Introducing Matt Anderson, Next Generation Broadcast Engineer

In July, John Rigg of Clear Channel’s San Diego cluster hired for his engineer opening a kid who would likely have been overlooked by just about any HR department. He has virtually no broadcast engineering experience and he’s never worked with NexGen automation or broadcast transmitters. He has no degree in engineering.

Get to know Matt, though, and you start to see the diamond-in-the-rough package of self-initiative and positive attitude with a base of electronic knowledge he brings to work that makes him a potentially huge win for Rigg’s team. You can train how to maintain software package in couple of months, transmitters are increasingly black boxes with a data port in one end and and RF port out the other. Teaching energy and a customer-service attitude are a lot harder.

Matthew Anderson, San Diego Clear Channel Cluster Engineer

Matthew Anderson, 21 years old, was born and raised in La Crescenta, CA. He just graduated in May with distinction in Sociology. His dad has been an amateur radio operator and from the age of 10 would drive up to Mount Wilson to KABC’s tower to work on their uhf repeater, W6GJS. He’s had his ham license, KI6KHB, since 15 and is currently a General class.

Q. How did you get started? 

Matt: My career started in High School when I was doing the marching band playing in the pit and hated every minute of it! Crescenta Valley High School had a television production class called CVTV that would produce a five-minute news bulletin every morning. I tried out for the talent position and sadly did not get it. So I went to the teacher and proposed doing a similar newscast to CVTV but after school for the La Crescenta Community. I don’t know why, but she said yes and we started a club to broadcast newscasts on the local public access cable channel. From there I got into the class as a talent. When high school ended I started at SDSU in the TFM (television, film, and new media) major and went from there. From being a part of a lot of ham radio events grew an interest in public safety work and I pretty much forgot about broadcasting altogether until my junior year.

It’s not normal for young people to want to get into the technical side of broadcasting, you know. What’s up with you?

I can’t say that I’ve totally lost all my interest for being on the production side, but mostly my interest for engineering comes from wanting to understand how things work. Knowing the why is what helps you fix the next problem and feeling helpless sucks. Producing a product and hearing it air is a proud moment but a prouder moment is when you’re listening to the product air and you know that it’s jumping through 20 devices you put in the signal chain and all those devices are still putting out what you put in.

What exactly did you do at KPBS? Looks like you had your fingers in a lot of pies.

If two words were to describe my first job at KPBS: wire pulling. I learned a real quick appreciation for removeable floor tiles and long fish tape. The engineers at KPBS were always very helpful at taking the time to teach me the ins and outs of all the equipment and for that I am very appreciative! I showed an interest for working the FM board, and before I knew it I was directing the midday show during a transitional period and isdns, met a lot of cool people! After graduation, I was given the task of coordinating the radio reading service. The service airs on 89.5 fm on a SCA of 67 kHz. They provide daily readings of the UT and LA Times to people who have difficulty reading, main demographic of 65+ with macular degeneration. I was in charge of coordinating 130+ volunteers and keeping the equipment outputting audio. I was only there for 3 months, but really focused on the volunteers who some of them have volunteered there for over 30 years!

You really were manager of KCR? Tell us a story.

KCR General Manager. Yup, talk about blood, sweat and tears…. KCR has been in operation since 1969 and is the only student-run radio station at SDSU. It is completely volunteer driven and that alone comes with its own challenges. KCR has had a rich history of presenting new music to the community but also lots of ups and downs since there is a new GM every year. We set out to really put time into training our staff and adopting an automation system to make it sound more like a radio station. The station picked up the byline “Sound of State” and we really pushed to be an asset to SDSU students. With anything that takes a lot of work, it was also a lot of fun! We did remote broadcasts for the Aztec Baseball games and ended up winning 1st place for best college sportscast nationally, didn’t expect that. I learned a lot about putting together a team and working with big organizations, like universities.

Your resume says you know about PR&E consoles. What do you know?

I know that the red button means on and the yellow one means off…. Admittedly I haven’t done any crazy modifications on them, but that console was the first one I worked on at KCR, again at the Radio Reading Service and now again at this job. It really was a good board to learn on and I also learned that changing the button lights is pretty much a full-time job.

Sociology? Really?

I ask that question to myself too. When I was a freshman at SDSU I grew a pretty big interest in public safety and joined the SDSU police department as a CSO. I was a film production major at the time and really didn’t see myself making movies. As I was headed in the direction of being a criminal justice major, my coworkers convinced me to study something different as they said I would learn the same material in the academy. Already in pretty deep with the Criminal Justice requirements, Sociology was the best choice. I really enjoyed the first class I took and do think that it helped me when building my team at KCR. With like most liberal arts degrees, you come out of college with a mindset, not a skill set. That’s why the KPBS experience was so good for me.

What has John Rigg given you to do that might make you think you’re in over your head?

I think the correct answer to that question is nothing. But really, the biggest challenges I expect to face are with being able to fix the AM and FM transmitters to component level. I am currently taking electronics courses at City College to get a little more formalized knowledge, but hoping that in my career I can help build a site and license it.

So what do you really want to do when you grow up?

That’s probably a question I should have an answer to, but I don’t know. I have been thinking about going back to grad school and opening a business at some point, but that will all come with time. I would like to think that if I stay with broadcasting some day I will run a shop, but who really knows.