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May 24, 2007

 

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May 2007 Newsletter

 

Rocky Mountain Section Meeting Report

APRIL 2007
No meeting was held in April due to NAB

 

Rome Chelsi Steps Down as SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section Chairman

At the last March 22 meeting, Rome Chelsi announced that he would be stepping down as the Chairman of the Rocky Mountain section of SMPTE, a position he has held for over a decade. Brad Torr who has been a section manager for many years has agreed to fill the role as acting chairman.


Rome Chelsi and Brad Torr in February 2004

Rome has been a central figure in the television industry in the Rocky Mountain Area, having worked for ISC, GVG, Ampex, RIA, and Pinnacle/Avid to name a few. He was honored by this organization in 2004 with our Lifetime Achievment Award for his outstanding contributions to our community. The membership extends many thanks to Rome for his service and wishes him well, his leadership will be missed but we trust he'll still show up from time to time.

 

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Random Radio Thoughts


Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company

NAB
This year’s NAB spring convention was the biggest ever. I heard that there were 108,000 in attendance. I believe it. I think I bumped into every one of them.

The “Radio Hall” or North Hall was different this time around. The traditional radio exhibits were pushed to the expansion space at the west end of the north hall, a change from the usual location in the east end of the North Hall. That really worked out pretty well and provided space in the North Hall for some exhibitors that had previously been consigned to the larger Central Hall. Harris, for the first time in memory, was in the North Hall, although it was in the east end of that hall among the TV exhibits. ERI, usually the central anchor of the radio exhibits (just look for the towers!) was lost among the TV exhibits in the east end of the north hall. But overall, I think it worked. Radio folks like me could do virtually all their business in one exhibit hall.

There wasn’t a single “killer app” or show-stopper product at this year’s convention that I found. There was no hushed gasp as some revolutionary new product or technology was unveiled. What I did see, however, was HD Radio. It was seemingly everywhere, not just in the Harris, BE, Nautel and Continental booths as in years past. Even many of the smaller vendors had HD Radio products on display – processors, monitors, gizmos of all kinds to help a station along the HD Radio journey. Based on what I saw, I’d say that like it or not, our industry is heavily invested in HD Radio. Not only has the train left the station… it’s crested the hill.

Kintronics and Nautel put on an excellent demonstration of AM load cusp orientation on occupied bandwidth (spectral regrowth). Tom King did the demonstration himself, using a Nautel J1000 transmitter, a Kintronics ATU and a load simulator. A network analyzer and spectrum analyzer were set up to show the load and spectrum. Tom started with an optimum 9-o’clock cusp and a picture-perfect spectrum. Then he cranked the load simulator to a different orientation and fired up the transmitter. The spectral regrowth products were many dB higher and the digital primaries were skewed. He repeated this several times with different orientations to make his point. This demonstration was a show-stopper. It always drew a crowd and totally packed the aisles around the Nautel booth.
Several transmitter manufacturers were offering high-TPO FM+HD transmitters, up to 28 kW, using something approaching “class C” in the tube PA section. This is something that high-TPO stations have long been waiting for. I plan to buy two such units next year.
The SBE national meeting was an excellent event as always (even though I didn’t win any of the cool door prizes). One thing that was announced was the creation of a new specialty certification – “Digital Radio Specialist.” The national cert committee is working on the test and plans to have it ready by the next national meeting in October.
And speaking of certification, the certification exam session held during the convention was well attended. I was privileged to serve as one of the proctors, and yes, there were some Front Range folks sitting for exams in that session.

Cranes
Last month, Ed Dulaney and his assistant Amanda Alexander found that the monitor points for KLDC-D were above the limits. The parameters were otherwise on the licensed values. They measured eight points on the monitored radials and found that the radials themselves were high in the same ratios as the MPs. They tried adjusting the pattern and found that it responded asymmetrically, a clear indication of reradiation. I went out to take a look and quickly spotted the problem: three construction cranes a couple of thousand feet from the site right on the east side of the main lobe.



