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Paying Back The Industry By Helping Honor The Best

One of the very best things about being is journalist is the fact that you get to meet some fascinating people.

As anybody who has ever watched those old 1930s-40s movies about hot-shot reporters knows, journalism is something of a fraternity. Sure, we are all out to get at least a unique angle on a story, or at best an out and out scoop; but because we spend so much time together, most of us are friends. I certainly learned much of what I know about being a reporter, and a lot of what I know about the CE business, from the older journalists I hung around with. I would like to believe I passed a lot on to the guys and gals who came along after I did.

Most important of all were the leaders of the industry itself that I came to know, the entrepreneurs responsible for launching the companies that make this industry what it is; the engineers who come up with the endless stream of new products that keep us growing; the marketers and sales people who provide the drive behind our growth; and the retailers who are the industry’s face to the consuming public and are ultimately responsible for the show-and-tell needed to move our products into homes.

To this group of people I owe my love for the industry, and my awareness that, while the products we make and sell provide incredibly great benefits at equally incredibly low prices, what we offer aren’t the necessities of food, clothing and shelter. Virtually all of the great ones take their responsibilities seriously. They know that from the sales counter back to component insertion machines at the factory there are tens of thousands of jobs riding on their efforts and their decisions.

But at the same time they recognize that what we are involved in isn’t a serious business. It is a fun business full of toys that amuse, entertain, communicate and even teach. I know no one with a stronger sense of humor about the industry than Sony founder Akio Morita; if there was a dealer with a bigger stock of retailing jokes than Jack Luskin, I haven’t yet met him; if you’ve never seen the spoof RCA ads, you have missed the other side of Joe Clayton; and to hear Dr. Brown tell the story of NTSC color TV development, you would think RCA Labs employed the Three Stooges.

It’s in partial payment of my debt to the industry that I serve on the selection committee for the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame and as a member of the Academy of Digital Television Pioneers. I am privileged to be able to help select the winners of its annual awards for excellence in digital TV development, programming and reporting.

Last year I took great pleasure in being part of the majority votes that honored four, three of which were friends and fellow TWICE contributors. One, the late Leonard Feldman, was a recognized audio industry authority, engineer and product tester who authored a regular column in TWICE. He was elected to the industry Hall of Fame. TWICE columnist Jules Steinberg was also elected for his role as the former head of the North American Retail Dealers Association (NARDA).

Greg Tarr, executive editor of TWICE, took over my responsibilities for its video section. He was honored by the Academy in 2002 for his coverage of the digital TV scene and shared that award for journalism with co-honoree Mike Snider of USA Today. My congratulations go to Len, Jules, Greg and Mike, as well as to all the other Hall of Fame and Academy honorees.

Bob Gerson, TWICE editor-at-large, has covered the CE industry for more than 30 years. He is the founding editor of the publication and was its longtime editor-in-chief.