Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Radio, live transmission..."

I have so much seniority that I'm now required to take off a day per month (...use/lose time). My eldest kid is done with school for the year; so, this being her First Day of Summer, we went for a Road Trip in the Miata, which ended up being an expedition up to the "new" digital TV transmitters.

(About two years ago the local broadcasters pooled their resources and put up One BIG Tower for their new digital tv signals.)

It's about a mile past the old tower farm (aka "Televisonland"), and then a further half-mile up a gravel road marked "TOWER #3 / PRIVATE ROAD".

There were two cars there; I got out to read the signage ("You are under video observation", for one) when an old engineer came out to see what we wanted. I gave him the Secret Lodge Sign, and he offered us the fifty-cent tour.

It's about the biggest transmitter shack you ever saw. They have TWO 1.2 megawatt diesel generators, and he claimed about a weeks' worth of fuel.

Each station has its own locked room, maybe 25 x 30'; so the whole complex must be 60' x 100'? Big. The tower is taller than the old analog towers, too. We did some handshaking, I dropped my father's credentials: it turns out that the guy (who never DID give me his name... odd, that) had done a summer at WPTR in '57, so he could name the Chief Engineer; which of course means that he was two steps from my father. Small world.

We stopped at the Tollgate for the traditional post-Pinnacle repast. I got to tell the young one the traditional tales of Guys I Know Who've Worked at Transmitter Shacks, the stories of Our People.

Now I have Ian Curtis in my head:

Radio, live transmission.
Radio, live transmission.

Listen to the silence, let it ring on.
Eyes, dark grey lenses frightened of the sun.
We would have a fine time living in the night,
Left to blind destruction,
Waiting for our sight.

And we would go on as though nothing was wrong.
And hide from these days we remained all alone.
Staying in the same place, just staying out the time.
Touching from a distance,
Further all the time.

(chorus: Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio. &c.)

Well I could call out when the going gets tough.
The things that we've learnt are no longer enough.
No language, just sound, that's all we need know, to synchronise
love to the beat of the show.

And we could dance.

(chorus:) Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio. (repeat.)

ADDENDUM: one of my radio pals found pictures of this:


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At 10:33 PM, Blogger Claire said...

My favorite Joy Division song -- I smiled when I saw the headline. Also, very cool story; these sorts of facilities tend to be amazing, all the more so as most people just have no idea....

At 10:08 PM, Blogger "As You Know" Bob said...

Yeah, might be mine, too.

I added a link to some photos (not mine) of what we saw.

At 2:27 AM, Blogger NECRAT said...

I hope you liked those photos. I took them while on a tour with a fellow tower photographing friend.
We ended up going down the road to the old 6 and 10 sites. Being a "transmission engineer" (read: not the one in your car ;-)) here in Providence, RI., I find this stuff very fascinating. Especially when engineers give me the inside tours.

--Mike Fitzpatrick
NECRAT webmaster.


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