This Month's Stories
November 15, 2009
November 2009 Newsletter
SBE Chapter 48 / SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section
October 2009 Meeting Report
KREX, The Real World of Disaster Recovery
Date: Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Time: 11:45 AM Lunch; 12 Noon Program
Lunch: Sandwiches, chips, cookies, and soft drinks will be provided. A donation of $5 is suggested
Location: KUSA, 500 Speer Blvd, Denver, Colorado
Presenter: Skip Erickson, Harris Broadcast
For most engineers the Disaster Recovery Plan is a file on their hard drive that is rarely updated and a sketchy plan on what should be done if the station is destroyed. Find out what real world lessons in disaster planning were learned when the CBS and Fox affiliate in Grand Junction burned completely to the ground in January 2008 and the Super Bowl was just two weeks away.
Skip Erickson is a Senior System Engineer in the Market Development Group of Harris Corporation, Broadcast Communications.
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Random Radio Thoughts
Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company
Several years ago, Denver consulting engineer Tim Cutforth was granted a number of de novo AM construction permits, including two down in Fountain. Once granted, Tim began the arduous process of leasing the land, getting local approvals for the towers and all that. I am all too well acquainted with this process as I am going through it now in Southern California. It’s not for the faint of heart, nor is it a speedy process. Tim found that out the hard way, and all the time the clock was ticking on his construction permit.
To make matters worse, when he called for the underground utility location, Tim learned that there was a major cross-country telco fiber-optic trunk running right across the tower site southeast of the old Pikes Peak Raceway. This trunk ran directly beneath the base pier of one of his towers, in fact, requiring a slight relocation in the tower – enough to complicate the tune-up considerably.
His three years were almost up when he finally got the towers up over the summer, and he had just begun tuning up the directional array when the FCC cancelled his CPs, leaving Tim with a big loss on the investment in the towers and everything he had done to date.
Tim immediately set to work petitioning the FCC to reconsider the rescission, supporting his claim of adverse circumstances beyond his control with mountains of paperwork, receipts, invoices and other documentation, all showing that he had for years been diligently pursuing the project.
On October 6, the FCC gave Tim a 30-day window in which to finish up the work and get the 302-AMs filed. That expires early this month, so Tim has been scrambling to wrap things up. Because that one tower was built outside the 1.5 degree FCC window, the stations are not eligible for moment method proofing, so Tim had to do things the hard way, including walk-in measurements and ND and DA measurements on four separate patterns (in the snow!) – a lot of work to wrap up in 30 days.
The last I heard, things were on track and Tim planned to get the 302-AMs filed before the STA expiration.
Word on the street (actually, on a UHF amateur radio repeater) is that Ed Dulaney has accepted a job in Wichita Falls, Texas and will be relocating there by the middle of this month. They say “once a Texan, always a Texan,” so I’m confident that Ed will settle right in and feel at home there in north Texas. And if he gets bored, there are lots of tornados to chase (or run from!) down that way from early May through August! We wish Ed the very best in his new digs.
On October 29, the FCC Media Bureau released a Public Notice (DA-09-2340) entitled “Media Bureau Clarifies Procedures for AM Directional Antenna Performance Verification Using Moment Method Modeling.” Since the new modeling rules went into effect back in February, both the FCC and the consulting engineer community have learned a great deal. This Public Notice was issued to clarify a number of items about which there was some confusion.
Item one in the notice clarifies that only arrays employing series-fed radiators are eligible for modeling. This includes top-loaded towers, but it excludes skirted radiators. The notice also brings out something new – that only arrays with “standard ground systems” are eligible for modeling. This excludes those with short, elevated radials.
Next, the notice settles the question of as-built tower locations: towers must be within 1.5 electrical degrees of their theoretical locations, and a procedure for determining this location with respect to the reference tower is specified. There is some good news in this section of the notice for existing stations – stations that are already licensed need not submit a surveyor’s certification of the as-built locations. This will save existing stations wishing to relicense under the new rules anywhere from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars.
The notice then clarifies a procedure to be used to account for the difference between modeled base impedance and measured ATU output impedance, namely the use of a circuit model of base region effects in addition to the moment method model of the array. Base operating parameters for base-sampled arrays must be based upon both models.
