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Mark Persons Receives SBE Lifetime Achievement Award

Born to be a broadcast engineer: “I never had a Plan B:”

Mark Persons
Mark Persons

Only nine people had received the lifetime achievement award from the Society of Broadcast Engineers, until this week. Mark Persons becomes the 10th.

It was presented to Persons during an SBE online membership meeting and award ceremony.

Radio World is proud to share this news in part because Mark is a longtime contributor and valued member of the RW family. (You can read many of his recent tech tips and commentaries here.)

“The SBE John H. Battison Award for Lifetime Achievement recognizes and pays tribute to individuals for their dedication, lifelong achievement and outstanding contribution to broadcast engineering,” the SBE wrote in its announcement.

Prior recipients are Benjamin Wolfe and James Wulliman (1995), Philo and Elma Farnsworth (1997), Morris Blum (1998), Richard Rudman (2002), Richard Burden (2005), John Battison (2006) and Terry Baun (2010).

Persons told SBE: “I never had a Plan B. I was always going to be a broadcast engineer, and that’s exactly how it came out.”

The event planners had to get clever to plan the presentation. They secretly contacted Paula Persons via the Brainerd, Minn., VFW to ship the plaque to her via a friend.

To ensure Mark Persons was online for the ceremonies, they then invited him as 2018 recipient of the SBE Robert W. Flanders SBE Engineer of the Year award, to be present for a cameo with other past winners. And during the online ceremony, Paula came into his office with the award.

[Related: “SBE Names Its New Executive Director”]

SBE provided this summary of his career:

“Mark, a life-long resident of Minnesota, followed in the footstep of his father, who was also a radio broadcast engineer. Mark started turning transmitter knobs more than 60 years ago. While reaching the rank of sergeant in the United States Army from 1967 to 1969, Mark was in charge of an avionics repair shop for the OV-1 Mohawk high-tech surveillance aircraft in Vietnam.

“After his military service, he spent the next 10 years with KVBR radio in Brainerd, MN, where he became chief engineer. In 1977, he opened his own radio engineering consulting business, which he operated for the next 40 years. He married his wife Paula in 1978, and she became instrumental in running the business side of the business out of their home.

“Mark has been a respected engineer in Minnesota and the upper Midwest his entire career. He built 12 commercial AM and FM radio stations, and rebuilt, upgraded, maintained and repaired countless other radio stations for clients. He has endeavored to share his knowledge and experience with others in the field. He has written more than 140 articles that have appeared in industry magazines and made more than 25 speeches and presentations at industry conventions, conferences and meetings.”

Nominees are SBE members and have been active for 40 years or more in broadcast engineering or an allied field. Persons joined the SBE in 1981 and is now a life member. He holds three life certifications from the society.

Persons retired several years ago but is active in the SBE Mentor Program. He’s also a ham and a member of the American Legion, The VFW and Disabled American Veterans.

You can watch the replay of the membership meeting and awards ceremonies on the SBE YouTube channel.

As previously announced, RJ Russell received the Robert W. Flanders SBE Engineer of the Year award. Fred Baumgartner and Roland Robinson received the James C. Wulliman SBE Educator of the Year award. New SBE Fellows Ralph Beaver and Jim Leifer were saluted.

[Related: “RJ Russell Is SBE’s Engineer of the Year”]