EXCLUSIVE - Leading figures in the UK broadcast manufacturing sector have expressed their anger and disappointment at the poor organisation behind an exhibition designed to fill the gap caused by the collapse of SBES (Sound Broadcast Equipment Show) last year, writes Kevin Hilton.
The Radio Fair was held last week at Salford Quays in Greater Manchester alongside the Radio Academy (RA) Festival. The RA had shown interest in staging an event revolving around radio equipment and technology after the 2009 SBES in Birmingham was cancelled due to economic pressures and low bookings.
The RA organised a prototype Radio Fair for the 2009 Radio Festival. This year's event was reportedly intended to be a full-scale show but many exhibitors felt it was not publicised or organised well enough.
Among the 11 exhibitors were former SBES regulars Vortex Communications, Sonifex, P Squared, Westcountry Broadcast and Broadcast Bionics, plus multimedia specialists G Media, which is involved in the RadioPlayer and Sharpstream.
Vortex Communications director Ian Prowse wrote a stiff letter to RA chief executive Trevor Dann on 20th October outlining his "disappointment at the missed opportunity and... anger at what turned out to be a complete waste of money".
This was followed by letters from Nick Beer, managing director of Westcountry Broadcast, and Richard Lawley, a director of Radio Studio Services. They, along with Marcus Brooke, MD of Sonifex, feel the Radio Fair was a missed opportunity, let down by a lack of organisation and marketing.
The RA itself and the parallel TechCon technology conference were held at The Lowry in Salford Quays. The Radio Fair was in the Digital World Centre across the plaza from the theatre complex but there were no signs or information to let delegates and visitors know about this.
There was futher confusion between the different elements of the Festival, particularly TechCon and seminars that were part of the Radio Fair. "People who did come over were genuinely interested," said Prowse. "This sort of opportunity should have been fantastic."
Trevor Dann, who is leaving the RA to become managing director of broadcast at the Amazing Media Group, which owns national digital station Amazing Radio, was said to be out of the office this week and has not yet responded to the letters.
A RA spokeswoman commented that the Radio Fair was "not flawless" but that it had been a "good starting place". She added that organisers would work with exhibitors to integrate the Radio Fair further into the Festival, with the hope being everything would be under one roof next year.