KHOF-TV SUNSET RIDGE MASTER CONTROL MAKE OVER
When KHOF-TV signed on the air in 1969 the broadcasts originated from the transmitter site atop Sunset Ridge just north of Claremont, CA. The tape machines, 16 mm motion picture projectors and switching equipment were located there and is what the operator used to air KHOF programming. This gear made up the “Master Control” area for KHOF-TV. At that time most of the gear was vacuum tube based and some of it was obtained at a low cost, or donated, from the commercial stations in Los Angeles.
There was even an incident occurred where one of the engineers, Bruce Braun, accidentally spilled a soft drink on the switching equipment. The soda dribbled down on the hot tubes causing them to crack. This knocked KHOF-TV off the air for a few minutes until a replacement tube could be grabbed to replace the broken one and, thereby, returning KHOF-TV to air.
By the early 70’s the industry was rapidly changing from vacuum tubes to solid state transistor technology. This was especially crucial to ensure accurate color reproduction to the viewer at home. In June of 1973 master control at KHOF-TV was given a make over. New solid state audio/video switching and distribution equipment was installed. Most of the equipment was constructed and pre-assembled at the studio and transported to Sunset Ridge for installation. A crew of around six people spent several days on the mountain performing the installation. Master Control operation shifted to the Glendale based studios during the conversion. This meant all tape and film material was played in Glendale 30 miles away and sent to the transmitter site via microwave radio to be fed into the high power television transmitter for airing.
Here are those that made the trip, removed the old gear and installed the new.
Bernie Marston – Chief Engineer of FBN
Steve Pair – KHOF-FM-TV maintenance engineer
Burt Lehman - KHOF-FM-TV maintenance engineer
Joe Snelson - KHOF-FM-TV maintenance engineer
Paul Hohman – Faith Center board member who knew how to roll up his sleeves up and pitch in
Don Johnson - Cameraman, set builder and general carpenter who constructed the console
The documentation of this event was provided by our own well talented in-house photographer, Burt Lehman. While it was a lot of work to make the conversion and to ensure no loss of air time the team enjoyed a great time of fellowship in their labor of love for the television ministry of Faith Center.
The KHOF-TV master control make over project wrapped up in about 4 days and we were back on-the-air from Sunset Ridge with new state of the art equipment for master control. Like most all projects at Sunset Ridge there was rarely a boring moment. Several of us stayed overnight in the bunk room. There was only one bunk bed so the third person had to improvise sleeping accommodations.
Burt Lehman tells of one humorous event he remembers. “Three of us were doing a sleep-over. As there was only one bunk bed, Don Johnson chose to use his sleeping bag on the main control room floor. An hour or so later, he came bounding into the office/bunk room, threw his sleeping bag on the desk and announced that a scorpion had just walked past his face on the floor. Somehow we did manage to get some rest to prepare for another day's construction.”
At some point this author may write about the diverse critters and animals we encountered on top of the mountain.
© 2013 Joe Snelson
Decommissioning of the of the older gear commences. Steve Pair (front left), Joe Snelson (behind Steve) and Bernie Marston (right) disconnecting old wiring.
Bernie, Joe and Steve are just about ready to begin removing the old tube equipment from the master control console.
Joe and Bernie removing a piece of old gear. Note the small audio mixing board in the upper left area of the console.
The former console is removed. All that remains is a single rack of gear to keep KHOF-TV on air and a dirty floor.
A view of the remaining equipment rack on the left. To the right is the “film island.” 16 mm films and 35 mm slides mounted in the round drum shot into a camera for televising.
View looking through the equipment rack. The slide drum is visible on the left. The 2” quadruplex videotape recorder/player is in the center of the shot.
Front view of the equipment rack with just enough gear to keep KHOF-TV on the air during the make over.
Paul Hohman, Faith Center board member, loved working with the TV engineers on special projects. Paul manned the mop to clean and seal the floor. Paul often said you never have to worry about the business end of the mop as it would take care of itself. All you need to worry about is keeping the upper end moving.
Steve Pair installing the new KHOF designed and built audio mixer into the new control console. Bernie is working on the back side of the console.
You may notice a similarity between this console and the one shown in photos of KVOF-TV. This design became the model for FBN to use for small master control operations.
Some of the interconnect wiring is shown originating from the back of the console.
Steve Pair is taking a short rest while Joe Snelson is on the phone, most likely talking the studio through a technical problem.
A multi-talented Paul Hohman prepared a “candle light” dinner for a famished crew. Bernie and Joe were pleased with what they saw and tasted.
The transmitter site was equipped with a refrigerator and small kitchen area complete with a toaster oven. As this author can attest, Paul could broil a pretty tasty Spencer steak in that toaster oven.
Joe, now off the phone, is most likely making some kind of humorous remark to a still resting Steve. Note Steve and Joe’s pocket savers. All engineers wore them back then.
The new console is almost ready to go on-line. Note the addition of a new rack of electronic equipment to the right of the old rack that remains.
A myriad of wires interconnect the equipment
Joe Snelson cutting and putting connectors on each wire
It was so tasty that Steve is seen here sneaking back for seconds
Designed by Bernie Marston, Steve Pair and Joe Snelson named Bernie’s small “consolette” design as the “Marstonette.”
A picturesque view of the KHOF-TV Sunset Ridge transmitter site. This photo was taken during winter time in the early 1970’s and well before the master control make over story that follows.
The UHF Television transmitter designed and constructed by Bernie Marston is shown on the left side of the photos above
Steve Pair adds his recollection to the make over project and submitted:
I do recall an event that involved me during this Demolition & Reconstruction phase. After we had removed all of the old racks/console and began the task of installing the new console & equipment, it was of course necessary to “adapt” several pieces of equipment to locations where no mounting holes existed. For some yet unexplained reason, the job of drilling the necessary holes fell to me. In my youthful exuberance I grabbed a drill & bit and began the process of drilling a few quick holes. After laboring for 5 minutes I noticed that I had made little process on the first hole. I remember complaining to Bernie, Joe & Burt about how dull this bit was, but they were busy on the other side of the room addressing other installation issues and probably paid little attention to my complaint.
Now realizing that the bit was dull, and that no other bits were available, means that I would just have to “lean” into it and really put additional pressure on the drill. So I really leaned into the drill and began the arduous task of forcing my way through the first of several holes that were required. Let me tell ya that this was no easy task. I recall that the first hole took something like 20 minutes to complete and I was pretty well spent when I finished that fist hole. Mustering up my remaining strength I tackled the second hole with as much vigor as possible. By now I am sweating like a pig, the drill motor is getting hot as all get out and the drill bit is starting to smoke because it is so hot. Can’t tell you how long it took to finish that second hole, but it was in excess of 30 minutes for both holes.
By now I am exhausted and still have 2 more holes to go. I start complaining loudly to the rest of the guys in the room about why our bits are so dull, how exhausted I am, how long it took me to drill these holes, blah, blah, blah. I believe it was Burt who glanced over and asked that now fateful question that some 40 years later still rings loudly in my ears; “you don’t have the drill in reverse do you?”
If memory serves me correctly it was necessary for me to excuse myself, go outside and “have a little talk with Jesus”. After sufficiently “venting” my frustrations (read; STUPIDITY), I returned to the task of drilling the remaining two holes, which I accomplished with out any further difficulty.
Like most all projects at Faith Center the teamwork was outstanding and everybody had fun while on the job. I want to extend a very special thanks to Burt Lehman for documenting this event and providing the photos. While Burt was obviously not present in the photos his contribution to some of the design and installation played an important part in getting this launched.