The NAB Education Foundation’s Technology Apprenticeship Program is seeking to recruit and retain women and people of color into more engineering leadership positions in the industry, and it’s making headway, according to Marcellus Alexander, president of the NABEF and a senior adviser to the NAB.
Broadcast engineering has long had a diversity problem, and the NAB Education Foundation aims to fix that.
Since 2011, the NABEF’s Technology Apprenticeship Program has helped recent graduates — particularly women and people of color — to get a footing in the industry via a six-month, intensely hands-on training experience at a TV or radio station, along with plenty of invaluable networking opportunities and a deep dive into the technologies on hand at the NAB Show next month.
Marcellus Alexander, president of the NABEF and a senior adviser to the NAB, says the program was designed to attract and prepare the next generation of leaders on the engineering and tech side of the industry, historically one of broadcast’s least diverse areas.
TAP is making inroads: Alexander says 55% of the program’s participants (there are typically 10 in each class) have been hired into the broadcast industry. Among companies that have hired them are ABC Owned Television Stations, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Univision and Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Stephanie Glover is one of TAP’s success stories. A graduate of the Carolina School of Broadcasting in Charlotte, N.C., Glover knew from age 9 — when she lived through the experience of Hurricane Hugo nearly destroying her hometown of Charleston, S.C. — that she wanted to work in television, which she saw as a force for good in the community.
Glover was already working as a producer at WJZY in Charlotte when she was accepted into the program. She says that TAP was great for helping her walk through broadcast engineering’s fundamental concepts, which she saw as indispensible for her own career growth.
Equally so were TAP’s networking opportunities. “The arena that that program creates for people trying to break into the industry is priceless,” Glover says. “Being a part of that program put me at tables that had people present who make hiring decisions.”
One of those people was the VP of technology and operations at the Disney ABC Television Group, where Glover now works as an operations analyst. There, she helps drive strategic and operational initiatives through the creative services department.
Stanley Kelly, another TAP graduate and a graduate of the Omega School of Recording Arts and Sciences in Rockville, Md., is equally indebted to his experience in the program. He’s now working at Radio One in Washington, D.C., where he did his apprenticeship.
“That was one of the best experiences in my life,” Kelly says. “I learned so much and how to tie all of my knowledge together.”
For TAP graduates, that knowledge can translate into being a Certified Broadcast Technologist, as well as earning certification with the International Association for Broadcast and Media Technology Suppliers (IABM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.
Participants also produce and host a live webcast on a topic related to the industry, most recently on artificial intelligence.
TAP is now widening its recruitment to U.S. military veterans, who Alexander says are often a natural fit for broadcast technology careers.
“We know there are many veterans who have technical experience,” he says. “It’s a way that they can transition coming back from the service.”
For Glover, TAP has spurred a different kind of transition, namely raising the bar of her career ambitions. “Going through the TAP program has opened up my senses to the depth of this field and my aspirations are a little larger now,” she says.
Prior to TAP, she had her goals set on being a news director or executive producer. Now, being the VP of a division — perhaps creative services or broadcast technology — is where she’s aiming.
Prospective applicants for TAP’s 2019 class have a Jan. 31, 2019, deadline, and applications can be found at http://nabef.org/tap/.