James Boyd, Radio Engineer Honored

Feedback.pdxradio.com message board: Archives: Portland radio archives: 2008: July, Aug, Sept - 2008: James Boyd, Radio Engineer Honored
Author: Craig_adams
Thursday, July 24, 2008 - 4:03 am
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James Boyd was honored on July 11th at a luncheon here in Portland. Barry Mishkind, Editor of "Radio Guide" presented the plaque to James who made Radio Guide's "Hall of Achievement" in their March/April issue. Here's the article:

Recognizing those who have made real contributions to the broadcast profession.

James Boyd - Helping Keep Oregon Broadcasters on The Air

One does not have to be a national figure to have a major impact on one’s fellow broadcasters. As we shall see, James Boyd’s reputation has made him the “go-to” choice for many broadcasters in the Northwest. Scott Fybush profiles this dedicated broadcaster with over forty years experience.

Bend, Oregon is a long way from just about anywhere. It is nearly four hours to Portland, the nearest big city. And if it seems like a small town today, with some 80,000 people, it was truly a small town when James Boyd was growing up there in the fifties and sixties. “When I graduated high school, it was only about 11,000 people,” recalls Boyd, proprietor of Boyd Broadcast Technical Services and Radio Guide’s latest inductee into the Hall of Achievement. Back then, even in a small town, it was easy for a young boy to develop an interest in radio.

Boyd remembers, “I started messing around with electronics when I was eight or nine years old. I had two uncles who were radio guys and two cousins who worked at Tektronix up in Portland. I remember visiting a radio station one of my uncles built when I was five years old. I can remember it like it was yesterday – and today I take care of that place,” Boyd says. But while Boyd knew as early as junior high school that he wanted to follow his uncles into the radio business, it was a long road that led from a youth in Bend to a contract engineering practice that does business all over the West.

Boyd’s first paying jobs were in the newspaper business, working as a carrier and distribution supervisor for the Bend Bulletin. While the Bulletin had partial ownership of a radio station, KGRL(AM), Boyd’s first radio job was across town at KBND(AM),a competing station. It only lasted for about a year when a draft notice from Uncle Sam sent Boyd across the Pacific to Vietnam. He spent a year in South Vietnam as a Broadcast Specialist in the U.S. Army, recording interviews with soldiers to be sent back to their hometown stations and pulling occasional airshifts on a satellite station of the American Forces Vietnam Network. Returning to the U.S. in 1967, Boyd finished out his Army career at Fort Benning, Georgia, working parttime at WRBL in nearby Columbus, Georgia until he was honorably discharged in 1969. Retuning home to Oregon, Boyd worked first for KBND and then for Capps Broadcast Group, which had bought KGRL. In October 1969, he moved to Capps’ station in Pendleton, Oregon, KTIX(AM).

“Those were fun days,” Boyd says. “I enjoyed those times. I was the program director, chief engineer, news director, did the news in the morning and then pulled a midday airshift plus some production.” Boyd’s career soon began to turn toward engineering. By the mid-seventies, he was Corporate Chief Engineer for Capps, responsible for seven stations in six markets and supervising five other full-time engineers. After a decade with Capps, Boyd relocated to Portland in 1984, spending a year as Chief Engineer of public radio station KBPS. He returned to Capps in 1986, this time based in Portland at KMJK(FM) and KVAN(AM), but with responsibility for the company’s other stations as well.

When the Portland stations were sold to Fairmont Communications in 1989, Boyd came along as Chief Engineer, but he was already thinking about going to work for himself. “You started to see the writing on the wall, with consolidation and all that,” he said. After another year back with KBPS as chief engineer, Boyd finally took the leap, founding Boyd Broadcast Technical Services in October 1991. Over more than 16 years in business as a contract engineer, Boyd has built a loyal following among other engineers and managers in the region. “He can do everything – literally – and does,” said Kent Randles, engineer at Entercom’s Portland stations. “He’s got an amazing amount of test equipment.

