NAB Exhibitor Viewpoint: Chuck Alexander, Burk Technology

The NAB Show is still the best place to see the latest technology close-up
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As the NAB Show gets closer, we continue our series of 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 of Burk Technology.

Radio World: How has business been for the company since last year’s NAB Show?
Chuck Alexander: This has been a great year for Burk Technology. Business exceeded our projections substantially. The radio business has rebounded nicely, judging by the number of customers who are coming to us ready to do new projects and to upgrade existing systems. At last year’s NAB we previewed the ARC Solo remote control, targeting sites where expansion capability is not needed. The Solo took off even faster than we expected, contributing to an already banner year.

RW: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at the 2015 NAB Show?
Alexander: Mobility is where we see a lot of growth and potential. Everything from FM receivers in smartphones, to LTE-enabled cars, to radio engineers using their mobile devices as virtual network operations centers. Terrestrial radio broadcast was the original mobility technology, and we believe it will be a significant player in the mobility scene for a very long time.

RW: What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your booth?
Alexander: The ARC Solo with its growing list of proven field installations will certainly draw attention. We will also be displaying additions to the ARC Plus product line, with new PlusConnect interfaces to both Nautel and GatesAir transmitters as well as performance improvements in the ARC Plus firmware.

We continue to refine AutoPilot as part of our Continuous Improvement program, and have chosen to return to the original brand name, dropping the 2010 suffix. Burk places a major emphasis on reliability in both software and hardware, in order to deliver the battleship-tough control systems that have been keeping stations on the air for three decades.

RW: Burk was a key partner with Arbitron. How did the sale affect the company and will we see more PPM products in the future?
Alexander: The sale to Nielson had no impact on our relationship with Arbitron. The Burk PPM Assurance product line provides monitoring of encoder performance with user-configurable alarm options and automatic restoral in case of encoder failure. Burk has no announcements at this time regarding future PPM products.

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RW: Burk Technology is known for its remote control/facility monitoring products. This would seem to be an area where the proliferation of IP technology has made great changes in equipment and equipment features possible. How has the IP revolution affected the Burk lineup?
Alexander: The Burk ARC Plus line of transmitter remote control systems is built on a distributed IP architecture. Burk’s efficient protocol allows the use of low-bandwidth IP connections to the transmitter, saving money. Intersite IP connectivity enables access to any unit in the network from any other site.

Within the plant, IP is used to connect each I/O device, eliminating long DC runs to the remote control. Our Plus-X devices can be plugged into the nearest point on the existing LAN or extended outside the facility to other locations such as STL sites or translators. IP also makes it possible to quickly create network operations centers without the need for costly point-to-point links to each transmitter site. And finally, wired or mobile Internet connectivity brings instant access and control to the engineer’s PC, tablet or smartphone, virtually anywhere, with email, SMS and browser-based access to all nodes in the remote control system.

Today, Burk’s IP-enabled products deliver significantly enhanced capabilities relative to the legacy remote control systems originally designed in the 1980s. And a quick and simple upgrade process makes it easy to move existing transmitter remote control systems into the modern world of IP connectivity.

RW: The Internet has changed the way people do business. Some would say that it has rendered shows such as the NAB obsolete. Is this true?
Alexander: Thanks to the Internet we don’t have to walk around the show with big bags of brochures and data sheets. But broadcast is still a person-to-person business, and the NAB Show is the event where we can count on connecting with a lot of our colleagues at least once a year. And it’s still the best place to see the latest technology close-up. While some industry shows have noticeably declined in recent years, the spring NAB Show remains exciting and relevant.

RW: You’re a show veteran, what’s your favorite thing about the show? Least favorite thing?
Alexander: At the risk of repeating myself, the best part of NAB is connecting with old friends and meeting new people in the industry. Throughout the year we communicate mainly by email and phone, and very often we sign off with the familiar, “See you in Vegas.” My least favorite part of the show is the traditionally slow last day.

RW: Do you have any suggestion that would make the show a better experience for exhibitors and/or attendees?
Alexander: Well, it would be great if they could figure out a way to increase attendance on Thursday.