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Wisconsin Broadcast Engineer Terry Baun Dies at 74

Terry Baun

Wisconsin-based engineer Terry Baun, an award-winning engineer who worked in both commercial and public broadcasting and was deeply involved with the Society of Broadcast Engineers including two terms as its president died January 1 at age 74. He had vascular dementia and had suffered a series of strokes over four years, according to his wife Linda.

Terrence M. Baun was born in 1947 and began his broadcast career in 1967 at classical music station WFMR(FM) in Milwaukee, according to a summary of his career she shared.

After 10 years, he began a series of jobs in corporate engineering and also soon formed consulting firm Criterion Broadcast Services. Employers over the years included Sudbrink Broadcasting, Multimedia Broadcasting and Cumulus Broadcasting.

He finished his broadcast career at the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, where he oversaw engineering and operations of the delivery system for Wisconsin Public Radio & Television throughout the state. He retired in 2017.

Baun had a close and longstanding relationship with the Society of Broadcast Engineers, which he joined in 1976 and which he served at various times in Chapter 28 Milwaukee and Chapter 25 Indianapolis. But his profile was national. Baun was elected to the national board in 1987 and went on to serve as vice president and then two terms as president starting in 1995.

“During his terms as national president, the society instituted the Leadership Development Course,” according to the obituary. “Terry 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 we still use today.”

Baun was active as a mentor and proponent of the SBE Certification program, serving on its national Certification Committee for 21 years, three of them as chair, and he was instrumental in creation of the SBE Certified Broadcast Networking Technologist (CBNT) and AM Directional Specialist (AMD) certifications.

He was named SBE’s first Broadcast Engineer of the Year in 1991, an SBE Fellow in 1999 and SBE Educator of the Year in 2003. In 2010, he received the SBE’s John H. Battison Award for Lifetime Achievement.

He also worked to support the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. He was an original member of its Summer Engineering Conference Steering Committee, and he 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,” Linda Baun wrote. “Terry 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 10 years, beginning with the program’s inauguration in 1995.”

He also conducted alternative station inspections for broadcast associations in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. “His desire was to have stations comply with the rules, rather than simply looking for reasons to cite them for noncompliance.”

Baun was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2004.  In the WBA video tribute to Baun, he shared his thoughts on broadcast engineering and his career, “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.

In addition to his wife Linda, survivors include her two daughters Leslie and Stacey and five grandchildren.

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