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August 1, 2005
April 11, 2005
January 2004
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
October 2004
Weekly Features
The Other Side of the Control Room Glass
Bill Pasternak, (ham radio call letters WA6ITF), is an oddity in our profession: a Broadcast Engineer who can write outside of the realm of technical publications. He works as a Broadcast Engineer with KTTV Fox 11 / UPN 13 Television in Los Angeles and private Broadcast Consultant specializing in the design of video post production facilities. He is the co-founder and Managing Editor of the all-volunteer Amateur Radio Newsline(tm) bulletin service and Creator/ Administrator of the annual “ARNewsline(tm) Young Ham of the Year Award” program. He is the author of three books, production staff member to several educational films and videos including Co-Producer of the award winning “Amateur Radio Today,” authored the “Looking West” column for 73 Amateur Radio Today Magazine for 26 years, currently writes the monthly “VHF, FM and Repeater” column for Worldradio Magazine, is a contributing writer to several broadcast trade publications and is a frequent contributor to CQ Magazine. He is a member of the ARRL, Radio Club of America and Quarter Century Wireless Association as well as a founding member of the Hollywood Hills QRP Contest Club. Bill is the only person ever chosen to be recipient of both the prestigious Dayton Amateur Radio Association’s “Specific Achievement” (1981) and “Radio Amateur of the Year” (1989) awards. He also was presented the ARRL National Certificate of Merit (1995) in recognition of his contributions to the “furtherance of the goals of the Amateur Radio Service.” Bill and his wife Sharon (KD6EPW) reside in Santa Clarita California with their two “puppy people” and can be reached by e-mail to or


One of my closest friends is a guy who lived in Chalmette, Louisiana named Don Wilbanks. On the ham bands he is AE5DW but over the years New Orleans radio audiences have known him as Don Banks or "The Fat Man."

As hurricane Katrina approached the "Big Easy" Don and his family joined the throngs evacuating and headed North. First to a hotel in Memphis, and then out to Little Rock AR. When he realized that his home was likely under many feet of water. While Don may not have been on-the-air in New Orleans, his voice and his inner feelings was heard by a world-wide audience on the ham radio bands. This is because he grabbed a an older RadioShack mic and his Wi-Fi equipped laptop PC on the way out the door.

While it might not seem like very much in the way of a portable production studio, it was more than ample for the job. Not only was Don able to file reports for Amateur Radio Newsline from just about anywhere, he even anchored an entire 22 minute newscast while at the hotel in Little Rock.

The technical parameters were actually quite easy. Starting at the mic, the Radio Shack unit was not a piece of broadcast gear. It is an electret condenser model powered by a single AAA battery and designed for use with anything from a tape recorder to a Public Address system. But it was handy and within reach as Don beat a hasty retreat out of town.

Don laptop only carries three additional programs for collecting sound, editing it and moving it to us. He records and edits using a Canadian "share-ware" program called Goldwave. For less than $50 U.S. one gets a full blown, two track audio workstation with features you might expect in a much higher end product In addition to its record and playback functionality, Goldwave lets you edit, mix, and analyze audio; digitally re-master and restore old recordings with noise reduction and pop/click filters; apply special effects, such as fade, equalizer, doppler, mechanize, echo, reverse, flanger, and much, much more. Most important, the learning curve is so simple that a person with no previous non-linear experience can be "cutting" with in about 30 minutes. And with the addition of the "Freeware" MP3 encoder "RAZOR/Lame" as a plug-in, Don can crunch his files into space saving MP3 format.

In reality, we have found Goldwave to be kind of the "Swiss Army Knife" of audio production. One that has yet to be discovered by the masses who think "expensive" equates to "better." I tend to use it for just about anything requiring very simple post audio work because its fast and has a very intuitive learning curve. (See

Don also has the venerable "Cool Edit Pro" version 2.0 installed. Cool Edit is a venerable workhorse in audio wokstations and needs little introduction. For Don it is a his personal favorite for post production, but as he explained in one of his notes it just cannot do everything running on an older and slower laptop:

"I recorded on Goldwave and processed with Cool Edit Pro 2.0. I originally tried to record with Cool Edit but it's a resource hog and the audio had major glitches."

Last but very important is getting Don's audio file from his computer to us. No problem. Just make sure to register at a hotel or motel that is Wi-Fi equipped. If the item is short, just e-mail it. Larger files go by way of our FTP site which is only accessible by our volunteer staff.

How good is the finished product? Well its kind of hard to demo it for you. That is because the incoming file is only marginally compressed while our end product is an MP3 encoded to 16 KHz at 24 bit monaural. Its tailored to sound good on a narrow-bandwidth ham radio repeater with only +/- 5 Kilohertz of deviation. It also sounds fine on AM radio but I would hesitate to call it hi-fi.

You can judge for yourself by downloading the weekly ARNewsline audio file at On a PC, right click on the file you want to download. In the drop-down box that appears click on "Save Target As" and when the next box appears select a file destination and click on "Save". For Mac and Linux, please consult your operating system instructions as I am not really that familiar with either of those operating systems.

What about Don and his family? What did they find when they finally were allowed to return to what had been their home in Chalmette. Ill let Don describe it in his own words:

"We got to see the house for the first time yesterday. We had 4' of water. We salvaged a lot but I feel the house will be a total loss due primarily to the mold. I've attached some pictures. Also attached is a picture of the '73 Trans Am parked in my garage. Water to the top of the dash. That hurts!

I lost all the ham radios except for some ht's and an old Icom 738 hf rig. My 746 and 2 706's are gone. Most of the antennas lived! I've got to send Cushcraft a picture of the AR270B on top of my pole. Survived a cat 4 hurricane!

We're doing much better than a lot of folks as our place in Picayune, MS was essentially untouched. Both houses took direct eye hits but at least we have someplace to live so all in all we can't complain. Thankfully we are insured to the eyeballs and should be OK."

As this is written, Don, Dawn and their son Tyler are now permanent residents of Picayune, Mississippi. Don is out looking for work. If you know of a radio station in that area that can use a really talented air personality, have them drop a note to He's not only a really good buddy but also a very talented and personable human being, and one who knows how to make-do getting a story out even in the most arduous of circumstances including moving his family to safety as Katrina was on the march.