Excuses - Excuses. I Got Excuses!
Yes, I know that back in March I said that I would be back
mid-April with my next monthly installment of this column
and I really hoped to do just that. Unfortunately, a large
Brown Recluse spider had a different idea.
I am told that a single bite from one of those things is enough
to put some people in the hospital for a wee. Well, this one
got me at least five times in the right leg before I woke
up and flushed the thing down the toilet. Unfortunately the
damage had been done and I spent the next seven days devouring
Benadryl and a "miracle" antibiotic named Cefzil.
I was lucky in that I was not hospitalized, but I did literally
"loose" about 10 days out of my life.
I went back to work in April the Monday that the N.A.B Convention
opened in Las Vegas. On Wednesday April 21st I flew up, hoping
to spend the day perusing the various exhibit halls before
attending the annual Amateur Radio Reception which this year
was hosted by Heil Sound Ltd. More on NAB in a moment, but
I first have to conclude this excuse for being a month tardy.
I got home in time to complete the weekly Amateur Radio Newsline
broadcast and post it to our website (http://www.arnewsline.org).
Then I had a deadline to meet for my Worldradio Magazine column,
followed by my youngest grandsons first birthday (Happy Birthday
Matthew) and a medical test or three.
May began with two Amateur Radio Newsline newscasts followed
by a 7 hour / one stop plane ride to "da Big Apple"
on my way to Dayton Ohio. Yes, I am well aware that New York
City is further East than Dayton, but there was definite method
to my madness. It can be summed up in eleven words: "Bernadette
Peters as Mama Rose in the Broadway revival of Gypsy."
Yes, I actually flew 3000 miles to see a Broadway musical
-- and as the owner of this website knows, it is not the first
time. In fact I have been making trips like this for years.
It all goes back to 1959 -- my senior year at Lafayette High
School in Brooklyn New York where I had the good fortune to
be in an elective "Theater / Television English"
class taught by a lady named Marilyn Sandler (now poet and
theater director Mara Levine). There are many stories I could
tell about this class, the teacher and the very positive impact
that both had on this scribe, and I will do so in future columns.
Right now, let me just say that being in the Winter Garden
Theater opening night for "West Side Story" got
me hooked on live musical theater for life.
From that wondrous weekend it was back on Northwest via Detroit
to Ohio and the Dayton Hamventionr. This is the worlds largest
annual gathering of hobby radio enthusiasts to be held anyplace
in the world. An estimated 25,000 of us descended on the HARA
Arena in the suburb of Trotwood for three days of being totally
immersed in ham radio.
In my case though, I was not there as an attendee. Rather
I was the volunteer "Public Relations Co-Chair"
as well as a forum presenter. This meant having to arrive
in Dayton a few days early to work on press releases, help
coordinate radio and TV "live shots" and all else
that goes into publicizing an affair of this magnitude.
My "15 minutes in the spotlight" -- actually two
hours -- came on Saturday, May 15th, when I hosted the annual
"Ham Radio Town Meeting." Like most sessions of
this ilk the moderator (me) picks a topic, brings in a group
of "experts" on it and lets them discuss and debate
it with the audience. This year it was titled "IT'S MORE
THAN RADIOS --Keeping The Traditions of Amateur Radio Alive"
-- a topic inspired by the words of Broadway legend Ann Reinking
who in an award acceptance speech said
"Its sort of an un-written law or rule in the world of
dance that you pass on what you know. This particular craft
is at its best when its passed from one person's hands to
This writer believes that these words are also apropos when
applied to many areas of endeavor including our chosen profession
as well as my hobby/service of Amateur Radio.
I think my audience was in tune with this particular topic.
We started out with 211 in the room. We still had 206 when
the final door prize pulled and we vacated the room for the
next session. Needless to say I was happy.
The Hamventionr closed at 2 p.m. on Sunday May 16th. At 4:45
p.m. I was on my way to -- yep -- Detroit to catch a nonstop
757 back home here to the City of Angels. And its been the
last two weeks of "Sweeps" ever since. And there
in a large nutshell is my explanation for this column being
A MYOPIC LOOK AT A SMALL PART OF NAB
As you will see, this title is rather apropos because I was
still hurting from "Mr. Spider" and could not easily
walk long distances. That in itself may have been a blessing
in disguise as it forced me to concentrate on a few key items.
Among them the rather obvious rivalry that developed between
Avid and Apple (Final Cut Pro).
