It is hard to believe that 21 years ago I participated in the Summer Olympics that took place in Sydney, Australia.
No, it wasn’t as an athlete. I thank you if that thought may have briefly crossed your mind while reading my lead sentence.
Though I didn’t compete for a medal, I did have the opportunity of a lifetime working as a Unit Manager for the largest RF wireless provider during the Olympics in Sydney. Back in college, I was both an on-air personality and a sports director for our campus television station. This included me directing the broadcast of sporting events from a microwave television truck our school purchased from a nearby company.
I heard this business was needing someone to ship around $600,000 worth of audio and video equipment to Sydney, Australia and back to their location in Pennsylvania. The Lord opened up a door for me to be offered the position and the rest is history. I helped to organize the broadcast materials for a crew of 43 people, working closely with the president of our company in a role similar to an administrative assistant. The company, Winemiller Communications, Inc., had the largest RF wireless contract for the Olympiad that year.
RF wireless is a method used to provide images you see on television where a fiberoptic cable could not be hooked to a video camera and directly into a television truck.
An example would be the marathon race. We had a Spanish film crew riding motorcycles to get images of a runner competing. The camera had a transmitter on it that would send the image wirelessly to a receiver on the base of a helicopter in the sky. That signal would be then received by our satellite dish receive sites and switched over to the International Broadcast Center. NBC would then pick the clean image and air it live to your television screen. We did this for the marathon race, cycling, (road and indoor), sailing, equestrian and more. We also shipped a TV truck to Australia and put a camera on its mast to provide an image from left field for the baseball games.
I was fortunate to live in Sydney for two months and I have countless stories from my once-in-a-lifetime experience. My most memorable one came during the closing ceremonies. After working exclusively behind the scenes for close to 60 days, I had an opportunity on the final night to go and visit one of our satellite dish locations. This is where someone was responsible for keeping the satellite dish sitting on a tripod pointed at the helicopter responsible for filming the fireworks being shot off the top of Olympic Stadium.
I was standing next to the operator when he leans over and says to me, “Do you want to run it for a couple of minutes?”
Of course I said yes and he preceded to train me on what to do.
On the back side of the satellite dish was an LCD monitor that would show the operator what the image looked like coming from the camera on the helicopter.
So here I am, just out of college, putting on a headset, placing my hands on two handles and focusing on keeping this dish pointed at the helicopter in the sky. Then came the words I’ll never forget as someone said to me on my headset, “You’re on.”
In the blink of an eye, my hands were directly involved in displaying a television image being shown live instantly to 2.4 billion people watching around the world. Goosebumps just popped up on my arms and I got a little teary eyed while typing as I reflect on that moment.
I’m just so grateful God blessed me with the experience.
I’m thankful for every summer Olympics for the chance to go down memory lane and think about my experience south of the equator. I also enjoy watching countless hours of Olympic coverage cheering on the USA.
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