This Month's Stories

Last updated:
January 5, 2008


Newsletter Archive

Contact Us

January 2008 Newsletter

SBE Chapter 48 / SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section

December 2007 Meeting Report

Annual Holiday Luncheon

Date: Friday, December 7th, 2007
Location: Park Hill Golf Club, 4141 E. 35th Avenue, Denver, CO 80207
Time: 11:30AM to 1:00PM

Luncheon: Park Hill buffet lunch, $20 per person.

Park Hill Golf Club again this year served up a delicious buffet luncheon for this well attended event. We all enjoyed our choice of salmon or chicken with all the side dishes, dessert, and beverages.

bootcamp attendees
Lively Discussions on the way to the Buffet

In addition to presentations from many chapter regulars, we were treated to a full status report on Low Power TV and how the coming digital video mandate will impact this segment of our industry, presented by the august Byron St. Clair.

Jim Scheodler acted as
master of ceremonies

Byron St. Clair regailed us
with tales of LPTV

Chris Alexander's Radio Update

Scott Barella Spoke Too

Our Sustaining Member contributions and revenues from past events helped defray the cost of this event.

Report by Tom Goldberg


Return to table of contents

Random Radio Thoughts

Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company

Daytime Skywave?
It’s a little known and oft-forgotten fact in even the engineering community that the D-layer of the ionosphere is responsible for the difference in day and night propagation at medium wave (AM) frequencies. During daytime hours, this lowest layer (50-90 km above the surface) becomes ionized by solar radiation, causing it to absorb (rather than reflect) incident radio signals. At night, this ionization diminishes, also diminishing the absorption and allowing MW signals to pass through to the higher F-layer where they are then reflected back to earth.

Right now, we are at a very low point in the sunspot cycle. With x-ray solar flux values so low, the D-layer is only minimally ionizing during daytime hours. In fact, NOAA is currently reporting no frequency with 1 dB or more of D-layer attenuation. As a result, people are reporting daytime AM skywave propagation all over the world. I got one call on this from a colleague in Washington, DC in mid-December. Since then, I’ve heard about it from a number of others, including those who have had difficulty adjusting deep directional array nulls as a result of co-channel skywave interference.

Along the Front Range, Entercom’s Jack Roland reported seeing a beat effect on the FIM needle while making partial proof measurements on KEZW. I observed daytime skywave propagation myself on Christmas Eve as I was driving to Summit County. Just west of Idaho Springs at about 10 AM, I clearly heard carrier cancellation on KOA, leaving just the very distorted sidebands. This is the same effect often observed in the same area (the “skip zone”) at night, where KOA’s analog and skywave signals interfere with one another.

So what does it mean? It means that you can’t always believe your FIM, even in the middle of the day! It means you may have to explain to the GM what’s up with the daytime signal. And it may present a challenge if you’re trying to adjust the deep nulls of a directional array. Just be aware of it and keep an eye on the flux on the NOAA website at

HD Radio Thoughts

The trade publications of late have given a good bit of ink to the HD Radio debate. I have for the most part stayed out of it, but I have given the issue a lot of thought. There are two clearly-delineated camps, one for and one against HD Radio, and I suspect that there is a silent majority out there that is waiting and watching. I would classify myself as a “cautious HD supporter,” which I suppose puts me in the pro-HD camp, but I’m not blind to nor ignoring the issues.

Crawford Broadcasting Company has been aboard the HD Radio train since the very earliest days. We weren’t the first to put an HD station on the air in Chicago, but ours was one of the first. Since then, we’ve converted all but two stations, and those remaining two (St. Louis) are slated for conversion this year. We converted our biggest markets early enough in the process to find ourselves on the “bleeding edge,” test pilots in the truest sense, writing the book on the FM and AM HD Radio conversion process. We also found out very early the effect that FM HD Radio can have on adjacent-channel weak-signal “rimshots” in a market.

Much of the rhetoric these days seems to be centered on AM HD-R, particularly nighttime AM HD-R, and the interference that some say it causes. We really haven’t seen too much of that out here in the Intermountain West. I remember one occasion where a Denver AM was reportedly causing interference to a second-adjacent daytimer up in Windsor. I have my doubts about that, as the primary digital carriers of a digital station fall in the lower half of the near analog sideband spectrum of a second-adjacent channel station. That kind of interference would only be audible in a really wideband (over ±5 kHz bandwidth) analog receiver, and there are not too many of those around these days. Perhaps in the Windsor case, there was something wrong with the HD Radio transmitter or exciter.

