The spring NAB Show is approaching. Between now and then Radio World will conduct several short Q&As with manufacturers about their plans and offerings, to help you get the most out of the big annual trade show. Chuck Alexander is executive vice president for Burk Technology.
Radio World: How has business been for the company since last year’s NAB Show?
Chuck Alexander: It’s been a great year. Business was very strong in 2017 and we are seeing that growth curve continuing this year. It was also an exciting year for Burk with the expansion of our executive team. The addition of Paul Shulins as vice president chief technology officer and Jim Alnwick as senior VP global sales has brought a fresh outlook to our team and a renewed commitment to our core broadcast markets.
RW: What are you hearing from your customers about their business outlook this year? In what areas should we expect growth or the most interesting projects?
Alexander: We are seeing increased investment in infrastructure upgrades and preventative maintenance. This is no doubt due in part to the strong economy. I think it also reflects a pendulum swing back toward the strong engineering principles that were a foundation of our industry. In our business there has been a significant uptick in replacement of outdated legacy remote control systems in favor of modern IP-based equipment. We are also seeing a steady increase in repack-related projects in both TV and radio. We expect repack to be a significant factor going forward.
RW: You’ve been active in the remote control market for many years. What’s the biggest problem or challenge facing users in this segment right now?
Alexander: For many years our focus has been on helping engineers manage a steady increase in station count with limited resources. The industry’s response to this challenge has included creation of network operations centers at the market, regional and national levels. These centers can be as simple as a computer display in the engineering office, or as sophisticated as a fully staffed 24–7 monitoring and response facility. The objectives, however, are the same — to focus engineering resources on the most critical issues at any moment and to manage an effective preventative maintenance program to head off potential equipment failures. This ongoing need to “do more with less” will be a continuing challenge for broadcast engineers.
RW: What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your booth?
Alexander: We will be in the North Hall, Booth N5131. This year we will be showcasing Arcturus, our new RF site monitoring system. Arcturus is a complete, turnkey solution providing protection and safety for multiplexed antenna sites. The system monitors key RF parameters and takes immediate action when necessary to minimize the risk of damage to combiners, transmission lines or antennas. Transmitter interlocks are controlled by Burk’s new high-speed VSWR protection.
We will also be highlighting enhancements to our AutoPilot management software that make it even easier for users to create fully customized monitoring and control interfaces.
RW: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at the 2018 NAB Show?
Alexander: The steady increase in machine intelligence and connectivity at all levels in the broadcast infrastructure will be an interesting trend to watch at the show this year.
RW: Will you be attending any sessions or looking forward to any events?
Alexander: As always, there will be a lot to see at the show. Among other things I plan to take advantage of the convenient Main Stage location in the North Hall and will be interested to check out the IP Showcase in the Central Hall.
RW: This year show organizers have done some serious rearranging of the venue, expanded thematic items like pavilions and put emphasis on events and activities such as Main Stage. Any thoughts on that?
Alexander: The location and planned events on the Main Stage should cause a strong increase in North Hall booth traffic and activity level. It will be great to see the North Hall take on a more central role in the NAB experience.