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TAB to Debut Chief Operator Certification Course for Radio

Participants could earn a certification from the Texas Association of Broadcasters in just one day

Among the exhibits, sessions and speakers at the upcoming Texas Association of Broadcasters (TAB) show, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about being chief operator of a radio station. 

The new program, called the “Chief Operator for Radio Course,” will take place Aug. 2, 2023, during the two-day 2023 TAB Convention and Trade Show. That show will be held August 2 and 3 at the JW Marriott in downtown Austin. 

The “Chief Operator for Radio Course” is a six-hour course based on the guidelines laid out in the Society of Broadcast Engineers’ study guide for mastering the day-to-day running of a broadcast station. Classroom instruction during the course will be led by veteran broadcast engineer Gil Garcia, former corporate regional vice president of engineering at Clear Channel Communications, now iHeartMedia; and Steve Hasskamp, president of Rock Tex Technologies and a former television station director of engineering.

“It’s the first course of its kind that ensures that owners and operators have a chief operator that knows what’s going on in the day-to-day running of the station, who to contact and how to make a station operable,” said Garcia,  who was the key designer of the course.

That individual must understand the rules surrounding EAS, public files, tower lights, studio operations, FCC requirements and more. The industry is losing engineers, Garcia said, and as a result stations are often lacking someone who understands all the ins and outs of running a station. 

This course is designed to address that. It is also the first one-day program of its kind in the nation, Garcia said. A similar week-long course was developed in 2022 as part of a new TAB Technical Academy that graduated 13 new chief operators for radio. Garcia streamlined information from that week-long exam so that attendees could attend the one-day class during the TAB Show.  An open book exam — that consists of 40 multiple choice questions and two essay questions — will be given at the end of the six-hour course. Those who pass this test can receive a TAB certification as a chief operator for radio.

The new one-day Chief Operator for Radio Course was a developed after the successful graduation of 13 individuals during a week-long course, part of the new TAB Technical Academy.

Anyone from a chief engineer to an owner to a general manager to a station secretary are encouraged to investigate the course, Garcia said. The program is not overly technical but rather is a mix of administrative overview and technical basics.

“We don’t want to give people the idea that it’s just technical,” Garcia said. The course will touch on EAS logs, how to turn on and off the transmitter, how to address interference calls, how to handle individual listeners who call in and more. “It provides basic detail so [an individual] is not going in with blind eyes,” he said. 

Instruction from Garcia and Hasskamp will be supplemented with content and videos developed over six months and designed with input from broadcast engineers throughout Texas.  To qualify, applicants must meet at least one of several requirements, such as proof of an SBE certification as a radio operator, possession of a SBE certificate in radio broadcasting or proof of three years of continuous full-time service at a radio station.

As a former chief engineer, disc jockey and owner, Garcia has watched the industry continue to lose chief engineers — and the wealth of knowledge that comes with that position. 

“We need someone who is there who can say, ‘I have the savvy to say I run this station,’” he said.

Registration for the course is open now and is $75 for early registrants and $125 for late registration. Attendees should keep in mind that pre-registration is required as there will not be any on-site registration for the course. 

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