If your goal is to be paid better
for your work as a broadcast
engineer, then look the part.
As an employee or contractor, you
wish to be perceived as part of the
management team of the business
thatís paying the bills. I worked at
this and it paid off at my
successful contracting business for
over 40 years.
Youíve seen them ó engineers with
long unmanaged beards, uncombed hair
and untied shoes. Managers tolerate
them but often do not fully
appreciate them or compensate them
for their technical skill. These
engineers degrade themselves and
their trade through a lack of
If you have a beard, keep it short
and neatly trimmed.
hired me because I looked and acted
like them. I bathe daily, cut my
hair and dress in clean clothes.
When on the job, I never wore the
same clothes two days in a row and
never put on shirts or hats with
advertising or written statements. I
didnít give a customer a reason to
think of me as anything but a
professional. (I do have a tie
showing 1930s vacuum tubes, as well
as a Nautel T-shirt with a Smith
chart, worn to SBE gatherings.)
My wife Paulaís advice is, ďTuck in
your shirt, pull up your pants,
polish your shoes and tie your
shoestrings.Ē Women and managers
notice things like that. As a
contractor, I was not salaried;
repeat business relied on happy
clients. The proof was in the
pudding. I was called to do work
again and again because clients
appreciated my previous work.
Some of these lessons I learned
while serving with the U.S. Army in
Vietnam in the late 1960s. My job
was to run an aircraft avionics
repair shop, to ďkeep íem flying.Ē
We were winning when I left!
Your job as a broadcast engineer is
to keep íem broadcasting.
ON THE JOB
Sweep the engineering
area of your studios regularly. The
same applies to transmitter sites.
Keep workbenches tidy and ready for
the next repair job. Itís not
demeaning to be a maintenance
person. A messy office or shop sends
a message to management that you are
a disorganized person; thatís bad
for your reputation. The same goes
for your car. It doesnít need to be
fancy or expensive, but it should be
clean inside and out.
best work you can and be sure to
document that work so the next
engineer doesnít speak poorly of
you. Funny how those things can come
back to bite you.
The author on the job.
Managers typically know little of
what you do; donít give them a
reason to doubt that youíre doing
what is best. Put the job first.
Always show up on time for
appointments. Being late wastes
peopleís time and is a chink in your
Good friend and broadcast engineer
Shane Toven once told me, ďDonít say
anything if you canít say something
good,Ē a a great philosophy. Be a
good listener. Do more listening
than talking, even if it is not in
your nature. You might even learn
Donít wear dark glasses when
communicating with others, even
outdoors. Eye contact is so
important; lack of it will cause
distrust. You can put the sunglasses
back on after the meeting.
Donít mumble; speak clearly and
distinctly. Donít use slang or
swear. Use real, everyday words to
relate your thoughts effectively.
Donít use technical mumbo jumbo that
makes a clientís eyes glaze over.
Jump past ohms and volts to tell the
client how you are working on a
difficult problem to make the
station whole again. Give technical
details only if asked. He or she
wants to hear that you are making
best use of the resources available.
Avoid talk about politics. You are
sure to disagree with someone.
Political discussions are divisive
and can be bad for relations even if
the other person is of your
political persuasion. Politics is a
personal philosophy, not a business
Donít chew tobacco or smoke while
conversing with a client. Donít take
calls or text messages during a
meeting. Give your full attention to
what is going on in front of you at
Even as a retired person, I
keep paper in my shirt pocket with a
pen to write things down, so I donít
forget important information.
That same piece of paper contained
reminders for me to update the boss
on projects and ask questions on how
to proceed. I didnít have to go back
later to say, ďI forgot to ask you
ÖĒ Remember, you do yourself a
disfavor by ignoring good business