Broadcast television.

philly-skyline

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From May to October 1978, I worked as a Summer relief technician at WPHL-TV Channel 17 in Philadelphia.  After getting my FCC First Class license, there were some broadcast television stations hiring that Summer. It was one of the most hectic times of my life and for six months, all I did was work. I joined the local IBEW union in order to work at the station. There were all kinds of strict rules for how many hours a person could work before getting paid more for those extra hours, or for missing a meal or even for having to come back to work before 12 hours went by.

WPHL-TV’s owners also owned half of the Philadelphia Phillies’ baseball team and so the station aired the games. I had many opportunities to work down at the ballpark, Veteran’s Stadium. It was new at that time.  One of the tasks I did was to put microphones on the on-air talent, Ritchie Ashburn and Harry Kalas up in the broadcast booth. Both men were so very kind to me. The first time I put a microphone on Harry Kalas, my hands were shaking and Harry told me I was doing a great job.

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Rich Ashburn and Harry Kalas

Rich Ashburn and Harry Kalas

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One day during the break between a double-header, I was in the stadium elevator and Steve Carlton got in. I’ll never forget how incredibly tall he was and I looked up him and said “hello”.  He was really quite kind as well.

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carlton

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There were a few times I helped the first base cameraman in the dugout. It was the first time a woman had ever done that. There were some comments made and Mike Schmidt often threw things at me. I told him to throw his glove and other items and I would keep them to sell in thirty years. (and who knew about selling online back in the late 1970’s?)

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mike schmidt card

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The station had several old RCA quad videotape machines including a couple of TR-4’s in which I caught my finger in those 90 minute reels a few times. There was also a TCR-100 cart machine which would always choke during a pitching change break. There was an old broom handle handy to use to open the stuck cart because putting an arm in that machine might was not wise at all.

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Television control room

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There were late nights when I was there to play the Star Spangled Banner and hit the STL (studio to transmitter link) to end the daily broadcast. (good thing I had that FCC First Class license..) More than once, I had to write in the log about a mistake made during a commercial break when one of the quad tape machines or film chains broke and caused an ad not to air properly. Seemed like there were also times when “operator error” was at fault as well…

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Master Control room

Master Control room

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That was the Summer that my picture was in the local newspaper talking about being the first woman in Philly to take the series of tests, getting 100% on them and then getting that First Class Radiotelephone License.

Technology sure has changed dramatically since those days of vacuum tubes. I’ll have to post again soon about comet-tail suppression on the plumicon tubes used in TK-47 studio cameras….

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