SMPTE and SBE Groups Recognize John Burrell
On a snowy and chilly Thursday evening, February 27th, nearly 40 folks gathered at the historic Green Gables Country Club to recognize 'one of our own', Mr. John Burrell. As the group was finishing their dinners of prime rib and salmon, Rocky Mountain SMPTE Section Chair Rome Chelsi took to the podium to introduce John. John Burrell has enjoyed a career that has included work in both radio and television, in the programming, technical and sales arenas. As a young guy in Rocky Ford, Colorado, John worked at KAVI for Edward J. "Pat" Patrick. Over the years to come, John would co-found Burst Communications, sell Tektronix products, engineer at KOA radio and television and spend some time with the Grass Valley Group. John returned to the world of radio broadcasting just recently, first with Entrevision and now as Director of Engineering for the Entercom Broadcasting cluster of stations in Denver. John found time during a busy career to 'give back' to his industry by his participation with SMPTE.
Before asking John to come forward, Rome introduced our guest speaker for the evening. Tom Martino is a television and radio veteran who is widely known as "The Troubleshooter" for his work as a consumer advocate. Tom gave a humorous and insightful talk about his relationship with engineers from the perspective of an on air talent. Tom admitted that he was the kid who was always experimenting with 'techno-toys', often to the dismay of this brother, who became the subject of a number of Tom's earlier projects. Tom's program is syndicated by Westwood One to dozens of radio stations across the country.
Following Tom's talk, Rome asked John to come forward and Rome presented John with a plaque that recognized his association with broadcast and the video industries, which was followed by a hearty round of applause.
A number of folks then came by John's table to congratulate him and share a few brief memories.
SMPTE and SBE Chapters Visit The Starz Encore Playout Facility
The folks at Starz Encore were host to Rocky Mountain SMPTE and Denver SBE Chapter 48 on Tuesday, January 28, 2003. Over 50 people assembled at about 6:30 pm at Starz' brand spanking new facility just off South Peoria a little north of E-470 to see the multi-million dollar facility built on property owned by John Malone.
Director of Engineering Lonnie Scheele was one of a number of folks, including Ray Milius and Randy Pike, who provided the tour guide services of the plant. Almost 500 people work in the building 300,000 square feet on the site. Starz Encore is providing 13 channels over 8 transponders at this time.
It was quite a project to bring this location on line, and it was only 14 months from ground breaking to move in. There are 128.6 miles of cable in the walls and floor interconnecting all of the equipment.
Our thanks to Lonnie and all of the folks at Starz Encore for hosting, the tour and the sandwiches!
Certificaton Exam Session Dates Announced For 2003
The SBE National Certification Committee has announced exam session dates for 2002-03. Check the list below for the exam period that is best for you. For more information about SBE Certification, contact Chapter Certification Chair Fred Baumgartner Fred_Baumgartner@cable.comcast .com, or contact Linda Godby, Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000 or LGodby@sbe.org.
Durenberger Lands Position With Victory Sports
We heard recently from long-time broadcast guy and friend of Chapter 48 Mark Durenberger:
Well, I seem to have gotten myself into a second career.
Last week I accepted a position as VP, Technical Operations for the Minnesota Twins' new Regional Sports Network, Victory Sports. Victory is a cable-TV network fed by Power-Vu satellite to a couple of million cable subs in the Upper Midwest. We're building studios, selecting vendors for space segment and uplink, defining downlinks, setting up telco video channels and production truck deals; writing contracts. I'm having a ball.
Once a TV-rights case is settled in the courts we'll know our launch date. It could be as late as Fall 2003 but it's also possible we'll have to be on the air in mid-March, and we'll be ready to do that.
Ennes Workshop Set For NAB Convention
Ennes Workshop to Cover DAB, Centralization, Operational Efficiency
The Ennes Educational Foundation Trust, in cooperation with the Society of Broadcast Engineers, will present an Ennes Workshop during NAB 2003 in Las Vegas, April 5 from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm in Room N111 of the Las Vegas Convention Center. This year's workshop will cover today's most compelling broadcast technology and operational issues. Sessions are focused on digital audio broadcasting, centralization and broadcast operational efficiency.
Organizing this year's Ennes Workshop is Frederick M. Baumgartner, CPBE, Director of Engineering, Comcast Media Center in Littleton, Colorado. Baumgartner is a Trustee of the Ennes Trust and a past member of the national Board of Directors and Fellow of SBE. He currently works on VOD, Centralized Broadcasting and other projects for Comcast, following its acquisition of AT&T Broadband.
To attend the Ennes Workshop, you must be registered for the full NAB Convention. Go to www.nab.org to find information about convention registration. SBE members can register at the discounted "Partner" rate.
Moderating the morning sessions will be William T. Hayes, Director of Engineering and Technology, Iowa Public Television. Following lunch, sessions will be moderated by Fred Baumgartner, CPBE.
AUDIO PROCESSING FOR DIGITAL TRANSMISSION
Understanding The XM radio transmission system
Understanding The Sirius Radio Transmission System
Mark Kalman, Vice President of Sirius Radio's National Broadcast Studio in New York City, will provide an overview of the technology and details of the transmission infrastructure, studio/production networks and audio coding solutions.
