from the left
Alan Owens, David Brinkley, Mary Henson, Joy Flynn, Jerry Barnaby, and Craig Cornwell
As a KET Audio engineer the Electronic Field Trip to a Coal Mine was a particularly rewarding opportunity for me professionally for two reasons.
First: The thing that first attracted me to television 25 years ago is it's ability to bring to a wide audience experiences that would otherwise be denied it by distance, cost, safety considerations, etc. The coal mine program gave us a new and unique insight into something important to all of us in Kentucky, as a significant revenue-producing industry, as the source of our light and heat and as a potential career for some of our young viewers. We gained this insight by 'going there' and the camera and microphones were our eyes and ears.
Second: As a technician, I am first of all a problem-solver. My wife tells me 'correctly' that I'm always a little disappointed when everything works the first time and there are no problems to solve. The coal mine program required two-way phone conversations, two channels of intercom, live microphones and videotape playback (picture and sound) all at the bottom of a mine shaft roughly 1/3 of a mile away. All of this was carried on everything from digital triaxial cable to ordinary two-conductor unshielded telephone wire.
Because of the distances involved and the close proximity to the high voltage AC lines used to power the mine equipment, we couldn't predict with confidence, what would work and what wouldn't. As it turned out everything performed beautifully. None of our contingency plans were needed and we left with a new appreciation not only of the men and women who work the mines, but also of the men and women who make television happen."
"During the field trip, I was the on-air host. I introduced the video pieces, the on-air guests and the phone calls from students. The project was a great adventure. We were able to go places most people can't. We climbed aboard a dragline, a surface mining machine that's almost the size of a football field. We watched an explosion from a great distance and felt the earth move under our feet. We talked with miners who were on lunch break underground. There's no cafeteria or snack machine down in the mine. They rarely have visitors and they seemed glad to see us. The miners were particularly happy that students across Kentucky would be learning more about coal through the electronic field trip. It was truly the most interesting field trip I've ever experienced."
"I was the director of the field trip. As director, I switched the programs from inside the truck and I called the shots. I guess everyone is curious about being down in a coal mine. It was very interesting to go deep into the mine. It was a lot brighter than I expected due to the lights reflecting off the rock dust they spray on the walls. I was lucky at 5'3", I could stand up in the mine pretty well. There was extensive safety training before going down into the mine, but I still felt a little nervous about being down there. The miners mentioned that it takes a while to get use to bending over all the time, and that there are women miners too."
"As producer of the field trip, I coordinated all the various aspects of the television production. I had never been anywhere near a coal mine before this project started, so the whole experience of seeing firsthand how coal is mined was really interesting. Undoubtedly, the most interesting thing about the whole project was going underground and traveling five miles to the face of the coal seam and seeing the underground mining process up close. I can't imagine what it would be like to work down there all day long especially since you can't really stand up (if you're over 54 inches tall)."