month of his life. He passed away peacefully on March 15, 2020, surrounded by family.

His best memory of Otto, Heeb said, was when he walked into his original shop, “ETC”.

“I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was a treasure trove of country antiques and found objects. I could tell this was a man of creativity and taste. Later, after becoming friends, I fell in love with this kind and thoughtful man; we celebrated 36 years together in February.

“Darwin was a man of few words, but he was beloved by his customers and friends. He just had something that drew people to him. He lived his life to the fullest.”

He leaves behind his life-partner Brent, daughters Lesie Otto Hill and Darin Otto, son Silas Otto (Staci), brother Greg Otto (Doris), mother of his children Berbara Otto Engelman, and nine grandchildren. – David F. Ashton


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