From Doing to Writing

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Shane Toven

Hi. I’m the new guy. Some of you may recognize my name from postings in various online forums or articles I have written for trade publications over the years.

Like many of you, the radio bug bit me at an early age. Some of my earliest memories are of listening to Sunday morning gospel music on a local AM radio station in Fort Worth, TX, at the age of five. It was also at that age that I started taking apart electronic equipment to find out how it worked.

A few years later, I found myself at the studios of KMFY-FM/KOZY-AM in Grand Rapids, MN, with an elementary school group. The other kids seemed disinterested, but I was absolutely fascinated by the operator playing Paul Harvey from a reel-to-reel on the AM, while a Harris automation system ran a satellite feed on the FM. The racks of cart carousels and reel-to-reel decks captivated my attention. I remember being disappointed to learn that many of the voices I heard on the air were not actually at the station.

As a teenager, I wandered into the studios of KAXE-FM. This was my first real taste of truly live and local radio. KAXE is also the station where my career in radio began. New satellite downlink equipment had just arrived on their doorstep and they needed someone to install it. I did not know much about the equipment, but was curious enough to try and figure it out. Their contract engineer, Mark Persons, took me under his wing after seeing my work. Mark has continued to be a good friend and mentor throughout my career.

After spending my youth at KAXE as a volunteer, then part-time staff, then full-time chief engineer, I left to take a position with Minnesota Public Radio. In 2006 I joined Wyoming Public Media as chief engineer, then was promoted to director of engineering.

How did I find myself in the editor's chair? I’m still not entirely sure, but it has been a whirlwind couple of months. I found out, when many of you did, that Chriss was leaving this post. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked. I had always enjoyed reading his columns.

After 20 years with a screwdriver in one hand and a soldering iron in the other, I faced a very difficult decision. I loved my job—I had a wonderful general manager, two very talented engineers working for me, and responsibility for a statewide infrastructure with more than enough work to keep the three of us busy. When one of the inevitable “bursts” of simultaneous failures at multiple far-flung sites occurred recently though, I decided it was time for a change.

The most difficult thing for me is going to be taking a less “hands on” role in the industry. I really enjoyed working with this stuff on a daily basis. What I will not miss, however, are the 3 AM phone calls when transmitters go bump in the night.

In the end, this publication is really about you and what you deal with on a daily basis in this business. Feel free to send a note to if there is something in particular that you would like to see covered here.

I'm listening.

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