Spanning the range of radio products and services

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San Francisco probably brings you visions of cable cars, hilly streets and television commercial jingles. Now it can bring you a complete view of radio. This location continues the NAB's plan to move the fall convention around the U.S. In 1998, the convention was held in Seattle and proved to be a successful location. Last year's show in Orlando had disappointing results. Exhibitors and the NAB hope that the return to the West Coast will yield a positive showing of attendees and exhibitors.

The NAB Radio Show has a history of targeting managers and programmers. In recent years, an increased focus on engineering interests has appeared. The Spring convention plays to a wide range of interests, but the Fall show can concentrate strictly on radio's interests.

Radio's scope also has grown, and once again the Internet will be a hot topic for exhibitors and attendees. As you walk to the show floor, you will see that nearly every exhibit has something Internet related.

What to see and do The products on display are a major part of any convention. IBOC DAB has been a regular topic for several years, but now that there is a consolidated (there's that word again) effort among the developers, it is hoped that major progress will be seen. This newly formed alliance already has many manufacturers behind it providing product support and equipment for the system development. Look for IBOC demonstrations in several locations throughout the show.

IBOC also will be covered in some of the sessions. The Digital Facilities Certification Workshop has a segment on IBOC that should prove to be very interesting. See page 60 for more on this session.

It seems that there is never enough time to see and do everything that you want to at a convention. To help with that, the session schedule has several spaces built in for exclusive show-floor hours. If your schedule is tight, this time can help you cover more ground. However, since there are no sessions, more floor traffic will be likely. These exclusive hours may be better spent looking and noting where specific exhibitors of interest are located. If a booth is not too busy, stop in and start looking. If the booth is busy, a later return visit may be in order.

Online attention You won't be able to take more than a few steps without seeing an Internet application. Hosting and content service companies were very popular last year and will still have a large showing. These partner companies offer stations a way to enhance their Web presence, typically with additional, dynamic content and online shopping opportunities. There is usually a chance for increased revenue with these services as well.

Many stations stream their air signal online as well. Streaming content is not a new topic (and one that has been covered many times in BE Radio), but the online stream has become a candidate for generating additional station revenue. Simulcasting your station online may bring some additional advertisers, but many stations are discovering that there is no need to give away the commercial inventory that exists online. New technologies in stripping, also called ad insertion, are allowing stations to resell the commercial inventory online.

Development has begun on Internet radio appliances that allow online listening without a dedicated computer. Other companies are working on devices to make Internet radio a new audio component in the home listening environment. These typically involve a method to send the audio stream to a listener's home stereo system or throughout the entire house so that the Internet is another audio source to join CDs, tapes and terrestrial radio.

Off the floor As I mentioned earlier, the history of the Radio Show being targeted for programmers and managers is being rewritten. Engineering is now a strong focus as well. In some sessions, the particular interest is obvious to the target audience. In other sessions, the line is blurred and may present something of interest to more than one segment of your station's team. The BE Radio staff has surveyed the sessions and chosen a few that should prove interesting. Your own reasons for attending the Fall show will certainly cover your own interests, but if possible, take in a session or visit an exhibitor that offers something outside your usual area of interest.

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