Category Archives: Engineering

Editorial: There’s a Crisis Coming in Broadcasting, and It’s Not What You Think

Munday_300By: Sherrod Munday, VP Engineering, Sky Angel  

At the recent National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas, again this year, it was really exciting to see the new technology that broadcasters can use to deliver their content to the public.  Likewise, there certainly was no shortage of keynote speakers like NAB’s President and CEO Gordon Smith who proudly proclaimed the ongoing importance of conventional broadcasting via the airwaves, and the benefits of “localism” that radio and television broadcasters bring to their communities.

The large number of conventional broadcasters – and the companies that service them – who were present and active at the NAB show spoke to the ongoing relevance of conventional broadcasting.  As Smith noted in his opening remarks at the beginning of the NAB show, broadcasting most certainly is and will continue to play an incredibly important societal role to educate, inform, report relevant news, and warn the public of urgent danger.  Ben Sherwood, president of Disney-ABC Television Group, also reminded NAB attendees that the $1.4 Trillion USD of economic benefit and 2.65 million U.S. jobs attributed in 2015 to broadcasting cannot be ignored.

In spite of the diverse benefits and strengths provided by broadcasting, however, many serious threats to the existence of broadcasting could significantly and adversely impact the wellbeing and sustainability of broadcasting as a public service and as a business in the not-so-distant future.

It’s not an unfamiliar list of threats – indeed, most of these threats have been well known and discussed for years now, even at the NAB show itself:

  • Online streaming services like Pandora and Spotify
  • On-demand content like podcasts and video-on-demand providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
  • Increased governmental oversight and regulations
  • Higher licensing fees
  • Ease of public access to illegally copied content like recent movies and music
  • The generational shifts to alternate sources of news and entertainment

…and the list goes on…

But, even while pundits, analysts, prognosticators, and business executives debate what to do about these types of problems, they’re missing one of the biggest threats to their existence.  It’s like the Biblical “log in your own eye” problem – they’re so focused on external threats to their existence and sustainability that they completely miss the primary weakness from within their organization.

The classic “SWOT” chart, commonly used in business management courses, reminds reminds astute business leaders to look at their business with an eye toward two opposed pairs of interrelated issues: things that can help their company versus things that can hurt their company, and things that are external versus internal.  Yes, broadcasters have plenty of Strengths and Opportunities that can help their business.  And, yes, there are some pretty well known Threats like the ones listed above that really could hurt their business.  But it seems like the broadcasting business isn’t really willing to talk about their own Weaknesses that could hurt them.

Or, maybe it’s even worse than that: maybe they don’t even recognize that they have weaknesses.

And to paraphrase the venerable Yoda from the movie Star Wars: “Hurt them badly, those Weaknesses could.

Anyone who has spent their career in broadcast engineering will readily recognize and has likely already witnessed the ongoing crisis getting worse and worse as time progresses.  The Titanic’s side has been ripped open under the waterline, and just like the captain of that doomed ship, the management in the broadcasting business just hasn’t recognized the severity of the problem or done anything intentional and methodical to mitigate and solve it.

You’re wondering: what could be more dangerous to broadcasting than threats like those listed above?  Those sure sound like the doomsday forecast for broadcasting, don’t they?

Consider instead the following single internal weakness for a moment, and ponder its significance compared and contrasted against external threats like those listed above:

  • No qualified engineering staff to keep the facility on-the-air

It’s a short list, indeed, but think about it again for a minute.

Without someone who knows the current broadcast technology and equipment and how to install, configure, maintain, and repair it, can your broadcast facility and operation stay on the air for very long?  Can it make any money if your transmitter is down?  Can your station warn the public of a public emergency when the new-fangled IP-based STL that some consultant said would save the company a bunch of money goes down or starts dropping IP packets and nobody knows how to fix it – or even where to start looking?

That may seem a bit overdramatic, but it’s really not.

You see, the coming crisis in broadcasting is the lack of qualified people interested in getting into broadcast engineering, coupled with the current generation of engineers coming ever-closer to retirement.  At this year’s NAB, many first-hand stories about this crisis were shared between friends and acquaintances, and surely many more such stories are regularly lamented at SBE meetings all across the nation – and probably all around the world, too.