Since the first models were filed early this year, there has been confusion over the requirement in §73.155(c)(2)(ii) that modeled and measured base impedances must agree within ±2 ohms and ±4 percent. The notice spells out that these ranges are additive and provides a specific example.
The FCC noted that a number of applicants have failed to submit the required sample line impedance measurements with the sampling device connected. Because this measurement on each line provides a baseline for recertification, it is important and the FCC will bounce applications that fail to include it. With respect to biennial recertification of sample systems, measurements of each sample line impedance with the loop or sample transformer connected must agree with the baseline measured value to within ±2 ohms and ±4 percent.
Some applicants have improperly interpreted the provision of §73.151(c)(2)(ii) that arrays must be adjusted to the model-determined parameters ±5 percent for the field ratio and ±3 degrees in phase and were, in effect, applying this tolerance twice. The notice makes clear that the array is to be adjusted to the model-determined numbers and then operated with the standard 5 percent and 3 degree tolerance.
A new requirement for calibrating the antenna monitor is stated in the notice, specifically that a statement that the monitor was properly calibrated according to the manufacturer’s instructions be included with the filing.
Finally, the issue of filing fee was settled. Commercial licensees must pay both the new license fee and the directional antenna fee. Along with the filing, stations wishing to convert to a moment-method operation must submit a request for STA to operate with the new antenna monitor parameters determined by the moment method and wait for STA grant before readjusting to the new operating parameters.
If you have news to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The KE0VH Hamshack
It has been a busy couple of months, both on the job hunt, and doing some contract engineering work. I had the opportunity to go out to Salida, about 130 miles SE of Denver and spend a day going over operations and public file information with the fine people at the 3 Eagles stations there. Unfortunately though, and I am finding this is very prevalent, their public file and stations operations were in dire need of attention. It is imperative that public files be maintained per FCC rules and this seems to fall into a deep black hole a lot of times in some of the smaller, and even bigger markets. It is very important of course to have proper and current licenses filed and posted where they can be found at both studios and transmitter sites, proper updating of all materials pertaining to operation and public service, and all that the public file requires. Proper training of operators and how to make sure that even though logs are not required for transmitter operations, you must be able to show legal operations and maintenance of parameters for power, AM directional operations, tower light verification and EAS. IF you are in charge of making sure these are in proper compliance, you should download what is required in the public file and operationally, and do a checkup on your facilities. There are self compliance checklists available for downloading at www.fcc.gov/eb/bc-chklsts/EB18FM1205.pdf. (There is also one for AM stations.) It could save a lot of hassle and problems IF you were to have a visit from one of our fine FCC folks. They are spread pretty thin these days, but still, you never know.
I am now employed as a contract engineer for Salem Communications in Colorado Springs. I have had the blessing to work with and for Cliff Mikkelson who is the Chief for the Denver Salem Stations. He and his contract engineer Derek Jackson have been more than helpful in bringing me up to speed fairly quickly on the the operations of KBIQ-FM, KGFT-FM, and KZNT-AM in Colorado Springs. KZNT is a very nice 2 tower array on 1460, and the two FM’s have a very nice transmitter site on Cheyenne Mountain, which has got to be one of the most beautiful transmitter sites in the country. The two FMS are housed in a building with 4 other FM’s and a TV transmitter, and I was really surprised at the niceness of the building they are in. Of course, it takes about an hour to get up the forest road and then on to the top, with about 17 switchbacks to negotiate, and in winter it could be difficult sometimes I can see. One time last week as of this writing, we didn’t have any chains in the company Dodge Durango, and had to turn back about ¼ mile from the top. But now, with chains and a come-a-long in the truck, we should be able to negotiate the trip just about any time. One of the first things to do up there was change out the 4CX15000 final tube in the KFGT transmitter. Cliff and I did that one afternoon and the nice thing is there is a full power backup transmitter on its own antenna, so down time for that station is not much of an issue.
