There’s a New Engineer in Town and She’s Going to Kick Butt

I met Nisie Teeter at Lee McGowan’s funeral. She didn’t know Lee, but she was hired in October 2013 to fill the position he left at CBS Radio in San Diego when he became gravely ill, and all her new coworkers were deeply affected by their loss. She’s unusual not only because she’s a woman in a position held mostly by men, but because she’s an extrovert. Her supervisor, Mike Prasser, waited a long time to hire another engineer, and it’s obvious when you talk to Nisie that she is bound to make her mark in San Diego.

KYXY/KEGY Engineer Nisie Teeter in Costa Rica.
KYXY/KEGY Engineer Nisie Teeter in Costa Rica.

Q: Tell us about your radio engineering experience in Los Angeles. Any favorite projects there? Big challenges?

Nisie: I started as an intern at KUSC, an NPR affiliate [in 2001]. When my internship ended, I was hired by CBS LA. My time at CBS was very short as that KUSC had an opening and they wanted someone with IT experience. I was at KUSC for over 5 years, working my way up to Chief Engineer. I was then recruited to go work for the LA office of American Public Media, where the show Marketplace is produced. Unfortunately, I was laid off after close to 2 years there so I decided to take a different route and went to culinary school.

It’s definitely difficult to pick a favorite project. There were so many that kept me engaged. HD conversion was a fun challenge, especially when the new transmitters weren’t staying on at full power and shutting down for no reason. Overhauling the traffic software was also another fun one. Because the traffic software was old, I felt like I was writing a program for every account there was! But the one that will probably always remain with me is trying to have 4 stations simulcasting the LA content, yet make each station sound local by replacing spots and IDs. The challenge was to do it with existing equipment. Talk about trying to be innovative until the funds became available!

Q: You grew up in Orange County, right?

I grew up in Cerritos, except for the 4 years my parents sent me to Bangkok. I moved to Orange County after I graduated and remained there until October of this year.

Q: When did you think a career in broadcasting would suit you?

Now you’re making me think…

I was a confused 20 year-old, half way done with my degree and I couldn’t sink my teeth into anything. I kept on changing my concentration in school and took a lot of classes in analog and digital circuit design. It wasn’t until I accidentally landed the internship that I even knew broadcast engineering had existed! Coincidentally, I was taking a communications class that semester where we would go over various types of signals and I was able to go to the station and see all those theories at work. About 2 years into the career, I had a realization that almost everything in the modern broadcast chain is either a computer or can be controlled by one. This made everything less intimidating and I was able to wrap my head around things faster. Honestly, what’s intimidating to me is a reel to reel player. I’m always upfront at an interview that I don’t know how to work one of those machines!

Q: Where did you go to college? Do you think it prepared you well for a career in broadcast engineering?

I went to USC and I’m a very proud Trojan! I felt that their electrical engineering program was very good but it didn’t prepare me for a career in broadcast engineering. I believe that an EE graduate from any school that doesn’t have broadcast engineering as an emphasis will never be fully prepared. I say this because I remember seeing a study guide for the CSRE right after I was done with school. I was able to answer the questions that were IT or circuit related, but knew nothing when it came to FCC rules.

Q: What are some of your goals for your work and outside work in San Diego?

I had left broadcast engineering in 2008 and some technologies have progressed since. I am looking to immerse myself with any new technology that has cropped up in the past 5 years and see where radio is heading. I am also looking forward to getting in-depth on various systems that I haven’t had the chance to work with in the past.

Outside of work, I am looking to volunteer my time. With local organization(s), I am looking to 1) tutor kids in subjects that they need assistance with so that they will not dread going to school and 2) help prepare high volume food at a soup kitchens. Prior to moving to San Diego, I was a regular volunteer at a Think Together site in Santa Ana. There was a student in the program that was struggling to graduate high school and we spent a lot of time working together towards his graduation. I am proud to say that not only did he graduated, he won a scholarship large enough so that he won’t have to pay for his studies at the community college until he’s done. At that same site, I was also making after school snacks for the students in the program. I am a strong believer in not letting anyone go hungry around me, especially when I have the power to do something about it. I have some culinary arts background in high volume cooking and I would like to put it to good use.

Also, I am looking forward to getting to know the sisters of Alpha Omega Epsilon, the sorority which I am a part of, at the SDSU chapter. Up until earlier this year, I was heavily involved with the Alpha Omega Epsilon National Foundation. The Foundation raises money to fund several scholarships annually and also give out grant awards to individuals or organizations that are looking to help promote females in engineering and technical sciences. I would like to work with the local A.O.E. chapter to help them reach out into the community and help foster the mission of supporting females in the field.

Q: Anything else you would like to say?

I’m new to San Diego and would like to get to know the broadcast engineering community here. I have plenty of amusing stories to tell, whether it be in engineering, travels, or just life in general so please don’t be a stranger at future meetings and say hi!