All attention turns to the NAB Show this time of year. It is the biggest industry event of the year after all. Even if you don't go or have never gone, it still has some relevance, since this is where the latest product developments and technology introductions specific to broadcasting are unveiled.
We have even updated our convention preview approach to provide you with as much information as possible before you get to the convention. This year we call it the Engineer's Guide to the NAB Show, which is exactly what it is: your guide to what the convention offers to the radio engineer and technology manager.
I realize that not everyone in radio attends the convention. A trip for even a few days to Las Vegas isn't the cheapest destination, although you can find some travel bargains if you investigate. I've said many times before that even an occasional convention trip is a worthwhile effort for anyone's career. It's easy to be overwhelmed and unproductive, which is why you need to set a plan before you get there. Have a list of manufacturers to visit and sessions to attend. Try not to fill your schedule completely, because you will find plenty of unexpected things to take some extra time.
Still, if you can't make it to the NAB Show, look into local and regional conferences. Many of them are held with the support of state broadcast associations and the SBE, and offer a similar quality experience. You may need to convince a manager that it's worth your while to attend, so plan carefully.
One twist to this year's convention is that I already know I won't see some of the people I know who I usually see attending. Clear Channel and Entercom have cut back on the number people that are being sent. Like I said earlier, it's not always cheap to get to Las Vegas, and I understand that the financial situation has to be considered.
At the Convention
I will moderate the session Communicating with Management on Monday, April 14 from 10:30 to noon at the convention. The session will be held in room S228. The second half of the session will be a roundtable discussion with several radio managers about improving a manager's commitment to the role that engineering and technology — and the engineer — play in the success of the station. Many engineers complain that management doesn't understand them. This is your opportunity to overcome that obstacle.
What concerns me is what could happen next year. It may be decided that there's no reason to send people to the convention again, especially when so much money was saved the previous year. I'm not saying that Clear Channel and Entercom will do this, but I have seen other companies and stations do this in the past. Once the expense is cut it's hard to get it back.
Sure, sometimes a session is more sales pitch than educational. Sometimes exhibitors are showing a box loaded with weights and a dummy display while touting a new product. But there's nothing that can replace the chance to network with other people in your field, and a regional or national convention can do that like no other opportunity.
I hope to see you at the convention. If not, I'll see you at an upcoming regional event.
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