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Local Boy Makes Good

Local Boy Makes Good

Mark Persons of Brainerd was honored as Engineer of the Year by the Society of Broadcast Engineers, a 5000 member worldwide organization. He and his wife Paula accepted the award at a ceremony in Boston recently.

Mark is self-taught and was turning the knobs of broadcast transmitters as a pre-teen when his parents, Charles and June Persons, owned WELY Radio in Ely, MN. Broadcast engineering continued until his recent retirement at age 71. Along the way, he engineered and built twelve new radio broadcast stations, mostly in the Midwest, with the exception of one in Florida and one in California. Mark rebuilt or updated one hundred more radio stations.

Mark Persons helped build his parent's station, KVBR Radio in Brainerd, at age 16. He joined the U.S. Army and taught electronic component level troubleshooting at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, then was Sergeant in Charge of an aviation electronics repair shop in Vietnam 1968-69. The mission was to "keep 'em flying."

Back in civilian life, Mark and his wife Paula ran their broadcast engineering company for over 40 years, building and keeping radio stations on the air. Over a thousand pieces of high-tech electronic broadcast equipment, from all over the country, Canada, Haiti, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Philippines and Hong Kong were repaired in their facility. Mark was quoted as saying, "The money came to Brainerd where we shop local and buy American."

Along the way, Mark designed six broadcast products, which were manufactured by Zercom, later Nortech, in Merrifield, MN. He wrote more than 180 articles for trade journals and gave numerous speeches to industry groups. Learn more at

Mark and Paula could have sold their business, but instead elected to help others get into a career of radio broadcast engineering. It was the right thing to do.

Now retired, Mark and Paula Persons mentor four radio broadcast engineers and volunteer at community events. Mark continues to write for trade publications. He is a member of the National Radio Systems Committee. This group of scientists and engineers develops improved technical standards for ultimate adoption as Federal Communications Commission rules. In addition, Mark is a life member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, American Radio Relay League, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans.

An interesting side note: Back in about 1972, Mark was asked to troubleshoot an electronic problem in the Brainerd Dispatch printing press. This was an emergency situation that was holding up printing that day. Mark found and repaired the problem at no charge. It was an example of helping people in life.