The Line Life Podcast
By Amy Fischbach and Jeff Postelwait
The Line Life PodcastOct 20, 2023
2023 Lineman's Rodeo Week, Part 1: Competitors and Supporters
The 2023 International Lineman's Rodeo shattered records across the board with 1,316 competitors, 292 teams, 440 apprentices, 541 judges and 100 volunteers. To bring the event coverage to life, we conducted live interviews in our T&D World booth at the Lineman's Expo.
Everyone from line kids to competitors and event judges stopped by our booth to share their stories about why they were participating in the Lineman's Rodeo Week.
Part 1 features interviews with competitors and supporters, while Part 2, which will air in November 2023, will focus on the line families and the Climbin for Kids fundraiser. Visit the T&D World website for more event coverage and to see a photo gallery of those featured in this episode, visit https://tdworld.com/21275912
T&D Talk, Episode 5: Undergrounding High-Voltage Transmission Lines
For our latest episode of T&D Talk, a special series on the T&D World Line Life podcast channel, we are focusing on the installation of high-voltage transmission lines. Our guest is Randy Denmon, director of high-voltage services for Southwire. He has been in the industry for 25 years and is responsible for the safe, quality installation of 69 kV through 500 kV underground transmission projects. For more information, visit Southwire's website or T&D World's website.
New Line Life Podcast: Celebrating a Lineman's Rodeo Championship Team
With the 2023 International Lineman's Rodeo Week right around the corner, we are building excitement for the competition with a Line Life podcast episode highlighting a past championship team. Two years ago, Duke Energy's journeyman lineworker team of Sandy Barnhill, Jay Tipton and Keith Griffin rose to the top of the competition and won the championship title. The trio share their memories from their years of competing at the Rodeo. For them, the Rodeo is both a time for competition and to spend time with their families and friends in the line trade.
T&D Talk, Episode 4: Maximizing FR Protection for Your Field Workforce
Flame-resistant (FR) clothing can be lineworkers' last line of defense against arc flash hazards. To help our field readers stay safe in the field, T&D World is devoting a T&D Talk podcast episode to the proper care, use and maintenance of FR clothing. Our guest for the September 2023 episode is Derek Sang, senior technical training manager for Bulwark FR. He has been involved in the FR clothing industry in various roles from the service, manufacturing and garment sides of the business for more than 25 years.
T&D Talk, Episode 3: Fiber Through the Grid: Addressing the Challenges of the Grid Today
In today's electric utility industry, utility companies face many challenges from aging infrastructure to the impacts of climate change. At the same time, they are faced with new opportunities including renewable energy projects and new energy demands, says Seán Adam, vice president of market strategy and innovation for AFL. In our third T&D Talk podcast, Seán explains how Fiber Through the Grid technology will continue transforming the grid both today and in the future. For more information about AFL's Follow the Power approach, visit www.aflglobal.com.
Lighting Up Navajo Nation
For our August 2023 Line Life Podcast episode, we are highlighting Light Up Navajo, a humanitarian project that launched in 2019. Lineworkers from across the country have volunteered to provide first-time electricity to the homes on the Navajo Nation, a 27,000-square-mile region spanning parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Our guest for this episode is volunteer lineworker Dean Frescholz, section supervisor for Salt River Project.
Protecting Birds with Drone-Installed Flight Diverters
Ameren Missouri recently installed high-visibility flight diverters on distribution and high-voltage transmission lines over Bagnell Dam at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. With bald eagles flocking to the area, the flight diverters help to prevent collisions with overhead lines.
In other parts of the service territory, lineworkers have installed covers, deterring not only eagles but also other large birds from striking multiple energized phases at the same time. Through its avian protection program, Ameren is not only protecting wildlife but also the integrity of its distribution system.
For T&D World's July 2023 Line Life Podcast, which is sponsored by Huskie Tools, Field Editor Amy Fischbach has a conversation with Kurt Rakers, supervising engineer at Ameren Missouri, about how the utility used drones to install the bird diverters.
T&D Talk, Episode 2: Exploring Digital Grid Resiliency Assessments
T&D Talk is a new special series on our Line Life Podcast channel. For each episode, companies can share their stories about how they are supporting the electric utility industry. Through their tools, technologies, products and services, they are helping lineworkers and fieldworkers improve their productivity and safety.
