NAB Show 2024: Show summary and the best of the Brits

AI, Playout, Scheduling, the in-car experience and a host of technology solutions were just some of the focal points of discussion by representatives of the radio and audio industry at NAB Show 2024 in sunny Las Vegas, which has drawn to a close for another year.

The annual event, held in the seemingly ever-expanding Las Vegas Convention Center, moments from the famous strip, didn’t disappoint.

More than 61,000 attendees gathered from 163 countries to share knowledge, learn and enthuse about almost every imaginable area of broadcast, media and entertainment content production. More than a quarter of attendees (27%, up 2% from last year) visited from outside the States, and half of the attendees this year were there for the first time.

Radio and television broadcasters enjoyed a curated NAB Show experience featuring educational sessions, networking and special events located in one convenient location – the helpfully named “Broadcast District” – the event’s official home for the radio and television community.

As usual, there were many radio-centric sessions, covering content, sales, promotions, technology and operations. But it was the Main Stage welcome session on Monday morning that seemed to impress the most.

Futuri CEO Daniel Anstandig was joined onstage by Ameca, an autonomously AI-powered humanoid robot. Together, they delivered an unprecedented study on audience perspectives on AI use in broadcast media (which you can read more about here).

Attendees were very visibly entertainee by this unique keynote, but some were sceptical about the robots; overheard comments include “there’s no way that robot just genuinely answered that question” and “that’s got to be scripted”. Yes, there were some clearly pre-prepared moments where Ameca interrupted Anstandig mid flow, some of which were very amusing.

Several hours after the keynote, RadioToday was invited to a press conference where we got up close to both Anstandig and Ameca, and were given the opportunity to ask Ameca questions, and almost nothing was off-limits. (Some of the gathered press attendees were keen to know more about Ameca’s tech and ask things like, “why does Ameca have a female voice”, but that’s not why we were there. We were helpfully reminded to keep question on-topic. And that topic was AI in audio, and Futuri’s AI in audio.)

We can confirm with a high degree of certainty that Ameca really does answer questions on the fly – it was all real! One journalist asked if ‘she’ had a favourite robot from the movies. Ameca doesn’t have a favourite anything, we learned, and – unlike Hollywood humanoids – she is not here to take over the world, or take over anything for that matter, and is purely here to assist humans. “At least for now”.

The four day conference (five days if you include the sessions that happen the day before the Exhibit Hall opens) can seem daunting on arrival, due to its sheer vastness. Just as you start to convince yourself that the North Hall, Central Hall, South Hall, Upper South Hall and (the two year old) West Hall is… all a little overwhelming, you quickly get to grips what can and cannot be achieved in one morning or afternoon. A $600 million renovation of the ‘”legacy campus” is currently underway, so there’s some unavoidable construction work happening this year and next, but everything was so well signed, with temporary walkways created to help keep everyone moving.

(And if all the walking gets too much, attendees can use the free Las Vegas Convention Center Loop (LVCC Loop), which uses Tesla cars to shuttle passengers between five stations).

The conference sessions are an optional part of NAB Show. Many attendees opt to just have a pass to the enormous Exhibit Halls, where organisations from across the globe assemble to show off their latest projects and innovations.

RadioToday’s mission this year was to visit as many booths of interest to the UK radio industry as possible, from playout and other software solution providers to hardware manufacturers – and everything in between. Here are some of our favourites.

Aiir were at the show this year to launch and talk about their latest product, a cloud music scheduler (which, as the team discovered at the end of the event, was a Best of Show 2024 winner). Delegates could also learn about Aiir’s PlayoutONE automation software.

Broadcast Bionics were showing off Bionics Table, Virtual Rack and Director. Caller One & Camera One were also demonstrated: both being solutions aimed primarily at the US market.

Broadcast Radio had a booth at the show for the first time, primarily to demonstrate their Myriad Backup, Edge and Hybrid products. They were also recipients of two NAB Show Product of the Year nominations for AI Voice Links and Myriad Cloud, and on Tuesday evening discovered they had won both!

Cleanfeed is well known in the audio advertising and station imaging world for its more modern solution to connect voiceovers and producers over IP, providing two-way high-quality audio. At NAB Show, they launched Cleanfeed Cinema, which promises to offer “the future of synchronous remote collaboration in audio and video production”.

It was hard to miss the vast RCS booth. Most people clearly didn’t, because each time we visited, it was very busy. But, well-staffed as it was, the team didn’t ever seem too busy to welcome anyone who wanted to see Zetta and some of their other solutions up close.

Despite its British roots, RadioDNS is now a truly international (not-for-profit) organisation, funded by member organisations in multiple countries. Its booth attracted public radio, large commercial radio group and small operators from all over the world, all keen to find out how hybrid radio can improve the radio listening experience. RadioDNS also held its steering committee meeting at the show.

British manufacturers were well represented. Glensound had lots of high-quality audio equipment on display. The team were introducing new and upgraded products that were influenced by customer feedback

Another British company, Solid State Logic, had a very impressive booth, in which visitors were shown its range of audio production tools for studio, live sound and broadcast.

AV and broadcast equipment manufacturer Sonifex, a company that has served the UK radio industry well for decades, launched some exciting new products at the show.

A highlight for many was Tuesday night’s NAB Show Radio Happy Hour. “Open to all (especially radio broadcasters)” – as the sign outside stated – it was a great opportunity for radio programmers, presenters, consultants, solution providers, (in fact, anybody with an interest in our industry) to mingle in a pleasant space, over a complimentary chilled beer, soft drink or glass of wine. Conversations were had, business cards were exchanged, and LinkedIn URLs were shared, all set to a not-too-loud soundtrack of upbeat pop dance and RnB, courtesy of an appropriately enthusiastic DJ Thump from Jammin’ 105.7.

As the last of the crowds left the convention center for the final time on Wednesday, some destined for the airport, others to the glitz and glamour of the huge mega resorts for one final evening, it was time to say goodbye to this enormous and hugely important industry event.

The organisers at NAB HQ couldn’t have summed up the past few days any better: “Attendees. Exhibitors. Sponsors. Speakers. Partners. All of us together in the same place moving the industry forward. Mic drop.”

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