How it all works

How it all works

by Derrick Connolly

Chief Engineer

There are two studios, one continuously on air, Studio A, where most of the programmes are originated. This is operated by the on-air presenter. He, or she, must not only present the programme but must also mix together and balance all the sources available. These consist of three turntables, six cartridge players for commercials and jingles, two tape machines, two stereo outside broadcast sources, his own microphone, an interview microphone, mono outside broadcast source, a news feed and on-air telephone calls.

Control B is normally operated by an engineer with guests seated around microphones in its studio area. The control room is equipped with a main and an auxiliary mixer with a total of nineteen channels, two turntables, two tape recorders, three cartridge machines to replay jingles, a recording cartridge machine, a wide range of microphones and an echo unit for effects. This area is used for pre recording commercials, some interviews with guests and goes ‘live’ for the day’s major news programme ‘Newscene’ at 5.30 p.m. In an average month Radio Hallam uses nearly 100 miles of Scotch Professional recording tape.

Since Radio Hallam has a policy of meeting people where they live, work or relax, there is a full stereo outside broadcast caravan, a radio car equipped with UHF and VHF programme links and all the necessary equipment for doing outside broadcasts from literally any street corner, club or shop.

To cover sport, permanent lines are installed to the ‘Big Six’ local football grounds and portable outside broadcast units can be used from any of these.

During major outside broadcasts such as the ‘Radio Hallam Roadshow’, a stereo pair of lines is provided by the Post Office back to the studio. These are used to send back the programmes from the outside broadcast desk to the studio, where, after checking on the quality before putting it out on air, it is mixed into the programme and routed to the transmitters from Studio A.

All the programmes from Radio Hallam are normally transmitted simultaneously on Medium wave (194 metres, 1546 Kilo-Hertz) and on VHF in stereo (95·2 Mega-Hertz Sheffield and 95·9 Mega-Hertz Rotherham). To achieve the standards required for good stereo reception, high quality equipment from Britain, Europe and America is used. To give an idea of the quality of equipment, one tape recorder would cost in the region of £1,600. The equipment and studios are periodically inspected by the I.B.A. to ensure that the necessary standards are being maintained.

Due to the number of stations on medium wave, good reception is sometimes difficult. Most sets now have built-in aerials, so to get the best reception turn the radio for minimum interference.

On portable VHF receivers, use the built-in aerial fully extended and adjusted to give the best signal, probably with the aerial horizontal. On a receiver with facilities for connecting an external aerial, a good aerial should either be mounted in the loft or preferably on the roof. A better aerial will be necessary for stereo reception than for mono.

Derek Connolly

The Engineering Team
From left to right:
Mike Adams, Trainee Engineer, Stuart Stubbs, Sound Engineer, Bridget Whittaker, Technical Operator, Mike Rouse, Technical Operator, Mike Lindsay, Assistant Chief Engineer.

Derrick Connolly – Chief Engineer

Originally from Sheffield, after completing training at Sheffield Polytechnic and AEI-GEC, moved to the I.B.A., taking specialised television courses and then worked at Emley Moor and Croydon television transmitters. From there he moved to Capital Radio in London and finally joining Radio Hallam in July 1974.

Michael Lindsay — Assistant Chief Engineer and Production Manager

First became interested in electronics when he was five. He was given an electric crane for Xmas which had been irreparably ‘serviced’ by Boxing Day. After six cranes, four torches and three electric train sets, he decided to learn from someone who knew something about it, so, whilst still at school (aged 14) he went to work on Saturdays in a Hi-Fi shop repairing, maintaining and installing all sorts of Hi-Fi equipment. However, he was not happy to be on the receiving end of the music and decided to get on the transmitting end; after a pirate station, the BBC and a recording company, he joined Radio Hallam following a chance meeting with Keith Skues in March of 1974. Born in London and has worked in Holland, Sweden and the sea in between the two.

Michael has asked us to say that he combines his talents as a brilliant engineer and his undoubtable flair for dee-jaying on Saturday evenings from 7 until 9 p.m. when he presents “Lindsay”. Michael has a very diverse (or did he say perverse) taste in music ranging from Carly Simon and The Carpenters (not Frank) to Vivaldi and Strauss. We would like to say that some of the above is true, unfortunately…

Bridget Whittaker — Technical Operator

Born in Leeds but moved to Sheffield when twelve. After leaving school in Dronfield, joined the BBC directly and worked as a Technical Operator in the control room at Broadcasting House, London. In the Autumn of 1974 she moved back to Sheffield to join Radio Hallam where she is responsible for pre-recording programmes, editing and other operational duties including control room and outside broadcasts.

Stuart Stubbs — Sound Engineer

Qualified at Sheffield Polytechnic in Applied Physics, worked initially as a development engineer for a small Sheffield company and worked mainly on installation of equipment both in England and abroad. Later joined the BBC and again was involved in development and commissioning of equipment for both television and radio. With the start of commercial radio in Great Britain, he defected to the ‘other side’ and joined Piccadilly Radio but in a more operational role and finally came home to Sheffield when he joined Radio Hallam early in 1975, now being involved in both development and operational work.

Mike Rouse — Technical Operator

Born in Scarborough and also joined the BBC directly from school. He worked in the control room of London’s Broadcasting House for four years, then moved to Radio Hallam in the Autumn of 1974. His main engineering responsibilities at Radio Hallam are for pre-recording programmes, editing and operational duties.

Mike also presents the popular “Flyin’ Pizza Show” every Saturday (12-1 p.m.) and enjoys appearing with the Radio Hallam Roadshow.

Mick Adams — Trainee Engineer

Born in Stafford, after leaving Rugeley Grammar School went to Sheffield University in October 1970 reading Electronic Engineering. While at the University was involved with various Student Union activities.

Joined Radio Hallam in Autumn 1975 after leaving university with a B.Eng., (although he still hasn’t shown it to us … we suspect he’s still trying to print one!)