By Angela Swinson
Lee WI Contributing
Preparing Seniors for the
''DeeNice'' Rhodes stood in front of about 20
people in a social hall
at the Fort Lincoln Senior Center last
week and told them that television as they knew
it would change in February, and if they didn't
make the necessary changes, they could end up
with a plain blue screen.
that the inside of television sets will no
longer be equipped with a tube, but a computer.
As a result, the analog signal is no longer
needed; everything will switch to a digital
learn so much,
and we get so much content from what we see on
television," said Rhodes,
who went on to tell her audience about
the importance of the digital
converter box, explaining that if they did not
already subscribe to a paid cable or a satellite
provider, their television
signal would be interrupted as of February
The switch to
mandate that all full-power broadcast
television stations in the country will stop
broadcasting on analog airwaves on Feb.
17, and begin broadcasting only
in digital. Through such broadcasting,
stations will be able to offer improved
picture and sound quality, according to the
Federal Communications Commission
Web site. Known as the Digital Dynamo,
Rhodes has made it her mission to serve
society’s underserved residents with technology
assistance and is busy educating people about
the switch and helping them through the process.
For more than 20
year; she has done what she calls "evangelizing"
by helping others understand and adapt to new
types of technology. Her passion for this kind
of work began when she
keyboard that she could connect with a
television set from her sister as a Christmas
She began tinkering
with it and learning about it, and discovered
an excitement at sharing her knowledge with
others. She also
said she felt "empowered," and wanted others to
feel the same. While Rhodes has never received
formal technology training, she has formerly
worked in sales for computer companies.
''I love helping
people get engaged in technology. When seniors
get online and start
using the chat room,
they have someone to talk to," Rhodes
In 1997, she created
the Urban Progressive Foundation, a nonprofit
project of Congressional District Programming
Inc. The seniors in Fort
Lincoln said they appreciated the time
Rhodes spent with them. For several months now,
they have seen commercials about the switch from
analog to digital,
but were unsure of what steps they needed
to take to be ready for the switch.
Burgess had quite a few unanswered questions
about the switch, such as if she needed to get
"1 learned how 1 could
be duped into getting something 1 don't need,"
Burgess said, referring to the unnecessary
products Rhodes told the seniors they might be
persuaded to purchase.
wants to get digital converter
boxes for two television sets in his
apartment he wasn't sure how to hook the thing
up:' he said.
makes three visits,
The first is to educate the seniors about
the boxes and show them
how they can sign up to receive coupons that would
significantly reduce the price of the boxes. On
the second visit, Rhodes collects the coupons
and orders the boxes.
The final trip is
free of charge.
Technicians hook up the boxes
During her visit to
Rhodes explained that even those with
paid television could view a blank
screen if their
service is interrupted.
workshops each week and has made contact with
700 people regarding the switch to digital
converter boxes in the past four months.
really cause people
to be intimidated. I am' trying to get people
to take baby steps," Rhodes
information go to: