So now, we have 3 FMís, 1 AM, 3 HD2ís (including our AM simulcasting on KOSIís HD2 channel now, all 4 streaming on the internet, and now on Flytunes. Man, I remember when you could do radio with a mic, turntable, mixer, transmitter, and a tower. And so it goes...
And, this is really cool, we have a new UPS system and battery set here now that will really improve our runtime on UPS during an outage to allow our generator to not only come up to speed, but is a huge improvement over our old UPS, which maybe had about 9 minutes of runtime with studios and master control room. Instead of an 80% load it improves now to a %37 percent load with our new system. And, during the electrical power switchover during a couple of overnights, we also upgraded our on air main processors (Orban 8500ís) to the new version software, and now have the capability to control those over our network so we can make processors changes and checks from the studios without having to go to the transmitter site. Pretty cool stuff.
We have also here at Entercom Denver put our AM station, KEZW on the KOSI HD2 signal. This has been a real ordeal and you think it could have been easier, but since corporate doesnít want commercials on the HD2 channel at this time, we had to set up an entire new AudioVault machine to interrupt the audio coming from the control room and play fill music during commercial content in programming that still of course airs on the AM side. New logs in AudioVault, changes to the main on air log, wiring a closure that fires at the start of a commercial set to trigger the interrupt computer to play the fill song on HD2, so on and so forth. Simply could have been moving one audio connector, but you know how corporate can be (LOL)! So, that was finally accomplished the last week of October, and now KEZW is also FM! We really expect the KEZW audience to embrace this and see what happens. Evidently several other AMís playing nostalgia/adult standards formats have done this and it has really been beneficial. So stay tuned. BUT, in my opinion, KEZW sounds best on an old tube radio anyway. Even HD will not beat that sound in my opinion!
Speaking of which, my friend (and by the way my boss, Jeff Garrett, also KEōMT) is really an expert in restoring both cosmetically and to full operation old tube type rigs, not to mention he has kept our tube rig Continental 817-R transmitter for KALC running at an amazing 38 kilowatts power output now for about 2.5 years solid with maybe 3 hours downtime one time to replace a diode stack in the 10kv transformer! The guy is simply amazing with tube rigs and really knows his stuff. Well, he has gotten me interested in restoring old rigs, and I now am the proud owner of 2 Zenith Transoceanics, a Hallicrafters SX-110 amateur receiver, an Elmac AF-67 transciter AM transmitter, and an RCA model 66X1, which actually belongs to my wife! I will have pictures here soon on my Tech Ham website.
It is a short article this month, we have been really busy with a lot of projects here at Entercom Denver, and more are on the horizon. Have a great month and remember that we have so much to be thankful for. Thanksgiving Day is soon upon us, and I hope we can all reflect on what God has given to us and the blessings sent our way!
Featuring News, Rumors and Views
A bit late in the month getting my column written due to a short project that ran long. I’m sure that many readers will understand this concept! Mine was involving modification of a module on a multi-station FM combiner system at West Tiger Mt. This little project, first projected to run 2 days – took 8. Never under-estimate the amount of interaction in one of these gizmo’s. Of course all the work took place on weekends and at night giving me a good dose of jet-lag without having to leave town. As you get older, recovery from this kind of thing takes longer….Not that any of my readers can relate to that remark.
Well the big news is, of course, the economy. We are now in a full fledged recession and the impact on our industry is hitting hard…so deviating from my standard technical stuff – lets look at business first -
For those of us with 401K’s – We have followed the value of these go down with the Stock Market giving cause for many of us to skip any thoughts of retirement and to keep working.
Stock prices are interesting, here’s a look at the 52 week highs compared to the price at this writing (Oct 30) of four publically traded firms that operate stations in our market -
Radio, TV and Newspapers are being hit extremely hard in terms of advertising revenue.
Even Satellite Radio is being impacted…with automobile sales at all time lows, so are the number of new subscribers that come with new vehicles forcing the sat-broadcaster to lower their estimates. Meanwhile, the newly combined XM and Sirius company is faced with a billion dollar debt.
Layoff’s are the hard part. Every day we hear of firms, large and small, laying off large numbers of people as the economy contracts and everyone hunkers down hoping they will be spared the axe. Reportedly CBS has cut nearly 300 jobs recently…Including a big cut in LA. Journal has announced a 10% cut. In a move that was announced to the world, Entercom said that it was suspending its matching contribution to employees 401K’s. To bad cause stocks are really cheap right now.
In some cases the lay offs come to high levels….For example, Salem, who operates a number of stations in the Seattle area, announced the departure of their COO, Eric Halvorson as what they call a "further cost-cutting move."
One casualty of this situation has been the demise of a rep-firm …Interep. This outfit represented many large broadcast companies, including several here in this area.
