Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The forgotten time zone

My first job in TV was at this wonderful station in Twin Falls, Idaho called KMVT. I primarily directed newscasts, but to fill in the rest of my work week, I worked in something called "Master Control". Sounds almost like a Sci-fi computer villain, doesn't it? In "Master" as we called it, we made sure the programs and commercials ran when they should. In addition, we recorded programs sent via satellite that would we play back at different times. Most of these were syndicated programs.
Now Idaho is in the mountain time zone--or as I like to call it, "the zone that time forgot". I once read an article that asked the question, "If a tree falls in the mountain time zone, does it make a sound?" Needless to say, the mountain time zone is the Rodney Dangerfield of time zones.
Case in point: you know how on TV shows they say a program starts at 8 / 7 central? Here is why: the networks send out their prime time programs from the east coast starting at 8:00 pm. Well, prime time in the central time zone starts at 7:00 pm. Using this logic, prime time would be 6:00 pm in the mountain time zone and 5:00 pm on the west coast--but is it? Nope!
The networks send a second feed at 7:00 pm pacific time so that prime time starts at 7:00 for the left coasters. But what about the mountain time zone? Well, we would actually record the programs from the east coast and play them back an hour later.
Now an unscrupulous person could use this power for evil and make bets to his friends on who won Survivor or the Miss America title--at least until his friends caught on.
One night I go into "Master" and I'm told we missed a feed for "Home Improvement". So I look up who sent the feed and saw it came from Cincinnati. 99% of the feeds came from New York, so I was a bit perplexed. I called the operator in Cincinnati to find out the re-feed time. He tells me, and then I had to ask, "Is that eastern time?" He goes off on me, telling me he can't believe I don't know what time zone Cincinnati is in. I respond, "Sorry man, I'm out here in the mountain time zone and I wasn't sure." He pauses for a moment and then asks, "There is a mountain time zone?"

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