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A Flutist Who Became an Engineer for NAB

Lynn Claudy's career spans a range of technical disciplines, from audio to systems integration to broadcast engineering. In each case, though, he found himself part of an industry that was about to undergo a shift in core technologies.

For example, he worked as a phonograph-cartridge development engineer at Shure Brothers in the late '70s and had a chance to get a sneak peek at a new technology called the compact disk. Then, while working at Hoppmann Corp., as a systems integrator of high-end audio-visual systems, he saw the market change from a robust one in the early '80s to a declining one in the late '80s as technologies changed. That led him to reply to an NAB help-wanted ad in the newspaper, even though he had no broadcast-engineering experience. NAB management took a flier that Claudy could get up to speed on the technology quickly, but, during Claudy's first week, the industry itself undertook a learning curve that it is still riding.

"During my first week, the proponents of the Advanced Television system made technical presentations to the industry in the basement of a Days Inn in Springfield, Va.," he recalls. During the week, meetings were held from morning until 10 p.m. every night as the industry grappled with the move to Advanced Television.

"It's now fondly referred to as 'Hell Week,'" he says. "It was uncomfortable, long, and no one was sure what a proponent was or who could give presentations. It wasn't clear how the process would go, but there were clearly a lot of people interested."

Claudy says one thing was clear: It wasn't going to be a simple or quick transition. And it also became clear to him that he really liked his new industry.

"I was hooked, and it's been a great ride ever since," he says. "While it was a steep learning curve, it was an enjoyable one."

Today, in his role as NAB senior vice president of science and technology, Claudy finds himself involved with multiple industry groups and efforts. He and his team are occupied with everything from helping member stations deal with technical issues, to representing the NAB on standards issues, to planning the annual NAB convention. It's the last that continues to provide Claudy with consistent satisfaction year after year.

"The NAB convention is a catharsis every year, a rebirth and celebration," he says. "[Here at NAB we] like to complain about it, but, truth be told, I get a kick out of every aspect of it."

Claudy's first love was music, and the classically trained flutist attended Oberlin College to earn a degree in music. But, in his early 20s, he began to get pulled into technology. During his junior year, he began attending Washington University's engineering school and, upon graduation, had a bachelor of arts degree from Oberlin College and a BSEE degree from Washington University.

Claudy is an example of how the creative artists can shift into the seemingly non-creative technology field. He's also an example of how those two fields are more closely linked then those not involved in either field would think.

"Music is a form of organizational thinking and expression and those same kind of tools that are used in music—creativity, organization, order, structure—are found in engineering and even business," he says. "So there's a universality of fundamental tools in both disciplines that is advantageous to draw from."

He has pretty much given up the flute. He finds his rustiness frustrating. "As one gets older," he says laughingly, "one tries to reduce the frustration in one's life, not increase it."