We thought our readers/viewers might like to learn about some of the folks that work at IdahoPTV. Because there are so many people who work behind the scenes, you may have seen some of them, or maybe only heard about them. Today we would like to introduce Master Control Operator Jim Alpaugh.
Master control operators are the folks who keep us on the air. “I monitor all of our incoming and outgoing signals and make sure we have clean audio and video.” Our master control operators not only monitor our many channel feeds, but they check the shows that are fed to Idaho Public Television to be aired later. “We gotta review all the shows that are streaming down (to us), so we can make sure before they get aired that they’re good.” Now that’s multi-tasking!
Jim was born in Miami, Florida, on Christmas Day in 1942. “I’m almost 80 now,” he laughs. “I grew up in Hialeah, during the 1950s, which was the best decade in the whole 20th century, as far as I’m concerned. The ‘50s were fabulous. I loved it.” His dad worked for Eastern Airlines as chief mechanic, and he remembers going for lots of test flights. “Any time there was a major problem that occurred with a plane and something had to be fixed, it would have to be signed off on. He would have to go up in the plane with the chief pilot and they would go out over the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean and just fly around and do several maneuvers, test everything out, make sure the plane was airworthy and sign off.” Sometimes, Jim’s dad would call home and see if he could come join him. “I couldn’t get to the airport fast enough…I’d be in the cockpit in the jump seat. Back then, you could do all this stuff.” And sometimes, the chief pilot would let Jim fly the plane. No passengers, of course, and the chief pilot had his hands on the controls also. “I was a 12- or 13-year-old kid. I would take the controls and maneuver the plane. People were envious.”
After Jim graduated from high school, he joined the Air Force. “I spent 26 years in the Air Force. I served mainly here in the United States.” His first year was spent in Alaska, but Jim had a lot of temporary duty posts all around the country, along with three tours of Vietnam. His last post was right here in Idaho. “Right after I retired (from the Air Force), I got a job with Hewlett Packard.” Jim was an engineering technician. “I worked for Hewlett Packard for 15 years, until they closed the laser jet printer division down, which is where I was working at, and they sent the job overseas.” He had plans to retire at the age of 62, but the division shut down when he was 61. “They paid me a year’s severance pay… I sat at home for three or four months and I said, I gotta do something.” So Jim went to the job services office and they asked him what he wanted to do. “I said I like videography…something with broadcasting.” He entered the Broadcast Engineering program at Boise State. Jim was required to get a part-time job during the program, as part of the schooling, and Idaho Public Television was looking for master control operators. Jim was hired, and he’s been doing it ever since for almost 20 years.
One of Jim’s hobbies is traveling. “My wife and I, we travel all over the globe. We’ve been around the world about three times…to about 80 countries.” They’ve been to all seven continents, including Antarctica; and they’ve been there twice. “Antarctica is my favorite place. The air is so clean down there, it’s unbelievable. You wouldn’t think Antarctica has a lot of wildlife, but they do. We saw five different kinds of penguins, I don’t know how many kinds of seals, whales and countless kinds of birds. The scenery is beautiful.” One thing he knows for sure, America is the best country to come home to. “I’ve been to a lot of places and I wouldn’t live any other place.” He loves all the outdoor recreation in the Gem State. “White water rafting, hiking, fishing. The only thing I haven’t done is skiing. I’m not a skier.” And he’s been married to his wife, Nancy, for 59 years!
When the urge for a snack strikes, Jim will drive a long way to get his favorite. “Lobster. That’s it. I’ll travel all the way to Maine to get a good lobster.” When they drive through the fall leaves back east, he makes a special stop in Maine at some fave lobster shacks. “When lobster season is open, they’ve got a line two blocks long just to get a lobster roll. And it’s not filled with a whole bunch of fillers.” And when it comes to relaxing at home, he’ll turn to his favorite station. “I mostly watch our station. I like all the documentaries they do. That special on Ben Franklin, that was nice.”