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In Indy, Engineering for the Bottom Line

Session with veteran radio engineers will explore 15 helpful tech ideas

Many view the engineering department of a radio station as a financial liability even though the entire business is built on technology.

While it’s easy to fall into the reactive trap of constantly putting money in just to keep things working, there are proactive steps that can be taken to improve reliability and save money in the long term.

With the Radio Show heading to Indianapolis, the NAB and RAB have partnered with the Society of Broadcast Engineers, which has its headquarters in Indianapolis, to produce the technical sessions for the convention. One session on Friday, Sept. 12, is titled “15 Tech Ideas That Help the Bottom Line.” The panel, which I’ll moderate, features three respected engineers who share their ideas that any station can implement.

Virtual servers are among the topics to be discussed. Paul Shulins, director of technical operations for Greater Media, Boston, provided these slides.

The panelists are Jake Robinson, director of engineering and IT for Emmis Communications, Indianapolis; Jeremy Ruck, PE, principal engineer of Ruck and Associates; and Paul Shulins, director of technical operations for Greater Media, Boston. These individuals possess nearly a century of combined broadcast engineering experience.


When I was asked to submit an idea for a session, I had two ideas in mind about a single session. Instead of a single speaker presenting a topic, I suggested a panel that could present, discuss and likely more easily interact with the session attendees. I also wanted to cover technology in a way that not only provides roll-up-your-sleeves information, but also addresses the age-old concern from managers and owners about their perceived financial black hole view of engineering.

Drawing on the panelists’ experience in all aspects of radio technical operations, I asked each to develop his own top five ideas on technical operations, upgrades or fixes that will likely have a positive effect on a station’s budget. Many of these ideas include some kind of upfront or capital cost, but that cost is quickly covered and exceeded by the realized savings of the project.

What can you expect to learn during the session? You’ll have to attend to get everything, but some of the topics to be covered include virtual servers; multi-use STLs; LED lighting in studios, office space and on towers; tower site inspections; and several ways general maintenance now has benefits later.

The Radio Show has a history of targeting the station owners, managers, sales and programmers, but there is a valuable experience for the engineer as well. Spend some time on the exhibit floor, take in the technical sessions, and network with other radio professionals.

Chriss Scherer, CPBE CBNT, is a contract engineer and recording engineer in Kansas City. He is former editor of Radio magazine and a past president of SBE.