My TTT Experience

One sunny day in June 1962 I responded to an advertisement in the Trinidad Guardian for television technicians and operators. Some time later, I received a letter inviting me to attend an interview at 11a Maraval Road. On the day of the interview, I decided to take a taxi and actually got out in downtown Port of Spain to walk to the address on my letter. In my commute there,  I thought to myself this is not getting me anywhere as it seems I had been walking for a long time. Finally, when I got as far as Wrightson Road I noticed a police officer standing in front of the Licensing Office; I approached him to inquire if he knew the location of Trinidad and Tobago Television (ttt) on Maraval Road. He immediately responded that he had never heard of such a place but he knew for sure there is a Radio Trinidad on Maraval Road. He pointed in the direction, so I walked up French Street which leads into Maraval Road and began counting the numbers. Not being familiar with the area, Maraval Road appeared to me to be quite a distance from where I started off. By the time I got to the address I was dripping with perspiration , my white shirt was sticking to my body and I was beginning to feel uncomfortable and worried about my appearance for the interview.

In the distance I noticed a young man casually walking in my direction. When he got closer I said to him, “I am looking for a place by the name of Trinidad and Tobago Television (ttt), have you seen any building by that name around here”? He replied, “who are you looking for at ttt?”  I explained to him that I have an interview with someone there. He further questioned me by asking for the name of the person.  When I provided him with the name of Joan Ciprani which was written on my letter, he very enthusiastically said, “let me take you directly to that office.” That young man’s name is Shaffique Mohammed.
 
 Joan Ciprani, the secretary of the General Manager escorted me to the office of Ronald F. Goodsman and the Chief Engineer, Bill Corkhill who was in his office at the time interviewing the candidates for the job.  Goodsman then said to me “do have a seat” while Corkhill started asking me a batch of technical questions, one after the other, which I answered to the best of my knowledge.  To my surprise, none of the questions during the interview was television related.  They were rather connected to my work at Edgar H. Borde Telecommunications where I was a trainee technician at the time.  
One month later during the first week of July 1962, I received additional correspondence   informing me that I must report for the job at ttt on July 20th. On my first day of work, I met two gentlemen by the name of Deighton Parris and Wendell Case in the engineering section. I must admit that I had no idea that this meeting was a turning point that was going to change my life forever.
I remember very vividly Corkhill giving Case and I a tour of the premises which was under construction at the time. He pointed out several locations and identified the areas where he wanted us to start installation of cables and equipment.
 The television vocabulary was new to me at that time but I tried to keep abreast of the instructions which he gave to us indicating the layout of different studios and projection areas. He also pointed out the location of Master Control, Telecine, Presentation Studio, and Studio B which was the main Studio of the Station. The announcer’s booth was situated in the technical area next to Telecine and Master Control in order to allow visual contact between the people in the two locations.  It is very important in television for the announcer to be able to receive cues from the Director of the programme, who sits in Master Control.
After the tour, we were assigned to start work immediately on the installation of equipment in some of the areas I mentioned earlier. We had the responsibility to lay both video and audio cables for the entire television station including the Studio Transmitter Link (STL) which was known as channel 13.  

Later that week, I recall that we were summoned to a meeting by Ronald Goodsman and Barry Gordon, the Programme Director who came from Canada to set up the Station. This meeting was specifically to work out the scenario for the Independence Day ceremony which was the first ever outside live transmission from the Red House on August 31, 1962.  With all the assigned tasks still to be accomplished, I was extremely dubious as to how this event was going to materialize?  We were all relieved to learn from Mr. Goodsman that a CBS Mobile Crew would be coming in from New York to help us carry out the broadcast assignment. It so happen the CBS group of technicians and engineers were on the cutting edge of television broadcasting. They installed
A microwave link from the Parliament building to Television House along with some oversized television cameras and lights located on scaffolding both inside and outside of the Red House in the administrative district of Port of Spain. 

Mervyn Telfer, who was the duty announcer at the time, signed on the station from a make shift studio located at 11a Maraval Road. These rehearsals were used as “test runs” several days before the main event from the Red House. That temporary studio would later become the Accounts Office of the Station. It turned out that the television transmission from the Red House was flawless; it was professionalism at its best.

TTT building was under construction for several weeks following that inaugural transmission from the Red House and it was officially declared open in November 1962 by the Honorable Dr. Patrick Solomon, a Member of Parliament, in the presences of other dignitaries and government officials.

I remember ttt, the organization that reflected the birth of a nation and the people I worked with give me a sense of connection. In Programming, I had the pleasure of working with colleagues who have become life long friends such as  Barry Gordon, Farouk Muhammad, Errol Harrylal, Michael Clarke, Robert Archibald, Oswald Maingot, Louis Sorzano, Charles Maglore, Miley Duke, Tony Lautchman, Victor Daniel, and many more names too numerous to mention. In the Engineering department there were people like Bill Corkhill, Jack Elvyn, Allan Hay, Clive Adams, Myrna Pilgrim, Wendell Case, and Deighton Parris.

After working for a few years at ttt, I developed enthusiasm and passion for television broadcasting.  Later, I decided to commit myself to several years of training and studies abroad in order to succeed in this field.
Having made up my mind, shortly after making this decision I migrated to the United Kingdom where I received the best formal training in Europe. I obtained my graduate ship (Grad. Dip) In Electronic & Telecommunications Engineering from the Engineering Council (UK) United Kingdom as well as Registration from the (IEE) Institution of Electrical Engineers in the United Kingdom.  After my studies, and before leaving the UK, a group tour was organized for the graduates to visit the BBC and ITN which was something I always wanted to do. I must admit that this was a learning experience which I cherish up to this day.
Although my ambition was to return to Trinidad, but fate would guide me instead to the United States of America to  the American Broadcasting Company (ABC- TV channel 7) where  I applied for a position. I was successful and was offered employment.
While employed at ABC-TV, I was given the opportunity to work as an Engineering support staff on several major special events such as the Olympic Games and political conventions which aired on such programmes as 20/20, Prime Time news broadcasts from remote locations. I have traveled throughout the USA on various sports assignments, which included several trips to San Francisco, California.  I received a number of specialized training courses from Ampex, Grass Valley, Mc Curdy, and Sony equipment which were sponsored courtesy of ABC Network Television Inc.   
During my tenure at that Station, I had the opportunity to work with celebrities, US Presidents and some of the most famous names in television broadcasting news.
Over the years some research was conducted on the reasons why television stations fail after   successive years of broadcasting.  Personally, I don’t know why ttt failed but what I have learnt is that no one so far has  been able to determine the reason for the demise of any television station except, possibly, change of ownership. Another possible reason may be inappropriate for me to really articulate at this time, so I will stand by the golden rule of silence. 
However, I will forever owe a debt of gratitude to ttt for the opportunity of a life time. There isn’t any thing I can add that wasn’t already mentioned by all the contributors, but I do know ttt changed many of our lives forever.
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