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Chriss Scherer Scherer has been the editor of Radio magazine since 1997. His experience in radio includes work as chief engineer at stations in Cleveland (WMMS-FM, WHK-AM, WZJM-FM, WJMO-AM...more

Archive for February, 2009

The Youth of radio

When I attended the University of Miami, I spent a great deal of time at the campus radio station, WVUM. In the 80s, the station ran a whopping 365W ERP. A few years ago, the station increased its power to 1.3kW.

I visited the station on my campus visit, and I was warmly greeted by some of the students who work there. They gladly showed me their station. They are proud of what they are doing, and it shows in their attitude.

The facilities are modest but functional. Like many college radio stations, it’s a good training ground for the students. They can learn about radio without the pressure of fulfilling ratings goals or sales figures. Is it polished and perfect? No. I can’t say I like some of the music they play. But they are learning about radio, and they’re getting hooked on it, just like you and I are hooked on it.

Keep up the good work, WVUM.

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Goin’ Back to Miami

I’m reminded of the song the Blues Brothers played while on my current trip. I am taking a couple of days to visit Miami, FL, and my alma mater, the University of Miami. I graduated from there in 1987 with a degree in Music Engineering Technology. Ken Pohlman was the program director when I was in school, and he held that post until 2006, which is the last time I visited the campus.

I’ve been back here a few times since the 80s, and I usually plan the trip to talk to the students in the Music Engineering program during the Friday morning Audio Forum. I’m always impressed by the projects the students are working on, and I enjoy the chance to talk about a side of audio that many of them don’t think about at all: radio.

While my goal in presenting is to offer some insight into another technical career where their study of electronics, acoustics, digital technology and audio can be applied, I also share some advice in establishing and pursuing a career in general.

In return, I see some young minds taking in information and getting new ideas of their own. I get a glimpse into new thoughts being formulated.

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Earned recognition

By now you’ve heard that the NAB announced the recipients of the 2009 Engineering Achievement Award. Congratulations to Jack Sellmeyer and Sterling Davis. They join a distinguished list of broadcasters who have made their mark on broadcast engineering.

I am lucky enough to know many of the radio recipients. Hopefully some of their experience and knowledge will rub off on me.

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Put your transmitter site on Twitter

By now you’ve seen that Radio magazine has pages on Facebook and Twitter. Sites such as these are continue to gain in popularity. For some people, it’s easy to spend an entire day just surfing other people’s listings (I’m not one of them, by the way).

It seems there’s more to these sites than just posting that you are going to take a shower or post the pics of a recent drunken outing. Some companies are offering applications to alert the users about things happening at home, such as a plant needing water or that the washing machine has finished.

Personally, I take an active part in my life to know that my plant needs water. I also know that I’m doing laundry at a given time, so it’s not a problem to remember that I have to do something with the wet mass of fabric.

Regardless, an article in Wired discusses some of these uses. Post a message to Twitter and turn off the house lights. Why not set it so a posted message will switch to the backup STL?

There are some security issues obviously, but I suppose there could be a practical use in there somewhere.

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How It’s Made

Perhaps you’ve seen the series on the Discovery Channel called How It’s Made. Each 30-minute episode highlights four somewhat common products. Some of the more interesting (to me) items have been guitars, optical lenses and stamps. While these features are created for a general audience, they are interesting and provide a unique view into how these items are manufactured.

I recently saw an episode that explained how a microphone is made. The segment was created at the Neumann manufacturing facility and showed a U87 being built.

If you missed the episode, it appears to be on season 11 episode 7. I found it on Youtube.

Have you seen an interesting segment on this or another episode? Maybe another program?

If you are a manufacturer, perhaps you could create something similar detailing how your product is made. Contact me and we can post it on RadioMagOnline.com.

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Another delay for DTV

Feb 17? Not necessarily. Jun 12? Definitely. Really. For sure this time.

The analog shutoff has been promoted as being Feb 17 for years now, yet some people are still in the dark about it apparently.

I think a big part of it is that Congress and the FCC didn’t want to look like the bad guys when Ethel and Homer lost their TV signals. Now the shutoff date is up to the station. Let the station take the blame.

Deadlines are created for a reason. Yes, the coupon program had some problems. Yes, many people don’t pay attention to the daily notices that they might lose their TV signals. Most markets held soft tests to see who might be affected. Many SBE chapters worked phone banks to answer questions about the transition.

Meanwhile, the companies that bought the 700MHz spectrum that will be freed are still waiting to get access to it.

Feb 17 should have been left in place.

Certification required

You’ve seen the help wanted ads that include a list of candidate requirements. Often you will see a list of preferred items. I often see “SBE certification a plus” in job listings.

Unless you live under a rock, you know I’m involved with the SBE. I’m the immediate past president, I served two terms on the board of directors, and I served four years as chairman of the Certification Committee. When Bill Weisinger, my friend from Cleveland, forwarded part of a job listing to me, it made me smile. This job was not asked for certification to be a plus, it was a requirement. Here’s the text Bill sent to me:

    Subject: Jazz88 FM – The World’s Premier Jazz Radio Station, NYC and NJ
    Required Education and Experience:
    * Bachelor’s degree in Electronics Technology or Computer Science or other relevant education in broadcasting, electronics, or computer/IT-related subjects and demonstrated application of that knowledge
    * SBE Certification at the Certified Broadcast Radio Engineer (CBRE) or Certified Broadcast Technician (CBT) level
    * A minimum of five years of hands-on experience in a technical position related to radio broadcasting and supporting or administrating IT computer systems and networks
    * Experience and demonstrated confidence with maintaining FM broadcast transmitter plants
    http://www.wbgo.org/info/employment/2008ChiefEngineer.php

Times are tough, and lots of people are losing their jobs. If you’re looking for a job, having some type of professional certification is a great way to demonstrate your proficiency. It also shows your involvement in and attention to your career.

The annual salary survey from Radio magazine shows that those with SBE certification earn more than those without it. It’s not that certification alone will allow you to earn more money, it’s that the people who are certified are taking an active role in their careers.

But don’t wait until you’re looking for a job to add the letters after your name. Do it now and have it before you need to include it on an application.

– Chriss Scherer, CPBE CBNT

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