I suspect that the situation is considerably different along the heavily-populated east and west coasts. Back in the early 1990s, the FCC changed the first-adjacent channel protection ratio from 0 dB to 6 dB in recognition that 0 dB was inadequate to prevent interference. The trouble is, a lot of first-adjacent channel stations were licensed using the old 0 dB criteria and as such, there is existing analog interference between such stations. Now throw in 25 HD Radio carriers that are essentially co-channel to the first-adjacent neighbors and you’ve got the potential for an issue. Prior to that rule change, there was no domestic nighttime first-adjacent channel protection, so the situation could be even worse at night.

All that being said, so far we haven’t really seen it. Crawford operates quite a number of AM HD-R stations along the east and west coasts and has to date received zero interference complaints with regard to nighttime HD-R operation and only one with regard to daytime. Is our experience typical? I suspect so. Are there some real standout exceptions out there? I imagine that there are, and those standouts are the ones you’re likely reading about in the opinion pages of the trades and on the list servers. And with regard to daytime HD-R interference, I can’t help but wonder if that daytime skywave effect isn’t playing a role here.

So what do we do about it? According to the anti-HD crowd, we must immediately shut down all the AM digital carriers and find a system that works. Personally, I would be all for that approach, but it has some huge problems. And these folks aren’t offering any alternatives other than to stick with analog until it dies! That may happen sooner than you think, with some manufacturers already eliminating AM tuners from their OEM automobile sound systems.

Another issue is that radio manufacturers have already invested a considerable amount in the iBiquity system, AM and FM. I cannot imagine that they would be willing to go back to the drawing board and start over with something new, especially with so many other popular audio entertainment alternatives out there – satellite radio, MP3, streaming audio et al. I think any reasonable person will recognize this. Add to this equation that it took more than a decade to arrive at the current terrestrial digital radio system. Do we have the luxury of waiting another decade, sticking with the old analog medium while someone (who?) invests millions and millions in the development of a new system? I don’t think so.

Perhaps a more reasoned course of action is to wait and see what actual interference issues arise and then deal with them on a case-by-case basis. In most of the cases, the interference will likely occur outside the primary service area and in those cases, it can probably be tolerated. Another option is to reduce the level of the primary digital carriers on one side or the other as required to mitigate interference. And we may find that some stations simply can’t operate in the digital mode because of interference issues. The flipside of that is that those stations would probably experience lousy digital coverage anyway because of interference to their digital spectrum by their neighbors’ analog spectrums.

I can tell you now that my company will be taking the reasoned approach, waiting, watching and making adjustments as needed.


Those of you that are licensed amateur radio operators, we invite you to join us for the SBE IRLP Hamnet on the first and third Saturdays of each month at 11:00 AM Mountain. The net is open to both members and non-members. It meets locally on the WA2YZT repeaters on 146.805 MHz and 447.175 MHz with a CTCSS tone of 186.2 Hz. Those outside the Denver area can get into the net via the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) by connecting to the Great Lakes Reflector, (9610). Simply find an IRLP node in your area and key in 9610 on your DTMF pad. IRLP nodes are listed in the ARRL Repeater Directory, or you can search by zip code or other criteria at

More information about this net is available online at:

Remember that you can claim recertification credit for checking in!

Radio Technical Program
Here’s your reminder for the radio-oriented technical program at the January 24 chapter meeting. Kevin Campbell of Belfast-based APT will present “IP Audio Networking.” I have seen some of this presentation and can tell you it is interesting and directly relates to much of what we do in both studio and transmitter environments these days. Thanks to Barry Walters, this meeting will be hosted at the CBS radio cluster in the Denver Post building.

Several other radio-oriented technical program
s are in the queue for 2008. Stay tuned for details on those.
If you have news to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, drop me an email at


Return to table of contents


Compiled By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
From Chapter 24 - Madison

Amateur Radio in Space
Columbus, the laboratory built by the European Space Agency (ESA), is now packed inside space shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay. It is the culmination of years of design and engineering work aimed at creating Europe’s primary component for the International Space Station (ISS). At 23 feet long and 15 feet in diameter, the cylindrical segment is designed to host specialized experiments examining how humans react to microgravity and the effect of space on various fluids and objects, such as crystals. Two Amateur Radios on the International Space Station (ARISS) antennas have been installed on the nadir (Earth-facing) side of Columbus. NASA is currently planning on a launch date of Thursday, Dec. 6 for Atlantis.

