AVC Group’s Steve Adler Hangs Up His Hat
When Steve Adler started in the broadcasting industry in the early 1980s, the station he worked at only had a Telex machine for written business communications. Fax machines were still a year away.
Now, more than 30 years later, Steve is transitioning to semi-retirement from his recent position as Head of Engineering and Support for AVC Group, leaving a trail of memories from an industry which has seen an abundance of change throughout the years.
“Back in those days, radio really was at the leading edge, as the penultimate medium for the community,” says Steve. “We had tape recorders, turn tables, cartridge machines, with announcers swapping the cartridges over at a great rate of knots to put commercials to air between music tracks. The humble landline telephone was the only method available to talk to a listener in real time. Inventory management was all done using a manual paper method and transmitters still used valves.
“Between that day and this, the whole world has changed. It’s quite extraordinary.”
Steve was in the thick of the industry during the 1990s when digital technology and the internet completely changed the way the broadcasting industry operated.
“With the advent of the PC, probably one of the biggest changes in broadcast radio was that of digitising all the audio, storing it on a hard disk drive and then playing it back off the PC to go to air. That was one of the big turning points. All of a sudden, the cartridge machines, the turntables, the reel-to-reel tape recorders and the multi-track tape recorders which you would see in a recording studio, quickly became redundant.”
Steve says the abrupt and dramatic changes made it difficult for some engineers working within the industry. Those who had a built their careers using the old methodologies either embraced the new technology or simply disappeared.
“It caused quite a divide. Many of the engineers who used to be traditionally analogue embraced these new digital technologies and are still employed to this very day. Some couldn’t grasp it or didn’t want to grasp it and fell by the wayside.
“The role of the engineers changed a lot. It used to be soldering irons, oscilloscopes, multimeters and all those types of analogue tools. Today, in this digital world, your primary tool is a laptop. That’s how you access your system to see what’s right or wrong with it. The whole way we do things has completely changed.”
Steve says another noticeable change during his career is the considerable drop in the price of setting up an operational radio station, albeit with vastly improved quality.
“Back in the old days of broadcasting, everything was really expensive. As time marched on, like with anything, electronics got better, faster, more accessible, more choice, so in actual fact, the setup of radio stations these days is much cheaper today than it ever was.”
One thing which kept Steve excited about broadcast technology for 30 years, and keeps him enthusiastic even now, is the constant evolution of the industry.
“I never had to change jobs because the job always changed,” he says. “That was the best part about it. There was always something to keep me interested. If I hadn’t been able to embrace change, I would’ve been in real trouble.”
As Steve contemplates the next stage of his life, he doesn’t see himself going back to full time employment but he doesn’t see himself slowing down, either. With his vast experience in building radio networks, relocating radio stations, establishing transmitter sites, motivating teams of engineering professionals and projects, he says he’ll consider suggestions of short-term projects from anyone who’s looking for “innovative ideas, safe hands and really good budget control.”
He looks back fondly at the winding down of his role with AVC Group and feels satisfied he accomplished everything he could.
“I really liked working with AVC, they’re a great bunch of people. I had a great team. We established good routines and got people communicating well.
“I like to think I made my mark there and did what I like to do, which is to always leave a place better than I found it.”
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