We All Move On

One of the hottest news items at this year’s NAB was the resignation of Harris’ Broadcast Group president, Bruce Allen. It wasn’t long before the rumor was rolling out a variety of bad news scenarios as to why he has chosen to leave the company: Is Harris in great financial trouble? Will the company be sold? Is there a buyer in the wings?
Of course, rumors to tend to be negative, if not shocking. After all, Bruce Allen was an innovative, creative industry force, so his departure was sure to generate a lot of attention. Under Allen’s watch, the company made the historic move from Quincy, IL to the suburbs of Cincinnati. However, a fair portion of Harris Broadcast’s operations continue in Quincy, where the company traces it roots back to 1922 and the beginning of Gates Radio.
Proactive about making DTV happen, Harris is known for putting on a DTV symposium in Las Vegas called “DTV In The Desert.” It was run in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Meanwhile, Harris designed and built a completely DTV-outfitted truck as a technology demonstration. The “DTV Express” traveled to 34 cities over a span of 15 months, showing stations, politicians, and the news media how DTV would work.
In 1997, the company sponsored the world’s first HD broadcast of a Major League Baseball game. It was shown on a large screen at the Washington Press Club, with politicians and news media jamming the room to watch the Baltimore Orioles play the Cleveland Indians.
The following year, Harris sponsored the first nationwide HDTV broadcast of a live news event, the highly publicized return of John Glenn into space on October 29, 1998. SMPTE members attending the annual conference at the same time sat in the Pasadena Convention Center hallway watching a single monitor.
During this same period, the Harris NAB booth moved from a transmitter hall of mirrors into a more show-biz atmosphere. No doubt about it, under Allen’s direction, the company had changed. While its engineers were moving the company into new technologies and design concepts, and the senior management team was overseeing acquisitions and new product directions, Allen gave the company a 21st century look.
That being said, it’s small wonder that his departure created a pedal-to-the-metal rumor mill.
Life After Bruce
For the record, Bruce Allen resigned from Harris for the grand purpose of retirement and a move to North Carolina. To set the record straight on how this will affect Harris, I talked with Jay Adrick, vice president of strategic business strategies and chief technical officer, as well as Dave Glidden, director of transmission products.
“For the future,” as Jay Adrick put it, “Harris will continue to bring broadcasters cost-effective transmission and network access solutions. We also have new “rich media” solutions that enable content managers to create and deliver revenue-generating media and data services as cost effectively and as efficiently as possible over the most appropriate network.”
He went on to point out that the company will continue to offer management solutions that preserve staff resources by enabling remote operations that are as effective as local ones.
And, Harris will continue to bring forward resource management solutions that enable content managers to do more with less by streamlining operations with workflow processes and tools that prepare, manage, and distribute rich media. Also, emphasis will continue on advanced media asset management tools that ensure secure media access through an enterprise.
Looking Forward
“If you want to see where Harris is headed,” said Glidden, “look at all the new products we had in our NAB booth!” Of course, Glidden is a transmission products director, so he was delighted with the introduction of a new family of high-power ATSC multi-stage depressed collector IOT transmitters, dubbed the PowerCD.
“These transmitters,” said Glidden, “have been designed from the ground up to offer the highest efficiency and lowest long-term cost of operation in their class.”
The company also unveiled its new Atlas transmitter. For stations with low- to medium-power UHF requirements the Atlas series features an analog-to-digital migration design.
And, yes, Harris will miss the talents of Bruce Allen. But, without a staff of creative engineers never stifled by heavy-handed management, Allen would have been tilting at windmills.