Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: April 29, 2013

Ling Ling Sun, WOSU TV Chief Engineer, multitasking as usual in the tech core at the  WOSU@COSI studios. Photo: WOSU

Ling Ling Sun, WOSU TV Chief Engineer, multitasking as usual in the tech core at the WOSU@COSI studios. Photo: WOSU

The position she holds today may be unique.  But it’s the way she got there that is even more amazing. Ling Ling Sun is the Chief Engineer here at WOSU TV. She is a Chinese immigrant and one of only a few women in broadcast engineering — even fewer reach the status of Chief Engineer. 

Ling Ling grew up in Harbin, China, the capital city in a northeast province of the country.  Her formative years in the ‘70s were at a time when the Cultural Revolution enforced communism and the push for industry and new technology only had a resurgence when she was ready to go to college. Ling Ling knew the concept of television, but had never watched its programming until she visited a relative in Beijing who owned a TV – she was 18 years old at the time.

<It was curiosity that compelled Ling Ling to attend the Beijing Broadcast Institute and earn her degree in Electronics Engineering. In the early 90s, her husband’s studies and the chance to pursue his PhD in the U.S. brought her to the States.  A job at a public TV and radio station as a Broadcast Technician in the Northwest was the start of a string of positions where with kismet and “luck every step of the way and the grateful support of people who have guided me,” Ling Ling would be at the lead for implementing new innovations.

Ling Ling moved to Columbus when her husband was offered a fellowship with Ohio State, she became the Maintenance Supervisor for WOSU Public Media. Issues with naturalization forced Ling Ling to move to Canada for five years where she landed a role as a Senior Maintenance Technician.  But drive and determination brought her back to the Midwest, and she returned to WOSU as a Maintenance Supervisor. Ling Ling was critical to the design and construction of our studios for WOSU@COSI. In July 2011, Tom Lahr, the long-time chief engineer at WOSU retired and Ling Ling was given an interim and then permanent position as Chief Engineer of WOSU TV.

It is “the non-stop challenge, especially looking at technology in the last two decades” that has kept Ling Ling inspired and eager to lead her TV teams.  This January, she was elected to be the Vice Chair of PBS’ Engineering Tech Advisory Committee (ETAC), a role that Jim Kutzner says she was elected to by a nominating group through a “unanimous vote." 

Kutzner, the Senior Director of Advanced Technology at PBS, believes that Ling Ling “always has the goal to try to improve something” and she is the “cream of the crop”.  Her questions during ETAC meetings are always “probing and challenging” and she has a great understanding of her station’s needs which, says Kutzner, “is powerful for a leader, regardless of gender.” At this juncture, Ling Ling says she just wants to “keep learning.”  And WOSU Public Media is the proud beneficiary of her drive and commitment.

Ling Ling’s story above was written by Meredith Hart, WOSU Marketing Director.  Ling Ling was recently featured in the March 11 issue of Broadcasting & Cable, a national magazine for television industry leaders and in WOSU’s May 2013 Airfare, which was just distributed by WOSU to our members.