It’s likely that most of the current engineers who attended this year’s NAB show probably know more than one engineer who soon plans to retire. One engineer’s story told of a recent SBE meeting in Michigan where a guest speaker was dumbfounded to realize that nearly every single SBE member present in the room was planning to retire within the next 5-8 years.  Another engineer from a major national radio network mentioned that their senior engineers have all announced or are all planning retirement within the next year or two. And the stories like this go on and on…

But the real problem is that nobody is coming up behind them to replace the retiring engineers.

You see, broadcast engineering just doesn’t hold the glamour it used to in the older days before the recent explosion of technology over the past two decades.  Computers, programming, IT jobs, etc. are now “all the rage” among college graduates.  Oh, sure, there are some young people interested in broadcasting – but when they find out how much it pays versus the starting salary for other technical jobs like computer programming, broadcasting doesn’t stand a chance.

We shouldn’t be hearing of stories of station groups wanting to hire an experienced engineer to maintain three full-time stations for a paltry $30,000 to $40,000 salary, yet most broadcast engineers probably have a first- or second-hand horror story just like that to share.  Aren’t the stations’ annual revenues worth more than that?  How much is your downtime worth per hour – or per minute?  Can you really afford to not have a highly trained engineering team on staff to keep your stations on the air?

But let’s go back to where this article started: the first sentence hinted at one of the key underlying problems.  It’s the new technology.  Yes, it’s that same new technology that lets us see amazing “4k” pictures on our televisions and be wowed by their clarity and crispness.  It’s the same technology that lets us set up an unattended radio automation system that runs 24x7x365 without a live person in front of it.  It’s the same technology that allows our websites to show “Now Playing” data for what’s airing real-time from our automation system.  It’s the same technology that allows us to reduce our operational costs by 50% and increase capacity by 100% every couple years.

You see, those same new technologies that provide so many benefits also create a need for entirely new skill sets among the engineering staff, and those new skills make the engineers more valuable than in days gone by – if the engineers possess and master those skills.   But the problems go deeper than that: some really great broadcast engineers with decades of experience just can’t grasp the new technologies or learn them fast enough (or find enough time) to keep up.  Worse yet, some engineers simply don’t want to learn anything new and would rather instead just rest on their laurels from their analog glory days (telling everyone how good analog is, and how easy it is to troubleshoot and maintain).

The problems spread to other departments, too: How many of you have heard an IT department employee or director emphatically state that they aren’t going to support anything (especially computers) that pertains to on-air broadcast equipment?  Or, how many of you have heard of the IT department trying to handle the always-on 24×7 broadcast department’s on-air IT needs as if they were no different or more important than a normal office worker’s complaint about a sticky key on their keyboard?

These fundamental problems have come to a crisis point.  Broadcasting companies both small and large need to understand that the entire engineering department needs new skills to stay competitive and keep the station on the air.  We need to realize that all broadcast engineering positions should – and already do – require hybridized skill sets encompassing both the conventional engineering practices and the IT practices.  It’s simply not possible or practical anymore to have completely distinct and separate IT and broadcast engineering departments and expect them to each stay out of the other’s “turf” or territory.  It’s impossible to treat either one as more important than the other; they are equals and inextricably linked and interdependent in the modern broadcast facility, and each department needs to have an excellent working knowledge of the other’s equipment, needs, and areas of responsibilities.  There’s simply no place for animosity or ignorance between the two departments anymore.

The Bottom Line

For those managers who skip the bulk of most reports and proposals and simply look down to the end to find out how much it’s going to cost and ask, “What does this mean for our bottom line, and what’s the benefit from this expense?” this part is for you.

As with any job in any business, hiring for increased skill sets, training, and retaining highly qualified employees will obviously cost the business more money.  But the coming crisis of the high numbers of retiring broadcast engineers and the low interest among qualified potential candidates to replace those engineers who are leaving leaves little alternative but to take a long, serious look at compensations that will be good enough to attract new talent into the business and retain key employees who may already possess the requisite skills.

Additionally, it’s critical that management recognize that it will also cost them some money to ensure their engineering staff continues to learn throughout their career.  Yes, engineers should personally be motivated to acquire new skills to stay relevant, but management shouldn’t be at all hesitant to pay for training that will directly benefit their operations and help keep the facility technically modern.

