Point of Beginning

Offsets

June 1, 2000
Welcome to ... "The Surveyor Channel."

It seems these days there is a cable TV channel for almost any specialty group or interest you can imagine. Home improvements, gardening, science fiction, classic movies, 60s sitcoms—you name it; it is available. There’s the Weather Channel (which by the way, is REQUIRED to hire only geeks), the Travel Channel, cooking channels, even a dozen news channels. There are enough news channels sending correspondents to news events that they now outnumber the participants in the events themselves!

We don’t have just a couple of sports channels; we have a plethora of specialty channels for the avid fan in any sports niche: golf channels, fishing channels, hunting channels, and several versions of ESPN. And if you want to kill time and pay double for mass-produced collectors’ items, you always have the shopping networks!

In the movie Back to the Future, Part 2, Steven Spielberg introduced us to several speculations as to future network possibilities. Of particular note were the Scenery Channel and—my favorite—the Atrocity Channel.

As technology-cognizant as surveyors should be, I don’t understand why we don’t have our own cable network. We could call it the “Surveyor Channel.” (In order to market this network internationally, we might have to call it the “Geomatics Channel.” But we will cross that bridge when we get to it.) Regardless of the name, it has a lot of possibility—a channel dedicated to our great profession. We could have it playing in our office lobbies, conference hotels, and of course, in our homes. We could have new clients watch it, and even have it played in classrooms for special programming. What a step into the future this would be. We could finally reach the average citizen with our message and provide great entertainment.

So let’s just imagine for a few minutes some of the potential programming we could offer on this latest technological venture for surveyors. Some of the shows we might include could be:

Surveyor News

An exciting look at the news in our profession each day. Stories of exciting surveys, promotions of executives, new technologies, people recently licensed, even those who lost their licenses. And how about updates on the political wrangling of ACSM, state survey elections and the ever-exciting world of survey crime? The possibilities are endless.

Survey Weather

A look at the sky with a special emphasis on our needs. Long-range forecasts could help the planning of strategic weather delays on certain projects. You could shine-on an obnoxious client with a promise of a crew next Monday, all the while knowing that Monday’s forecast calls for rain or snow.

Survey Insider Magazine(A.K.A. 60 Seconds?)

A bold look at the inside of survey operations, issues and problems. Hidden cameras in the briefcases of clients revealing scams and deception in the survey world. A great first story would be to secretly follow a crew around town as they perform eight mortgage surveys without ever leaving their truck.

Surveyor Sports

While many sports are covered by the regular media, some contests of particular interest to our profession are not adequately covered by ESPN. For instance, the Surveyor Special Olympics. This important annual event needs national coverage, complete with instant replay, pre-game shows and in-depth analysis of the events, like:
  • The Plumb Bob Toss

  • The Range Pole Vault

  • The Chain Throwing Event

  • Pacing

  • Instrument Set-up and Leveling Races

  • The Architect Throw (my favorite)



Judge Walt

A fast-paced courtroom adventure dealing with boundary disputes, survey liability cases and any other domestic cases starring Walt Robillard, Esq. See how the justice system would really work with one of our own running the courtroom. Judge what’s-her-name wouldn’t have a chance to get in a complete sentence.

Jerry Chainer

A talk show host just for us. Show topics might include:
  • My field crew are all Satan worshippers.

  • Sex stories from remote survey camps.

  • I became a surveyor because my mother hated me.

  • Secret revenge on contractors.

  • Things I’ve done with my survey truck.

  • How to pass time in a portable toilet on a construction site.



Educational Programming

The Surveyor Channel would offer some PBS-like shows, including programming to attract people to our profession. We could have “Brass Capped Street,” a children’s show with puppets, music, trigonometry and social messages. It could also be used to entertain (or educate) our crews on how to count, tell time, spell and fill out a time card. Having such a program would not be complete without a periodic fundraising campaign. ASCM could have fund drives asking for pledges to help its financial dilemma. A bank of energetic surveyors could be in the background answering the thousands of calls that come in. We could even have Sally Struthers do a special commercial crying, “please help save the ACSM building.”

Odds & Ends

How about some sci-fi shows? We could show movies like “Alien 10; I Can’t Find a Citizen to Hire” or “The Ex-Files: Former Mates Attack Surveyors.” My favorite would be “Measurement Tech: The Next Degeneration.” It could document how far off base our profession can get with newer measurement devices. With that exciting of a show, you would see “tech groupies” attending their state conventions dressed up like characters from the show. Think of the merchandising!

I’m sure the FCC would require us to have some community programming and public service spots. I would suggest the very appropriate message, “Don’t drink and survey” and perhaps a 30-minute public health show called “Map Scales and the Heartbreak of Psoriasis.”

How about a game show? Regis has already agreed to host “Who Wants to Be Paid for a Survey?”

Last but not least, we would want infomercials. These would fill the time from 2 a.m. until, oh, say 1 a.m. I’m sure the manufacturers of survey instruments, equipment and software would love to use the time to dazzle insomniacs with the latest gadgets. I can just see Charlie Trimble doing a show that displays the ability of the 4800 to survey, stakeout, topo and slice vegetables.

I must admit that I may be a little ahead of my time. But in this day and age, we dreamers ride the cutting edge. Actually, as I think more about it, maybe this wouldn’t be that great of an idea. There is so much competition out there—so many other channels from which to choose. Maybe it wouldn’t be that exciting. And maybe it would not be financially viable; after all, the target audience is not that wealthy. Most of them work such long days they don’t have time for TV. And if the Surveyor Channel ever got into the personal life stories of surveyors, it could get downright depressing.

In fact, I think I’ll just watch the Atrocity Channel.