This Month in SBE History: Regional Conventions

September 20, 2014

The Society of Broadcast Engineers is rooted in serving the interests of its members. Through the activities and efforts of members and their chapters, the organization fulfills its goals:

 

  • • Promoting and advancing the science of broadcast engineering
  • • Establishing standards of professional education, training and competence for members
  • • Encouraging the exchange of ideas and promoting professional standards
  • • Representing the needs of members before regulators and the industry

 

One way several chapters have met these goals is by holding their own conferences. The oldest SBE conference is now hosted by SBE Chapter 22 Central New York, which holds the 42nd Broadcast and Technology Expo in October.

The origins of this expo go back to 1972 at a joint meeting of SBE Chapter 1 (Binghamton), chapter 2 (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) and Chapter 22 (Central New York). The chapter held annual joint meetings in Owego, where Chapter 1 usually met. I talked to Gary Hartman, CPBE, who was an officer of Chapter 22 at the time. Hartman told me that Larry Taylor, then chief engineer of WENY-TV Elmira, NY, and chairman of Chapter 1 suggested the idea of the three chapters jointly sponsoring a “mini-vention,” where vendors would have a local venue to display some of the latest technologies. The rationale was that since rank-and-file engineers rarely have an opportunity to attend the NAB convention, this would be an opportunity for them to see the newest equipment.

Hartman liked the idea, as did others from Chapter 2. A year later in the fall of 1973, the first SBE conference was born. It was held Owego Treadway Inn, west of Binghamton, N.Y. Hartman says many were involved in the effort, but Taylor did most of the work.

Shown on this page are the flyer for the second Mini-Vention and an invitation to the third event. Hartman notes that there were no computer graphics or word processing programs, and it''s easy to see how the flyer for the first Mini-Vention had the updates for the second event pasted onto the previous year''s flyer.

Hartman says vendors loved the idea, but felt it should be in a better location. With that, the third meeting was moved to Syracuse, at the intersection of I-81 and the NYS Thruway (I-90). The distance from chapter hindered that group''s participation, and the chapter eventually ceased being a sponsor. Chapter 1 continued as a co-sponsor for awhile, but also later dropped out.

The event was held for two years at the Northway Inn, then moved next door to the larger Hilton Country House for three or four years, then to the Sheraton Hotel for a number of years. The expo moved to Turning Stone when the convention center was built.

Hartman notes that the idea caught on and other SBE chapters started their own conventions. Also, the term Mini-Vention was too close to regional meetings held by SMPTE (Rochester, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, jointly, for example), and at the behest of the national SBE the name was changed to Regional Convention. The Regional Convention name was applied to the Syracuse Expo in 1975.

The name of the convention was later changed to the SBE22 Broadcast & Technology Expo, which was the brainchild of Tom McNicholl, CBTE, of WKTV Utica, who was the committee chairman at the time.

Other SBE regional conventions:

 

  • • The SBE will hold its National Meeting at the SBE22 Expo this year.
  • • The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and the Wisconsin SBE chapters jointly produce the annual Broadcasters Clinic, which will be held Oct. 21–23 in Madison, WI.
  • • The Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters and SBE chapters host an engineering conference in the spring.
  • • The Ohio Association of Broadcasters and the Ohio SBE chapters will jointly produce the Ohio Broadcast Engineering Conference Oct. 30 in Columbus.

 

SBE chapters and members are also involved in regional annual engineering conference programming conducted by state broadcaster associations in New Mexico, Michigan, Tennessee, Nebraska, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Indiana, Nevada and others.


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