At the outset I have to say that I am not a Video Editor,
nor do I play one on television. But I do have more than a
passing interest in knowing what is the "latest and greatest"
in this area since I am also a private consultant specializing
in -- among other things --- the design and installation of
video edit facilities. With "non-linear" being today's
buss-words, I decided to direct my attention to those products.
Two big names in adjoining booths caught my eye and that of
"Avid and Apple."
What really amazed me was not the products each company was
offering, but the way in which the crowd was -- for want of
a better term -- "comparison shopping." If you stood
back and observed as I did, you
soon noticed that attendees would hit one display or the other,
"play with the goodies" for a while and then wander
over to the other, "play" again and then wander
back to the first to repeat the scenario. And,
after a whole my curiosity got the best of me and I did the
What I soon learned was Apple's latest release of "Final
Cut Pro" had reached the point of being directly compared
to the latest Avid editing software by many long-time video
editing professionals. Listening to
what these people were saying, the consensus seemed to be
that "Final Cut Pro" had really come of age. That
it is now a definite contender in the top-level market along
with Avid and other high-end products. Most were impressed
by what was generally called the "user friendly interface"
that Final Cut Pro offered.
Having never played with any version of Final Cut, I decided
to see for myself. As all the company reps were busy with
"paying customers" I decided to see if I could master
Final Cut with only the knowledge I had from a three-day Avid
Media Composer school some 6 or 7 years ago in the
back of my mind. I walked over to a display kiosk, grabbed
the mouse, quickly figured out how to open a new project and,
away I flew. 20 minutes later I had put together a rudimentary
90 second piece using the
video and audio clips stored in the Apple laptop I was using.
Nothing spectacular, but I had mastered the basics of a new
(at least new to me) edit program in less than a half hour.
Knowing that discretion must
always be the better part of valor, I decided to quit while
I was ahead. But, was I ever impressed. (For more inform on
this product please take your web browser to http://www.apple.com/finalcutpro)
My next stop was Digital Juice. This is a company that has
made affordable high-end, high-tech graphics available to
everyone who is involved in video production.
What can Digital Juice provide to you? Loads of stuff but
the product that caught my eye was "Juice Drops."
This is 48 DVD library set of 1600 layered backgrounds with
19,000 layers. And like most of the
Digital Juice products, a graphics designer can change them
to suit his or her needs.
Need "stock" video clips" How about 3200 of
them. That equates to more than 12 hours of royalty-free footage
on 32 DVD's that can easily be converted to any video format
including DV. These are 720 x 486 NTSC D1. The price: $699.
If you get the feeling that I am taken by Digital Juice products,
you are correct. More important, I am also very impressed
by the company and its people. In the fast paced world of
video production its really
neat to find a group of people who want to discuss things
with you in a way that makes you feel like a friend rather
than a potential customer. No matter how "stupid"
the question I asked might have been, the Digital Juice representatives
took the time to find an answer. In all the years I have been
visiting their booth I have never been brushed aside or ignored.
I am sure that they have no idea who "Bill Pasternak
Amateur Radio Newsline, Inc." is, but that matters not.
I walk over and I am treated like a friend. Other vendors
in all walks of life could learn a lot about customer relations
from these fine folks. You can
learn more about their product line at their very `user friendly"
website at http://www.digitaljuice.com.
THE NAB AMATEUR RADIO RECEPTION
If you are among those who believe that ham radio is a dying
radio service, have I got a couple of surprises for you. The
fact is that the hobby is growing once again and the numbers
attending hobby radio events
is on the increase. This years NAB Amateur Radio Recerption
is a prime example.
The pictures really say it all. Photo 1 shows just a part
of the almost 1000 show attendees who crammed themselves into
Ballroom A at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel for three hours of
fun and socializing. These people come from every aspect of
our industry and include owners and high-level managers from
some of the best known companies.
As I mentioned earlier, this years sponsor was Heil Sound
Ltd. of Fairview Heights Illinois. Our hosts were my longtime
friends Bob (K9EID) and Sarah Heil. Since this column is really
about the people in
our industry, its probably apropos to tell you a bit about
Bob and how Heil Sound Ltd. came about.
