Retired after 40 years in business
and 60+ years of broadcast engineering

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October 3, 2018:

Mark W. Persons CPBE, AMD, CBNT was selected as "Broadcast Engineer of the Year," by the Society of Broadcast Engineers.         Radio World Article

The SBE has more than 5000 members world-wide.

Mark, on the left, received the award from SBE President Jim Leifer at the annual National SBE meeting near Boston, MA, October 3, 2018.   The introduction was as follows:

Mark Persons, CPBE, CBNT, AMD, spent his life in broadcast engineering following in the footsteps of his father, Charles B. Persons who started in the 1920s. It must have been in his DNA.

Almost half a century later, his hard work paid off in the form of recognition as the Robert W. Flanders SBE Engineer of the Year for 2018. The award recognizes a member who has excelled in his or her career while furthering the mission of the SBE.

Persons also got involved with amateur radio at age 16. Mark made a brief exodus from broadcasting to serve a stint in the U.S. Army. He taught electronic component-level troubleshooting at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, and then spent a year in Vietnam as Sergeant-in-Charge of an aviation electronics repair shop.

Persons, along with his wife Paula, wound up engineering at over 100 stations. Along the way, he built 12 new stations, mostly in the Midwest. That work included building phasors from the ground up at four new AM directional stations. Countless other stations were rebuilt or upgraded.

He has written more than 175 engineering articles for regional and national publications, and was involved in the design of six broadcast products that were manufactured by Zercom Corporation.

At age 71, Persons continues his interest and involvement with broadcasting, as a mentor to four broadcast engineers and is a participant in the NRSC's committee on AM improvement.|

Mark and Paula Persons at the podium.
Mark later attended the Wisconsin Broadcasters' Clinic in Madison, WI, October 16-18, 2018.  About 250 broadcast engineers were in attendance.
Mark used this speech at both conferences:

There was a broadcast station in a foreign country where something bad happened on the air and three people from the station were sentenced to death by beheading on a guillotine. The manager was first. The cord was pulled and the blade came down, then stopped just an inch from his neck. It must have been divine intervention they said….he was set free. The same happened to the program director. Then it was the engineer’s turn. Just before they pulled the cord, the engineer called out, "Wait…I see the problem!" (Applause sign)

It is interesting standing here in front of my peers. I did not aspire to this and I am humbled to receive the award.

Half of this honor is due to the efforts of wife Paula, a former legal secretary. She spent 40 to 50 hours a week handling our office while I was out with a voltmeter in one hand and a spectrum analyzer in the other working on studios and transmitters. It was a two "Persons" business.

Station ownership was never in our blood. Instead, I reveled in building and repairing radio stations from the ground up. I wasn’t as an employee, but a time-and-material contractor. Even so, clients were like a family and they called me back time and time again to do more.

For me, it was a lifestyle and an obligation to the industry I grew up in where sound was magically transmitted through the air. My challenge was to make radio stations the best they could be….hence the phrase on my voice recorder, "I’m out building one of America’s great radio stations."

After repairing a transmitter, I’d sometimes drive down the cheering, "YES…It’s back on the air."

My career as a radio broadcast engineer was a ride worth taking in spite of long hours and nights without sleep.

I am thankful for the freedom to pursue this career and receive this honor. God bless America.

Mark W. Persons