For our second episode in our T&D Talk podcast series, Ray Kasten, vice president, digital solutions, for Southwire, focuses on digital grid resiliency assessments. With lower O&M dollars and more customers working from home, utilities can conduct a 30-day assessment to measure the health of their network, identify areas of improvement with the highest ROI and improve reliability and resiliency with limited dollars. For more information, visit www.southwire.com.
Women on the Line, Part 4: Featuring Randi Blaser of Ameren Illinois
For the first three parts of our Women on the Line series for our Line Life Podcast, we focused on the history of women in line work. Now we are looking to the future with Part 4, which features Lineworker Randi Blaser of Ameren Illinois. With both a mom and dad in the line trade, Randi grew up in the industry and remembers watching lineworkers compete at the International Lineman's Rodeo as a child. It wasn't until she was in college, however, that she decided she wanted to pursue a career in the trade. She recently topped out at Ameren Illinois, and during this podcast episode, she shares the challenges and opportunities for women in the line trade.
Women on the Line, Part 3: Featuring Joanne Ward
Back in the 1970s, Joanne Ward became interested in non-traditional job roles for women, and she applied for a position as a line crew helper for Seattle City Light, where she later served as a crew chief and crew coordinator. Years after her retirement, she published a poetry book titled, Utility. For Part 3 of our Women on the Line series, Joanne recites some of her poems, including "1978: Affirmative Action," "Utility" and "Cable Terminations." She also shares her memories of working as a high-voltage electrician in substation maintenance and construction and offers tips on crew leadership for women who are currently working in the line trade.
Women on the Line, Part 2: Featuring Alice Lockridge
Our guest for the April 2023 Line Life Podcast is Alice Lockridge, who helped to prepare some of the first women lineworkers at Seattle City Light for a career in the line trade. In Part 2 of our Women on the Line series, Alice shares tips on how utilities can attract, train and retain women in the field workforce.
T&D Talk, Episode 1: Extending the Life of Underground Cables
T&D Talk is a new special series on our Line Life Podcast channel. For each episode, companies can share their stories about how they are supporting the electric utility industry. Through their tools, technologies, products and services, they are helping lineworkers and fieldworkers improve their productivity and safety. Episode 1 focuses on the cable rejuvenation process by Southwire Cable Rejuvenation Services, formerly Novinium Underground. It features Wayne Chatterton, director of strategy for the services industry and James Steele, director of engineering, for Southwire. For more information, visit www.southwire.com.
Women on the Line, Part 1: Featuring Susan Blaser of Metropolitan Community College
For Women's History Month in March 2023, we are featuring Susan Blaser, the lineman program coordinator at Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City. Susan was the first journeyman lineworker at Kansas City Power & Light (now Evergy) and she now trains students for future careers in the line trade. In this episode, she shares her experiences about what it was like working as a female lineworker and discusses the opportunities for women in today's field workforce.
Spotlight on Substation Work with Parker Worth
Our February 2023 Line Life podcast shines the spotlight on Parker Worth's career and his life on the road as a substation superintendent. He shares his experiences managing large-scale substation projects and also talks about issues including deterring copper theft and wildlife intrusion at substations. During the early part of his career as a journeyman wireman, Worth also traveled the world performing electrical work. He talks about what it was like upgrading electrical systems in 20 different countries and what he learned during his overseas adventures.
Modernizing Century-Old Infrastructure in Pennsylvania
About a century ago, lineworkers erected steel lattice towers in Pennsylvania without the heavy equipment and modern tools that line crews have today. In our January 2023 Line Life podcast episode, two project team members from Duquesne Light Company (DLC) describe the process of modernizing this infrastructure with the latest technology and work methods.
The BI-Crescent project began in 2021 and is planned to be wrapped up by 2027. In the early stages of the project, Jason Hartle, former senior project manager; and Meenah Shyu, general manager of engineering, talked about Phase 1, which was completed last summer.
Today, the project has moved on to the second phase, which plans to be completed by May 2023. Line crews are currently replacing 20 structures and about four miles of transmission wire circuit length. To learn more about the project, read the story, "Lineworkers Rebuild Century-Old Infrastructure" on the T&D World Web site at https://tdworld.com/21245988.
