Engineered For Success

Every radio group spends a lot of time and energy identifying their target audience, developing all of their on-air content and an effective sales strategy. Yet all of it can be negated in an instant if our facilities aren’t properly engineered.

From the tower site to the studio, and even their remote vehicles, most market leading stations are engineered for success. Are you?

Here are a few common engineering mistakes we’ve seen countless times over the years.

Poorly Processed: Nothing you do in programming will help you win if you’re audio quality is compromised. Some common mistakes include trying to be the loudest station on the dial or over-compressing to the point where the songs have no dynamic range.

Death by Dust: Clean studios, engineering rooms and transmitter sites aren’t just easier on the eyes and better for showing off to potential clients. They also extend the life of critical, and expensive, equipment and cut down the time spent scrambling to fix emergencies. If you see a layer of dust on the equipment then its a safe bet there will be other maintenance issues.

Being a hard act to follow: It’s never a good sign when an engineer says, “Nobody knows how any of this works but me.” A good broadcast engineer takes pride in wiring studios and engineering rooms in a way that is simple for the next person to understand. Every second spent tracking down wires that aren’t labeled during an emergency is another second the station is off the air. If it looks like a rat’s nest inside that cabinet then someone’s been wiring on top of problems instead of rewiring.

Confusing instead of communicating: Many engineers have a tendency to talk over everyone’s head. It’s not intentional it’s just hard to gauge another person’s level of technical expertise. Some people will stop you and tell you to put the technical jargon into plain English but others just nod along not wanting to admit that they don’t understand. Finding ways to communicate complicated processes without insulting or overwhelming non-technical people is one of the greatest skills an engineer can develop. Fielding repetitive questions can be annoying, but it’s a good sign when they’re asking questions because that means they’re trying to comprehend what we’re teaching them.

Not putting everything in writing: It’s wonderful that everyone feels comfortable stopping the engineer in the hall and giving them a list of the 10 different problems that need their attention. But, that’s just not a realistic way for anyone to manage their workload. Putting everything down in a google doc or an email makes it easy to prioritize. Plus, now all of those engineering issues are documented so we can track them to see patterns developing and better allocate resources.

Trying too hard to stretch a dime: It’s tempting to purchase inexpensive equipment even though it will have a significantly shorter life span or much higher operating and maintenance cost. But, it’s an engineer’s job to understand those variables and explain them during the planning process so they don’t come back and bite everyone down the road.

Need help with planning and executing your next engineering project? Email us at Picture designed by

Rob Meadows is a radio engineer with over twenty five years working with virtually every brand of transmitter, automation system, console, audio processor, STL, and anything else involved in the audio chain.

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