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December 5, 2007


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December 2007 Newsletter

SBE Chapter 48 / SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section

November 2007 Meeting Report

IPTV Boot Camp

Annual Fall Technical Seminar Series

Date:          Thursday, November 8th, 2007
Time:          9AM to mid-afternoon
Location:    Starz Entertainment, 8900 Liberty Circle, Englewood, CO 80112

The Rocky Mountain Section of SMPTE and SBE Denver Chapter 48 had an outstanding set of speakers and excellent turn-out for another in our successful series of technology BootCamps. This year the topic was the converging areas of multimedia broadcasting, telecommunications, and networking technologies loosely referred to as IPTV or Internet Broadcasting.

bootcamp attendees
Brad Torr, SMPTE Chairman, Introduces the Boot Camp to a Packed Room

We had a great lineup of presentations and covered many of the bases in this topical discipline. After a tasty continental breakfast, Brad Torr introduced the topics and speakers. Jay Aldrick from Harris' Corporation's Broadcast Technology group presented a perspective on Mobile TV Systems with an overview of how ATSC in-band content distribution is winning the race to provide content to these portable devices. The Jack Douglass from Spirent Communications gave a detailed view into some of the challenges associated with measuring video quality in a compressed digital environment including a demonstration of their equipment and interesting stories of their real-world field measurements. Marlis Humphry from strategic marketing in Harris finished up the morning sessions with a broad but detailed overview of emerging standards in the IPTV arena.

Box lunches were provided to attendees courtesy of Starz and everyone was well fed. The afternoon session teed off with Gomer Thomas from Triveni Digital who provided more depth on the new IPTV standards and a discussion of new services which may emerge. Finally, Nick Lim from ExtendMedia filled in the end-to-end picture with his discussion of how video assets can be monetized and what mechanisms are used to build libraries and to make them available to end users.

We would like to acknowledge the generous support of Starz and Harris in hosting this event.

Report by Tom Goldberg


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Random Radio Thoughts

Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company

Copper Revisited
In last month’s column, copper theft was my main topic. Copper thieves have been giving us grief in our St. Louis market, stealing the telco trunk cable feeding one of our transmitter sites on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, each time killing the T1, ISDN and POTS lines and taking the station off the air.

By way of update to that ongoing saga, AT&T has buried the span that was originally ripped down off the poles and patched multiple times. Since then we’ve had no further problems, but because most of the rest of the 1.5-mile run from the main highway to our site is still above ground and suspended on poles, we’re certain it’s just a matter of time before the thieves come back, toss a rope over the elevated trunk cable and rip another span right off the utility poles. We’re not waiting on that to happen. We’re working on a “back door” over-the-air microwave link from another site to give us a telco-independent site feed.

But even as things seem to be settling down in St. Louis, they are heating up in Birmingham. Copper thieves have hit several FM sites on the south end of Red Mountain a number of times recently. Clear Channel has its site completely covered with a perimeter alarm and video surveillance, but it hasn’t helped a bit. Take a look at the series of photos below:

In the first photo, the copper thief emerges from the woods into the driveway to the site. A female is standing behind him, just off the gravel driveway. In the second photo, the thief points a gun (!!!) at the security light and fires. If you look closely, you can see the muzzle flash. In the third photo, the light is going out, leaving the thief and his female accomplice in the dark to do their evil work.

Clear Channel’s market CE, Bob Newberry, was on his way back to the studio when this happened. He and his assistant had just left the site after replacing the copper strap that had been stolen just a day or two prior. Bob received the motion sensor alarm while still en route back to the studio but ignored it, believing that it was a false alarm (after all, they had just left the site moments before). As it turns out, it’s a good thing he didn’t rush back to the site. He would likely have come face to face with an armed thief!

Evidently the thief climbed the fence and used the ice bridge to get onto the roof of the building. From there, he reached under the soffit and cut the cable to the security camera covering the tower base. It mattered little that Bob had coated the new strap with gooey roofing tar. The copper thief took it anyway, along with the copper grounding plate, which had been coated with cold galvanizing spray.

In the prior theft incident, the thief removed the gate from the hinges to get out. Bob had installed some chains around the gate and gate posts to keep that from happening. This time, the thief just cut the gate fence fabric and peeled back enough to get out.