Understanding The iBiquity IBOC Transmission Systems
Employing ASI in Broadcast Station Design
IP Based Content Distribution
Presenting will be Joe Fabiano, Chief Technical Officer of Pathfire. Joe led the development of Pathfire's innovative store and forward news distribution and management system, NewsTracker, which has been used by NBC News Channel to distribute their network feed to affiliate stations.
Connectivity for Centralization
The presenter is Danny R. Romeo, who operates Nexustar LLC, a full service integration firm specializing in the planning, design, implementation and management of broadcast, cable, fiber, satellite, DTH, Centralized Broadcasting, multimedia and interactive networks applications and systems.
IMPROVING STATION EFFICIENCY - CENTRALIZATION
Using the Advanced Digital Distribution Entity to Improve Station Operational Efficiency
This presentation will discuss the most desirable areas of cooperation, the limitations, risks and how this project has helped to bring into focus what can be achieved by centralcasting while retaining local identity. Tom Handy, Telecommunications Project Manager, KWSU/KTNW at Washington State University will be the presenter. Tom is responsible for coordinating the design and refinement of the ADDE concept and facilities.
Making the Centralization Decision
These issues are related to equipment, software, systems, egos and tradition. Guess which ones are the hardest to deal with? Top-level issues will be explored along with some of the thinking that goes into the decision making. Presenting is Wendell Bailey, Chief Executive Officer at Strategic Technology International, NBC.
The New York Times -- Remote Control Station and Transmitter Monitoring
Discussing the New York Times Digital Operating Center will be Frank A. Chebalo, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Operations, The New York Times Company Digital Operating Center and General Manager, WTKR-TV.
Frank has designed and is implementing The Digital Operating Center, which consolidates the technical functions of each of the television stations to a central facility in Norfolk. Centered on video server technology and interconnected utilizing a wide band network infrastructure, the Center operates all of the group stations by remote control.
McGraw-Hill's Centralcasting Initiative
The Evolution of LIN Broadcasting's Centralization
Emmis Broadcasting and Centralcasting
The Proposed, New and Improved Clear Channel Centralcasting Platform
An open-ended discussion involves the afternoon's presenters in a session of information exchange with the audience.
In Search Of Denver HD
I have often said that HD will take off when the Smith's get an affordable HD set, and invite my wife over for the Super Bowl... all the rest of us in the neighborhood will have to keep up with the Smiths...
Economy aside, the sets are teetering on affordable. The Super Bowl was on HD... and I saw it.
I'm not accustomed to watching football without getting paid... never really understood why one would want to watch for three hours, but Jody my better half does get it and lives for the season, and has plans of taking me to an arena game soon too :(.
So I suggested to Charlie and Anna that this was maybe the watershed event, this years Super Bowl, and I wished I had a way of seeing some of it so I could say I was there. Heck I saw the Buggles video "Radio Killed the Video Star" on MTV... I should see the first real Super Bowl in HD.
Charlie and Anna decided to make it an event. They have a nice big screen, and theater seating for a half-dozen. Well... the ABC affiliate is running on one lung, from a penthouse closet, and the cable isn't carrying it... Even in sight of downtown, the signal had enough of a BER to make it do weird things from time to time... I suppose the digital equivalent of watching Uncle Milty in black and white through the snow on my folks first TV.
The production was terrific... We voted that not having the yellow 1st down line wasn't missed in HD at all... apparently the "First and Ten" Box isn't ready for HD yet. Simply a picture to die for.
So, when I got home, I did want to see what HD I could get... Answer... South of Elizabeth, I get 40 viewable TV signals from up and down the Front Range... I could get KRMA, and KDVR, but KDVR looks great now, and their idea of DTV is not HD... I've heard it called "Fox 480-FuzzyVision" I assume they will grow out of that in time.
What irony... Denver is the home of Discovery HD theater (Comcast) and of course the world leading HD-Net... yet... it is also the home of CARE, and the place where you can move in from California to an environmentally delicate, fire prone mountainside, and insist that the tower that came with your neighborhood has to now go and your insurance rates shouldn't go up... and that's enough votes to hold the rest of the city, DTV and FCC hostage.
I guess DTV is only for the urban dwellers...
In any case... I did send a note out to the CEs and scour the internet... In case you weren't following along with the technology, here is what we know about local DTV:
Major Websites in order of my interest...
KRMA 6 -DT, CH 18, 1KW TPO, Antenna located on Republic Plaza building, next change will take place when a site receives Jefferson County approval for full power transmission facilities (they did). KRMA currently transmits a loop of local and PBS national HD or 16:9 SD material. We also air one current national PBS HD program every day in prime time.
By FCC rules, over the next few months KRMA-DT will convert to at least 50% simulcast of the KRMA analog program schedule. However, while simulcasting, we hope to provide local and national PBS programs that were produced in HD or 16:9 SD in their native format, while SD material will be upconverted. Because PBS doesn't provide an HD feed in the Mountain Time Zone, we are working out the details of our own HD time delay.
KUSA 9 -- DT16, Low power 1KW from Republic Plaza....a change is in the hands of JEFFCO. Up conversion of all programming at this time. HD net delay of NBC in thirty to sixty days when equipment is operational. Web site is: 9NEWS.com
KMGH 7 -DT 17 Until our zoning issues are resolved with Jeffco planning and Lookout Mountain we will continue to broadcast our limited, low power signal from atop our studios. I am sorry that our current signal does not reach you.
