McLane is editor in chief.
I look forward to
learning what kind of a business leader Kevin Rodgers will be at Nautel. For the
moment I am pausing to think about the executive he replaces.
As RW was first to report on Monday, the transmitter
that its president and CEO, Peter Conlon, shown at right, is leaving after
eight years at the company helm. He becomes head of a company called LED Roadway Lighting.
At Radio World we
follow leadership changes of broadcast equipment companies with interest; and
we tend to give transmitter companies particular attention, because buying that
box is one of the biggest, most expensive and sometimes emotional purchases that
a radio technical manager will make.
audio processors might be sexier and generate a lot of personal loyalty; but you
can replace one of them pretty easily if you’ve chosen poorly. Not usually so
with a transmitter; your station’s business rides on its back. Changes at the
manufacturer can have real impact on the customer service and support level.
Further, corporate shifts in the sector generally can be a good way
to measure the temperature of the marketplace; transmitter makers can serve as industry
bellwethers. That’s one reason Radio World reported on the recent change of
ownership at Harris Broadcast, now GatesAir, so closely.
Anyone who has shopped for big iron in the past eight years knows that
Nautel has done a good job of enhancing its reputation and expanding its market
footprint during that time. No transmitter company has had an easy go of it in
these years, given general economic trends and specific challenges for OTA
radio; Nautel has had its shares of ups and downs. As Conlon told me in 2011, “All
broadcasters are facing tight budgets; both capital and expense. So it looks as
if fewer people, with less money, are going to have to do more difficult jobs.
Quite a picture.”
But I have heard
from users and competitors that Nautel’s product growth and business resilience
during this period were impressive. Product development and engineering were certainly
part of that; but much of the credit goes to Conlon, an effusive man and
natural leader whose ebullience we saw again on display at the recent spring
NAB Show. Having started with Mitel Corp., he later worked in other high-tech firms
like Newbridge Networks, Positron Fiber Systems and his own company Consistllc,
according to his LinkedIn page, before coming to Nautel.
I have a mental image of him vacuuming the rug of the company booth just
before the show floor opened; many company presidents wouldn’t get their hands
dirty. More importantly, when I sat down with him to talk, as I do with many
manufacturing executives, Conlon’s optimism about radio’s overall future, its reach
and its investment backing was infectious. He was an ardent advocate not just for
his products but for the outlook for the over-the-air industry. I pushed him to
put those thoughts into writing in fact, because my mantra as editor is that we
all benefit from a healthy, vibrant broadcast equipment marketplace. Without
endorsing any given company, I feel that we could use more optimism like that
among vendor industry leadership. I try to learn something from every
successful person I meet. I took away from Conlon the business and personal
value in showing a consistently calm, upbeat face to the world.
I know Conlon will be missed at Nautel, where internally he is
seen as a superstar. But management seems confident that its transition will be
the industry will look to get to know Kevin Rodgers, P.E., better. He joined
the company in 1985 as a field service engineer, according to the Nautel
website. He is longtime director on its board, and most recently held the title
director of customer service. I’m told he’ll be at the fall Radio Show, where visitors
will no doubt seek him out, as they should the leaders of all their
They will watch with
interest, as will I, to see what direction the company takes next.