Tag: Entravision Rio Grande Valley (retired)

Harry Thielemann, Jr.

2015 George Marti Award for Engineering Excellence

(Published August 2015)

Without engineers, there simply would be no broadcast.

And for many in South Texas, there is no engineer like Harry Thielemann, Jr. – widely known and respected as the Dean of the broadcast engineering community in the southern reaches of the state.

Harry Thielemann

While much of Thielemann’s 46-year career in the broadcast industry has been based in the Rio Grande Valley, he got his start far from there at the Delaware Technical and Community College and the University of Delaware.

His first job in 1969 at WBOC AM-FM-TV in Salisbury, MD, proved fertile ground for mastering new technologies as he led the TV station’s conversion to color and was one of the first to introduce FM radio in the region. He also set up “DJ-assist” systems, the forerunner of today’s automated studios.

In 1983, he was promoted to Chief Engineer when Draper Communications purchased the stations. Draper acquired KGBT-TV Harlingen in 1990 and Thielemann transferred to South Texas with the company where he was introduced to his first VHF facility. He quickly began modernizing the operations with TV stereo audio and eventually led the station’s DTV transition.

In 2006, he accepted the position of Chief Engineer for Entravision Communications in South Texas, then led by Sonny Cavazos. He has since dedicated himself to sustaining and improving the group’s radio and television operations on both sides of the southern tip of the Texas-Mexico border.

This cluster of four FM stations and two full-power and four low-power TV stations – all under one roof – represents one of the largest broadcast operations anywhere in the country.

The responsibility of maintaining and troubleshooting the infrastructure is immense and Thielemann relies on creativity and teamwork to ensure the group’s overall community service mission succeeds.

Despite the heavy weight of this responsibility, Thielemann routinely lends his expertise to other broadcast operations in the market in the interest of furthering the broadcast engineering expertise in the area and advancing the industry’s service to one of the poorest regions of the state.

His dedication to education and innovation doesn’t stop there, as more than a few equipment vendors have learned when he modified their products to overcome glitches and integrate them with other products.

One such project involved protecting equipment from lightning damage. A suite of systems routinely experienced problems with lightning and, after meeting with heavy resistance from the manufacturer, Thielemann made several modifications that averted additional failures.

Six months later he received calls from the equipment salesman asking about the status of their equipment. It was operating flawlessly.

When Thielemann learned that all the vendor’s installations had a problem with lightning he agreed to assist them and saved their product.

With all the stations and six network affiliations, Thielemann cites as one of his biggest challenges the rate at which technology changes.

Being a lifelong learner, the short lifespan of new equipment poses as much excitement as frustration.

“Live news programming must be delivered with flawless execution. The latest tools, lighting and cameras are items most viewers never see, but allow the teams to succeed in a competitive news landscape where ratings influence substantial revenues,” said Christopher Moncayo, Entravision SVP.

“Harry’s ability to address any issue is a talent and quality that comes with experience.”

Thielemann’s passion for taking the stations into the future extends to finding the next generation of broadcast engineers.

He routinely participates in job fairs and other employment programs to showcase the equipment and processes broadcast engineers use on a daily basis.

All his TV and radio stations are firmly entrenched in serving the community and he continues to be inspired by the fact that his engineering plays a key role in helping the stations do just that.

A strong advocate for TAB’s efforts on stations’ behalf, Thielemann serves as an industry ambassador of sorts as he models the best that broadcast engineering offers the local community.

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Larry Safir

2014 Broadcaster of the Year

(Published August 2014)

Larry Edward Safir’s broadcast accomplishments span more than 44 years.

Safir started his career in broadcasting at the age of 15, selling airtime for his father Nathan at the nation’s first Spanish language radio station, KCOR-AM San Antonio.

Larry Safir

Eventually being promoted to GSM at the station, he served on the planning committee for the first Hispanic state fair, helping to create the prototype for viewer/listener, free concert and marketing events.

In addition, to KCOR, Safir served as GM of KZFM/KEYS Corpus Christi and KERV Kerrville.

In 1992, he and his partner SW Multi-Media Patriarch Billy Goldberg, were awarded a CP for KNVO 48 TV in McAllen.

Safir secured Univision affiliation and the station became the nation’s ninth largest Hispanic market.

KNVO-TV rapidly became the market’s highest rated station.

Four years later, he sold to Entravision Communications, where he remained as an equity partner and executive vice president for the next 16 years.

Safir has been a leader and pioneer in creating equal opportunities for Spanish language viewers and helped pave the way for Spanish speaking as well as bilingual Hispanics to receive quality USA broadcast entertainment and news and job opportunities.

An example of his commitment is seen in the acquisition of Univision properties in Laredo, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Midland-Odessa and Lubbock.

Working for Entravision, he is credited with acquiring and simultaneously managing Univision 48, UniMas (formerly Telefutura), Fox Rio 2, CW-21 and four radio stations KLVY-FM, KFRQ-FM, KKPS-FM and KNVO-FM.

Safir developed and implemented the South Texas DMA’s first Spanish language TV newscast.

He also is credited with developing and executing the broadcast of both a Fox newscast at 9 pm in English and using the same staff for Spanish news on Univision at 10 pm.

This has been critical in raising Hispanic awareness of pride, equality and confidence among young Latinos.

Managing seven properties in one building takes initiative and creativity.

He used talent and resources to drive ratings and revenue, in two different languages! Before the days of consolidation, he introduced effective strategies that produced 15 weekly newscasts with English and Spanish news talent working both sets.

To this date, there are not many other stations that are consistently successful with their multi-platform and bilingual news operation.

Safir’s accomplishments in this marketplace alone are significant because, even today, McAllen remains the number one revenue market and among the highest in ratings for the company.

His father, Nathan, served as TAB Chairman in 1975 and was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame in 1989.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Safir has been very active in supporting and interfacing with key political leaders and high-ranking state and national office holders who are in positions to help support the issues TAB finds most important to Texas broadcasters.

His extensive contributions to the local community are based on the fact that he understood that media is responsible for serving the community.

Safir’s station’s consistently aired PSA’s and newsworthy community news; however, he was adamant that the stations do more!

He promoted aggressive voter registration drives to create awareness and education among the viewers and listeners.

He also supported numerous major college scholarship programs for students in need of financial assistance in the DMA.

He created a longstanding community feature called “A Su Lado,” a community outreach program that allows the Spanish speaking community to reach out to experts in immigration, education, employment, healthcare and many other community issues.

Safir helped launch the broadcast careers of many employees who began their careers under his leadership and moved on to obtain prestigious positions in both the English and Spanish top 10 Markets.

After 20 years, Safir retired from Entravision.

He has launched the nation’s first Hispanic Health Network and continues to demonstrate his passion for addressing the needs of his community by serving as a co-founder, builder and board manager for what has become the Nation’s largest majority owned physician hospital populated primarily by Hispanics – Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg.

He currently serves as the executive director for the Renaissance Cancer Foundation on a pro bono basis.

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