Engineer/Photographer Duane Martin and news director Jim West

This time, the focus was on the trial.  Duane and I prepared a package, which was sent ahead of time via satellite to the station.  Looking for place to do a live shot with a backdrop of the U.S. Capitol Dome, we figured that somewhere on the Mall would be great.  There was just one problem: there were no public pay phones on the mall.   We needed the phone connection in order to receive camera instructions and to have a two-way conversation with Hugh Smith back in Tampa. There was no such thing as cell phones to make communication with the station easy.

Time was running out as we drove up and down streets near the Capitol looking for a phone booth.  None.  God help Superman if he needed one in a hurry!  Finally, we dashed into a restaurant at 400 N. Capitol Street and asked if they could help. Graciously, the manager of Michael’s Restaurant gave us one of his two phone lines. Duane rigged up a Radio Shack phone coupler and ran the wires out to the street.  We set up the camera and microwave unit and were ready to go.

Back in Tampa, Hugh introduced the shot, the first ever independent satellite live shot to Tampa Bay (not facilitated by a network feed) and threw it to me.  I suddenly realized I had a problem we didn’t anticipate; my own voice was coming back in my ear on a delayed-parroting basis because of the time-delay in the satellite feed.  It was annoying, as anyone who has experienced that knows, and resulted in a less than smooth delivery. The next day, Duane rigged up a foot switch so in future live shots my earpiece could be cut off when I was talking. This was before we understood the concept of a “mix-minus” audio feed common today.

    The picture was a bit snowy in our historic feed.  It wasn’t from the 45-thousand mile roundtrip into space, but the 2-block hop to the KOMO bureau through some denuded trees, which nonetheless attenuated or weakened the signal.  What I remember most that day was how cold it was. I distinctly recall reaching for my Coke, which I'd placed on the top of a planter during our live shot. The Coke had frozen solid.  We covered the trial over the next few weeks, sometimes live and other times feeding packages from the CBS bureau or independently through other news bureaus.  

One of the ironies is that 400 N. Capitol became a prime location for independent news bureaus covering Washington D.C. In fact, the exact place we stood today 25 years ago has video and fiber optic taps built-in to the wall because it is a preferred location for live shots framed by the Capitol Dome.