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Engineers Stay Busy on Day Two of AES/NAB NY

Bob Pittman saluted, podcast rages, off-site visits

NYSBA Honoree Bob Pittman Photo: Michael Priest Photography

The twin exhibition halls at the Javits Convention Center for the Audio Engineering Society and NAB New York conventions stayed crowded on Thursday, the final day of the NAB show and the middle day of AES. For broadcast engineers on the East Coast, New York is a more convenient destination than Las Vegas in April or the fall Radio Show held last month in Austin, Texas, so it was no surprise to see plenty of faces from around the region, some making day trips from Philadelphia, Albany and other regional cities.

The New York State Broadcasters Association took advantage of the local turnout for two events on Thursday, starting with a noontime luncheon that honored iHeart CEO Bob Pittman as its Broadcaster of the Year. NYSBA inducted three Empire State broadcasters into its hall of fame, including one longtime radio voice: Sandy Beach, the veteran morning man at Buffalo’s WBEN(AM), brought his Buffalo colleague and fellow Hall of Famer Danny Neaverth along for his moment in the spotlight. Later in the afternoon, NYSBA gathered broadcast engineers for an update from the FCC about the state of the statewide EAS system (it’s in the final stages of converting from an outdated satellite-based system to CAP-based delivery), as well as the never-ending scourge of pirate broadcasts. (About that — We hitched a ride uptown with one area broadcast engineer Thursday afternoon and counted more than half a dozen unlicensed FM signals easily heard on the West Side Highway, many of them on first-adjacent channels to full-power Manhattan signals.)

On and off the floor, podcasting has become a growing focus of both shows. On the NAB side, a stage off to the side area of the convention hall has featured live productions of podcasts all day long during the show, with an entire session track devoted to podcast content and production. Downstairs in the AES meeting rooms, some of the more technical aspects of podcasting were in the spotlight Thursday afternoon at a session helmed by John Kean.

For engineers who couldn’t get enough of everything at the Javits Center, New York’s SBE Chapter 15 had its monthly meeting Thursday night downtown at WNYC public radio’s Greene Space performance center. Lawo’s Bill Bennett spoke to a packed room of local and visiting engineers about what he sees as the virtual future of radio. Are U.S. broadcasters ready for the sort of studio he showed off from Sweden’s Sveriges Radio, where there’s no console at all, just automatic mixing and a touchscreen for selecting program sources?

And it wasn’t just the new One World Trade Center broadcast facility that’s been full of engineers this week. Away from the convention hall, local broadcasters have been busy giving tours of their facilities to visiting colleagues and vendors, some of them making their first-ever visits to iconic spots such as the Empire State Building and the cluster of radio studios that’s built up in recent years in the Hudson Square neighborhood downtown.

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