The mission, STS-122, will bring seven astronauts (two of which are licensed amateur radio operators) to the ISS: Commander Stephen N. Frick, KD5DZC; Pilot Alan G. Poindexter; Mission Specialist Rex J. Walheim; Mission Specialist Stanley G. Love; Mission Specialist Leland D. Melvin; Mission Specialist Hans Schlegel of Germany, and Mission Specialist/Expedition 16 Flight Engineer Léopold Eyharts, KE5FNO, of France.

Earlier this year, the ARISS antennas successfully passed electrical and SWR tests, with one of the two antennas, Antenna 42, going through a final test — a thermal test under vacuum. Based on modeling, engineers believe the antenna will pass with flying colors. Columbus will house an additional Amateur Radio station, including the first digital Amateur Radio TV (DATV) station in space, as well as a ham radio transponder. The yet-to-be-built Columbus amateur gear will facilitate operation on new frequencies that will make it possible for ARISS to establish wideband and video operations for the first time and allow continuous transponder operation.

At the ARISS International conference last year in San Francisco, Graham Shirville, G3VZV, speaking on behalf of ARISS-Europe, outlined plans for a mode L/S ham radio transponder as well as a DATV downlink on S1 band (2.4 GHz). "So, future ARISS contacts could have pictures as well as sound," Shirville told the delegates. ARISS-Europe is looking at a 10 W transmitter and a signal bandwidth of from 4 to 8 MHz. Since the Columbus module will be some distance from the other two ARISS stations, parallel operation will be possible.
Funding to finish and install ham radio antennas on Columbus has been uncertain; however. ARISS Vice Chairman Gaston Bertels, ON4WF, says donations from various sources covered a payment of 9000 Euros (approximately $12,000) in March. There is still a funding shortfall of 14,000 Euros (approximately $20,000). To help out, PayPal donations are being accepted.

SKYWARN Recognition Day
The Ninth Annual SKYWARN Recognition Day recognized Amateur Radio operators for their commitment to help keep communities safe. Co-sponsored by the American Radio Relay League and the National Weather Service, the event was held Saturday, Dec. 1. During this 24-hour special event, Amateur Radio operators, working together with their local NWS offices, activate Amateur Radio stations and work as a team to contact other hams across the world.

" For 364 days of the year, hams aid in providing the NWS offices with real-time information on severe weather when people and property are at risk," said ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP. "But this one day is for fun, friendship and recognition of the critical services given to communities by the hams."

Scott Mentzer, N0QE, organizer of the event and Meteorologist-In-Charge at the NWS office in Goodland, Kansas, concurred. "Radio amateurs are a tremendous resource for the National Weather Service. These folks are dedicated, and the assistance they provide throughout the year is invaluable. SKYWARN Recognition Day is our way of saying thank you."

In 2006, 90 NWS offices across the country participated and logged more than 16,000 radio contacts, according to Goodland’s Warning Coordination Meteorologist David Floyd, N5DBZ. In typical SKYWARN operations during severe weather, direct communication between mobile spotters and local NWS offices provides critical "ground truth" information for forecasters. In summer, spotter reports of hail size, wind damage and storm rotation in real time greatly assist the radar warning operator, since that information can be correlated with Doppler radar displays. In winter, snow nets are held, where reports of snow totals, ice accumulations and whiteout conditions in blowing snow help NWS forecasters assess the extent and severity of winter storms. In recent years during wildfire situations, Amateur Radio operators have reported the precise locations of thick smoke and zero visibility, allowing forecasters to provide crucial weather updates to firefighters.
Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League’s Web site at


Return to table of contents

The KE0VH Hamshack

Jack Roland
Entercom Denver

Happy New Year to you all, may you have a blessed and prosperous (Qapla! As the Klingons say) 2008!

The last of December we have seen a few snowfalls in Denver, one of about 8 inches followed by another one a couple of days later of about the same amount, depending on what part of the metro area you were in. I had to go out on Christmas Day to fix a monitor problem in our KOSI and KEZW control rooms, since they are both fed from the same Audio Distribution amp. I was glad to have the Entercom Denver company Tundra with 4 wheel drive to get to the studios to fix that. And, during these snowstorms I also went to check our satellite dishes out at our KEZW transmitter site. These dishes are not heated but our main dish has a vinyl cover that deflects the snow in most cases, and I didn’t lose satellite receive at any time. Now, this dish that was covered also had about an inch or so of sticky snow on it, and the signal didn’t degrade at all. Jeff (my boss and KE0MT) had been out to re-aim this dish earlier this last spring when the wind blew it around a bit, and did a spot on job without anything other than the Starguide Signal strength indicator. He is top notch folks in all areas, so even when the dish had snow on the cover, there was no failure.

