Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Out of Air

“Did you know you’re off the air?”
That’s a question no Broadcaster ever wants to hear.

First of all, it’s a chilling reminder from the public that something has gone terribly wrong somewhere between the microphone behind which I sit each morning, and the antenna that radiates the sound of my voice to your receiver.

In between are literally miles of wires, thousands of switches, and millions of configurations that must be orchestrated precisely to create the magic of sending sound over the air from me to you.

“Did you know you’re off the air” is a somewhat ignorant question to ask.

It presumes we’re just sitting up here in our safe, warm, padded cocoon, oblivious to the outside world. Such calls are also somewhat of an irritant to an already-stressed technician, who knew the instant he heard the sound of silence that something was amiss…and is even now trying every trick in the book to solve, correct, or work around the problem.

We generally hire board operators who are freaks of nature. They can hear with their eyes, and see with their ears.
They have a sixth-sense that subliminally alerts them :60-seconds before the end of any audio segment, can do base-12 and base-60 math in their head to calculate run times, and are innately gifted with the ability to smack pieces of sound audio together seamlessly.

They’re also genetic cousins to Angus MacGyver, and frequently figure out intricate work-around solutions to problems they encounter daily.
Within minutes.

Like today.
We could not get our audio from our affiliate studios in Dallas to the transmitter site. I still don’t know why—as of this posting, I haven’t heard from the engineers responsible for fixing these kinds of things. But one of our MacGyverites on duty in the control room in Dallas figured out a way to grab the audio somehow and pipe it over to the transmitter.

“Off the air” is an interesting, uniquely American phrase.
There is an Asian employee in the building where we house our network headquarters. She grasps the meaning of the phrase, even though her comprehension of the words used to spread the alarm is a little askew. She’s been heard to get on the office intercom and announce that the station is “out of air.”

“Did you know you’re off the air?”
Yes, thank you, we’re working on it.

I’ve always wanted to zing someone like that, just once, by saying something like, “No, really? Well, that’s the last straw. I’m going home.”
Just to see what they’d say.
Meanwhile, the show must go on.


Anonymous said...

Well Brent, get in the "game". Do you think animals were put on this earth to be targets for entertainment, objects of testing for the species I loosely call human, and to fill your stomach.

The dinosaurs ate vegetation, cant you? Might lose some weight.

Try not to degrade efforts of those who are so dedicated to ending the needless suffering of animals.

In short, keep your mouth shut for a change.

Carolyn Sellers

Brent Clanton said...

Hello, Carolyn.
Nice aim.
Your comment would seem to be in response to a previous blog posting.

I love veggies.
I don't like to see animals suffer, either.
But they were put on this earth for the benefit of mankind.
By the way, dino's are dead.

What I will continue to point out are the ridiculous antics of some who believe animals have more rights than humans.
What's next--Voter Registration cards for cats??

You're sounding a little grouchy this morning, Carolyn.
How 'bout a nice, juicy burger and fries (those are veggies), my treat?

Brent Clanton said...

Another voice "in the game:" Ted Nugent's comments on this same issue can be found at this link: