It�s the middle of March, and the 2016 NAB Show is about a month away. Have you made your plans?
If you answered in the affirmative, I hope to see you there. If you don�t have any plans to attend� well, why not?
Let me try to explain just why attendance at the NAB Show is one of the most important choices you can make to further your career.
The 2016 Radio Hall is highlighted in the insert found in this issue. This is also where you can find both a map and a list of radio and broadcast company booths, and naturally there will be some that are �must see.�
For any first timers reading this, note that in order to even get on the exhibit floor, you at least need either an Exhibits or Guest Pass. These can often be acquired via codes from one manufacturers or broadcast sales organization exhibiting at the show. Obtain an exhibits-only pass courtesy of Radio magazine by entering code LV9443 during registration.
Once through the door into the exhibit hall, what then? You�ll find that the major players will have signage to get your attention almost immediately. When at their booths:
� Take a leisurely look at products you are interested in.
� Perhaps more importantly, see what else is new and whatever else catches your fancy.
� Exchange cards with sales people. Let them know who you are.
Depending upon the amount of time you have allotted for the trip, prioritize the booths that you want to see before heading over to the convention center.
My recommendation is that you see them as early in the show as you can; exhibitors, like the rest of us, get tired as the show goes on, and may not seem quite as enthusiastic on Thursday as they do on Monday morning.
It�s always very important to build in some time for meandering around the floor and seeing what catches your attention. You�d be surprised what you can learn and what ideas you can pick up in casual conversation.
Likely you will learn two things: First, well known manufacturers might make some products of which you weren�t aware previously. But my favorite part is discovering manufacturers of which I had never heard and which are making cool stuff that I had no idea existed.
Keep an open mind. Let an exhibitor try to convince you that his or her product is better than what you�ve been using. Ask questions � test their knowledge. You will also come to realize just what you know, and don�t know, about certain items.
When the show is over, take these ideas home with you � and hopefully put them into practice. Hopefully it makes the radio station a better place. And guess who gets the credit then? You do.
Exhibitors are handing out ideas for free � they want you to have them.
As I look at the Broadcast Engineering Conference�s list of sessions, I feel like a kid in a candy store. Where to start? Again, this is where planning comes in; you�ll need to squeeze in sessions between your booth visits. (You can take the opposite stance, squeezing booth visits in between sessions, depending on your priorities this year.)
I almost hate to use this phrase but I�ll do it this time: You can �geek out� to your heart�s content, learning about any topic in which you are really interested.
For example, I�ve earmarked �Multiple Input, Multiple Output RF Systems for Electronic News Gathering,� as well as �Extending IP Audio to the Transmitter Using Part 101 or Unlicensed IP Radios,� two particular topics I happen to be interested in.
I invite you to look at the full list, which is available online at� www.nabshow.com/attend/broadcast-engineering-conference, to see whatever piques your interest.
Now, unlike complimentary Guest Passes that can get you on the show floor, the sessions aren�t free. Registration package pricing varies by type and is subject to change. Student discounts are available. Check out http://www.nabshow.com/attend/registration-packages for registration details and cost specifics.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
There are several reasons the spring show has been in Las Vegas for over two decades.
First, the show is huge, and Las Vegas can accommodate it. That�s obvious.
But if you haven�t been to Las Vegas, you might be surprised by how much fun it can be. It�s a great place for entertainment, and perhaps more importantly, food.
And with proper planning, you might just be able to bring your �better half� along. I can think of no better way to add fun to on-the-job training than by making the trek to Las Vegas for the NAB Show.
DISPENSE WITH THE EXCUSES
Sure � you�re convinced that attending the show would be great. However, for any number of the reasons I�m about to list, you can�t go. Let�s see if we can shoot them down.
The trip to Las Vegas is too expensive. In order to get the most for your money on a trip to Las Vegas it is necessary that you plan it out well in advance. When the convention is in town, lodging costs naturally more. My advice is to arrange your hotel as early as possible. You can cancel if your plans change, up to a certain number of days ahead of the show. Cancellation policies vary by hotel.
I recommend you stay in a hotel that is located directly on the monorail. Don�t expect to rely on cabs, which are very expensive. There are other hotels that are within walking distance of the convention center, and not on the monorail � but I strongly suggest you look at Google Maps to see just how far you would need to walk. A �block� in Las Vegas can be very long � especially with the sun beating down on you, as it often does, even in April. If you aren�t flying, make sure that parking is included in your daily hotel rate. If not, expect to be paying on the order of another $25 per night for the privilege of parking.
Airfare will always get more expensive as your travel dates get closer, so buy your airfare as early as you can. Fortunately quite a few different carriers go there.
The trip probably won�t be described as �cheap� no matter what you do, but consider it as an investment in money and time that will benefit your career.
I can�t find anyone to cover my station(s) while I�m gone. This is a real problem, of course, for many radio engineers, but the situation isn�t any different than the times you took vacation or otherwise had to be out of town for a while.
Anyone established in a market will know other engineers in the same area, and likely an arrangement can be made to have that person cover for you. If he or she also goes to the show, see if you can go in alternate years � you cover for them one year, and they for you the next.
You will be in Las Vegas on business; make sure you have your phone, laptop and remote access all ready to go so that if you need to solve a problem remotely, you can do so with a minimum of stress.
So there you have it: a short primer on attending the NAB Show.