Before there was Podcasting

Michael Geoghegan and I had brunch with Scott Bourne before today’s PodCamp West. We got into one of those, “I can remember when…” sessions and found ourselves discussing the licenses that the FCC used to issue to broadcasters and engineers. Curious, I came home and looked in the file cabinet, and sure enough — I found some of my old licenses.

This Third-Class license was required for anyone who operated a broadcast console. The FCC wanted to make sure you knew some of the basic regulations such as announcing the call letters and location of the station on the hour and half-hour. I see that I was 17 years old — a college freshman working at KALX (U.C. Berkeley).

A year or so later I passed the test for the big one: the FCC’s First Class Radiotelephone Certificate, which is required to operate transmitters, etc. Few people had this ticket, so I was able to get some interesting jobs. A few years after that I renewed that “First Phone” license. This one doesn’t have the Broadcast Endorsement since I was no longer turning transmitter knobs. Note that I had moved to New York, grown an inch (since lost) and gained 20 pounds. Ah, to be only 165 again! Was I ever that skinny?

And yes, they’re to scale. For some reason the First- and Second-Class licenses were larger.

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