Posted on May 1, 2014 in ATSC News
Chair, ATSC 3.0 S31 Specialist Group
Longtime ATSC friend Skip Pizzi is the Senior Director, New Media Technologies at National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). In this role, Pizzi provides guidance for NAB members on new and emerging media technologies and their potential applications to broadcast services. In recent years assisting with broadcast television standards development, he has led the S31 Specialist Group on ATSC 3.0 System Requirements and Program Management, and has served as Vice-Chair of TG3.
Pizzi is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he studied Electrical Engineering, International Economics and Fine Arts. He began his broadcasting career at Georgetown’s legendary WGTB (then an FM, now an Internet radio station). After Georgetown, he began a career in radio, first at local stations then at NPR headquarters in DC. “After a couple of years, NPR went through a growth spurt, hiring a lot of new engineers,” Pizzi says. “They decided to establish a more systematic technical training process, and asked me to establish and run it. Eventually we were training engineers, producers and reporters, both at NPR HQ and at its member stations around the country.”
Pizzi says his foray into television came through his writing. “I was authoring a lot of training manuals and documents at NPR, some of which found their way to trade magazine editors, who started asking if they could publish them. Eventually the recently departed Broadcast Engineering hired me full time as a Technical Editor, and I moved from Washington to the Kansas City area. Even though I continued to focus on audio and radio there, the magazine also covered video and television, of course, so that was my real intro to the TV business.”
After seven years with the magazine, Pizzi was recruited by Microsoft to manage its audio engineering department at Web- and TV-content production facilities in Redmond, Wash. “Microsoft later shifted me to a new TV Standards team it was deploying worldwide,” explains Pizzi. “This was my first encounter with ATSC – along with DVB, SMPTE, MPEG, TV-Anytime, AAF/MXF and a lot of other SDO alphabet soup.”
Ultimately Microsoft moved Pizzi back to the Nation’s Capital to join its Government Affairs office, where he remained until retiring from Microsoft in 2008. After some writing and consulting, Pizzi joined the NAB in 2010. “Throughout my dozen years at Microsoft, I continued to make regular contributions to the trade press and other publications,” Pizzi notes. “My third broadcast-related book has been recently published: A Broadcast Engineering Tutorial for Non-Engineers, co-authored with my good friend and former NAB colleague Graham Jones.”
When asked about his current involvement in ATSC work, Pizzi says “We’re blessed to have a talented and diverse team of technologists at NAB —under the leadership of SVP/CTO Kevin Gage, an ATSC Board member—and we’re really interested in the full range of ATSC activities on current and next-gen standards, from audio and video formats to RF transmission. Like all of our work at NAB, within ATSC we represent the interests of our membership, which includes many U.S. television stations, groups and networks.”
He continues: “ATSC membership is one of the best ways for broadcasters to ensure continuing viability of the television industry. It’s an investment in our collective future, providing a unique and increasingly important opportunity to shape our own destiny within a rapidly changing environment.”
Pizzi points out that because his particular background leans more toward the audio and content production sides, he still tends to focus on those areas in his standards work. “But I enjoy my continuing education in other areas—both from my colleagues at NAB and those I connect with via ATSC. My experience with writing, publishing and technical training has also led to my (almost) enjoying the documentation side of ATSC work, too. “
When asked what the most surprising thing about ATSC participation is, Pizzi jokes, “The term ‘retirement’ is variably defined—and rarely permanent—at least when applied to ATSC. A few ‘retirees’ actually do disappear, but many just keep coming back, often after a brief hiatus. I suppose it’s because ATSC work is so much fun that they just can’t get enough.”
Like many other ATSC members, Pizzi notes that he, too, is a “recovering musician, having played professionally (keyboards, mostly) through my high school and college years, in various bands and theater ensembles. Eventually I moved to the other side of the glass and concentrated on audio mixing and production, which I still enjoy occasionally.”
More frequently, Pizzi says he engages in fairly serious gardening. “My family ran a landscaping and nursery business when I was young, so I grew up green before it was cool.” He says he also enjoys cooking, “especially with wine—sometimes I even put it in the food.” Pizzi’s two children are on the East Coast – “My daughter is a practicing attorney in New York City, and my son works for the Human Rights Campaign in DC.”
When they are not in DC, Pizzi, his wife Cher and their greyhound Luna spend as much time as they can at their country home in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Posted in ATSC News
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The Advanced Television Systems Committee, Inc., is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards and recommended practices for digital terrestrial broadcasting. ATSC member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries. ATSC also develops digital terrestrial broadcasting implementation strategies and supports educational activities on ATSC standards.