KZNT AM Main Nautel and backup Harris MW-1 — The road up Cheyenne Mountain
The Durango in front of the transmitter building — KGFT’s Continental 816 RC Main
I also had work to keep me busy right off getting a Harris MW=1 transmitter for the AM back up to full speed, and its cooling fan had bit the dust and wouldn’t come on. Now KZMT has a really good backup, and I can access both sites from home of course, which for me is a bit of a commute, but really enjoyable as the drive is beautiful and it allows me to listen to some great bible teaching and reading MP3’s, so I am making good use of that time spent in the car driving to the Springs every day. In the next couple of weeks I am going to be doing quarterly reports and more on the stations, looking at monitor points and other parameters, so I will be a busy engineer. I am looking forward to reporting on many great and fun projects and work that I have upcoming in the next few months with my new stations.
Amateur radio wise I haven’t a lot to report on this month. It was fun to work Cliffs brother Don at TI5N in Costa Rica during the CQWW contest the last weekend of October, but I didn’t get on the air much during that weekend as I had other commitments. Also, please be sure to check out information on how to join us on the SBE IRLP Hamnet the first and third Saturdays of each month. Details are at www.qsl.net/ke0vh/SBEHamnet.html and we would really like to hear you on the net. IF you don’t have an IRLP node near you , you can still listen in by going to our streaming weblink at denver-sbe-net.ham-radio-op.net . It streams the WA2YZT repeater system 24/7 here in Denver. I will be reporting on more activities over the next couple of months so please check back here.
73’ for this month
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Featuring News, Rumors and Views
From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources
By Clay Freinwald
SBE Seattle Chapter 16
Wow, can you believe that it’s holiday time again ? Where in the world has this year gone?
Lets dig into what’s been happening since we last met –
The $64,000 question for FM radio right now is what is the FCC going to do in terms of a power increase for HD-Radio? Rumors are flying that Ibquity (the outfit behind HD-R) and NPR (they have been doing a lot of the engineering and research on the issue) have agreed that a power increase is a good idea…….BUT ! I’ve heard rumors that they have agreed that a level of -14 (below FM Carrier) might be OK –for the time being – or until tougher details are ironed out. The big sticking point is how to deal with adjacent channel interference. In this area, where stations are pretty spread out and mainly Class C’s we don’t have major adjacent issues. However in other areas of the country with boat-loads of Class B’s and A’s it’s a different matter.
The problems for broadcasters come in several forms. If you have a digital transmitter capable of more power, and the FCC says it’s OK to increase to -14, you can turn up the power. However, not very many broadcasters went out and purchased a digital transmitter capable of much more power than what they needed. If your station is operating its digital transmitter at near maximum power you are not likely to want to go out and buy a higher-powered unit – especially – knowing that the -14 level might not be final. There are many that are pushing for -10 but their efforts might not succeed. So you may well find yourself in the same boat you are in now and not be willing to do anything until the matter is finally sorted out. This is especially the case if increasing power, even to -14, means spending a lot of money. In most cases this is not a linear relationship.
For equipment manufacturers the prospect of increasing HD power to -14 is not exactly a welcomed idea for they too are going to be faced with the prospect that the power level could go higher and broadcasters that are likely to want to wait until the matter is finally resolved. Then there is the economy factor. Cap-X is very hard to come by these days.
Another big factor on the expense side is the equipment that follows the HD Transmitter. In many cases the method used will have to be upgraded or changed and the cost of doing this could be considerable.
To help sort all this out will be Hal Kneller from Nautel at our next meeting on November 12th – Hope you can be in attendance.
For the first time in 10 years I am no longer on the SBE Board of Directors and am not chairing the EAS Committee. All I can say is it was a great ride and one that I would encourage every SBE Member to seriously consider. I can tell you that you can make a difference. When the time comes, seriously consider giving your name to the Nomination Committee. If you’d like to know more, give me a call. Our new President, Vinny Lopez, at the last meeting, announced his choices for committee chairs –Here’s a look at all the standing committees and their chairs -
Awards Jim Leifer, CPBE
By-Laws Gary Liebisch, CPBE
Certification Jim Bernier, CPBE CBNT
Chapter Liaison Mark Heller, CBRE CTO
EAS Ralph Beaver, CBT
Education David Priester, CPBE
Fellowship Troy Pennington, CSRE CBNT
Finance Jerry Massey, CPBE 8-VSB AMD CBNT
Frequency Coordination Joe Snelson, CPBE
Government Relations Barry Thomas, CPBE CBNT
International Charles W. Kelly Jr.
