Special thanks to KMTR TV of Eugene, Oregon for allowing us to photograph their station and equipment
Your Local TV Station
You come home from work, you take the TV dinner out of the microwave,
you grab a TV tray and then you grab the television's remote control.
You are now set for the evening. We rely on our televisions to let us know
who won last nights ball game, how the president is doing, and to let us know if
our neighbors house burned down. We have just accepted that if we turn the TV knob, or push
the remote's button, we will be entertained for the evening. A good movie to make us think,
a sitcom to make us laugh, a game show to make us wish,
or a day time soap opera to make us cry. We never stop to think about what it takes
to make that big ol' screen light up our lives.
Today we can buy a TV set with a screen that is so big, it could cover up an entire wall. We can also
buy a TV set that is so small, we can carry in our pocket. Some people even watch television on their telephones. Farnsworth
and Bell on one machine.
Everything was bigger, and required more work
Televisions and television stations have come a long way since I bought my
first television more that 50 years ago. Televisions have become TVs, and
the stations have gone from analog to digital. My first television was 42 inches tall,
24 inches wide, 28 inches deep, weighed about 100 pounds |
and had a 5 inch screen.
Some televisions were so big that there was a mirror on the lid and you would view the screen
on a mirror that was mounted to the bottom of the lid. You would open the lid to see the picture.
and on the correct frequency assigned by the FCC. A full time licensed radio engineer was continually reading meters,
adjusting knobs, replacing bad parts, or re-soldering loose connections. Those were the gool ol' days.
With early television, the station's studio, transmitters, and antennas, all
needed to be at the same location. The transmitters were huge, used giant vacuum
tubes, put out a lot of heat, and required constant work to keep them on the air,
at the correct power,
The Magical Green Curtain
As you have been watching the weather report on TV, have you ever wondered how they were able to change
those big weather charts behind the meteorologist (weatherman)? Behind the weatherman is a large green
backdrop. There is a special filter on the camera that can not see the green backdrop. So, all the camera
picks up is the meteorologist. They have another screen that only displays the weather chart. In another room
there is a technical wizzard who blends the two different images to appear as one on the stations monitor, and
on your TV set. It is the same way they made superman fly past all of those tall buildings
in the Superman movies. (he wasn't actually flying).
30 Seconds till Air!
10 Seconds till Air!
On The Air!
Your TV Screen
Men, Women, Machines, Electronics and a lot of experience and training
When you walk into any one of the several different control rooms, you can understand how an Astronaut
might feel aboard a space stations. Every where you look there are controls, meters, and screens.
Every piece of equipment is necessary for the successful opperation of the TV station, and for every piece of
equipment, there is a man or woman that is a whiz at making the cameras, lights, mixers, teleprompters, and
transmitters do exactly what they are meant to do.
KMTR of Eugene, Oregon is a good example of one of many TV stations across the United States. This
station has a staff of more than 50 people who each contribute something to making the station work. They are responsible for keeping the station on
the air. From the salesman that brings in the money to pay the bills, to the news reporter that spends hours, and
some times drives miles to gather pages of information about something they believe you need to know, or have the
right to know. After the reporter does all of their work, it might end up as only a 30 seconds bit on the news, and though
you see it as very interesting or important, there is no indication of just how much work went into that 30 seconds segment. There
is the electronics engineer who is responsible for making sure that the transmitter is working within the
tolerances that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) dictates. If a transmitter goes over its power limits,
it can knock the transmitter off the air, or destroy parts of transmitter. If a transmitter goes off its assigned
frequency, the station could receive a fine or nasty letter from the FCC. There is much that is required to make
sure that you can watch your news every night, your day time soaps, or your evening game shows.