KCNC 4 - DT 35, 10KW ERP, located at Republic Plaza. KCNC-DT broadcasts a variety of 1080i HD programming and sports, AFC Championship game Jan. 19th 2003. Weekly many of the CBS programs are broadcast in HD, Young & Restless, CSI, CSI-Miami, Everybody Loves Raymond, Without a Trace, Presdio Med and many more check out http://www.cbs.com/info/hdtv/ for all CBS-HD Programming.
KDVR 31-DT 32 While we didn't get a response from Jim, general wisdom is that they are full power at 1 MW, and upconverting to 480P, from the lookout tower. KFCT 22 DT? All the evidence in says it is the Fox 480P with not a lot of bells and whistles.
KWHD 53 - DT 46 Ron has the antenna up and the transmitter on the way... Nice antenna, side mount on the tower out on Hilltop Road.
KWGN 2 - DT 34 Don has a construction permit, and a major Jefferson County problem... I'll let him tell the story if he wishes. If anyone looked like they were going to make it past the Citizens Against Virtually Everything (CAVE), KWGN did... oh well.
Amateur Radio News
By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
If you think obtaining your amateur radio license is hard, here's some encouragement. Six-year-old Mattie Clauson from Roseburg, Oregon, earned her General class license January 13th. Mattie, KD7TYN-a fourth-generation Amateur Radio operator in her family-could be the youngest General-class operator in the US. She earned her Technician license last July. "The Element 3 test was pretty hard," Mattie said, recalling the January 8 test session in Myrtle Creek. "I studied for it a long time. I tried a total of three times and passed it on my last try. The Element 3 test was a lot harder than the Tech test." Mattie was ambivalent about the 5 WPM Element 1 Morse code exam, characterizing it as "not too hard, just a little, but kind of easy too." Mattie is already working on her Extra ticket, which she expects to be a whole lot tougher than the General. Her parents, Tim and Charlotte Clauson, AC7SP and KD7QZB, say Mattie became interested in amateur radio when she was five.
(Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League's "The ARRL Letter" and the www.arrl.org web site)
Following is a wrap up of alleged LPFM abuses... clearly unattributed opinion, and not presented as fact.
There were concerns that some LPFM stations were placed by organizations in multiple locations under the guise of "local presence". This is where the "Assembly De Deus" and "M&M" applications in various communities have come under fire. In these cases, it was questionable whether these organizations have local branches or this was truly a case of multiple applications. Some were also concerned about a large number of "Calvary Chapel of ___________" applications. I have investigated some of the Calvary applications within our AOI and have actually been in contact with some who were assisting in their applications. At least for the ones in So. Cal, are not being controlled or funded by the parent CC organization. This was further evidenced by the lapsing of construction permits on several stations because of local issues (such as lack of local funding, health problems with the pastor, etc.)
The jury is still out on M&M but I can tell you that a couple of M&M applications were fully registered in MAX. Probably the biggest alleged abuse of the LPFM service was done by someone named Lyle Evans. Here's how the scam worked. He would file an application for a local catholic church in a community with the name "(name of church) Educational Association". The application would show the local pastor as the signer of the application and show various "parishioners" as the parties to the application. He would intentionally not claim 3 points so if there was an MX issue, they would be out of the running. Applications also note that the stations would carry the Eternal Word Television Network (ETWN) which he claims "has been found by the FCC to provide educational programming". Once the CP was granted, he allegedly contacted the church and basically said to them "I have been able to get you a construction permit for an LPFM station, I can set you up with station equipment". We have seen some situations where the pastors have written to the FCC to claim that they do not want the stations and then the applications were later dismissed.
Other abuses of the LPFM process have been situations such as the Michael Krueger situation in Tucson where a single applicant has filed 7 applications on 7 different channels. There is at least one organization that is involved in a 3 station MX group (2 of the applications theirs) who could not wait, so they purchased a full power NCE FM station and now they run a small network of satellators. Their LPFM applications are still pending.
Then you have the other applications that were not in compliance with the rules, such as individual applicants trying to claim that they have "jurisdiction" in their area and propose a public safety radio service. The problem is that a majority of these abusive applications are still pending with no action. Some of these applications are holding up other applicants.
What I can say is that Informal Objections in the LPFM service are currently effective on delaying applications (others and REC have IOs against singleton applicants but the problem is that NO ONE AT THE FCC IS READING THESE OBJECTIONS YET. If they were, we would have a whole boatload of dismissed applications. I have not heard about any major problems with on the air operations of any LPFMs. No NALs or admonishments have been passed down to LPFM stations thatI am aware of.
Media Ownership Up Front And Center
By Tom Smith
The FCC has completed the comment period of its Notice of Inquiry concerning media ownership. The FCC received over 2000 comments, including many one and two page comments from individuals that mainly said no more consolidation. Many of the industry comments asked for the rules to be loosened more, with the NAB asking for the allowing of TV duopolies in all markets with certain restrictions.
Just before the end of the comment period, FCC Chairman Michael Powell announced a public hearing on media consolidation in Richmond, Virginia which will be held on Thursday, February 27th. Commissioner Michael Copps had threaten to hold his own hearings.