Crawford’s tower site is located just next door, just a few hundred feet down the same driveway visible in the photos. The thief got into our fenced compound and took some ground wire. It was nothing serious… this time.

A couple of thoughts come to mind. One is that it’s just a matter of time before this guy or someone else comes to the site with a cordless sawz-all and helps himself to some big chunks of the 3-1/8” rigid and Heliax lines on our and Clear Channel’s towers. That will take us off the air but good, main and aux, with it likely taking days to get back on the air at full power.

The other is that we’re no longer dealing with some idiot vandal. We’re dealing with an armed felon. Our engineers are afraid to go to the site after dark, and who can blame them? This guy may be there, back in the trees or worse, inside the fence.

So what can we do about this? Good question. I’m brainstorming with Clear Channel’s regional VP of Engineering, Ben Brinitzer, to come up with something.

One ace we have up our sleeve is that the City of Birmingham and Jefferson County have their public safety trunking radio systems on Crawford’s tower at the Red Mountain site. The city and county thus have a vested interest in maintaining the security of the site. If the thief saws through some of their transmission lines, the city police and fire departments and the county sheriff’s department will be without radio communications. We are working with these agencies to resolve this situation.

In this case, deterrence is not enough. We’ve got to catch this guy.

You might be thinking that St. Louis and Birmingham are a long way from the Front Range, and you’re right. But the problem of copper theft is worldwide, not localized to the Midwest or South. Right here in Denver, Al Stewart has had a lot of grief of late with copper thieves breaking into the Ruby Hill site shared by Colorado Public Radio, Entercom and Crawford. It’s really just a matter of time before the problem becomes widespread right here in Colorado.

We had all better be thinking about what we can do to prepare for this.

Radio Technical Program
Mark your calendars…we have a radio-oriented technical program on the chapter meeting calendar for January. 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. The meeting is slated for January 24 and thanks to Barry Walters, will be hosted at the CBS radio cluster in the Denver Post building.

Several other radio-oriented technical programs 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


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Compiled By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
From Chapter 24 - Madison

AARL, FCC in Court of Appeals
On Tuesday, Oct. 23, the American Radio Relay League faced the Federal Communications Commission in the U.S. Court of Appeals over the continuing debate concerning harmful interference to licensed radio services from unlicensed Broadband over Powerline (BPL) systems. BPL is the delivery of broadband Internet communications using unshielded electrical wiring to conduct high-speed digital signals to homes and businesses. BPL systems are designed to conduct RF energy through unshielded, medium voltage power lines, using some or all the HF spectrum between 1.7-80 MHz. At those frequencies on unshielded overhead power lines, the electrical wiring not only conducts the signals, it radiates them very efficiently for very substantial distances from the power lines.

In October 2006, the League petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to review the FCC’s October 2004 Report and Order (R&O) in ET Docket 04-37 and 2006 Memorandum Opinion and Order, which generally denied all 17 petitions for reconsideration. In its brief initially filed May 17, the ARRL contends, among other things, that the FCC’s adoption of rules to govern unlicensed BPL systems fundamentally alter the longstanding rights of radio licensees, including Amateur Radio operators.

Specifically, the FCC order, while adopting rules that it claimed would minimize instances of harmful interference to licensed services, eliminated a fundamental requirement for unlicensed devices, and held for the first time that BPL systems need not shut down in the case of unresolved instances of harmful interference to "mobile" stations.

ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, said it could be "three months or more" before the Court announces its decision.

Top Ham Cop Won’t Stop
Riley Hollingsworth, Special Counsel for the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, has now decided not to retire, shortly after announcing his impending retirement. He had recently announced that he would leave the FCC in January 2008. Hollingsworth said, "After spending the entire weekend thinking about the decision [to retire], it became more and more clear to me that it just isn’t the right decision for me right now. There are several issues on the table that I want to continue to work through with the amateur community."

The Enforcement Bureau is the primary organizational unit within the Federal Communications Commission that is responsible for enforcement of provisions of the Communications Act, the Commission’s rules, Commission orders, and terms and conditions of station authorizations, as well as enforcement of Amateur Radio rules (Part 97).

Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League’s Web site at


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Clay’s Corner for December 2007

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

By Clay Freinwald
SBE Seattle Chapter 16

Zoom, whish, zip….Another year gone by. (That’s the part about getting older, time just keeps going faster). Here we are at the end of 07 and starring at 2008. Before I forget it – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all ! I sincerely hope that 2007 was good to you and you will be able to look back with nothing but great memories.

As I write this, the mountains are getting their first heavy snow-fall of the winter with a heavy-snow-warning…and just in time for the KIRO ENG at West Tiger Mt antenna to need attention, remember that Murphy reigns ! Hard to believe that it was 20 years ago that the facility that is now called the Entercom Site was under-construction...In between snow-storms.

Bustos Media finally got on the air with their new KDDS/99.3 facility at South Mountain (WNW of Shelton). It’s a 64 Kw ERP DA using an ERI 6 bay antenna and a new Continental transmitter. You can look up the technical details on the SBE Web-Site. The delay was due to the need to re-engineer the electrical system there. Sharing this site will be KFMY on 97.7 in the future.

Received a number of comments regarding my story about AM’s in this market, yes it’s hard to believe that we will have 10 – 50 Kw stations. (Nice to know that someone reads this stuff)

There is a section of SR-16 that is now dark due to copper thieves that have become increasingly bold in their quest for copper wire. In this situation, apparently that section of freeway will remain dark as there is no budget for replacing the wire.

PSE recently announced that since 2005, copper thefts have cost them some $500,000. The utility recently announced some new technologies to battle the problem-

  • Replacing chain-link fencing around substations with extruded steel fencing that is harder to cut.
  • The application of what they call data-dots on copper wire. These are spray-on microscopic labels.
  • Replacing pure copper wire with copper-weld which has virtually no scrap value.
  • Increased security at sub-stations.

Broadcasters, all over the country, have been hit with the theft of copper ranging from stealing ground systems on AM plants to transmission lines at FM and TV installations. I hate to say it, but if your station has not been hit with this it’s for one of two reasons…1) You have a very good security system or, 2) It’s just not been your turn.

KING-FM has joined the parade of stations multi-casting their HD Radio signals. Just after Thanksgiving they began programming classical Christmas Music.

Speaking of HD Radio – I could not help but notice how the retailers are getting on board this change. Car-Toys recently ran an add for a $100 dollar HD Car Radio that included installation.. Best Buy is also on board with ads for new receivers. I know that there are those that are what you might call hold-outs that have yet to jump on the HD-Train…but their numbers are growing smaller all the time. It appears that the FM system is here to stay…As for the AM version…..Well, this is more problematic with a number of sky-wave/adjacent channel issues to resolve (if possible). With that being said, look for some major AM stations in this market to install the equipment in the coming year. At present there are only 2 – HD AM’s, 850 and 1250.

HD Radio is gaining in Europe also with broadcasters there forming an alliance. Members are from Switzerland, Ukraine and Poland.

Motorola has acquired Vertex, the owner of Yeasu a popular maker of Amateur Radio equipment. It’s too early to tell what the impact will be.

The FCC recently came to our town. I mean – THE FCC. From published reports they got an ear-full from those that are opposed to ‘big-media’. Granted there were others that told the Commissioners that consolidation was a good thing. It will be interesting to watch to see just how much the pendulum swings after the next President takes office.

The stockholders of Sirius and XM have voted in favor of the merger of the two satellite radio systems and are hopeful that they will be given the federal green-light by the end of the year. If it does not happen, Sirius has said that it will sue the FCC. Now that would be interesting.

The writer strike has certainly put a monkey-wrench in the works of TV. I wonder what the impact will be in the long run? Certainly broadcast TV did not need this, especially now.

What are we going to do in this area – after the Big-One? The lessons of Katrina and the role of WWL have not been learned and applied in this area. That will be the topic of the next LECC (Local Emergency Communications Committee) meeting in January according to Chairman Phil Johnson. What are we going to do to provide alternative communications from government officials and the public. I have been invited to attend this meeting where I will explain some of the preliminary work I’ve done in this area. I sincerely hope that a representative from every broadcast company in the metro can be in attendance so I can explain my preliminary thoughts and, from that, start getting our collective ducks in order.