IT Strategy Mark T. Simpson, CPBE CBNT AMD
Marketing and Public Relations Chriss Scherer, CPBE CBNT
Membership Scott Mason, CPBE
Nominations Jim Leifer, CPBE
Publications Conrad Trautmann, CPBE
Strategic Planning Ralph Hogan, CPBE DRB CBNT
Student Chapters (Sub-committee of Membership Committee) Jeff Smith CEA CBNT
Sustaining Membership Scott Mason, CPBE
Big news in the radio rusiness recently came from Sacramento where a jury has awarded the family of a women who died in a water drinking contest $16.57 million.
In an interesting twist, the jury found the stations parent company, Entercom, was not liable in the case. I have to think that the local stations don’t have that kind of money in petty cash. Perhaps each station has liability insurance? Entercom also owns 4 radio stations in Seattle. You have to think that stations across the country will now be paying much closer attention to their contests.
At last April’s NAB the big talk was not about big screen TV’s but rather little ones. One of the firms that have been working on this for several years is Qualcomm with their Flo TV, often called Media Flo. On Oct 29th, Chrysler announced that, starting in December, you can buy the service as an option in most of their new vehicles. It includes 20 channels. Certainly the Seattle area will be included with a number of sites already up and operating in this area. I have to assume that this will be a back-seat option with all of the dialog regarding driver distractions.
Lawmaker appears to be digging into the driver distraction matter all over the country with some calls for nation-wide regulations. I think that everyone can agree that drivers texting is dangerous….but so is the application of makeup or reading the paper (all of which I routinely see). The ARRL has been fighting those that have suggested that Ham Radio operation in a vehicle is dangerous. Then there is the one that we need to watch, the idea that operation of a car radio should be restricted. What about those GPS devices and other ‘display’ type items that have made the new car dashboard more and more distracting?
There is a new face at the head of NAB as Gordon Smith has moved into his new office in WDC. Gordon has some ties to the PNW where his family operates a business. Already Mr Smith has met with the FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to talk about areas of interest to broadcasters.
Looking at the economic situation …It appears that things continue to improve, here are some tidbits -
> Patrick Communications reported an upswing. Several groups are reporting that their increases are coming from such NTR sources as the Internet etc.
> Not sure what it will mean to the folks working at the local Tribune operations, however, Tribune CEO Sam Zell said that, with luck, they will exit bankruptcy in the first quarter of 2010.
> LIN reports an 18% drop in Q3 revenue.
> In an apparent cost cutting move a Washington DC TV station has reported asked their newscasters to do their own teleprompter.
> Newspapers continue to see their circulations slide to the lowest level in 70 years, reportedly down over 10% over a year ago. Locally, the Seattle times has seen their numbers go up thanks to the demise of the PI.
Due to what they call less demand, Microsoft is going to end some of the services they have been distributing via FM Subcarriers and concentrate on information used by navigation devices. MSFT picked up where Seiko left off with a wristwatch that would provide the user with a number of information services. My guess with the penetration of cell phones that much of this no longer made sense. Several FM stations in the Seattle area broadcast this info on a sub-carrier.
The other day, while driving up to West Tiger Mountain I was startled to see something that you don’t want to see – A tower folded over like a jack-knife. I spoke with one of the workers on the scene that morning and he mentioned something about bolts being changed so apparently there was some work going on that did not go quite right. The tower, a 120 foot Rohn SSV, is owned by Dick Collins. He told me they were going to re-locate some of the impacted antennas to an adjacent tower and would repair the damage next spring. As luck would have it, I did not have my camera with me that day, however Terry Spring did… and shot this picture showing the top of the tower on the ground. The way it came down was lucky. Note the tower to the left….Had it hit that it would have likely taken a lot of circuits down including the T-1’s that a number of broadcasters rely on at West Tiger.
