Gary Miller: A Man of Hertz
By Chris Ramos
It all started in 1999. In the final year of the eventful twentieth century, America’s pride and joy decided to launch a new operation. The National Football League reached out to the Society of Broadcast Engineers to cooperate on frequency coordination for every game. A press release in June 1999 announced the collaboration.
“The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) and the National Football League (NFL) have announced a cooperative effort to coordinate frequency use for all regular season and postseason NFL games beginning with the 1999 season.
Edward J. Miller, president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers and NFL Vice President, Jay Gerber, made the announcement after months of discussion. The SBE, through its local chapters and frequency coordinators, will appoint a game day event coordinator for each team’s home games.”
This cooperative effort was pursued in order to provide a smooth broadcast for the millions of devoted fans, and to squash any potential interference problems.
The Society of Broadcast Engineers is a non-profit professional organization of more than 5,500 radio and television broadcast engineers and technicians in the United States and internationally. Organized in 1964, SBE has provided broadcast engineers opportunities for continuing education through local chapters and recognition and advancement through the SBE certification program.
Back in March, I was lucky enough to attend an SBE meeting which took place within the Fox Sports Ohio studio in downtown Cleveland. Meetings take place every month. I owe that opportunity to our very own, Gary Miller (read the article about the trip here).
Glance back up at the third paragraph, see that name? That’s Gary’s father who was the spearhead of this collaboration with the NFL. Edward J. Miller’s seventeen year career with the SBE came to an end just last year, as he retired. A titan within broadcasting, Edward opened the doors wide open for Gary.
Gary has spent five years with the SBE, and serves as a Game Day Coordinator for the NFL. He also worked within Progressive Field for a few World Series games last season and this year’s home opener.
“I have one of the best jobs in the world.” claimed Gary.
As a GDC, Gary works with local and visiting team stations, major networks, equipment suppliers and other users of spectrum within the football stadium. Gary assigns frequencies for use, and frequencies in use must be at least 250KHZ away from each other to prevent interference. These frequencies are categorized into “frequency blocks”, which establishes strict organization. Let’s face it, copious amounts of wireless systems linger around the stadium as though they are electronic vultures.
The equipment on hand for a GDC consists of a spectrum analyzer, an instrument that displays the strength of known and unknown signals, a frequency counter which measures frequency and a two-way radio.
Beyond his equipment, Gary relies on his legs as well, as he makes his way around the entire stadium. Gary must be extremely attentive to ensure a smooth ball game. Stations that request frequencies are in constant communication with Gary, as they must take initiative in advance. If they’re requests cannot be fulfilled, then they can work on an alternative plan. If a station attempts to use a frequency which was not assigned to them, then Gary has the right to dismiss them from the game, along with seizing their equipment. Don’t mess with the sheriff, as he’s got enough on his plate to begin with.
“If I mess up just one number, it could throw off a one TV station’s broadcast.” stated Gary.
Depending on the circumstances, Gary puts in about 35-40 hours of work per game, which seemingly slips out of his grasp as he enjoys the lively atmosphere of FirstEnergy Stadium.
“I know to some people, it seems so cool to be around the NFL this closely, but to me, this is my job. I don’t look at it as a glamorous occupation.” explained Gary.
Opportunity and curiosity can be traced as the roots for his current position, as Gary never imagined that he’d be a GDC. Taking a likening to broadcasting as a child, it is beyond surreal for him to be so intertwined with the profession.
I’d like to think of Gary as “Mr. Cleveland”, as his stories as seemingly endless, and his connections within the broadcasting industry are vast. He insists that his father is much more interesting, however.
Football fans are most certainly foreign to the work of Game Day Coordinators, as they work within the shadows, but as mentioned earlier, their work serves as the supportive backbone. You’ve got to give credit where credit is due, and for a man like Gary, whose admirable work ethic is unparalleled, he deserves it.
Editor’s Note: You may also recognize Gary as our very own Videographer for NordoniaHills.News!