COVID-19 notwithstanding, the show must go on — the 2020 Radio Show, to be precise. In a nod to pandemic realities, this year’s lineup of sessions will be presented over five days online at www.radioshowweb.com starting Oct. 5.
The show is produced by the National Association of Broadcasters and the Radio Advertising Bureau. There will be two online “channels,” with Channel B devoted to technical topics, presented from 3:30 to 4 p.m. ET each day.
Tech topics to be covered on the “B” channel include hybrid radio, all-digital transmission on the AM band, the connected car, and the evolution of broadcasting technology and workflows.
These sessions are programmed by Skip Pizzi, NAB’s vice president of technology education and outreach, and David Layer, NAB’s VP of advanced engineering.
For Pizzi, the challenge of programming online content is compounded by the fact that everyone has been going it the past several months.
“I think of it this way: When you’re the first one in the neighborhood to have a talking dog, everybody thinks it’s amazing that it talks at all,” Pizzi told Radio World. “But once everybody else’s dog starts talking, people start complaining about funny accents and bad grammar.”
What follows is a thematic summary of five Radio Show sessions focused on technology and engineering.
Monday — Hybrid Radio
The first technical session will focus on hybrid radio, a technology that allows a web-connected receiver to enhance broadcast audio with web-delivered graphics or to automatically switch between broadcast and streamed radio feeds as required so listeners never lose the station they’re tuned to. See related story.
All-Digital AM Radio (Tuesday)
Advocates of all-digital transmission on the AM band in the United States believe that the FCC should allow such operation, at broadcasters’ discretion, so AM stations could improve their station sound and take full advantage of the growing number of HD Radio receivers.
To date, only two U.S. AM stations have made the leap, which requires temporary experimental authorization from the FCC.
“This session will be a progress/update report on all-digital AM radio, which the Radio Show has been covering for a while,” said Pizzi. “We’ll hear from WWFD’s Chief Engineer Dave Kolesar [of Hubbard Radio], who’s been a real champion for this technology using Xperi’s HD Radio MA3 broadcast mode, as well as Brian Walsh from WIOE in Ft. Wayne, Ind.”
WIOE subsequently ended its experiment, at least for now, while WWFD continues in all-digital.
Radio and the Connected Car (Wednesday)
Xperi SVP Broadcast Joe D’Angelo is expected to discuss the recent Xperi/TiVo merger and the role radio can play in the web-connected car of today and tomorrow.
Xperi is familiar to Radio World readers as the parent of HD Radio and of the hybrid radio platform DTS Connected Radio. Its brands also include DTS, IMAX Enhanced, Invensas and Perceive.
[Related: “Why the Xperi/TiVo Deal Matters for Radio”]
“In a time when consumers want personalized and seamless access to entertainment anywhere, anytime and on any device, the combined company will offer consumers a digital entertainment platform featuring an end-to-end entertainment experience, from choice to consumption,” the company has said of the merger.
In a June email, an Xperi representative wrote that the merger brings TiVo’s metadata platform to Xperi’s hybrid radio platform.
“The solutions this merger is poised to bring to broadcasters, automakers and their consumers, take radio and the digital dashboard to a completely new level of discovery and engagement, offering drivers a safe, efficient, more personalized way to discover radio content, all presented with the text/image richness they demand in a digital platform,” she wrote.
“Radio broadcasters retain control of content, with increased engagement and analytical insights, and automakers have access to a turnkey global solution that is secure and will be supported around the world.”
Separately, research suggests that finding a place in web-connected vehicles matters more than ever. According to the Spring 2020 Smart Audio Report from Edison Research and NPR, 36% of U.S. adult smart speaker owners have been listening to more music/entertainment content on their streaming devices since the outbreak, with 52% of 18- to 34-year-olds saying the same thing.
When more people resume driving to work, many may continue listening to streaming in their cars rather than returning to broadcast radio.
The Evolution of Radio Broadcasting Technologies (Thursday and Friday)
The final two technical sessions will consider the evolution of radio broadcasting technologies.
Thursday’s will examine radio’s transition from a traditional hardware-based infrastructure to IP technology, software-based production/playout and working in the cloud. On Friday, the focus will be on next-generation HD Radio technology.
At press time, speakers were being finalized; Pizzi expected that the rosters would include manufacturers and broadcasters.
“The very nature of radio broadcasting is changing,” he said. “With so much going into the cloud and the virtual world, the day may soon come when most of radio’s technical investment is spent on op-ex [operating expenses on services] rather than cap-ex [capital expenses on hardware and equipment], and these sessions will discuss that transition.”
Channel “A” sessions of the Radio Show include a “CEO Townhall” with Bob Pittman of iHeartMedia, Mary Berner of Cumulus Media and David Field of Entercom Communications; the Radio Mercury Awards on Tuesday evening; and a “One-on-One With Byron Allen the founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group LLC/Entertainment Studios.
Honors for Perry
Russell M. Perry will receive the NAB National Radio Award on Monday Oct. 5.
He is described by the National Association of Broadcasters as “a trailblazing media entrepreneur, a champion of journalism and a celebrated humanitarian in his community.”
The association noted that Perry began his radio career in 1993 with the founding of Perry Publishing & Broadcasting Co. and the purchase of an AM station in Oklahoma City, Okla.
“Since then, he has grown the company into the largest independently owned African-American broadcasting company in the nation, with 11 radio stations across the southeast United States.”
Earlier he was co-publisher of The Black Dispatch, and in 1979, became the owner and publisher of The Black Chronicle, a paid weekly newspaper serving Oklahoma.
Perry has also held high posts in Oklahoma state government as the secretary of commerce and secretary of economic development and special affairs. He’s active in efforts to promote and restore African-American-owned commerce in Oklahoma City.
Past honors include induction into the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame and American Urban Radio Network Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Radio Show organizers also have announced that their 2021 fall conference will not be held as planned in New Orleans but will instead at the rescheduled 2021 NAB Show, which has been pushed back from April to October 2021 in Las Vegas. The fall Radio Show in 2022 is scheduled for Nashville.
The full agenda of the Radio Show is at https://radioshowweb.com/.