We're in the middle of November, and most if not all the fall conferences are behind us. This year I attended the NAB Radio Show, the 125th AES and the Broadcaster's Clinic in Madison, WI. I like the fall conventions because of their smaller size, not just because of the reduced stress of the big show in April, but because the smaller conventions and conferences often provide a better chance to network. There are fewer exhibits, but that allows more time to talk to the exhibitors, talk to other attendees, and attend more of the sessions.
What's missing from the fall conventions? There are fewer sessions, and some are repeats from other shows, but they are usually worthwhile. And except for the AES, there are few new product introductions in the fall. Because the AES caters to the pro audio crowd and not specifically to broadcasters, the AES will have more new products on display. (I still wonder how many less than $100 condenser mics we really need.) So overall, the fall convention experience can be just as valuable.
Most of the fall shows are regionally based, which adds the benefit of seeing people from your immediate area. You may see the guys from the next town at a monthly SBE meeting, but now you have a chance to attend a session together or visit an exhibitor's booth. This is a great opportunity to bounce ideas around.
This year, the larger fall conventions were held in Austin, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Madison. I also know of some smaller but no less valuable shows in Columbus, Indianapolis and Anchorage.
When someone laments that attending the NAB Show in Las Vegas is too expensive or too far, I ask if he attends a regional show. Quite often a regional event is less than a 300 mile trip for many people, but the same excuse is given. “It's too far.”
Does the event need to be held in your own back yard before you'll go?
This apathy has caused the demise of some previously popular events, like the SBE conferences held in Seattle and Phoenix. I hope that one day they will return.
So while you may have missed your chance this year, I hope you'll take advantage of attending a fall convention next year. These conventions need your support, and you'll get something in return, so don't let the chance pass you by.
Not all the same
Waiting for the show to come to you is the tact of some traveling road shows I have seen. Some of these are very vocal about being purely educational, although it's easy to see through that disguise. Any opportunity to network with others in your profession is a valuable experience, and certainly take advantage of the situation, but take the program for what it's worth. Is it really an equal substitute for a regional convention? Even though it's billed as being educational and not a sales pitch, it is really providing a fair taste of the new technology, or a skewed perspective based on a pay-to-play business plan?
Some look more like Professor Marvel's caravan (that's a Wizard of Oz reference if you missed it) than an educational opportunity.
If it's all you can do to get to the event in your own back yard, take the opportunity. But don't ignore the possibilities of taking a little extra effort. The reward is much greater, and it's not flavored with some sweet-talking sales pitch.
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