Automation

Back in 1955, radio broadcasting was fun. Everything depended on timing and precision. Today, we have digital editing and automation.  My first experience in broadcasting was in Pampa, Texas at KPDN-am. Their studios were located in the basement of an office building. My shift began at 6PM and finished at midnight, Monday through Friday with some week-end duties broadcasting wrestling matches. I operated sound effects from the control room as Warren Hasse received telegraphed reports of baseball games, sitting in our small studio. I ran the crowd noise longplay record and he struck the table with a pencil for each hit. If it was a ball, he would slap his leg. (Gordon McLendon was the first do do so). I did ‘color’ when Warren broadcast wrestling matches from the Pampa arena. I became good friends with many of the ‘wrestling stars’ of the day. 

Back then, we were a Mutual Broadcasting station and much of their programming was tape-delayed. It was the responsibility of the on-air personality to record these programs for playback later. We were also responsible for all programming and kept an eye on the transmitter and its output. Our only ‘break’ was during network newscasts, usually at the ‘top-of-the-hour’ and mostly five-minutes in duration. Everything was live and time was of the essence. I learned how to ‘back-time’ prior to joining network in order to not miss one word of news. In those days the law demanded that we identify the radio station within five minutes of the top of the hour. Everything was written in an official ‘Log’ of the day, even the transmitter readings and discrepancies. We worked our tails off and every second was exciting. Today, there is very seldom a mistake that goes out on the air. Most radio stations have a ‘seven-second-delay’ option that prevents this happening. What this means to the listener is that you are listening to what was said or done seven seconds ago. This makes today’s ‘talk’ possible by deleting unacceptable utterances from “on-air”. When I was a host on KDWN, Las Vegas, we wore that button out, donchaknow. It was there that I was Art Bell’s “fill-in” when he couldn’t make it for his “West Coast AM”, nightly broadcasts. Art was the overnight darling of the airways for years, saving stations money by automation.  I was operations manager of one of the first radio stations to utilize overnight automation. Today, many of your radio broadcasts originate elsewhere. Many are from Dallas. They are so sophisticated even with time and local temperature, you would never know it was from elsewhere. ESPN radio uses this broadcast service almost entirely, simulcasting their internet sports reports daily. All of this simply has put many talented broadcasters out of work, donchaknow. Pray for us. You may not know who we are, but God does. And that’s what I get from My box of chocolates.   AMEN

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