The next time you catch the news, traffic or weather on New York’s FM News 101.9, say a silent thank you to Stevens alum Andrew Bentz (’11). Just months into his career, Bentz is the sole staff engineer for the brand-new 24-hour all-news radio station, responsible for maintaining and operating the electronics and equipment that keeps the broadcast on air.
“When something breaks, I have to jump up and put out the fire. In the beginning I was getting phone calls 24/7,” said Bentz, who in August started in an entry-level position at the station’s parent company, Merlin Media, just two months after it was formed.
Bentz came to Stevens after realizing his initial interest in entertainment technology as head of the technical crew for his high school’s drama performances. He was a Music & Technology major at Stevens where he learned critical skills about transmitters, wiring, information technology, computers and electrical engineering. He also gained critical technical experience as a studio engineer for SITTV, Stevens’ on-campus television station.
Bentz’s first on-the-job experience came when he scored an internship for academic credit at Clear Channel Communications’ "The Jim Kerr Rock and Roll Morning Show" on Q104.3 in New York City.
“I originally was interested in a job at Z100, which I found out about through Stevens Career Services,” said Bentz. “During the interview, they liked me but couldn’t use me, so they walked me down the hall and introduced me to the people at Q104.3, who offered me an internship as assistant producer.”
Bentz loved working for Q104.3, despite having to wake up at 3:30 a.m. almost every morning during his senior year. His colleagues loved him right back. On the day of his graduation from Stevens, Kerr even gave Bentz an on-air shout out.
Kerr also helped Bentz get his first paying job. He told Bentz that Merlin Media would be starting FM News 101.9 in New York and told him to email the COO. Throughout the summer, Bentz attempted to make contact numerous times. Finally, he sent the COO a friend request through Facebook, including his resume and cover letter. He got an immediate response: “Come in tomorrow for an interview.”
At FM News 101.9, Bentz immediately made a name for himself among a staff of about 70 when his supervisors expressed concerned about the station’s heavy “reverb,” or echo. Bentz had written his senior thesis on reverbs just a few months earlier and he quickly adjusted the entire set to fix the problem.
Bentz said he thinks he is by far the youngest head radio engineer in the New York City area, but his age has not held him back.
“Even though New York City is the biggest radio market in the world, the radio engineering community is pretty small,” Bentz said. “Everyone gets along and likes each other, and people have been unbelievably helpful to me as I begin my career. I know that there are already dozens of people I can call and ask questions when I need help.”
Bentz is hopeful that by getting in on the ground floor of Merlin Media – which currently operates a sister station in Chicago – will be in a great position to move up as the company looks to expand nationally.
“There will always be jobs like this in some form, and I would love to keep doing this forever,” he said.