The job description for most broadcast engineers surrounds technology, but Broadcasting Engineer Foreman Wayne Mills maintains a student-centered mentality. After 11 years and five months at SIUE, Mills prepares to leave the university to pursue new challenges but not without missing the students.
Mills said throughout his SIUE career, he kept the students’ needs in mind, whether it meant spending extra money to ensure students had equipment that would best prepare them for life after college or patiently helping students to learn how to use the equipment. As part of his job, Mills orders equipment for the department and completes repairs as needed.
“I wish people knew that I take the needs of the students very seriously and preparing them for life after SIUE was always paramount in my mind,” Mills said. “The students are very dear to me here, [and] I’m going to miss them the most. Seeing the lightbulb come on above somebody’s head has always been the most enjoyable part of this job.”
Mills worked at SIU Carbondale, Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta, as a chief engineer for a TV station in Marion, Illinois, and other places in the production field before he arrived at SIUE.
Instructor in the Department of Mass Communications Cory Byers said he believes Mills’ background in production allows him to further assist students.
“Having an engineer that does have a background in production really helps because, not only do they understand the tech side of the equipment, they also understand how to set up tripods, how to set up cameras and how to use the editing software,” Byers said. “It allows them to be another resource for our students to use.”
Mills enjoys working with students so much that he was an adjunct professor for three and a half years during his SIUE career.
Professor Gary Hicks was the chair of the Department of Mass Communications at the time.
“[Mills] enjoyed the interaction with students so much that at one point when I was chair he asked if I could give him a position teaching one of our basic video production classes,” Hicks said. “So we were able to do that, and he was a very popular instructor.”
According to teaching assistant and media studies graduate student Jonathan Johnson, of Florissant, Missouri, Mills shows his dedication to students by helping them in the editing labs and teaching them how to use the equipment.
Johnson said Mills is one-of-a-kind, and he is not sure these qualities will be present in the next broadcast engineer.
“This department will be at a loss when losing Wayne,” Johnson said. “Sure, we are going to get another engineer, but we have no idea what kind of a person he’s going to be — if he’s going to be as lax and as helpful as Wayne was or if he’s going to stick strictly to doing his job. I mean, they could be, but even if they are, they won’t be Wayne.”
Mills will be entering a new job at Heartland Video Systems Inc. in Wisconsin. He said he is excited to work for the sales company because it’s unlike what he’s previously done as well as the travel opportunities the job will allow.
“I’m looking for new challenges, and this job that I’m taking is going to provide those,” Mills said. “I’m going to be able to get my hands deep into newer technology and do some things that I haven’t done before in the engineering world and work for a different kind of company than I’ve ever worked for before.”
In January, Mike Cathey, who was also an engineer in the Department of Mass Communications, moved out of state. According to Department Chair and Associate Professor Musonda Kapatamoyo, they are currently interviewing for Cathey’s replacement. Kapatamoyo estimates an offer will be made before the end of the semester.