The SBE now has approximately 5,500 members that can be found in all 50 states, four U.S. territories and more than 25 other countries.
With 110 chapters located throughout the United States, the SBE now commands a leadership position in the broadcast industry. Local SBE chapters provide services to members through meetings, technical seminars, certification examinations and fellowship. The SBE's first chapter was organized in Binghamton, N.Y., and it is still active today.
The SBE Program of Certification, established in 1975, helps individuals improve their skills and gain recognition for those skills through a national testing program, which is the industry's most recognized evaluation service for broadcast engineers.
The Society's roots can be traced back to 1961 when the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AlEE) passed a joint resolution calling for a "merger or consolidation... into one organization." The two groups finally joined forces in 1963, forming what is known today as the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). However the new organization was perceived by some as not addressing the needs of broadcast engineers.
John H. Battison, P.E., CPBE, editor of Broadcast Engineering magazine at the time, was one of those people. He wrote an editorial, which appeared in his magazine in 1961, that pushed the idea of a new organization just for broadcast engineers. Battison's continued efforts sparked interest across the country. He published a membership application in the April 1963 issue of Broadcast Engineering and the response was encouraging. With help from family members, Battison mailed membership invitations to almost 5,000 radio and TV engineers in the United States and Canada.
On April 5, 1964, an organizational meeting was held during the National Association of Broadcasters convention at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago. Approximately 100 interested broadcast engineers attended. The group formed an organization devoted to the needs and interests of broadcast engineers. This new organization was originally called the Institute of Broadcast Engineers (IBE). However; because some members feared there might be confusion in the similarity between the names of the IBE and the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), the name was changed to the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) at that very first meeting.