With Gen X Experience and Gen Z Coding Skills, This Radio Producer Is Ready for the Future

When radio producer Marcus McBride was looking to add new skills to his resume, he didn’t research the latest sound editing software—he looked for coding boot camps. 

“As far as expansion and growth, a lot of stations are focused purely on digital,” Marcus said. “All anyone in the industry talks about is apps, streaming, social media. And that all revolves around code.”

Now armed with a Certificate of Completion from The Coding Boot Camp at UCI Continuing Education, Marcus is ready to bring his industry into a new era. But his education is far from over. 

From behind the curve to the cutting edge

When Marcus went to college in the 1990s, the internet was still a novel concept. It would take a decade for the digital age to catch up with radio, and another few years before digital strategy began to dominate conversations.

All the while, Marcus was growing his career as a radio producer, gaining skills in sound editing, mixing, and distribution. His experience landed him a gig as a remote producer for a Chicago-based media company. By all accounts, he was charging towards success—but to Marcus, the future felt insecure. 

“A person in my position with 20 years of broadcasting experience is a dime a dozen these days,” Marcus said. “I can make a good living at it, but I’m competing in a saturated field.”

Increasingly, digital strategies were becoming key to a radio station’s success, and it became increasingly clear to Marcus that learning to code could prove a valuable asset.

“When was the last time you bought a physical radio? If you’re listening at all, you’re listening through a device of some sort, and all those devices run on code,” Marcus said.

A quick Google search connected him to the UC Irvine boot camp page—and like that, he was sold. It was time to go back to school.

Returning to education

At first, the classroom environment was surprisingly unnatural. In his radio job, Marcus works remotely, managing his own projects and keeping track of his own schedule. In class, he didn’t have that option—but that proved to be a good thing. 

“In group projects, you’re reliant on other people, and they’re reliant on you,” said Marcus. “And in class, we’d have the chance to discuss and debate and figure out how to use a language.” 

As the instructor ventured deeper into the curriculum, his classmates proved a vital resource. Unlike in a history or math class, you can’t find every coding answer in a textbook. Instead, Marcus sought help from fellow students. “We’d work together and share insights to reach the answer we were looking for,” said Marcus.

Soon, confusion gave way to clarity. The key to finding the right answer, he discovered, is learning how to ask the right questions. This realization was a breakthrough for Marcus. Soon, coding felt more manageable, and he began gaining more confidence.

“I came to the point where you could tell me to build an app, and even if I didn’t know the exact steps, I’d know how to start looking for them,” said Marcus. 

He began to understand just how creative coding could be, as well. In one class, a TA demonstrated how to build a drum machine using JavaScript. The program isn’t complicated, but its capabilities are extensive. Marcus was amazed. “I figured coding was all databases, user-logins, and social media posts—but no, I can build an actual instrument with JavaScript,” said Marcus. “What else can I do?”

Completion isn’t the end—it’s a new start

After six months of hard work, Marcus completed from the coding boot camp in January 2019—and immediately signed up for The Data Analytics Boot Camp at UCI Continuing Education. Why? “I’d heard the data boot camp is a good extension once you have coding knowledge,” Marcus said. “I’ll be able to do more than build apps and tools. I’ll learn to read data and understand it in a way that’s hopefully lucrative to others.”

Marcus is on track to finish his second boot camp in August. And his new skills will give him a leg-up from the radio industry competition for years to come. 

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