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Broadcast and sound engineering technicians and radio
operators set up, operate, and maintain a wide variety of electrical
and electronic equipment involved in almost any radio or television
broadcast, concert, play, musical recording, television show, or movie.
With such a range of work, there are many specialized occupations
within the field.
Audio and video equipment technicians
set up and operate audio and video equipment, including microphones,
sound speakers, video screens, projectors, video monitors, recording
equipment, connecting wires and cables, sound and mixing boards, and
related electronic equipment for concerts, sports events, meetings and
conventions, presentations, and news conferences. They may also set up
and operate associated spotlights and other custom lighting systems.
set up, operate, and maintain equipment that regulates the signal
strength, clarity, and range of sounds and colors of radio or
television broadcasts. They also operate control panels to select the
source of the material. Technicians may switch from one camera or
studio to another, from film to live programming, or from network to
Sound engineering technicians operate
machines and equipment to record, synchronize, mix, or reproduce music,
voices, or sound effects in recording studios, sporting arenas, theater
productions, or movie and video productions.
Radio operators mainly
receive and transmit communications using a variety of tools. They also
are responsible for repairing equipment, using such devices as
electronic testing equipment, handtools, and power tools. One of their
major duties is to help to maintain communication systems in good
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians and
radio operators perform a variety of duties in small stations. In large
stations and at the networks, technicians are more specialized,
although job assignments may change from day to day. The terms
“operator,” “engineer,” and “technician” often are used interchangeably
to describe these jobs. Workers in these positions may monitor and log
outgoing signals and operate transmitters; set up, adjust, service, and
repair electronic broadcasting equipment; and regulate fidelity,
brightness, contrast, volume, and sound quality of television
Technicians also work in program production. Recording engineers operate and maintain video and sound recording equipment. They may
operate equipment designed to produce special effects, such as the
illusions of a bolt of lightning or a police siren. Sound mixers or rerecording mixers
produce the soundtrack of a movie or television program. After filming
or recording is complete, they may use a process called “dubbing” to
insert sounds. Field technicians set up and operate portable
transmission equipment outside the studio. Television news coverage
requires so much electronic equipment, and the technology is changing
so rapidly, that many stations assign technicians exclusively to news.
Chief engineers, transmission engineers, and broadcast field supervisors oversee other technicians and maintain broadcasting equipment.
The transition to digital recording, editing, and broadcasting has greatly
changed the work of broadcast and sound engineering technicians and
radio operators. Software on desktop computers has replaced specialized
electronic equipment in many recording and editing functions. Most
radio and television stations have replaced video and audio tapes with
computer hard drives and other computer data storage systems. Computer
networks linked to the specialized equipment dominate modern
broadcasting. This transition has forced technicians to learn computer
networking and software skills. (See the statement on computer support specialists and systems administrators elsewhere in the Handbook.)