In all this, some are doing well….as is always the case. Comcast comes to mind. They are really working the end of analog TV to their advantage….and it just might work. Rather than shelling out money for that new HD set, and perhaps a new antenna system, Comcast is betting that folks will opt to use cable and keep the old set until the coast is clear. Consumers Union has noticed this and is beginning to make some noise because this is a perfect opportunity to raise cable rates. Meanwhile, the market is noting this as well as Comcast’s stock is running about 35 dollars from a 52 week high of about 42….something many others can envy.
The big slow-down is impacting many webcasters as they are struggling to find advertisers willing to sponsor online audio broadcasting.
As is the case with economic slow downs, there are winners and losers. We may well see familiar names go away or be purchase by stronger rivals. It’s likely that a year from now (when we are supposed to be pulling out of the present slump) we are likely to see some interesting changes.
The program creation side is being hit also, for example, it’s reported that NBC-Universal will be cutting back to the tune of $500 Million next year.
Clearly demonstrating that not all is gloom and doom - Cox Communications has announced plans to enter the wireless phone business by unveiling plans to launch cellphone service in the second half of 2009 that ultimately will make the No.3 cable operator a rival of AT&T, Sprint Nextel and Verizon.
In SBE News
I recently attended the SBE annual meetings in Madison, Wi. Highlights of this event included the twice a year meeting of the Board of Directors - - Participation in a national web-cast where I discussed changes coming to EAS etc. I will be providing a summary of this event at an up-coming meeting.
One important item – the Board of Directors made a major change in a ommittee…Gone is the FCC Liaison Committee and in its place we have the new Government Relations Committee. This makes a great deal of sense as the Society is involved with a number of Government entities these days. Chairing the Committee is past president Richard Rudman.
Clearly the White Space issue is continuing to be a source of contention….In fact, some are saying that it’s getting ugly. With the amount of available spectrum for wireless mics etc shrinking this is starting to remind me of a classic water-rights fight where competing interests fight over a given amount of water.
The FCC is still doing is – Fine Stuff – As found out by a little station in Cheyenne, Wyoming who is going to contribute $4200 for failing to repair a hole in the fence around their tower. (See it’s not all EAS) From the – Won’t they ever learn department - The FCC has issued a notice of apparent liability for a combined $32,000 to Spanish Broadcasting System's WSKQ/New York and WXDJ/Miami. Appears they aired a phone call recorded without permission….This has been a no-no as long as I have been in this business…and that’s a long time !
Yet another study on the nasty substance called RF – This time a study from Mainz University in Germany concluded not connection to Leukemia. Certainly there are other studies on-going that will conclude differently.
Should FM HD Radio operators be able to increase their power from the present 1% of analog to 10%? This debate has taken an important step forward with the announcement that the FCC is asking for public comment on the issue. From what I understand, there are stations now on the air with STA’s testing the impact of the change. On the plus side – The power increase will afford greater building penetration for the mode that presently suffers due to its low power. On the minus side is the potential for negative impacts on adjacent channels. One thing that this debate has done is virtually stop the roll out of new HD Radio facilities. Broadcasters who were considering adding the mode are rightfully waiting to see what the FCC does. No one wants to purchase a transmitter that’s too small or one that’s too big.
As we near the end of the year, many of us start thinking about predictions for the next year….Will the economy rebound, will the Mariners have a winning season…the one that I have been pondering is the impact of the end of Analog TV. I am getting the feeling that we are looking at a bit of a train-wreck here. I recall those that were predicting a –Y2K - disaster that turned out to be wrong…I have been receiving really bad vibes about this one.
Have you noticed that 710 AM now bills them selves as 97.3 FM?. Have to wonder how many of their listeners are confused by this? Rumor has it that Bonneville plans on turning 710 AM into a sports station with their news-talk running on 97.3. Regardless of how much you warn and try and educate folks…there are some that are just not going to get it.
Nautel was on a lot of lips at the recent SBE event in Madison with the news that they have opened up a sales and support office right under the nose of their major competitors, BE and Harris. Adding to the matter was they announcement that they have hired people from those firms.
As is the case these days with privately owned companies, they are often bought and sold by venture capital outfits. In a recent announcement we learn that Continental Electronics has been acquired By Lone Star CRA. Continental makes FM and HD Radio equipment in additional to shortwave and high power government radio transmitters.
The kind of story you hate to see – In this case, in mid October, a medical helicopter, carrying a young patient struck a towers guy wires and crashed killing all on board in suburban Chicago. There was some suspicion that the towers lights were not functioning. From this has come a call for the installation of collision avoidance equipment in all of these aircraft.
So where is KPTZ? That’s the call letters for the new radio station in Port Townsend.
That’s it for this month folks – Thanks for the read.
FARE THEE WELL ANALOG
A Q&A WITH CHUCK PHARIS
Most people will agree that it’s always hard to end a long-term relationship. When you stop to think about it, next February our industry will be ending a relationship that we have had for over 50 years. Basically, broadcast television in this country has been using technology going back to the 1930s with just a few updates along the way, and now it is going away.