It turns out that the business at that location, at U.S. 85 at Weld County Road 4, has moved up in the world, quite literally. They used to manufacture small, hydraulic cranes. Now they manufacture the big boys, 100 foot tall construction cranes with 75-100 foot booms! Ed and I both talked to the proprietors and found that they will always have several cranes in the air at this location. They build them, test them and leave them up (as advertising) until the buyer comes for them.

I did obtain a concession by talking to the owner. He agreed to take down each crane once it is tested, but there will still always be one or two in the air. Taking down two of the cranes improved the MP situation. KLDC is now operating on an STA with reduced power. I plan to augment the pattern shortly to get us some breathing room.

New Digital Rules
As I write this we still don’t have a Report & Order on the new digital radio rules. At the FCC breakfast in Las Vegas, we were told that the staff is “working on it.” I specifically asked an FCC staffer at the convention when he thought the R&O would be out. I got a very honest answer: “I don’t know.” Fair enough. Still, we’re all waiting out here! What’s the holdup?

Radio Programs?
It’s always interesting to me that I see more Front Range engineers in Las Vegas than I ever do in Denver. It was great to see and talk to many of you there.

One thing that kept coming up in these impromptu visits was why we seldom have any radio programs at our Chapter 48 meetings. I can think of a couple of reasons – our chapter is a joint SBE/SMPTE chapter with a heavy television membership. One thing begets another… radio people don’t attend because the programs are TV-related, and the leadership schedules TV programs because radio people don’t come.
As I talked to many of you, I heard that you want radio programs. I also talked to a number of manufacturers that indicated they’d be delighted to come to Denver and put on a radio technical program, demonstrating a product or giving a technical talk – if we can provide a venue and get 20 or so people to commit.

So… here’s the pitch (and your big chance). If you’re interested in having Frank Foti (Telos/Omnia), Jay Tyler (Wheatstone), Wendell Lonergan (Nautel), Richard Hinkle (BE) or some other industry expert come to put on a radio talk, let me know soonest. We would have to do this at a time other than the regular chapter meeting night because those regular meeting night programs have been scheduled months in advance. But that gives us tremendous flexibility. We can name our date. I can provide a venue here at Crawford Broadcasting Company or perhaps one of you has a big conference room or small auditorium to offer.

Let me hear from you and we’ll put some radio technical programs together!
If you have news to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, drop me an email at crisa@crawfordbroadcasting.com.

 

 

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SBE Certification News

New Certification Speciality Announced

The National Certification Committee decided at its meeting on April 14 that the next certification would be that of Certified Digital Radio Specialist. The program was announced by president Chriss Scherer at the annual membership meeting. It will be developed under the leadership of Ralph Hogan, Troy Pennington and Larry Wilkins of the certification committee, and Tim Anderson, formerly of IBiquity. The program is planned for launch at the October 2007 National Meeting.

SBE Leader Skills Seminar - Management Skills for Engineers

The SBE Leader-Skills Seminars, in its 11th consecutive year with the Society, is specifically designed for broadcast engineers who have or aspire to have management responsibilities. SBE offers the two-part series in cooperation with instructor Richard D. Cupka, Sr., West Lafayette, Ind. Both courses are being offered in Indianapolis in 2007.

Course I, “Leadership – The Framework of People Skills” will be held June 5-7, 2007. It covers the function and nature of your leadership role; how to build stronger teams and effective internal cooperativeness; the complex differences of people; and discovery of your “natural” style of leading and how to nurture a “developed” style to help you adjust to different people in differing situations.

Course II, “Leadership – Expanding Your People Skills” will be held Aug. 7-9, 2007, and picks up where Course I leaves off. Those wishing to attend Course II must have attended Course I sponsored by SBE or prevciously NAB (dating back to 1965). Course II explores individual behavior in groups and dynamics of interaction between groups; the complex motivations of different people and how to deal with them; how best to handle disciplinary processes; and where emphasis should be in a leader's ultimate responsibility over people and activities.