Want to get into Radio ? Consider the fact that the US Labor Department says that Radio will be among the slowest growing industries in the coming decade. It adds the consolidation and technology changes will lead to 5% less announcers by 2015. Oh yes, the median salary for radio employees, $11/hour. Gee I can recall those spots for Columbia School of Broadcasting etc. I have to wonder if this will impact the efforts of some of our local schools?

Could the end of the PC be in sight?...Perhaps is the answer. With the popularity of new hand-held electronic gizmo’s increasing all the time the desire of the masses for a PC is loosing ground. In Japan a PC is no longer high on consumers lists. I guess I must be really out of touch as, other than a cell phone, I don’t own any portable electronic gizmo. Oh well, perhaps at this age I have earned that right?

We in this business have become used to the LED as a replacement for the #47 and #1829 indicator lamp…and have of course noticed the switch to LED’s for traffic signals and vehicle stop and clearance lights…and, of course, have made the change to the LED flashlight…and lets not forget tower lighting. What we have perhaps not thought about is how the LED is making some interesting moves in other areas of illumination. You can now purchase a replacement for your florescent light tube that contains an array of LED’s. The big change is in the 3rd world and locations that are off the grid. In the past those folks were hard pressed to come up with lights after dark. Now with advancements in solar cells and batteries combined with the efficiency of the LED you are talking about nothing short of a revolution. Lights at night are now possible in locations that previously could only dream. It’s great when you see technology make Progress in heart-warming directions.

With that, it’s time to close this column for another month and another year. Let me leave you with my prayer that 2008 be filled with blessings for you and yours. If the good Lord is willing, we will have more of this in 2008.

CUL 73, Clay, K7CR, CPBE.


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The Local Oscillator

The December issue of The Local Oscillator is hot off the virtual presses and available for your online viewing pleasure and amusement at:

Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD, DRB
Crawford Broadcasting Company


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Erratic Product Found

From Chapter 124 - Portland

Portland FCC Office Resident Agent Binh Nguyen tracked down an erratic intermod product that had been clobbering Stonehenge Tower 455 MHz RPU receivers for weeks. No modulation or I.D. on the offending signal since it was SCADA data, which has a 1-2, 1- 2-3, 1-2-3-4-5 cadence. Not something you want to hear capturing your traffic reporter live on the air. To add insult, it would move up and down the band, making squiggly noises as it went by.

Turns out the data transmitter feeding a 10 dB omni antenna on 456.2 MHz was owned by the Oak Lodge Water District, and was combining with an FM 2-way repeater in the rack next to it. The transmitter got replaced and a new pass-reject filter installed.

Case closed, thanks to Binh!


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FCC Auction

By Tom Smith
Madison Chapter 24

On January 28, 2008, the FCC will start spectrum auction 73 and will auction off 62 megahertz of the 700 MHz band. This band currently contains UHF-TV channels 52-69. The FCC has reserved 24 Megahertz of this spectrum for public safety use and has already auctioned off 18 MHz of the band. This band of spectrum has been subject to controversy since the FCC announced the first DTV rules in 1996. Because the FCC allowed all TV stations the use of a second channel during the DTV transition period, many politicians, public interest groups and those seeking spectrum for other uses called it a great giveaway to broadcasters. Senator John McCain and others claimed that the broadcasters were getting free use of spectrum worth $70 billion. With this auction, we will finally find out what the spectrum is worth, at least to those who bid for it.

The FCC has set starting bids and a reserve price for the spectrum. Each block of frequencies has different amounts of licenses and spectrum. The number of licenses goes from one nationwide license to 734 local licenses. The bands range from 6 MHz to 22 MHz. For each band, the FCC has given an upfront payment amount to enter the auction, the amount for the minimum opening bids, and a total reserve amount for the final winning bids. Besides the total, the FCC has released a spreadsheet with the upfront payment, minimum opening bids, and reserve price for each license.

The various amounts that the FCC has set, see below.

