At the beginning of 2021, the Society of Broadcast Engineers, the association for broadcast and multimedia technology professionals, launched a response to the ongoing concern about new technical talent choosing broadcasting as a career by creating the Technical Professional Training Program (TPTP). As technology and the average age and tenure of technical professionals advance, there is concern to adequately fulfill the technical staffing needs in the long term. Drawing on existing SBE programs, the society assembled a valuable service to the broadcast industry.
Since its launch, 33 people have participated in the SBE TPTP. Several state broadcast associations have expressed interest in enrolling new technical talent. The Missouri Broadcasters Association (MBA) and Nebraska Broadcasters Association (NBA) have launched efforts to cover the cost of TPT enrollment by reimbursing the cost for individuals to join the SBE Technical Professional Training Program. Missouri launched its program in 2021, and Nebraska launched its program in January 2022.
The MBA provides the subsidy as a member service. While the association has budgeted for a fixed number of applicants per year, that line has not been met.
The NBA has limited enrollment to one enrollee per dues-paying station employment unit (SEU). Up to 12 enrollees will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis for calendar year 2022.
Terry Beth Harper, director of member services for the MBA, says, “The MBA recognizes that many of our member station engineers have retired, or are threatening retirement, and managers are finding it difficult to replace them. The SBE’s Technical Professional Training Program is a great solution to prepare someone already at the station who might be able to slip into that role.” She adds, “We are happy to support our members with opportunities like the SBE TPT Program, which promotes on the job training for that person who wants to grow his or her technical skills. Our current hiring environment requires employees to often wear many hats and become experts at a variety of jobs. Someone just starting out might find the right fit in the technical environment, and this program gives them a chance to explore that world a little deeper.”
“Our industry has been fortunate to have such tremendous service from countless broadcast engineers. These talented men and women are retiring faster than we can replace them,” notes Jim Timm, president and executive director of the NBA. “Recognizing that many stations have a person or two on staff with some technical aptitude, we feel the SBE’s TPT is an ideal way to help them expand their capabilities and potentially, groom some future engineers for NBA member stations. Kudos to Mark Gordon and the Missouri Broadcasters Association for sharing this scholarship concept.”
SBE President Andrea Cummis, CBT, CTO, adds, “The SBE continues to increase its education efforts, which includes the TPT. The Nebraska Broadcasters Association and Missouri Broadcasters Association have actively embraced the program, which will hopefully serve as models for other state associations to follow.”
The goal of the Technical Professional Training Program is to train new entrants to the field of broadcast technology. There are four elements that combine to create the Technical Professional Training Program.
• The extensive Webinars by SBE collection developed and cataloged for on-demand use of SBE members is regularly expanded and updated to reflect the latest developments in the industry. The advent of SBE MemberPlus provides access to the library for a fixed annual fee.
• The SBE Engineering Handbook is a hard-copy reference volume for hands-on use in designing and maintaining technical facilities.
• The SBE Mentor Program provides new entrants to the technical broadcast field regular access and guidance from a seasoned professional – a personal touch not unlike days of old when the senior staff would take the new person under a wing to show him or her the ropes.
• The SBE Certification Program entry-level certification (Certified Broadcast Technologist) demonstrates a comprehension of regulatory and technical requirements of station operation. The SBE CertPreview for this certification level can be utilized by a mentor to curate the preparation experience of a mentee utilizing the Webinars by SBE library supplemented with the mentor’s knowledge and experience.
The SBE Technical Professional Training Program is a membership option that includes all the elements listed above in one package. Stations and media outlets can groom young talent to fast track their technical skills with one application and one purchase. The cost of the SBE TPTP is $475. This includes a one-year SBE membership with SBE MemberPlus, a copy of SBE CertPreview, a copy of the SBE Engineering Handbook, enrollment in the SBE Mentor Program, and the SBE CBT certification exam application fee to be taken later.