Skip PizziSkip Pizzi is owner and principal at Skip Pizzi Media Consultant LLC. He is a consultant to NAB and manages the 2021 BEIT Conference.

The year: 1947. The place: Atlantic City, N.J. The event: The first NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference (BEC)—subsequently renamed the Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology (BEIT) Conference—held continuously on an annual basis thereafter, making the 2021 BEIT Conference the 75th such event.

NAB Broadcast Engineering & IT Conference

Prior to this conference, NAB’s Engineering department had collaborated with the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE), the University of Illinois and Ohio State University to produce a standalone broadcast engineering conference hosted by the universities, dating back to 1938. That event was curtailed after the 1942 program due to World War II, and NAB was involved again when it restarted in 1946. But the following year NAB decided to launch its own engineering conference, to be held in conjunction with the 25th NAB Convention in Atlantic City, and the NAB BEC was born. Among the presentations there was a demonstration of “Unusually High Frequencies in FM Relays” by Major Edwin Armstrong.

The first BEC was a one-day event, held on September 15, 1947, at the Atlantic City Convention Center—renowned for its many years as the site of the Miss America Pageant. The conference grew to two days at the 1948 NAB Convention in Los Angeles, expanded to three days the following year and settled on a four-day length at the 1950 show in Chicago. It later expanded to a fifth day when partner content was added—a length it currently maintains at the 75th Conference, to be held October 9-13, 2021, in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. That growth over the years indicates the Conference’s popularity, and historically it has had the highest attendance—and the greatest longevity—of any NAB Show educational offerings.

To mark the 75th anniversary—and the return to a physical event following the 2020 virtual “BEIT Express”—outgoing NAB CEO Gordon Smith will present the Conference’s opening remarks at 9 a.m., Sunday, October 10, 2021. NAB will also offer the full Proceedings of the 75th BEIT Conference at a special reduced price of $75. (The 75th BEIT Proceedings will be published October 9, 2021, and available online only, for download either individually or as a full package.)

The 75th BEIT Conference program features 20 NAB-curated papers sessions, three panel sessions and the Opening Session, which includes two keynote addresses. NAB’s technology-education partners SBE, IEEE-BTS, NABA and SCTE∙ISBE will present eight additional sessions on the BEIT program. SCTE’s contributions (three sessions on Tuesday, October 12) will be held in a unique, dual-location interconnected format creating live bicoastal panels: some presenters will speak from the simultaneous Cable-Tec Expo in Atlanta, with others on stage in Las Vegas.

Topical highlights include five paper sessions and four panels on Next Generation TV (plus a two-session tutorial on the ATSC 3.0 PHY Layer from Gary Sgrignoli of Meintel, Sgrignoli and Wallace) and papers sessions on hybrid radio, all-digital radio, IP-based facilities, cybersecurity, OTT, artificial intelligence applications, cloud technologies for broadcast, using drones for broadcast engineering and more. The complete program is available here.

We hope you won’t miss this special event. Register for the BEIT Conference here. Early bird discounts remain in effect until September 20, 2021.