The winner of the Robert W. Flanders SBE Engineer of the Year award for 2020 is RJ Russell, CPBE, of Middletown, DE. The award is presented to a member who has excelled in his or her career while furthering the mission of the SBE. Candidates are nominated by their peers. The 2020 James C. Wulliman SBE Educator of the Year award has been awarded to two recipients: Fred Baumgartner, CPBE, CBNT, of Elizabeth, CO, and Roland Robinson, CBTE, CBNT, CTO, of Tacoma, WA. The award recognizes outstanding service and excellence in sharing knowledge through teaching other broadcast engineers.
Robert “RJ” Russell has been an SBE member for 21 years. During that time, he has served as director, treasurer, and vice president on the National Board of Directors as well as serving on several national committees. RJ also has held officer positions in various local chapters. He served proudly in the United States Marine Corps as a cryptography technician. After service in the military, he worked for several stations, including those owned by Media General, Sinclair, Cordillera, Catamount, Sunbelt, Univision, E.W. Scripps, and Fox.
RJ worked as a broadcast engineering manager on the Sprint Nextel Project from 2004-2008, assisting many television stations with the 2 GHz repack and reimbursement program. While employed by Brigham Young University, RJ was instrumental in the design and construction of a new 100,000 square foot BYU broadcast center and associated transmission paths and signals. RJ has spent many countless hours working on the ATSC 3 project station in Cleveland.
Most recently, RJ accepted the critically important position of SBE frequency coordination manager as an independent contractor through his company, TBSI. RJ has a vast and unique knowledge of the frequency coordination process and is the SBE’s major representative to the Department of Defense and its contractors in the SBE-DOD-NAB transition process at 2 GHz. Through the direct involvement of RJ, who is respected very highly by the DOD, FCC and NTIA, the SBE and its members, broadcast licensees, and the DOD have benefited from the careful, meticulous planning that RJ has worked exceptionally hard on to maximize DOD-coordinated use of 2 GHz without constraint on broadcasters. RJ is presently overseeing preparation of a national database of 2 GHz users that will facilitate the work of SBE frequency coordinators, and he has revitalized the program at a difficult time in the history of volunteer frequency coordination.
Fred Baumgartner has been an SBE member for 47 years and has given countless hours to furthering the education of today’s broadcast engineers through his work with the Ennes Educational Foundation Trust for 17 years, he spearheaded the annual Ennes Workshop during the NAB Show, and recently produced the SBE presentation on NextGen TV during the 2019 PBS TechCon. One nominee said of Baumgartner, “He was supportive of my goals re: SBE and helped get me in touch with others in the organization to help me grow in my involvement and education.”
Roland Robinson has been an SBE member for 24 years. He is an instructor of classes in broadcasting and video production at Bates Technical College in Tacoma, WA. Robinson has taught at Bates for more than ten years implementing an SBE-approved certification curriculum in his broadcast classes. The curriculum was recently renewed unanimously by the SBE National Certification Committee, the members being impressed by the curriculum presented by Robinson. Robinson also serves on the Washington State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC) and provides a valued service to Washington State broadcasters by creating and maintaining the complex Required Monthly Test (RMT) schedule.
The SBE 2020 Awards Program also recognizes other achievements from SBE members, chapters and SBE sustaining member companies.
MultiCAM Systems has won the SBE Technology Award for the Air Bridge. Air Bridge is a new video solution for including remote guests in shows or conferences. Up to four guests can be live at the same time, and up to 12 guests can be on the waiting list. Users send a link to the guests. Once that link is opened, the guest is connected to the show with the host’s permission.
Chapter and Individual Awards
Chapters are the lifeblood of the SBE, and 2020 marks the seventh year that the Chapter Engineer of the Year Award has highlighted the achievements of members within their chapters. This year, seven chapters selected their own award recipients. Each winner will be presented with a special plaque and be recognized nationally on the SBE website and in a future issue of The Signal. The seven chapter winners also were automatically nominated for the national Robert W. Flanders SBE Engineer of the Year Award.
Chapter 37 in Washington, DC, has won the Best Educational Event for the NextGEN TV Summit held Jan. 16, 2020. The event was held in conjunction with SMPTE. Fred Willard, who helped produce the event said, “We were amazed at the number of folks that traveled great distances to attend this event. It was truly regional. Thomas Janner from Rohde and Schwarz flew from Germany just to present.”
Percentage Growth of New Members:
Class A: 106 Florida Panhandle; Chapter Chair Mark Johnson, CSRE
Class B: 103 Nashville; Chapter Chair James Campbell, CPBE
Highest Percentage of Certified Members:
Class A: 115 Southern Idaho; Chapter Chair Thomas Kettwi, CBT
Class B: 131 Inland Empire; Chapter Chair James Alexander, CPBE, CBNT; Certification Chair Paul Claxton, CPBE, CBNT
Highest Percentage of Member Attendance at Meetings:
Class A: 112 Western Wisconsin; Chapter Chair Todd Zschernitz, CBTE
Class B: 69 Alamo Area; Chapter Chair Christopher Anderson
All the winners will be recognized at the SBE Membership Meeting and Awards Ceremony, held online on Sept. 23. Nominations for the 2021 awards will open in February.
Note: Class awards are determined using the median chapter size as of Dec. 31, 2019, as the dividing line between Class A (fewer than or equal to the median) and Class B (more than the median).