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Read John Kean’s Speech to the NAB Show Tech Lunch

Cavell Mertz consultant says the award is a credit to the openness and fairness of his industry peers

From left to right: John Kean, Sam Matheny of NAB Pilot and John Lyons. Credit Jim Peck.

LAS VEGAS � At the 2017 NAB Show Technology Luncheon, John Kean was recognized as the recipient of the 2017 NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award. John Lyons and Catherine Badalemente were also recognized and delivered speeches.

If you couldn’t attend the event in Las Vegas, read the full text of Kean’s acceptance speech here.�

You know, considering some of the more controversial engineering research that I’ve performed over the years, I thought I’d have too many enemies to receive this award! However, I’ve heard that some of the votes came from people with whom I’ve had technical differences, so this award is a credit to the openness and fairness of my peers in the industry.

Truly, this is really an honor for me, considering this event and the past recipient that I’ve looked up to. I have been very fortunate to achieve some success in my career, and a lot of the learning came from my work with those of you here today. Some of the people who put trust in my technical ability include Richard Cassidy and Mike Starling of NPR, Eric Small, of Modulation Sciences (who thought I could be the first support engineer for the Optimod) and Norman Feuer, of K-BEST, San Diego (as a green chief engineer), and John Reiser (who, as an Assistant Chief at the FCC, kind of intimidated me at first). When I became a consulting engineer, I learned so much from Jules Cohen and Wally Johnson, who are such legends in this industry.

I guess my start came from being an only kid and having a Navy electronics office for a dad. When I attended the University of Washington in Seattle, in 1970, my fellow students wanted their own FM station, and I decided I could design and build it. My life may have gone in a different direction if it had not worked out, but the 10 watt station was a success and I’m proud it�s still on the air today, as KEXP. Maybe this start led me to be so “do it myself” independent, as some colleagues have observed of me � not always as a compliment.

For some reason, more than making things work, I have had a strong desire to understand the underlying principles that govern the technical characteristics of systems. That certainly helped in solving problems for clients as a consultant, and I often got the “odd-ball” projects at MLJ � and now at Cavell Mertz & Associates. But I was fortunate to travel to some fascinating corners of the world and meet some wonderful people. With my with my long hours and travel I�m so lucky to be married to Renee, and have a son, Evan, who both are so patient with me.

Bookended around nearly 20 years of consulting work, I had two wonderful shifts at National Public Radio. The second run, with NPR Labs, was such a great opportunity for research and development on behalf of radio and television engineering. (The work gave me the opportunity to bounce between audio and RF study.) Working with committees at the ITU and EBU, as especially with the NRSC, has been a real joy, which I trust has provided some value back to our industry.

Now that I am retired � “semi-retired” I like to say � I know there are some out in the audience who are already looking critically into the nature of audio and RF systems, and that they too will be seeking to explain, standardize and optimize those systems for the maximum benefit of listeners and viewers. If I can help, you know where to reach me!

And again, allow me to recognize all of you for this honor. Thank you!

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