Now this brings me to my main point, when discussing this issue with Cliff, N0ZUQ, and Wayne, WA2KEC here in Denver on the ham repeater, Cliff told me of an idea that is simply INGENIOUS, and I have never thought of. You can cover the surface of a sat dish with a product like PAM, the anti stick cooking spray, or you could literally turtle wax dish when the weather is a bit warmer. I am going to try this on my dish net sat dish at home, and then as soon as possible cover my dish at KEZW with turtle wax, and also our big 3.8 meter patriot dish with the stuff. A cheap way to keep things clean without having an expensive dish heating system. What a GREAT IDEA!

It has been a busy holiday season too, and so this is a shorter write up. I hope you have a great January, and will remember that no matter where you are, you can check into our SBE IRLP hamnet the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month at 11am, locally here in Denver on the WA2YZT repeater system, ( and for details on the net IRLP links go to . And don’t forget we are having our SBE local Denver meeting this January 24th geared towards radio and the topic will be “Audio Over IP: Can It Really Work”. Details on the meeting are on the main page of this website. Thanks to Jim Schoedler, Cris Alexander, and Barry Walters of CBS here in town for making this happen. We hope to involve a lot more of Denvers radio engineers in the local SBE happenings this year.

de KE0VH


Return to table of contents

Clay’s Corner for January 2008

Featuring News, Rumors and Views
From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources

By Clay Freinwald
SBE Seattle Chapter 16

Here we are, another year…8 years past Y2K and still nothing?

I was great to see all of you at the Christmas Party, wow…what a turn-out. Lots of great food, drink and prizes. Tom McGinley was amazing as MC, especially the fact that he was able to do as well considering the degree of lubrication. I did learn a few new items, for instance – db really stands for Dog Biscuits….geeesh after all this time !

Thankfully, the weather has become less of an issue, at least it has not been blowing in excess of 100 mph with flooding. Lots of snow in the Mountains however. Getting to our higher sites is, at this writing, becoming a chore for a snow-cat. On Christmas eve I found my self aboard Alan Robinsons machine going up to South Mountain to see what was wrong with the KDDS Antenna heaters. This site is amazing…At just over 3000 feet with a 400 foot tower and nothing between you and the ocean, it can certainly get the ice and snow. I like to tell my friends back in Western New York that we too have lake-effect-snow…It’s just that our ‘lake’ is bigger than theirs! Get the feeling that I will be riding in that machine again this year. 4 wheel drive vehicles are only good to the point where the axels are pushing snow and they are done.

Other than some stations being under-water (again) in Centralia, we have been pretty lucky. Not so for some in the mid-west and East-Coast where wind and ice have taken down several towers and caused considerable damage.

Have you been following the saga of the downtown Bus Tunnel? Shut down for a long time all due to a computer problem? Yah sure, this is progress. Betcha a box of relays and a 7400 TTL chips and we could have this thing up and running. Ever notice how government and computers = problems?

Speaking of problems, looks like the natives in Sno-County are restless over Andy’s plan to add a couple of towers to the new KRKO array. Apparently seizing upon a new cancer scare study as a means of limiting the growth of the grove of towers. Good luck Andy!

Radio ratings don’t have any great surprises…1-KMPS, 2-KUBE, 3 – KRWM (Playing Christmas music I might add). Tied at #4 are KOMO and KIRO and tied at # 9 are KBKS, KISW and KKWF.

I see where a new AM station is planned for Thurston County. This time the COL will be Yelm with a site east of the small town. Thanks to a 3 tower array and 10kw day and 6 Kw night, it should do fairly well covering the area SE of Olympia, a location of significant growth. Don’t worry about hearing the 1120 operation in the Seattle area as we are in a nice null. Brian Butler is the applicant.

The buzz is starting to increase about DTV and the demise of analog. Some stations are running some pretty good promos on the subject. The word is now being spread about converter boxes too. Will be interesting to see how many actually opt for these. Looks like the sales of DTV’s is really starting to take off. Then, if you have cable, this means that you can keep your vintage round-tube RCA on-line for a while.

The FCC certainly has been the focus of attention with their recent decision regarding cross ownership between newspapers and broadcast stations. Whereas we are only about a year away from a change in administration this is likely to be an issue that will live on. Seattle is one of the markets where these new rules are applicable, however I don’t see the PI, Times or Tribune being in play any time soon.

