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
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.