Cupka, who has 40 plus years experience in adult training, has directed and taught the Leader-Skills seminars to broadcast engineering managers, supervisors and technicians for 40 years. Many of the most respected broadcast engineering managers in the country today, are graduates of the program and continue to send members of their staffs so that they, too, can learn from Cupka.
Designed to take technically–adept people and instill in them sound supervisory and management skills, the Leader-Skills Series can also be viewed as a tool for personal growth and development, even for those without prior management or supervisory responsibilities.

Registering early! Each course is limited to a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 18 participants. Deadlines to register are May 2 for Course I and July 5 for Course II. The cost of registrations is $545 for each course, which includes three days of instruction, all course materials, a certificate of completion and classroom refreshments.

All transportation, housing and meals are the responsibility of the participant. The location will be the Holiday Inn Select - Indianapolis Airport. The discounted guest room rate is $105 plus tax.

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 www.sbe.org or www.excelsior.edu, 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 mclappe@sbe.org

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 2007 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 mclappe@sbe.org

Exam Dates Location Application Deadline
June 1-11, 2007 Local Chapters April 20, 2007
Aug 10-20, 2007 Local Chapters June 8, 2007
Nov 9-19, 2007 Local Chapters September 21, 2007

Fees are as Follows:

Certification Level Member Non-Member
Broadcast Technologist $40 $100
Broadcast Networking Technologist $55 $115
Broadcast Engineer $55 $115
Audio/Video Engineer $55 $115
Senior Broadcast Engineer $80 $140
Professional Broadcast Engineer $105 $165
Specialist Certification    
AM Directional Specialist $50 $110
8VSB Specialist $50 $110

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.

 

 

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The Roland Radio Report


Jack Roland
Entercom Denver

During the spring months just about anything can be experienced. Bright warm sunny days, springtime rains, and yes, snow, ice, wind…….And thunderstorms. Big ugly super cells even that can and do spawn tornadoes. And we here especially in the eastern part of Colorado and out onto the Great Plains can experience some of the nastiest storms known to weather forecasters. And, Ham Radio operators play a great role in alerting the National Weather service and the public at large to the location of these storms. Sometimes before any other method does the same, or at least quicker by being the “eyes” out in the field to spot the storms as they form, and then chase them to report live on how the storm is developing. Hence, “Storm chasers”, some Ham operators, and others who may be amateur or even professional meteorologists officially working for NOAA.

Here in the Denver Metro Area, groups of Storm chasers have for many years been heard on the 146.94 WØWYX 2 meter ham repeater. This repeater has some of the best coverage of eastern Colorado, and is the official hangout of the local Skywarn group here in the metro area. These dedicated storm chasers will be notified of thunderstorms building and head out into the plains to keep watch on the forming and development of the storms that many times menace both the metro Denver area and communities on the eastern plains. The hams who travel many miles and hours chasing the storms report back to the NOAA office in Boulder via a link from the 2 meter repeater over the UHF 449.825 repeater which is linked to the 2 meter side and affords coverage in Boulder due to shadowing of the 146.94 machine. These volunteers who spend the hours and miles will travel sometimes hundreds of miles in an afternoon and evening helping to keep the rest of us informed. Anytime during a possibly stormy spring or early summer afternoon you can listen in on all the communications. It is a lot of fun and very informative. Who knows, you may hear information that could save your life sometime. It is a good way to keep up on what is happening when the storms are around. The repeaters are run by the RMRL, the Rocky Mountain Radio League, and their website is www.rmrl.org .

Other interesting weather websites to check out:
www.weatherbuff.com (a great site run by Steve Hamilton of KOSI 101, who is in the process of getting his Amateur license)
www.goes.noaa.gov (a site to see satellite pictures of current weather)
radar.weather.gov (Real-time weather radar)
www.spc.noaa.gov/products/watch (for current watches and warnings)

 

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Ham License Applications

NEWINGTON, CT, Apr 25, 2007 -- It's been just a little more than two months since the FCC dropped the requirement that Amateur Radio applicants pass a Morse code test to earn operating privileges below 30 MHz. While the initial avalanche of applications immediately following February 23, when the no-Morse testing regime went into effect, has abated somewhat, business remains brisk for the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator staff.