Training isn’t just an expense: it’s an investment – both into the employee (who will surely be grateful for the training) and for the company (which gets the tangible benefit of keeping the facility on the air).  If your station doesn’t have a regular recurring budget  line item for training (or “continuing education”), it should.  It will prove to be worth its weight many times over in the long run.

We all have to do something to ensure that broadcasting can overcome this personnel crisis, and the time for that action is now.  There isn’t a “quick fix” available, and this isn’t a one-time thing, either: it will require a change of mindset and paradigm all the way from the junior engineering staff up through the most senior management and the C-level.

It may sound like a cliché, but it can’t be denied: The future of broadcasting depends on you making these changes, whether you’re an engineer or in station management.  It’s time to make changes – together.

==============

Copyright 2016
Sherrod Munday
smunday@ieee.org

Sherrod Munday currently serves as VP Engineering for Sky Angel, a 3-channel TV network found on Dish Network.  His experience includes full-time and consulting engineering in both TV and Radio, delivering live and preproduced content over the air, via satellite syndication, and directly to consumers across the Internet.  You may reach him at smunday@ieee.org.

Reprinted with permission.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Carl E. Lee Broadcast Engineering Excellence Awards Announced

The Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB) presented its most prestigious engineering award to a pair of Michigan broadcasters who, combined, have served in the industry for over six decades. The Carl E. Lee Broadcast Engineering Excellence Awards were presented during the MAB’s annual Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference and Expo (GLBC) held on May 3 at The Lansing Center in downtown Lansing.

The Carl E. Lee Broadcast Engineering Excellence Award winners are:

Engineers
(L-R) Don Missad, Karole White, Wayne Henderson, Ed Fernandez

Radio Recipient: Don Missad, Chief Engineer, iHeartMedia of West Michigan
 
Don started his career at Channel 41 in Battle Creek in 1974.  In 1976, he moved to WOOD Radio in Grand Rapids and has remained there throughout many ownership changes. He is currently the Chief Engineer of iHeartMedia of West Michigan overseeing 12 transmitter sites.Throughout his career, Don has built and rebuilt many stations.  He is a creative problem solver and has saved radio stations thousands of dollars by rebuilding or repairing equipment.  By doing so, he has earned the nickname, ‘Shipshewana Don.’  He is a team player and has always done what’s best for the station. His passion, dedication and commitment to the field is evident in all that he does. Don is active in the community and has helped many small stations stay afloat.  In 2010, he was awarded “Volunteer of The Year” by the public radio station WYCE.  Don continues to strive to excellence in the field and currently is in the process of completely rebuilding all studios with the AOIP studio technology.

Television Recipient: Wayne Henderson, Director of Technical Services and Chief Engineer at CMU Public Broadcasting.

Wayne was raised in the thumb area of Michigan and graduated in 1975 from Carsonville – Pt. Sanilac High School in Carsonville, Michigan.  Wayne attended Ferris State College in Big Rapids, Michigan from 1975 to 1979 and obtained an Associate Degree in Radio Television Service Technology, an Associate Degree in Industrial Electronics Technology, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Electronics Technology.

Upon graduation in 1979, Wayne’s first job in television broadcasting was with Central Michigan University’s Public Broadcasting Department as a staff Maintenance Engineer; two years later he was hired as WFUM-TV’s Senior Media Engineer at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Wayne was promoted to Director of Engineering & Operations at UM Flint and served in that role from 1984 to 2009. In television engineering, Wayne managed an extensive student program developing engineering assistants for on-air switching, transmitter management, editing, and project work. Many of these students became full-time staff within the station and many more went on to work for area commercial TV Stations.

In late 2009, the University of Michigan sold the WFUM-TV transmission facilities to Central Michigan University. Wayne found himself back at Central Michigan University Public Broadcasting where his career started.

Day Two Engineering Preview – GLBC

Day two of Engineering Sessions at GLBC begin at 8 a.m.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016
8:00 – 11:00am 
SBE Exam for CNBT and CBNE

Registration for the SBE Exams closed on April 1.

