Snell Job

Who better than a broadcasting veteran to know what broadcasters want? That's why Snell & Wilcox hired Mark Olingy to replace Dick Crippa as president of its North American operations. Crippa was promoted to executive chairman of Snell & Wilcox.

"I've been an integrator, a customer, and a manufacturer," Olingy says, citing expertise he deems invaluable in his new role. He recently spent seven years as director of engineering and operations for Allbritton Communications' WJLA Washington. Previously, he served two other stints at Allbritton stations, worked for Harris Corp.'s systems integration division, and headed Northeast sales for gear manufacturer Philips.

"When you've worked in those three arenas, it gives you a pretty good understanding of what each person is trying to accomplish. It allows me to understand things that some of my colleagues won't see as readily. My team and I can work as facilitators."

One of his challenges has already begun: changing the perception of Snell & Wilcox as a company that makes high-quality but expensive signal-management hardware. Advances in IT, he says, are going to help.

"After having built WJLA's new 76,000-square-foot facility, I saw the excitement of new technology. We weren't in the world of boxes with BNC connectors," he adds. "The progression of the IT infrastructure is moving along at breakneck speed. With Snell & Wilcox's core technologies, it can expand its business in the U.S."

How? To meet broadcast needs, Snell is moving IT technology from the backend of equipment to the frontend. The company's iQ modular product line, for example, uses IT technology that makes it easier to report and keep track of signal problems and failures.

"We look at IT as an uncharted land," he says. Navigating it requires the help and cooperation of all industry participants. Which is why the company is offering free software related to the Material Exchange Format (or MXF, see box).

"In the old days, you would look at a tape to see the standup. With files, you can still do that in proxy form," he says. "It's great to know that, if you send a file, it will get there overnight—just like FedEx. And once [station personnel] have that confidence, there's a chance for increased efficiencies in workflow and cost reduction."

Olingy graduated from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania and lives in the Washington area with his wife, Janet. His interests outside of work include flying and boating, though his wife has asked him to settle on one: boats or planes. For now, boats get his vote. As does Snell.