John Nastasi, former WBRZ engineer, has died
BATON ROUGE – The area has lost a television pioneer in the death of John Nastasi, Sr., a broadcast engineer who was instrumental in providing WBRZ's legacy signal to beam across South Louisiana.
Nastasi, a Washington Parish native, retired from the television station in 2000 – 32 years after starting work for the Manship family in November 1968. Nastasi's retirement came at the advent of digital and high-definition television, but his career helped build the infrastructure of modern production – from the transition to color TV to satellite technology.
When Nastasi's career began at the end of the 1960s, WBRZ had only been broadcasting for a dozen years and the station was ready to make the jump from black and white to color. Over the years, Nastasi and the engineering department – workers rarely seen on television but paramount to keeping the operation running – kept up with the evolution of the industry, overseeing transitions in video formats from large recording devices with tapes to smaller, more efficient modern camera and recording equipment. Nastasi worked to help WBRZ lead the way in modern hearing impaired systems when, in 1988, WBRZ was the first Louisiana station to provide closed captioning during local newscasts.
Additionally, Nastasi worked tirelessly to help improve the way video is made available. He was part of the crew to help WBRZ build and use one of the country's first satellite television production trucks. In the 1980s, live television was not as easy as obtaining access to internet or cell phone signals. Instead, massive vehicles equipped with a satellite dish were needed to transmit a signal from out-of-town. Nastasi and WBRZ introduced the truck and its telecasting abilities to viewers in the Gulf Coast.
His son, John Nastasi, Jr., said his dad always reflected on his time at WBRZ and would tell stories of pranks and other musings from “behind the scenes,” ending stories with a chuckle and: “that's what it's like working for a TV station."
“He was passionate about broadcasting and really loved his time there at WBRZ... the business and the people,” Nastasi, Jr., said. “Whether he was at home, or up at the hospital, he was always tuned in.”
John Nastasi, Sr., 82, died after being hospitalized from an illness.
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