This story has been updated with information about the SBE response.
A prominent New York broadcast engineer is not happy with SBE. It’s a story that demonstrates the strong feelings that linger in New York about terrorism.
Tom Ray, VP and corporate DOE for Buckley Radio (and chair of the SBE chapter in New York) took exception to news, reported here, that the Society of Broadcast Engineers has affiliated with a group of engineers in Pakistan.
“As I sit here, it is approximately three weeks since an attempted car bomb detonation in Times Square. The financial source of this attempt? The Taliban in Pakistan,” he wrote in an e-mail disseminated to SBE colleagues and trade press. “And this morning I read in the Radio World NewsBytes that SBE has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Broadcast Engineers Society of Pakistan.
“Um — hello? We’re signing a memorandum of understanding to share ideas with a group located in a rogue country, whose apparent only mission in life is to see everyone in the U.S. dead? You know damn well that any shared information will most likely be used against the U.S. This used to be called aiding and abetting the enemy and, as far as I know, is illegal under U.S. law.”
Ray — who also contributes to Radio World, and has been outspoken on other issues such as HD Radio — says he is “furious and outraged.” He said SBE board members who “voted to approve this atrocity” should be voted out, and said he’s asking himself whether “I wish to remain a member of an organization that would put together an agreement like this. I do not wish to be a member of an organization that would share information with a country like Pakistan.” (more …)
He continued, “I am all for helping out and helping our brother broadcasters. But not when our brother broadcasters are in a place that hates America and where this information could be used against us.” He called on SBE to rescind the action.
SBE officials responded later in the day with a statement signed by President Vinny Lopez recognizing Ray’s contributions to SBE but saying the society “disagrees, however, with its colleague in virtually all respects.” The 9/11 attacks “have nothing to do with the valuable international relationships that SBE has cultivated for many years with professional broadcast engineers and their national societies in many countries.” (Read more.)
Jeff Smith, supervisor broadcast/studio systems for Clear Channel Radio-NYC and a member of the SBE board, said he’d voted in favor of the agreement after it was tweaked, but acknowledged that he has mixed emotions about it.
“I too am in NYC everyday and in Times Square a lot. I too lost many friends in the attacks on WTC. It is constantly in my mind as I get off the PATH train to walk to my downtown office.”
He said the memorandum had been edited quite a bit. “In fact we refused to let the man who started BESPAK join SBE. We also refused to let BESPAK use the SBE name, logos or certifications.” SBE however said in its statement that it had not refused membership to any member of BESPAK or refused to allow any member to use SBE logos or name, or imposed any other unusual restrictions on its association with BESPAK.
Smith, emphasizing he was speaking only for himself, also said the decision to vote in favor of the agreement was “a very emotional vote for me,” but: “If we discriminate against any broadcast engineer, that would just be wrong. This MOU does not endorse terrorists, does not support the Taliban and does nothing more than try to help a fellow engineer.”