In order to remember where we came from, I thought it would be good to hear from someone who knows what the old broadcast technology was like. Someone who knows how to change a vacuum tube.
Chuck Pharis has many interests. One of them is collecting vintage broadcast gear. This is a pastime he has enjoyed for 43 years. Some of you may have seen his exhibit of vintage gear at the NAB convention a few years ago. Chuck is passionate about restoring this legacy gear. In a way, he is like an electronics anthropologist, restoring life to the equipment which produced the magic of television in its early days.
The old gear seems to hold a certain fascination for many of us, including Chuck. Somehow this old stuff just seems warmer, in a literal fashion as well as figurative one. Even though modern broadcast equipment is really very complex, in a way it’s easy to see how the new gear performs a specific task. It has been programmed to do it! Now, figure out how to generate NTSC sync and burst using tube circuits and you have a real challenge! I interviewed Chuck to find out more about this fascinating hobby.
You can see more of Chuck’s vintage broadcast gear collection on his Web site, www.pharis-video.com.
SBE Takes New Direction in its Regulatory and Legislative Advocacy Efforts
The SBE has begun to chart a new course for the Society's government relations efforts and refocus its advocacy program to become more effective and member-focused. The SBE Board of Directors decided that a fundamental change in how the SBE participates in industry regulatory issues was needed in order to be more effective. The new direction will depend on collaboration with strategic partners in addition to our own FCC comment filings.
Presently, the SBE works with many partners including the National Association of Broadcasters, National Alliance of State Broadcast Associations, Maximum Service Television, U.S. Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and has consulted with members and staff of both Senate and House committees. The SBE is capable of providing technical support and information to allied organizations with equal or greater political influence and thereby become more effective in achieving its legislative goals.
At its October 14, 2008 meeting, the SBE Board of Directors voted to amend SBE By-Laws to change the name of the committee that works on regulatory and legislative efforts from the FCC Liaison Committee to the Government Relations Committee, to better describe the work the committee was actually doing. The Board also voted to abolish a set of internal guidelines that had been used in the committee’s work.
Also during that meeting, the Board of Directors ratified the appointment of SBE Past President Richard Rudman, CPBE, as chair of this important committee. During 2008, the preceding FCC Liaison Committee was directed by Interim Chair and SBE General Counsel, Chris Imlay.
Watch SBE-news and the Signal for more information about SBE’s legislative agenda. If there are issues in which you feel the Society should be active, please contact Richard Rudman. Also, you’re encouraged to discuss and debate issues like this on the SBE Roundtable. The national leaders of the SBE read and participate in this forum and will appreciate member insights when determining issues for which the SBE will advocate.
Be Not Mediocre
By Dennis Baldridge
One underlying principle in the SBEís Canon of Ethics is striving for a standard of excellence and shunning its opposite, mediocrity. Professional engineers want a legacy which reflects excellence in what they do and say. When oneís work is mired in mediocrity, it usually means that their heart was not fully engaged in the project or activity in the first place; they were simply going through the motions. Mediocrity is not a good state for anyone.
What is mediocrity? Websterís dictionary defines it as "the quality or state of being mediocre; of moderate or low quality; ordinary." Fundamentally, mediocrity is the state of being average or ordinary. Is this what we want said about our work and attitudes?
Mediocrity is the absence of a drive for excellence. It is the result of not putting out the time, energy, passion or whatever it takes to accomplish the goal. Mediocrity becomes the default when there is no vision.
What exactly is excellence and how is it achieved? Excellence is not about being the best. Rather, it is about being and utilizing 100 percent of what God has given to you in terms of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual resources.
How do we achieve excellence and avoid mediocrity? Og Mandino suggested how this might be accomplished. He said "Deliver more than you are getting paid to do. The victory of success will be half won when you learn the secret of putting out more than is expected in all that you do. Make yourself so valuable in your work that eventually you will become indispensable. Exercise your privilege to go the extra mile, and enjoy all the rewards you receive."
Let us all enthusiastically strive for excellence and avoid the easy, mediocre way by giving our best at all times!
Excelsior College announces Certification Courses
by Rebecca Troeger
Excelsior College, in partnership with the Society of Broadcast Engineers, offers college credit to enrolled students for the completion of select SBE certifications. Apply up to 11 credits earned through SBE certifications plus any credit earned from other approved sources toward any of Excelsior College's more than 40 degree and certificate programs. Of particular interest to SBE members are the Associate Degree in Electronics Technology, Bachelor's Degree in Electronics Engineering Technology, and Associate or Bachelor's Degree in Technology with a specialty in Electronics/Instrumentation Technologies.
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.
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 email@example.com
Fees for 2008 are as Follows:
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.
Bill Harris - Editor In Chief
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