"It's slowing down a little bit, but it's still substantially above what we usually see," observed ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM. She estimated that new Amateur Radio applications were up by 35 percent, while upgrade applications were up by 150 percent over last year's volume.

In a typical pre-February 23 week, Somma said, ARRL VEC would receive paperwork from approximately 115 test sessions. "It's on the order of 150 to 200 sessions per week now!" she exclaimed. Somma and ARRL VEC staffers concurred that applications were roughly evenly split between newcomers and upgraders. She said she's also seen a spike in the number of applications from General and higher class radio amateurs to serve as volunteer examiners.

Let's Do the Numbers
To satisfy his own curiosity, ARRL member Tommy Gober, N5DUX, compiled some unofficial statistics on the number of new Technician, General and Extra licensees before and after the FCC dropped the Morse code testing requirement. His numbers show the FCC issued nearly 700 more Amateur Extra, 3625 more General and 454 more Technician licenses in March 2007 than in the same month last year.

Figures from ARRL member and ham radio statistician Joe Speroni, AH0A, indicate the total number of Amateur Extra licensees is up 1649 from March 2006 to March 2007, while the General population grew by 2668. The total number of Technician licensees dropped by 1632 during the same period, however -- and it continues to drop going into April.

Speroni's figures also show that the grand total of Amateur Radio station licenses has declined by more than 12,800 over the past two years -- to 655,048 at the end of March.

Processing Time Slower
The still-heavy volume has stretched the amount of time it takes for an application to proceed from examination session to license grant. "I think we're looking at eight to ten days from the test date," Somma allowed. By and large, those on the waiting end have been patient and understanding, she added. "We've gotten a lot of compliments for how we've handled the application onslaught since February 23," she noted. A staff of seven full-time and three part-time employees handle the "incoming" from Amateur Radio exam sessions across the US and from other sites where US Amateur Radio examinations are administered through ARRL VEC.

A likely consequence of eliminating the Element 1 Morse code requirement has been an increase in the number of applicants passing a given examination, Somma noted.

Hectic Pace Poised to Continue
There's no light at the end of the tunnel just yet. Somma and her staff are looking ahead to 450 examination sessions registered during May, another 400 in June and 320 apiece during July and August. And summer is "the slow season," she remarked. Another 900 test sessions already are on the calendar for the rest of 2007.

 

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FCC Releases Report on Interference Rejection Thresholds

Wondering How Real World Digital TV Performs?

Thanks to Wisconsin Chapter 80

The tuner type tests were performed on 30 consumer DTV receivers—29 of which were on the market in mid-to-late 2005 and the other of which was procured in 2006 The ability of television receivers to operate in the presence of interference is an important factor in determining whether consumers can receive TV broadcast service. It is generally recognized that the ATSC DTV system (also known as 8-VSB) used for terrestrial broadcast digital TV in the United States is less susceptible to interference than the NTSC analog TV system that it is replacing. This increased robustness has enabled a relaxation of the “taboo” rules that govern channel spacings of broadcast television stations in a local area—allowing part of the spectrum formerly assigned for broadcast TV use (UHF channels 52 through 69) to be made available for other uses after the completion of the DTV transition. The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rules that are intended to prevent interference to broadcast DTV reception are based on the interference rejection performance of the so-called “Grand Alliance” DTV prototype receiver. These rules define the interference protection afforded to broadcast TV stations, and receiver manufacturers are expected to consider the signal protection ratios in the rules when designing their TV receiver products. While the prototype DTV receiver used a double-conversion tuner configuration, some authors have surmised that many modern consumer DTVs employ singleconversion tuners that may be more susceptible to out-of-channel interference at some frequencies than a double-conversion tuner.” (turns out they were all single conversion)


The report - too long to cover here - summarizes: “No receiver appeared to fully achieve the ATSC recommended guidelines for interference rejection performance. After taking into account differences between the Gaussian-noise interferer used for most of the tests and the 8-VSB interferer specified by the ATSC, the best-performing receiver appears to fail the guidelines at only one channel offset, and there by only 1 dB. A second receiver failed to meet the voluntary guidelines by 1 to 2 dB at two channel offsets. The remaining five receivers failed to meet the guidelines at two to 16 channel offsets; the worst failure for each of those receivers ranged from 8 to 24 dB” (They didn’t identify the receivers by name).

