In this week’s issue… Conventions, celebrations in New York – Sale consolidates Vermont competitors – Another studio move in Boston – Holliday time ends in Philly
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*The middle of October has become a busy time for broadcast events in New York City these last few years. The Audio Engineering Society, including the broadcast sessons so ably organized by David Bialik, has become an annual fixture at the Javits Center instead of alternating years between coasts. The former CCW/SATCON convention, focusing on TV production and distribution, became “NAB Show New York” when the NAB bought it in 2014, and it’s now made itself at home in the adjoining convention hall to AES at Javits. And the New York State Broadcasters Association, which moved its annual gathering from Lake George to New York some years back, now holds its Hall of Fame induction right at Javits during the AES and NAB events, too, bringing sales and management training into the mix.
We were there for most of both conventions (including moderating a panel for AES on “Modern Transmission Facilities” on Thursday afternoon), and especially enjoyed the NYSBA luncheon, where ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir was honored as Broadcaster of the Year. Muir, a Syracuse native, told of being driven to the newsroom at WTVH (Channel 5) before he was old enough to drive himself, kicking off a career that took him to Boston’s WCVB and then to the network alongside his childhood idol, Peter Jennings.
And the Hall of Fame inductees were a special class, too: Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay spoke of fulfilling his own childhood dream to be in the booth of his favorite team (though he admitted he’d rather have been on the road had the Yanks made it to the ALCS). Dave Davis’ colleagues at WABC-TV (Channel 7) praised the retired general manager’s long tenure and his background in the newsroom. Anchors Doug Emblidge and Ginny Ryan of Rochester’s WHAM-TV (Channel 13) spoke of their long partnership behind the desk, where they’ve become a community institution. And Maureen Donnelly accepted the award for her late husband Dan Ingram, giving a moving talk full of memories of how Ingram was there at the dawn of WABC’s Musicradio days. (“Our honor group today is the New York State Association of Broadcasters, and our word of the day is ‘thank you,’ Donnelly said to a standing ovation.)
(left to right above: Emblidge, Ryan, Hall of Fame committee chair Ed Levine, Donnelly, Kay, Davis, Muir)
Over at the AES, the broadcast sessions kicked off Wednesday morning with disaster preparedness tips from consultant Howard Price, Emmis’ Alex Roman and Jason Ornellas from Bonneville in Sacramento. (Hear from Howard on this week’s Top of the Tower Podcast.) We heard from the team at “Radio Kingston,” where WGHQ (920) has gone noncommercial and is preparing a move next year into an elaborately renovated octagonal building on Broadway, which you’ll be seeing more of on this site in the months to come.
And then, on Friday night, Bialik’s big annual off-site extravaganza took us downtown to the Greene Space performance studio at WNYC, where there were no “grinning, glowing, globular invaders” – just a celebration of the impending 80th anniversary of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds.”
Director Sue Zizza pulled together members of several audio drama troupes for a live presentation of excerpts from the 1938 broadcast (and a modern update, too, imagining a C-SPAN call-in broadcast in the wake of a Martian invasion), plus a demonstration of sound effects. Then it was time for some history: archivists Seth Winner and Sammy Jones shared stories of restoring audio from a set of transcription discs of the original CBS broadcast. (Did you know most of the versions released in later years are incomplete? And that the discs that came from a Manhattan recording studio for Welles’ personal use are actually dubs, while the originals remain missing?)
Another historian, New Jersey’s Herb Squire, finished off the night with an examination of the legends and reality surrounding the broadcast. In an era when live remote broadcasts had to be coordinated long ahead of time with the phone company, Squire noted, listeners might have figured out that it wasn’t really possible back in 1938 to do the immediate switches to New Jersey scenes of Martian attacks that Welles pulled off on his show. And as a “sustaining” (unsponsored) broadcast up against the top-rated Edgar Bergen show, fewer listeners actually heard “War” than might have remembered it later on.
The legend, however, lives on – and we’ll be in the audience again next week when it’s Buffalo’s turn to honor its own “War of the Worlds” legacy.
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