Today’s Engineer in Today’s Radio Industry

Perhaps now more than ever before, the technical members of our profession are facing issues that challenge the survival of this industry we so cherish.
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The author is national president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. Radio World provides this space to the society as a service to the industry.

Perhaps now more than ever before, the technical members of our profession are facing issues that challenge the survival of this industry we so cherish.

The broadcast engineer’s role today is crucial to keeping our stations and production facilities solvent and competitive. We must realize that the part we fulfill in our individual station’s organizational structure is vital to the success of the facility, and ultimately to this business we call broadcasting.

Proven worth

Broadcasting has for a long time provided a viable livelihood for those of us on the technical side of the industry. This career also offers intrinsic rewards that bring a sense of real satisfaction when a job or project has been completed successfully.

We work hard to prove how valuable we are to our stations’ managers and owners. And we are starting to receive much deserved credit for it. I feel our stations are proud of us, their engineers.

Today, the broadcast engineer is one of the most valuable resources to his or her company. The engineer’s professional opinion increasingly is becoming an important component in the managerial decisions that ultimately affect the financial welfare of our facilities.

Broadcasting has been an intriguing business for investors for a long time, and today that interest is more intense than ever. The role we play in the broadcasting profession has contributed to many of the successes that our companies have experienced.

We have helped build these companies and assisted in guiding them to the valuable properties they have become. It is proven that broadcast engineering is no longer a necessary "fixed cost" of a station. In a good operation, it is considered to be an asset, and its opinions are highly solicited and considered.

Leadership

This ever-changing industry is bringing more responsibilities to the technical roles we play. We must be willing to accommodate the changes of this "new-age media" or be complacent with being left behind. We must improve the marketing of our importance – it is imperative that we remain "top of mind" with the business leaders of our industry. For they know we are knowledgeable, as well as capable, of addressing important issues that affect the technical segments of the industry.

Consistently, we are initiators, team players and leaders within our own groups. Day to day, we are called upon to assist with critical decisions that not only affect our companies’ local operations, but our national corporate operations as well.

From the chief engineer to the director or vice president of engineering, group owners are listening to us and are considering our valuable input. This makes for a "win-win" arrangement, so vitally needed in today’s competitive business environment.

Large investments are being made in broadcast groups. Shareholders demand a return on their investments and ensuring these returns takes prudent decisions based on sound resources. Top management talent has been put in place to oversee operations in a way that hopefully ensures a return on the investment dollar.

You can certainly consider the broadcast engineer or engineering department as one of these resources to these decision-makers.

I am proud to be a part of this industry. My 30-plus years span turntables, tubes and tape from the ’60s to the digital bits of the new millennium. I have seen first-hand the change that broadcast engineering has helped bring about, and I look forward with great anticipation to what continuing trends in technology will bring.

However, it is up to us to stay abreast of those changes and the new waves of technology. Our station decision-makers are relying on us for continuous input on ways of staying competitive and meeting bottom-line expectations.

Our overall objective will continue to be providing uncompromised public service that is essential to our listeners and viewers in this day and time.

We all are experiencing some amount of uncertainty in today’s society, especially following the Sept. 11 attacks on the heart of America.

Our industry is strong, will survive and will continue to serve our viewing and listening public in the way we have been doing for decades, but better. Today we need each other more than ever!

It is imperative that we remain committed to this industry and our owners and pledge to give it all we’ve got. We will be fine, as will America. During this time of heightened uncertainty, it is our industry that will keep our country informed and help it in the healing process. We will continue to take pride in the profession that we have chosen: broadcast engineering.

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Dan Halyburton is senior vice president/general manager, group operations at Susquehanna Radio Corp. in Dallas. He began his radio career in 1970, as a production director and air personality at Mission Broadcasting’s WWOK(AM) in Miami.