The big changeover from analogue to digital TV happened with just the flick of a switch and a group of local men who were crucial to TV’s first appearances in Nelson got to play a final part in the historical event.
The tower atop the Grampians has been turned off following Sunday’s digital changeover and for Laurie Merrick and his team of technicians it was a chance to view the tower up close one more time and reminisce about the hard work they put in to install the revolutionary system back in 1971.
Nelson has Laurie and his team to thank for the major advance in technology that saw the very first good quality picture picked up and shown on TV and he says he is proud that they played such a big role in getting TV to where it is today.
After being invited by current site contractor and former work mate Mike Weller to switch off the onsite transmitter on Monday, former transmission superintendent for the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation Laurie invited ex technicians Terry Sutton, Grant Wood and Hank Beek to join him at the top of the Grampians once more. “It was great to be a part of it and today really marks the end of an era of quality transmission that was engineered by the dedicated staff,” he says.
Terry says he is filled with a sense of nostalgia that the tower which they all worked so hard on is now redundant. “I worked there for about thirty years, we slogged our guts out for it and now they just turn the switch off. At the same time it’s great that the quality has improved.”
Athough he is sad to see it go Laurie says he is pleased to see technology advance. “Things have changed, but it is an improvement. It’s just electronic progress really.”