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From filing w/acoustic couplers at pay phone to Uploading Video

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by daytonadan1983, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. daytonadan1983

    daytonadan1983 Active Member

    The other night I covered a high school game and afterwards, spent 20 minutes in an IHOP uploading post-game video interviews after filing the standard 10 paragraphs and a box.

    Any one remember the days of sending using trs-80s and acoustic couples at 300 baud from a payphone outside a 7-11 or a stadium bathroom (and in my case, once from a strip club)? Now its updating live during the game and filing video afterwards, then seeing everyting online by the time you get home.

    Crappy game (a 7-0 slugfest won by an 0-4 team) but a good night at the office.

    So, any other great HS filing stories from the 80s and 90s or appreciation on how far we've come in just a few years?
  2. Bud_Bundy

    Bud_Bundy Active Member

    I'm dating myself, but I remember when we had an actual teletype machine in what we called our wire room. Our guys at pro games and major college games would give their copy to a teletype operator, who would key it in and send it to us, then we would mark up the printouts and send them to the linotype operators.

    Telecopiers ... 4 or 6 minutes per page. Sending on six minutes was more likely to get through, but 4 minutes was quicker, though riskier because the page might split in the middle and be unreadable.

    I spent one March Madness auditioning portable sending devices for our tech folks. Four weeks (conference tournament, three weeks of the NCAAs) using 4 different devices.

    And then there was the Texas Instruments Portabubble (I think that was the name) that used thermal paper.

    Found this thread from 2010 about technology and the newsroom:

  3. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    Those acoustic couplers were a nightmare, especially if you were in a noisy place -- any outside noise caused garble in the signal, and those rubber cups that were supposed to keep the noise out never did. I remember a number of nights when after trying to send multiple times I just gave up and dictated.

    Eventually they added those cables so you could plug right into the phone line, but a lot of phones then were still hard-wired and didn't have a jack in the back, and the cables didn't work on multiple line phones so you'd have to either use a single line phone, a fax machine line or pull out the old acoustic couplers.
  4. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    With the Radio Shacks, we always had trouble sending from Montreal because the cleanup crew used those noisy blowers.
    Best story I had was covering a boxing card at a civic auditorium not normally used for sports. I was standing in the lobby juggling my computer and the couplers while trying to punch in the number on a pay phone.
    The phone was right next to a portable bar that was set up in the lobby. A bunch of shouting ensues and I look up to see two women trying to pummel each other, a legit catfight. This hulking dudes runs in to break it up and he looks familiar. It turned out that he was the boxer who got his ass kicked 30 minutes earlier in the semi-main event.
  5. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    Sending from any phone system that required you to dial 9 (or whatever) for an outside line was an absolute nightmare with the Radio Shacks. I can't remember all the times I had to dictate because the press box phones wouldn't let my prehistorical piece-of-shit laptop dial out.

    And this is not directly related to the topic, but it's still funny. My former sports editor rode to the big state college football rivalry game about 15 years with his buddy who was a local radio personality. Accompanying them on the trip was a state senator/booster who had been implicated in recent NCAA sanctions against his alma mater (part of which was giving a big-time prospect from his home town a ride to his official visit, and also providing him with a suit for his senior athletic banquet).

    The player in question was playing his final regular-season game that day for the other team, which won handily. Said state senator was drunk and sitting in the first few rows behind the opposing bench, and started "N-bombing" the player toward the end of the game. The player, a 350-pound nose tackle, had to be restrained from charging into the stands.

    You can Google the general facts and figure out all the guys in question, but the funny part is, my sports editor and his party left immediately after the post-game press availabilities to return home, with my sports editor planning to write his stories in the car and stop to send from somewhere along the way. So he's sitting there in the backseat with the state senator in the front seat, writing about how he'd caused a scene and embarrassed himself on television, etc.

    State senator turns around at one point and says, "You're not writing about that, are you?" My sports editor says, "You're damn right I am."

    State senator ended up getting disassociated by the university.
  6. lesboulez

    lesboulez Member

    new lede!
  7. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    Best filing story, though not Rat Shack related: It's 2001, just after 9/11. I'm still on the Luddite Express; I don't have a cell phone, never mind a working laptop.

    I'm sent to the edge of the coverage area for a rivalry football game. I get back to my car post-game, and it doesn't start. At all. Totally dead battery. I get a jump from someone in the lot, and I go a few miles.

    Car dies again, with little warning. Cop pulls over, says he's not allowed to give me a jump or do anything else to help me, but someone else pulls up and I get another jump.

    I go another few miles. Car dies again. I'm still about 12-15 miles from the office and it's about 10:15. Deadline is staring me in the face. I'm screwed.

    I start walking. I'm on an unlit country road, houses every 40 or 50 feet. About a quarter-mile or so, a house off the main road still has its porch light on, the only one in the area. I knock. I'm about to become a horror film victim.

    Owner answers. I beg him to let me use his phone, and he's very gracious. I call the office, they want me to start dictating. I try to pull 8 inches worth of material out of thin air, and frantically add up stats in the process. I spend 45 minutes doing this, then call for a tow, which took at least another half-hour. I don't get home until well after 1.

    (I got a cell phone within days, and that was the beginning of the end.)
  8. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    Best Rat Shack story: I have a whatever-it-is, and I get assignment to cover first game of hoops doubleheader. At the time I also was doing some TV sideline stuff, and they tabbed me to do both games.

    This is c. 1998. I'm in a university arena where they've gone to a computerized phone system. My Rat Shack won't play nice with it. Fuck. I try the pay phone out in the lobby. It's too noisy. I'm screwed.

    I end up having to dictate to a clerk who was incredibly slow. I had the story written already, so it should've gone smoothly. Instead it takes 40 fucking minutes to dictate. I miss the entire first half of the second game. Lesson: Never double-dip.
  9. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    In the mid 90s I had to dictate every road football game I did. I think we had two of the TRSs to share between the entire crew, and it was just easier for me to dictate and let someone else mess with them. I usually wrote the top half of my story by hand for the dictation, then winged the last part. I was covering a game in the worst part of Knoxville one night, and the phone booth I located must have been a combination business office/urinal for the local drug dealers and bookies. I was on the phone 15 minutes or so sending in my story. A group of individuals that fit the previous description were hovering outside and insinuated I had tied up their phone long enough. I was only about halfway through the story but said "gotta go!" "click" and got the heck out of Dodge.
  10. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Had to be some time in the late 80s when I had to dictate a story on the road. Only phone I could find was in front of a liquor store, and I could smell the booze on the mouthpiece as soon as I said hello to the desk. Got it about 90 percent done when two winos started get loud in front of me. Told the desk, "Joe, you finish it, I need to run." He told me, "I can hear them, get out of there."
  11. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Yep. Us old farts have been there, done that.
  12. partain

    partain Member

    My biggest problem with the TRS-80 was just a lack of experience the few times I used them. While working as an agate clerk at the statewide daily in college, I got sent to a remote part of the state to cover the Class A basketball tournament.

    First game I covered there had all kinds of unusual things happen and I tried to throw it all in. You could only see four lines at a time or something like that on the screen, so I had no idea how long the story was. Desk wanted six inches on that game and got nearly 20 if I remember right. I could hear them cursing me in the background when I called in to make sure they'd gotten it.

    After that, they were nice enough to tell me how to figure up the length based on the number of lines.
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