On January 14th, all five Commissioners appeared before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to discuss telco issues. After questions critical of the Commissions handling of telco competition issues-in which the Senators and Commissioners both agreed that there was not enough telco and broadband competition yet-the Senators raised the issue of media consolidation and local ownership limits. Senators from both parties express their concerns, and mentioned the ownership of 1200 stations by Clear Channel many times in the questioning. All the Commissioners agreed there was a problem in determining the number of stations one could own in a local market, and that the limits were being abused by loopholes in the rules. By the end of the hearing, Chairman Powell was backing off from the idea of major changes in the ownership rules.
On January 16th, Chairman Powell and Commissioners Copps and Kevin Martin appeared at a Forum on Media Ownership where they gave statements and participated in the discussion. On January 20th, William Safire wrote a column in the New York Times critical of media consolidation, and on January 29th, Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold held a hearing on media consolidation, which included Lowary Mays, the head of Clear Channel as a panelist.
Disclaimer: This author did file comments in the Notice of Inquiry on Broadcast Ownership
Featuring News, Rumors and Views
Before I get into the usual fare, a couple of words about the WWFCC situation. When you read that our frequency coordination system has problems, without clarification, you are left to believe whatever those words mean to you. I want to make things perfectly clear here.
For the past several years our area has been blessed with the talents, energy and dedication of Greg Thies and George Bisso. These guys have served us well. How do I know that? The answer is simple: we'd be having technical difficulty, interference and, as a result, political unrest if things were not being done correctly.
So what is the problem? The issues are all in the area of process and procedure. Back when the new bylaws for our coordination effort were adopted, and the WWFCC was born, coordination was to become a committee activity, communications were to become mainly electronic, database information was to be made available, reporting responsibilities were set out, etc., etc. For WHATEVER reason many of these procedural and process aspects never came to pass. Whereas I was one of the major sponsors of this change back then-as well as being the drafter of the committee's bylaws-I felt obligated to try and resolve the situation.
These issues have come up in our Chapter's Board Meetings over the years. The Board, rightly so, was concerned that the bylaws of a standing committee were not being followed. Another factor in all of this is the fact that the job of coordination has changed a great deal since the bylaws were adopted. Back then we did not have a GDC (Game Day Coordinator). At a recent Board Meeting George Bisso said he is now spending 95% of his time with not only Seahawks Football, but coordination for a number of other events as well.
Finally, after considerable debate, the matter was tackled head-on by the Board. First the Board determined that the Chapter should continue to be involved in coordination and that this activity should operate under the supervision of the Board of Directors. I submitted that my previous ideas may have been good for another time and/or place, and went on to suggest that the Chapter return to a much simpler way of handling the policy and procedural aspects of this chore; and, while we are at it, address the new category of Event Coordinator. To make this change we would have to first disband the Committee. (This is the item that you were called upon to vote on).
The next step would be for the BOD to create some simple guidelines that would guide the Chapter as we move forward. I agreed to take from the existing WWFCC Bylaws the major attributes of the document and draft something new; further, this draft was reviewed by the SBE National Coordination Director and others on the national level to be sure that we would not be deviating from where we should be. I submitted this work to the BOD on Jan 1. Now it's up to them. It may look like I have had a lot of influence in this activity. I have had a lot of experience, but I assure you that my single vote on the Board is NOT the majority. I hope that this clears up any misunderstandings.
Local TV got more interesting with another partnership being formed for a 10 PM Newscast. This time it's KIRO/7 that will be doing the news on KSTW/11. This appears to be a win-win for both stations. It will give Ch 11 news that it has not had for some time and give KIRO exposure on another channel. If I am counting correctly, this will mean that we will have three 10PM 'casts (13-11-16) and three at 11 (4-5-7). Kinda funny when you stop and think that it was Ch 11 that at one time had their own news department and was telling all that you could get your news first there. Apparently Viacom, the parent of 11, has relationships like this in other markets.
Another music AM bites the dust as Entercom moved its present 770 programming and call letters to 1210, which has been simulcasting KBSG-FM for many years. This may well have been the last radio simulcast we had in the market, marking an end of an era where that mode of radio was quite common. 770 became KTTH with an all talk format. Along with this KZBZ (once known as KIRO-FM) moves its studios from the Entercom Eastlake building to the Metropolitan Park West Tower where it joins KMTT, KNDD and KISW.
On the 31st I dropped by Westlake Electronics to help Denny celebrate his retirement. He is moving to Bozeman, Montana to take up snow blowing and other related activities. I asked Denny if he would be my Montana reporter... he said he would... should be interesting. Was nice to see a number of others stop by. Paul Paulson was there, only a couple of days prior to this event he also celebrated his retirement. Paul has his sights on that place up near Darrington. For the rest of us... it's work as usual.
Over at the Entercom radio factory, where I hang out, I have found myself knee-deep in planning for HD Radio. I knew that Seattle was a 'roll-out-market' and that Entercom was a 'player' in the Ibiquity scheme... I thought (trouble with doing your own thinking) that perhaps they would add the IBOC system to one of their five FMs. This is not to be the case as they have filed the applications, shipped out the P.Os and signed on the dotted line. I spent a good portion of my holiday vacation time getting this project underway. Radio folks are starting to discover what TV has known for some time. It's a different world when you are called upon to purchase and install equipment with which you have no experience... and hardly anyone else does either. Several stations and/or groups here in Seattle have announced that they are going to take a slower approach to this new system preferring to wait and see.
