My father, Gilbert J. Markle, was an audio engineer
for the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), headquartered in the tall building
at Rockefeller Plaza, in New York City. It was he who officiated in the Master
Control Room that night in the early 1930s when NBC went live, nationwide,
feeding a mono audio signal across telephone lines which stretched from the East
Coast all the way to the West Coast of the United States. He was still talking
about that event some fifteen years later, when I was first able as a young boy
to comprehend the spoken words, even if not the excitement they conveyed.
That resonance would elude me for another thirty years,
until a night in February of 1978, in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, when a
long truck bearing satellite dish uplink apparatus on its roof pulled up
alongside the farmhouse I was living in at the time, disgorging itself of a long
black cable which was snaked inside the house through a window, and attached to
the stereo output of our brand new MCI recording console.
A signal was given, and Jay Ferguson, at the head of a
rock 'n' roll band assembled and ready on the other side of a plate glass
window, began singing a medley of songs which hammered their way into the
control room and through the interstices of the recording console and out
through the black cable into the truck with the satellite dish on its roof, and
from there up into the air and into 150 different FM radio stations across the
United States. Live.
I called my Dad later that night and told him about it,
and that I now understood.
LVF-WAAF Superstars Concert, 1978