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Letter: Equipment Lifespans

Musing on analog vs. digital technologies

image of mark persons article on analog and digitalExcellent article in Radio World by Mark Persons (“Analog veterans in the digital world,” May 12 issue).

Count me among those who started out in the analog world but quickly became “digitally native.” I would be hard-pressed to recommend a new analog buildout these days, even for smaller stations. It just makes so much sense and is so much easier to make changes after the fact.

The biggest drawback is that unfortunately, digital equipment does tend to have a shorter lifespan than analog, simply because of the rapid pace of technology improvements, and often quicker part obsolescence.

Lifespans of 10 to 20 years for some equipment have now become more like five to 10, or three to five, not because it has failed but because technology has improved.

That said, in some cases the labor saved in maintenance and ongoing changes can often offset some of this cost. It’s just something that needs to be budgeted for, much like upgrades to desktop computing technology.

The letter writer is senior broadcast engineer at Educational Media Foundation.