Question Everything

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

ChrisTarr2_300

Chris Tarr

By: Chris Tarr, CSRE, DRB, CBNE

I’ve seen a picture floating around the Internet lately – it’s a quote painted in a stairwell that says something along the lines of “The most dangerous words in the language are “We’ve always done it this way.” It’s an interpretation of a quote by Grace Hopper: “Humans are allergic to change. They love to say ‘We’ve always done it that way.’ I try to fight that.”

I like both versions, though I prefer Grace’s version better for several reasons. First, simply because it draws attention to Grace, who was an amazing woman and fellow geek: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hopper and, second, because I think it speaks much more directly than the first version.

There was a fundamental shift in my industry about 15-20 years ago. The last generation of Broadcast Engineers were mostly military trained and came from a time when Broadcast standards were much more rigid. Some of the rigidity was necessary due to the broad tolerances of older gear, some if it was due to over-regulation of technical operations by the FCC. Some of it was simply because the Engineers were used to that because of the military. That generation of Engineers started to retire.

I have a deep appreciation for those who came before me. In many ways the job was more difficult – all of that gear needed constant maintenance, and some of those regulations were pretty onerous. However, it did have the effect of creating some very linear thinking. Studios were designed to be very much alike. Design was very utilitarian. There was very little “thinking outside the box”.

Then guys like me came along. I came from the creative side. People like me who may not have been considered for such a job because we “didn’t fit the mold” were now getting hired. It really was necessary, since there was this huge wave of Engineers that were trained in the military who were retiring and there were more jobs opening than people available to fill them. A change in regulations meant that station managers were free to hire whomever they choose to fill those jobs (under the “old rules” the Engineer needed to hold a “First Class” FCC license). It was up to them to determine if the person was qualified or not.

The unexpected side-effect of this change? We began to see some *gasp!* creativity in the industry!

What happened was that people like me began to question the reasoning of utilitarian design. Sure, studios have always been designed the way they were, but why? Yes, we’ve always used miles of cable to run audio, but why not convert that audio to 1’s and 0’s and carry them over a network? All of a sudden we started to question everything.

That’s not to say that we questioned the people who made the decisions. Those that came before us are some of the brightest, most resourceful people I know. They go in my Rolodex under “People smarter than me.” Plus, some things have to be done the way they’ve always been done due to rules and regulations. However, the next generation is working with the FCC to re-think some of that as well.

The changes really benefitted the creatives in the building. For years, anytime an air talent wanted to “color outside the lines” by doing something different on the air, technical restraints created roadblocks. These days, I look at myself as the person who removes those roadblocks so that people can be as creative as they want. Instead of saying “we can’t do that,” it’s “tell me what you want to do, and I’ll get you there.” It has created some very interesting, creative and compelling radio.

It’s easy to default to “we can’t do that”. It’s the easy answer. It’s the fastest way to get on with your day. It’s also the quickest way to achieve adequacy. I choose to elevate everyone around me to “amazing” status by giving them the tools they need to be creative geniuses.

It all starts with a simple statement:

Question everything.

Reprinted with permission of the author.

Chris Tarr, CSRE, DRB, CBNE is the Director of Technical Operations for Entercom’s Wisconsin stations. He is one of the industry’s biggest evangelists and dedicates himself to helping create great radio.  




MAB Brings 2017 SOS to Members

capitol3The MAB would like to thank all of our members airing Governor Rick Snyder’s 2017 State of the State Address. MAB will be on-hand uplinking the Governor’s speech and the Democratic response to both commercial and public television members in the state. The clean, unhosted feed will be in HD. Public television stations will be supplied a 90-minute hosted program, anchored by Tim Skubick.

The uplink this year is provided by Central Michigan University Public Television. MAB is grateful to WCMU-TV/Central Michigan University for providing their uplink truck, staff and technical support.