Celebrating the 2022 International Lineman's Rodeo Week
For the 2022 International Lineman's Rodeo, a record number of competitors and spectators traveled to Kansas City for a week of competition and camaraderie. This episode, which is sponsored by Huskie Tools, features highlights from the Safety & Training Conference, Lineman's Expo, Trade Night and the Lineman's Rodeo. It includes interviews with competitors, organizers and supporters of the 38th Lineman's Rodeo.
Part 3 of Veterans in the Line Trade: Jonathan Harmon of Power for America
The third and final part of the Veterans in the Line Trade series features an interview with Jonathan Harmon, executive director of the UWUA Power For America Training Trust Fund in Charlotte, Michigan. He describes the opportunities for military veterans in the utility industry, what makes them successful in the trades and how they can get trained for civilian careers at the training center.
Part 2 of Veterans in the Line Trade: Southeast Lineman Training Center
Part 2 of our Veterans in the Line Trade podcast episode shines the spotlight on Southeast Lineman Training Center (SLTC) in Georgia. T&D World Field Editor Amy Fischbach first talks with Jared Anders of SLTC followed by Joey Abdou, a recent Marine veteran who is now working in the line trade.
Part 1 of Veterans in the Line Trade: Duke Energy
After serving the country in the military, veterans are exploring careers in the line trade. With their dedication, perseverance and strong work ethic, they can often be successful as lineworkers, where they can continue to serve their communities by keeping the lights and power on for customers.
For our September 2022 Line Life podcast, which is sponsored by Huskie Tools, we are highlighting two employees of Duke Energy, which has won several awards for its support and employment of veterans. The company currently employs 2,000 military veterans, and this episode highlights interviews with Tyler Klemas, senior business development specialist and U.S. Marines veteran, and Troy Ross, an underground network specialist who served in the U.S. Army.
Training Future Lineworkers in California
The August 2022 Line Life podcast episode, sponsored by Huskie Tools, focuses on increasing diversity in the line trade. Edison International, in partnership with IBEW Local 47, launched a four-year, $1 million pilot scholarship program in 2021 to promote greater diversity among Southern California Edison’s lineworkers.
Scholarship recipients not only earn free tuition to Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, but through the LA-based nonprofit Brotherhood Crusade, they also receive support services. Once they complete the power line mechanic certificate program, obtain their Class A driver’s license and complete any SCE pre-employment requirements, they are eligible for a groundman entry-level position within SCE’s 50,000-sq-mi service area.
The August 2022 episode features an interview with Djon Greer, a 2021 Lineworker Scholarship winner who completed the one-year program, met the requirements and recently started a career as an SCE groundman.
Mississippi Lineman Reflects on Life in the Line Trade
Greg McGriff, a recently retired shift serviceman for Entergy Mississippi, won an award for providing exceptional service following Hurricane Ida. Listen to the June 2022 Line Life podcast episode to learn about his response to the storm, his family legacy of line work and his memories of working as a lineman and troubleman in Mississippi.
Improving Hurtman Rescue Training for Lineworkers
Maximo Fuentes, owner of Fuentes Consulting, LLC, and a former journeyman lineman and supervisor for Sacramento Municipal Utility District, helps utilities to train their field workforce. He has evaluated the hurtman rescue training at utilities, and he offers his suggestions on how companies can improve their methods and enhance the safety of their lineworkers.
Tales of an Indiana Lineman and His Journey in the Line Trade
For the April 2022 Line Life podcast, Bob Hall, a journeyman lineman for IBEW Local 1393 in Indiana, shares his experiences about life in the line trade, working with the NSUJL on a lineman-themed license plate for Indiana lineworkers and consulting on the 2015 "Life on the Line" film starring John Travolta as a lineman.
Monitoring and Mitigating Unexplained Flashovers on HVDC Lines
For our March 2022 Line Life Podcast, Field Editor Amy Fischbach talks with Jeff Laninga, live-line and electrical effect section head at Manitoba Hydro, about ongoing research on flashovers on HVDC lines. Linemen worked with a vendor to install monitoring equipment on the towers, and the company is working on studying the flashovers in its high-voltage laboratory.
