As stations work to preserve their broadcast spectrum
and find new uses for it, a notable example of the
pioneering engineering work needed to improve those
transmissions and broadcast infrastructures can be found
in the career of Harvey Arnold. Over the years—first with
North Carolina Public Stations and currently as Sinclair’s
corporate director of engineering—Arnold has played an
important behind-the-scenes role in improving transmission
technologies and broadcast systems.
In the 1990s, testing for the new ATSC standard for
digital TV was done at the North Carolina Public Television
facilities in Charlotte, which Arnold managed at the
time. After joining Sinclair in 1998, he played a key role
in implementing and improving DTV transmissions while
developing innovative low-cost solutions for upgrading
Sinclair’s smaller-market stations to HD. “It’s not sexy
stuff,” Arnold says with characteristic modesty. “The stuff
I focus on is the nuts and bolts of a station and how you
make studio and transmission sites more efficient.”
Thankfully, Arnold brings a lifelong interest in broadcasting
and technology to that effort. “When I was 6
or 7, I went through a tour of NBC and I was just like,
‘Wow, this is what I want to do,’” Arnold recalls.
By the time he went to the University of Wisconsin in
Green Bay, Arnold had decided to study environmental
science. A work/study job at the
university’s radio and TV operation,
however, quickly rekindled his interest
in engineering and broadcast.
After graduating in 1975, Arnold
honed his skills at several commercial
TV stations before joining UNCTV
in 1981. During a 17-year career
there, he managed and expanded
the engineering and transmission
activities for the 14-station group.
“We didn’t have a lot of money, so
you had to come up with new ways
of doing things,” he recalls.
During his years at UNC-TV,
Arnold was a member of the FCC
Advisory Committee for Advanced
Television Service (ACATS). He
convinced the group to start testing
digital broadcasts in Charlotte, which highlighted a
number of reception problems.
At Sinclair, Arnold continued to work on improving
transmission systems and, as part of the digital transition,
the rollout of mobile DTV services. “I’ve always believed
ease of reception was really the key for the adoption of
digital television,” he says.
That focus is important
both for Sinclair,
which has been rapidly
acquiring stations, and
the broadcast industry.
Sinclair recently started
tests in Baltimore of nextgen
that would allow stations
to deliver new services
and easily reach mobile
devices with their signals.
Arnold’s biggest career
have come through collaborations,
and he’s the first to share credit. He
points to the culture of
technical innovation at
Sinclair fostered by CEO
David Smith and the
impact of Del Parks, VP
of engineering and operations, and Mark Aitken, VP of
technology. Arnold’s efforts also extend to industry groups
including the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers,
where he is a fellow. “I’ve been fortunate to work
with so many really smart people that I’ve learned from
and been challenged by,” Arnold says.