Bands A and B consists of two 6 MHz pairs, band E consists of a single 6 MHz channel, Band C consists of two pairs with all of channels 60 and 65 and 5 MHz of channels 61 and 66, and band D consists of 5 megahertz from each of channels 62 and 67. Band D will be operated as a combined commercial and public safety broadband system for the whole nation with commercial traffic limited or ceasing when needed for public safety use. The bidder will be required to construct a nationwide network that can be used by public safety providers and themselves.
The number of licenses in each band corresponds to the size of the market area they cover. Bands A and E are EA or Economic Areas and cover large parts of a state that are influenced by a major city in the area such as Milwaukee and the surrounding counties in Southeast Wisconsin. Band B is more local and is based on the areas that were used when the first cellular licenses were granted. Band C is divided into 12 regions around the nation and may cover several states. Band D is one nationwide license.

The minimum bid is based on the population in the license area at a rate of 1 to 3 cents per POP or person. The rest of the numbers come from various formulas the FCC uses and are described in the rulemaking notice. The bidding is conducted in a multi-round fashion until there are no increases in the bidding. The bids must be raised by an amount based on a complex formula the FCC has developed. The rulemaking that sets the rules for the auction is 122 pages long and contains nothing but information on the conduct of the auction. There is none of the normal legal information that normally follows a rulemaking notice. The spreadsheet listing the upfront payments, minimum bids and reserve prices is another 31 pages. One of the rules that are different in this auction than those in the past is that the bidding is blind. In past auctions, the FCC announced the bids for the last round and who placed what bids. This time the FCC will only announce the amounts bid. This will prevent the bidders from changing their plans on who bid what amount.

In previous auctions in the 700 MHz band, two one megahertz pair of bands that separate bands C and D and the public safety bands went for $532.8 million, and TV channels 54/59 and channel 55 went for $ 145.5 million. The total for all the auctions the FCC has conducted since the first one in July of 1994 is $58.9988 billion. A total of $334.1 million has been paid for 765 broadcast licenses with the bulk being for FM stations. After this auction, there is one auction for spectrum between 218-219 MHz and FM translators, AM and LPTV stations.

How high the bidding may go in this auction is unknown, but expect most of the major phone providers to be involved, with the possibility of companies such as Google and Apple joining the fray. This could be the FCC’s biggest auction yet and because the FCC has auctioned off much prime spectrum already, it may determine the final total the government may add to reducing the debt from the FCC auctions. When all is said and done, it still won’t be much considering that the debt is nearly $10 trillion.

From FCC Releases (


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First AM IBOC Complaint

From RadioWorld online
By Leslie Stimson, News Editor and Washington Bureau Chief for Radio World
SBE Seattle Chapter 16

In what may be the first AM nighttime IBOC interference complaint filed with the FCC, WYSL(AM), Rochester, N.Y. claims adjacent channel IBOC noise from WBZ(AM), Boston is interfering with WYSL?s nighttime signal.

WYSL operates DA-3, with 20 kW daytime, 13.2 kW critical hours and 500 watts at night on 1040 kHz. WYSL is licensed to Avon, N.Y., about 25 miles south of Rochester. Robert Savage owns WYSL; he tells me he also worked many years as a programmer in larger markets for larger group owners.

CBS Radio’s WBZ operates unlimited hours DA-1 with 50 kW on 1030 kHz. In his complaint, Savage is claiming adjacent-channel skywave to co-channel groundwave interference. The multi-page complaint includes an engineering affidavit from communications systems engineer and consultant Barry McLarnon.

WYSL personnel spent more than 100 hours and drove more than 700 miles in field tests gathering data to back up its complaint, Savage said.

In the complaint, Savage writes: “If allowed to continue unmitigated, the IBOC interference is likely to cause loss of advertising revenue and diminishment of WYSL?s market value as a broadcast property.” Savage says he could potentially lose about $100,000 in nighttime ads for sports events this winter due to interference.

Neither WBZ nor the FCC returned requests for comment.

Key to this case is whether the alleged interference is within WYSL’s protected contour; WYSL says it is. This could be the first AM nighttime IBOC-related interference complaint the commission has received since stations were allowed to leave their digital transmitters on 24/7 on Sept. 14.

Audio Division Chief Peter Doyle said in September that the agency had received no such complaints, and as of earlier this week, he said that hadn’t changed.


