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A Passion for Broadcasting

Tom Butts

Those of us who have covered broadcast technology for any length of time can usually spot the innovators and pioneers who have helped shape the course of this industry since its early days. If there could be one word that would describe a common element among all of them, it’s “passion.”

That is what drives Jay Adrick, this year’s recipient of the NAB Television Engineering Achievement Award, which he will receive during the NAB Show Technology Luncheon, April 10.

Jay’s career has paralleled the evolution of broadcasting over the past five decades and he had a front row seat to many of our industry’s biggest achievements, including the transition to DTV. And although the bulk of his career has been in television technology, like so many of us, Jay started out in radio, an industry for which he still holds great affinity.

A native of Cincinnati, Jay got his start with Crosley Broadcasting, tagging along with one of the engineers working on the Voice of America relay station in Bethany, just north of the city. “I saw this great hall with six 200 kW transmitters that were connected to literally a square mile of antennas that were beaming to the world,” Jay said. “And as I watched the engineers operate the transmitters and change frequencies, I just had this inner feeling that I wanted to be a part of this.”

Jay continued working on radio broadcast projects through his teen years and during his studies at Xavier University in his hometown, where he obtained his undergraduate and master’s in communications. He got his start in television after submitting a plan to reconfigure a TV production facility that had been donated to the university into a teaching facility for broadcast and was offered a job by the university that “was too good to turn down,” he said.

Jay has spent all of his nearly 49 years of his career in Cincinnati, almost half of that timespan with Harris Broadcast, from which he just recently retired as vice president of broadcast technology. He continues to consult for Harris on a part-time basis and is still actively involved in broadcast technology organizations, including the ATSC. When asked what accomplishments he’s most particularly proud of, he cites his involvement in developing the ATSC-M/H standard over the past seven years, as well as his work with the DTV transition and his efforts in getting Xavier University’s WVXU-FM—one of the top-rated stations in Cincinnati—on the air in the late ’60s.

When Jay talks about his passion for broadcast, he cites the period of time and the personalities that helped shape the industry and their enthusiasm, as well as their ability to take risks with its evolution. “I grew up in an era of television pioneering,” Jay said. “The people I looked up to when I got into the business in the ’60s were the pioneers and they weren’t afraid to jump in and try things.”

Jay joins an impressive roster of past award recipients including Ira Goldstone, Mark Richer, Charlie Rhodes and Oded Bendov, and he’s not done helping to guide the industry into the next phase of its evolution.

Congratulations, Jay!