Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Meet the… broadcast technology operations manager

From a mention in Rolling Stone to working on The Sooty Show, dock10's Darren Jones details his journey to his current role, and explains how he keeps 30 engineers engaged and enthused

Darren Jones, broadcast technology operations manager, dock10
Talk us through an average day in your role.

I manage the dock10 broadcast technology team which is responsible for guaranteeing and supporting the day-to-day operation of our studios and post production facilities.

Every day throws up something different. I could be overseeing technology refresh projects; recent schemes include the installation of a new KVM system and SPG system. 

I’ll chat with the operational heads of the business and discuss upcoming resource requirements and promote a technology strategy that delivers those business needs i.e. I make sure the right skills and resources in the right place at the right time to meet the demands of a multitude of production commitments.

The technical challenges are equally as rewarding as keeping 30 engineers engaged and enthused. My staff are the most important thing in my dock10 world, and quite rightly they take up the majority of my time.

How did you get started in the media industry?

After graduating from Salford University, I wrote to every TV company in the UK explaining what a tremendous asset I would be. The one response I received came from Granada TV. Luckily a senior manager at Granada was keen to understand what ‘youngsters’ were up to and wanted to take a look at the latest University output. I was given two weeks unpaid work experience in the bowels of the famous Quay Street building. My manic enthusiasm landed me a six-month contract which eventually turned into a staff position, and I earned a wonderful grounding in making TV from some of the best broadcast engineers in the business. I also got to work on iconic shows such as Stars in their Eyes and my all-time favourite, The Sooty Show

I was and still am, keen to expand my experience and learn new skills and sometimes you need to move company to progress. My first engineer role was at Granada Breeze where the team won a RTS Award for outstanding technical contribution, at MUTV I was part of the team that took the channel on-air and at the ‘My Travel’ satellite station I had my first exposure to a completely tapeless workflow, from acquisition to playout.

I also did a lot of work on the outside broadcast circuit, but I’d rather be in the football stadium than in a truck outside it. When the BBC took the decision to locate to Salford and build MediaCity on my doorstep there was only one place that I wanted to be.  

What training did you have before entering the industry?

I drifted into engineering because my best friend had. I was lucky enough to get a scholarship from National Nuclear Corporation and spent a great pre-University year with them. I was packed off to a very hands-on engineering foundation course in Risley before I was sent north and worked on the commissioning of Heysham 2 Nuclear Power Station. I had the free run of the place. I did drop my notepad in the reactor core but thankfully it didn’t have any rods in it at the time.

It was then onto Leeds University to study Electrical and Electronic Engineering, but I quickly became distracted by music. I’d been in a band since my school days and suddenly everything took off as the Madchester scene went global. It was the perfect time to be 19 and Mancunian. Our city was the centre of the cultural world. My band released records and enjoyed our 15 minutes of fame, even getting a mention in Rolling Stone magazine. But a few years later when I found I wasn’t swimming in my guitar-shaped swimming pool it was time to head back to university, this time in Salford to finish my engineering studies.

I had by now decided I wanted to work in a creative industry, so Salford was a good choice as their course focused on Audio and Video Technologies. 

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

It is a great supportive environment for enthusiastic people and people with vision.

I love solving problems, both with technology and people. I enjoy having to think of a different way to solve a problem. At dock10 we push the boundaries, so you’re called upon to think outside the box again and again. It keeps you on your toes.

I’ve worked in many industries from an early age, and nothing compares with television. I am acutely aware of how fortunate I am.

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

Grab every opportunity that comes your way and be enthusiastic, it’s infectious and it’s a good look. 

There are no stupid questions, ask away. 

Be nice to people and be interested in people – You’ll get the most out of them.

The technology can sort itself, make sure you look after your team and colleagues.

People are the most important part of any business.