Evolution, Not Revolution

It comes upon us quickly, lasts but three days, and is gone in the blink of an eye. I’m talking, of course, about the annual trek to Las Vegas that for broadcasters is as reliable an occurrence as the swallows returning to Capistrano.

After the high drama of conventions in the not-too-distant past, the most recent gatherings have been placid, pleasant opportunities to rekindle acquaintances and maybe buy a piece of equipment or two.

Now, looking back, it would appear that radio’s historic native ability to adapt and evolve has survived intact. The new conventional wisdom is that the old conventional wisdom is dead, but that is not stopping local broadcasters from continuing to serve their communities, albeit in new ways.

That said, NAB 2013 was another round of business as usual, as the most recent years have been—understanding that “business as usual” involves the “new usual,” whatever form that might take.

It was great seeing old friends, although I didn’t see everyone I’d hoped to, regrettably. It has become a Sunday-night tradition to break bread with one of the all-time great broadcasters, Steve Trivers, my friend, brother and sometime uncle, now a happy former owner who is busier than ever with his consulting business.

A taxi strike thwarted my plans to head over to Larry Fuss’s dinner—which was actually a Ground Zero of friends, readers and clients—after my dinner with Steve; happily, I was able to see many of those folks in the course of the convention anyway.

Likewise, it has become a Monday-night tradition to dine with Stuart Sharpe of Regional Reps, a great personal friend and a great friend to our industry, who brought along his new L.A. Manager, Dayne Rose; my encounters with Stuart always result in copious belly laughs, and this was no exception.

This year I experienced an extra treat, joining Steve Trivers, Holland Cooke, and a small group of very interesting, mostly engineering types for dinner on Tuesday night. (Holland is one of the most creative people I know, and I always learn a bunch whenever I am with him.)

Along the way I had the pleasure of dining with, sitting with, having coffee with, or just running into the likes of—in no particular order—Mike Mahone, Bud Walters, Kevin and Dorea Potter, John Potter (no relation that I know of), the aforementioned Larry Fuss, Tom Taylor (the best journalist in broadcasting, present company included), Eddie Fritts, Paul Tinkle, Mark Osmundson, Reed Bunzel, John Garziglia, Ann-Marie Cumming, Roger Utnehmer—I’m sure I’m leaving some people out, and I beg their forgiveness. (I guarantee you that the moment this issue goes to press, I will think of a dozen more people.)

There are two people who deserve special mention. First is my good friend and old school chum Jay Douglas, a former radio guy and all-time techie who has accompanied me to the NAB for the past few years. The fact that we remain fast friends following four days of being joined at the hip should tell you something.

Finally, I feel truly honored to count as a close friend Dennis Wharton, the vice president of media for the NAB. Dennis is one of the best practitioners of any craft I have ever seen, making a sometimes-impossible job look easy, and always making time for the likes of me in the midst of the most chaotic time of his year.

Oh, and as for my objective to meet some new people, that went pretty well, actually. There are, in fact, a bunch of people who are under the age of older than dirt who have been bitten by the radio bug and who are pursuing their broadcast careers with passion and commitment. I am reassured that the leadership is there to continue our industry’s proud tradition of dodging bullets and making halting progress.

By the way, it’s Twitter all the way for people under the age of 25. For them, Facebook has been relegated to the trash heap next to MySpace. (And nobody is buying the MySpace revival, no matter what Justin Timberlake says.)