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Is the fade-out of college radio bad for engineers?

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WA9ENA
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re: Is the fade-out of college radio bad for engineers?
WA9ENA   1/19/2011 2:43:18 PM
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FWIW: I live in Eastern Iowa, and College Radio is alive and well here. I listen to 2 of the 3 college radio services available in my area (1 from a Community College and 2 from State Universities), and all are available via on-line streaming, as well as off-air. The on-air folks are paid pros. I do not know if any students are involved with station operation or not, but as someone who has been out of college for 40 years, I can tell you that these stations provide a valuable service in this area. No commercial stations offer serious blues programming or an eclectic music mix to satisfy wide ranging audience tastes. I served as a volunteer engineer at WPGU, Univ. of IL, back in the 60's, before they had an FM transmitter. All programming was on carrier-current AM back then. We student engineers built transmitters, operated studio and remote setups and equipment, and even did the on-air board duties. The experiences have stayed with me ever since. Like the oft-discussed demise of Heathkits, there is little doubt in my mind that the elimination of college radio stations (or the technical work at such stations, if done by paid professionals rather than students) is another severe detriment to the training of real-world engineers. While I fully agree that technology is marching on a furious pace, how can new engineers be expected to comprehend the application of their skills if they have not seen what it takes to bring a complete "system" (in this case, a radio ststion) on-line and keep it going? I can also vouch for the fact that if an engineer is serious about audio, RF, or digital technology, then working at such a radio station will not only give him or her a big step up over competitors when it comes to job hunting, but it will also introduce the engineer to having fun with what you do. Yeah, you better damned well have fun at your work, because you are going to be at it for a long time.

Cezar Palconet
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re: Is the fade-out of college radio bad for engineers?
Cezar Palconet   1/19/2011 9:37:27 AM
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I think that collage/campus radio could benefit on what the latest technology has to offer, radio broadcast, still has its place in the campus, it is just a matter of appropriate programming, suited to the needs of modern levels of education, with digital modulation and subcarriers, I’m sure students would find something to put it into good use, couple that with wholesome entertainment and news programming. What about a project along that line?

MchpSteve
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re: Is the fade-out of college radio bad for engineers?
MchpSteve   1/13/2011 4:02:37 PM
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I was chief engineer for Ga Tech's FM radio station for several years in the late 80's and early 90's. I worked along with couple of Tech alum as mentors and learned lots of things about electronics. We installed and maintained everything, including a 10KW FM transmitter, mixing console, tape playback automation system, etc.. Technology has changed and simplified many of the systems that I tinkered with and learned from. For example, a rack full of finicky reel to reel tape players, patch bays, and switching relays has transformed into a bunch of MP3 files on an SD card! I do hope that present students get a chance to have a hands-on role in the technology of the radio station, whatever it may be. I heard recently that the station got an approval to boost their power from 40KW ERP to 100KW, so that is exciting!

JeffL_2
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re: Is the fade-out of college radio bad for engineers?
JeffL_2   1/12/2011 1:25:46 PM
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I was on the staff of my college radio station too, had too many great experiences to detail here. But I wonder how many of these stations nowadays are availing themselves of the opportunity to simulcast on Internet radio? It gives them an outlet to the local community (announcing weather alerts, classroom assignment changes, sales by local merchants etc.) so they still attract sufficient numbers of "eardrums" (instead of "eyeballs" for TV) to be highly "relevant", a necessary if not sufficient component to attract a regular audience which is especially important if the station in question (like the one I worked at) is commercial and derives their operating revenue from the sale of advertisements.

jtml
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re: Is the fade-out of college radio bad for engineers?
jtml   1/5/2011 4:56:17 PM
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College radio was instrumental in my own career path. As engineer for an AM/FM outfit in the 1970s, with a team of volunteer student-engineers, we maintained and expanded the station, and almost all of us ended up with careers in RF engineering in various industries and laboratories. Throughout the subsequent 3 decades that station has continued to churn out a steady stream of engineers, journalists, musicologists, and business people. This work remains one of the rare opportunities for students to get involved in a business that can give very practical experience beyond studies, without requiring to be selected, as in job interviews. Even internet radio and video media sources continue to stimulate the latest generation of techies.

Bob Lacovara
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re: Is the fade-out of college radio bad for engineers?
Bob Lacovara   12/30/2010 3:10:53 PM
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The college radio experiences here span quite a range, depending on the age of the writer and the type of school involved. My college, Stevens Institute in beautiful Hoboken, NJ, ran a carrier-current operation, and was pretty popular. It provided an outlet for both engineering geeks and the students who were just a bit off center, who needed to express themselves. The college was located on the Hudson across from 14th Street of New York City, so getting a license to transmit was dicey in that environment. Of course, plenty of signal was radiated from the lights strung from mast to mast of our 350 foot dormitory ship sitting in the Hudson: at least until someone in South Carolina wondered why our signal was reaching them... Well, it just seems that technology and interests have moved on, and the quiet voice and the music during late night studying may have faded away, indeed. After all, what students study late at night any more?

Hank Hill
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re: Is the fade-out of college radio bad for engineers?
Hank Hill   12/29/2010 5:45:26 PM
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The key factor is NOT the Technology, but the CONTENT - Howard Stern proved that - if you have marketable CONTENT people will support it. Students should NOT play music, but develop content people want to hear, whether it's investigative reporting, Interesting information, interviews, live radio plays etc.

Robotics Developer
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re: Is the fade-out of college radio bad for engineers?
Robotics Developer   12/28/2010 4:38:01 AM
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While I am not sure about the demise of college radio, I am sure that there are many more technically challenging and rewarding opportunities now that did not exist 10 or so years ago. I speak of you-tube, web-casts, IM, etc.. There are so many new things such as Kinects, quad copters, blue-tooth enabled devices to allow young engineers many opportunities to gain experience in multiple areas. I think today there are more possibilities than ever before.

DWILSON373
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re: Is the fade-out of college radio bad for engineers?
DWILSON373   12/28/2010 2:22:13 AM
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My college station "pushed the envelope" with new, unknown artists and new styles of mucic. This continues today to some extent at the local college station. I can hear old and new music, popular and obscure selections, and many different types of music. And I tell them of my approval with financial support. I doubt the the station has many student engineers that don't have an appropriate FCC licence. A 33 kW transmitter in a shared facility is not where you want unskilled people learning the trade. The station does use students in the other aspects of station operation, management, and programming.

p_g
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re: Is the fade-out of college radio bad for engineers?
p_g   12/25/2010 5:35:13 PM
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Opportunities follow law of energy, cannot be created or destroyed. Just changes its form. If radio goes, something else in "trend" will replace it.

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