Death of the Last Broadcast Engineer
SEPT. 1, 2087 — We sadly report the
death of Byron Greenie. He was the last of his kind: the last broadcast
You are probably asking, “What is a broadcast engineer?” And what an
excellent question it is. I asked my holographic Kno-It-All and was told that
this was a person whose job it was to keep a radio or television station
operational, to keep everything working.
This may come as a shock; but there was a time when machines didn’t fix
themselves or replace themselves as they do now. There were people who actually
did this work of fixing things.
They often would carry a container filled with objects required to do
the fixing. These objects were called tools. There were many kinds of tools. Some
were just to open the box that the device lived in. Some tools tested and
verified the performance of different parts of a device.
Most of these boxes were connected with copper conductors called
“cables” or sometimes with glass conductors called “optical fiber.” Engineers
like Byron would know how to make the connections between boxes, and what kind
of connection to make.
Wireless was just beginning to be used, and, of course, subdimensional
signaling, like we have now, was completely unknown.
Still on call
Often these devices would perform tasks on their own, crudely recording
or reproducing sound or pictures. Some devices would have “brains” inside them
to make simple decisions about things. Most often, the memory for these
machines was built into the device itself.
This was before the advent of the World Memory — which, as you know, was
built in Siberia starting in 2030 — and its twins in Antarctica and at one of
the Lagrange Points in space. (They used to call it “outer space.” Isn’t that
Byron did this job for more than 50 years, starting out with radio
stations (wireless, low- and mid-frequency audio spreaders). By the time of his
retirement in 2045, he worked mostly with a number of museums, notably
including the Museum of Sound and Image in Mumbai, India, and the Institute for
the Preservation of Ancient Machinery in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
He was 107 at the time of his death, and there has been speculation that
his continued use of lead in a process called soldering might have led to his
demise at so young an age. He steadfastly refused all nanobio upgrades, and actually
was a leader in the resistance movement against machine-human hybrids.
The Society of Broadcast Engineers has named Steve Lampen, CBRE, its SBE
Educator of the Year.
“Lampen utilizes his travels promoting the Belden product line, as an
opportunity to understand what broadcast engineers need,” SBE wrote.
“Lampen educates industry members about his expertise in dozens of
topics at Ennes sessions, NAB and SBE chapter meetings while traveling an
average of 300 days per year. Steve strives to make his presentations, which
have been an anchor for Ennes workshops for 10 years, educational,
entertaining, accurate and useful. As a successful author Lampen wrote ‘The
Audio-Video Cable Installer’s Pocket Guide’ published by McGraw-Hill, and his
regular column ‘Wired for Sound’ appears in Radio World.”
Lampen joins Charles “Buc” Fitch and John Bisset as Radio World
contributors who have received the SBE Educator of the Year Award in recent
He’s still on call, though. His DNA has been preserved, and Clōnz Inc.
has put him on their short list in case any of the ancient machines cease
working and he is needed again.
The world has changed in so many ways since Byron began his career. He
saw the rise of the SuperNet, and the first and second war between Mankind and
In fact, one reason you probably never heard of Byron is that he sided
with technology during the Techno War 1, for which he was branded a traitor and
spend a dozen years in suspended animation. After revival, he transferred to
Memory 3 (the Lagrange section of the World Memory), but reports mention that
this was as much to isolate himself from humanity as to allow him to work. After
20 years in space, he returned to Terra Firma, where his relationship with the museums
I listed began.
And yet everything we can find out about him mentions what a nice and
easygoing person he was. He got along as well with humans as he did with
machines, which, you must admit, is remarkable even by today’s standards.
Perhaps we should pause a second and think not just about Byron Greenie,
but about all those people who used to keep things working. Without them, we
would not have the world we know today. Thanks, Byron.