Sorry to report the passing of Tony Morous on December 5th. Tony was one of several TV transmitter operators at the old channel 11 plant at Olalla, known as the North 40. He retired back in 1990.

The FCC has awarded 10 Mhz of the 700 Mhz spectrum to PSST or Public Safety Spectrum Trust. The vultures are warming up on the flight line now awaiting the day that our legacy TV channels go silent, meanwhile others are rubbing their checkbooks awaiting their time. Who would have thought that we would see spectrum managed in this way?
The writers strike is taking a big bite out of the revenue stream of network TV. Apparently the late night guys are coming back without their services. This all comes at a time when conventional network-TV has more competition than ever before. When you read that a network is refunding advertisers, you know that things are bad. Meanwhile the revenue picture for Radio is not all that bright. Not a pretty time for our industry. At the same time, revenue is down for newspapers. I vividly recall when the advertising pie was split only 3 ways….not anymore. Remember when the classified ad section of your local paper was thick?

Looks like Qwest is tossing in the towel on their proposal to build out their system to compete with cable TV, the reason - too costly.
On the 24th of this month we are going to have a big pow-wow to consider what we would do in our area should we have a big, Katrina size, event. I have some ideas that be used to seed that discussion, I sincerely hope someone from your station can be in attendance. For more information, contact Phil Johnson, Central Puget LECC Chair at Phil Johnson -

And, while I am at it, the next SECC (State EAS Committee) meeting will be on Wed, Jan 9th at the State EMD offices at Camp Murray.

So when are we going to see this 2 Gig BAS/ENG band changeover take place? Well on Dec 6th, Sprint Nextel, NAB, MSTV and SBE got together and agreed to a plan that would speed up the process. The date now is August 2009. Perhaps Greg Thies would be so good as to come to one of our chapter meetings and explain to everyone just what this means in terms of equipment changes etc for our area?

A while back I asked a question about giving up your telephone etc. Here are some stat’s to consider –
51% of the adult public now considers a home computer a necessity and not a luxury.
65% consider a TV set a necessity (thankfully)
49% feel that way about their cell phone
33% feel that way about their TV delivery medium (Cable or Satellite)
29% feel high speed Internet is a necessity.
5% feel that way about a flat screen TV
3% consider an IPod a necessity.

HD Radio continues to make gains on the receiver side. Volvo will now offer HDR on most of their new models, meanwhile, their parent, Ford is making it an option for 2008 models. I go back to my prediction that, at least for FM, HD Radio will become standard on Car Radios in the next few years. I guess the question is…why not. On the AM side ….whoa ! Some rough sledding ahead.

Don’t see this every day. Clear Channel got hit with a 40 Megabuck verdict involving a contract with a streaming company…. Ouch!

The FCC released their new LPFM Rules and an NPRM where they are seeking input on technical issues….Like using contour based protection criteria. The FM game is increasingly looking more like AM all the time.
Dielectric recent announced a deal whereby they will be supplying a new master antenna system for DTV at the San Francisco Mt Sutro tower. All together some 11 stations will use the new hardware. Can you imagine having 11 of our local stations agree to do that? That would be like taking all the TV stations at Queen Ann, Capital Hill and West Tiger and putting them into a common system…whew!

Could it be? Apparently so, the Sun is getting spots again. It’s been a long dry spell with minimal solar activity. If you are an active HF Ham you know what this means.

Sorry to report that Peter Dahl, the long time maker of transformers is going out of business. Many a broadcast station has been rescued by Peters handy work.. Apparently Ill health is the reason.

Gotta hand it to Costco. They have initiated a service they call Costco Concierge to help their members survive in an increasingly complex tech-world. We have come a long way from the days when a TV set was activated by simply plugging the power cord and connecting the antenna port to a signal source.

A while back I was chatting, via email, with some folks about who was the first Radio station on the air in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Do you know who it was? Well I did a little digging and here is what I came up with.

