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Author Topic: Was THIS a sign-off, or WHAT?
die daagliks phosdex
Monster Mashed Potatos & Grave-y


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Observed on the rather interesting website TulsaTVMemories.com, and perhaps worth relating for possible Urban Legend qualities:

Seems there was this engineer working the late shift @ some TV station who decided to run some film @ signoff showing a TV transmitting tower collapsing from explosion, wondering "what will the bosses think?" if word got out.

The which would be followed @ sign-on the next day by the same film--howbeit shown in reverse, as if trying to make amends in case there were complaints left by the answering service in the interim.

In any case, the hapless engineer was given his cards in consequence. (As in: "You're fired!")

Is there any evidence of such a routine having actually been broadcast @ signoff once, even if the intent was "sick joke" more than anything?

And does anyone recall seeing such footage @ signoff, ordinarily reserved for the National Hymn over some class of sappy patriotic footage along with the usual folderol announcing signoff (including, but not limited to, the studio/transmitter microwave links, translator stations, usw.)?

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sidewinder
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okay, should i doubt my own intelligence or did anyone else not get a word of that?
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Moeko'sOwl
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*Raises hand* The OP owes me a new Babelfish.

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Captain Zombie
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Okay, I believe (and this is only a belief) that what the OP is trying to say is that, when the TV station signed off for the evening (when they used to play the star spangled banner after the end of scheduled programming and then go to static or a test pattern) the engineer (the guy that makes all of the cuts to commercials, etc. happen) instead of showing the Raising of the flag statue and the star-spangled banner, instead, showed a little vignette about a television transmission tower falling apart/exploding/whatever, and was subsequently fired for it...

and the OP is wondering if this had ever actually happened.

I think.

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Griffin at the Maul
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Slight hijack, but I was watching channel 20 in Houston when their tower collapsed in the mid-early 80s,needless to say, the station went off the air.

The almost 2000ft tower was under construction (almost complete) when a truck backed into one of its guys, causing structural failure. Several workers were killed after falling over 1000 ft.

Of course, it would be immpossible to transmit the actual collapse footage, since the tower anntennae would cease operation as they fell. Not to mention the microwave links are line of sight, and would be easily broken.

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die daagliks phosdex
Monster Mashed Potatos & Grave-y


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quote:
Originally posted by Captain Zombie:
Okay, I believe (and this is only a belief) that what the OP is trying to say is that, when the TV station signed off for the evening (when they used to play the star spangled banner after the end of scheduled programming and then go to static or a test pattern) the engineer (the guy that makes all of the cuts to commercials, etc. happen) instead of showing the Raising of the flag statue and the star-spangled banner, instead, showed a little vignette about a television transmission tower falling apart/exploding/whatever, and was subsequently fired for it...

and the OP is wondering if this had ever actually happened.

I think.

Bang-on right, as our British friends would say.

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popSartre
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I'm sorry, but I can't see why anyone could not get what the OP was saying. It makes perfect sense - at least to those of us old enough to remember when TV wasn't 24/7.

I haven't seen a sign-off, or for that matter a station 'off-air' displaying static or test-pattern, in years.

I like the story, although I have no idea if it ever truly happened, especially the part about replaying the tape backwards at sign-on - as if the tower had crashed down (explaining the static or snow) and in the morning magically re-awakened to allow clear broadcasting.

Pretty nifty prank in my opinion.

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Kid Kilowatt
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I think the problem people were having, popSartre (excellent name, btw) is that the language in the OP is rather, um, stylized.

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magpie
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quote:
Originally posted by l'Agent IXE-13:

The which would be followed @ sign-on the next day by the same film--howbeit shown in reverse, as if trying to make amends in case there were complaints left by the answering service in the interim.

In any case, the hapless engineer was given his cards in consequence. (As in: "You're fired!")

I got the firing at the end, but what's this in the middle?
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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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The next morning, when the station went back on the air, the same engineer played a reverse of the tower falling so that it appeared that it was unexploding itself back up. This was done just in case anyone had actually seen the sign-off of the exploding tower the night before and left any complaints overnight. He did this (playing the exploding tower backwards) in an effort to avoid being fired. It didn't work.

Four Kitties

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Bettie Page Turner
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OP is perfectly understandable to me, even if phrased a bit oddly. As to the question being asked, I don't know.

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Troberg
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I fail to see why this would be grounds for firing someone, it's just a harmless joke. Heck, if I was the boss, I would give the guy a raise, I thought it was an excellent visualization of "shutting down transmission" and "resuming transmission" and something that the viewers will remember to the point of having the potential of becoming a classic.

Is it even possible to fire someone for something like that? It wouldn't be possible here.

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/Troberg

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I understood the OP, but I have to say that typing "@" instead of "at" does not, IMO, save the poster enough work to justify making the post less readable to others.

