It's September, and the fall convention schedule is in full swing. For radio, the main event is highlighted in this issue: the NAB Radio Show. There are other conventions taking place as well, including one that may not be as obvious on the radio convention schedule, the AES convention. You should note that this year's AES has added more broadcast events as well.
So which conventions did you attend? If you're going to lament that you can't attend any conventions, remember that I have heard all the common complaints from people who don't attend conventions. The usual replies include: I don't have a travel budget. My boss thinks I'm only going to look for a job. My boss thinks that I'll learn too much and then get another job.
Unless there is a genuine financial reason involved, these are weak excuses. That is if you view your work in radio as not just a job but a career. It should be important to you and your employer for you to attend professional meetings and presentations.
I know an engineer who doesn't let any of the excuses prevent him from attending the conventions he wants to attend. He pays his own way to the NAB convention every year. He places a personal and professional value on attending and makes it happen.
With all this in mind, I realize that schedules may not always match. And if the financial outlay to get to Charlotte, New York or Las Vegas isn't practical, there are alternatives: Look for the regional conventions.
I have attended the regional SBE conventions in Syracuse, NY; Madison, WI; and Dallas over the past few years. I'll attend the convention in Pittsburgh next month. I find that these regional events often provide a good alternative to a national event. In many cases, it may be possible to attend a regional convention as a day trip without having to pay for a hotel night, which helps address the budget issue.
If there's no regional convention near you, check with your state broadcast association. Some have engineering program tracks in their annual conferences. If they don't, find out why. You might need to work with some other stations to encourage the association to add technical events to the schedule.
Still not an option? Local SBE chapter meetings are another good source of info. Most chapters do not require SBE membership to attend their meetings (but you should be a member anyway). I will admit that some chapter meeting programs are little more than sales pitches. Some programs even say that they are educational programs, but are nothing more than a paid advertisement. Even at meetings where the program has questionable value, there is value in the interaction with the other attendees.
Another argument that I hear as to why someone does not attend a convention? I would rather just attend an online conference.
While online offerings have the benefit of convenience, they have the disadvantage of distraction. It's too easy to turn on the stream and then walk away, or work on something else while it plays. You also lose the interaction with other attendees. Who are you going to discuss the last topic with over lunch? Don't misunderstand me, online seminars are another good alternative, but don't rule out live events.
It's easy to complain that you can't attend a convention and cite someone else's excuse. The better solution is to challenge the excuses, provide answers as to why it is beneficial for you to attend, and finally, figure out your own way to get there if your employer won't send you.
On the road
I will moderate the SBE Engineering Forum at the NAB Radio Show on Sept. 26. Convention registration is required to attend, but SBE membership is not.
What's your opinion? Send it to