Before Automation

This topic contains 6 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  jimheim 1 year, 1 month ago.

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    Dan Packard

    Great clip from British Pathe in the studio control rooms of three different Atlanta radio stations from the early 1970’s. No audio, but the visuals and color are great as camera pans right behind the jock on air. No joke, live radio was frantic!



    Looks like the RCA console KUIK used to have.

    First dude looks a little like @richpatterson!

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  stevewa.


    I only counted two. Did I blink?


    Steve Naganuma

    Search “California Aircheck” on YouTube and you will find many videos of live jocks on the air. Here is the late Tom Parker on KFRC from 1985.

    I love the technology in today’s digital consoles, but watching a live jock using a board with round pots and analog meters will always have a special place in my heart.


    Andy Brown

    Round pots are a lot more dead than analog meters. Lots of new consoles are still being offered with analog metering. However, all the line inputs are RJ45 jacks.

    Peak reading digital meters are pretty much worthless in a broadcast situation because of the downstream processing going on, but engineers had been forced to implement them by program directors before everyone was fired and replaced by a Dell server. However, the actual output of the board is a separate adjustment not available externally and can be set independently so when the jocks overdrive the peak LED meters, they’re not really overdriving anything. So all’s well that ends well be it 0 or +4 dBm. When I was over at KATU I found that they set their audio so 0 on the board was +8 dBm. IMO that makes the processing work too hard but back then most of those folks were steeped in a low fi mono audio experience and even though one of the reasons I was hired was to assist in the transition to analog stereo BTSC, they weren’t interested in recalibrating the entire audio chain.



    The rhythm with which the DJs in the Pathe video work is amazing. It is almost like watching somebody playing drums.

    I would hazard to say that no soundtrack is needed because watching them work the controls, put in the carts, and cue the records has a cadence all its own. In the last clip, watching the DJ take that authoritative puff from his half-smoked cigarette is the final reminder that we’re peering into an era past that is never to return.



    Setting full scale on the VU at 8dBm was standard from about Marconi until the 80s. I dimly recall it had something to do with telco lines and keeping audio out of the residual noise. 600-ohm terminations were with us throughout and it was when we switched to vts and unterminated destinations that 0 dBu became standard. Higher quality equipment with sub -100 dB noise floors helped.

    One of my projects as asst chief at WTTG-TV in DC was taking us stereo. I was about the only one who cared and had no budget, so I hijacked some other capital item and bought an Optimod-TV. Our audio chain (though automated) was strictly mono, so we used relays to directly route stereo sources (more modern video tapes) to the Optimod. It sounded surprisingly good.

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