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A Year of Sadness and Achievement

As I conclude my first term as president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, I find myself not only in a reflective mood, looking at the accomplishments of the passing year, but in an excited one as well, waiting with great anticipation for the challenges to come in the next term of office.

Radio World provides this space to the society as a service to the industry.

As I conclude my first term as president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, I find myself not only in a reflective mood, looking at the accomplishments of the passing year, but in an excited one as well, waiting with great anticipation for the challenges to come in the next term of office.

The 2001-02 term for SBE started with the tragic events of 9-11. Our bags were packed and many of us were heading to central New York for the Society’s National Meeting, which was being held in conjunction with local SBE Chapter 22’s regional convention. Here, the newly elected officers and board members were to be inducted into office.

Somber duty

I recall that morning vividly. Waking at 6 a.m., I planned a quiet morning preparing for my 10:30 flight out of Birmingham, Ala. Usually, my mornings include a radio or TV in the background while getting ready for work. For some reason, this morning I wanted quiet in preparation for my flight. I promised myself no radio or TV, even on the drive in to town.

I needed to stop by the office first, which was on the way to the airport. As soon as I arrived, I saw everyone gathered in the conference room watching the TV monitor. It also seemed that the news department was busier than usual. Then I saw tears on the faces of some employees staring in disbelief at the monitor. It was then that I saw the events unfolding at the World Trade Center towers.

We are all familiar with the numbness that came that morning. Was this just a bad dream? Soon reality set in, and like all Americans, we knew that we could not just stand in idle disbelief. We had to get things done. We had to go on with our lives.

And at that moment for SBE, dates suddenly had to be changed, and members planning to attend the meeting in New York needed to be contacted. For the business of SBE operations to continue, the incoming officers and newly elected board members were inducted via teleconference.

However, our top-of-mind thoughts were with the victims, and especially our colleagues lost in Tower One of the World Trade Center.

Just hours after the tragic attack, SBE and the Ennes Educational Foundation Trust set up a relief fund for the surviving families of the six broadcast engineers who perished on that day. I am so proud of our members and others whose contributions have exceeded $250,000 for these families. And to date, every cent of these funds has been distributed equally to the six families.

Once the shock of these events passed, SBE was able to reschedule its National Meeting in central New York. My thanks to last year’s host, Chapter 22, for overcoming such difficulties to make the convention and SBE national events such a success the week after Thanksgiving.


With the year underway, we got busy.

In January 2002, we held a strategic planning meeting in Indianapolis and brainstormed ways to make SBE better. Some great ideas emerged from that gathering, including ways to increase communications with local SBE chapters and members. We also looked at ways to increase the visibility of SBE in this industry.

By June, SBE had hit a new all-time high in membership, with 5,835 members on the rolls. SBE chapters, as a whole, achieved great strides as well; 73 percent qualified as honor chapters and received rebates totaling more than $33,000. That is the highest amount SBE has ever paid out.

SBE granted a charter to a new chapter in the Brownsville/McAllen area of Texas. Known as Rio Grande Valley Chapter 136, this brought the number of SBE chapters to 107.

In 2002, SBE also recognized the 25th anniversaries of our first national Sustaining Members. I thank each of those supporters – Continental Electronics; Harris Corp., Broadcast Communications Division; Moseley Associates Inc. and Tektronix Inc. – for their continued belief in this organization through the years.

Also, it is exciting to note that the SBE Résumé Service has been upgraded and is available on the SBE Web site. My thanks to Angel Bates at the national office for a great job.

Under the leadership of Ennes Education Director Jerry Whitaker, CPBE, three successful Ennes Workshops were presented, with Nashville, Las Vegas and Boston serving as host locations. Also in Las Vegas, we took an active role in the spring NAB Engineering Conference, with at least seven of our SBE members serving on the NAB Engineering Conference Planning Committee. Recently, we renewed our agreement with NAB to co-present the conference in 2003. SBE’s commitment to education also brought a Leader-Skills Seminar to Indianapolis this past summer, the sixth year in a row that SBE has offered this kind of training.

SBE Certification Director Linda Baun and Certification Committee Chair Chriss Scherer, CSRE, continue their dedicated service to this organization. Updated certification exams now include questions covering digital technology. The fifth edition of the “Television Operator’s Certification Handbook” was published this year, and you should be watching for the release of a new certification handbook for radio operators.

A voice at the FCC

Earlier this year SBE hired David Otey, CSTE, as the national frequency coordination director. One of his duties is to provide assistance to local SBE affiliated frequency coordinators.

Working with Otey is the SBE Frequency Coordination Committee, under the guidance of Ralph Beaver, CBT. This team is working on new software for use by local frequency coordinators. In addition, we are pleased to announce that SBE has renewed its agreement with the National Football League to provide frequency coordination for NFL games.

In 2002, SBE continued to be a strong voice for broadcast engineers by filing on seven separate FCC rulemakings, covering such issues as the 2 GHz BAS band, digital modulation for STLs, the Spectrum Policy Task Force and the Emergency Alert System.

SBE members continue to provide leadership in EAS and have taken active roles in assisting their state broadcasters in establishing Amber-type plans across the country. The EAS SBE session at NAB in April drew an audience of more than 400 via live streaming on the Web (provided by my good friend Dave Biondi). Also, this past year our Board of Directors approved joining the Partnership for Public Warning.

As you can see, SBE is alive, well and busy, thanks in part to the excellent leadership of Executive Director John Poray, who celebrated 10 years with SBE this fall. SBE has proven itself as an important part of this industry. It is an organization of which I take great pride in being an active member. But there’s always more to be done.

Looking ahead to 2003, I want to see SBE continue to represent its members with the FCC and other industry organizations. I want to put an emphasis on continuing education for broadcast engineers. Ideas already being shared on how the Society can expand its frequency coordination services and increase the prestige of its certification program.

And, as always, a high priority for me, personally, is finding better ways to serve and grow our members and local chapters. I’m ready for a new year. I hope you will be, too.