The FIRST station – Was very likely KFC back in 1920. Sometime that year, Vincent I. Kraft starts broadcasting from his family’s garage in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle at 6838 19th Street NE. This was likely not only the first station in Seattle, but in the state. Here are a couple of other interesting tid-bits –

  • Station equipment included a piano, a phonograph, a five-watt, one vacuum-tube transmitter, and a microphone.
  • It was claimed that he was one of the first broadcasters in the area to use vacuum tubes.
  • Initially his call letters were 7XC, but when the federal government required broadcasters to have a commercial license to broadcast music and news, Kraft applied.
  • (The FCC lists the first as KFC, issued to a Seattle station on December 8, 1921, and deleted on January 23, 1923

Here are some other broadcast pioneers in our area–

  • March 9, 1922 – KJR in Seattle
  • March 30, 1922 – KMO in Tacoma (License #587) (they are now KKMO)
  • March 30, 1922 – KGY in Olmpia
  • April 8, 1922 – KGB. #616. Licensee Wm A Mullins (Mullins Electric in Tacoma) That call ended up in San Diego later.
  • April 22, 1922 – KTW. Licensed to First Presbyterian Church in Seattle (Now KKDS)
  • August 17th, 1922 – KFBL (Now KRKO) in Everett

Some of the newer stations include–

  • KXA (Was also KFQX, Now KTTH) August of 1924
  • KOMO – July 1926
  • KOL (Now KKOL) Sometime in 1929

Well folks, that’s all the space I have for this edition. May 2008 be a wonderful one for you and yours.

CUL 73, Clay, K7CR, CPBE.


Return to table of contents


by Kent Randles
K7YXZ CBRE Senior Engineer
Chapter 124


Dylan James, a former Entercom-Portland Remote Engineer, was on the air at 2 AM on Tuesday morning December 4th at KITI-FM in Centralia ( when he noticed water creeping up the parking lot in front of the station. After it rose 18 inches within 15 minutes he knew something was very wrong. He woke up their AM station's morning man and they got as much stuff off the floor as they could. This was a good thing because by 3 AM the water was up to the outlets and they turned off the station's studio and office power, taking the stations off the air, and took refuge in an insurance company office on the second floor of the building.

The water receded enough later that morning for staffers to get most of the water out of the building and go back on the air about noon. Dylan thinks that water in the KELA/KMNT studios down the street was even deeper.

Congratulations to SBE Board Member Chris Tarr W9JOL. He is one of the first to pass SBE's new Digital Radio Broadcast (DRB) specialist certification.

From "This specialist certification will qualify an individual's knowledge of digital radio broadcasting including audio processing, studio-to-transmitter links and transmission of multi- channel digital program streams. The specialist will include knowledge of importers, exporters, the various methods of combining analog and digital transmitters to antenna systems, delivery of digital audio signals and data to transmitter sites, transmitter emission mask measurements, AM and FM FCC rules, monitoring of digital signals and bandwidth requirements for AM antenna systems."

Chris says: "I was one of the first in the country to take the exam (the first day it was offered!). It's pretty exciting stuff!"

Holding at 12 FM HD signals (nine with HD2, and one with HD3) and three AM HD signals on the air in the Portland market. For a complete list, see =StnMarket&theCity=PortlandOR#stationlist. There are an amazing number of HD Radios to choose from now.

Boston, MA, November 27, 2007-Announced today at the Boston International Auto Show, Volvo will be the first automotive manufactures in the U.S. to offer innovative digital HD Radio technology on almost all models. Equipped with the HD Radio system, Volvo owners will enjoy a higher-quality AM/FM radio system that features more channel choices, crystal-clear sound and new data services. Volvo Cars of North America, LLC will be offering factory installed HD Radio receivers as standard and optional equipment.
HD2 - THE BAND This month's amusing web search found A band called HD2: Pianist Helio Alves and Grammy nominated drummer Duduka Da Fonseca.


Return to table of contents


By Tom Weeden
Chpater 24 - Madison

On February 17, 2009 at 11:59 p.m., all full-power analog TV stations must permanently sign off. To help educate broadcasters on how to educate viewers, the National Association of Broadcasters held a meeting on November 28th in suburban Chicago to discuss research on over-the-air TV viewing and NAB’s DTV education campaign.

Out of all US TV households, 17% are exclusively over-the-air (OTA), meaning they don’t subscribe to cable, satellite or telephone-delivered TV. Wisconsin has one of the highest OTA shares in the nation: 23% or 504,760 homes use an antenna on their TVs exclusively. In Dane County, 25% of homes are antenna-only. Marquette County is at 39.1%!

If you add in all TVs that use antennas, even in cable- or satellite-connected homes, the number rises to 31% of all US TV households. This includes small sets in kitchens, basements, bedrooms and garages. The kitchen TV won’t be able to pick up the morning newscast after 2/17/09.

An estimated 69 million analog TV sets in the US will be affected by the analog broadcast shutdown. Research shows that over-the-air TV households are older, and heads of households tend to be women, minorities (especially Hispanic, 22%) and located in rural areas. Only 38% of OTA households have internet access, so using the web to educate those viewers about action they need to take for continued TV reception will not be as effective.