10:00 – 10:30am
New Technologies and Design Concepts in Radio Automation (Not Your Dad’s Automation System)
Presented by Don Backus, Broadcast Electronics

Don Backus
Don Backus

Many current radio automation systems trace their roots back to the mid and early 1990’s and have maintained features, implementations, and designs that date back 15, 20, or even 25 years ago. As radio’s needs have changed over that time, so has the technology available to radio automation manufacturers. This session will look at modern automation technologies and how they can benefit radio broadcasters of all market sizes. From AoIP to powerful database structures to flexible operation and redundancy configurations to simple yet powerful user interfaces, today’s (and tomorrow’s) radio automation technologies offer much to streamline workflows, save and generate revenue and improve on air sound while improving the ability to be as ‘live and local’ as possible.

10:30 – 11:00am
Evolution of Solid State FM Transmitters
Presented by Don Backus, Broadcast Electronics

It wasn’t too long ago that solid state FM transmitters became widely available, eliminating the need for costly tubes, but at a higher initial cost. As time as gone by, several generations of solid state transmitters have produced higher efficiencies and decreased costs, but generally at lower power levels. Now there are several higher power solid state options in much more compact form factors with new technologies designed to improve efficiency, reliability and serviceability in the field. This session will look at some of the new tech in FM transmitters and discuss the benefits to radio stations.

10:00 – 11:00am
Working with the Future of Video Data Today
Presented by Jon Rutherford, Sr. Solution Architect at Key Code Media & Matt Linstad, Quantum

Join us for an open discussion/presentation on the current and future technologies for working with your growing video data content. We will look at the best-in-class options while helping to identify the areas that could be phased in over time due to budget limitations. Having a full understanding of the critical components needed to have a successful and scalable solution will help you plan better for your current needs and prepare for the future.

11:30am – 12:30pm
ATSC 3.0 The Future of Broadcast Television
Presented by Rich Chernock, Chairman of the ATSC Technology Group on ATSC 3.0 & Chief Science Officer, Triveni Digital, Inc.

Rich Chernock
Rich Chernock

Work is nearing completion on a next generation broadcast digital television system, known as ATSC 3.0. ATSC 3.0 provides a flexible and more efficient physical layer, mobility, UHD images, new solutions for audio, incorporation of new user technologies such as second screen, and hybrid use of broadcast and broadband delivery for services.

This presentation will provide a high-level view of the fundamental architecture of the next-generation broadcast system, how an ATSC 3.0 TV station will be different from today’s ATSC 1.0 station, and what new opportunities ATSC 3.0 will bring to broadcasters.

11:30am – 12:30pm
Trade Secrets of a Guy with a Network Analyzer
Presented by Jeremy Ruck, Jeremy Ruck & Associates, Inc.

The network analyzer is the most important piece of test gear in the arsenal of the RF engineer. In this presentation we will look at the theory behind the device, examine some operational techniques, and consider some real world cases.

Register on-site for GLBC if you haven’t registered in advance!

12:30 – 2:00pm
Exhibit Hall Walk-Around Lunch

2:30 – 3:00pm
The State of IP for Television Broadcast, Production and Distribution
Presented by Robert Erickson, Grass Valley, A Belden Brand

This session is an overview of current and future IP technologies used in broadcast environments. The presentation will include the compelling reasons for the migration from baseband to IP for real time video transport and the challenges that broadcasters will face in making this migration. Erickson will also discuss the current state of standards in the IP broadcast facility, detailing out the main competing standards for the compression and transport of broadcast video and audio. The discussion will also focus on ways to leverage current IT technologies, such as system virtualization and distributed routing architectures will conclude the presentation.

2:30 – 3:00pm
IP Codec Redundancy
Presented by Jacob Daniluck, Tieline the Codec Company

As ISDN & POTS are becoming more expensive to install it may be time to start planning on switching your old POTS/ISDN Codecs. It time to start thinking about an IP Audio Codec which includes some of the following: IP Network Redundancy and/or Alternate Transport Type Redundancy. Exploring these types of technology can help reduce expenses while maintaining audio quality between studios, transmitters, and remotes.

3:00 – 3:30pm
LTE Interference from FM Stations
Presented by Jeff Welton, Nautel

Jeff Welton
Jeff Welton

As the LTE rollout continues nationwide, complaints of interference to LTE stations from licensed FM broadcasters are becoming almost commonplace. This session will discuss the reason for the interference, the legalities of the situation and provides some ideas to help resolve existing interference issues or reduce the possibility of future issues. Practical solutions are heavily based on the real life experience of Michigan engineer Walker Sisson, who was involved first hand in an LTE interference complaint.

