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Radio Comes to a “Crossroads”

“Hybrid” radio, dashboard trends and all-digital AM testing are among topics

Rackmount industrial PCs on display at the Digital Jukebox booth. They call Indiana the “crossroads of America.” But radio always seems to be at a crossroads lately; so it’s appropriate that the Radio Show will be held there this year.

The show is co-produced by NAB and RAB. The event takes place Sept. 10-12 in Indianapolis Some 2,400 people attended in 2013.

Here’s a rundown of notable sessions and events as picked by Radio World’s editorial staff; see for a full list.

(Quick, can you name the cities that hosted the five previous fall Radio Shows? Answer is at the end.)

Opening Session and Keynote — Advertising consultant Bob Hoffman is featured. He’s author of a book “101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising” and writes “The Ad Contrarian” blog. Show organizers say he’ll talk about “the gulf between what we are being told by ‘experts’ and the reality of advertising and media today, with specific focus on broadcast radio,” in a speech titled “The Golden Age of BS.” RAB President/CEO Erica Farber and NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith also will speak. — Wednesday, Sept. 10, 3:45 p.m.


“From the Control Room to the Board Room” — If U.S. commercial radio had to name its biggest management star these days, it would probably be Bob Pittman, chairman/CEO of Clear Channel. But Dan Mason is no slouch either, as president/CEO of CBS Radio. Those two get their own super session at the Radio Show. “Before becoming top media and entertainment leaders, they began their careers behind a radio microphone,” planners say; this session traces their career paths and visions for media’s future. — Thursday, Sept. 11, 9:15 a.m. If You Go

When: Sept. 10–12

Where: Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis


How Much
: $495–$995 depending on membership status and packages; see website

“Hybrid Radio: What’s In It for You” — The term hybrid radio refers here to enhancing the broadcast product with interactivity and visuals such as ad graphics, via services such as the new NextRadio platform. Supporters see this as a path to more revenue and listenership, as well as a way for radio to hold up its head in deepening digital waters. Panelists will represent Emmis Communications, backer of NextRadio; Big Machine Label Group; Hubbard Radio; and Sprint Corp., which has introduced some phones with FM reception and NextRadio. — Sept. 11, 11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

“Executive Future” — Dan Harris of ABC News interviews Alan Mulally, who is a Google board member and (more to the point) former CEO of Ford Motor Co. They’ll talk about radio, the automotive sector and tech trends. Harris also will lead a “meditation talk” and sign copies of his self-help book. — Sept. 11, 3–4 p.m.

“IT for Radio Engineers: Understanding IP Networking Routing and Switching Tutorial” — It’s a topic of great interest and impact for techies. Veteran engineer and educator Wayne Pecena, director of engineering for Texas A&M University, will explain IP networking technology, fundamentals of Ethernet switching, IP routing, building a segmented IP network and more. — Sept. 10, 9 a.m.–2:15 p.m.

How can broadcasters benefit from hybrid radio? Ginny Morris, chairman/CEO of Hubbard Radio Group, is among panelists seeking to answer that question in a super session. “All-Digital on the AM Band – Testing for the Future” — In the not-too-distant future, the radio industry may ask the FCC to allow AM stations to broadcast in all-digital. The tech work being done on that front right now is laying the groundwork. NAB Labs has been doing field and lab tests; this session will show the types of stations used in the program and the resulting coverage. Ben Downs, the VP/GM of Bryan Broadcasting Corp. and a vocal proponent of AM improvement, moderates a panel that includes Greg Borgen of WDGY(AM); David Layer of NAB; Andrew Skotdal of KRKO(AM)/KKXA(AM); and Glynn Walden of CBS Radio. “We will look at the interference concerns, receiver performance issues and propagation effects,” the organizers say. — Sept. 10, 2:30–3:30 p.m.

NRSC Meeting —The National Radio Systems Committee convenes, and also notes its 35th anniversary. See page 4 for more. — Sept. 11, 8:30–10:45 a.m.

