IBC2019 is almost here. 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. Chris Crump is sales director for Comrex.
Radio World: How has business been for the company since last year’s IBC Show?
Chris Crump: Overall, business is steady. We had a very strong end to the calendar year but we haven’t seen the normal growth that we are used to seeing in the first half of the year. But we are feeling encouraged by recent activity leading into the fall sports season.
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?
Crump: I think everyone is very guarded with their purchasing decisions. And it seems to be the same across the board throughout the industry. We are seeing an uptick in podcast-related purchase, and smaller specialty studio builds. There are quite a few streaming and content delivery projects that are keeping us busy.
RW: Within the last year or so the two large station ownership groups have emerged from bankruptcy. Are you seeing any increase in equipment sales or interest? What is your feeling for the overall health of the radio industry?
Crump: Equipment sales are increasing as the result of ISDN services being discontinued or priced beyond reasonable. Based on the market trends we’ve observed, the radio portion of our business remains steady, but purchasing is guarded. It seems like a reaction to a predicted recession that may or may not happen. But radio, to us, seems healthy. Stations are billing and providing a great marketing partnership for their advertisers and using our gear to provide added value and NTR from remote broadcasts.
RW: You’ve been active in the equipment manufacturing market for years. What’s the biggest problem or challenge facing manufacturers right now? Does the trade row between the United States and China greatly affect you?
Crump: Since we don’t manufacture or directly source from China, you would think that we would not be affected by the recent tariffs. But our component vendors have already applied tariff “fees” since they often source components that are subject to the trade war. While it does affect us, I can’t say it is affecting Comrex greatly. For the time being we can absorb some of these costs, but future tariff increases might have an effect on our product pricing. I really hope for all of our sakes that this is resolved soon.
RW: What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your stand?
Crump: We will be introducing our new Access NX Rack and Access MultiRack products to the European market. Both are AES67 compatible. NX Rack is a single full-duplex IP audio codec compatible with our family of Access and BRIC-Link codecs. Access MultiRack is five instances of Access in a 1RU 19-inch rack unit with AES67 I/O. We’ll have some of our other products on hand at 8.P45 in Pod section between Halls 7 and 8.
RW: Going by the interest on our website, AoIP technology is on the top of the list for product acquisition and upgrades. Is that something you are seeing and if so, how are you addressing that?
Crump: Well, our new Access NX Rack and MultiRack address that nicely by interfacing with AoIP routing and control systems that support the AES67 standard. Response from customers that have already installed our new units has been very enthusiastic, so we feel as though our timing for these new products is spot on.
RW: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at the 2019 IBC Show?
Crump: Virtualization and cloud-based services. It seems that the industry is being pushed (or pulled) in that direction.
RW: Will you be attending any sessions or looking forward to any events?
Crump: Once I’m on the stand, I’m on the stand. While I’d love to see some sessions, I’m at IBC to see Comrex dealers and customers. That’s my main priority.
RW: You’re a show veteran, how has the show changed since your first visit?
Crump: I’ve gotten really good at picking restaurants in Amsterdam. So, my show experience has gotten significantly better over the years as a result.