DeShun Smith - Maintenance Engineer

Nov. 13, 2013 by Nicole V. Rohr

DeShun Smith, Maintenance Engineer

DeShun Smith has been an engineer at WYCC PBS Chicago for four years now, and he admitted that it took a lot of persistence and patience to get to where he is. “At least for a good eight years after college, I was working three jobs,” Smith said. “Holding down three jobs along with trying to get my foot in the door in the broadcast.”

Smith was 33 years old when his degree from Columbia College Chicago and his hard work paid off, and he was hired to work at WYCC as a part-time master control operator on the graveyard shift, where he worked weekends, too. The station was transitioning to 24-hour programming at the time, and Smith welcomed the opportunity to move from his three jobs to one job in the field of his choice. It did not take long for the then director of engineering to notice Smith’s talent and offer him a full-time position as a maintenance engineer.

He is now able to mentor student shadows and interns at WYCC, offering them valuable advice about his journey into the work force. “If you really want to get into this field, stick with it because you [have to] be persistent. It may not take you eight years like it has for me. It might take you shorter, it might take you longer, but if you [are] persistent, there’s a good chance,” Smith explained.

Smith has seen WYCC move from Daley College to its current facilities at Kennedy-King College, from standard definition to HD productions and to a new 24-hour schedule with many new employees added to the production team.

“Things have changed,” he said. “I’ve grown and… so has the station. It seems like we’re reinventing ourselves, and it seems like four years coming back to me again. In a good way.”

Smith, usually very outgoing, has let the excitement of new opportunities at WYCC energize him even further.

“I know sometimes I get a little bit tense because I really want to make the equipment work for these productions that we have,” he said. And Smith emphasized how much he values feedback from viewers regarding their experience with WYCC programming. Smith even recalled a viewer calling to report that her cable provider had moved WYCC to a different channel, and the prompt and efficient response by the engineering staff inspired her to increase her support to the station.

“She sent membership a letter… explaining how I had helped and because of tremendous, great help from the engineering staff, [she was] donating more money as a member to the station. Those little rewards are just great,” Smith said.

Smith said that his whole life is pretty rewarding right now. He and his girlfriend Mary have been dating for four years, and they participate in fundraising walks and runs with Smith’s mother Earlene.

“We just recently got started on it,” Smith said. “We have been so blessed. I think as you get older, you start to realize that stuff. You get a little brittle. You toughen up in some ways, but then there are some things [where] you start to get a little brittle.” He said that he is has become very passionate about certain causes, like finding a cure for the kidney disease from which his cousin and another close friend suffer. Smith said that if he were a match for either one of those patients, he would gladly donate a kidney. 

Smith is an active participant in life, in helping others, and in the success of WYCC PBS Chicago. His pride was obvious as he described recent accomplishments achieved by the engineering staff, and explained goals set for the future.

“There are so many things that not only myself, but the engineering staff, have accomplished within these four years. One of those things that I was so happy to be a part of is [our] mini studio, which goes mobile,” Smith said, pointing out that this “fly pack” designed and built by WYCC’s engineers enabled videographers to shoot the Emmy-winning Chicago Sinfonietta: Sounds of Diversity, which aired in 2011.

Now that Smith finds himself in a steady, happy situation, he has more time to spend traveling with Mary and walking his dog Sam. Mary and DeShun will take their first trip overseas together in 2013, and we wish them the very best.

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