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Apr. 04 2012

Why I’m not an engineer…

By Mark Malinowski | Posted in Host Blogs | 6 Comments

Broadcasters and engineers somehow manage to survive alongside each other, although they come from two different worlds.  I remember when I was still in the Navy, while assigned to USS NEW JERSEY (BB-62) we had the latest Self-contained Closed-Circuit TV system in the fleet–the “Super-SITE.”  I had a wonderful engineer, a Chief Petty Officer named Dan Wynne.  Well, one day, just for a lark, I ordered a set of  “tweakers” from supply and told each of my journalists to wear one in his shirt pocket.  A “tweaker” is one of those little screwdrivers with a pen clip on it.  It drove Dan crazy.  He couldn’t understand why Journalists and Broadcasters needed “tweakers.”  I would tell him “just in case” and walk away.  Such fun.  Since I was senior to Dan, I got away with it.  Abuse of power?  Maybe, but still fun.

Here at WBJC, we have a fabulous engineer, Bob Lenio.  I think he is the best radio engineer I have worked with in my many years in the field.  He’s a great guy, as well.  But he is an engineer, which means that we are from two different worlds.

Recently, Bob put a new piece of equipment in the studio.  A hand-held device with a lot of buttons on it and a display screen (LCD type).  It’s the new and improved device for conducting EAS (Emergency Alert System) tests.  You know, when we say, “the following is a test…” and a series of irritating sounds come over the air.  FCC requirement.  There are two types of tests, the Weekly and the Monthly.  Bob told us that he was putting together an instruction sheet for the this device, and assured us it would be very easy.  I thought, this will be easy, since there is a big button marked “Weekly Test” on the device.

Well, I’m looking at the instructions, and nowhere does it say “Press the ‘Weekly Test’ Button.”  Nope.  Step one, press the button under the word “week” on the display.  This button is marked “Options.”  It goes on from there.  At no time during the process of conducting a weekly test, does one press the “Weekly Test” button.  I don’t understand it, but I am sure that in some engineering way it all makes perfect sense.  To me, it is like designing a new car, putting a steering wheel in it, but using the shift lever to steer.

I think that somehow, Dan Wynne is involved in this, and it’s all some sinister plot to exact revenge on me for the “Tweaker” incident.  How cruel.  Not fun.

Mark Malinowski


Mark is WBJC's morning host. His full bio can be read here.

6 Responses to Why I’m not an engineer…

  • Judith Krummeck
    Judith Krummeck says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about the wonderful Bob, Mark. We are lucky to have him.
    I have yet to try the new EAS test machine. Wish me luck! 🙂

  • Diana Ross
    Diana Ross says:

    OoooooOOh! A new doohickey to poke buttons on! That’ll teach me to go on vacation!

  • Kati Harrison
    Kati Harrison says:

    I love that story Mark! Of the 3 radio stations I have worked with some 10 engineers, Bob really listens and takes into account that broadcasters are not engineers. I imagine engineers are just as Befuddled and Bewildered by broadcasters. By the by Bob just edited the instructions to make them a little more broadcaster friendly. Oh, and I’ve got my tweaker, just in case! 😀

  • Diana Ross
    Diana Ross says:

    Wow! This gizmo looks rather retro…

  • Bob Lenio
    Bob Lenio says:

    The buttons on the front of the new hand-held are sort of deceiving. They don’t always do what you would expect them to do. For instance,the “Monthly Test” button does not relay the Monthly test like we are required to do. Instead, it originates a monthly test, which is a function required by very few stations. Use of the “Practice” button could actually wind up putting unwanted tones on the air! “Play Now”,under many cirumstances, doesn’t.
    This is why I opted to stay away from these buttons. It is safer to use the top row of buttons, which always perform the function listed directly above on the LCD screen.

  • Diana Ross
    Diana Ross says:

    This is why the “Label Maker” was invented. 😉

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