Wisconsin Broadcasters Pause To Remember Engineering Vet

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Terry Baun, a Hall of Fame inductee with the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, died Saturday, January 1. He was 74 years of age.


Baun’s broadcast career started in 1967 at Milwaukee’s Classical station, WFMR-FM. After a decade there, he began a series of moves into corporate engineering while also forming his own consulting firm, Criterion Broadcast Services, in Milwaukee.

Across the years, he worked for Sudbrink Broadcasting, Multimedia Broadcasting, and Cumulus Broadcasting. He completed his broadcasting career working for the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board where he oversaw the engineering and operations of the delivery system for Wisconsin Public Radio and Television throughout the state of Wisconsin, retiring in 2017 after 10 years.

Baun’s activity in the Society of Broadcast Engineers is most notable. He began in 1976 when he first joined the Society and became involved in Chapter 28 of Milwaukee, serving in several leadership capacities. Later in his career, while living in Indiana, he served as Certification Committee Chair for Chapter 25 in Indianapolis.

Baun’s contributions to the SBE at the national level were numerous and significant. He was first elected to the national SBE Board of Directors in 1987, serving a two-year term and was elected to a three-year term in 1991. That term was interrupted after two years as he was elected national vice president in the fall of 1993. Baun served in that position for two years before being elected to two consecutive terms as national president, beginning in 1995.

During his terms as national president, the Society instituted the Leadership Development Course. Baun worked to develop stronger ties and awareness of the SBE by the state broadcaster associations nationwide. He initiated a significant upgrade of the Society’s national office data management capability. The Society successfully transitioned from the multi-association World Media Expo, which ended in 1996, to the SBE National Meeting concept that’s still in use today. The SBE self-published the EAS Primer, written by fellow Wisconsinite Leonard Charles, during his term and the Society held its first strategic planning meeting during Baun’s presidency. During his two years as president, SBE membership grew as did the SBE’s financial strength.

His dedication to the development of continuing education for broadcast engineers has been evident in his tenure as chair of the SBE National Certification Committee (from 1998 to 2001) and later as the developer and instructor of a computer networking technologist course which facilitated many broadcast engineers to bridge the gap between traditional broadcast engineering and information technology skill sets, as well as becoming SBE Certified Broadcast Networking Technologists. Much of Baun’s professional life has been spent working for and on behalf of the Society and mentoring the broadcast engineer on the lecture circuit and through promotion of the SBE Certification program.

Baun was a member of the SBE national Certification Committee for 21 years, from 1998 to 2019, serving as the committee chair for three of those years.

Baun was instrumental in the creation and subsequent tutorial of the SBE Certified Broadcast Networking Technologist (CBNT) certification. His dedication to this program resulted in one of the highest participation rates of any SBE certification level. Baun was also instrumental in the development of the SBE AM Directional Specialist (AMD) certification, providing many of the essay questions.

He also contributed much to his home state via the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. He was one of the original members of the WBA Summer Engineering Conference Steering Committee. Baun founded the WBA Media Technology Institute in 2011.

He played a key role in developing the self-inspection program within the broadcast industry and is considered a leader in this field. Baun was one of the architects of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association’s Alternative Broadcast Station Inspection Program, serving as the WBA’s chief inspector for more than ten years, beginning with the program’s inauguration in 1995. In addition to Wisconsin, he conducted alternative station inspections for broadcast associations in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. As an inspector himself, Baun took on the primary role of mentor with stations to help them with their compliance issues rather than the role of an enforcer. His desire was to have stations comply with the rules rather than looking for reasons to cite them for noncompliance.

In 2000, Baun initiated the 24-hour hotline for engineers in the state of Wisconsin through the WBA, which he manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Based on his program model, other state broadcast associations have adopted the 24-hour engineering hotline. For all of his efforts in Wisconsin, Baun was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation Hall of Fame in 2004.

In his position with the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, Baun played a key role in guiding the transition of Wisconsin Public Television to full digital broadcasting. In addition to his duties associated with ECB and Wisconsin Public Television, he spent a good deal of time working with the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association in a variety of activities that not only benefited the ECB and WPT, but the entire television community. The WPT transition included the early cutover to digital for WPT’s six translators and included coordinating a triage plan with WPT programming staff for the five full-power transmitters in advance of the original Feb. 17, 2009 shut-off date.

Baun implemented the planning process with ECB staff for the next generation of the Broadcast Interconnect which delivers Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, EAS and Amber Alert programming throughout the state.

He served as a role model and has worked diligently on the partnership model between the ECB and the University of Wisconsin public radio and television issues.

Baun implemented a “paperless” reporting system for engineering updates from field staff. It’s a system that allows ECB engineering staff from throughout the state to have a snapshot of projects and issues at each site. Projects that Baun oversaw included the WHHI tower, the WHAA-FM – Coloma radio project the University of Wisconsin System built in 2011, and the Chilton gap filler tower, a joint project with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Baun also watched over the HD radio installations at ECB’s FM stations.

Besides his long membership with the SBE, Baun was a member of the Audio Engineering Society, the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers, and the IEEE. He also served on the Milwaukee Area Technical College Broadcast Communications Engineer Advisory Committee, which revamped the curriculum and brought the lab and studio equipment up to current broadcast standards.

“His dedication to broadcasting in general and broadcast engineering, the SBE, the WBA and his employers, are clearly evident,” the WBA said. “What differentiates Baun from other exceptional engineers is his ability to share his engineering expertise with industry peers as a great communicator teacher.”

In a WBA video tribute to Baun earning his 2004 induction into the Wisconsin Broadcasting Hall of Fame, Baun shared his thoughts on broadcast engineering and his career. He said, “Engineers are a critical part of the broadcasting enterprise. They’re technologists who bring broadcasting to life. I’ve always thought of myself as a broadcaster. Period. And within the scope of broadcasting, I feel that my contributions have been primarily in the technical side, the engineering side.”

To honor Baun, WBA is abiding by his wishes for a big party. A celebration of life with food, friends, drink, and music is scheduled for January 16 at the Madison Marriott West, commencing at 5pm Central.

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