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The KE0VH Hamshack

Jack Roland
Entercom Denver

Greetings to you, Happy Holidays, and may the season be blessed for you and your family.

This month, I have run into several very interesting articles in my internet surfing, which primarily involves looking into amateur radio websites. The first one I want to tell you about this month is of course our SBE IRLP Hamnet webpage, which if you haven’t had the opportunity to join us yet, I would love to hear you on the air with us the first and third Saturdays of the month at 11am Mountain time, 1pm Eastern, locally on the WA2YZT repeater system locally in the Denver Metro area. Details on the repeater frequencies and pl tone is at the first website to tell you about: . Check it out, and join us on the net. Details on the net are at the second site to tell you about:

We have many things to discuss and information to give out, so please join us the first chance you have, SBE member, engineer, or neither. Please join us.

The second site I want to tell you about is actually at the ARRL website for amateur radio. I love reading stories that hams have written about their adventures, and one of the interests I have, thanks in part to my boss and friend Jeff, KE0MT, is vintage AM amateur radio. I have an Elmac AF-47 transciter with audio from my Heil Classic Pro mic, and a Hallicrafters SX-110 receiver, see here at my site:

So, as I was perusing the ARRL website, I came across this article: about a gentlemen who, as you will read, WAS at the right place at the right time. I encourage you to check it out.

Speaking of Amateur AM activity, there is a move to restrict AM activity to less bandwith than it takes up right now. Interesting discussion and details at

Packet radio is making a comeback now in the US with all the new digital technologies available to Amateur Radio. APRS is but one of the facets these days. Check out this website, it is really amazing some of the modes and ways that Amateurs can communicate these days. This is one of the most interesting and complete websites I have ever seen pertaining to Packet Radio.

Many of you have probably either heard or read the Amatuer Radio Newsline either on a club net, or at It is a great way to keep up with what is going on in Amateur Radio. The latest incarnation of this is here:

So, fun reading to be had with these and many more. If you ever have something you think is interesting regarding Amateur radio, be sure to email me at

So again for this month, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and may the Good Lord Bless you greatly in 2008!

73’ Jack, until next month de KE0VH!


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by Michael D. Brown N7AXC CSRE
Brown Broadcast Services, Inc., Portland
Thanks to Chapter 124

Disasters and deadlines have dominated recent weeks. In California, over 800 square miles and 2000 homes went up in flames, while at least one TV station was gutted at San Diego?s San Miguel Mountain. We had relatives who were facing imminent evacuation from the Malibu and Witch Creek fires. 600,000 others actually were evacuated. We also took phone calls from the area which variously described the scene and a "war zone", and described the air quality as "almost unbreathable". The flames nearly reached the famous 200 inch Mt. Palomar Telescope, in northern San Diego County.

Meanwhile, we were putting the finishing touches on dozens of full-power NCE applications, as the LONG awaited Filing Window was drawing to a close. Ironically, a few of the applications that we were preparing were in areas that were burning at that very moment.

This Filing Window is making history. As far as we can determine, there has never been a greater quantity of data uploaded to the FCC in a one week period, in their history. The 2003 translator window will stand as the largest number of applications filed in one window - 13,000 - but those were skeletal "short forms", with few attachments. We’re projecting that about 25 terabytes of data was uploaded in 10 days.. The load was so overwhelming that the CDBS online filing system crashed at least twice, with the FCC reluctantly extending the window for 2 days after the first crash. No new CDBS databases were issued for two full weeks, and the estimated 5000 applications that were filed still had not appeared 10 days after the close of the window. At this point, anyone filing for anything in the range of 88.1 to 92.5 MHz is flying blind, since any number of unknown prior Window filings might affect it. As in 2003, the vehicle of the filing window, combined with a long drought (in this case - 7 years have passed since there was an opportunity to file for new NCE stations), combined to create a gigantic feeding frenzy of activity. Every available Consulting Engineer and Communications Attorney with ties to non-commercial radio was working 14-17 hour days for weeks and even months on end, leading up to the Window. Even with the last-minute imposition of a filing limit of 10, we expect that 75 to 80% of the filings will be by religious broadcasters.