Clay, K7CR, CPBE
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Amateur Radio News
Compiled By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Thanks to Madison Chapter 24
Due to concerns that Amateur Radio not become an unintended victim of the growing public debate over what to do about distracted drivers, American Radio Relay League President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, wrote a letter to National Safety Council (NSC) President Janet Froetscher in July. Froetscher has now replied, saying the NSC does not support bans or prohibitions on the use of Amateur Radios while driving . Noting that there is significant evidence that talking on cell phones while driving poses crash risk four times that of other drivers, Froetscher observed that the NSC position calling for bans on the use of cell phones while driving is grounded in science. “We are not aware of evidence that using Amateur Radios while driving has significant crash risks,” Froetscher wrote in her August 24 letter. “We also have no evidence that using two-way radios while driving poses significant crash risks. Until such time as compelling, peer-reviewed scientific research is presented that denotes significant risks associated with the use of Amateur Radios, two-way radios or other communication devices, the NSC does not support legislative bans or prohibition on their use.”
On Friday, September 25, the ARRL Board of Directors adopted guidelines on the appropriate use of Amateur Radio on behalf of commercial, non-profit and government entities, as well as recommendations for additional steps to be taken by the ARRL to educate radio amateurs and others on how to prepare and train for public service and emergency communications while complying with the current FCC Rules. Entitled “The Commercialization of Amateur Radio: The Rules, The Risks, The Issues,” the document offers guidelines to assist radio amateurs and anyone wishing to utilize the capabilities of Amateur Radio in understanding the FCC Rules that prohibit communications in which the amateur has a pecuniary interest, including communications on behalf of an employer. While the FCC Rules in this regard have not changed in many years, there has been increasing discussion of the issue as growing numbers of employers and non-amateur organizations recognize the value of Amateur Radio as an emergency communications resource and encourage their employees to obtain amateur licenses. Also included are guidelines for evaluating the appropriateness of Amateur Radio volunteers providing communications services to commercial enterprises and other entities for which other communications systems are available.
Faster Than a Speeding Pigeon? In South Africa, an information technology company proved that it was faster for them to transmit data with a carrier pigeon than to send it using Telkom, the country’s leading Internet service provider. Internet speed and connectivity in Africa’s largest economy are poor due to a shortage of bandwidth and its high cost. Local news agency SAPA reported that on September 9, an 11-month-old pigeon named Winston took 68 minutes to fly the 50 miles from Unlimited IT’s offices near Pietermaritzburg to the coastal city of Durban with a data card strapped to his leg. Including downloading, the transfer took two hours, six minutes and 57 seconds -- the time it took for only four percent of the data to be transferred using a Telkom line. SAPA said Unlimited IT performed the stunt after becoming frustrated with slow internet transmission times. Internet speed is expected to improve once a new 11,000 mile underwater fiber optic cable linking southern and East Africa to other networks becomes operational before South Africa hosts the soccer World Cup next year.
(Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League’s <arrl.org> web site)
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Estimating Susceptibility to Co-Channel Interference
by Tom Weeden
Chief Engineer, WMTV
This article is a result of a question that came to mind after another incidence of co-channel interference caused a flurry of viewer phone calls and e-mails about loss of reception of WMTV.
We are cochannel on 19 to WGN-TV in Chicago with a separation of only 124.5 miles. When a strong atmospheric inversion sets in, viewers on the fringe of our coverage area (especially to the northwest and southeast of Madison) will lose WMTV and sometimes begin receiving WGN! These reception problems don’t just affect over-the-air viewers, but also some cable headends. Reedsburg cable had been suffering from frequent dropouts of WMTV reception during the summer. In a recent test, WMTV worked with a technician from Technology Planners of Fond du Lac, representing the Reedsburg Utility Commission which runs the cable system. The azimuth from the headend’s UHF antenna to WMTV was also within a few degrees to WGN.
On July 7th at 8:35 AM, WMTV’s signal level was being received at -2.1 dBmV but the test equipment reported that the margin was at only 1.5 dB. Over the next 15 minutes our signal level remained nearly constant, but the margin improved to about 20 dB. Our actual test consisted of a brief carrier interruption during a station break so that any residual signals on channel 19 could be measured. (Note to the general manager: I turned the transmitter off during a PSA!) During our “carrier-off” period, there was a signal measured at -24.0 dBmV, about 22 dB below our -2.1 dBmV signal when we came back on air (in time for the station ID and the third hour of TODAY).
