Mini-profile: “I’m still working out the Internet”

Melvin Frostad performing his life long hobby of wood working. He is making an acoustic guitar in his garage in Vancouver, Washington. Photo by Nicholas Mukensnabl.

Melvin Frostad, an eighty-two year old retired teacher from Vancouver, Washington, has watched the news media change profoundly over the course of his lifetime.

Frostad’s first exposure to news was when he was six years old: “The earliest I can remember is when they broadcast Pearl Harbor,” said Frostad.

The most common types of news media back in his youth were the radio and newspaper. “When it came to the most recent news, the radio was the best way to go,” Frostad said.

However, because Frostad lived on a farm in Marcus, Washington for most of his childhood, radio sometimes wasn’t the most reliable option when it came to media sources.

“A lot of times we couldn’t listen to the news on the radio because we didn’t have good reception. So if we did catch the news, it was usually from a newspaper,” said Frostad.

However, Frostad really didn’t start paying attention to the news media until he was around sixteen, he said. And it wasn’t until he was twenty-three when listening to or reading the news became a daily habit.

According to Frostad, catching up with the news became routine around the same time that he moved into his house in Vancouver. He and his wife, Dixie Frostad, have lived in their Vancouver house together for more than fifty years.

“Moving made it easier to get news… it was easier to get newspapers, and radio reception was actually good enough to listen to,” said Frostad.

News at that time covered mostly major events, according to Frostad. The news was “mostly elections, news of the president, but most of all the war,” he said.

It was during Frostad’s lifetime that the first TV hit the stores. He also witnessed the creation of the Internet. Today, Frostad’s news sources come mostly from the television and news websites. Radio is now a medium of the past. “The only time I ever listen to the radio is when I am in the car. I don’t drive too often, so that tends not to be my main source,” he said.

But being online isn’t easy for Frostad. “I’m still working out the Internet,” he said.

The news media have changed a lot over the course of Frostad’s lifetime. More news sources have been created, he said, though the audience isn’t always diverse. And news now goes well beyond his hometown or even his country.

“The news still talks about the same things, but everything they are talking about seems to be aimed at a certain group of people,” Frostad said. “And there used to be only local news, but now you get news of the whole world.”