On several occasions we have discussed the many problems inherent in filing windows with FCC staff and officials. Invariably, the reply was be that the Commission is mandated to auction commercial spectrum and use some sort of point system for non-commercial spectrum. “How else can this be achieved, without filing windows”, they ask. Admittedly, the answers are not easy. Yet once again the FCC may have been overconfident on how well their servers could hold up to the onslaught, and how many (or few) applications might be filed. At the very least, after such a long drought, the NCE Window should have been split up - perhaps using 4 or more regional filing windows, as was done with Low Power FM.

Of course the TV folks can just chuckle at our grousing about a 7 year NCE-FM drought. The last time an entity could apply for a new full-power TV station was 1987.


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Static Line ­ Noise From All Over

From Chapter 3 ­ Kansas

Best Buy has announced they will sell only DTV television sets. While other retail outlets have virtually put this into practice, Best Buy is the first electronic retailer I have heard publicly proclaim this policy. I had told my wife I didn't intend to buy another TV unless it was a HDTV. An ad for Comp USA got me to thinking when I saw a USB type of HDTV tuner stick on sale. Gary Krohe had shown me one last spring when we had a program at TV-33 in Wichita. His was made by Pinnacle and seemed to work quite well; the one on sale at Comp USA was made by Hauppauge, and while it was less expensive, an examination of the minimum system requirements showed my laptop to come up short on system clock speed. The Pinnacle minimums would allow for my clock speeds by as much or more than they were short on the Hauppauge unit.

The Pinnacle HDTV tuner was a plug and play for me! It works well and will be a welcome addition to the RV when I am out camping, allowing me the luxury of following the weather radar on 12.2 if I am in range. I will be anxious to compare DTV to analog on nights when co-channel is taking NTSC out. For those of you who aren't familiar with RV's, most of their TV antennae are bidirectional, since folding a beam down flat against the roof for travel is less than practical on something that also rotates. Most of them are amplified now and a dipole form of antenna tends to be more broadband than when you begin adding reflectors and directors.

The Pinnacle will allow snapshots, clips, or entire programs to be recorded of those channels you may be watching, recording them on a DVD or a flash file. It will work with off air signals, cable, or your digital movie or still camera. Physically, it is a bit wider than most USB flash drives and about 4 inches long. It tends to run a bit warmer than one might be used to, so it is a little startling the first time you grab it when it is plugged in. While Pinnacle is active on the screen, the default setting suspends your screen saver automatically, and switches between the differing display alternatives easily on its own.

For TV guys, It might be a $100 tool of which your GM would approve, but it will also do digital radio from Internet, and it is advertised to be hardware ready to demod unencrypted QAM for the cable guys, although I haven't yet checked out that feature. It would be nice if captioning could be read from the picture being watched, but I haven't found a way to do that yet. You can see the data streaming atop the video. An electronic program guide is available by subscription, although the first year is without charge to the purchaser.

One caution: if you are using the HD stick on your laptop, don't put the laptop into "hibernate" mode (where what you are currently doing is stored on your hard drive, then resumes at that point when you bring it out of hibernation) without first closing the Pinnacle program; it causes a considerable number of errors which are best resolved by closing the Pinnacle program, then starting over by removing, then plugging the TV stick back into the USB port. It will have been unable to reach some of the resources it uses. The USB ports don't close at the same time some of the other resources do. All in all, its a handy tool that will provide enjoyment as well. I like it.

There have been changes in a company our chapter once visited. IFR located southwest of the Wichita Airport, was the site of a program for us several years ago. They manufactured lower cost spectrum analyzers and very specialized test gear for industrial communications for many years. At the time we were there, they had just purchased Marconi Instruments in England as a way of expanding the company, and were expecting to be successful bidders in military contracts soon to be let. The contracts were delayed and the huge debt load acquired with the purchase of Marconi began to sap the resources of IFR, resulting in the inevitable sag toward bankruptcy. About five years ago, the company placed itself on the market as a means of staving off bankruptcy. They were purchased by Aeroflex, a $550 million Plainview, NY company that took itself private just last August. Changes in business practices and a reduction of employees in Wichita were implemented to stop the bleeding and the newly purchased company began a turn around. Now, they are doing twice the revenue with half the workforce. Some of this can be attributed to assembly automation, but many specialized circuit boards are still stuffed by floor workers. The items produced have changed from the very competitive low end spectrum analyzers to highly specialized test gear and very rugged communications gear that can work in high ambient temperatures.