The biggest show in Vegas wound up with a number of interesting items. Local little software maker (Microsoft) was again featured in the news with Bill Gates showing off their latest contraption: a wrist watch that appears to pick up where Seiko left off. HD Radio was making some news of their own with announcements that radios for the new mode will become available later this year. Perhaps the consumer industry is becoming used to new gizmos at a more rapid clip these days and will embrace HD much as they have the new systems by Sirius and XM. From this vantage point it's hard to predict how well the new system will do, but it appears that Ibiquity have learned from the mistakes of the past and we are not likely to see another AM Stereo fooopah. (English translation.)
The subject of HD Radio, or IBOC, has been a hot topic on the Radio-tech Remailer of late and has been a magnet for those that are opposed to much of anything new. I am constantly reminded how change impacts people differently. Some look at change as representing opportunity, while others see change as 100% threat. HD Radio and DTV are headed our way. We need to either jump on board or miss the train. This spring's event in Las Vegas is sure to once again have a radio hall filled with lots to see and tech sessions all about IBOC. This is going to be an exciting year for Radio.
Over on Vashon Island, according to a local newspaper article, a movement is afoot to turn the island into a 'sustainable community': "The goal is to turn the island into one of the nation's first sustainable communities, a place that provides for all of its basic needs so that resources don't have to be taken from another part of the world." This is going to be interesting to watch. For starters, I wonder how they plan on generating electricity? When you factor in all those 50kW AM 'Amp-Eaters' this is going to take some real effort. Perhaps they have discovered oil there?
The antenna that's being used by KKOL aboard the ship in the bay has certainly created a lot of interest and debate. A number of Engineers around the country are calling upon the FCC to permit AMs to use antennas that lack the efficiency of the tall towers to be used in locations where zoning, height restrictions etc., would preclude the use of a conventional tower/antenna. Valcom is based in Canada with offices in Vancouver. Terry Spring is going to try and have Jim Dalke tell us about this at the next meeting.
NAB this year is April 5 through 10. If you have not made reservations yet, time to get with it. Several friends purchased airline tickets in late December to take advantage of the prices. Wonder if United will be still flying? If you are going to NAB this year, here is a sneak preview of some events so you can load your Palm:
Is your station involved with ABIP? If so, you should remember that RF Exposure analysis is NOT included in the voluntary inspection program. In light of recent FCC activity in this area, if I were you, I'd make doubly sure that your station is in compliance... and if for any reason you are not sure... then pay for that consultant to come out and wave his magic 'wand' and issue his report.
Got a note the other day from Bob Walther. Seems Bob is going to be leaving the area after many years taking care of a number of broadcast properties around these parts. His wife, Peg, has taken a job with the State Department and they are heading to the other Washington. I asked that Bob stay in touch. Will pass on what I hear... good luck, Bob.
Looks like Cable is starting to carry high-def. At least in some places. Reports are that Cox has on line a number of LA stations. Still waiting to go into a large national chain store in this area and ask to see one of our local HD stations - OFF - AIR ... heck, I'd be happy to see it delivered by a local cable system too. Will be interesting if these same stores will carry HD Radio items or will radio suffer from the same fate?
Clear Channel has apparently elected to purchase the little Eatonville based FM called "The Funkey Monkey". The little 104.9 FM covers only a small portion of this market and yet fetched some 4.5 Million bucks. Pretty good gain for the previous owners I would suspect. By the way, I am guessing on the spelling of the station's brand... it could be Funky Monky or Funkey Monky or.........
Do you recall receiving the SBE Membership Directory last fall? I can tell you that I was really surprised when I looked at the front cover.... I instantly recognized the pictures as being shots of Entercom's facilities in Kansas City. If you can dig out the Directory, here is what you are looking at. On the top, left, is shown the bottom of a self-supporting tower on a building. This is a very unique installation as that building contains all the studios for Entercom-K.C. The tower is part of a two-tower directional AM and the same tower is diplexed and used by an expanded band AM. Those big cabinets contain the diplexing and matching equipment. The picture on the lower right shows one of the engineers inside of the 10kW Nautel transmitter that feeds that tower. This operation has a 'fleet' of radio remote trucks (big fleet). I would wager that they do more RPU remotes than all the Seattle stations combined. The pic on the lower left shows the inside of one of the rigs. Like most radio stations these days, they are crammed full of computers. On the upper right is Susan Johnson, the traffic director there. Hmmmm. Wonder if she is an SBE Member? So how did Entercom get its stations featured on the cover? My guess is the fact that Primedia being in KC... Chris Scherer works there (editor of BE Radio)... and Chris is on the SBE BOD... has something to do with it.
This month I will leave you with some very valuable information. Perhaps you have read some advertising for a product and wondered exactly what we meant by some of the terms.... Well, my friends, you need wonder no more Read on...
Enjoy - and think SPRING!
Clay, K7CR, CPBE (Wonder if that's a Canadian station?)
