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Letter: We’re All on the Same Team

"IT should be your best friend as a broadcast engineer, not your adversary," says a reader

The author is a senior broadcast engineer at Educational Media Foundation (K-LOVE/Air1). In this letter to the editor, he responds to David Bialik’s recently-published commentary “Broadcast Engineers Duke It Out With Their IT Departments.” Comment on this or any article. Email [email protected].

I saw David Bialik’s commentary this morning and felt I had to respond. I deal with our IT department daily, and the relationship is anything but adversarial. Quite the contrary. They are some of the most amazingly talented and helpful folks I know, willing to bend over backwards to understand the broadcast applications supported by the systems they manage. This has been the case in pretty much every organization I’ve worked for, including a university setting and another very large public radio broadcast group. How have I managed this? I befriend the IT guys right out of the gate.

We all know the horror stories. So what do we do do about it? The answer: Be proactive. Strengthen that relationship as much as possible. As technologies continue to converge, IT should be your best friend as a Broadcast Engineer…not your adversary. If you’re in a larger organization and can’t do that from the top down of your IT department, do it from the bottom up.

Befriend that helpdesk guy. Buy them donuts and coffee. Pick their brain a bit. You might just learn something new! Better yet, find out who directly manages the core infrastructure like servers, switches and routers. They have the ability to make your life so much easier if you work with them. That said, you may need to educate them on the fact that broadcast is a 24/7 real-time operation and ideally any updates or downtime that could affect the air signal or production should be scheduled accordingly. They also need to understand the implications that making changes to switches, routers and servers can potentially have on content flow.

Broadcast engineers have a certain skill set, and IT is one subset of that. IT guys devote their careers to it, just like we’ve devoted our careers to all things studio and transmitter. Your job is to keep the content on the air, theirs is to keep the IT infrastructure up-to-date, secure and functioning smoothly. There is a very strong connection between these two critical functions.

These relationships are a two-way street, but someone has to make the first move in acknowledging just how valuable that cross-department collaboration really is and extend the olive branch. Remember that you’re ultimately both on the same team, and both there to accomplish the same end goal.

– Shane Toven

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