After 50 years in the Television Broadcasting Industry I retired in 2012 to enter the frightening and foreign world of the internet and social media.
I began my career in Television Broadcasting back in the days when black and white television was in its infancy. That was 1962 at ADS Channel 7 in Adelaide. Television was invented in 1948. It came to Australia in 1956 in Sydney and Melbourne and spread to the rest of the country in 1959.
When television was the hot new thing
Those were the days when commercials and variety programs were not recorded but went to air live. That meant the talent had to be accurate as mistakes would be broadcast live around the country. Those were the exciting days of a green fields industry, where real-time innovation was the norm.
Back in the early days, commercials, local programs and news material and footage were stored on film reels or videotape. Hard drives or servers didn’t exist. International movies, interstate-produced programs and news program content were captured on film, which had to be chemically processed, hand-edited and spliced before being put to air via telecine film and slide projector equipment.
If the postman was late, you had to come up with other ideas.
Once, the producers of a live variety show brought a horse into the studio. The poor horse couldn’t walk properly on the smooth and slippery studio floor so I had to race down to the canteen to find a couple of coconuts, split them and use the shells to emulate the clip-clopping of horses hooves for the viewers.
I saw television as an opportunity to get into an industry that I believed had a real future. I was right. I enjoyed an interesting and varied career in the industry starting off as an electrical maintenance technician and progressed my career working in regional TV (for NEN Channel 9 Tamworth and ECN Channel 8 Taree in NSW) ending up as Director of Operations and Engineering for Prime Television Ltd in Sydney and later as Network Director of Engineering for the Seven Network based in Sydney.
Highlights of my career include going up on stage to receive an Emmy award on behalf of the Seven Network at the Marriot Marque Hotel in New York. Don’t get too excited. This was an engineering Emmy award presented to the Seven Network Engineering team for the design, development and implementation of Racecam.
Racecam was the first miniature camera and return vision transmission technology systems in the world and was originally designed in Australia by the Seven’s engineering team to improve and add a new production dimension to the coverage of motor sport.
The technology (and subsequent replacements) is now used at all sporting events throughout the world.
Another major highlight was overseeing the conversion of the Seven Network’s program production studios and post production facilities in Sydney and Melbourne to cater for high definition broadcast.
Then came digital television
I led a team to develop design concepts and implement Australia’s first totally digital television newsroom in Sydney. I also oversaw migrating Seven Network’s metropolitan stations on-air broadcasting operations to a new state-of-the-art, purpose-built, fully digital broadcasting center in Melbourne.
I was a member of the team of industry experts responsible for selecting DVB as the preferred digital transmission standard for Australia. And I oversaw the engineering project management of the Seven Network’s technical design and equipment selection teams for the Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney summer Olympic Games and the winter Olympic Games in Nagano Japan.
Another highlight was the successful implementation of digital broadcasting services throughout the Seven Network’s five metropolitan and seven regional markets. Digital broadcasting opened the door to allow broadcasters to add additional channels and broadcast HDTV services.
Thoughts on the internet
To be honest, after being involved in the very structured and regulated television broadcasting industry for 50 years, getting my head around the internet and social media is giving my ageing brain some mental challenges. It provides me with daily frustrations I am still trying to overcome.
Broadcasting has been the technology that dominated my lifetime but I’m only too aware the internet and social media is making an impact on traditional broadcasting services. I believe that the internet is the future and if I want to be part of this new world, I had better embrace it.
Actually, this new world has already allowed me to learn a new skill. In recent years, I’ve been behind a video camera travelling around the world to capture magnificent locations and people in the natural environments.
I love travelling to locations of historical and cultural significance, seeing fantastic scenery and wildlife. I enjoy expedition cruisers and love meeting culturally different people around the world. Some of my favorite destinations are Antarctica, Galapagos Islands, Canada (BC, Alberta, Vancouver Island and Quebec), Patagonia, Europe, Kenya (Maasai Mara), Tanzania, Uganda (Bwindi National Park).
I’ve taught myself to edit and produce videos and love telling stories for the enjoyment of others.
River, canal and Mediterranean cruising in Europe and exploring more of Europe, Scotland, Ireland, Norway and Scandinavia.