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Grand Illusion
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Here is my confusion: The author of the OP piece uses words like "rather," "relating" and "late," and thus is capable of typing the letters "a" and "t" next to each other. Why, oh why, is he incapable of including a space before the "a" and after the "t"?

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Mad Jay
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Ah!!! phosdex is back. I missed his incoherent babbling.

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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quote:
Originally posted by Mad Jay:
Ah!!! phosdex is back. I missed his incoherent babbling.

And the fun that is watching new snopesters trying to decipher those incoherent babblings.

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Canuckistan
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I understood the OP quite well: round these parts, the CBC still goes off the air at night, as does TVO (our provincial version of PBS, for those who don't know). I just don't see why the OP would be a fireable offence unless he had been specifically told not to do it. It's not like most people are going to freak out and say, "OMG! The TV tower fall down and go boom! I have no TV tomorrow! MY LIFE HAS NO MEANING!"

Besides, phosdex, without more specifics, there's no way to determine if this is true. Where was the television station? When did this happen? Does the engineer have a name? Until we can begin to answer these, this is a legend (and not even a particularly good legend). Nothing more.

(AnglRdr, should I be worried that I understood the OP?)

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Ligeia
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I looked around the site mentioned in the OP and found the question posed about 3/4 of the way down this page.

quote:
Comments:
During my brief stint in Tulsa radio/TV I heard a story about how some Tulsa TV engineer supposedly got fired for running (at the close of the broadcast day) video of a TV tower being blown down. As the story goes the engineer merely got reprimanded for that but he promised to make amends. The next morning during station signon the engineer ran the video in reverse--which prompted the firing. Any truth to this rumor? Did this really happen, and if so, can somebody provide the juicy details?

It does at least mention that the stunt is supposed to have happened in Tulsa, if that helps anyone.

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Methuselah
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quote:
Originally posted by Troberg:
I fail to see why this would be grounds for firing someone, it's just a harmless joke. Heck, if I was the boss, I would give the guy a raise, I thought it was an excellent visualization of "shutting down transmission" and "resuming transmission" and something that the viewers will remember to the point of having the potential of becoming a classic.

Is it even possible to fire someone for something like that? It wouldn't be possible here.

It would indeed be grounds for dismissal in that the engineer would have intentionally run programming contrary to station schedule and station policy. I see no reason the firing wouldn't be legal at any level.

What I fail to see is why this would be funny? As far as pranks go, it falls squarely into the "lame" category.

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mgbdriver
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Methuselah:
It would indeed be grounds for dismissal in that the engineer would have intentionally run programming contrary to station schedule and station policy. I see no reason the firing wouldn't be legal at any level.

Yeah, what he said.
I remember an engineer at one of the local stations got his head handed to him when the main satellite receiver took a power hit and defaulted to a scrambled porn signal (instead of network) for about thirty seconds before we could switch to our backup dish.
To those that think thirty seconds isn't a long time, we received 300 phone calls about this within the next half-hour.

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chiefs_lady
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This is a radio "sign off", but in the same vein. Does anyone remember Dick Biondi on WLS in Chicago in the early 60s? He had his head handed to him one night on the air and just disappeared in the middle of his show. Seems that the station owner had gotten some complaints about some off-color jokes and comments he had made on the air, and he had been warned a couple of times--but didn't manage to take it to heart. One night the station manager was listening when Dick told a really smutty joke. The engineer/producer of the show had also been warned that if it happened, he was to kill Dick's mike and start a song, and keep on playing. He did, the manager called Dick on the phone and fired him on the spot and told him to get out of the studio, and when the music was over--four or five songs later, there was a new DJ for the 9-midnight show.

Never heard from Dick Biondi again. As far as I know, he ended up at a little 50-watt station in BFE.

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Simply Madeline
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Dick Biondi has been on WJMK in Chicago (Oldies 104.3) on the 8-midnight show for the last 20 years.

http://207.126.126.73/dj_dickbiondi.shtml

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chiefs_lady
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I'm glad to know he didn't fall into a rathole. Some people can fall into a pigsty and come out smelling like roses. Wish I could get that station out here in Albuquerque--I'd like to hear "On Top of a Pizza" again once in my life. I've tried to sing it to people who don't believe it was a real song.

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The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own. -Benjamin Disraeli
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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
It would indeed be grounds for dismissal in that the engineer would have intentionally run programming contrary to station schedule and station policy. I see no reason the firing wouldn't be legal at any level.
Wow, is it really possible to fire someone for something like that in USA? Holy eff, in Sweden that would just have been considered a simple mistake and firing someone over it would have caused the employer loads of trouble. He tried to show initiative and do something for the station.

quote:
What I fail to see is why this would be funny? As far as pranks go, it falls squarely into the "lame" category.
I think it's a neat visual joke, especially with the "unexploding" of the tower when transmissions resume.