The mystery signal detected at the headend didn’t decode, but we strongly suspect that it was WGN. With a 15 dB signalto- noise ratio required to decode an 8-VSB signal, there wasn’t much headroom on that particular morning. Being curious to see if any of the other Madison stations were in this same boat, I wondered how far away are the nearest neighbors from the competition, and how susceptible they might be to co-channel interference. I checked the FCC’s online TV database (http://www.fcc.gov/mb/video/tvq. html), and came up with some answers. Worst case for short-spacing is WMSN. Their nearest neighbor on 11 is WLUK-TV in Green Bay, at a mere 121.2 miles. That’s 3 miles closer than our spacing to WGN. WISC’s nearest channel 50 neighbor is WFXT in Aurora, IL at 126.6 miles. WHA-TV to KSMQ-TV i n Austin, MN provides a little more separation on channel 20 at 156.1 miles. The closest station to WKOW on 26 is WCCU-TV in Urbana, IL, at 207 miles. And the winner for elbow room is WBUW to WCCO-TV Minneapolis/ St. Paul on channel 32 at 228.8 miles.
In an attempt to quantify the susceptibility to co-channel interference, I made a spreadsheet listing all the fullpower TV stations that were within the searchable radius of the FCC’s database for each Madison channel. Any LPTV station reporting a Height Above Average Terrain of zero was ignored. The list of stations for each channel was sorted by distance from Madison. Then to estimate the potential effect of each co-channel station I came up with a score of the station’s effective radiated power divided by its distance from Madison squared (inverse square law). A larger score for a distant station should correspond with a greater potential for interference. Finally I divided each Madison station’s ERP by the interference score for the closest station on the same channel, assuming that a higher ERP for the local station would make it less prone to interference. A higher number here would imply a greater resistance to interference.
Click here to download the results and the rest of this article.
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October Local Oscillator
Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company
The November issue of The Local Oscillator is hot off the virtual presses and available for your online perusal and amusement at
This Link to download your pdf copy.
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SBE In Need of Mentoring
Is Broadcast Engineering Still a Viable Career Choice?
This is a message from Henry M. Seiden that originally appeared as part of a message thread on the SBE discussion group. Henry is allowing us to publish his thoughts, which are in response to an inquiry from a gentleman who is considering a career change into broadcast engineering.
The mentoring subject has taken an interesting turn and should really be about all our careers, goals and motivations, right?
Edwin nailed it down in a short sentence or two. Here are my thoughts, FWIW.
To add to, maybe expand what's been said so far, new candidates in engineering should look for entry into television or radio rather than as an end or even a career path. How many people look to gain entry to production positions each year? I think far more folks try and fail to break in to production jobs in TV/radio than even look at tech jobs. The numbers seem to work in your favor for entry into tech jobs within this business. There are many more facets to our business than working at a studio or even for a station. There are OB engineering and production truck jobs in audio and video for example. That trend is one that the SBE (is) working to change, but change doesn't come easily.
While there will be fewer of us (not more of us) who make engineering a life-long career, perhaps there should be more of us who use it as a path towards larger roles in other career paths-be they business-perhaps more generally the arts, sciences. I'm talking personal growth, not SBE-wise here.
News for engineering wannabes is not as bleak as one might think, though. Out of 100 or so 'production school graduates' (many with four year degrees), zero to two find immediate work within a year after graduation, based on numbers I heard even before the economic downturn. I know of one guy that started delivering pizza, targeting a production studio nearby, just to get his foot in the door. I think that it was innovative for him to try that, though unproductive. Did he get a job at the studio in question? No! Our (membership) folks' numbers that find work out of school are higher, but not even close to optimum. Keep in mind the overall numbers of people looking for work. Even then, well-trained and qualified technical folks have a better chance breaking in to this industry than trained production folks by percentage of applicants.
Clearly you'll need to know both electronics and computers to find work in our industry, particularly TV & Radio stations. They are totally intertwined now. It's surprising to me how few 'computer- savvy' folks, even those with high levels of hardware skills, have both television/radio engineering principles AND IT core knowledge. I think the SBE is working on that one too. Making yourself valuable and demonstrating that ability is part of finding work in this economic climate.
