WHAT IS AN OPERATOR?
(you don't have to ask Barb & John now)

by Kristina Rawlings (author of record)

Operators are (usually) volunteer staff people responsible for Trent 
Radio and its programming. While here, we act as Programme Director and 
General Manager in the absence of these worthies. Since they don't work 
evenings or weekends (everyone needs a life) this time must be covered 
by someone vested with that responsibility and authority. Even if they 
happen to be in the building during your shift, your position remains 
unchanged. You must arbitrate in the best interests of, and according 
to the policies of Trent Radio. 

Operators are experienced Programmers who are chosen for their proven
ability and trustworthiness.


These are the basic responsibilities of our position:

Programming - there are two vital aspects tied for first place in
importance; one is monitoring what goes on air, the other is ensuring
something is there to be monitored.

The first is accomplished through the use of Logger Tapes. These must
be in place and recording all aired programming. Their importance
cannot be stressed enough. Without them, the CRTC (Canadian Radio and
Telecommunications Commission) may revoke or refuse to renew our
broadcasting license. This would be a very bad and awkward thing. Best
case scenario means a trip to the CRTC for apologies.

Each tape can record 8 hours so there are three tapes set aside for
each day of the month.  This means there a total of 93 tapes or 3
tapes for each day x 31 days. The labels on the tape indicate the day
of the month and the time period they are to be used.  For example, a
tape labelled "12.1" means that it is to be used on the 12th day of
the month in the first time period - the tape labelled "27.3" for the
third period.

The time periods are eight hours each and as follows;
Time period #1
6am
-
2pm
   (6am or sign on)
#2
2pm
-
10pm
#3
10pm
-
6am
Using the example above, the tape labelled "12.1" means that it should
be used first thing (6am or sign on) on the morning of the 12th of the
month, while the tape labelled "27.3" is scheduled to start recording
at 10pm on the 27th day of the month.

Always use the tape for its proper time period ...  even if sign on
was at Noon, change the tape at 2pm. Please follow all this carefully,
lest things get painfully muddled. Monitor them periodically, make
sure they're working. Should the logger tapes fail, all programming
must stop and the Programmer should sign-off.
~ ~ ~
We must ensure continuity in programming (to get to the second
aspect), which means we make sure something is on-air during scheduled
programming time. The first rule of radio is "Show Up".

Programmers have been known to neglect showing up for their time. We
must be prepared to perform impromptu shows (if we desire) or plop a
pre-recorded tape in to play. Make a note for the Program Director of
any no-shows in the log book.  Some Programmes are customarily pre-
recorded, so make sure the tape is there so you can air them when they
are scheduled.

Also, you should keep one ear cocked towards the radio (which should
be playing at all times) to do your own  private monitoring of the
programmes. Are levels too low/high? (If Programmers are wearing
headphone this problem should be reduced and must do so by law.)  Do
Programmers sound like they're having problems?  Do you hear anything
at all?

Programmers - Who are they, and what shows do they produce?  Get to
know them.  Listen to their programmes for the non-tech stuff.
Feedback (of the non-technical kind) makes a huge difference for
Programmers.  Knowing one is not operating in a vacuum is comforting
and builds a sense of community.  Constructive criticism, when done
with respect, can be valuable.  Most Programmers want comments on how
they're doing and need someone to bounce ideas off.  We provide moral,
critical, and technical support.  This is what Trent Radio is all
about - this is the partnership between the Programmer and us.

Authority - Programmers and other occupants of the house are obliged
to take direction from the Operator.  Drug or alcohol use (except for
coffee or cigarettes) is not allowed on the premises, and Operators
are obliged to enforce this rule. (l.h.'s note: broadcasting while
intoxicated usually makes for boring programming.)

If Programmers are acting irresponsibly in the studio, or anywhere
else in the building, they should be warned, and if necessary, asked
to leave. Remember, we must make decisions in the best interests of
Trent Radio.  Violence and/or assholes shall not be tolerated.

Most conflicts or concerns should be resolved after a Programmer is
finished their programme.  Most, that is. If a Programmer is spewing
out nasty, hateful words they should be stopped.  Go in and talk with
them as soon as the microphones are off. Try calm, collected
conversation. Disagreement or opinion-voicing is one thing,
propagating intolerance and hate is quite another. Remember basic
Trent Radio tenets. And Think before you intervene. This will have to
be reported; what was your rationale, how best to act, etc.?

