Matt Theisz

 ECE Student Joins Alumnus at Saturday Light Brigade

May 9, 2005

Senior electrical and computer engineering major Mathew Theisz is applying his technical expertise, but it's not as a software engineer or in the field of computer security. It's as a broadcast engineer for "The Saturday Light Brigade" (SLB), Pittsburgh's award-winning live public radio program hosted by Larry Berger (E'83), another Carnegie Mellon engineer who's turned to radio.

One of the longest running public radio programs in the United States, the award-winning SLB broadcasts originate from its new state-of-the-art studio in the theater of the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. It airs every Saturday from 6 a.m. to noon on WRCT 88.3 FM, the Carnegie Mellon student-run radio station.

In addition to playing a critical role in establishing the telecommunications infrastructure for the new SLB broadcast studio, Theisz has been working with Berger to select and install additional studio, broadcast and Webcasting equipment. SLB vendors and equipment suppliers have sought him out for his technical advice.

"Matt's technical, project management and creative problem-solving skills are responsible for many SLB successes at our new broadcast studio," says Berger, who actually got his start in radio at age 13. "Matt is intelligent and talented, but he also possesses a strong work ethic and excellent organizational and interpersonal skills, all of which helped him successfully tackle challenging projects despite a highly aggressive timetable."

"I can't speak highly enough about Matt. He's a pretty special person," Berger says.

Theisz, who hopes to pursue a career in broadcast engineering in the New York City area, says his experience at SLB has been interesting, to say the least. "There's always something new working with Larry," he says. "He's very willing to think 'out of the box' and to try new things. He's always willing to explore."

Theisz says he's learned much about broadcast engineering, electronic design and project management and he's enhanced his communications skills while working for the show. "When we bring in live bands and performers, I'm the one behind the scenes doing the engineering and running the audio console. In a project class, the learning process is often more important than your actual project, but at SLB you have to make it work, even if it's not ideal. You have to have a product."

A native of Bergen County, N.J., Theisz says he's "always been interested in theatrical production and live sound." He joined the WRCT engineering staff in 2000 and became the station's chief engineer in 2001. In 2003, he was named head of Carnegie Mellon's ABTech Productions Company, a student organization that provides sound and lighting for campus concerts, lectures and other presentations.

Theisz is also involved in Carnegie Mellon's Scotch 'n' Soda theatrical club, an amateur radio club and the Spring Carnival buggy races. A certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), he serves with the Carnegie Mellon EMS and volunteers with New Jersey's Washington Township Volunteer Ambulance Corps. He belongs to the university's Explorers Club and enjoys whitewater kayaking and rock climbing.

SLB and Carnegie Mellon have been collaborating to develop opportunities for students since 1983, when Berger earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and engineering and public policy. In 2003, SLB began broadcasting on WRCT, and last fall an internship with SLB was established for Carnegie Mellon Fifth-Year Scholars. The university's Fifth-Year Scholars program gives a small number of exceptional students the opportunity to remain on campus for one full year after graduation to pursue personal and professional opportunities through academic course work, independent study and community involvement.

"The internship is a wonderful opportunity for SLB to give back to the community by offering real-world experience and professional development to a worthy Carnegie Mellon student," Berger says.

On the air in Pittsburgh for nearly 30 years, SLB features a wide range of entertainment for children and adults, including live acoustic music, on-air telephone calls from listeners, interactive puzzles and games, and interesting guests. SLB has earned several national, state and local awards for its eclectic mix of programming. The public is welcome to watch and participate in the broadcast from 10 a.m. to noon every Saturday at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. For more information, visit .

Source: Bruce Gerson, Carnegie Mellon News

Matt Theisz (standing) and Larry Berger

Matt goes kayaking with the Explorers Club.

Matt enjoys a ski trip.


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Saturday Light Brigade