That said, your ability to troubleshoot a problem to it's cause, and the experience gained working with electro-mechanical systems, (even training) in this profession we call radio/TV engineering will ALWAYS stand you in good stead as the potential job candidate. Most importantly, I think, that experience and/or training on the job cannot easily be duplicated anywhere else.
For my part, I do not regret my years in it. Nor do I think of it as a dead end profession in any way, as some here have opined.
There probably will continue to be the old 'warhorses' (meant in nothing but a good way, and perhaps count myself one of those being around 40 or so years in various related fields)- those who made their careers in this business from the ground up. I think that good, basic electronics training is what's actually needed to do our jobs.
You don't enter our profession as a game-winning major leaguer. Nor do you get that kind of salary to start (anywhere?). Sometimes it happens, but less and less often. Sometimes want and need are not the same in impressing a potential employer in an interview. You need to know the difference and sell those things which set you apart during the job interview.
The associate experience, hands-on training opportunities offered in this business- were fabulous in the past. You can start young and learn by experience- many of us did just that- and had a great time doing it, too! Edwin's points (and all those who posted on this very interesting thread) about what the future holds as the business evolves and changes are good ones. This industry is downsizing from a highly diverse industry to one that is highly concentrated- a more centralized universe. One that is more mature. This trend won't change anytime soon. Conglomerates are gobbling small markets and downsizing the stations' operations reducing overall personnel to stay afloat and keep profits wherever possible. Managers' who are most productive at it are also still getting the biggest bucks. This should come as no surprise as it's the one constant in business generally.
So in summary, what can newer, ever more technically gifted individuals expect in the industry they see from the outside as a challenge? Not a free ride, that is for sure.
Why go into a career that has such low growth potential? Taking some opportunities for granted is a buzz (...oops, I mean adrenaline) kill, though. Opportunities provided through organizations such as this one are for training more than employment. Guidance more than guarantees. My advice? Just find work opportunities within the business instead of looking in from the outside. You might need to sweep floors. Stardom is possible, regardless of your entry level, just down the road. And it's not easy being a star, much less superstar, it takes work.
Take on the challenge then, study and train for innovation. Don't come in from the sidelines expecting you will win the game on the first pitch (sorry, it's October, sports metaphors abound!) Our businesses will likely continue, perhaps in a smaller ways, and similar to any general employment positions. If you are lucky to find entry, take advantage of specialized training geared toward your specific long term goals, outside of the day-to-day work (what do you want to do next?) or general schooling (if you have no idea which direction to pursue) towards a 4 year degree. Meanwhile, concentrate on looking for opportunities to demonstrate your skills to people who are hiring.
If you want to do engineering support at a station, you need to be lucky enough and talented enough to find a spot to start work, you will then have to become more of a skilled, self directed manager in addition to what you are doing, and developing your skills as a technician second to advance or even to stay there. Why? Your boss wants results- the project complete, the station on the air making money- think larger than yourself. Everyone wears multiple hats in what they do. We will likely continue and wear more. So make hats!
There still will be a need for practical, innovative technical folks, especially at smaller market stations, but going forward, I think, is clearly declining (and maybe now in radio is at the point) where the concentration of ownership makes engineering operations a cookie- cutter design, if not centralized. However, there will always be those opportunities even in that environment, to innovate.
Said differently, in a smaller market more of an ownership path. I think that soon you'll need to buy into that by owning/starting up a small station on an entrepreneurial basis and doing that yourself if you really have the motivation.
SBE CAREER SERVICES CAN HELP
The state of the national (and world) economy continues to have its affect on most industries, including broadcasting. In these uncertain times, your professional association can serve as a valuable source of available broadcast engineering jobs across the U.S.
Your membership in SBE gives you access to SBE’s career service tools. These services can be a big help if you need to find a new job. Employers can also make use of these services when they need to fill positions with qualified engineers. The SBE JobsOnline members-only service is free. On a typical day, more than 100 broadcast engineering jobs are listed and the list is updated almost every business day as new job postings are received by the SBE National Office.
SBE members may also post their resume for free with the SBE Resume Service. Anyone can view the resumes at the SBE website, with the names and contact information hidden from view. For a small fee, employers can request copies of the resumes they are interested in, which then includes the names and contact information.
