Spent the majority of my life in television, on the technical side, safely behind the camera. Probably because one of the few times my voice made the air, my only words were “holy sh**, no audio!” This happened when I was an engineer on a satellite uplink truck covering a tornado that went through a trailer park. Yes, not only a cliche, it actually happened in 1991 at Nettle Lake, in the very Northwest corner of Ohio.
The photographer and reporter involved, as is often the case had visions of Emmy’s dancing in the heads and they over-produced each live shot that we uplinked out of the site every 20-30 minutes. As was usually the case they would show up literally seconds before our satellite window and would quickly reconnect their camera, microphone and IFB (used so they can hear directions from the receiving station, or from the yahoo in the truck, that be me in this case). This time they swapped the connections used for the mic and IFB. Simply put, this made intercom audio the audio that went to air, and visa-versa. To cut to the chase, when they were queued to start, no audio! The words out of my mouth was the common curse alluded to above.
Luckily for me the only person who noticed was the audio person in the control room. Not the producer, director, news director, etc. The next day when I was at the station the audio person asked me if somebody was cursing in the background. I honestly answered that nobody in the background cursed. I did simply not mentioned that it was somebody front and center. Me!
I wrote a fictionalized account of many stories I lived through or witnessed over my years in TV. It shows the efforts, tribulations, and the chaos that often accompanies the grind of putting out newscasts every few hours. There is a link to it above – “Breaking News.” There is a fairly extensive explanation of the back story and it’s universe.
On a non-fiction level George Hoover and I wrote the definitive book on how television is done on location – “TV on Wheels.” From the smallest news standup microwave shot, to the week long plus spectacle that is the Olympics. You can peruse it above by selecting Technical Writing and then clicking on the book’s cover in the upper left.
I’m now working on another non-fiction book on a town not too far from where I live. If you work in the production or technical areas of TV you probably know the town’s name. You very well might not know it as a place, but a hub of high end television equipment. Grass Valley (and it’s sister town Nevada City).
I currently have one more area of interest. I’m out to provide tools that allow folks to document technical projects, using not AutoCAD, but Excel. Excel can be highly automated using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). With it I have gotten to a point where equipment rack elevations, placing equipment into those racks, and automatically building equipment lists can be done quickly and concurrently. In addition, I can also quickly generate blocks for synoptics/schematics, interconnect those blocks, and at the same time build wirerun lists, all based on a couple of steps.