CHARLOTTE, August 10, 2012 — Every now and then something happens that makes me marvel at the miraculous technological age in which we live.
In 1972, I was working for a local television station on assignment covering the Daytona 500 stock car race.
When the race was over, we began the 12-hour drive home from Daytona Beach. Cell phone technology was still a long way off, so we were far ahead of our time by having a telephone in the car. It was a bulky contraption with a huge box on the floor and a standard telephone receiver connected by a curly-cue wire.
As we zipped along the interstate, I frantically wrote a story about the race that was scheduled for the Sunday sportscast on Charlotte radio. Making a long distance call from a moving vehicle was not as easy four decades ago as it is today.
Getting a connection was a major task by itself, but somehow we managed to get through and I voiced my story.
Charlotte’s WBT-AM is one of the pioneer radio broadcast facilities in the United States, being among the first stations in history to sign on the air. It had a powerful 50,000 watt directional signal back in 1972 which made it possible for us to tune in to the station as we were driving.
Less than five minutes after breathlessly voicing the report, I was listening to myself on the radio in Florida describing the results of the most prestigious stock car race in the country.
That was an amazing moment.
Another technically marvelous incident I remember took place on a train in Sweden in the late 1980s. We were shooting a promotional video presentation for Eurailpass, and we were en route from Stockholm to Gothenburg.
Sweden had recently introduced high-speed rail service with ultra-sleek X-2000 trains which were the pride of the nation. Tourists and, especially, business people were now able to travel between major Swedish cities faster than ever before.
While shooting some interior scenes of one of the first-class sections of the train, we noticed a Swedish businessman sitting in an aisle seat working on his computer. He had just finished an elegant meal served at his seat and he was settling in to complete a report for a meeting that was scheduled in Gothenburg.
As the Swede began his work, a distressed expression crossed his face as he realized he had left some important information on his desk at his office in Stockholm.
Catching the eye of a passing attendant, the businessman explained his dilemma. Suddenly the attendant rushed down the aisle and out of sight. Within moments she returned with a portable cell phone which she handed to the passenger.
It was still an era before individual cell phones were common, but we had come a long way from that box on the floor connected to a receiver with a cord. The Swedish man dialed a number and connected to the office in Stockholm as we whisked through the countryside at more than 125-mph.
After handing the phone back to the attendant, she disappeared again. Less than five minutes later she was back with three pages of paper in her hands which she handed to the commuter.
In mere minutes, a man had eaten breakfast, made a phone call to his office from a speeding train, received a hard-copy fax and began to complete his report without leaving his seat.
This brings me to a third story about global communications, this time revolving around the 2012 Olympics. Last week I wrote several stories about Saudi Arabia making a groundbreaking decision to allow two female athletes to compete for the first time.
One woman, Sarah Attar, has dual nationality because her mother is an American and her father is Saudi. Though I have never met Sarah, and though I was writing about her from my desk in North Carolina, she was competing in London.
I wrote my stories and posted them on Communities @ The Washington Times which is based in our nation’s capital.
At the start of the second week of the games, I received an e-mail from a reader in California who informed that I, and every other media outlet, had mistakenly stated that Sarah Attar had dual citizenship.
The e-mailer pointed out that while Sarah is a Saudi-American she does not have dual citizenship, but rather dual nationality.
I responded to my new e-mail friend to thank her for the correction of the discrepancy.
Within hours I had a reply from the writer. As it turned out, the e-mailer had been related by marriage to the father of Sarah Attar. She had written to me to correct my error, but then added how proud the family was of their Olympian athlete and her pioneering effort.
From North Carolina, to London, to Washington, to California, back to North Carolina and California and again to Washington, I now somehow feel connected to the Olympic Games of 2012 as never before.
Perhaps we take our technological advances for granted, but for me, these three stories dramatically highlight the increasing truth that as our world becomes ever smaller, it is becoming larger as well.
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. He was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club which creates and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 69 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries.
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