By: John Collinson, CPBE, CBNT, 8-VSB, AMD and Paul Kempter, CPBE
Tampa Bay Chapter 39 served an important function as the City of Tampa hosted the Republican National Convention August 27-30 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Under the leadership of nationally known engineers Louis Libin, (member of Chapter 15) and Howard Fine (member of Chapter 47), eight Tampa area broadcast engineers teamed up to register and tag hundreds of wireless devices coming into the Tampa Bay Times Forum where the convention was held. Paul Kempter of Chapter 39 chaired the Enforcement Committee, which included handling logistics for all the other local coordinators before and throughout the entire convention. FCC personnel from Washington, Michigan and the local Tampa office were also involved. This venue had four major entrances that had to be covered simultaneously, and eight floors to search for non-coordinated equipment.
The major networks also sent RF personnel to oversee their own operations, including Ray Benedict, CPBE a member of SBE Chapter 37.
Approximately 2000 requests were received for 140 available wireless mike frequencies; 1400 requests were granted thanks to a 23 page Special Temporary Authority granted by the FCC. Those with coordinated frequencies were cleared to use them and tagged appropriately. The vast majority (over 800) who did not have allocations were tagged for identification and carefully instructed not to use their equipment. NBC gave the team dozens of mic cables to loan to those not prepared to turn off wireless. Some crews arrived with equipment on frequencies in the U.S. cellular bands and one tried to use a local sheriff’s office two-way frequency; not a wise idea!
As a result of these efforts only one incident of any consequence occurred and only on one night. On the intense closing night there were no major issues at all. Without all the preparatory efforts there is no doubt chaos would have ensued with hundreds of wireless transmitters inside one hall.
SBE Chapter 39 participating members included: Paul Kempter, CPBE, enforcement chair; Ed Allen, CBT; George Becht; John Collinson, CPBE, CBNT, 8-VSB, AMD; Michael Galik, CBTE, CBT, CBNT; Steve Hess, CPBE, CBNT; Blake Hawkins, CPBE; Bob Shotwell, CPBE (Chapter 14 member).
Another SBE Chapter 39 member Mark Schaefer, CBTE, arranged parking space for the volunteers in his company’s parking garage near the venue, a huge help in a crowded downtown area.
Other volunteers who assisted the coordination effort included: Alice Becht, Andrew Becht, Jim Cannon, Mildred Hawkins and Gary Reinhardt.