When we first hit Las Vegas, our first experience was with the ever-changing Westgate Resort (a.k.a. Las Vegas Hotel, a.k.a. Las Vegas Hilton). At the risk of having the welcome mat swept out from under me next year, I would have to say that there is no good reason to stay at this facility other than proximity to the Convention Center. The rooms are underwhelming and the amenities cost extra. If it weren’t for that proximity thing, we’d be better off at a Comfort Inn.
On the bright side, the renovations that were underway in full swing last year have been largely completed, so that when you made an appointment to meet someone at one of the eateries, the odds were good that the place was open at least. Speaking of the restaurants, one expects to overpay in Vegas anyway, but the prices charged at this hotel were way out of proportion, even by Vegas standards, to the quality of what you were served.
I’ll quit carping now. Well, I will after I mention that the room had a shower head that guaranteed flooding the entire bathroom no matter what. Now I’ll quit carping. Did I mention that the hotel was conveniently located next to the Convention Center? And how much time do you really spend in your room anyway? (Answer: more than you want to, mopping up the bathroom floor.)
My second impression was that the show seemed a lot more techie this year. The actual radio sessions seemed fewer and less substantial—and harder to find in the program. (Speaking of the program, the printed version is now a thing of the past, with future iterations planned to be electronic and app-based.)
But once we hit the sessions and the exhibits, all was forgiven. Not only was there a great deal of information to absorb about radio’s place in the digital universe, but we started running into friends old and new—reaffirming the fact that this business of ours still attracts and keeps the best and the brightest (despite, it would seem, a concerted effort to jettison them).
I’m sure I’ll leave someone out, but it was a delight seeing Pat Bryson, Holland Cooke, Ann Marie Cumming, John David, Chuck DuCoty, Erica Farber, Eddie Fritts, Larry Fuss, John Garziglia, Valerie Geller, Brandeis Hall, Mike Hulvey, Jerry Lee, Mark Levy, Ginny Morris, David Oxenford, Mary Quass, Zayne Rose, Jeff Schmidt, Stuart Sharpe, Shayna Sharpe, Jeff Smulyan, Dean Sorenson, Tom Taylor, Jim Thompson, Paul Tinkle, Steve Trivers, Bud Walters, Dennis Wharton.
On the exhibit floor—which has always been chaotic—there were some returning champions this year, companies who sat out the show for a while but came back, albeit scaled down. Gone are the days when owners and engineers roamed the vendors together, checkbook in hand, sniffing out show specials. But vendors are realizing the value of showing up anyway.
All in all, NAB 2016 was worthwhile. But next year I must pack a wet suit for the shower.