Broadcast Electronics is a longstanding radio industry brand celebrating its 60th anniversary. It also is an RF and studio products manufacturer that has seen numerous ownership changes and now seeks to re-establish a bigger presence and higher profile under its new ownership.
BE was acquired in 2018 by the Elenos Group, a transmitter manufacturer based in Italy and owned since 1977 by engineer Leonardo Busi. Elenos said it intended for BE to become “the face of the group in the Americas.”
That was 15 months ago. It was at this year’s spring NAB Show that BE really reintroduced itself to the U.S. marketplace, exhibiting with sister brands Elenos, Itelco Broadcast and Pro Television Technologies.
BE also announced several hires, including Peter Conlon as advisor to Busi; Chuck Kelly as vice president of the Elenos Group Television Division; and Ricardo Jimenez as VP of sales for Latin America. The BE sales team now includes John Lackness, Frank Grundstein and Joe Myers.
Conlon spoke with Radio World about BE’s goals and plans. He is founder of New Mosaic Advisory and was president/CEO of Nautel Ltd. for eight years, stepping down in 2014. He has also held executive positions with several organizations outside of broadcast.
Radio World: What was the main business message from BE to attendees?
Peter Conlon: That we are experiencing a renaissance, a new beginning. BE has become a significantly stronger organization since joining the Elenos Group. Each member of the group brings a long and highly respected history in broadcasting, a combined 250 years. Elenos is recognized around the world as a leader in FM, with an installed base of more than 40,000 transmitters in more than 100 countries. When you couple BE’s reputation for world-class innovation and customer service to the strength of the sister companies, the result is a powerful force in the industry, particularly since the group is owned by someone who is truly passionate about broadcasting.
RW: What is your own role and title with BE?
Conlon: My role is to advise both BE and the Elenos Group on issues of strategy. My formal title is advisor to the CEO of the Elenos Group. The owner of the group knew of the success we enjoyed at Nautel while I was there, and asked if I would be willing to take the lessons I had learned and assist another wonderful and storied organization as it transforms itself into an energized, formidable global competitor. RW: BE had been through several ownership changes over the past decade or two. What is BE’s role within the larger Elenos organization?
Conlon: None of the recent owners of BE brought it the combined strength of financial stability, global presence and passion for the broadcast industry that it now has as part of the Elenos Group. Finally, BE can regain its deserved place as an innovator, a leader in customer service, a trusted partner to its extensive list of clients and friends. In addition, with BE at the forefront, the Elenos Group now has an effective means to establish a powerful presence in the Americas marketplace.
RW: Should we expect BE to focus mostly on television now, what are its intentions for radio?
Conlon: The Elenos Group is a highly respected provider of TV solutions around the world, through its ownership of Itelco. The recent acquisition of ProTelevision, which is globally recognized as the leader in modulation and signal processing for the broadcast industry, further strengthens the group’s presence in the market. And at NAB 2019, BE proudly introduced its own line of low-power TV transmitters, ideally suited for the Americas market. While the team at BE is understandably excited about bringing these world-class television products to its clients, the group and its owner are passionate about all forms of broadcasting, including radio. You can expect new and exciting things to come from the group all across the spectrum.
RW: Why is this a good time to be an RF manufacturer?
Conlon: Interesting question, Paul. If allowed, I would rephrase the question to be, “Why is this a good time to be an RF manufacturer who loves the industry?” Because that is the difference. For decades, people have predicted the decline and disappearance of OTA broadcasting, especially radio. However, broadcasting has consistently demonstrated its value and persistence in the face of the nay-sayers. Unless you are passionate about the industry, it would not be unusual or unexpected for an RF manufacturer to look outside the industry to seek more “lucrative” opportunities. I believe the passion within the group for traditional broadcasting will drive interesting efforts in innovation, which will benefit the industry. That signals a bright future for BE and the entire Elenos Group.
RW: A company video states that its mission is to create reliable transmitters. Will BE remain active in the audio automation space too, and who will be responsible for updating the AudioVault line?
Conlon: Studio automation has long been a part of the BE “persona” and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. AudioVault now has access to a significantly expanded group of incredible engineers, with skills in RF, software, embedded systems, user interface design, etc. I think you can expect some pretty exciting things to come out of that mix.
RW: BE recently brought Chuck Kelly on board, or more correctly, brought Kelly back to a company he’d worked for under different ownership for many years. What’s his role going to be?
Conlon: Chuck was brought on board to be the vice president of television business development for the Elenos Group. He will use his extensive experience in the broadcast industry, his unparalleled reputation for creativity and his incredible global brand to help transform the Elenos TV business into a world leader.
RW: How many employees does BE have, and where are they based?
Conlon: The BE part of the Elenos Group has 42 employees, all based in the U.S., primarily Quincy, Ill. BE also has access to the entire Elenos 140-person development, sales and support team in Europe and around the world, of which fully one-third are engineers. This is a new day for BE.
RW: What else should we know?
Conlon: In the three months I have been with BE, we have already expanded the team by more than 10% and our sales projections have grown by 20%. There are people who would never have thought that possible. And we have only just begun.