First thing to know about Houston Television’s Master Control Operator Bryant Quiroga: his work nickname is “Kobe”… you know, like the former NBA great.
“I actually owe the nickname to Bryan Hill. When we started working together, we were in the same room. Our names are only one letter apart, and this caused everyone around to get confused in our workspace, so he came up with the nickname,” he explained.
Second thing to know about him: he prefers the title, “Broadcast Operations Controller.”
“I look at it as an updated term for our time,” he explained. “It came about reading an article about realtors changing the name ‘Master bedroom’ to ‘Primary’, and it made me think about the connotative reasons why we use certain terms for everyday things that don't have a good origin.”
“It's not officially my title, but I think it's more appropriate for our modern time. It might be overreactive to modern sensibilities, but I think it makes sense to update it.”
Such musings are not uncommon for Quiroga. As HTV’s master control operator for the past 10 years, he is known by his peers as the department’s guide into the daily world of coffee, movies and almost anything science-fiction.
“That’s just his social side. From a business side, he’s one of the biggest key players in the department,” said HTV Director Ted Irving. “He is the keeper of the live council meeting broadcasts, monitoring everything from sound, to the image, to all the various sources that play a part in the live broadcast. Funny as all get out and we love the guy!”
He is also known for his dedication to his craft, approaching it from the position of technical expertise and understanding and appreciating the ability to adapt to the times. That philosophy has never rung truer than the past year as HTV grapples with the ever-changing challenges of COVID-19.
“The job hasn't changed, just the way we do it. With virtual meetings, our technology has had to adapt and thanks to our engineers we have made that transition for some time. We still broadcast meetings and while there have been hiccups here and there, I think we have maintained our purpose as a division of the city,” Quiroga said.
Graduating from the University of Houston in 2010 with a degree in broadcast communications, Quiroga said his original intent was to become a print journalist.
“I originally wanted to get a degree in Ppint journalism and become a writer. I had decided to become a novelist, but I learned just like my art aspirations that my skills were not matching my dreams there,” he said. "My father had also been a journalism major and I actually had the same professor as him coincidentally.”
As a master controller, Quiroga spends part of his day preparing information graphics for live events, committee meetings and press conferences, while the other half of his day is spent creating the daily television playlist schedules for broadcasts.
“I couldn't do my job without my teammate Travid Leamons. He is the one who creates the playout schedules that I implement for broadcast. We also cover each other's positions when the other takes time off as we are both employees that have no other counterparts,” he said.
Quiroga takes the job as master controller seriously, remembering the mentor who helped guide his work ethic.
“I had a mentor here named Carlos Gonzalez who gave 22 years to the city and he did this before me. He really drove home the importance of what we do technically so that citizens can be informed and have a voice in their local government,” he said.
“I may be the only control operator, but I don't work in a vacuum. My supervisor Al Byers and the rest of the staff at HTV really all work together to make things happen.”
To Quiroga, his job is not the most glamorous of positions, but like 99 percent of municipal workers he understands its importance in helping keep the city running.
“I hope we can all be thankful to all the city workers that are working to better the city and that citizens just know from sanitation drivers to building maintenance we are all working for them with some having it harder than others in terms of working conditions,” he said.