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         The life and times of Mark and Paula Persons
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Gilbert lake Association
Wednesday, October 3, 2018:   The Dynamic Duo of Mark and Paula were in Danvers, near Boston, MA.
Mark received the Society of Broadcast Engineers prestigious Engineer of the Year award from the SBE president.
The SBE is a world-wide organization
of 5000 radio and television broadcast engineers.

SBE Engineer of the Year Award introduction by SBE President Jim Leifer:

Mark Persons, CPBE, CBNT, AMD, spent his life in broadcast engineering following in the footsteps of his father, Charles B. Persons who started in the 1920s. It must have been in his DNA.

Almost half a century later, his hard work paid off in the form of recognition as the Robert W. Flanders SBE Engineer of the Year for 2018. The award recognizes a member who has excelled in his or her career while furthering the mission of the SBE.

Persons also got involved with amateur radio at age 16. Mark made a brief exodus from broadcasting to serve a stint in the U.S. Army. He taught electronic component-level troubleshooting at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, and then spent a year in Vietnam as Sergeant-in-Charge of an aviation electronics repair shop.

Persons, along with his wife Paula, wound up engineering at over 100 stations. Along the way, he built 12 new stations, mostly in the Midwest. That work included building phasors from the ground up at four new AM directional stations. Countless other stations were rebuilt or upgraded.

He has written more than 175 engineering articles for regional and national publications, and was involved in the design of six broadcast products that were manufactured by Zercom Corporation.

At age 71, Persons continues his interest and involvement with broadcasting, as a mentor to four broadcast engineers and is a participant in the NRSC's committee on AM improvement.

Paula and Mark Persons at the award ceremony.

SBE Engineer of the Year Speech by Mark Persons:

Don't stop me if you have already heard this because I want to hear it again.  There was a broadcast station in a foreign country where something bad happened on the air and three people from the station were sentenced to death by beheading on a guillotine. The manager was first. The cord was pulled and the blade came down, then stopped just an inch from his neck. It must have been divine intervention they said….he was set free. The same happened to the program director. Then it was the engineer’s turn. Just before they pulled the cord, the engineer called out, "Wait…I see the problem!" (Applause sign)

It is interesting standing here in front of my peers. I did not aspire to this and I am humbled to receive the award.

Half of this honor is due to the efforts of wife Paula, a former legal secretary. She spent 40 to 50 hours a week handling our office while I was out with a voltmeter in one hand and a spectrum analyzer in the other working on studios and transmitters. It was a two "Persons" business.

Station ownership was never in our blood. Instead, I reveled in building and repairing radio stations from the ground up. I wasn’t as an employee, but a time-and-material contractor. Even so, clients were like a family and they called me back time and time again to do more.

For me, it was a lifestyle and an obligation to the industry I grew up in where sound was magically transmitted through the air. My challenge was to make radio stations the best they could be….hence the phrase on my voice recorder, "I’m out building one of America’s great radio stations."

After repairing a transmitter, I’d often drive down the cheering, "YES…It’s back on the air."

My career as a radio broadcast engineer was a ride worth taking in spite of long hours and nights without sleep.

I am thankful for the freedom to pursue this career and receive this honor. God bless America.

Mark received the award and gave the speech again at a regional SBE meeting in Madison, WI, on October 17, 2018.
Mark Persons in his shop back in 1965, then as a U.S. Army Sergeant in Charge of an Avionics repair shop in Vietnam 1968-69.
Mark Persons building an AM directional radio station in 1988.
Mark Persons in his shop repairing electronic equipment used in radio broadcast facilities just before retirement.
(l-r) Kirk Harnack interviewing Mark for TWiRT (This Week in Radio Tech).

Quote of the day:     It was w whirlwind day.   Mark    < Back to previous story Ahead to next story >

Questions, Comments?  Email Mark Persons  teki@mwpersons.com

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page last edited 11/04/2018