Last August, I called attention to the dwindling number of qualified piano tuners posing a threat to arts organizations’ ability to host concerts. Along those same lines, Artsjournal.com posted a story last week about the shortage of engineers posing a threat to the continued operation of public radio stations. Where radio stations used to have 4-5 engineers in their employ, now they are lucky to have more than one according to Dave Edwards, the author of the piece.
The United States is projected to require 5,100 broadcast engineers over the next decade due to the retirement of 6,200 existing professionals. This anticipated shortage is particularly pronounced in the RF (Radio Frequency) knowledge domain. Factors contributing to the absence of new entrants include:
- The allure of competing technical fields offers higher pay and more straightforward work conditions.
- Broadcast engineering requires a broad knowledge base.
- There is a need for more awareness among major stakeholders.
Among the things Edwards suggests are breaking out the skillsets required into more specialized areas. For example, making Radio Frequency (RF) engineering, Internet Broadcast engineering, and Office Internet Engineering into separate roles versus seeking someone versed in Radio and Broadcast Internet or Broadcast and Office Internet to fulfill a single role. Separating these broadens the pool of qualified people and ensuring people don’t get burned out trying to juggle too many tasks. Likewise, some of tasks can be outsourced while leaving internal staff to concentrate on crucial work only someone who knows broadcast regulations and troubleshooting specialized equipment can perform.
Reading stories about diminishing numbers of piano tuners and broadcast engineers makes me wonder what other important, but overlooked skillsets readers have identified as threatened? Many of these roles don’t seem replaceable by AI. In some cases, these are the guys making sure the AI is functioning.