Happy New Year from WABE!
When taking on the leadership of a 72-year-old industry association, it is hard to know if you are just crazy for putting your hand up to volunteer, naïve to the challenges the industry and organization face, or hopeful to continue a tradition of bringing technical people together.
Call it post-pandemic reflections, but I can definitely tell you I have thought a lot about WABE in the past two years. I now hide out of sight from my family when working on WABE things so I don’t have to answer the question “What are you working on?” The constant reminder that this unpaid work seems only to net me more work results in a constant eye-rolling conversation with my spouse—who does not attend industry functions mainly because he sees the work as a paycheque, unlike me, who signed some kind of unconscious broadcast technician contract that now has led to a career that is part of my core identity.
What is certain is that at the start of the pandemic two years ago, when I was asked to be part of the WABE executive team for a six-year term, I spent a lot of time trying to think about what the organization has meant to me and other people I work with. I then set out to learn its history and value to membership while thinking of ways to sustain it in a media technology climate like Canada’s.
Serving membership, providing business opportunities for vendors, and building a roadmap for the future of an industry association are not commonly used tools in my tool bag alongside the Phillips screwdriver, multimeter, and soldering iron. Being a broadcast technician has taught me that you need some hard facts, honest product reviews, and a realistic budget to find a technology solution that works for your station, a client, or a repair. So, using these transferable skills, I have spent hours researching, watching webinars, and calling friends who are experts at these things, trying to gather the data to try and make the best possible impact that I can.
WABE 2022 Calgary was a huge learning experience for me with the post-pandemic relaunch, and we are happy to report its success by the numbers:
35 unique media technology vendors who supply almost every type of media technology in the world
2 days of exhibits and educational paper sessions and industry discussions
92 fully registered delegates
40 day passes
43 exhibitor guest passes
86 exhibit booth workers
293 total attendance
WABE in fall 2023 will be held in Vancouver, and early in the new year we hope to release the details and locations. To keep the momentum going, we are going to invite new people and try new things, but not so fast and furious that we move away from the true spirit of the organization or make it hard to recognize as the WABE family that has supported many of our careers over the years. I am really excited to organize the convention this coming fall!
What is WABE to me? Many of us in Canada work alone and are part of small teams, with little access to the industry outside of our daily tasks list of repairs, installs, and maintenance. WABE to me has always been a gathering space for technical folks working in media to share what is in their toolbox, explore new ideas, and have an open forum to talk about our industry. I think that real experiences and in-person connections are what help us continue to find fulfillment in our work.
What is my hope for WABE? My hope in 2023 is that WABE can be a space for old work friends to gather and a space to welcome new people who are ready to build a career in media technology. Seeing “behind the scenes” is kind of magical, and being able to relate those interesting problems, solutions, and the science behind making media can be extremely rewarding.
This interwoven industry of constant technical changes has provided me with a living wage, unique challenges, some great adventures, and personal connections that have kept me continuing to say “yes” when someone asks me to be a part of a team. Helping others discover this is part of what will be driving me in these coming years.
Looking forward to talking to all of you this year—and even more to seeing you in Vancouver at the annual convention. Join, follow, and connect with WABE on social media, so you know what we know, when we know it.
Tessa Potter, President, Western Association of Broadcast Engineers (WABE)
I am a broadcast technician living in Winnipeg who has spent 20 years working for a variety of wonderful folks in a challenging—but very rewarding—career in media. You can look me up on LinkedIn or connect with me any time via email at email@example.com. Send me a message with any thoughts or ideas or possible ways to lend a hand to the organization!