The End User
February 2003 Issue
Dude - you're #2! The fourth-quarter 2002 sales figures are in, and Dell, despite being the #1 PC maker in the US, saw its worldwide sales slip to second place. HP took top honors by shipping just over 100,000 more computers than Dell in the last three months of 2002. While HP's merger with Compaq certainly advanced sales, it seems that HP's aggressive pricing structure was the main reason it reclaimed the number one spot. This battle - and the lower prices that result - certainly will continue throughout the year. Basic desktops have hit the sub-$300 price point already.
If you're planning a laptop purchase and want to use it as an audio workstation - better carefully check its specifications to confirm the on-board sound card has a "line-in" connector. Many manufacturers have quietly eliminated this port, and provide only a microphone input. While this will work in some applications, remember the mike input is monaural - so if you need to record in stereo, an external sound adapter (either USB or PCMCIA) will be required.
Past "End User" columns have mentioned the many bargain shopping sites on the Internet. But did you know you can use these sites to get a better price at your local "brick and mortar" retailer? Many retailers have "price-matching" policies that include matching to the best on-line deals. It makes sense to spend a few minutes researching that new purchase on-line, finding the best price, and taking a printout of the webpage to a store for a possible pricematch. Check sites such as PriceGrabber, FatWallet or Techbargains to get the lowest online prices and latest deals.
The Consumer Electronics Show was held last month, and a couple of the new toys on display were tailored to video buffs. The next generations of DVD-camcorders were on display, and these allow video-editing right on the camcorder! Plus the discs now can be played directly on set-top DVD players. Expect prices in the $1000 range when the camcorders hit the market this summer. And you've heard of PVRs, right? Personal Video Recorders? Now say hello to the PVP - the personal video player. This hand-held device has a four-inch LCD screen and can store over 70 hours of programming, beamed from your PVR via infrared. No pricing or introduction date has been set for the PVP - but when they do come out - I'm getting in line for one!
Finally - a reminder to make February "Back-Up-Your-Computer" month. Why February? Why not? Any month is a good month to back up your computer. My reason for mentioning it is a personal experience last month where the boot drive on one of my servers died suddenly. Since the data was backed up - I just restored it to a different server and things were fine. There's plenty of inexpensive (and free) backup software available - and with CD-R drives going for as little as $10 and blank discs free after rebate - it's very inexpensive to perform backups.
That's it for this month. Questions, suggestions or comments? Send 'em to email@example.com. Till next month....all the best!
Comrex Visits Chapter 3
Our program as well as the evening meal was provided by Dan Rau of Comrex, whose main product lines are several models of codecs for all types of telephone lines. They are working hard to complete a wireless codec for use with cellular phones. A couple of laid back Comrex shirts were awarded as door prizes by Dan before the program began.
Dan Rau, a displaced Texan now living in New England near the Comrex plant, now finds one mission in his relocated life is introducing un-educated Yankees to true southern cuisine, including chicken fried steak and barbeque, even if it takes a whole brisket. Another of his pet peeves is the notion that iced tea cannot be served "out of season" in New England restaurants.
The Comrex support of SBE members is remarkable. Dan's performance was exemplary, and his engineering support by Tom Hartnett, who stayed online (working through a Comrex Codec) for the better part of an hour from the New England plant just in case there were any really specific questions. The thing you might forget is that for Tom it was about 9:00 PM EST before our program even began! Just after our program ended, I heard him verifying the time of the next day's meeting in Iowa with Dan prior to disconnecting. Comrex was started in 1961 by the late John Cheney who had experience working at Telex in Oklahoma City. His first contribution was a working UHF wireless microphone to counter the problems faced by the VHF wireless units. He then launched into a frequency shift product to recapture the low frequencies lost to the 300-3Khz wire links used in POTS (plain old telephone service) audio remotes at that time. The company makes several models of digital audio codecs featuring mini mixers to allow for quick remote setup. Many models have a mix minus bus to keep talent from hearing double or delayed audio when they are connected to an IFB. It was noted the move by the FCC to force all STLs to go digital - and the delay resulting from digital processing, with cause talent to to go go nuts nuts!!
Comrex recently bought the Gentner Digital Phone product line used extensively on many talk shows. Dan explained a POTS Codec as a device using a POTS line with frequency response of no better than 250Hz-3.1Khz; with a V.34 modem (24Kbps max); makes a peer to peer connection from a modem built into the codec; which then performs an adaptive equalization in about ten seconds, and which may continuously monitor and adapt as required. Tom Hartnett gave us a dissertation on several algorithms used in many codecs. CELP (code excited linear prediction) is used in most cell phone technology and is best used for voice frequencies. If music happens to be present, overequalization can degrade the voice part of the program and things can go south quickly. A modified MPEG decoding used by many codec producers on the receive end can cause delays of 200 -500 msec. Comrex holds processing delays to 100-120 msec. in their ALBRA (advanced low bit rate algorithim) algorithim. Use of a serial port allows flash upgrades in the field for many of the Comrex codecs.
Dan told us many broadcasters use a Comrex codec as a "back up STL", figuring it is better to be on the air in mono, than off the air in stereo! He also gave us several tips on why a remote may fail.
