Kent Randles: Up to Eleven
BY Jelli ON November 5, 2014 IN Up to Eleven
Today, the Jelli team shines a spotlight on Entercom Portland’s Senior Engineer Kent Randles in our latest installment of “Up to Eleven.”
“Up to Eleven” appears the third Thursday of every month and features the unsung heroes in the radio industry—the Broadcast Engineer. The column’s name, “Up to Eleven,” is taken from the movie “This is Spinal Tap” where guitarist Nigel Tufnel proudly demonstrates an amplifier whose volume knob is marked from zero to eleven, instead of the usual zero to ten.
The people we’re interviewing for “Up to Eleven” are turning it up past ten every day and Kent Randles is no exception. Kent has been working as a radio station engineer for 36 years and is the Senior Engineer for Entercom’s seven stations KGON, KNRK, KYCH, KWJJ, KRSK, KMTT, KFXX located in Portland, Oregon.
We hope you enjoy November’s “Up to Eleven” column and warmly welcome your comments!
The Jelli Team
Senior Engineer, Entercom Portland
Jelli: What led you to a career in radio?
Randles: I was interested in electrical and mechanical things the moment that I could crawl. I also liked listening to music, and when I discovered that broadcast radio included electronics AND music I was hooked. I got my first ham license when I was 14 and learned Morse Code in a night-school class.
Jelli: How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
Randles: The Portland market is dominated by a three way battle between Entercom, Clear Channel and Alpha Media. All of our stations are doing pretty well.
Jelli: Are you wearing more “hats” than you have in the past?
Randles: Engineers have always had to wear many hats. When I stopped being a disc jockey in 1978 in Sacramento, the engineering team did everything. Most of the time it’s doing triage on everything in the office. I’m the Senior Engineer for Entercom Portland’s seven (7) stations as well as the default locksmith, plumber, mechanic and whatever else needs to be done on that particular day.
Jelli: What is your favorite part of the job?
Randles: Learning new things… specifically the advent of HD radio and the Artist Experience that delivers album cover artwork and radio station logs to radios in new cars and aftermarket radios. The Artist Experience means there’s a lot more data being sent and the increase in the number of radios has boosted the importance of HD Radio.
Jelli: What is the most challenging part of the job?
Randles: Keeping the old stuff going. We have a couple of transmitters that are 24 years old. Fortunately, the company that originally made the transmitters is still in business but now we’re facing the reality that some parts are no longer in stock and we have to wait six weeks for them to be custom made.
Jelli: What are you doing social media-wise?
Randles: Entercom Portland’s interaction with listeners over social media is through its Facebook pages, Twitter and email. Personally, I’m addicted to Facebook.
Jelli: What makes your station “unique?”
Randles: KGON is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and our mid-day jock, Iris Harrison, has worked at the station for 37 years. KGON has consistency, everyone knows it, and it’s still a great station to listen to.
Jelli: Why do you think terrestrial radio stations should invest in technology… like programmatic?
Randles: Radio is going to have to move into programmatic advertising from an efficiency standpoint. And, HD radio and the Artist Experience are here to stay and the technology behind these innovations continues to fascinate me, yet HD, and specifically the HD2’s, aren’t being promoted.
Jelli: What advice would you give to people new to the business?
Randles: My advice to people new to the radio business is to learn as much as they can about everything. Try to make yourself indispensable. One area to really focus on is IT, including computers, networks, and everything else you can learn from a technical perspective. Two other important areas to familiarize yourself with are the operation of audio processors and transmitters. Next year, we’re getting two new transmitters that we’ll need to install, and then monitor their performance remotely.
Jelli: What was your favorite radio station to listen to when you were a kid?
Randles: Well, up until the time I was 16, in the Sixties, it was 1170 KCBQ in San Diego. Then, in 1968 my family moved to Sacramento and I listened to “The Big 610” KFRC in San Francisco.
Jelli: Bonus question (#11): For someone vacationing in your market, what one thing would you say they “must see?”
Randles: Multnomah Falls— that’s where my wife and I take everyone that visits Portland. It’s the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon and has a drop of over 600 feet.