Don, thank you for giving us all the opportunity to take a stroll down memory lane and pause to reflect about WCBS Newsradio 880's rich and colorful history throughout the years. I was a relative newcomer to the hallowed halls of WCBS, having arrived on August 4, 1975 as a newly hired technician direct from the Mutual Broadcasting System in Washington, DC. I was 25 years old, had a grand total of three and one-half years in the broadcasting industry and there were 28 technicians on the WCBS staff at the time. [NOTE: in 1967 WCBS had 42 technicians, some of whom accompanied reporters in the field.] I am now 55 years old and in my 30th year of employment at this wonderful radio station. I am a technical supervisor and one out of a staff of only two technicians. My... how times have changed!
25 of my 30 years at WCBS were spent working on the 16th floor of Black Rock. Ok, well for a period of about 14 years (from 1987 through 2000), our department was actually shared by both WCBS-AM (on the 16th) and WCBS-FM (on the 17th) floors and there were only five technicians remaining on staff. That's right! From 1975 to 1987 we lost a total of 23 technicians, mostly through attrition and transfers to other operational areas of CBS. That's an average of losing nearly two technicians per year during that turbulent period of time when technical jobs at WCBS were being redefined and the station ultimately switched to a combo operation!
Admittedly, it was always somewhat of an uphill struggle to keep everything together and in good working order at our radio stations, as it seemed that we were always fighting gremlins who insisted on doing the nastiest things at the most inappropriate times. All this changed in 2000, however, when WCBS-FM moved to the Viacom corporate headquarters building in August and WCBS-AM moved to the CBS Broadcast Center in October. By that time there were only three technicians left to service both radio stations. Two of us stayed on with WCBS-AM and one of us left for the Viacom corporate headquarters building.
2000 was the year that both of these radio stations fully entered the digital age. We replaced all of the reel-to-reel machines, cart machines and CD players with computers. At WCBS-AM, our primary mixing consoles and audio routing systems became digitally and computer-based as well. Making the conversion from an analog world to a digital world of operation was both an exciting but difficult time in our professional lives. For some of us it was more difficult to overcome the hurdle of getting used to the new ways of operating and manufacturing our product than it was for some others. Also, right after moving and for several months thereafter we were beset with lots of startup and system interfacing problems. It was during our first year of operation from the CBS Broadcast Center that solutions to these problems were ultimately found, we reinvented our technical jobs and the distinction between broadcast technical work and IT (information technology) work started to become blurred. Thankfully, I am working with a wonderful new partner who is young, bright and knowledgable and hopefully represents the future of technical operations at WCBS Newsradio 880 in the years to come.
I always look forward to the "WCBS board" luncheons, and if it weren't for a family medical problem with which I have been grappling for the past year and a half, I would probably get to attend them more often. Until next time...
Best wishes to all, Barry Siegfried