As the General Manager of a tiny Midwestern college radio station, stepping foot inside the “Radio | Pro Audio” display area at the National Association of Broadcasters Show was like a kid getting into a multi-million dollar candy store. With a wealth of audio consoles, microphones, automation technology and more, I could not get enough of what the audio world had to offer.
First of all, the technology was newer than new. 94.5 KULT, the University of Northern Iowa’s student radio station that I am a part of, was fortunate enough to get their hands on some new tech devices that we desperately needed. However, the shiny toys that I played with at the show were far beyond a lot of the radio stations I have toured in Iowa, let alone itty-bitty KULT.
The first booth I visited was the high-end audio technology called Wheatstone, and it was by far the most intriguing and expensive radio-only booth I experienced. As soon as I entered the carpeted area in the middle of the Audio floor I was offered a quick tour and a seemingly unlimited amount of information about products in a college station’s price range.
I wanted to check out the Wheatstone booth because I was familiar with the brand. I had the privilege of exploring Iowa Public Radio’s studio on UNI’s campus, and they had new Wheatstone audio consoles in almost every production room and live booth. They were beautiful. Experiencing the sleek, professional look and impeccable audio quality of the units was quite a treat.
My next stop was to examine state-of-the-art microphones at the Sony and Solid State Logic booths. In both of places, I met professionals and students that I either knew, or were following the nearly identical career path I was focusing on. Solid State Logic’s CEO and creator is Piers Plaskitt, a seasoned technology pro with amazing equipment to offer. Not only does his daughter attend UNI, but he has been based in the Des Moines area for quite sometime. And although I thoroughly enjoyed surrounding myself with industry professionals and the movers and shakers of the media world, it was a breath of fresh air to meet someone located so close to home. It was really surprising to meet and greet several audio professionals from Iowa. They came to the Show for the same reasons our group did: to soak up as much information as possible and to network. But they are also leaps and bounds ahead of us students, and to gather insight from them was an even more satisfying win.
In the gigantic, dimly lit Sony area (calling it a “booth” does not do it justice), I took a gander at some of Sony’s audio equipment that would exponentially improve KULT’s sound and style. While there, I met a fellow student from the University of Texas who was involved in her student radio station back home. We were both going for an internship at National Public Radio, truly a dream internship for college media and journalism students. We swapped stories of our favorite Ira Glass moments (the NPR host of “This American Life”) and compared our two student-run radio outlets.
If I needed another reason to validate the statement that “Radio is far from dead,” I had it. The millions of dollars of audio equipment and radio technology that I experienced was that strong reason. The radio industry not only has confident and visionary leaders at the wheel, but radio also has beautiful and powerful technology, some of the best that companies had to offer at this year’s NAB Show.
– Brendan Wood