Even in demographics we concentrate on primarily for sales, for instance the 126,000 women aged 25-54 in our DMA, nearly 23,000 are antenna-only. If we don’t educate those viewers that they have to take action to continue watching TV, when we shut off our transmitter, suddenly a 3 rating in that demo becomes a 2. A 12 rating becomes a 10. Right in the middle of February sweeps.

What do antenna-only viewers have to do to not lose local stations? They have three options:

1. Buy a new TV set with a built-in digital tuner. This does not necessarily have to be an HDTV set. Several stores now carry standard definition digital sets in the $100 range.

2. Subscribe to cable, satellite or telephone-company delivered subscription TV.

3. Buy a digital converter box for their existing analog TV set. This box will receive digital signals and convert them to a regular channel 3 or 4 analog signal for their TV.

Fortunately, 17% of OTA homes have HDTV sets, so the transition has begun. For the rest who don’t want to spend money on pay TV, several manufacturers are gearing up to sell digital converter boxes costing between $50-$70 beginning early next year.

To assist consumers in making this transition, the federal government has contracted two private companies, IBM and Ketchum Communications, to administer a coupon program which will distribute two $40 coupons to each household which can be used toward the purchase of digital converter boxes for their analog TV sets.

IBM will certify retailers, certify set-top boxes, set up a toll-free call center, and handle coupon applications, distribution and redemption. Ketchum will handle public relations and consumer education to seniors, minorities, low income and the disabled.

Coupon distribution is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2008. There will be no means testing, and the coupons will expire 90 days after receipt. There is enough federal money budgeted to fund 37 million coupons. Of the $1.5 billion available, the first $990 million will go to any household applying for coupons. The last $510 million will go to broadcast-only households. Applications can be made by mail, Web or phone.

It’s supposed to take twp weeks to process applications. The consumer will receive a list of retailers with the coupons. Coupons won’t be distributed in a particular area until retailers in the area begin participating. Four digital TV converter boxes have been certified to date, two from Digital Stream and two from LG. No big box stores have been certified as of yet, although some smaller stores have. Best Buy has stated they will begin selling converters in April 2008. Radio Shack has not committed, and Wal-Mart is rumored to begin selling them on 2/17/08.

The National Association of Broadcasters will distribute spots to TV stations explaining coupons beginning in February 2008. The NAB education campaign is planning for 98 billion impressions through "DTV Action Spots" (note, they’re not calling them PSAs), crawls/snipes/tickers, a 30-minute TV program, 100-day countdown clock and grassroots initiatives. The 98 billion impressions does not count news coverage.

Applying for converter box coupons:
Phone: 800-DTV-2009
Stations needing DTV education graphics for their Web site:
PowerPoint presentations from NAB’s November 28 meeting:
The NAB suggests that the best information to convey to viewers is:
1-Date of transition
2-How to get coupons
3-Costs of DTV sets
4-List of stations that will broadcast DTV
5-Where to get boxes


Return to table of contents

SBE News

The Virtual Engineer

Thanks to Chapter 28

Chris Tarr, Chief Engineer of Entercom Communications in Wisconsin and a member of the SBE National Board told the group about a Broadcast Engineering forum he and some friends put together to discuss Radio and TV Engineering issues. It is called The Virtual Engineer and can be accessed at

At the October meeting Chris said he had 40 members and about 200 posts. There are currently 73 members and close to one thousand posts.


HamNet meets the second Sunday of each month at 0000 GMT on 14.205 MHz. Hal Hostetler WA7BGX is the Control Station.

Any amateur operator is welcome and encouraged to participate.

SBE Offers Digital Specialist Certification

Following recent changes in the FCC rules recognizing the viability of digital radio and the official endorsement of multicasting, the National Certification Committee of the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) is proud to announce its next specialist certification, Digital Radio Broadcast (DRB). This specialist certification will qualify an individual's knowledge of digital radio broadcasting including audio processing, studio-to-transmitter links and transmission of multi-channel digital program streams. The first set of exams will be offered during the November exam period.

SBE President, Chriss Scherer, CPBE CBNT remarked that, “while broadcast and media engineering continues to evolve to cover a broad range of technologies, certain aspects of broadcast engineering have a specific and specialized knowledge base. This is why the Specialist Certifications were developed.”

