The Technical Professional Training Program just announced by the Society of Broadcast Engineers aims to position new entrants to broadcast engineering for success by expanding their knowledge base.
Geary Morrill of Alpha Media chairs the Education Committee of the SBE and is a member of the organization’s executive board. He talked with Radio World in November about the pending program.
“What we’re doing by offering TPTP,” he said, “is providing means to deliver support to a new broadcast engineer, leveraging inherent strengths of current SBE initiatives — providing a step-by-step template that can be utilized by group owners, independent broadcasters, contract engineering firms, state associations … basically any organization concerned with finding and developing our next generation of broadcast technical professionals.”
Over the years, SBE has developed and delivered programs and support to those already employed in the profession. “Unfortunately, those not intimately involved in the technical side of our industry aren’t truly aware of what and how we do this,” he said.
“They are however acutely aware there’s less and less folks available to perform technical work critical to their enterprise, and that sources traditionally geared to prepare new techs — trade schools and electronic vocational training programs, and on-the-job learning opportunities — have either shrunk or disappeared completely.”
SBE’s leaders weighed how to fill the gap.
“This was not just a technical issue. We would need to make everything user-friendly to both technical and non-technical folks, or it could never get off the ground,” Morrill said.
Cost and Benefits
The cost for a person entering the program is $475. What do they receive for this?
First, they’ll be paired with a mentor, someone already in the technical side of the industry with a knowledge base and practical experience that will help to encourage and guide their learning process.
“In a group owner situation, this could be someone already in their employ at a market, regional or national level,” Morrill said.
“It may be someone affiliated with another organization, like a state broadcasters’ association, interested in supporting this effort for their membership. Or it could be a retired engineer looking to pay forward the support he or she received as a new entrant to our profession some time ago. The common denominator is a desire to see a new person succeed in their broadcast technology career.”
Second, the mentor will collaborate with their mentee to determine their grasp of the disciplines and technologies needed for their role using existing and enhanced tools like SBE CertPreview.
“Armed with this evaluation, the mentors can direct a mentees’ studies by curating the extensive archived SBE webinar series as well as new offerings that are always in development as technology evolves,” he said.
“Included with enrollment in the program, the mentee receives SBE Member Plus level access to the entire educational webinar library of the society for a year, including all new webinars. Mentee learning is further supplemented with a copy of the recently published ‘SBE Engineering Handbook,’ providing a written resource that can be used for both their studies and future reference.”
Third, a natural byproduct of this effort will be preparation to write the Broadcast Technologist Certification exam for either AM/FM or TV. That helps to demonstrate a mentees mastery of electronic fundamentals and relevant FCC rules.
Morrill said SBE is encouraging employers to invest in participation by their new hires.
“In return, it’s reasonable to ask for a commitment from the employee to remain with the employer making this investment, for a mutually agreeable period, or to reimburse the employer’s hard cost if they should choose to withdraw. That way, both parties have a vested interest in the employee being successful, as they have ‘skin in the game.’”
Morrill said the effort involves education, mentorship and certification that already exist in SBE offerings but brings them together in a “guided” system rather than offering things a la carte.
“This is a huge benefit to the intended users because we realize folks who aren’t already technically proficient simply don’t know what they don’t know. And non-technical folks wanting to help don’t either.”
SBE will also provide support and training for volunteers to make their role effective and rewarding.
“A successful mentor doesn’t need to be a professional educator … just be willing to take an active interest in bringing this next generation along.”