We always make fun of him for his truck because he’s like the hermit crab that carries everything with him on his back.” For Entercom, Boyd handles all the transmitter work at the company’s multiple AM and FM sites in the Portland market. That includes the market’s first FM HD Radio installation, at KGON(FM), as well as another HD FM installation now underway at KWJJ(FM). “James is an old dog who likes to learn new tricks well,” says Gary Hilliard, Entercom’s director of engineering for the Portland market. “As a contract engineer, he still has this pride of ownership for the stations he contracts with.”

In addition to contract work for Entercom, CBS Radio, and smaller stations scattered across the region, Boyd is a regional contract engineer for Harris Corp., traveling widely across the West to handle service calls and installations for the company. He also serves as an Alternative FCC Inspector for radio stations in Oregon, and as site manager for two major multiple-user tower sites in Portland, the Sylvan (KOIN-TV) and Skyline (KGW-TV) towers.

“One of the things that makes my job so terrific is that it’s so varied,” Boyd said. He has also worked with consulting engineering firms Hatfield and Dawson and DuTreil, Lundin & Rackley on a project to evaluate public radio stations’ AM transmitter facilities for suitability for HD Radio conversion. “The most interesting (of all my work) is the HD stuff, and I’ve done a lot of that,” he said. Boyd’s long-term outlook for HD Radio is optimistic. “I’m still doing a lot of installs,” he said. “I’m concerned about AM, but not discouraged. The FM system is here to stay.”

In addition to his hands-on engineering work, Boyd is active with the Oregon Association of Broadcasters, serving on the association’s Board of Directors, and implementing a scholarship program that supports training for young people interested in broadcast engineering. In what passes for his spare time, Boyd also serves as a volunteer firefighter. “It’s amazing, the parallels between being an engineer and a volunteer fireman,” he says. At 61, Boyd says he expects to keep going for many years to come. “I don’t have any desire to quit. If I won the lottery, I’d still work. I like what I do, and I’m not going to stop. Where else can you play all day?”

This article appears on page 18 of Radio Guide:

Author: Broadway
Thursday, July 24, 2008 - 11:01 am
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A big congrads James...a very knowledgable/busy guy in the industry. Take some time off and enjoy till your cell phone rings!

Author: Markandrews
Thursday, July 24, 2008 - 11:10 am
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I worked with "Al" Boyd (his nom de aero) at KGRL in '76 and '77... He is simply a good fellow and the best at what he does. Cheers, Al!

Author: Rongallagher
Thursday, July 24, 2008 - 5:16 pm
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I'll add my congrats to James as well. He was our contract engineer for Entercom's Longview stations in the late 90's. I recall we didn't hit it off so well at first, but James set me straight, and our working relationship was great after that rocky start.

I am thankful for that, as James became one of the most helpful professionals I had ever worked with. It was more than engineering too. His reach is very far in Oregon. I remember James initiating several conversations where we talked about my moving on from Longview. When, during one, I said I might be interested in seeing what's out there, James made some calls, and I had an interview within two days. James was a great guy to have in my corner.

Again congratulation on the honor James. You certainly deserve it!

Author: Stevethedj
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 10:31 am
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Congrats James--you deserve an award for all the work you have done.

Author: Seguedad
Monday, August 04, 2008 - 11:07 pm
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>>I worked with "Al" Boyd (his nom de aero) at KGRL in '76 and '77... He is simply a good fellow and the best at what he does

His card.

Took me a long time to dig up, because it somehow got stuck in a book of stickers instead of cards, but the gentleman deserves all his kudos. He was pleasant, and even helpful with information, to competitors, in the interest of better radio

Author: Littlesongs
Saturday, August 09, 2008 - 5:39 pm
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This region is blessed with some of the finest engineers in the business. James Boyd deserves this recognition and has earned his reputation as one of the best. I am glad I had a chance to learn from him at KBPS.

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