3:00 – 3:30pm
Spectrum Auction: Legal Update for Engineers

The spectrum auction will bring about headaches for both management and engineers.  Get the latest legal lowdown on the engineering aspects of the auction and repacking.

4:00 – 5:00pm
EAS State Update 2016
Presented by Don Bouffard, Engineering Specialist, Emergency Management and Homeland Security- Michigan State Police &
Gary Blievernicht, Michigan EAS Chairman

Join MSP and others for the update on the latest EAS developments, requirements and tests.

Register on-site for GLBC if you haven’t registered in advance.

Day One Engineering Sessions Preview – GLBC

The Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference (GLBC) Engineering Sessions kick off on Monday morning:

Monday, May 2, 2016
10:00am – 4:00pm

Advanced IP Networking & CBNE Study Topics
Presented by Wayne Pecena, Society of Broadcast Engineers

Wayne Pecena
Wayne Pecena

Advanced IP Networking for Broadcast Engineers and CBNE Study Topics is an intensive instructor-led full-day tutorial. It is assumed that attendees will have a basic understanding of IP Networking fundamentals. This course will focus on a deeper understanding and application of the principal fundamentals in a real-world IP networking environment. Emphasis will be placed upon designing an IPv4 Addressing plan, IP Subnetting, Ethernet Switching, VLAN implementation, IP Routing, and Network Security practices. Additional topics will include an overview of related content often found on the Society of Broadcast Engineers CBNE examination including a practical case study exercise designed to help prepare for CBNE exam essay question(s). This tutorial should not be considered as a certification exam preparation class. The goal of this tutorial is to provide a practical understanding of IP network design principals and provide a useful review of likely certification exam content.  Read more here.
Register on-site for GLBC if you haven’t registered in advance. Registration opens Monday Morning at 9 a.m. on the main concourse.

4:00 – 5:00pm
Michigan Emergency Manager Association & Broadcast Engineers State Meeting

At Beer & Bull Welcoming Reception 2015 (L-R) Gary Blievernicht, WKAR-AM/FM/TV (East Lansing), Geary Morrill, AlphaMedia (Saginaw), and Eric Send, Midwest Communications (Traverse City).
At Beer & Bull Welcome Reception 2015 (L-R) Gary Blievernicht, WKAR-AM/FM/TV (East Lansing), Geary Morrill, Alpha Media (Saginaw), and Eric Send, Midwest Communications (Traverse City).

5:00 – 6:00pm
Exhibit Hall Preview Reception

6:00 – 8:00pm
Beer and Bull Welcome Reception – Waterfront Bar (at Lansing City Market).  Sponsored by Spartan Sports Network and Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Register on-site for GLBC if you haven’t registered in advance. Registration opens Monday Morning at 9 a.m. on the main concourse.

Read a summary of Day Two Engineering Sessions here.

Engineering Spotlight: Michael Kernen, Greater Media (Detroit)

We’re pleased to begin a new spotlight series featuring the hardworking engineers at our stations.  To nominate an engineer for a spotlight, please email Alisha Clack at clack@michmab.com.

MichaelKernen_400Michael Kernen
Michael Kernen is Chief Engineer for Greater Media in Detroit and oversees radio stations WCSX-FM, WRIF-FM, and WMGC-FM.  He started at WRIF 28 years ago, the last 23 under Greater Media’s ownership after they acquired the station.

Brief Engineering Resume:
Michael:  My love for music lead to an interest in radio. My uncle is Dick Kernen (V.P. Specs Howard School of Media Arts) and I would frequently get up a 5am on Sunday mornings to go with him to help with his Sunday morning live radio talk show. My cousin Bob Kernen (V.P. and C.O.O. at Jacobs Media) and I would screen the phone calls and a few times I even ran the board. Radio hooked me and with my uncle’s connections I got an old Gates console from a WXYZ-AM junk trailer and Bob and I used it to build an “FM control room” in my parent’s basement when we were 14.