Looking Back on Hurricane Maria: Bladimir Rodriguez Shares His Experiences in Puerto Rico
When they close their eyes, every lineman can go back to relive their most memorable storm. For Bladimir Rodriguez, a general foreman for E-J Electric in Staten Island, New York, Hurricane Maria was an unforgettable experience. Back in November of 2017, he and his team traveled to Puerto Rico to restore power. When they arrived, many of the homes and power poles were simply gone, and the damage was beyond repair. In many locations, the linemen had to start from scratch and rebuild. For our February 2022 Line Life podcast, Field Editor Amy Fischbach caught up with Rodriguez, who shared his experiences restoring power in not only Puerto Rico, but also in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida.
Safety in the Line Trade: Lineman Lee Shelby Shares His Story of Triumph over Tragedy
Back in 1991, when he was 28 years old, Tennessee Lineman Lee Shelby experienced an electrical contact accident. After spending 28 days in the burn unit, seven months in rehab and 10 months and 23 days away from work, he learned how to navigate his "new normal" following the amputation of his hands and the use of prosthetic limbs. Today, Shelby, the author of "No Hands, No Excuses" and "Consequences: Workplace Safety is Not Optional," travels around the country to share his story. For the January 2022 episode, Field Editor Amy Fischbach had a conversation with Lee at this home in Tennessee about his rehabilitation journey and words of wisdom for linemen about safety in the line trade. For more information, visit www.leeshelby.com.
The Return to The Rodeo & Our Interview with Competitor Ted Gyhra
After a “Lost Year” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, linemen competed at the 37th International Lineman’s Rodeo from October 14-16, 2021. Stick around after the full story for an interview with Ted Gyhra, a journeyman lineman with Omaha Public Power District who won the four pole climb apprentice competitions. Ted was a regular on the awards stage in both 2019 and 2021, and after topping out in November 2021 he will return to compete in the journeyman competition next year.
Voices From The International Lineman's Rodeo
Hear from a collection of lineman, organizers, sponsors, line wives and more as you take a tour around the expo hall and the rodeo grounds during The International Lineman's Rodeo that took place October 13-16, 2021 in Kansas City.
Contributors include (in order of appearance):
- Rick Childers, The International Lineman's Rodeo Board of Directors (retired)
- Robert Padgett, Lineman
- Daniel Aeschleman, Lineman, LEDWP
- Admad Ababneh, VP Major Projects & Programs for Electric Operations, PG&E
- Alex Benoit, Apprentice Lineman, National Grid
- Tim Jones, Evergy
- Russell Smith, Journeyman Lineman, Hotline Construction
- Andy Price, Founder, the International Lineman Museum & Hall of Fame
- Christopher Hedges, Electrical Contractor
- Amy Fischbach, Field Editor, T&D World
- Bruce Akin, Vice President, Transmission and Distribution, Evergy
- Sgt Lucas Remillard
- Katie Ward
- Stasha Ferguson
- Lynne Swayne
- Mike Hayward, The International Lineman's Rodeo Board of Directors
- Dale Warman, The International Lineman's Rodeo Board of Directors
This episode is brought to you by Huskie Tools.
Diversity in the Line Trade
Women in Line Work
First, you'll hear about six women linemen with a love for the line trade and the drive and determination to get the job done. Second, our field editor Amy Fischbach interviews Emma Landherr, a lineman that we connected with as she arrived in New Orleans at the start of restoration efforts after Hurricane Ida.
This episode is brought to you by Milwaukee Tool.
Barehand Work in the Tropics
Storm Stories: Historic Ice Storm Brings Waves of Destruction
Storm Stories: Restoring Power and Replacing Transformers
Storm Stories: Lights Out in Oregon
After nearly half of PGE’s customers lost power during a winter blast, 400 crews responded through the utility’s largest mobilization effort.
Line Life Trailer
Linemen work around the clock in severe weather conditions to bring light and power to their communities. T&D World and Utility Products are celebrating the hard work, spirit and passion of the line trade with a new podcast series called, “Line Life.” These short audio stories will allow you to take “EUO on the go” by listening to articles from the field-focused Electric Utility Operations section of T&D World magazine. Whether you are on the road to a job site or storm restoration effort or relaxing after a long work day, you can listen to stories about storm restoration efforts, best practices in line work and the men and women in the line trade. You will also have the opportunity to share your comments on topics covered in the podcasts. We invite you to subscribe to the show today and become part of our Line Life community.