SBE Certification Exams —The Society of Broadcast Engineers administers tests to those who applied by Aug. 22. Visit for info about future certification exams. —Sept. 11, 2–5 p.m.

“Designing, Maintaining and Monitoring Reliable IP Audio Broadcast Facilities” — Jake Robinson has designed several AoIP-based large-market broadcast facilities and will discuss how to implement IP audio. He is director of engineering and IT for Emmis Indianapolis, which includes four FMs, one AM and a state satellite news and audio distribution network. He’s a member of the NAB Radio Technology Committee and the Audio Engineering Society, and is chairman of SBE Chapter 25.— Sept. 12, 9–10:15 a.m.

“15 Tech Ideas that Help the Bottom Line: A Radio Technology Panel of Experts” — Chriss Scherer moderates a panel with three veteran engineers. See our story, page 16. — Sept. 12, 10:30–11:45 a.m.

“Operating a Successful Radio Station in 2014” —The entire convention revolves around that theme; but this particular session features GMs of growing stations, talking about how managers can create growth, keep staff “activated, dedicated and engaged” while handling multiple jobs, and run the station as efficiently as possible. Participants work for Hubbard Radio, Univision Radio, Alpha Media and West Virginia Radio Corp. — Sept. 10, 9–10 a.m. “Growing Your Mobile Audience” — Everyone tells you that your station needs to be more active on the mobile platform. But what exactly does that mean, and how do you engage those consumers? Dale Thornhill of Commonwealth Broadcasting moderates a session that features speakers from Hitch Radio and Commotion. —Sept. 10, 10:15–11:15 a.m.

“It Starts at the Top: Reinvigorating Station Creativity”— Planners engaged in creativity of their own when putting this panel together. They issued a challenge asking contestants to submit ideas about incorporating creativity into on-air and online content. Winners won show registration and a $1,000 travel stipend courtesy of Salem Communications, and were invited to participate on the panel. Winners are Kelly Jarvis, digital director, WRBW(FM) Baltimore; Jason Skaggs, production director, WGN(AM) Chicago; and Rick Balis, program director, KSHE(FM)/KIHT(FM) St. Louis. — Sept. 10, 10:15–11:15 a.m.

“The Magic: Radio’s Storytellers” — This one is all about the on-air talent. Bob Kevoian, Tom Griswold, Clark Howard and Scott Shannon will gab about how they got started in the biz and how they connect to people. — Sept. 10, 2:30–3:30 p.m.

Career Networking Event — Early arrivals can look for jobs and recruiters can seek job candidates at this Tuesday afternoon event put on by the NAB Education Foundation in partnership with the Broadcast Education Association. “Our goal is to match high-quality candidates to potential employers from major broadcasting companies,” they say, noting that participating companies can receive Equal Employment Opportunity credit from the Federal Communications Commission. —Sept. 9, 1–5 p.m.

Leadership Breakfast “Capitalizing on Radio’s Potential” —Do you want to talk about radio’s financial situation, equity and debt financing for acquisitions and how digital resources can translate to the bottom line? This one’s for you. Lew Paper of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman moderates, with high-profile panelist Lew Dickey, Dean Goodman, Jeff Smulyan, Jose Valle and Marci Ryvicker. —Sept. 11, 7:15–9 a.m.

NAB Marconi Radio Awards 25th Anniversary Dinner & Show — Stations and individuals are honored for their excellence and performance in 21 categories. Singer/songwriter Hunter Hayes will perform. (To scroll through fun photos from 25 years of Marconis, visit — Sept. 11, 6–9 p.m.

Radio Luncheon NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith talks with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai “about communications policy and how it affects free, local radio broadcasting.” Pai has shown a vocal interest in radio issues including the future of AM. The luncheon will also honor Bud Walters, founder and president of The Cromwell Group, who will receive the 2014 National Radio Award for leadership in the industry. — Sept. 12, Noon–1:30 p.m.

Answer to the question at top: The recent Radio Shows have been held in Philadelphia (2009), Washington (2010), Chicago (2011), Dallas (2012), Orlando (2013).