President’s Message – July

Confessions from a WABE-holic. This past month has been the most WABE-filled of the year and while it has consumed more hours for our executive and committee than we would care to admit, it has been hugely motivating to reflect on what we have accomplished.

Not-for-profits are feeling the economics of 2024 and the challenges from asking volunteers who have busy lives to companies tightening purse strings for extras like conferences are all regularly mentioned at meetings. Our office manager for over 20 years, Kathy Watson, has been an invaluable asset and integral part of the WABE organization. However, she is taking a step back for the 2024 year due to personal reasons. We kindly wish her the best as she takes this time to support her family.  During all these challenges, we’ve had a WABE volunteer Amrita Rai step up to help us with our administration for the conference, our conference committee volunteers have been willing to mark their calendars and fit us into their busy schedules, and our WABE friends have reached out and tell us how much our efforts to steer the organization into the future mean to them.

We had our planning meeting to survey the venue in Edmonton right in the middle of Game 6 of the Edmonton Oilers facing off against Florida, in the middle of the ICE District, a purpose-built area to showcase the arena and district during this kind of event. The hotel and attached businesses where we chose to hold the conference were able to accommodate us even though they were experiencing one of the busiest days of the year, showcasing the kind of hospitality Edmonton is ready to provide any visitors who come to the city.

As the broadcast industry continues to face challenges, we cannot ignore the shuttering of AM stations and newsrooms in our region that coincides with a technology boom in Alberta. Any business that centers around technology is feeling shifts that seem faster and more uncertain than ever before. WABE has felt this change as well for years, and this week we gathered all past presidents, who have become our chancellors, and our membership to help us pass some motions we hope are the start of our transformed future. Along with actively reaching out and inviting and connecting with anyone who uses the technology our vendors supply, and offering from radio, TV, broadcast, pro AV, film, live production, or live events, we are positioning WABE to be more accessible for members to join and participate.

To all supporters who attended our special meeting, we thank you for your time and support. Our new bylaws will include the ability to be a member of WABE without having to attend our annual conference. Our AGM will be moved outside of the conference and held annually on the first Tuesday of December so that we can tackle business and gain more involvement across our region from those who value the community we provide. The additional changes to increase the size of our executive and change the terms to participate allow for greater skill and more flexibility to participate in growing and sustaining our organization, which is moving into our 75th year.

One of the things I am most proud of is that we are creating a new WABE fund in partnership with the Calgary Foundation. The new WABE fund’s purpose is to support students who want to enter the field of media and entertainment technology in Canada. Over the years, WABE has always supported students who were in programs broadcast technicians often graduate from. This new fund will broaden our range, and with the administrative assistance from the Calgary Foundation, we can reach a broader and larger group of students who want to work behind the scenes and hands-on with media and entertainment technology, from repair to operations.

As Daniel Oong, our volunteer taking on this project, works through the criteria and selection process procedures, he sees the value lies in the fact that the fund will be a registered charity that anyone can contribute to and will receive a charitable receipt. This fund is a real opportunity to support students financially who demonstrate a desire to work behind the cameras and microphones and with the industries that use technology to creates and delivers content. When everything is finalized, announcing this fund is going to be one of my proudest moments as part of this organization because it is a tangible and real way to support future workers I could one day have the privilege of working with.

Supporting and celebrating members has always been something we have done at WABE, and we encourage you all to consider nominating someone for an award this year in Edmonton. If you have worked on a project this year that has seen someone step up and do something really special, we want to celebrate them in Edmonton. The WABE ‘Excellence in Engineering’ Award is given to engineers or technical teams who have made a significant contribution to their company and/or the broader engineering community in Media and Entertainment Technology in Canada.

The Ambassador Award recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly. These are the people that give before we’ve asked, are always there when we need them, and who are unabashed supporters of our organization and our cause. The Sheila R. East Award recognizes a woman whose outstanding level of professionalism, perseverance, and dedication has greatly benefited the Broadcast Industry. This individual’s commitment to broadcasting, equality, and development of young colleagues in our industry has been exceptional. Their contributions to Canadian Broadcasting are invaluable, and WABE is proud to honor these women.

The highest honor WABE can bestow on an individual is the RW Lamb Award. The WABE committee and chancellors do not take the responsibility of choosing a recipient for this award lightly. This award recognizes an individual whose personal achievements and contributions to the broadcast industry over their lifetime are outstanding. These remarkable people can be considered pioneers, originally going where few dare to venture, and forging new, previously unexplored paths. Through persistence and dedication, they push the boundaries of what we know to advance the body of knowledge in our engineering world. WABE also would like to support and celebrate those retiring from years of service in Edmonton. Those you know who have chosen a date or are working through their last year of service, we would like to show our appreciation for. Retirees become honorary WABE members, and we welcome them to attend our events in the future at no charge.

My first WABE in Winnipeg over 20 years ago allowed me to meet some of the most influential people in my career that became colleagues, supporters of my career, or lifelong friends who have given my work and career in an ever-changing technology landscape and industry change a feeling connected, valued, and fueled my desire to keep learning. If you are looking for a community of individuals who work behind the scenes, love media and entertainment tech, and love learning, we are building a welcoming, strong, and inclusive society that is ready to strengthen and maybe be a force that helps connect, innovate, and grow the business we work for.

Looking forward to Edmonton and seeing you all this year Sept 23-25th!

Warm Regards,

Tessa Potter

President WABE