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Clear Channel Radio Honors its Engineers

Clear Channel Radio Honors its Engineers

Clear Channel Radio is recognizing its engineers with the first annual “Clear Channel Engineer of the Year” award. The intent is to showcase “the talent, hard work and dedication of our station engineers who represent the very best of the best,” SVP of Engineering Jeff Littlejohn tells Radio World.
Nominations poured in from throughout the company. Recognizing that different market sizes and resources dictates different skill sets, the markets were divided into four groups:
Major Market (Arbitron 1-10)
Large Markets (Arbitron 11-50)
Medium Market (Arbitron 51-150)
Small Market (Arbitron 151+)
Four winners were chosen from several dozen nominations. The winners get company-paid travel, lodging and admission to NAB2004.
The winners are: Major Market Engineer of the Year for 2003, Josh Hadden – New York City; Large Market Engineer of the Year for 2003, Erik Kuhlman – Portland, Ore.; Medium Market Engineer of the Year for 2003, Raleigh Rubenking – Des Moines, Iowa and Small Market Engineer of the Year for 2003, Charlie Wooten – Panama City, Fla.
New York City has had unique challenges recently and 2003 was no exception due to the region-wide blackout. Hadden holds quarterly meetings to discuss preparedness and brainstorms for both normal and worst-case scenarios. His group had a plan in place when the blackout hit.
While some New York City stations remained off the air or at significantly reduced power, all of the Clear Channel stations were on the air within minutes providing full market coverage, according to the company.
Hadden makes sure maintenance and testing is regularly occurring for critical equipment like generators, UPS’s and auxiliary systems such as STL’s and transmitters. Additionally, Hadden makes sure that all engineering personnel is “cross trained” on each other’s facilities.
Kuhlman recently to Portland but took on more responsibility than just this one market. He also spends a good bit of time assisting Eugene/Albany/Corvallis and Medford.
During the recent move and power upgrade of KJR(AM), Seattle, Kuhlman spent many long, cold overnights away from his family, while helping with the construction. He did this not only because he wanted to lend a hand but to increase his knowledge, stated Littlejohn in a memo announcing the winners.
Kuhlman was instrumental in solving an intermod problem in Seattle. Kuhlman hopped outside with an acetylene torch in the middle of a torrential rain storm and 40 degree temps and welded up a fix. “He stood out in that mess on a ladder for over an hour getting soaked to bone. Never a complaint,” according to Clear Channel.
For the past 24 years, Rubenking has been in charge of keeping WHO(AM), Des Moines, on the air. Today he oversees the seven station, Des Moines/Ames cluster.
It’s the stations Rubenking does not oversee that earn him the recognition, stated Littlejohn. He is the first person to drive to another Clear Channel market if his help is needed. His work has taken him to all 9 Iowa Clear Channel markets this year, plus Minneapolis.
Rubenking presents options and solutions rather than problems and obstacles. When the KWMT(AM) tower in Ft Dodge was taken down by vandals, he was there to get the station back on the air with emergency operations and then saw the tower replacement project through to completion.
Rubenking can fix an antenna problem, a transmitter challenge, or an IT issue. He looks at every problem with an eye towards the most cost effective way of doing the job, taking into consideration long-term costs, according to Littlejohn.
Finally, Wooten manages Clear Channel Radio’s 6 station cluster in Panama City. This past year, he and Gerald Wilson managed the build-out of the company’s new studios in Montgomery, Ala. In addition to his normal job, Wooten spent an average of two days a week in Montgomery for four months. The project was delivered on time and as promised.
Earlier this year, Panama City experienced a critical Prophet server failure. It was unrecoverable. Wooten had backups of his spots ready to go. He had also loaned a backup of his music to Pensacola, so it was a quick drive away.
Unfortunately, the replacement server was defective. Four days later, it crashed too. In the span of a week Wooten put in two file servers, a new switch, made trips to Pensacola and beyond Tallahassee for parts, met FedEx at dawn and Northwest airlines at midnight (18 hours later) and probably put in 100+ hours over the course of the week. “He kept his staff calm and always had a positive attitude, a calm demeanor, and a good suggestion when the station hit a brick wall,” stated Littlejohn.