The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

What Broadcast Engineering Was

I have been at this game pushing 60 years and today while making up Type N jumper cables with RG214 for an STL project I started thinking: “If I had a dollar for every one of these connectors that I have assembled … ”

Well, I probably did but I have spent all of those dollars.

Who Can Do It?

But here is the question: how many guys are there who can still put these together?

I am not talking about the crimp-on ones that fall off when you get them 500 feet up on a tower, but the nice Amphenol ones with the nut, the washer, the red rubber washer, and the solder on pin.

You know the ones I mean.

A Work of Art

I spend about 20-30 minutes on each one of these little jobbies – carefully measuring so the pin is exactly where it should be – that I have cut all of the wayward strands of the shield with my trusty scissors and then tightened the backing nut just right.

Ahhhh, a work of art – it should be hanging in the Louvre. I would sign it…

I would bet that a 4-foot grid dish could fall off of a tower and hang there only by the cable if it were one of my connectors.

The Attraction of the Industry

These are the kind of things that keep me in this business.

Not the digital crud. That stuff is never fixed, its just “made to work.” That is not like the 5 AM calls from the morning man at the AM daytimer in the dead of winter that the rig will not come on. You get out of a nice warm bed and race to the site to find the AC line fuses blown because the morning man was late and did not let the 575’s or the 866’s vaporize and a flashover took out the AC fuses.

Yes, that is the stuff that makes it fun, it can be fixed and I earned my keep.

Lost Art

Changing pinch rollers and motor bearings in cart machines was another engineering “high.”

Or, getting to the football stadium 5 minutes before game time to change a 12AX7 that went out in the remote amp, That is what we do.

Someone once told me that if you replace the capacitors in an ITC cart machine cue board at the same station more than once, you have been there too long. Well, I changed them three times at one of the stations I was at.

Where is the Next Gen?

I hope the next generation of broadcast engineers can have as much pleasure as I have had. But in my eyes, with this digital stuff, I think most of the future engineering travel time will be to the post office or UPS to ship items back for repair, since most of the products now come without a schematic – and most studio gear can be replaced for less than employing an engineer anymore.

Repairing the transmitter seems to be the one place where an engineer can save a lot of money for the station.

Where is the Next Gen?

The problem I see here in the Midwest anyway is a lack of the younger people interested in RF.

I think in my time, every broadcast engineer was a ham, built his own rigs and knew at least CW and AM theory. Today, I only know of one high school age person who has a ham license and his experience is the two meter HT he bought from China.

I think its imperative that we ,the few remaining real broadcast engineers search out suitable replacements before we “sign off” for good. Yea, the pay is not great, and the hours stink.

But it is a job that cannot be sent overseas so let us all see if we can find and mentor at least one kid in the field.

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Ron Schacht