Henry Yaskell was way ahead of his time from the automation system to tropo scatter to distribute the net up the line to Misawa and other places; Kuma Station and Wakkanai in the far north of Japan. In addition to the voice network to our outlying stations, we also had a teletype network and a fulltime employee to type and send printed newscasts to all the stations. Yes, they could have had all news prerecorded on tape and I believe Henry wanted that but it pushed immediacy back by at least an hour and the programmers would not allow it.
Automation basic brain may have been a Harris-made unit, but not sure. Henry had at least four turntables connected along with a bank of ampex tape recorders and several cart machines. It used a room about 20x20 and had one fulltime GI and a Japanese engineer plus probably a GI engineer. Time hacks were automated and the unit could switch between functions and the news booth and production studios. A lot of local production done on tape like “Tokyo Calling.”
It took a lot of tending and no one but Henry thought it saved any manpower. Still, it was ingenious and way ahead of most broadcast stations. I worked at a station in Sacramento after I retired that was automated with a Harris-90 with just a bank of tape playback units and two production studios. Very simple by comparison.
FEN even had on loan from Sony an early portable tape unit that rode around on a cart much like a current day audio visual cart with a few shelves. Not very portable and weighed a couple of hundred pounds. This never worked properly and wasn’t used in the field that I know about. Our audio equipment was the best you could buy, and programming concentration was totally audio. I think we had a least six Nagra tape recorders. We were just a radio station, (no TV at all), and the network feed, but we were very good. Great talent in house. Unfortunately many of them are now deceased. I am certain we would have made money in any market in the United States.
I was just a buck sergeant and staff sergeant as I left, but had worked radio in Denver, San Diego, and small Iowa stations before arriving there. I wasn’t bad, but others there made me look like an amateur.