SBE to celebrate 40 years at NAB2004

The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) will celebrate its 40th birthday during the NAB2004 convention in Las Vegas, NV. What started as a gathering of approximately 100 broadcast engineers at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago during the 1964 NAB convention, has grown to more than 5,500 members in 107 chapters today.

That first official meeting, April 5, 1964, came after several years of discontent over a merger between the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (now the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or IEEE). Some felt the merged organizations would not serve the needs of the broadcast engineer.

The idea for the SBE organization, that represents radio and TV broadcast engineers of all kinds, began with a written editorial by John Battison, the editor of Broadcast Engineering at the time. In it he suggested that the time had come to organize a new organization for engineers.

When no one came forward offering to organize the new group, Battison decided to do it himself, running an application form in his magazine and, with help from his family, writing letters to more than 5,000 in the U.S. and Canada. His efforts led to an informal meeting in Binghamton, NY in the latter part of 1963, which led to the first official meeting of the Institute of Broadcast Engineers (IBE) at the NAB convention the following April.

The first official business of the organization was to change its name. Those in attendance felt there would be confusion between the new IBE and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and they didn’t want to be confused with a labor union. They voted at that very first meeting to change the name to the Society of Broadcast Engineers and Battison became the organization's first president.

Battison is still active as a broadcast engineering consultant and writes a regular column that appears in Radio magazine, sister publication to Broadcast Engineering.

Most SBE chapters offer local members monthly meetings that feature educational presentations on the latest technology and broadcast equipment while providing an opportunity to network with fellow engineers.

The SBE is encouraging members attending the NAB convention in Las Vegas to come and celebrate SBE's 40th birthday during the SBE Membership Meeting at 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 20, in Room N110 of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The first 100 members in attendance will receive a commemorative SBE 40th anniversary memento. Non-members are also welcome to attend.

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