Now at its peak, the fall convention cycle brings learningopportunities closer to you through many regional conventions andexpos. I am invited to many of these events and make every effort to goto as many as I can, but attending all of them is nearlyimpossible.
Preceding the regional convention wave, one national convention, theNAB Radio Show, was held last month in Seattle. For me, everyconvention carries a set of standard questions that I hear after theshow. The first is usually, “how was the show?”
I have to say that that it was a good show. There were some newproduct introductions, and I had a chance to begin developing someupcoming articles that will become Field Reports and FacilityShowcases.
The big discussion on the show floor and in many sessions was IBOC.Exhibitors that are not directly involved with IBOC development areshowing an interest. Attendees who have not been following the subjectclosely for the past several years were trying to catch up with thetechnology. For many, this knowledge of what is on the horizon does nothelp them do their daily jobs. Many take the approach of “I'llwait until it's a standard and I have to implement it, instead oflearning and unlearning information and details now.” The time isnow. If you need to get the basics, read How it Works in theAugust 2002 issue. Ibiquity even distributed copies of our August issuein their booth because of that article.
I also looked at the latest information about the Arbitron PortablePeople Meter (PPM) project. Data comparing the paper diaries and thePPM results were distributed to show that the new method is viable andaccurate.
Streaming as a topic was almost non-existent this year. Thanks tothe rulings and royalties imposed over the last year, most attendeesconsidered it a dead issue. Two notable items were that netcastingpioneer KPIG has adopted a subscription service for its webcast andWRAL is working with a system (that is actually rather low-tech whenexamined) to permission listeners only within the station's coveragecontour. Neither of these items is ground-breaking.
For an exhibitor, a successful show is gauged by the amount oftraffic and how this traffic yields sales leads. It's strange that manyexhibitors seemed to feel that the attendance was higher than it waslast year. In reality, the show floor was smaller, and the NAB reportedattendance at 3,983. Compare this to 5,227 at the Radio Show in NewOrleans last year. Many exhibitors had low attendance expectationsgoing into the show, so any reasonable showing was a good thing.
For an attendee, the sessions provided several great learningopportunities. While the show floor was not bursting with new products,there was plenty of technology being shown. Because of the lowerattendance, attendees had a better chance of spending quality time withan exhibitor without interruption or without having to fight acrowd.
What's the future of the NAB Radio Show? Following the end of theWorld Media Expo, the Radio Show had promise of being an ongoingsuccess. This success only lasted the first two years (1997 and 1998)and has since faltered.
Some suggested that the Radio Show should be terminated andcompletely rolled into the spring convention. I disagree. Radio needsits own convention. The spring convention covers so many elements thattraditional broadcasting itself, let alone radio, is only a small part.The fall makes sense for timing to separate it from the spring show,but it is proving to be a hard task for the NAB to pull off. Manyexhibitors are not able to financially justify exhibiting. Increasingcosts for exhibit space and drayage cannot be offset by resultingsales. Consolidation and station budget cuts result in fewerattendees.
I'm looking forward to Philadelphia next year. I think the locationoffers several advantages for both attendees and exhibitors.Unfortunately, if next year's show continues its downward trend, we maybe left with nothing but the regional choices in the fall.
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