Thursday, September 06, 2007

"Sure, I Can Run It" (Or Learn Fast)

I also worked Master Control in a tv station once. Story there.

That was sort of left hanging from my August 23 blog, “The Grocery List.” Yes, there is a story there, probably not unusual for those who know me.

One weekend, I dropped in on a fairly major-market (top-50) PBS station and started chatting with the control room engineer about radio and tv. It was, as I recall, around the time of the Watergate hearings, or something like that, as the network was carrying a live feed from Washington. A scheduled break was coming up and the engineer said, “How would you like to switch the break?”

It would involve rolling the big 2” one minute videotape of something five seconds early so it would “lock up” just as its video actually began, then taking us off the network line, bringing in the videotape, pre-rolling the next tape five seconds early and going into it, fading it out, then bringing up the station identification slide and hitting the audio tape before going back onto the network.

“Perfect job,” the engineer said. “Yeah,” I replied, “especially since I’ve never done this before.” The guy almost passed out. “Hey,” I said, “it’s just radio with pictures. I’ve done radio for ages and this is the same.”

Well, it’s the same if you have nerves of steel, a lot of self-confidence -- and luck.


Anonymous ruthc said...

It would involve...
I haven't a clue what anything coming after that means, but---
I do get the idea.
Great story.

September 06, 2007 12:09 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

Think of doing a lot of things when it is vital that they are done with split-second accuracy and you have had (a) no rehearsal, (b) never seen the equipment before, (c) and it has to be done right the first time.

I don't know if it's nerves of steel, confidence, or sheer arrogance. Maybe a mixture of all. But that was my 2 minutes and 3 seconds of television glory.

By the way, those switchers (sort of what you would call tv control boards) are big, with long rows of lighted or unlighted buttons. You got to hit the right one on the fly.

September 06, 2007 1:41 PM  
Anonymous RuthC said...

Sounds like you had a lot of fun doing it---and get more fun remembering it.
C'est bon.

September 06, 2007 2:41 PM  
Anonymous maddrummer said...

...and it makes you feel really alive!

September 06, 2007 4:41 PM  

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