SBE also has begun a new SBE service called SBE InternshipsOnline. Similar to the SBE JobsOnline, employers can post engineering internships for free. Anyone can view the postings (also free). The new service is intended to help match those who offer engineering internships with students looking for those opportunities.
Do you make your broadcast engineering services available on a contract basis? The SBE maintains an SBE Contract Engineer Directory. This alphabetical list, organized by state, lists the name, technical services offered, geographic area covered and the contact information for each contract engineer listed. For a small annual fee, contract engineers may be included on this list.
Information about all of these services can be accessed at the SBE website, www.sbe.org on the Career Services page or click the links above in this article.
Career Helper and Job Search Tips
We’ve run articles in the past about portions of this valuable series on career assistance.
Here is a comprehensive listing of articles by Deborah Walker, CCMC Resume Writer / Career Coach.
Check out this link:
Excelsior College announces Certification Courses
by Rebecca Troeger
Excelsior College, in partnership with the Society of Broadcast Engineers, offers college credit to enrolled students for the completion of select SBE certifications. Apply up to 11 credits earned through SBE certifications plus any credit earned from other approved sources toward any of Excelsior College's more than 40 degree and certificate programs. Of particular interest to SBE members are the Associate Degree in Electronics Technology, Bachelor's Degree in Electronics Engineering Technology, and Associate or Bachelor's Degree in Technology with a specialty in Electronics/Instrumentation Technologies.
Complete your degree requirements with Excelsior's flexible learning options including online and CD-ROM courses. You can maximize your SBE Certifications with Excelsior College. The following SBE certifications have been evaluated toward Excelsior College credit:
Certified Broadcast Radio Engineer
Certified Broadcast Television Engineer
Certified Senior Broadcast Radio Engineer
Certified Senior Broadcast Television Engineer
Certified Professional Broadcast Engineer
For more information check out SBE's partnership page on Excelsior College's website at SBE.Excelsior.edu.
College Credit for Your SBE Certification:
The Society of Broadcast Engineers and Excelsior College have teamed up! Your current SBE Certification may qualify for credit towards a degree from Excelsior College or could help you finish that degree you’ve been working on at another institution. If you’re interested, contact Excelsior College by calling toll-free at (888) 647-2388 to learn about the details.
When you are ready to submit your SBE Certification for credit to Excelsior College,
download the SBE transcript request form at www.sbe.org or www.excelsior.edu,
or contact the SBE National Office for a copy. When you’ve completed the form,
e-mail, fax or mail it to Megan Clappe, Certification Director at the SBE National
Office, who will prepare your transcript and send it to Excelsior College.
Society of Broadcast Engineers
9102 N. Meridian Street, Suite 150
Indianapolis, IN 46260
SBE CertPreview Software
SBE CertPreview sample certification test software is now available.
It’s Microsoft Windows-based and replaces the previous DOS-based software.
New sample tests are available for Broadcast Technologist, Audio Engineer,
Video Engineer, Broadcast Networking Technologist, Broadcast Engineer and Senior
Broadcast Engineer in both radio and television. Sample tests include 50 to
100 questions and indicate when an incorrect answer has been given. It provides
a list of resources from which to learn more about a subject. Cost for each
SBE CERTpreview practice test is $27 plus $3 shipping. Contact the National
Office to order a copy.
Certification Exam Session Dates:
The SBE National Certification Committee certification exam session
dates for 2009 are listed below. Check the list below for the exam period
that is best for you. For more information about SBE Certification, see your
Chapter Certification Chair or
contact Megan Clappe,
Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000, or email@example.com
|November 6-16, 2009
|September 18, 2009 Date Past
|February 5-15, 2010
||December 31, 2009
|April 13, 2010
||March 26, 2010
|June 4-14, 2010
||April 16, 2010
|August 6-16, 2010
||June 4, 2010
|November 5-15, 2010
||September 17, 2010
Fees for 2009 are as Follows:
|Broadcast Networking Technologist
|Senior Broadcast Engineer
|Professional Broadcast Engineer
|AM Directional Specialist
|Digital Radio Broadcast Specialist
| *does not include first year membership
note: SBE Certification exams are administered only by SBE and are proctored
in-person by qualified and approved representatives of SBE. No other organization
is authorized to administer SBE exams.
Click here for
more information about SBE Certification.
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