Here's what PBS meant to me as a child/budding nerd:
Sesame Street - The original, the best.
The Electric Company - For those into phonetics (and OMG, was I ever.)
3-2-1 Contact - More on the science side of things (didn't appeal quite as much.)
Vision On - Yes, I actually watched this way back in the day. Was there ever a nerdier show?
Geometric iterations - I saw how cool it was to take a simple figure, rotate a superimposed figure 90 degrees, then repeat the process over and over to produce some amazing designs. No talking. Nerdy-as-Moog music. 100% awesome. And of course, I can't find a video for this.
Vegetable Soup - All's I remember is the opening credits.
Big Blue Marble - Ditto...although this show might have subliminally planted a tiny environmental ethic in me, even at the ripe old age of 3 or 4.
Mr. Roger's Neighborhood - Yeah, some people thought he was a bit weird and smarmy. And as an adult, I can see it. But as a kid, it passed me by. All I saw was a gentle guy who was good friends with his neighbors and had some kinda creepy but still cool finger puppets. And I loved that trolley.
Then, as I got older:
The St. Olaf Christmas Festival - I'm biased, being an alum and all, but can you imagine this competing on any of the major networks with the likes of football? Or any Christmas cartoon? Events like these need to be preserved.
TeleTunes - Very few of these videos would have been considered for MTV, unless it were on some version of 120 Minutes that played at 3 am. Only found in the Denver area in the late '80s-early '90s.
The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross - Who doesn't love happy little trees? Or happy little clouds? I watched this show in high school not to aspire to become a painter, but because after a long, tough day, Bob Ross was the best nonpharmaceutical alternative to Prozac or Xanax. One half-hour with this guy, and suddenly all was well with the world again. R.I.P.
If Romney gets elected, you can say goodbye to all of the above. Or at least, their modern equivalents. It'd be a tremendous loss.
Talking with my mom recently, I was kinda surprised to hear her say that she gave full credit to PBS for an excellent out-of-school education when I was really young. Considering how much flak TV gets nowadays for contributing to the dumbing down of our society, this was quite the testimonial. Apparently, I just would sit in front of the tube, and gape, hypnotized by the moving pictures, utterly undisturbed by anything else, absorbing everything unquestioningly. And all through the K-12 treadmill, I was consistently among the top students in my class. My mom is convinced the two are linked inextricably. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Romney.
Oh, what the hell. PBS can say it better than I can.