As mentioned before, Comrex is working diligently to complete a codec for use with cell phones. Tom mentioned the main problem here is the bit rate restrictions imposed by a cellular channels. CDMA format is used by Verizon, Sprint and many others with a maximum of 14.4 kb/s, while T-Mobile (previously Voice Stream), and Cingular to some extent, uses a GSM format restricted to about 8.5 kb/s. The problem worsens when cells are linked by internet (common with CDMA users) in which the delay may change rapidly. This poses no problem to a data connection using ack/nak protocols, but can be devastating to decoded linear audio outputs. The result can be artifacts in the audio, depending on how the codec algorithm handles this problem.
The best advice is to try the gear before you buy it to make certain it will perform as you want. Comrex provides several lines of known quality which you can dial into to test your codec as an aid in troubleshooting. Check for more information on the Comrex web site at www.comrex.com.
Our thanks to Dan Rau and Tom Hartnett for a informative and fun evening. .
Compiled By Tom Smith
ET Docket No. 02-380; FCC 02-328
The FCC had previously issued a notice of rulemaking on this allowing unlicensed devices in the TV broadcast band and in the 3 GHz band which was covered in last months newsletter. The FCC has now published a notice of this rulemaking in the FEDERAL REGISTER on January 21, 2003. In this notice, the comments dates were set. Comments are due on April 7, 2003 and replies on May 6, 2003. The notice was published on pages 2730-2733.
MB Docket No: 03-15; RM 9832
MM Docket No. 99-360
MM Docket No. 00-167
MM Docket No. 00-168
The FCC has issued Notice of proposed Rulemaking concerning issues surrounding the transition to DTV. They are asking for some general information concerning the transition to DTV and HDTV including obstacles to broadcasters, consumer equipment availability, cable and DBS HDTV programming, and program availability from program producers.
Comment is sought on a proposal to set a deadline of May 1, 2005 for final channel election and to allow the swapping of digital and analog channels before the end of the transition.
The Commission also addresses the issues of replication and maximization of signals including how long stations can go before having to maximize their signal and if they should be allowed an intermediate level that provides more than city grade coverage, but does not cover the whole existing analog service area. Channel 51-69 signal issues are also discussed including interference from new services in the band and the clearing of the band by TV stations.
Other issues that the notice covers include Channel 51 interference to and for new services, pending DTV applications which are in limbo due to Mexican or Canadian border issues and other legal restraints, the non-commercial station deadline, and DTV set labeling and Consumer awareness of DTV. Also included are changes in the simulcasting rules, DTV station Identification, V-chip, closed captioning, updates to the ASTC standards and PSIP, including how it affects translator stations.
Public Interest obligations of the public file and children's TV requirements are discussed in relation to DTV. One question is if they should be expanded. This is treated as a separate rulemaking and should be filed as such. Actions on these issues may affect your analog station also.
The FCC has finally started to address the issue of translators and satellite stations in a couple ways. PSIP is the main issue with translators, but on channel booster stations are dealt with also. The main issue surrounding satellite stations is if they should be able to just cut from analog to digital operation, and should it be dependent on the market size. Satellite stations in larger markets could be required to transmit both an analog and digital signal during the transition.
A new issue is being raised: that of allowing distributed transmission technologies. In distributed transmission, a station would use several smaller transmitters and towers operating on the same channel to cover the same area as that was covered with one tall tower and high power transmitter. This issue has implications on translators also.
The biggest issue in this notice is Section 309(j)(14) of the Communications act. which is the requirement to return the analog channel by January 1, 2007. This part of the notice asks for comment on how to define a market, and compute when the number of homes having DTV receivers is over 85%. Availability of set-top boxes, translator, and Class A TV stations are also discussed.
The notice was adopted on January 15, 2003 and released on January 27th. Comments are due on April 14, 2003 and replies are due on May 14, 2003.
The Commissions actions on this notice may set the final direction of the DTV transition.
ET Docket No. 00-258; FCC 03-16
On January 30th, the FCC reallocated 30 MHz of spectrum from the Mobile Satellite Service for Advanced Wireless Service or 3rd generation wireless. Spectrum allocated is the 1990-2000 MHz band, the 2020-2025 MHz band and the 2165-2180 MHz band. The 1990-2000 MHz and the 2020-2025 MHz bands are in the first two channels of the 2 GHz remote TV pick-up band. Broadcasters were to clear the band for MSS Service, but most of the systems never started operation due to financial problems. MSS retains the 2000-2020 MHz and the 2180-2200 MHz bands. Three licenses for MSS service were canceled in this action.
There will be more on this action next month because of its effect on the 2 GHz band. A number of actions relating to this were released at the newsletters deadline.
From FCC Releases (www.fcc.gov)
How I Spent My Winter Vacation...
We've joked on and off about putting together a travel agency dedicated to Geek Trips. The fact is that the traditional vacation has never had much appeal to me, and I doubt I am completely alone, but certainly close. I know I'm not alone, because when I put out an invite for participants on any Geek Trip, the interest is high, though the timing may be wrong. Last year, we did the Very Large Array (VLA) "near" Socorro, New Mexico, and this year it was the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.
