Each year, the NAB and SBE team up to offer the most concentrated
broadcast engineering education opportunity available. Each Spring, the
NAB convention hosts the Broadcast Engineering Conference (BEC) which
has been the launching point for countless broadcast technologies and
new ideas. This year, the BEC offers a rich landscape of engineering
issues to explore.
The Saturday, pre-conference sessions of the BEC are typically
reserved for workshops and schools, and this year is no exception. SBE
and IEEE offer extended workshops that build on real-world broadcast
Saturday April 6
SBE Broadcast Networking Tutorial, 9a.m. to 4p.m.
This day-long session is presented through the Ennes Educational
Foundation Trust. This popular workshop was offered last year and will
provide education on computer systems and networks based on the unique
needs of todays broadcast installations. Immediately following this
program, the SBE will offer testing for its Broadcast Networking
Technologist (CBNT) certification. Preregistration is recommended, but
on-site registration will be available for the exam period. More
information is available at www.sbe.org.
IEEE Streaming for Broadcast Engineers Tutorial, 9a.m. to 4p.m.
This IEEE will include presentations on video and audio content
distribution over IP, DTV Datacasting, and a broadcast engineer's
perspective of the process. This session is a highlight of the NAB
Xstream conference and is available to full conference registrants.
Sunday April 7
Broadcast Engineering Conference Opening, 9a.m. to 9:45a.m.
This is one session not to miss. The world watched in horror in
September as World Trade Center collapsed. Broadcast engineers mourn
not only the lives that were lost but also the one-of-a-kind broadcast
transmission facility and those engineers who manned it. Dr. Oded
Bendov, one of the original designers of the facility and Patrick
Walsh, project manager for the antenna system will be presenting a
visual history of the design and installation of the antenna system
that was home to 14 NTSC and DTV television stations and four FM
stations. The director of the New York/New Jersey Broadcaster's
Coalition, William Baker, will discuss the plans for replacement of the
Domestic DAB Developments, 9:45a.m. to 12:15p.m.
This engineering session will be an in-depth look at the state of
IBOC and its future. It will include a state-of-the-industry report and
technical presentations by the NRSC on adjacent-channel tests, AM and
FM lab and field tests, data transmission over IBOC and even audio
Worldwide DAB Developments, 3p.m. to 5p.m.
International sessions often provide valuable insight on broadcast
technology and the future of our industry. These sessions comprise a
worldwide look at DAB radio and video experiences and research in UK,
Canada and Japan. Digital transmission standards and methods will be
discussed as well as wireless IP networking, 3G, and broadband network
technologies. Expect extensive discussion of IP-based media
contribution networks for audio and video digital broadcasting.
The elements of this session will include an update on Digital Radio
Mondiale, a DAB update for Japan, a report on integrating 3G wireless
and DAB on the Isle of Man and implementing a DAB contribution network
Monday April 8
This mixed set of topics covers real-world situations and problems
facing radio stations. The first session, Regulating Antennas and
Towers - The Zoning and Siting Wars, deals with a problem many
stations encounter when a new tower site is sought. Federal, state and
local government agencies and neighborhood associations have restricted
antennas and towers with policies that are hardly uniform. The center
of the discussion will the National Antenna Consortium's proposal for a
unified national antenna policy.
In Digital Broadcasting Around The World: Real World
Experiences, attendees will learn about what is happening with DAB
outside the United States. The IBOC Implementation session will
provide answers to some of the common questions stations ask about the
conversion to IBOC, from the antenna to the transmitter and into the
Tuesday April 9
The practical information continues on Tuesday with more sessions
designed to help attendees improve their stations' facilities.
Radio Facilities Engineering Part I, 9a.m. to 12p.m.
Changing ownership and market considerations have initiated the
increased modification of radio facilities. This session will involve
design considerations and field reports of antenna and FM
combiner/master antenna systems but will also include engineering
documentation procedures, digital audio wiring, and ISDN/Switched Telco
Radio Facilities Engineering Part II, 1p.m. to 3p.m.
The Tuesday afternoon session will be comprised of presentations
that address the future of radio broadcast technology. There will be a
presentation on transmission power measurement considerations as well
as discussions of advanced program monitoring technologies, interactive
radio technologies and the continued convergence of radio and computing
Radio Transmitters: A Practical Workshop, 3p.m. to 5:30p.m.
This workshop, now a regularly occurring event, offers important,
real-world information about transmitter maintenance. This is always a
popular and information-filled workshop so you'll want to arrive early
and bring your notebook.
Wednesday April 10
The last day of the Broadcast Engineering Conference includes the
annual Technology Luncheon, where the NAB's Engineering Achievement
Award winners receive their awards.
Emergency Preparedness & Security for broadcasters, 9a.m. to11:30a.m.
The current US state of alert has offered another reminder of the
importance of the broadcaster in emergency preparedness. The session
will provide important preparatory steps for network and broadcast
facilities to serve the public and stay on the air during disasters.
These technical and management procedures will apply to stations
regardless of market or status.
Technology Luncheon, 12:00p.m. to 1:45p.m.
The NAB2002 Engineering Achievement Awards for Radio and Television
will be presented at the luncheon. Paul C. Schafer, president of
Schafer International, will receive the radio award.
AM Directional Antenna Essentials, 2:00p.m. to 5:00p.m.
This is an essential session for anyone who is responsible for an AM
antenna system. Noted AM designers and consultants Benjamin Dawson and
Ronald Rackley will present critical information and experiences with
Outside the BEC
While the Broadcast Engineering Conference is your chance to hone
your technical chops, there are other events of note to add to your
Sunday, April 7, Radio Opening Reception, 4:00p.m. to 5:30p.m.
Start your NAB2002 experience by hooking up with colleagues and new
friends in Radio.
Monday, April 8, Cyberjocking: Sound Live Every Time, No MatterWhere You Live, 1:00p.m. to 2:15p.m.
Can you tell the difference between live and voice tracked?
Wednesday, April 10, Amateur Radio Operators Reception, 6:00p.m. to8:00p.m.
Spend a relaxed evening talking shop, swapping tales and enjoying
the fellowship of the radio amateur community.
Convergence of radio and streaming technology has required radio
engineers to be aware of and, in some cases, fluent in the language of
streaming media. The Xtream conference kicks off with the IEEE
Streaming Media Supersession on Saturday (outlined previously) and
continues with sessions on successful website operations, IP multicast
and a complete overview of the convergence of the broadcasting and
Indeed this year's NAB conferences will offer a wealth of education
for the broadcast engineer with available exposure to important
emerging technologies. Of course I recommend you make a point and enjoy
the NAB experience further and get tickets to Jay Leno's one-night-only
performance at the Bellagio on Sunday night, April 7. Full-conference
registrants receive $25.00 off the admission for this unique
performance just for broadcasters.
I encourage you to visit the NAB website, www.nab.org, and click on
the Conventions and Conferences sections to explore the complete
program and schedule your days before you attend. Your full conference
registration will give you access to any of these sessions. SBE members
receive the NAB-member registration rate, which can save significant
money over non-NAB-member fees.
Don't forget to allow plenty of exhibit floor time to see the new
technology available for your stations!
Thomas is chief technology officer of StratosAudio, Los