NAMIC president Kathy Johnson recently sat down with Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead to discuss the upcoming 23rd annual NAMIC Conference, which is moving to Denver for the first time after being in New York City since its inception. Johnson spoke about the challenges of moving the conference into the Cable Connection-Fall schedule, as well as what NAMIC hopes to accomplish with the event.
MCN: How will the venue change affect this year's NAMIC Conference?
Kathy Johnson: The change of location has definitely presented a challenge for us this year. This is the first time in our 23-year history that we will not be in New York City and traditionally 40% of our constituents have come from the city directly and about 60% from the East Coast alone.
What we're finding is that due the economy and the fact that it's not in New York, people aren't being allowed to travel as much. What I'm also finding is that the criteria for travel for some companies is that you have to be a vice president or some level above, and that automatically eliminates some of our constituents.
MCN: What are your expectations for attendance at the show?
KJ: We're hoping to get to the 400 mark - we had 850 last year in New York.
MCN: How big a hit is that to the organization's operations?
KJ: Overall we've revised our projections downward and budgeted accordingly. We tried to manage our expenses accordingly.
MCN: What's the theme of this year's show?
KJ: The theme is "diversity rules," and that can be interpreted in a number of ways. I think multicultural audiences are becoming the new majority and I think some of our content this year features some of the most thought-provoking and compelling that we've had to date. A lot of things have happened in society as well as within our industry, and I think we gave our planning committee a lot of food for thought.
MCN: What are some of those issues?
KJ: The evolution of social networking; the impact of digital media and technology; the election of President Obama, which has fueled a lot of debate over the state of ethnicity in America that still continues to today; the fact that lots of people think that we've moved into a post-racial era and question whether a focus on diversity is still necessary; and we also have a major census coming in 2010 which also will probably substantiate the projections that people of color will comprise the majority of the U.S. population.