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Engineer Tony Abfalter Is an MVP

Leighton Broadcasting salutes its technical leader

Tony Abfalter
Tony Abfalter

Each year at Radio World we receive hundreds — if not thousands — of press releases about radio executives, general managers, air talent and sales people. We get very few about engineers. I like to celebrate them when I do.

Leighton Broadcasting in St. Cloud, Minn., wants us to know that it has a very special director of engineering and IT. He is Tony Abfalter, K0VSC, recipient of its MVP Award for 2020.

CEO Bob Leighton writes on his blog, “When the government called for a shutdown to protect against the coronavirus, we, like many others, had to quickly rethink how we worked … Our account executives were going remote but still needed access to company resources and new ways to connect with their clients. Our on-air announcers needed a safe environment to broadcast in and when they were self-quarantined due to potential exposure, they too, needed to be able to work from home.

“With the clock ticking, we called the department all station managers call when things aren’t working: engineering. …  Tony Abfalter was already formulating a plan.”

I contacted Abfalter to ask him to describe how he approached the pandemic.

“We had been focused on taking a look ahead on what could become problems in the future. While COVID-19 obviously was not something seen, our planning was easily adapted to it,” he replied.

“Over the past few years, broadcasters have had to take a look at some new challenges, like, ‘What if we can’t access the studios but still need to delivery timely, quality content? How do we do that cost-effectively? How do we make the process easy to implement on the fly?’

“Some of the solutions we implemented in building out this plan was moving to cloud-based services that can be accessed easily. The use of Microsoft 365 services, especially Teams, allowed staff to communicate and keep things moving. For remote studio live studio work the Comrex Opals we installed three years ago proved to be extremely valuable.” A secure VPN also was part of the process.

Bob Leighton said, “Tony accomplished all of this seamlessly and swiftly, which we considered exceptional and instrumental to our success, as an organization — a real MVP.”

KNSI refurbished studio at night

Leighton presented the award in the original KFAM building in St. Cloud, Minn, recently refurbished in a retro style. “The remodel not only looks cool, but it allows our director of engineering to monitor and maintain all of our company signals from one location,” Leighton noted.

The family owned company has 190 employees, 64 RF/streaming audio sources, 26 format brands, six markets and one engineer.

Kudos to Tony Abfalter — and a tip of the hat to Leighton Broadcasting for highlighting the important contributions of radio engineering.

[Related: Read the Radio World ebook “Remote Radio Phase II.”]