The year was 1979. Jimmy Carter was President and Lamar Alexander was the governor of Tennessee. Kramer vs. Kramer won the best picture and the top five TV shows were all sitcoms - Angie, Happy Days, Mork & Mindy, Three’s Company and Laverne & Shirley. On October 1st of that year, eight days before his 21st birthday, our Broadcast Engineer Randy Jackson joined WCTE-TV. He has been here ever since.
Randy came to WCTE with a First Class Engineering License and experience as a DJ in Hartsville. He had also hosted the news and a show called “Friday Night Concert” on WCPT-TV in Crossville. When WCPT was sold, he came to work as a Master Control Operator at what is now WCTE’s transmitter station but what was then the whole station.
“I maintained the electronics, the building, the grounds, the tower and the inside of the transmitter. I knew that place so well, I could hear a problem before it even happened,” Jackson recalls.
“It was a daytime station then – dawn to dusk – and we transmitted taped programs and satellite feeds. We used to take a trip to Knoxville once a week and swap out tapes so we’d have something new to play. And every Friday night we used to play old black and white movies like The Fly. People really got into those old movies and it was a lot of fun.”
“At night, I would sometimes climb up on the roof and stare at the stars. The transmitter is in such a quiet, pretty place, especially in the fall with all of the leaves changing color. I loved being there.”
Randy is a family man and married his childhood sweetheart Sharon in 1980. They have two kids – Kyle and Amy.
“Everyone called Sharon ‘Shot’ when we were growing up. That came from her dad, who used to call her his ‘Little Shotgun.’ Up until we were married, I didn’t even know her first name. All I knew was that I loved her to death.”
What keeps a person in the same job for thirty years?
“Well, I’m never bored – there’s always something different to do. And now, with the awesome new digital equipment and three new digital channels, there is even more to do.”
“Plus the people I have worked with at WCTE are fantastic.”
“Like Richard Castle. Dick Castle was a real inspiration. He took a chance and moved from Nashville with his wife and three kids and he had a vision for the station. We moved the station to the TTU stadium and started doing local programming and sports. If it weren’t for Dick, this area (the Upper Cumberland) would never have had it’s own PBS station and WCTE-TV wouldn’t be here today.”
“And I loved Donna Castle! She had everything in her head, knew all about the programs and always seemed to know what to do. She was about as fantastic as a person can get.”
“Then I remember when “the Beck” – Becky Magura – appeared on our first Pledge Drive in 1982 and won the hearts of the viewing audience. People fell in love with her and the phones started ringing with pledges.”
Randy is a genuine, respectful man, quick to praise others but too humble to take much of the credit himself. After thirty years, he certainly deserves that credit. His strong family values, good nature and work ethic have earned him the respect and affection of his colleagues and we are proud to have him as part of the WCTE-TV family.
So congratulations Randy. We think you are pretty fantastic too!
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