The specialist will include knowledge of importers, exporters, the various methods of combining analog and digital transmitters to antenna systems, delivery of digital audio signals and data to transmitter sites, transmitter emission mask measurements, AM and FM FCC rules, monitoring of digital signals and bandwidth requirements for AM antenna systems.
With this specialist certification, the engineer or technician carries the credentials needed for successful installation of digital radio transmission systems. The specialist certification will focus on the current in-band, on-channel transmission system being deployed in the U.S., and will be called the SBE Digital Radio Broadcasting Specialist.

By becoming a certified specialist, a radio broadcast engineer can assure his or her manager that he or she is up to date on the latest technology. Digital audio broadcasting is different than traditional analog services. An individual's ability to certify his or her knowledge of the entire system rather than just a single part will bring confidence to both the individual and station management.

To apply for the SBE Digital Radio Broadcast specialist certification, applicants must currently hold SBE certification at the Broadcast Engineer, Senior Broadcast Engineer, or Professional Broadcast Engineer certification level. The exam will consist of 50 multiple-choice questions and one essay question. Following the roll-out of the specialist certification, the SBE will release an update to its CertPreview software of practice tests. To obtain an application for the Digital Radio Broadcast specialist certification, go to on the SBE website or contact the SBE National Office.

College Credit for Your SBE Certification:

College Credit for Your SBE Certification The Society of Broadcast Engineers and Excelsior College have teamed up! Your current SBE Certification may qualify for credit towards a degree from Excelsior College or could help you finish that degree you’ve been working on at another institution. If you’re interested, contact Excelsior College by calling toll-free at (888) 647-2388 to learn about the details.

When you are ready to submit your SBE Certification for credit to Excelsior College, download the SBE transcript request form at or, or contact the SBE National Office for a copy. When you’ve completed the form, e-mail, fax or mail it to Megan Clappe, Certification Director at the SBE National Office, who will prepare your transcript and send it to Excelsior College.

Megan Clappe

Certification Director Society of Broadcast Engineers
9102 N. Meridian Street, Suite 150
Indianapolis, IN 46260

SBE CertPreview Software

SBE CertPreview sample certification test software is now available. It’s Microsoft Windows-based and replaces the previous DOS-based software. New sample tests are available for Broadcast Technologist, Audio Engineer, Video Engineer, Broadcast Networking Technologist, Broadcast Engineer and Senior Broadcast Engineer in both radio and television. Sample tests include 50 to 100 questions and indicate when an incorrect answer has been given. It provides a list of resources from which to learn more about a subject. Cost for each SBE CERTpreview practice test is $27 plus $3 shipping. Contact the National Office to order a copy.

Certification Exam Session Dates:

The SBE National Certification Committee certification exam session dates for 2008 are listed below. Check the list below for the exam period that is best for you. For more information about SBE Certification, see your Chapter Certification Chair or contact Megan Clappe, Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000, or

Exam Dates Location Application Deadline
Apr 15, 2008 NAB Feb 29, 2008
Jun 6-16, 2008 Local Chapters Apr 18, 2008
Aug 8-18, 2008 Local Chapters Jun 6, 2008
Nov 7-17, 2008 Local Chapters Sep 19, 2008

Fees for 2007 are as Follows:

Certification Level Member Non-Member
Broadcast Technologist $40 $103
Broadcast Networking Technologist $55 $118
Broadcast Engineer $55 $118
Audio/Video Engineer $55 $118
Senior Broadcast Engineer $80 $143
Professional Broadcast Engineer $105 $168
Specialist Certification    
AM Directional Specialist $50 $113
8VSB Specialist $50 $113
Digital Radio Broadcast Specialist $50 $113

Please note: SBE Certification exams are administered only by SBE and are proctored in-person by qualified and approved representatives of SBE. No other organization is authorized to administer SBE exams.
Click here for more information about SBE Certification.


Return to table of contents


Newsletter Committee

Bill Harris - Editor In Chief
  (505) 767-6735

  Garneth M. Harris

  Tom Goldberg - On-Line Editor

We encourage your feedback and submissions, please contact us through our web form and select "Newsletter Feedback" from the reason pop-up menu.

Newsletter archives are available online. Visit our Newsletter Archive for an index of newsletter back issues. Note: Old newsletters may contain outdated information, web links or email addresses. News archives are not updated when relevant information changes.

Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Societies, its officers, or its members. We regret, but are not liable for, any omissions or errors. The Denver SBE and SMPTE Newsletter is published approximately twelve times per year. It is prepared with a combination of text and graphic data. Submission deadline is 10 days before the last day of each month. Other SBE or SMPTE chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original authors, sources, and the Denver SBE/SMPTE Newsletter.