Product lines now include:

  • Test airborne avionics equipment for military and civilian aircraft;
  • Military aircraft communications and pilot locator responders; and
  • Test emergency response radio systems.

The military contracts did finally come through so that company sales grew to $112 million in 2006; they expect the same revenues for 2007, and are projecting a twelve percent growth rate for 2008 and 2009. The company was founded in 1968 by Fred Hunt, who ran it for three decades.


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SBE News


By Dennis Baldridge
Chapter 24 - Madison

Last month I discussed the benefits of SBE certification but the question still remains, which classifications of certification are right for me? The SBE offers six classes of engineering certifications, two operator certifications and one broadcast networking certification; all of which are valid for a period of five years. There are also two specialist certifications to document individual strengths.

Entry-level classes, which require no prior experience, are Certified Broadcast Technologist (CBT) and Certified Broadcast Networking Technologist (CBNT).

Candidates for Certified Audio Engineer (CEA) or Certified Video Engineer (CEV) must have five years of suitable experience in audio/video engineering or related technology and must achieve a passing grade on the proficiency examination.

Likewise, candidates for Certified Broadcast Radio Engineer (CBRE) or Certified Broadcast Television Engineer (CBTE) need 5 years of suitable experience in broadcast engineering or related technology and must achieve a passing grade on the proficiency examination.

Candidates for Certified Senior Broadcast Radio Engineer or Certified Senior Broadcast Television Engineer need 10 years of responsible broadcast engineering or related technology experience and achieve a passing grade on the proficiency examination.

The Certified Professional Broadcast Engineer must have at least 20 years of professional broadcast engineering or related technologies experience in radio and/or television.

Life Certification is for Professional Broadcast Engineers and Senior Broadcast Engineers who have maintained SBE Certification continuously for 20 years and are current members of SBE as well as those who have who have retired from regular full-time employment.

There are also two specialist certifications to give proof of an individual’s personal strength’s. They are Certified 8-VSB Specialist (8-VSB) and Certified AM Directional Specialist (AMD).

The two operator certifications are Certified Radio Operator (CRO) and Certified Television Operator (CTO).

Specific details and requirements on any of the SBE certifications can be found at the SBE Web site or by contacting our local SBE certification chair Jim Hermanson. Having the right SBE certification can affirm your expertise and indispensability in today’s ever changing marketplace.

Report of SBE-Led Meeting

Report of SBE-Led Meeting on Next Generation Public Alerting
On October 17, the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) chaired a meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss the next generation of public alerting. Attending the meeting with SBE were representatives of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the National Alliance of State Broadcast Associations (NASBA).

The purpose of the meeting was to bring together federal agencies responsible for developing and implementing an improved emergency notification system with representatives of the broadcast industry. Representing SBE at the meeting were Clay Freinwald, national SBE Emergency Alert System (EAS) Committee chair, who led the meeting, Richard Rudman, a member of SBE’s EAS Committee and John Poray, Executive Director.

Based on comments from the representatives of the federal agencies in attendance, there is much work to be done before any firm plan for the next generation alerting plan will be known. The agencies all said that input from the broadcast industry is needed and will be solicited to help design the system. FEMA, which has primary responsibility for system architecture, anticipates a system that will provide redundancy and resiliency. FEMA said their “IPAWS” plan will essentially be a “system of systems” and that a next generation of EAS would constitute one of those systems. NASBA representatives made it clear that funding for any required equipment should come from the federal government.

FEMA is preparing a “first assessment” of architecture for the White House, due by December 31 of this year. SBE representatives came away from the meeting feeling that there will likely be no action required of local broadcasters for at least a year and possibly longer. The group anticipates another meeting in January, 2008 to hear updates from the federal agencies and continue the dialogue.

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
Feb 8-18, 2008 Local Chapters Dec 31, 2007
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.


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Newsletter Committee

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

  Garneth M. Harris

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