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The June Viewpoint discussed the perception of engineers within the station, and how each person can work to improve his or her image to the non-technical staff. This has spurred several responses from readers.
Kudos! I agree with you on the respect for engineering issue you addressed [Viewpoint, June 2005]. I will add one thing from personal experience. Some companies have an ingrained culture of “engineer disdain.” I left a company like that a little over a year ago. (The director of engineering for that company left about four months ago to take a job in another field at half pay.) I am currently with Morris Communications and could not be happier. I was immediately included in the management team, and given the opportunity to earn the respect due everyone working on the team.
Again, thanks! The respect issue is an extremely important one that only progressive, long-term profitability businesses seem to recognize.
Salina Media Group
KABI-KBLS-KSAJ-KSAL AM/FM, KYEZ
I am going to share this with my staff.
Frederick R. Vobbe
vice president and chief engineer
Great editorial in the June edition. I fully agree that the SBE could probably look at opportunities to create some better visibility in the magazines and journals read by the industry leaders. One idea is to spotlight engineers who have made quantitative engineering improvements that add value to their organizations or who advance the state of the art--and find a way to tie it in with SBE membership. For example, "SBE member John Smith, CE of WXYZ, successfully negotiated the purchase of two HD Radio facilities and saved his company $10,000."
With a bit of self-help, this can still be a great career for those willing to become a part of their respective teams and for those with a desire to continually educate themselves about changes in the industry. When I was a market engineering manager, one PD used to tell me that I had more creative ideas than his air staff and promotions director. A CE that can blend in and create value to the organization is one who will always be respected by his or her peers.
During the past 10 years, I have been a part of other allied industries and the grass ain't necessarily greener on the other side--although it has certainly been more stable and the income has been better. But there are few other careers in the engineering field that allow for independent thinking and an entrepreneurial spirit within the scope of one's job responsibilities. In my case, gaining respect was never an issue, but demanding job security and commensurate pay for performance were ultimately the driving forces that pulled me away.
Creating a successful career path in broadcasting has become much more challenging than it once was. Beyond the role of the CE, the opportunities at the VP and DOE level in radio are extremely limited due to consolidation, especially for those outside the organization. The path can still be created, but it takes a lot of effort to attain for those who want it: continual education, SBE participation, peer visibility in the form of publishing and committee involvement are just some of the ways of getting there--and just as importantly, the demonstrated ability to smartly manage operating and capital funding.
One factor that seems to keep some qualified engineers away from the broadcasting industry is the perceived circus-like atmosphere at commercial radio stations. Come to think of it, life in the radio business is a bit like a circus with its high turnover rates, wacky morning shows, and the WKRP-type personalities involved with the GM functioning as the ringmaster. But at the same time, it's a bit of that craziness that makes the job fun as long it comes in small doses.
Paul Christensen, CPBE
Law Office of Paul B. Christensen
Thank you for staying on top of the news of the storm as relates to radio in the affected areas. Beradio.com is the only place I have been able to find current information on the fate of the radio stations.
KSTX, KPAC, KTXI
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio, TX
What's up IBOC?
Your July Viewpoint is right on. HD Radio should use the hotel market as a way to build consumer awareness of HD Radio. The average length of stay in a business class hotel is less than three days: 365 days times 70 percent occupancy divided by three gives you about 85 different guests in each guest room each year. In the U.S. there are about four million guest rooms. Not counting overlap, this is quite a few eyeballs to see the product. I think that is reason enough to want to put it in hotels before XM and Sirius beat them to it.
I tried to work with a vendor to have an inexpensive HD Radio made for a hotel (100,000 units) but my supplier couldn't come up with anything cost effective.
In-Room Television and Entertainment Systems, Carlson Hotels Worldwide
I read your August Viewpoint and agree with you. I also tried the store test here in Bryan-College Station. One guy at Best Buy got really angry when I told him he was wrong and that IBOC was real.
My company has spent millions on our major-market stations going IBOC. I helped with a couple installs here in Texas and heard the big difference on AM. But at the end of the day no one in the general public could hear the difference, just us geek-type engineers.
If IBOC isn't going to go the way of AM stereo, everyone needs to start talking about HD Radio or IBOC or whatever they want to call it, and talk about it loud, clear and often. I think to it will help if the FCC would do as it has done with TV and set a date to turn off the analog. Then I think that might help get some folks moving a little faster on it.
KAGG-KKYS-KNFX, Clear Channel
Bryan-College Station, TX
Your August Viewpoint "Digital radio? What's that" was good news to me. I hope it stays the best-kept secret, at least on AM. So far, our station on 970 [WWDJ] has lost two exits of listenable coverage to HD Radio on 950 in Pennsylvania.
Salem Media of New York City, WMCA-AM, WWDJ-AM
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