Posted by: tiffanylyons | January 19, 2008

“The glue that held everything together”

At 6 months old, Richard Petty battled polio. Doctors told him that he would never be able to walk, but he proved them wrong. He proved them wrong through persistence.  When he describes himself, Petty says, “I may not be the smartest engineer, but I am the most persistent.  I’ll find a way to get the job done.”Petty, Director of Engineering at Clear Channel, had been through 15 hurricanes, but nothing could have prepared him or the other members of his crew for the magnitude of Katrina. As employees in New Orleans evacuated, the members of the Baton Rouge engineering staff began preparations to control the empty studio remotely. Fortunately for Clear Channel, their employees knew how electronics worked and were able to figure out ways to get their broadcast out and into New Orleans.  They also had resources at the national operations level of Clear Channel to help find solutions, an often unconsidered asset of cosolidated radio.In order to get things done in a crisis, there are certain key elements that are needed. First, Petty says, employees need to have the same mission and must be willing to do what ever it takes to get the job done. If everyone is working for the same goal then reaching that goal becomes easier. Next, there is the need to know how equipment works. The engineers of Clear Channel were able to work with what they had. They took different types of technology that were not normally used to send radio signals out, like Radio Shack scanners and DirecTV satellite dishes. It is also important to know your limitations.For his work during Katrina, Petty was named the “2006 Clear Channel Radio Engineer of the Year”for the Southeast region.The radio station engineers are truly some of the forgotten heroes of Katrina, because without them, millions would not have received the information that they needed. 

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