“ We make the following observations regarding the results.
• In terms of absolute signal levels that can cause interference, the TVs are at their most vulnerable when operating at low desired signal levels.
• At low desired signal levels the TV receivers are as susceptible to interference from the second adjacent channels (N-2 and N+2) as from first-adjacent channels (N-1 and N+1) in terms of median performance of the receivers. In terms of worst and second-worst performance, the receivers are more susceptible to interference from second-adjacent channels than from first-adjacent channels.
(This contradicts the assumptions of OET-69 and the receiver performance guidelines of ATSC Document A/74.)
• The receivers tend to be more susceptible to interference from N+2, N+1, N-1, N-2, N-3, N-4, and sometimes N-6 than from the mixer image channel offsets of N+14 and N+15. (our Green bay market contains many close frequency spaced channels)
• At moderate desired signal levels, the receivers exhibit relatively high susceptibility to interference from channel N+7. (no digital stations have a N+7 in our area). This interference threshold is nearly constant in terms of absolute power of the undesired signal necessary to cause interference at different levels of desired signals. At lower desired signal levels, other channel offsets become more vulnerable.”

The report did not address the effect of millions of unlicensed transmitters in the ‘white spaces’ - download the report here.

 

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Static Line – Noise from All Over!

Chapter 3 – Kansas
Newsletter Editor: R.W. Abraham


This past February 14th marked the 60th anniversary of the introduction of ENIAC, an Electronic Numeric Integrator and Accumulator, or as known in modern times as a rudimentary computer. I remember reading of this in Weekly Reader in my grade school class, and thinking at the time that I wanted to be an Electronic Technician when I grew up - ET was the job title used at the time for such persons.

This entire line of thinking was sparked recently when I was visiting with my financial advisor, who was astounded that among other items he was able to store six different versions of the Bible on the 2.0 Gb memory card he had just purchased for his cell phone for less than $50. That combined with the search engine on his phone enabled him to rapidly retrieve any particular verse or phrase he desired.

The original ENIAC was housed in a large room, was composed of some 20,000 dual triode tubes configured as flip-flop circuits, weighed in at around 30 tons and required over 200 KW of power. It was a start.

Compare that with the miniaturization afforded by transistors and then the integrated circuit (courtesy of Kansan Jack Kilby, 1958).

Increased efficiency in production has further reduced the price to the point that I could not help myself the other day when shopping in Office Max. I bought on impulse, a 1.0 Gb flash drive for under $15! 4.0 Gb flash drives are now generally available for about four times that price, all sized such that you can carry a half dozen of these in your shirt pocket or a brief case. Not bad!

A gentle reminder that sometime during the next month or two during our more moderate season you might want to see about servicing your air conditioning equipment, especially at your unmanned equipment sites. I was reminded of this from a tickler on my PDA calendar for my home A/C. On a comfortable day in the spring, I remove the shrouds from the outside condenser unit and thoroughly clean the fins, remove old leaves and dirt inside the case, visually check wiring and refrigerant lines for any damage. I wash or replace the fiberglass screens I stretch around the outside of the unit at the air intake, which catches the cottonwood fuzz from my neighbor's tree that is sure to come.

Perhaps this is a bit extreme, but I have the time, and it certainly leaves me with peace of mind when the summer heat begins bearing down. Refrigerant pressures should also be checked by qualified personnel during the less busy season.

When your check up is finished, you can rest assured you aren't likely to have the equipment under your care damaged or impaired by excessive heat this summer, when it will take many more hours than you would like for the harried HVAC service guy to get to your place and fix that problem!

 

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The YXZ Report

by Kent Randles K7YXZ CBRE
Senior Engineer, Entercom-Portland
Co-Chair, Portland/Vancouver ECC
Chapter 124 Secretary

LIFE WITH HD RADIO
Holding at 12 FM HD signals (nine with HD2) and two AM HD signals on the air in the Portland market.

