SOMEONE YOU SHOULD KNOW: Jerry Whitaker, ATSC Vice President

As the ATSC’s Vice President of Standards Development, Jerry Whitaker is playing an active role in the development of ATSC 3.0.  An unsung hero in the ATSC world, Jerry touches every standard and works tirelessly to assure that the documentation and ballots are timely and accurate.  In addition to serving as secretary of the TG3 Technology Group documenting the ATSC 3.0 suite of standards, he’s involved in just about every group working on Next Gen TV.

“I never want for email,” he jokes. “I dial into most specialist group and ad-hoc group conference calls, since it’s a great way to stay up to date on document status and overall progress.”

Jerry’s roots are in broadcasting. In college, he went back and forth on whether he wanted to be an engineer or journalist.  His career started as the Morning News Editor for KCRA-AM in Sacramento. After a few years there, he moved over to TV to produce the 11 p.m. news on KCRA-TV.  Then after eight years, he got the itch to do something new and different and became Chief Engineer for a small-market AM/FM radio station in Northern California.

Ultimately, Jerry combined his two careers and began writing articles for the trade magazines of the day –Broadcast Engineering, Broadcast Management Engineering, and Broadcast Communications. In 1983 he went to work at Broadcast Engineering and eventually became Editor, then Editorial Director, and Associate Publisher before leaving in 1990 to do consulting and write engineering books full time while also serving on a number of industry engineering boards and committees.

In 2000, an opportunity arose to join the ATSC as Technical Director, and Jerry didn’t hesitate to take it. “It was a dream job,” he says. 

He immediately became involved in TG1 and has served as Secretary of the TG1 Technology Group since November 2000.  He’s been the Secretary of TG3 since it was formed in 2011, and is active in the ATSC’s implementation and planning groups as well.

Member involvement is critical the ATSC’s success, and the development of ATSC 3.0 has spurred a whole new level of interest and engagement in the organization.  Jerry says working with ATSC 3.0 everyday sometimes makes it easy to lose sight of its impressive capabilities.  But, he insists, it’s a “game changer.”

“ATSC 3.0 promises to do much more, including changing the whole broadcaster-to-consumer paradigm,” he says.  “The flexibility of the physical layer and the capability to merge over-the-air programming with Internet-delivered elements are just two of the many truly revolutionary features of the system.”

“The recent plugfests have demonstrated that the technology works, as have the numerous impressive demonstrations at NAB, CES, and elsewhere,” he added.

Jerry and his wife, Laura, have two daughters – Alexis, 23, and Ashley, 17. In his spare time, Jerry builds vacuum tube amplifiers, preamplifiers and AM/FM tuners for friends and family. Currently, the big project is restoring a Gates Executive Audio Console.

“At the end of the expected six-month restoration effort, the console will find a new home in Sacramento for producing a syndicated radio program that plays nothing but vinyl records,” he said. “And that’s too much fun!”