I first met Bob on the air, on the 6 meter ham band in the
late 1960's. At that time he was a young experimenter who
had built up a state of the art ham station of the era. But
Bob lived in Marissa Illinois and I was still a resident of
Brooklyn. We were way out of radio range until one memorable
Saturday afternoon in 1969 when I was up flying with a group
of ham radio buddies. Steve Crow (then WA2CPX - now K4CPX)
had a 6 meter ham station on board his Aerocommander 560 twin.
We were out of Linden Airport headed to Pennsylvania for lunch,
climbing through 8000' when we heard a voice coming through
the radios loudspeaker:
"CQ, CQ, CQ. This is K9EID in Illinois calling CQ 6 meters.
I was operating the ham set. I answered and so began a friendship
that has lasted almost 35 years. Three decades plus that have
witnessed major changes in both of our lives.
If I may borrow liberally from Bob's on-line bio: In the 1950's
at the young age of 14, Bob Heil started his theater organ
career playing in various restaurants. At 15, he started playing
the 4 manual Wurlitzer
in the St Louis' Fox Theater. It was during that time, that
Bob learned to "listen" as he voiced and tuned a
25 year old Wurlitzer "monster." Listening and mentally
dissecting what he heard, would prove to play a
very important part in his future life.
At about the same time, Bob became an avid amateur radio operator.
The FCC awarded him the call letters K9EID and he fell in
love with designing and building all kinds of transmitters,
amplifiers and antenna
The first half of the 60's saw Bob was designing, building
and playing various theater pipe organ installations in the
Holiday Inn North restaurant in St Louis. After spending8
years, 6 nights a week as an
entertainer, Bob decided to enter the retail music industry.
He opened one of America's first 'pro' music shops in the
small Southern Illinois hometown. As a result, he was thrust
into the rock market pioneering
the live sound industry with clients such as the Grateful
Dead, the Who, Peter Frampton, Jeff Beck, Joe Walsh, and scores
of major touring acts of the 60's and 70's. To this day, Bob
and Joe Walsh who holds the
Amateur Radio call letters WB6ACU remain the closest of friends.
It was Bob's unique approach to audio that created some of
the most innovative products still in use today. The "Heil
Talk Box," made famous by Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton and
Bon Jovi, as well as perfecting
the first electronic crossover were some of Bob's products.
As a result, Heil Sound was selected by those sound companies
still out there in the trenches today, to receive the first
ever 'Pioneer Award.' It
was presented to Bob at the 1995 Audio Engineering Society
convention in San Francisco.
As the 80's drew near, Heil Sound entered the Amateur Radio
market to fix a problem that -- in Bobs own words: "...rotted
the very core of his most beloved hobby - poor transmit and
Bob was convinced that the problem of mushy, 'tubby' audio
was caused by the "paging style microphones" that
were used on many import transceivers. He applied the science
of audio that he learned from the
likes of Paul Klipsch, Don Leslie, Martin Wick and studying
the Bell Labs Fletcher Munson curves . He developed his "HC
series" microphones which brought maximum articulation
to amateur radio communication. This revolutionary approach
to communication microphones has changed the face
of the amateur radio hobby forever.
As the 1990's rapidly approached, Bob sought to bring the
audio and video industry together. Combining thirty years
of electronics experience with his passion for the movie theaters,
Bob became the
"guru" of the home theater movement in America.
He has designed over 2,000 audio/video systems as well as
became one of the premier teachers and lecturers at major
electronic and satellite conventions. Heil Sound was awarded
the 1989 "Satellite Dealer Of The Year" by the SBCA
in Las Vegas.
Now, in the new millenium Bob Heil continues to blaze trails
in both the HDTV digital video world as well as develop new
and unique microphones and audio systems for the amateur radio
market. Most recently, Bob
formed the Heil PROLINE division to bring what he calls "some
new and exciting Heil innovations to the commercial broadcast
and recording studio world" using many of the techniques
Bob learned from voicing and tuning that monster Wurlitzer
theater organ 50 years ago.
But that's not all. For the past two decades Bob has hosted
his "High Tech Heil" radio show on KMOX , toured
the nation presenting his "Science of Audio" seminars
to amateur and professional groups alike and
always finding time to operate a ham radio contest weekend
with his friends. And in 1982, the Dayton Amateur Radio Association
presented him with the most coveted prize the hobby has to
offer: The "Radio
Amateur of the Year" award.
Looking back, one has to admit that this is a career to be
proud of. (More about Heil Sound Ltd. and its products are
on-line at http://www.heilsound.com)
Till next month, I remain your obedient scribe....