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SBE Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Ennes Educational Program coincides with more than NAB opening day

The society’s membership meeting draws a crowd. Photo by Jim Peck

Author Fred Baumgartner, CPBE, CBNT, is an Ennes trustee. John L. Poray, CAE, is SBE executive director.

This NAB Show is a one-of-a-kind special edition for the Society of Broadcast Engineers. The SBE will celebrate the semicentennial of its dies natalis, a wonderfully fancy way of saying the Society of Broadcast Engineers will have been born, to the minute, half a century prior to this year’s Ennes program at NAB.

I’m old enough and lucky enough to have met more than a few of those founding members over the years, and I’m trying to imagine how the individuals attending that foundational meeting would look upon the presence and progress the SBE has achieved in the 18,262 intervening days. I’m guessing they would be both pleased and amazed. I’m a bit pleased and amazed myself; and as a broadcast engineer, you should be also.

The 19th day-long installment of the SBE’s Ennes program will coincide with the NAB Show’s opening day, April 5. Attendance requires full NAB admission, which SBE members can purchase at a discount. This Ennes program is also the last day of the PBS Technology Conference, and your registration for TechCon is good for the day’s Ennes sessions. If you are in the PBS/NPR fold, it is well worth it to attend TechCon (the list of presentations and tracks can be found at as well as the Ennes program.

The SBE is celebrating its 50th with a special reception during the NAB Show. Society members and guests are invited. Be sure to reserve Tuesday, April 8 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in S-219 of the Las Vegas Convention Center. There will be beverages and “finger foods,” and the SBE will give away five $50 bills to attendees. Come and reconnect with several hundred of your broadcast engineering friends.

Immediately prior to the reception is the spring SBE Membership meeting, at 5:30 p.m. across the hall in S-225. Members and guests are welcome to attend that as well. There will be more giveaways, including a $350 gift card to Fry’s Electronics, as well as member recognitions and important updates on the society.


Every year we ask, “What is it that broadcast engineers most need to know?” We start each program with an early-morning extended tutorial.

This year, we consider what we broadcast engineers don’t know about finances and monetization in our new digital media world — and how this lack of knowledge can hurt us. Hence, we’ve asked two frontline finance and new media sales authorities, Scripps’ Paul Latham and Burkes Young, to teach us how to best manage our engineering financial assets, and how to construct our facilities and workflows to accommodate the revenue shift to newer digital media distribution.

This year’s program focus is “Best Practices.” In this business, we are blessed with professionals who are known for examining the best and worst in engineering methods. You no doubt have read Mark Persons’ and John Bisset’s Radio World columns; all I can say is that they are even better in person.

Rapt attention at the Ennes program.

Is your group or station involved in advertising outside of the broadcast world? Many broadcasters do outdoor, print and specialty advertising, and recently “Digital Out Of Home.” The digital signage industry has begun to view broadcasters’ interest as a natural extension of their core business and assets. Even if you don’t expand into DOOH, the displays and players have found their way into radio remotes and station’s public areas, with more likely to follow. Diversified Media Group’s Tom Percich takes us through the business of building DOOH systems and in-station applications.

Ultimately, most of us are working towards ratings. We do a lot to get and keep listeners, and we do a lot to make sure our signals are counted in the right ways. How we get ratings and what we do to facilitate them is the subject of a presentation by Paul Kempter of the Kempter Group. This is definitely something broadcast engineers must understand.

There are other interesting and amusing pieces in the program, even beyond SBE Executive Director John Poray’s stroll through the organization’s archives. There are sessions featuring Jim Dalke speaking about his 5 kW, 500 kHz maritime CW station; Shane O’Donoghue on the Empire State Building’s RF infrastructure endeavor; and Michael Pettersen’s reminiscence on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Shure Model 55, the first unidirectional microphone using a single dynamic element — a microphone that is still being made.

Broadcast engineering is an expansive field with a lot of moving pieces. The Ennes Educational Foundation Trust and the SBE assemble this compact and educational day each year, in addition to a series of programs in a traveling “road show.” The next event will be held May 30 in El Paso, Texas. If your chapter is interested in hosting, or your company is interested in presenting, contact Kristin Owens, SBE’s education director, at the SBE national office. You’ll also get to meet Owens and the other members of the SBE staff at the NAB Show.