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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

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 ( 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 the next."

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 so late.


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 many others:
"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 same.

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

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 from
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


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 receive audio."

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

Till next month, I remain your obedient scribe....