TV technician
sounds off

Freelancer Asher Okada
has worked on shows
of all sorts and sizes

There's no work and golf has been canceled for today, so I find myself with time to compose this. I am a freelance technician in the television industry. I work in both audio and video production.

In high school, I was a band geek and audio-visual nerd. I thought music would be my calling in life, but during my senior year I was introduced to the little theater. This was the closed circuit TV and audio studio that did the morning announcements on campus. I guess that was my start in the communications industry.

My break into the real world was an internship at KGU Radio in 1975 as a gofer for Bill Thompson, the morning DJ at the time. I learned a lot about the radio biz and audio production while there, and I finally got a paid gig when I was put on the production staff in 1976. That position led to jobs at an advertising agency, KGMB-TV and a television production company.

Most of my training has been on the job, and I have had to keep developing my skills as technology advances.

I am classified as an independent contractor in television. I work on productions ranging from TV commercials to TV shows, documentaries, feature films, and even televised sporting events for local, national, and international networks and stations. I have worked on events like the PGA Sony Open In Hawaii, the NFL Pro Bowl, and the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. I just finished a short assignment with the Travel Channel and am the audio technician on a local TV show pilot.

A typical work day depends on how big the job is. TV crews can be as small as two people or as large as the thousands involved during the Olympics.

A field audio job like the TV pilot I am involved with consists of a single camera and three microphones. The crew is a camera operator, audio engineer (me), a producer/director, and two on-camera hosts. My job is to make sure that the proper audio is recorded onto the videotape. We can be out on the street with traffic roaring past us or in factories with machines going full blast, or in a sound-proofed studio, and my job is to make sure the audio quality is consistent and the best it can be.

A larger, more involved remote event is called field production, which may require a production truck with a larger mixing board, more microphones and audio playback.

If I am hired as a videotape operator, I am responsible for the video and audio recordings and playback. If you have seen slo-mo replay in sports shows, that's what I do.

Freelance work involves a lot of hustling for jobs and can be a feast or famine situation. But it has taken me all over the world and allowed me to help create and record a part of history. It's surely not your typical 9 to 5.

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