Anchors are the center of attention in a newscast, but Jon Anderson makes sure they can get that attention. Without him, the show doesn’t go on.
Anderson is chief engineer for SAUtv, part of the Ambrose Communication Center, which is set up in the basement of the Galvin Fine Arts Center. He makes sure all equipment works properly, including cameras, video switcher, audio consoles and computer equipment. He’s been at SAU for 22 years. Previously, he worked as an operation and maintenance engineer at WQAD Channel 8 for 9 years, and at 12 local radio stations.
“There’s no two days that are exactly alike here,” Anderson said. The hours and duties of a work day can vary greatly and can stretch to 14+ hour days.
On a normal day, Anderson first checks to see if any equipment has been left out for him to fix. He then checks the camera sign out sheet to make sure the portable HD cameras used by Dateline SAU reporters are in working condition. He follows up by checking all the equipment to make sure it’s working right and planning for additional tasks needs to be done.
Throughout his day, Anderson helps with a few classes at SAU, including Radio/TV Production, Dateline and Broadcast Technologies.
Anderson said the technology is what makes his job the hardest.
“So many changes happening at such a rapid pace, trying to keep up with it,” he said.
He has to make sure old equipment stays running and can work with any new equipment, as well as know how to work the new equipment.
“Since everything now is going to computers and going to an IT-based infrastructure, it’s a big challenge now,” he said.
“If things are running well it can be very easygoing and everyone getting together and cooperating and working well,” Anderson said of the atmosphere surrounding his job. “If things aren’t working well, and when we’re against a deadline on certain things, it can get quite stressful,”
Live sports telecasts are an example. It gets so complex but “you just have to stop and dig in and do it.”
Anderson likes seeing how things have improved over the years through technological advances. “There’s such a wide variety of ages of equipment here. It’s kind of stressful to keep some of this stuff going,” he said.
However, Anderson loves the interaction he gets with students and staff at his job. He especially enjoys passing his knowledge along to students.
Anderson isn’t just limited to TV at SAU. Sometimes he is called up to help with KALA FM if there are major problems, so he has to know how to fix and run the radio system as well.
In the next five years, Anderson hopes to shift SAUtv’s system from video tape to a digital server. While it will be done gradually, he is excited to see the upcoming changes. It’s just one more way he will help SAUtv keep improving.