I took all 6 semesters of electronics at Dearborn High School, as well as every media class and computer class offered and uncle Dick convinced me to attend the then Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts where I took everything they offered at the time – TV/Radio & Broadcast Electronics. I worked as an electrician during that time.

My first real broadcasting job was at WHYT and WJR doing whatever they’d let me do –programming board-op, promotions assistant, engineering assistant, running ballgames, and running Paul Harvey. I took a full-time job at Ron Rose Productions for about a year and then moved to WRIF where I’ve been since 1988.

Q: How did you get started in broadcast engineering?
Michael:  The part-time job at WHYT and WJR as an engineering assistant.

Tell us something about yourself that very few people know…
Michael:  I have a titanium plate in my head!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Michael:  From my uncle Dick “quit driving around in a van with ladders on the roof! Call Hal Buttermore!” (Then CE of WHYT)

MSU Student Radio WDBM-FM (The Impact) Gets New Antenna

WDBM-040816
Photo courtesy of WDBM General Manager Ed Glazer

Michigan State University’s student-run radio station WDBM-FM (88.9 The Impact) replaced their 30-year-old broadcast antenna last week at the tower site in East Lansing.

Ed Glazer, General Manager of the station, said the old antenna outlasted its 15-year lifespan, but in recent years had been suffering from “diminished efficiency.”

The new antenna, which cost between $10,000 and $15,000 was paid for by the station’s general fund.  Workers from JT Tower Service, Clarksville, Michigan spend several hours in mid-Michigan’s chilly spring air working high on the station’s 300-foot tower removing and replacing the old antenna.  WDBM’s antenna is mounted on one tower of the WKAR-AM directional array.

More than 100 student volunteers work at the station, which has a music format consisting of alternative, rock and independent music as well as specialty music programs.  The station has been broadcasting since 1989.

 

Engineering: Barix Box Advisory

On April 6, The Alabama Broadcasters Association shared this with us…from one of their members:

“Someone is attacking Barix Boxes. Within the past 24 hours, several radio stations and at least one radio network have been compromised. The Barix receiver is pointed to an obscene podcast and its password changed so it can only be reset manually. This appears to have been in the planning stages for some time by the person doing it – apparently they have been accumulating passwords for some time. MAKE SURE that your password is of sufficient strength! Barix Boxes will take up to 24 characters…. In at least two cases six character passwords were cracked.”

Updated 9:16am on 4/7/16:  Apparently the reported Colorado signal hack was related to this Barix story.  Read about the KIFT signal hack here.

The stream programmer who had their explicit content aired on the Colorado radio station did their own investigation into the incident and provides some insight here.

Updated 2:10pm on 4/6/16:  Jason Walther, CE of Townsquare Media (Lansing) adds: “Best advice is to change your password to the web interface, and hide it behind a firewall that only exposes the ports needed to receive the stream (aka: port forwarding)

When these boxes are connected to a plain static IP and no changes are made, they are an easy target.

Also, if you have a Comrex Access unit that sits open with “Accept Incoming Calls”, you will get hacked the same. It is easy to disable incoming SIP connections.

SBE Releases New Engineering Handbook

SBEhandbookThe Society of Broadcast Engineers and McGraw-Hill Education have released the SBE Broadcast Engineering Handbook: Hands-on Guide to Station Design and Maintenance. This new book offers detailed practical information on video, audio, and broadcast transmission systems from dozens of the field’s foremost experts. Featuring everything from basic principles and formulae to the latest technologies and engineering trends, this hands-on resource offers practical and up-to-date coverage of all major broadcast technologies for radio, TV, and related fields.

The handbook features in-depth tutorials that stress key topics throughout, complete coverage of radio and television technologies, and is written from the perspective of the broadcast engineer. More than 50 authors have contributed their expertise to the ten sections of the book. The handbook has been deftly assembled by Jerry Whitaker, editor-in-chief. He is vice president of standards development for the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) in Washington, DC, and also the author or editor of more than 40 technical books.

The book covers every aspect of broadcast engineering in seven sections: Regulatory Issues, RF Transmission, DTV Transport, Information Technology Systems, Production Systems, Facility Issues, Broadcast Management, plus three reference annexes.

The book is available from the SBE Bookstore. SBE members can purchase the book at the member discount price of $159 through the SBE Bookstore. The book is also available through www.mhprofessional.com and online retailers for $199.

