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Tips for Challenging Times

Hey folks – first, I want to thank you all! If you are reading this, chances are you are one of the people involved in engineering in one of the most unique situations our generations have ever seen. In addition, you are part of keeping radio playing at a time when it has the opportunity to prove exactly how relevant it can be as a means of getting information to the most people in a geographic area. Thank you for your part in that. For my part, I’ll try to keep this as short and informative as possible!

There’s an old saying “may you live in interesting times”. At first glance a lot of folks take that as a good thing, but at a harder glance it is a lot less so! There is no question that today we are living in interesting times. We are faced with all sorts of challenges as we learn new ways to work remotely and help staff do the same. There have been several resources and articles that I’ve seen pop up recently and I thought I’d use this space to highlight some of the ones I’ve encountered. If any of our readers have any that I have not mentioned, let me know. Over the next few weeks, as we progress through this new normal together, I will add tips and resources to our social media pages – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Note that some of the sources may be specific to certain geographic areas, but most can likely be adapted toward your specific situation… pick what works for what you are going through and definitely feel free to reach out and share.

First up, is a previous tips article on taking vacations – this is obviously not a vacation, but a lot of the ‘Prepping for an Absence’ principles hold the same.

Once you’re past the initial panic of helping a whole bunch of people learn how to configure a Zoom meeting (hi, can everybody hear me?) and teaching them how to efficiently work from home (it’s like every day is a remote broadcast), then it might be a good time to practice the best kind of engineering social distancing – a visit to the transmitter site. Invest the time in some site maintenance – it will go a long way toward being sure that the station is there at a time when the community needs it most!


Next, check with your state and federal broadcast organizations. For example, the Alabama Broadcasters Association does a Monday Morning Coffee & Technical Notes email – it’s a fast read and gives some good ideas.

Image credit: ABA Monday Morning Coffee & Technical Notes, Monday March 30, 2020.

The National Association of Broadcasters has a huge coronavirus resource section, including PSAs and various other helpful links. One thing they’ve provided for U.S. broadcasters are general letters for access and fuel delivery in the event of quarantine zones or rationing, see the bottom of this page.

Kirk Harnack of Telos hosts a podcast called “This Week in Radio Tech” – TWiRT did a great podcast recently on Broadcast Continuity in a Pandemic. Some of radio broadcasting’s most active and progressing engineers join Chris Tobin and Kirk Harnack for this round-table discussion. You’re sure to pick up ideas and inspiration for your own broadcast facility!

In addition, Telos did a helpful article on disinfecting studio equipment.

Scott Fybush of Fybush Media (and creator of the famed Tower Site Calendar) has done one of his Top of the Tower podcasts on disinfecting equipment.

That’s all I’ve got for this issue – wash your hands… I won’t mention social distancing, which is fast becoming the catch phrase of 2020, as I haven’t seen a lot of crowds forming at most transmitter sites (large cities notwithstanding). Be careful and let me know if I can assist with anything. Let’s all take care out there and I’ll see you next time – be safe and happy engineering!!


Jeff Welton, has worked with Nautel for 30+ years. He is currently the Nautel Sales Manager for U.S. Central Region but previously he spent 16.5 years as a Nautel Customer Service Technician. A regular speaker and contributor on broadcast engineering, Jeff has been recognized with the following awards: 2020 NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award; 2019 APRE Engineering Achievement Award; and 2018 SBE Educator of the Year Award.

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