Each year near the end of the NAB Show, placards appear in exhibitors' booths indicating that the exhibitor has received a Radio magazine Pick Hit Award. If you attend the convention, I'm sure you've seen them. Perhaps you've seen me working my way through the exhibit floor on Wednesday afternoon to make the presentations.
The Pick Hit Awards were created even before Radio magazine was a stand-alone publication. The awards were launched in 1985, and Radio magazine, a spin-off of another publication, was first published in 1994. (We've been highlighting that first year of publication in Sign Off the past several issues.)
The Pick Hits are very popular, and quite coveted. But perhaps you don't know exactly what they are and why we're so proud of them. As we put the wraps on the 2013 NAB Show, you'll find all the Pick Hit winners posted online (link below). Here are the details on how they are decided.
First, the Pick Hits follow an established set of rules. While the rules have evolved slightly over the years, the basic ideas from 1985 are still in place. In general, the products to be considered must be new, must fit a real need in radio, must be reasonably priced, and they must be available for purchase within the current calendar year. These items set the baseline. The price and availability are both based on the manufacturer's word, and we have to accept that. It's true that over the years there have been a few products that didn't ship within that time, but the judges can only act on the provided information.
The judges are an important part of the selection process. The Radio magazine staff has no direct part in selecting the winners. While I invite panelists to serve as judges, only I know their identities, which remain secret until the winners are chosen. The engineers I ask to serve are corporate VPs of engineering, network engineers, regional engineers, market chiefs, staff engineers and contract engineers. In previous years I've asked technically oriented managers to participate as well. My goal is to have a wide cross section of skill, experience and responsibility represented. Some are stronger in RF. Others are stronger in audio or IT. I also try to have geographic diversity.
The judges, who don't know who the other judges are, go about the convention like anyone else. They look for new products that interest them and apply to their needs of course, but I also ask them to look for items outside their usual scope. The anonymity prevents any persuasion or outside influence. Like you, the judges read the product previews in the trades and read the NAB Show Daily. If a manufacturer asks me how his product can be considered, I tell him do whatever he would do to attract attendees in general.
The judges gather on Wednesday afternoon to make their selections. I moderate that meeting, but I have no vote in the selections. Once the list of winners is created, I set out to present them. You'll see in our review, I also include some notes about what the judges had to say about the product. We do this so you have an idea about what caught the judges' eyes.
In 2011, I began shooting video of the winners on the show floor so the manufacturers could tell you about their winning products. It's frantic on Thursday as I run from booth to booth to capture the footage, but we think it all pays off in the end. Those videos are posted on our YouTube channel.
We're proud of the Pick Hit Awards and the established process we have followed for nearly 30 years. And now I hope you can appreciate the effort we put into them as well.
Watch videos of all the Pick Hits on our YouTube Channel.