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To Find Answers, Ask Questions

Here are a few questions and topics I’ll be watching for in Las Vegas

Another question attendees will be asking at NAB: ‘Where’s the best swag?’

credit: Photo by Jim Peck

Questions and topics to watch at the NAB Show:

How far along is the industry toward interoperability of various IP audio systems? Is that goal achievable, or even desirable? The Broadcast Engineering Conference features an entire track of presentations on Sunday afternoon just about IP for radio.

What is Digital PowerRadio’s big idea to improve HD Radio? The company promises substantial improvement in digital signal coverage radius and quality through changes in the baseband receiver chip. Its paper is part of a Monday engineering session.

What plans does The Durst Organization have for broadcasting at One World Trade Center in New York? John Lyons of Durst, a past recipient of Radio World’s Excellence in Engineering Award, will talk about this in what is likely to be a well-attended Tuesday session.

Can the alerting community convince broadcast management, and not just engineers, to buy into a public/private warning partnership? EAS expert Richard Rudman of the Broadcast Warning Working Group will discuss that Wednesday.

How far along is our industry at incorporating its new platforms into its business models? In other words, when will the familiar mental divide between our on-air product and our “non-traditional” platforms disappear, to be replaced by a conversation in which all of these are treated as equal parts of a multi-platform, cross-channel media infrastructure?

What are radio managers saying about a possible future where AM and FM radio are not necessarily standard in every car dashboard? When, exactly, might we confront that scenario in new car models?

What are the implications of recent regulatory actions on LPFM and translators? A Tuesday morning management session looks at that as well as copyright, move-ins and allotments; the panel features several broadcast attorneys plus the FCC’s Peter Doyle.

Will Harris Broadcast and Geo-Broadcast Solutions succeed in getting approval for its geo-targeting ZoneCasting concept anytime soon?

What specific regulatory and technology options will come out of the AM revitalization discussion headed by Commissioner Ajit Pai? When was the last time AM radio had such a vocal proponent on the FCC?

Who will show up in which booths? An annual rite for the equipment sales fraternity is to see who has moved around. Look for Cam Eicher and John Bisset at Telos (plus Geoff Steadman and the rest of the team of the recently acquired 25-Seven Systems). Find Don Backus at BE; Ted Nahil at SCMS; Mary Ann Seidler (back) at Tieline; Jim Thomason (back) at Harris Broadcast; and John George and Bob Groome at RF Specialties.

And if you see Geoff Mendenhall at Harris Broadcast, congratulate him on his recent retirement and his launch of an RF systems consultancy, at which he’ll continue to work with his former employer.

How deserving is Leonard Charles of NAB’s special Service to Broadcast Engineering award? (Answer: Very.) “Chuck” is Midwest director of engineering for Morgan Murphy Media and a leader in numerous spheres: EAS and alerting; the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and its Broadcasters Clinic; the Society of Broadcast Engineers; and the NAB TV Technology Committee, among others. A gentleman and a worthy recipient.

Will there be startling radio technical innovations on the show floor?

Look through the exhibitor listings in this issue and you know to expect further exploration of apps and mobile (products for listeners, of course, but also for radio engineers and managers); more products aimed at the online streaming market and the growing sports radio segment; products for HD Radio quality control; more FM transmitter choices in the lower-power range; and at least incremental improvements in field codecs, automation and other traditional product classes.

Speaking of which: In what direction is codec design heading? What role will HD Voice play for codec manufacturers? You’ll recall we asked these and other questions in our recent special report on codec trends. (Read them all at

Which vendors will announce new partnerships? Crown Broadcast and the Ecreso arm of WorldCast Systems recently announced one; and I know of another that will be announced on the first day of the show.

Is this the year radio gets more seriously into video content creation? One manufacturer expressed surprise to me that radio stations had not more fully embraced products that help them create compelling video online. That surprised me because video clearly is a “hook” for new media offerings these days.

Who will take home Radio World’s covered “Cool Stuff” Award? We’ll announce them on the last day of the show, and introduce you to them in our May 22 issue.

See you in the desert.