SOMEONE YOU SHOULD KNOW – Joe Snelson, Jr. Society of Broadcast Engineers

Lifelong television fan Joe Snelson, Jr. is active in the ATSC, representing the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) in a half dozen ATSC groups. He’s the immediate past president of SBE, an organization with more than 5,000 members that provides education and information to broadcast engineers.

“These are the individuals that will be on the front line implementing and maintaining ATSC 3.0 transmissions over-the-air and via the Internet,” says Snelson. “As a broadcast engineer and member of the SBE it was a natural for me to get involved with ATSC for the Society.”

Snelson’s contributions to the ATSC’s work encompass a number of key specialist groups, including S32 (physical layer), S33 (management and protocols), S34 (applications and presentations) and S34-1 (video) subgroups.  Active overall in the TG3 Technology Group, he says he’s particularly interested in Physical Layer work, and he’s closely following the work of the S32 SFN/STL Small Group focused on single frequency networks.

He says his career in television started when he was “about 8 years old.” 

“As a kid, I was a TV-aholic. I loved to stay up and watch TV all the way up to the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner just before the engineer hit the transmitter off switch. It’s no surprise I ended up loving and working in this business.”

His passion started turning into reality in college, where he majored in Broadcasting Technology eventually moving on to work in engineering maintenance at small UHF station, KHOF-TV, in Southern California.  He worked his way up to Chief Engineer and then joined Meredith Corporation in 1980 where he served as Director of Engineering and later as VP of Engineering, overseeing the analog-to-digital transition for Meredith’s TV stations.

When Meredith joined the ATSC years ago, Snelson had the opportunity to participate in Technology Group meetings and join various subgroups, and he is proud of the ATSC’s work defining Next Gen TV, now representing SBE.

“I see ATSC 3.0 providing program and consumption diversity for getting news, information and entertainment content to the consumer. Basically, TV doesn’t have to be a one-way, one-program, one-location, one-format medium,” he says. “The flexibility of ATSC 3.0 can allow the consumer to enjoy receiving our product on various types of devices whether fixed, portable or mobile plus interactivity features.”

ATSC 3.0’s flexibility in video coding is one particular feature that stands out to Snelson.  He is encouraged that broadcasters can now choose between high resolution, high dynamic range and enhanced audio depending on their target audience.

“Robustness can be scaled according to the devices that a broadcaster is trying to reach,” he explains.  “The possibility for interactivity with the consumer opens the door for a further enhanced consumer experience. The ability to convey emergency messages is an important part of a broadcaster’s commitment to the public. ATSC 3.0 provides a means to not only convey the message but also to wake up devices to ensure consumers receive the message.”

Snelson and his wife, Terrie, have been married for almost 40 years. They have a daughter and two grandchildren.

An avid fan of Route 66, Snelson and his family have traveled the “Mother Road” many times.  He also is a collector of TV shows he watched as a child including the full volumes of Sherlock Holmes with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, as well as The Adventures of Superman from the 1950s; Mission Impossible, The Munsters and The Fugitive from the ‘60s; and Vega$ from the ‘80s.