This trip started with an entry in Electronic Design News' (EDN) monthly design contest. I sent in a little optical do-da that I thought was a pretty creative use of a few small parts. A few months later, Rich Oliver, sent me a copy of a page torn from EDN with an almost identical entry dated 1973. I emailed my apology only to get the "great minds think alike J" response. A few quick messages over the week, and we found our paths had crossed several times, albeit never in the exact space-time coordinates, until now. More than that, Rich is Lowell's Electronic Design Specialist. He puts together the computers and sensors and motors that make the big scopes point to the right place, and interfaces the instruments to the data collection devices. Now, like 160,000 other folks, I read Astronomy every month, and I knew a bit of Lowell's history with the canals on Mars, and finding Pluto and all; so the first part of any geek tour is finding the guy with all the keys who is willing to let you into the secret places.
We found a date... no moon, no other mutual calendar conflicts, and we had 14 "I'm interested responses"... which by travel day on the 30th of January had shrunk to three... perfect size for this Geek trip. A great Geek trip requires we fly below several radars, not the least of which are the Lowell "tour guides" whose territorial boundaries we intend to violate blatantly.
Just North of Albuquerque, a black unmarked SUV passed us on I-25 and waved us to pull up alongside. John Sprague and partner, Denver FCC, "black ops." Now, on a lot of these trips I have a habit of taking an HF rig with, and it is capable in less than responsible hands of putting what the CBer's call "medium power" and the Hams call "barefoot" on the 27-MHz band. There was no danger of that this trip J. With FRS, CB, HF, UHF, and VHF radio available in our car, Rand and I signaled the universal "do you have a radio?" Apparently FCC "black ops" maintains radio silence. An FCC sighting is always a good omen.
THE CLARK SCOPE
Arriving Flagstaff after dark, Ray Conover (known to many as Dr. Dish, or the father of USSB or the father of DBS), Rand D. Reynard, and I met up with Mr. Oliver, and after dinner wandered over to the observatory. At the end of the 19th century, Clark, and then later his son, made huge and heavy light buckets. This guy is 26-inches... a lot or aperture (and light gathering ability... just like antennas... bigger is better, aperture is everything). Just the four of us with Lowell's telescope counting the moons of Saturn and checking out the Cassini division. The same optics Lowell used to chart the canals of Mars. The next day, we would look at the photo plate that first captured Pluto... and a bunch of historical stuff like that. The picture is of the Orion Nebula, with a stock digital camera through the eyepiece. Rand took the shot, and works on the DU scope downtown, which is an earlier, smaller (a mere 3-tons) Clark refractor. By the way, it's used for public viewing if you are interested.
The Naval Prototype Optical Interferometer (http://ftp.nofs.navy.mil/projects/npoi/) was the target of this geek trip. The NPOI collects light from optical siderostats (as in sidereal for tracking the stars as opposed to say heliostat as in tracking the sun). When this all comes together, the NPOI should resolve down to a milli-arc-second... as in reading license plates on the moon. Even now, some fuzzy surface features on stars (limb darkening for example) are visible in some images. NPOI has an order of magnitude yet to achieve both on resolution and light gathering ability.
NPOI is to optical astronomy what the VLA is to radio astronomy.
As with all geek tours, no one gives you much attention until the intelligent questions start... then it turned into an all day deal... and then we got to see even the holly grail of optical interferometery... the light combining table... and all the other stuff the "public" isn't supposed to get near. It is so sensitive that lifting the lid for a few minutes and exposing it to our body heat and moisture will take it out of calibration for 48-hours. Work progressed elsewhere, so 48-hours they had to spare before the next observation run. I have included a picture (800 ASA, f2.8, 1 second... dark in there). People with really cool toys love to show them off to people who get it. From my experience, that just doesn't happen that often.
Bottom line... this was yet another tour of a lifetime. Now, how to build one in my back yard?
A Little Inspiration:
Folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
A closed mouth gathers no foot.
Be nice to your family and friends. You never know when you are going to need them to empty your bedpan.
'Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubts.
Time is the most valuable thing that people can spend.
The door to opportunity is marked "push."
Yes, another engineer/biologist joke:
An astronomer, biologist, an engineer and a mathematician were crossing the border into Scotland from England on a train when they saw a field with a black sheep in it.
The astronomer said, "Look -- all sheep on Earth are black."
The biologist said, "Look, in Scotland the sheep are black".
The engineer replied, "No, in Scotland some of the sheep are black".
The mathematician rolled his eyes to heaven and said, very patiently, "In Scotland, there exists at least one field, in which there is at least one sheep which is black on at least one side".
Burma Shave Signs
For those of you who never saw the Burma Shave signs, here is a quick lesson in our history of the 1930's and '40's. Before the Interstates, when everyone drove the old 2 lane roads, Burma Shave signs would be posted all over the countryside in farmers' fields. They were small red signs with white letters. Five signs, about 100 feet apart, each containing 1 line of a 4 line couplet......and the obligatory 5th sign advertising Burma Shave, a popular shaving cream.
DON'T LOSE YOUR HEAD
DROVE TOO LONG
SPEED WAS HIGH
NO MATTER THE PRICE
THE ONE WHO DRIVES WHEN
PASSING SCHOOL ZONE
Garneth M. Harris
Newsletter archives are available
Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Societies, its officers, or its members. We regret, but are not liable for, any omissions or errors. The Denver SBE and SMPTE Newsletter is published approximately twelve times per year. It is prepared with a combination of text and graphic data. Submission deadline is 10 days before the last day of each month. Other SBE or SMPTE chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original authors, sources, and/or the Denver SBE/SMPTE Newsletter.