How will the economy affect attendance at the NAB Show this year?
Anecdotally, it’s hard to imagine attendance going up, based on what we hear from exhibitors and engineers.
Gary Kline of Cumulus told RW, “We will have a smaller number of engineers present at NAB. It will be significantly less than last year but decision makers will be present.”
Asked about his company’s plans, Clear Channel’s Jeff Littlejohn said, “I really don’t want to say how many, but Clear Channel will have a few engineers in Las Vegas working on various matters.”
One engineering source said a decision by CBS not to send staff to the NAB Show meant a loss of some presenters. RW did not hear back immediately to a request for plans from engineering execs at CBS.
Milford Smith of Greater Media told RW, “Last year only those GMI engineers who were actively participating in the BEC — paper presentations and the like — attended at company expense. This year I will be the sole official attendee, although one or more of the various market chiefs may possibly attend at their own expense.”
One commercial corporate DOE predicted, “I think it will be a very small domestic representation from the technical side.”
In public radio, Dan Mansergh of the Association of Public Radio Engineers (who is also an RW contributor) doesn’t have firm numbers because registration for the Public Radio Engineering Conference hasn’t begun. But: “Given the financial climate and from what we’ve been hearing so far from our members, we’re projecting lower numbers than last year, so we’re putting together a program that makes economic sense by partnering more closely with NAB and SBE to offer admission to and complement the content of the Ennes sessions as a part of the Public Radio Engineering Conference.”
Exhibitors have echoed these comments, although a major transmitter manufacturer told RW this week that interest in its annual training event in Las Vegas remains high.
NAB spokesman Kris Jones did not comment directly on likely attendance but said, “In times of economic uncertainty, conventions like the NAB Show provide even greater value” because exhibitors can reach executive-level attendees with buying power, and “for radio broadcasters, there is no other venue on Earth that provides a greater variety of exhibiting companies and educational sessions.”
One forecast predicts overall NAB Show attendance will be down to about 98,000. The Las Vegas Sun did a story this week about expected turnout for four big seasonal shows. Regarding NAB, it reported: “Although the event will include a new 48-hour film festival, the induction of legendary Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully into the Radio Broadcasting Hall of Fame and, possibly, additional discussions about the delayed transition to digital television, attendance is expected to dip to 98,000 from the original forecasts of 115,000. Registration could pick up after last month’s announcement that room rates would be discounted 20% to 40%.”
Given financial headlines, we’re guessing NAB might be happy with a turnout of 98,000 this year.
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