As some of you might know, I've been working here for over thirty years. I came aboard as a plain old disc jockey, and have evolved into a content contributor for our website, in addition to playing some music and sharing information.

Just a disc jockey, you say.


Disc jockey is an antiquated term, as nobody has played actual discs - vinyl, compact, or any other kind, for a long time. But like many people, I'm not a one-trick pony. I have this side that loves to entertain, but I also have a geeky, nerdy side that loves to mess with electronics and machinery. And working around here, thanks to the generosity of certain individuals, I've been able to learn and absorb a lot of technical knowledge.

Dave Benson's Wasp Pokin' Stick, created Monday. (patent pending. All rights reserved) (Dave Benson, TSM)
Dave Benson's Wasp Pokin' Stick, created Monday. (patent pending. All rights reserved) (Dave Benson, TSM)

So, when the engineering position here became available earlier this year, I jumped at that. (Yes, I know; careful what you wish for, kid.) Much of the radio side now centers on computers, and about a decade ago I signed up over at Kellogg Community College for their Microsoft tech classes. But even high-tech has its real-world limitations. And that happened Monday. Two of our talk stations run some programming delivered via satellite. And around lunchtime, I was noticing we were getting some audio loss and funky electronic noise. And, as I said earlier, this isn't my first rodeo. I knew we had varmints in the dish. Not actual varmints, but a wasps nest in the receiving cone, or the LNB or Low-Noise Block downconverter.

Seen it before, cleaned it out before. But it's not like the hardware stores sell a cheap tool for this. And the angle for this is also awkward, and the LNB is about 10 feet off the ground.

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I'm proud to say, my son, who's as handy as anyone I know, popped by and he remembered we had short metal poles we used with antennas at remote broadcasts to send a microwave signal back to the station. (Now we use a smartphone. Heck of a lot easier.) Anyway, the young man finds a small chunk of unused coax and with some zip ties built a wasp poking stick. Sounds like something straight out of Green Acres. The coax was malleable enough to not damage any electronic contacts, but enough to honk off those wasps. A simultaneous shot of Black Flag kept us bite-free.

Got them varmints

So yes, I say glib things and play good songs, but I also know my way around those squatting wasps in the satellite dish.

Abandoned Tech Factory, Upper Peninsula

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