The 2005 NAB Radio Show is behind us. Overall, it seems that it was a good convention for the exhibitors and attendees. Even the NAB was pleased, because the event attracted about 400 more people than it did in San Diego last year.
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend many of the sessions for more than a few minutes. The topics were interesting and echoed the tone on the exhibit floor with their focus on HD Radio. Like it or not, the IBOC rollout has begun.
I spoke to several manufacturers who have an interest in the HD Radio rollout. Most of them said the same thing: stations are finally getting it. While there are still many opponents to the Ibiquity system, even these people are beginning to acknowledge that the system is here and is seeing acceptance. Because of this, the time has arrived for the unconvinced to take notice and learn what must be done to install the system.
For those who have supported the IBOC rollout, "getting it" has a different meaning. Instead of catching up with the crowd, the early adopters are beginning to realize that there is plenty that they still don't know about the system. The transmission aspect is fairly straight forward, but the enhanced data, multicast and surround sound capabilities are less cut and dry.
The data capabilities are particularly interesting. Stations have discovered that providing simply the song title and artist name are the minimum. This program-specific data is important, but providing program-relevant data and non-program-associated data are going to aid listener interest and provide the next challenges to the station.
Back to the convention. The question that I am always asked on the convention floor is, "What have you seen that is new?"
Like most of the fall conventions, this was not a venue for product introductions, but for product updates. Many of the new products shown in the spring were shown in Philadelphia with notes that they are now shipping. This was repeated over and over, but there were a few exceptions.
Several of the automation manufacturers, including Broadcast Electronics, Enco, Mediatouch and Prophet, demonstrated additions to their systems to provide the data enhancements. I particularly liked the updates that allow data to be read from a CD player so that program-associated data can be displayed for these sources. In addition, interfaces are now being shown to allow instantaneous updates to the PAD stream for last-minute information.
Interest in providing methods to create podcasts is still high. Several loggers were shown that can fulfill not only the station's need to provide as-aired affidavits, but also serve as the interface for the podcast generation.
The overall approach from previous years of opening the convention floor on Wednesday evening and Thursday and Friday afternoons worked well. However, the 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. hours on the last two days was odd. Unfortunately, these hours did not attract more attendees to the floor in the morning. The convention floor could just as well have opened at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m.
It seems that the NAB Radio Show has seen another successful year, but there are still concerns about the longevity of the convention, but for now it is healthy.
Next year, the convention heads to Dallas and joins with the R&R Convention. This raised some eyebrows too, particularly because the NAB Radio Show began as a programming convention and tried to branch out to cover sales, management and engineering interests. Joining with a programming convention may help increase attendance, but I doubt that it will be the magic combination to propel the fall convention forward. The last time a joint convention was tried in the fall--the World Media Expo--it did not provide such a stellar result.
Want to see what happened during the convention? View the Radio magazine NAB Radio Photo Blog online at www.beradio.com.