Broadcast Engineering: Beyond the 9 to 5

This is an occupation that, to a very large degree, defines who a person is November 17, 2015

Broadcast engineering is an occupation that, to a very large degree, defines who a person is. It’s different than so many other jobs because of its 24-hours-per-day, seven days-per-week schedule.

I hesitate to say it’s like being a fireman or police officer because an engineer does not need to put his or her life at risk every day as those professionals do. Still, it is similar, at least, in that you can be called to action at any time, and your employer expects you to respond. It’s not a 9 to 5 job, by any stretch.

That makes the field a difficult one. At Radio, in addition to writing about the technology you use, we’re also talking about the job’s important work life aspects.

One of the most frequent comments that came in to us during this year’s Salary Survey touched on a fear that many of us have: No one is getting in to the business behind us, ready to take over when necessary. This month, as a follow-up to October’s Salary Survey results, we have an article about younger people who have gotten in to this crazy field, by differing means and for multiple reasons. While lamenting the dearth of new engineers, are you sure a new one (or two) isn’t standing at your office door a couple of times daily?

Another way to make your life easier is to let a remote control do your bidding whenever possible. It’s not enough just to have remote access: You can give that remote control some power to take decisions at those hard-to-reach-in-the-middle-of-the-night sites. This month we’re looking at ideas on how to set up what I’m calling a “mini NOC,” the idea being that no matter how many (or how few) stations you maintain, the same techniques for monitoring and control can be used.

Our Facility Showcase for November features a new transmitter site build in southern California that had its share of problems along the way. “Energy and persistence conquer all things,” according to Ben Franklin. That was proven true during this project.

Jeremy Ruck is back this month with a great read on the issue of FM versus LTE interference. Eighty percent of the U.S. is now covered by LTE — but new sites are still being constructed. What sort of problems can their presence make for FM broadcasters?

Tech Tips is the first in a series about the rehabilitation of old transmitters. Is that transmitter shoved in the corner just “parts” or is it worth fixing up? We’ll help you decide.

Chris Wygal has taken a serious look at BSI’s Stinger. Version 3.1 is now available. Chris has used older versions for years, and gives the new iteration a thorough test drive.

Lee Petro — our man keeping an eye on the FCC — writes this month about the so-called AM Revitalization plan. It’s my hope this has a beneficial effect for AM stations, and we’ll be following it closely in the months to come.

Our own curmudgeon, the Wandering Engineer, does his best to shoot holes in our cherished notions once again in Sign Off. Are radio engineers really a dying breed?

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