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Steve Tuzeneu
Sonshine Media

How To Find An Engineer

 

 

 

 

You may find that an amusing title for an article, but let me assure you, if you own or manage a radio station, this is a bit of information you may find useful.

 

Right about now you may be thinking: “Oh, I didn't know I needed to find an engineer.”  Truth is, qualified broadcast radio engineers are hard to find.  How do I know?  A little history is necessary to explain.

 

About ten years ago, I knew of an engineer that worked at the big F.M. radio station in the same city where I worked.  We kept in touch now and then, and I even had the opportunity to tour his facilities one day when he wasn't quite so deep in projects.   A few months passed by, and I heard he had left his job as the chief engineer of that big F.M. station.  I managed to get in touch with him and found out he had moved on to an I.T. job for a radio group in the Boston area.  He explained that he was much happier in his new job because he was better paid, treated better, and was on call a lot less than in his former job as a chief engineer.

 

During the last twenty years, this has been the story of many radio broadcast engineers.  They have left radio for greener pastures and never looked back.  And why not?!  Many radio station owners and/or managers look at engineering maintenance as an expense, not an investment. Engineers often get treated as second-class citizens because they want to get paid more than the afternoon announcer, who is often paid little more than a cashier at the local grocery store.    When you are “married” to your job 24/7, you deserve better pay.

 

About a week ago I heard a story from an engineer who said he worked for a Christian broadcasting network-owned station that wrote him up for not coming in to work.  You have to understand this guy had worked all night and wanted to go home and get some sleep. But the manager wanted him to come in to work at the regular time, in spite of the fact that he had just worked overnight performing maintenance.

 

By now you should be getting the picture.  Why should a normal person want to be an engineer at a radio station?  It's a high-pressure job with low pay and little thanks for rolling out of bed in the middle of a winter night to get a station back on the air.  Then you have to remember the large number of engineers who were let go by the major market radio corporations and then found work outside of broadcasting.  Most young people are not even considering a job as an engineer because they have discovered the high-paying world of I.T.

 

So now you're thinking, “O.K. I get it, but where do I find my next engineer?”  For starters you should contact the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) for help.  The SBE has a website where you can list your job opening(s): www.sbe.org.  You can also look at the list of local SBE chapters in your area on that website and ask the local chapter if they know of an engineer looking for work.   You might ask other radio station engineers in your market if they know of someone who might be interested in your opening.

 

Before you offer someone a job at your station or group, take a look at what other engineers are getting paid. You can find the results of a recent survey here: http://radiomagonline.com/signoff/2011_salary_survey_1011/

 

In conclusion: the ranks of radio engineers are getting smaller every year.  I keep hearing this over and over again from people in radio.  To find and keep your next engineer, offer a good compensation package, be considerate of the times he (or she) has to work overnights and allow for time off the next day.  Remember: engineering is an investment, not a dreaded expense.

 

Steve Tuzeneu is an experienced radio station manager and engineer and is the Director of Engineering for Sonshine Media, LLC.  You may reach him at: steve@sonshinemedia.net