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FCC, Legal and Tech Experts Fill Panel

On Sept. 30, you can ask these insiders the one question that’s most on your mind

What question is most on your mind about radio technology, law and regulation right now?

One of the cool things about my job is that I get to hang out with very smart broadcast people and ask them about all manner of things: what’s going on in some unfamiliar corner of the biz, what neat technical installations they’ve been involved with recently, what new rules might be brewing in the offices of regulators, what we might expect in new technology next year or 10 years from now.

On Sept. 30 I can do that in public, and so can you.

I’ll moderate a session at the fall Radio Show in Washington called “Ask the Experts: Technical/Regulatory/Legal/FCC.” I plan to come with a long list of questions; however, we’ll get a far better discussion if you come and ask questions of your own.

Organizers of the engineering program are putting heavy emphasis on giving you a chance to interact with panelists; in fact they’ve scheduled an entire series of these “Ask the Experts” sessions on topics like building a radio station, transmitters, audio processing and AM antenna modeling.

I think our panel will be among the best — which is a compliment to the organizers, not to me, because they’ve assembled quite a power panel with serious insider firepower.

The FCC representation alone is impressive.

Peter Doyle is the chief of the Audio Division in the Media Bureau of the FCC; Jim Bradshaw is the division’s deputy chief. Lisa Fowlkes is deputy chief of the Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau. Got a gripe or worry regarding the FCC? These three probably can answer it.

We’ll also get to talk with Richard Mertz, principal engineer of the technical consulting firm of Cavell & Mertz, and from Gregg Skall, telecommunications attorney with Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice (an example of his work: Skall was involved on the broadcasters’ side in the recent high-profile case in which a white supremacist write-in candidate sought air time).

It’s a Q&A power panel: (top, left to right) Ann Bobeck, Jim Bradshaw, Peter Doyle, Lisa Fowlkes, (bottom, left to right) Richard Mertz, Gregg Skall, Milford Smith and Glynn Walden.
Bringing radio executive engineering perspectives to our talk are Milford Smith, VP of radio engineering for Greater Media; Smitty is also chairman of the important National Radio Systems Committee; as well as Glynn Walden, SVP of engineering at CBS Radio. And few Washingtonians are more tied into what’s going on with radio in the nation’s capital than Ann Bobeck, senior VP and deputy general counsel at the NAB.

The nine of us certainly won’t run out of things to talk about in our hour and a half. But if you come and ask questions, we’re guaranteed to explore what’s really on your mind right now. So what’s your question? Got it? Bring it.

Sessions are Sept. 29–Oct. 1 at the Grand Hyatt Washington hotel in Washington; ours is that Thursday morning. Read more about the convention on page 26.

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RW and I are fortunate to have the contributions of the industry’s finest engineers in our pages. Congrats to Charles Fitch, universally known as “Buc,” for being named Educator of the Year by the Society of Broadcast Engineers.

Buc has been an important contributor to our industry’s technical dialogue for a long time. His contributions came into new focus here when he lobbied both me and the SBE to allow us to publish a recurring RW feature called Certification Corner, aimed at helping readers understand and prepare for the SBE exams. It appears in Radio World Engineering Extra and is archived under Columns on our website.

In this way Buc has made another contribution to advancing one of SBE’s laudable goals: the education and professional betterment of radio engineers.

Buc has a passion for history and the role engineers play, as reflected in another series of articles called Milestones, also found online, where he reflects on technological achievements in communications. He has written on topics like the Marti RPU receiver and the proliferation of early automobile radio receivers. He has profiled 1 kW transmitter models that helped change the industry.

SBE Educator of the Year Buc Fitch But his contribution to education comprises more than articles. He has given presentations and done committee work, not only about broadcasting but adjacent technologies such as project management and regulations in collateral areas like OSHA and flight safety. Eight years ago SBE recognized him for our series about the National Electrical Code. Few writers in radio understand the term “interdisciplinary material” as he does.

Buc knows that engineers are a highly qualified group of professionals who often work alone, isolated from peer support. He tells me he views writing as a way to share his lifetime of experience, including technical problems he encountered and solutions he implemented at client facilities.

He has many letters after his name, and not only from the SBE. Notably, he is a Registered Professional Engineer in Connecticut and Pennsylvania and a licensed electrical contractor in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He has built, owned and operated radio stations; he has been a TV director of engineering and was the professional engineer in charge of the “Evening Magazine” project at Westinghouse Broadcasting’s KYW in Philadelphia, developing the remote pickup microwave systems and two-way radio backbone to do this ground-breaking show live from location, for which he was nominated for an Emmy.

In fact he is a second-generation broadcast engineer; his father was the pioneer broadcast engineer and Army Signal Corps chief John Alton Fitch, Sr.

I know Buc to be a passionate father and grandfather, a devoted family man and a kind, courteous colleague. My thanks to the SBE for acknowledging Buc Fitch’s contributions to the industry.