Also, Don't give out Programmers' phone numbers to strangers. If the
caller is insistent, ask for their number and call the Programmer
yourself to give them the caller's number.

(john muir's note: with these responsibilities and the authority to
carry them out, Operators should remember that making radio is a
creative act and Programmers may exhibit a florid artistic temperament
- or even temper.) (kristina's note: nobody is allowed to jump on your
head without good reason.)

Security - non-members are not allowed in the house after office
hours.  However, tours can be given, at your discretion.  Use your
head.  Any guests the Programmer brings in are, of course, welcome, IF
they are part of the programme.  Any in-studio fan club the Programmer
is entertaining should be dissuaded.

Trent Radio has an alarm system. Learn how to set and disarm it.
(Another lisa howard note: if for any reason you are in a situation
where someone is threatening you while in the building, you may set
the alarm and activate it by moving across the beam in the hallway. If
the alarm doesn't scare the person, the Trent Security showing up may.
Trent Radio's alarm system is only good for a few things. This is one
of them.)

Also, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 from anywhere in the building, and
use the spy hole in the door to check out who you might be letting in
before you open the door.

As the building, equipment, security and such is the General Manager's
bailiwick, report any concerns to him/her.  Try as best you can to fix
things, and write it up in the log.

Hardware - Make a note of what is needed, what is missing, what has
finally decided to give up the ghost.  There should be some spare
items in the Operator's room, e.g. turntable styli, music sheets,
light bulbs, etc. Part of the tech end of the job.

Telephone - Get to know your Programmers and judge as to whether
intercepting phone calls during there show would help keep things on a
more even keel.  It can be very disruptive for the Programmer if all
their friends try calling while they are on.  Refer all phone calls
regarding music tracking to Jean Reno's email, and take messages in
the messages book.

Things to do when beginning:  5pm

- Check that the the automatic exterior lights (Porch and George Street) 
  are on, and make a note in the Operators' Book if they are burned out.

- Check on the logger tape. Remember: date and time period. Do quick
  rewind and playback to make sure its recording properly, and then
  set it back to record - make sure all is well.

- Is the yellow Transmitter button pushed in?  Is the red "Off Air"
  monitor button pushed down?  Are we, in fact, on air?

It is heartbreaking to programme, only to find out you really were
talking only to yourself (the usual paranoia of radio folks)

- Find list of programmes for the night.  Is the first Programmer here
  yet?  Who won't be?  Any pre-taped shows to be set up?  Any
  sponsorships to be run?  If you want to be really nice, pre-cue
  promos for the Programmer.

- Check the Programme Log for instructions from our beloved Programme
  Director. This may direct how we will spend our time tonight.

- Turn the kitchen radio on, if it isn't already. Start listening.

- Take a gander in on Studio B. People usually book time for its use.
  Is the person who's there supposed to be?  They take precedent over
  any person who didn't book it, since they had the foresight to do so.


Things to do when finished:  10pm

- Tidy up. Has the last Programmer cleaned their mess? This includes
  putting recordings back in the correct order on the shelves in the
  archive room.

- Put in the next logger tape and rewind the old one in the rewinder.

- Do a brief write-up in the Operator's log of any events (or the lack
  thereof).  Include the names of Programmers who decided not to show
  up for their programme, all equipment problems, comments, etc.  This
  log is a great way for everyone to maintain contact, air concerns,
  venture comments.  It's a communication between Operators, Programme
  Director, General Manager, and whomsoever else may read it.  Keeping
  in tune..

- Leave lights on in the Archive, Hall, Studio B, and the Kitchen, so
  that it can be seen if the building is occupied if the alarm goes
  off.  Make sure all doors are shut and locked, especially the
  front (George St.) door (as it is prone to not being shut properly

- slam it to be sure) and the office door. If you are closing down the
  house, the Programmers gone to bed (visions of sugared tones dancing
  in their heads) remember to set the alarm. Then get the hell out of
  here and Go Home. Get some rest. Take in some amusements.

Whatever..

Why do we want to do this??

Perhaps we need our heads examined.
No, no, that's not it (at least, not entirely).

It's an interesting way to widen our range of acquaintances as well as
our experiences.  It's a way of putting something back into the
community from which we draw.  It's a means of furthering, aiding and
abetting creative and socially responsible actions.  And it's a good
way to become familiar with the workings of an organization,
specifically Trent Radio.

And then there's this thing...
                                          ... this passion for radio ... Produced 16 Dec 94 Amended 11 Jul 97 28 Sep 01 [end]