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Over the next several years, I ended up doing various engineering jobs for most of the stations in the county. In 1974, Frank Calabrese, Eric Dausman, Len Filomeo, Gerry Franke, Rick Smith, and I started Hallikainen And Friends. We started as a station technical services company. Every Friday night, we had a crew that went north, covering the SLO through Paso Robles stations, and another crew that went south covering Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria, and Lompoc. After a few years of this, we started to design and manufacture equipment for radio and TV stations. Our best selling product (the TVA series of audio mixers for TV stations) was designed by Eric Dausman and Gerry Franke. One year, at the NAB convention, Len Filomeo dragged a guy into our booth and forced him to look at the TVA. He turned out to be from the Navy Broadcast Service. The US Navy went on to buy tons of those mixers to put in pre-fab TV stations that were put on ships. I designed various other products for H&F. Finally, by 1995, everyone who had founded H&F but me had gone on to "real jobs." We sold the assets of H&F to Dove Systems. I designed most of the products Dove now sells.

Frank, the Sarkes Tarzian and the TVA|Frank, the Sarkes Tarzian and the TVA

Since we all worked together at Hallikainen and Friends, it's not surprising that the story about the Navy Broadcast Service and the TVA Audio Mixers at the NAB Convention has a connection to Frank. I think it was the 1978 NAB convention in Las Vegas.

The TVA exhibit in our convention booth consisted of the control panel from a Sarkes Tarzian video switcher controlling the TVA Audio Mixer. The exhibit was mounted in the top of our booth's front counter where people could see it as they walked by. The Sarkes Tarzian control panel was something of Frank's I had come across years earlier when we started H&F. I borrowed it to use on my senior project, a vertical interval video switcher. Later we adopted the Sarkes control panel to control the TVA for the NAB exhibit. The control panel was connected to the TVA with a 25-pair cable which I wired myself: Blue, orange, green, brown, slate!

During the convention, Paul Sautter from the Navy Broadcasting Service (NBS) came by the booth and the old Sarkes control panel attracted his interest. So I insisted on showing him how the Sarkes was able to control the TVA. Eric and Gerry's concept for the TVA had been simple, an audio mixer for a TV station should behave more like a video switcher. When you took a source on a video switcher the audio should follow the video. And it should be modular and rack mountable so it can be scaled up to meet individual stations needs. It turned out that this was just what the Navy Broadcasting Service needed for its Shipboard Instruction, Training and Entertainment (SITE) systems. The NBS used them on small ships and large, scaling the size of the TVA mixers to meet the different needs of their ships, but most of TVAs went into the SITE systems intended for aircraft carriers which had their own TV studio and control room to do live productions.

You have to think that if it wasn't for Frank and his vintage control panel, the NBS may have never taken a second look at us that day at the NAB. It's a genuine Frank Capra story as well as a Frank Calabrese story. (from Len Filomeo)


  • Frank Calabrese told me early-on that the first words spoken over KCPR were, "Christ! Are we on the air?" This was before the license had even arrived, bootlegging using the stolen KCSB Phasitron transmitter. (from Jan A. Tarsala, KCPR engineer 1975-77)

Other Links

*The Frank and Pam Network - Frank Calabrese is lovingly remembered online by his wife and friends. archive *Frank Calabrese: As We Remember Him - This video was produced by Woody Goulart for the October 25, 2009 memorial tribute to Frank Calabrese at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Running time is about three minutes. *Frank Photos in KCPR Alumni Gallery - Make sure you hit the "show all results" button.