Each April, I have the opportunity to go to the NAB Show in Las Vegas to do some reporting for Radio. It�s like �old home week,� as we spend three days on the exhibition floor to look at the latest and greatest and chat with all sorts of folks in the industry.
Without fail, a common theme seems to crop up each year. As an example, several years ago studio lighting for video was hot (Not as �hot� as you�d think. LED technology was skyrocketing). Video gadgetry was fairly popular, as were low-profile microphone stands. The theme? Apparently the radio industry was interested in streaming video that year!
Was it a carefully choreographed effort? No. As a matter of fact, the �undercurrent� of each show may go unnoticed. It�s actually no more than a phrase I coined myself to describe a subjective assessment. I�m sure each attendee at the convention sees his or own highlights. Hopefully, especially if you couldn�t be there, this will serve as a quick insight into what was happening this year at the spring convention.
A QUICK NOTE
Before we delve into what looked to be a common theme on the floor at the NAB show, there was a �stir� created by our friends at Nautel: Multiplexed HD was unleashed. Essentially, toss out the analog space in the FM carrier and you leave space for nine to 15 HD channels.
The platform is in its infancy and many show-goers were curious as to how well it would be accepted by the FCC, iBiquity and listeners. Nautel explained that it simply wants to start industry discussions. But I applaud Nautel for pushing the issue and showing us possibilities.
So what was big this year? What are the industry product developers doing that set a trend at the NAB Show?��
It would seem that engineers are increasingly interested in utilizing IP connectivity to monitor and control their sites. IP-based confidence monitoring and control were popular items. As IP service becomes more readily available at remote sites, numerous IP monitoring and control products were on display this year to accommodate. (See the table, above.)
This trend, as set by industry product developers, not only speaks to AM, FM and HD broadcasting, it speaks loudly to webcasting. For example, the Inovonics SIMON 614 simplifies the monitoring of up to four Web streams.
Radio has evolved from an over-the-air medium only and engineers are required to monitor audio streaming and metadata delivery to phones, cars, laptops and anywhere else an online stream is consumed.
Listeners frequently ask me about the future of radio. I tell them that there will always be radio, but the delivery method will most likely change. When this change happens, engineers will have different propagation methods to monitor and control. This year at the NAB Show, we began to see solutions.
So what do we do when we see a trend pop up each year at the NAB Show? A knee jerk reaction to the next big �thing� isn�t generally smart. Conversely, ignoring useful industry changes and evolutions isn�t wise, either.
In the case of an upsurge of IP monitoring and control equipment, two strong factors are at play concerning their longevity and vitality. First, Internet protocol isn�t going away. Second, we have more than dead air to keep an ear on. PPM watermarking, metadata, IP streaming and HD channels have been added to the business of radio and having the ability to monitor and control all of it on multiple layers is more and more critical.
Hopefully the show this year proved to be a relief for engineers as these confidence monitoring and control products made a sizeable impression!
Wygal is the operations manager for The Journey Radio Network in Virginia.