The big news is that the FCC has announced a bunch of digital radio rule changes that may go into effect by the end of May. They will: allow AM HD Radio at night, let FM HD stations do "extended hybrid" modes, do away with FM HD Radio Special Temporary Authority requirements for antennas, allow stations to lease bandwidth to third parties, and extend EAS and I.D. rules, etc., to HD signals. You can read the whole thing at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-271699A1.pdf.

91.5 KOPB-FM is poised to turn on the market's first HD3, which will be a modified version of Oregon Public Broadcasting's Golden Hours radio reading service. The current Golden Hours runs on OPB's TV SAP channels and includes Descriptive Video ("A woman in a red dress steps into the room?"), which probably wouldn't sync up with the TV programs due to the approximately 8 seconds of delay that FM HD Radio has.

FYBUSH.COM TAKES A TOUR OF PORTLAND
Last September I had the pleasure of escorting Scott Fybush and friends around Portland to various broadcast station sites so that they could see and photograph them. You can see all the stories and pictures now.

The Big Trip 2006, part V: Portland's TV and FM tower farms
http://www.fybush.com/sites/2007/site-070309.html

The Big Trip 2006, part VI: Downtown Portland and KEX/KPOJ
http://www.fybush.com/sites/2007/site-070316.html

The Big Trip 2006, part VII: Portland's East Side, Hood River and The Dalles
http://www.fybush.com/sites/2007/site-070323.html

 

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Clay’s Corner for May 2007

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

By Clay Freinwald
SBE Seattle Chapter 16

Tragedy recently struck Virginia Tech and in the process, one of our broadcast engineering brothers was injured. Perhaps you saw the pictures of Kevin Sterne being carried away to an ambulance. Your Society of Broadcast Engineers is working behind the scenes at this writing to aid Kevin where possible. By the time you read this, more of the story will have un-folded.

Recently had a guess in town as Matt Shea came to visit the Emerald City to see how the other half lives. Matt works for Entercom in Buffalo. I got the feeling that he likes our town.

Deviating from my normal news and information for a bit I ran across this item that should, if properly applied, go a long way toward improving the content of your communications. Face it folks, for many years you have been writing memo’s that are poorly understood by many. First the data base.

COLUMN 1

COLUMN 2

COLUMN 3

0 - integrated

0 - management

0 - options

1 - heuristic

1 - organizational

1 - flexibility

2 - systematized

2 - monitored

2 - capability

3 - parallel

3 - reciprocal

3 - mobility

4 - functional

4- digital

4 - programming

5 - responsive

5 - logistical

5 - scenarios

6 - optional

6 - transitional

6 - time-phase

7 - synchronized

7 - incremental

7 - projection

8 - compatible

8 - third-generation

8 - hardware

9 - futuristic

9 - policy

9 - contingency


Now to how this works - The procedure is simple…Think of any 3-digit number, and then select the corresponding buzzword from each column. For instance, number 257 produces ‘systematized logistical projection’. A phrase that can be dropped into any report or email with a sincere ring of decisive knowledge and authority. No one will have the remotest idea of what you are talking about and the best part is - They are not about to admit it.

Enjoy !

On second thought – Better hide this copy of my column.

Looks like the prospects of Sirius and XM merging are darkening a bit with a number of news stories that don’t paint a pretty picture. Perhaps the biggest hit was the story about the rather large number of illegal land-based transmitters one of the firms has been operating. This is not likely to make those that make and enforce rules very happy. Personally, I find it interesting that traditional Radio has been in a hurry to roll out its HD Radio citing the threat from Satellite Radio…and now Satellite Radio is saying that they need to merge due to the threat from HD Radio.

Could it be that there are horses in the gate wanting into the race before the bell has rung? You’d better believe it ! The thought that a huge chunk of spectrum is going to become available when Broadcasters drop analog is creating a great deal of anxiety on the ‘other side’. Watch for this to heat up as the magic date gets closer.