Both public and commercial radio stations in the state will be receiving a 90-minute hosted program anchored by Michigan Public Radio Capitol Bureau Chief Rick Pluta.  The MAB thanks the Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters for making this program available to all stations in the state.




Michigan Attorney Wants U.S. Supreme Court Hearing On Court Recordings

According to a report in MIRS, John Bursch, an attorney from Michigan, requested the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case that recording courtroom proceeding should be protected by the First Amendment.

Current Michigan court rules allow recording of proceedings in courts, but the specifics of the rules require requests for coverage be made in writing to the court’s clerk, and parties in the court be notified of the recording. Judges can also remove the ability to record a proceeding at their discretion.

Bursch wants the court to rule on whether, absent a good reason to deny it, recording courtroom proceedings should be by default a constitutional right.




Kim Krause Named GM of WXMI-TV

Kim Krause

Kim Krause

Tribune Broadcasting has announced the appointment of Kim Krause to General Manager of WXMI-TV (Grand Rapids).  Krause will oversee the long-term strategy and day-to-day management of the station, and will report to Chris Wayland, Tribune Broadcasting’s Vice President/Group Operations.

Krause, who assumes her new duties on January 24, joins WXMI from WZZM, the Tegna ABC affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan where she was most recently the VP of Sales and Marketing. Krause also held several sales management positions at the station, including General Sales Manager and Local Sales Manager. She was previously LSM at WLAJ/ABC, in Lansing, Michigan.

“Kim is a strategic and innovative thinker, her deep knowledge of the Grand Rapids market and long history of success make her the perfect fit for WXMI,” said Wayland.

Active in the Michigan community, she currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan. She has also served on numerous other community boards including The Humane Society of Western Michigan and Camp Newaygo for Girls.

“As a West Michigan native, I’m fortunate to have spent my entire career in a community I love,” said Krause. “I’m looking forward to leading the WXMI team in our commitment to providing top notch news content and business solutions for our audiences and advertisers.

Krause is a graduate of Hope College in Michigan with a double major in Political Science and Psychology.




If This Then That: the Website That Connects Your Online Tools

Seth Resler

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

One thing most of us have in common is that we’re moving at a fast pace, multi-tasking all the way. It’s not uncommon for simple tasks to get dropped or forgotten. And when that happens, we’re letting others down, whether it’s business or personal.

But there are great web tools that can helps us with basic tasks, leading to more efficiency…and happiness. One of my favorite time-saving tools is a website called IFTTT, which stands for “If This Then That.”

It allows you to link up any number of digital tools to any other digital tools. For example, you can tell the site, “If I post a photo to Instagram, download it to my Dropbox account.” Or “If it’s going to rain tomorrow, send me a text message.”

IFTTT works with dozens of services, from WordPress to Spotify to Google Calendar to GE Appliances. You can use it for your social media, your smart home devices, or even your connected car.

The tasks that you set up between two services are called “applets.” Here are 10 applets that radio broadcasters might find useful:

  1. Share your latest WordPress blogpost on Facebook.
  2. Share the results of your Mailchimp email newsletter with your team.
  3. Set the WeMo coffee maker to have freshly brewed coffee when you arrive at the station.
  4. Automatically wish your friends happy birthday on Facebook.
  5. When you receive an email with an attachment, automatically save it to Dropbox.
  6. Get notified on Skype when somebody rings the station’s doorbell.
  7. Create a Google Doc spreadsheet that tracks every social media post made through Buffer.
  8. Automatically share the track you post to Soundcloud on Facebook.
  9. Back up all of your Pinterest pins to Google Drive.
  10. Get an email heads-up every time there is a response to your survey on Survey Monkey.

This is just a small sample of what you can use IFTTT to do. I recommend spending some time playing with it and looking for small ways to make your life easier.

Webinar
I love little tricks like these, and later this month I’ll be hosting a webinar on “Digital Tricks Every Radio DJ Should Know.” Please invite your on-air talent to join me for it.  REGISTER HERE.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.