No business like show business
What’s the generally accepted show business motto? “The show must go on.” Whether the show is on a Broadway stage or emanating from your local broadcast studio news set, audiences expect to see a flawless professional performance that starts on time. People make the shows, and people make mistakes. The mark of a professional is how mistakes are dealt with. A mistake is a mistake only if you let the audience know you made a mistake.
What separates broadcast engineers from typical geeks is that broadcast engineers understand show business. They know that the 10 p.m. news never starts at 10:01 p.m. They know mistakes will happen, move on and take appropriate steps asap to ensure it won’t recur. They know that viewers deserve perfection.
Not long ago, while setting up for a live remote broadcast, I typed some test words into a character generator to verify that they appeared on the production switcher and keyed correctly. They were a simple black and white Helvetica font with words that were loosely appropriate to the event we were preparing to broadcast. My mistake was not to delete them.
Wouldn’t you know, the graphics operator arrived late and used my overly-simple test pages as templates for the live broadcast. How embarrassing.
Like studio microphones, all station sources must be assumed to be as hot these days as the people who seem to delight in griping about technical minutia to GMs and FCC. In today’s competitive market, there often aren’t enough dedicated station eyeballs to check and recheck everything, which moves more operational gatekeeping responsibilities to broadcast engineers by default.