One of a series of posts about working at CBC Radio back in the day.
(Here’s some more).
Radio Technicians CBC III May 24, 2012
When I finished net testing the summer of ’88, and after my three forced weeks off, I came back to work as a regular Group 4 Radio Technician.
I always thought the name “Radio Technician” was a bit odd. It seemed to imply that we fixed things. But that’s not what a Radio Technician did. Radio Technicians operated audio gear. When I joined their ranks a golden age for Radio Technicians was just wrapping up. There were about eighty technicians at this time based in Toronto and many others elsewhere. There was an entire scheduling department devoted to organizing their lives. Most of them were men. Men of all ages, and maybe seven or eight women. These were the people that put shows like Morningside and As It Happens on the air. They recorded concerts and actors and hosts and broadcast them back to the world. They worked in twenty-something different studios in Toronto and who knows how many in the so-called Regions, such as Vancouver, Ottawa, Charlottetown and so on. They worked in Master Controls and high end studios and dinky little studios. They planned and organized and carried out remote broadcasts, meaning they essentially built their own studios from scratch in the morning, operated them for whatever broadcast they happened to be working on, and then tore these makeshift studios down at night. They worked consoles with names like McCurdy, Studer, and Neve. In Toronto’s Jarvis Street facility no two studios were alike, so every technician had to know how to learn twenty something different patch bays and consoles.
I figure it took me about two years to figure out roughly what I was doing, six or seven years to acquire the illusion that I was relatively competent, and another ten to realize that there was still a whole lot I didn’t know about the world of audio, and probably never would.
Now in 2012 I’m not sure how many radio technicians are left in Toronto, working in the Toronto Broadcast Centre (the Jarvis Street radio facility was decommissioned around 1993… I left it for the Broadcast Centre in 1992). Probably around twenty. Most of them are not called Radio Technicians anymore, they have titles like Technician/Associate Producer (I was one of those for a while).
Next time — more on the specifics of life as a Radio Technician in the year 1988.