August 2012
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Out in the Trenches

We fight for every scrap we can get. Sometimes it is not a fair fight. Sometimes the most frustrating thing can be the suits in the corner office.  We eat, drink and sleep RF.  I have transmitter dirt permanently embedding in my skin.  If a thunderstorm passes by, I get my shoes on.  Last time I was home during a blizzard, I was in high school, and believe me, that was a long time ago.  I’ve been hot, cold, soaking wet, dirty, dusty, hungry and dehydrated all in the same day.  Those days can be 8-36 hours long or longer.  240 volts AC is low voltage.  Arcs and sparks are a diagnostic tool.

I have clip leaded things, used non-standard parts to get a transmitter back on the air, employed fans on power supplies, filed, cut, bent, tightened, burnished relay contacts, put plate transformers up on a block of wood and crossed my fingers while turned the plate supply on.

My DVM looks like this:

Fluke 111 DVM

Fluke 111 DVM

But the best part is, when I walk into a radio station studio, the DJ says “THANK GOD YOU ARE HERE!”  I don’t drive a fancy car or wear a fancy suit, but the respect I get is there, even with the young too cool for school guys on the CHR station.

I am a broadcast engineer and I am here to fix your shit.

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2 comments to Out in the Trenches

  • There are two trains of thought today. Stations or groups having consistently cash problems are less likely to keep their own staff engineer and depend on outside contractors, most often for dire emergencies that often take them off the air. From outward appearances they only value the engineer when they are completely dead in the water. These same folks fail to be proactive as far as maintenance and only appreciate the gravity of a situation when faced with the possibility of “make-good” spots or a diminished reputation within their local community. Saving a penny here or there may come back to bite them on the backside, multiple times over.

    On the other hand, there are stations and groups that have one or more engineers on-staff to keep things operating. While probably not as well communicated by the staff, these engineer(s) are appreciated for being able to remedy an incident in short order. The station operators truly values what an engineer brings to the table as far as experience and talent in addition to taking a proactive approach in maintaining not only their equipment, but their business as a whole.

    This is in no way a kick to engineering firms, as many stations depend on them in today’s economic client. It’s more in the way how owners today look at their broadcast properties.

  • That should have been in in today’s economic CLIMATE.

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