Five Things Every Engineer Wants You To Know

Dear Christian Radio,

I heard a frantic scream down the hallway of the radio station saying, “David, can you come to the studio?” What I found when I arrived was a common nightmare shared by every on-air talent and engineer alike. I arrived to find a coffee cup askew on top of the broadcast console in the on-air studio. Coffee was seeping into the console…and it was starting to make some strange hisses and crackles.

This was not the first time such a disaster has happened to someone in radio. Even Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of radio, was probably guilty of spilling some kind of liquid into the first iterations of the radio. Now that’s unverified, but being that he was a radio guy, I have a good hunch.

Here’s what I want you and others to know about situations like mine as well as others that will eventually take place. These are things every engineer and/or IT person secretly wants you to know. Consider them helpful tips that will help you avoid headaches. They could quite possibly save you and your station a lot of heartache, or at the very least, that dreaded call to or from the Engineering and/or IT Department.

1. Don’t click on that suspicious email!
There are various forms of email scams on the Internet today. A phishing scam is typically sent by email and the sender fraudulently attempts to obtain personal information from the recipient through deception.

In one such email scam, it appears that your financial institution has asked you to confirm your social security number, bank account password or other personal information. In the email, which may look legitimate, they want you to proceed to another website to enter the information.

In a second scam, someone you may trust has sent you an email with an attachment that you don’t recognize. When you click on the attachment, your computer is instantly infected with a virus.

Tip: Be careful and cautious with suspicious emails. If you received something that looks strange, follow up with a phone call or other communication medium, such as an official website, to confirm that there was a legitimate request made.

2. “Walk through” your radio station every day.
A “walk through” is a process of experiencing the radio station as your listeners, consumers, and donors would. Listen to the radio station in your home, your car, and on your mobile devices. Visit your station’s website and Facebook page. Look and listen as your own listeners do.

Tip: Performing a “walk through” can help you identify issues with the ‘listener experience’ before they are reported by a listener.

3. Know what information is needed should the radio station go off the air.
Information is the life’s blood of problem solving for engineers and IT professionals. Finding common ground in the terminology can sometimes create a barrier between you and these pros, but it doesn’t have to if you are prepared in advance. Typically, there are common issues that can be diagnosed quickly if you have already employed the five W’s (Who, What, When, Where & Why.)

Tip: Provide as much information to your engineer as possible when reporting a power outage. Know the five W’s and use them to help start the resolution process. Your ability to answer all five will get things off to a good start. The more information you can provide the engineer, the faster you will help resolve the outage in a timely manner.

Example: “I was listening in my car in Kernersville, North Carolina, this afternoon at 2:30pm when our radio station on 91.5 FM started to crackle and then there has been dead air since that time.”

4. Don’t be afraid to ask technical questions.
Nobody expects you to have all the answers when it comes to understanding and explaining the millions of gadgets, gizmos, and technical terms out there.

Tip: If you have a technical question, please go ahead and share it. You’ve heard the phrase and it’s true–’there are no stupid questions.’ Seriously, if you have a technical question or concern, ask us. It our job to help and we’ll do just that as best we can.

5. You’ve spilled a drink…stay calm and work quickly.
Electronics and liquids don’t mix. Even so, coffee, tea, and soda seem to always find their way into studios and onto consoles and keyboards. When this happens, action is needed…first by you and then by us.

Tip: When a spill happens, stay calm and work quickly to resolve the issue. Ask for assistance if needed–remember, time is of the essence. Quickly dry off the area where the spill occurred and power off the affected electronics. Once powered off, you can proceed with drying them. This might involve disassembling the electronics to assure that everything is dry inside and out. Do this before powering them back on. Finally, contact your engineer or IT person and let them know what happened. This will help them resolve any future issues that may be related to the spill.

Many technical problems can be resolved quickly by simply working together. Remembering these five things will help:

     1. Don’t click on that suspicious email!
     2. Take a “walk through” every day.
     3. Know the information your engineer needs, especially the five W’s.
     4. Ask the technical questions.
     5. Take action when spills happen.

David Hodges
Director of Engineering
Positive Alternative Radio


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