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/Troberg

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Nion
We Three Blings


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I agree with everyone in the "this is a neat idea" category. I'd love to see a local station do it, if even once. They could even make it sound real. They could say it's a magic trick, or something.

Hey! They could even get a magician to do the disappearing act with it. Make it disappear at night and POOF, the channel signs off. In the morning we see him make it magically reappear. What a publicity stunt!

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Towknie
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In this day and age, wouldn't such footage earn a visit from the Homeland Security Department due to the possibility of spreading fear among our fine citizens?

As for the OP, I got through it through sheer determination. Took about 6 or 7 read-throughs.

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quiltsbypam
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It wouldn't work now because the vast majority of stations never go off the air anymore. I still remember stations signing off but my children don't. My grandchildren would find the idea ridiculous.

The Honeland Security thing would definitely be a problem, I think. US citizens now live in a world in which people can be investigated for making a too-large credit card payment. Footage of a tower exploding would probably be viewed as making a threat.

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Dancin' Fool
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quote:
Originally posted by nclinnm:
I'm glad to know he didn't fall into a rathole. Some people can fall into a pigsty and come out smelling like roses. Wish I could get that station out here in Albuquerque--I'd like to hear "On Top of a Pizza" again once in my life. I've tried to sing it to people who don't believe it was a real song.

If we are thinking about the same thing . . .

On top of a Pizza
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed...

Is that it, if so I should get 10 points - he he

Might not be it as I remember that song started as:

On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese . . . kind of makes more sense with the meatball, don't you think?

Dooooohh!

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Ean
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by l'Agent IXE-13:
Bang-on right, as our British friends would say.

I'm fairly sure we wouldn't. [Wink]

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mgbdriver
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Troberg:
quote:
It would indeed be grounds for dismissal in that the engineer would have intentionally run programming contrary to station schedule and station policy. I see no reason the firing wouldn't be legal at any level.
Wow, is it really possible to fire someone for something like that in USA? Holy eff, in Sweden that would just have been considered a simple mistake and firing someone over it would have caused the employer loads of trouble. He tried to show initiative and do something for the station.
A direct violation of station policy (with intent) would be grounds for disciplinary action. Whether it was a simple write-up or termination would depend on the station management and the strength of the union (most engineers are union members).

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Rehcsif
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I agree that firing seems a little harsh in this case. I could see a reprimand, but some companies are stricter than others, and maybe he was warned in the past...

And as for the OP -- I'm not sure how they talk in Winona, but in general we don't talk like in the parts of Minnesota I frequent...

-Tim

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Lizzy
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quote:
Originally posted by Troberg:
quote:
It would indeed be grounds for dismissal in that the engineer would have intentionally run programming contrary to station schedule and station policy. I see no reason the firing wouldn't be legal at any level.
Wow, is it really possible to fire someone for something like that in USA? Holy eff, in Sweden that would just have been considered a simple mistake and firing someone over it would have caused the employer loads of trouble. He tried to show initiative and do something for the station.
I don't know what the laws are like in Sweden, but in the US, you can pretty much fire someone for any reason- except for any reason based on race, creed, sex, sexual preference, etc.
Everytime I've been hired somewhere, I remember signing a paper saying that they can terminate my job at any time for any reason.

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mgbdriver
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Kersten:
quote:
Originally posted by Troberg:
quote:
It would indeed be grounds for dismissal in that the engineer would have intentionally run programming contrary to station schedule and station policy. I see no reason the firing wouldn't be legal at any level.
Wow, is it really possible to fire someone for something like that in USA? Holy eff, in Sweden that would just have been considered a simple mistake and firing someone over it would have caused the employer loads of trouble. He tried to show initiative and do something for the station.
I don't know what the laws are like in Sweden, but in the US, you can pretty much fire someone for any reason- except for any reason based on race, creed, sex, sexual preference, etc.
Everytime I've been hired somewhere, I remember signing a paper saying that they can terminate my job at any time for any reason.

It's called an "employee at will" statement.

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snoozn
Deck the Malls


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[hijack] I loved the old station sign off. The only night I was allowed to stay up that late was Friday, when a local station had "The Unknown Zone" where they played a creepy little intro thing and showed a scary movie (like "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" or "Willard" or "The Dunwich Horror") and right after that was the sign off with the Star Spangled Banner and the test pattern. It just seemed creepy in a way that matched "The Unknown Zone!" [/hijack]

snoozn

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rockland6674
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quote:
Originally posted by mgbdriver:
I remember an engineer at one of the local stations got his head handed to him when the main satellite receiver took a power hit and defaulted to a scrambled porn signal (instead of network) for about thirty seconds before we could switch to our backup dish.
To those that think thirty seconds isn't a long time, we received 300 phone calls about this within the next half-hour.

How many of those 300 calls were from people who were upset because the porn signal was scrambled? [Wink]
Posts: 934 | From: Massachusetts | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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