Engineering Spotlight: Dave Grant, Cumulus Media (Grand Rapids)

We’re pleased to begin a new spotlight series featuring the hardworking engineers at our stations.  To nominate an engineer for a spotlight, please email Alisha Clack at clack@michmab.com.

Dave GrantDave Grant
CPBE, Chief Engineer, Cumulus Media, Grand Rapids.  Approaching 4 years, but this is his second time working for WLAV; was the CE for WLAV-AM/FN from 1986 to 1993.

Brief Engineering Resume:
Dave: My first radio job was screening calls for a sports talk show on WKBZ-AM (Muskegon). From there I started running Tiger games and eventually got a job as an on-air announcer at WLRQ-AM in Whitehall. (side note, WLRQ, currently WKLQ, is now owned by the Cumulus Muskegon cluster!) From there, I went next door to the FM station owned by Regional Broadcasting at the time. It was automated, so that left time to tinker with equipment. I became more interested in engineering, and started helping the regional engineer whenever anything needed repair.

I have been really fortunate to have had a couple of great engineering mentors over the years, and opportunities to work with them on a contract basis for a lot of different stations early in my career. This gave me a very broad education on repairing and troubleshooting a myriad of different types and brands of equipment. After that, I went to my first real full-time engineering job in Florida, and spent two years at two different stations before returning to be the Chief Engineer for Liggett Broadcasting. After that, I went to WLAV and spent seven years before the station was sold. I then decided a change would do me good and went into telecom working for a small local competitive telephone company. They were bought and sold many times before eventually becoming part of Verizon. All the while I kept a couple contract stations, I just couldn’t get radio out of my system.

I spent fifteen years in telecom, with the last two years working in Baghdad under contract with the U.S. government. After that ended, I began looking for full-time work again and eventually landed at Cumulus.

Q: How did you get started in broadcast engineering?
Dave:  I love music and grew up listening to the Big 89, WLS. Around age 13, my family moved to Muskegon and we lived near the WTRU-AM studios and transmitter site. I rarely could tune in WLS at home, so WTRU became my station. I listened to that station a lot, and originally was more interested in being an announcer. Eventually I would be an announcer for WTRU, but as it turns out, I didn’t much care for it. Engineering had already taken hold.

Tell us something about yourself that very few people know…
Dave:  My on-air moniker was Dave Lee.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Dave:  Always treat people well, you never know when you might end up working for them. Karma is everywhere.

Engineering Spotlight: Keith Bosworth, Cumulus Media (Detroit)

We continue our spotlight series featuring the hardworking engineers at our stations.
To nominate an engineer for a spotlight, please email Alisha Clack at clack@michmab.com.

Keith-Bosworth_800

Keith Bosworth
Chief Engineer for Cumulus Media (WJR-AM, WDRQ-FM, WDVD-FM) in Detroit.

Brief Engineering Resume:

2003 Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts
2004-2013 Cumulus Media, Toledo
2013-Present Cumulus Media, Detroit

Keith shares his broadcast history:

“I started working as a Board op for Cumulus Media Toledo at WTWR (Monroe, MI) in 2004. Every time the Engineer (Kevin Hawley) would come in, I would watch him and I was a little savvy.  A few months later I was asked by Kevin if I would like to lend a hand installing new transmitters that were coming in for Cumulus Toledo. Halfway through the installs, he asked if I would like to be an assistant engineer, because as he put it, I was a good learner. Although to this day I tell him he was a good teacher.

After being at the Job for a few years and soaking up all the knowledge I could Kevin left to go to WJR. At that point, I was on my own and became Chief Engineer and IT of the eight station cluster in Toledo, which I did for 7-8 years on my own. When the position at Cumulus Detroit opened up, I applied for it and got it, but not until they found a replacement for me in Toledo.

In my career, I have also rebuilt four of the studios in Toledo and had the pleasure of helping build some state of the art facilities like the new Westwood One TOC in NY, the Nash Nights Live Studio in Nashville, TN, and 16 new studios in San Francisco, CA.

Before I got into broadcasting, I was a Chef and still love to cook.

The best advice I was ever given: to be a good engineer, you don’t have to have all the answers, you just need to know where to find them.”