Through the 1980s and early 90s, John Barcroft and Ron Foo, both engineers at KGB-FM and KPOP-AM, wrote and duplicated on a company copier, the monthly newsletter for SBE Chapter 36. They competently reported some local news, paraphrased some national news of interest, and promoted local meetings. Ron composed these on early PC software.
In about 1995, I offered to help them out, leveraging my journalism degree from the University of Oregon. I began sending it out via an email ListServ offered to us by Dave Biondi, an SBE supporter who had created Broadcast.net. The internet had been available to the general public for only a couple of years after American OnLine (AOL) and Prodigy began offering connections.
Dave also offered to host a website as a subdirectory of his Broadcast.net site, broadcast.net/sbe36. I bought a book on HTML and in July 1997, I posted the first webpage typed into an HTML editor that was built into the Netscape web browser:
Believe it or not, that page is still available, though most links from it are broken. Several years of these simple HTML pages are available and are fun to review. Just type in the year as a subdirectory, like https://sbe36.org/1998, and go from there. In those days, I uploaded content via FTP and Dave Biondi trusted that we wouldn’t mess with his own or any other chapter’s pages.
After a year of electronic distribution, I suggested we stop the printed newsletter, and John and Ron retired from publishing.
I learned how to create a web page using paragraphs of simple text and then converting the document to a standard site web page using AppleScript to drive BBEdit for markup. I added sponsorship static graphics. Later, I added CSS (stylesheets) for ease and standardization of formatting.
The only thing that changed was the location. After a couple of years, we opted to move our website to its own domain, SBE36.ORG, though still hosted by Biondi and Texan.net. In 2001, I moved the site to a server in San Diego and began using a Content Management System called Mambo that leveraged an SQL database and WYSIWYG backend. You could change the look without having to modify all of the inserted text.
In about 2008, I switched to the current WordPress CMS that seems to be the standard for online blogs and even web shopping sites. The site has continued without much fanfare or fuss.
Some of the best work is interviews with some of the many interesting broadcast engineers who work in San Diego. I’ve been able to investigate some happenings that seemed to beg for explanation, and have written a few essays. You can find those stories from the index page of this site under the heading “Best of Site.”
SBE36.ORG has twice won “Best Chapter Website” nationally from the SBE, though we haven’t pursued that award for a while, instead allowing our site to speak for itself.
An email newsletter is still sent out as a sort of reminder that we keep the web content fresh. We copy and paste into a free version of Mailchimp for editing and distribution.
With the local reduction of engineering crews, our audience is smaller but no less appreciative. If you are interested in participating, let me know. I’ll continue to write through retirement until some young whippersnapper takes over or I disappear from the planet.
On my wish list of retirement projects, I’d like to scan in PDF versions of the old printed newsletters John Barcroft and Ron Foo composed. John handed over a box of old newsletters a couple of years ago. We also have the Mambo/Joomla pages that were never converted to WordPress, and it’d be nice to have those available.