Speaking of which – What are stations going to do with all those NTSC transmitters ? Lets see….Channel 13 is near the 220 ham-band, and Channel 6 is near 6 meters. Probably not much of a market for the transmitter…but the transmission line…whooey….Don’t tell the copper thieves. Likely the antennas will go to the scrap yard. For those that have side mounted or dual channel antennas, more changes. Then there is the building space problem. Hopefully TV stations will view this extra tower capacity and transmitter building space as a blessing when those new users of spectrum come looking for a place to install their latest gizmo.

In my view, the FCC did do something really correct when they announced that they are going to require stickers on new analog sets warning consumers that they will not be able to receive local channels after 2009. I suspect that there will be a lot of un-suspecting buyers out there, right up until the end. Wonder how many stations will be flooded with phone calls asking ‘ Are you off the air? ’ . Betcha there will be a lot of TV sets in garage sales.

I attended the recent Central Puget Sound EAS Committee meeting the other day at the King County EOC where new local area chair, Phil Johnson’s guest Don Miller told the assembled about the new IP based EAS system that is being rolled out state-wide. It was a full house, unfortunately only a hand-full of Broadcasters showed. These meetings will be taking place on a more regular schedule under Phil’s guidance and I do hope that you can participate. If you are not up to speed as to this new system….you should be.

The situation reported last month re. KKOL’s new transmitter site in Tacoma has certainly been generating lots of interest. Apparently the station is operating their night pattern to reduce the RF level in the direction of the refinery that is the focus of attention. Some of the blogs are having a field day with this one. Not a pretty picture. It’s such a contrast when you go up the band about 80 khz where KRKO is making plans to increase power to 50Kw.

The FCC is getting into the issue about what cable should carry after the digital conversion. This will present an interesting problem. Just how many of the channels carried on cable will be digital after 2/17/09 is a good question….even a bigger one is how many analog sets will remain in use after this date….and what about those local stations that are then operating in digital. What a mess.

On cable, the Weather Channel is reported to have announced that they are spending a bundle on upgrading to HD.

Looks like KVOS in Bellingham will be getting new parents with the announcement that Clear Channel is selling its TV group to Providence Equity Partners. Not clear what this will mean for Channel 12. Speaking of which, it was great to see John Franz while in Las Vegas recently for NAB. John is Chief of a station there now.

Understand that the attendance at the event this year was up to the third largest ever. I spent most of my time going to meeting after meeting. Our EAS meeting was well attended with some 1600 listening in on the Internet stream.

John Voorhees, W7ITV, passed away recently. John, according to his Obit, built the first FM station in the state of Washington in Longview. John later worked at KJR and KOMO from where he retired back in 1984.

Another familiar name recently retired from KOMO…Congratulations to Paul Jensen who has hung it up after 32 years. Gee Paul, now you have time to come to an SBE meeting now that you have joined the ‘what’s an alarm clock’ crowd.

Old friend Steve Gordoni has joined Jampro. I found out this as I was walking between the Hilton and the Convention Center. Steve and I go back to the 60’s when we worked for the same company.

Ever wonder what a top billing Radio station can do in this day and age? Try WLTW in New York…According to BIA that number is $ 65.6 million in 2006. Not too shabby. That works out to 5.46 million a month. You have to think that they send a bundle to the bottom line.

Latest Seattle area ratings preview are out….but surprise is that there is a big tie between 950 and 1090 AM and 96.5 and 101.5 FM – and the rim-shot Spanish KDDS on 99.3. In last months WG you saw some pictures of their new site that Nick Winter and I have been working on at South Mountain, near Shelton.

If your trusty old NAB Engineering Handbook is gathering dust, perhaps its time for a new one. NAB has announced that a completely revised edition is being released. I know a couple of folks that have contributed to new segments.
Nothing new to report on the sale of Tribune and how, or if, it will impact the folks at Channels 13 and 22 locally.

I will leave you with this item from Edsel Murphy’s manual on understanding technical events – The Murphy 50-50-90 rule – Any time you have a 50/50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90% probability you’ll get it wrong.

Have a great one….think Summer !

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

 

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