Return to Archives

Golden Era Of American Technology Ends: Quantegy Shuts Down Analog Tape Facility

Random Radio Thoughts

National Office News From SBE

Congress Passes Satellite Transmission Bill

WWV'S Male Voice-Provider Passes

Tower Lighting 101

PDX Radio Waves

Static Line

The YXZ Report

Amateur Radio News

FCC Fines Trucking Centers For Marketing Illegal "Amateur" Transceivers

Travels With Fred




February, 2005

Return to table of contents

Golden Era Of American Technology Ends: Quantegy Shuts Down Analog Tape Facility

Jan 9, 2005 8:00 AM
Beyond The Headlines

Some 250 employees of Quantegy, one of the last of the major analog tape manufacturers, got a post Christmas surprise when they returned to work last week.

"No Trespassing" signs had been erected and security passwords were changed at the Quantegy plant in Opelika, AL.

"Quantegy has ceased operations pending restructuring. This is due to financial issues that have plagued the industry and the company for some time. All employees were laid off pending further notice" a brief press release issued by the company said.

The Opelika plant, once employed some 1800 workers, recently filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

End of an era

The plant closing may be the end of a glorious era in American recording technology. Quantegy made what was once Ampex-brand recording tape. The Ampex company name is forever tied to development of American recording technology and to its music.

The story began in World War II. In 1945, after capturing several German "Magnetophon" tape recorders from Radio Luxembourg, the American Signal Corps recorded a speech by General Dwight Eisenhower to be played to the people of occupied Germany.

Due to a shortage of recording tape, the speech had to be recorded on a reel of used German tape. Unfortunately, due to a problem with the German tape recorder, the tape was not completely erased and the voice of Adolph Hitler was intermittently heard along with Eisenhower's voice. This caused a great deal of fear and confusion among the German people and obviously a great deal of embarrassment for the Allied Signal Corps.

General Eisenhower issued an immediate order that no more captured German tapes were to be used. and assigned Major John Herbert Orr to develop an American magnetic tape manufacturing facility.

Major Orr located a German scientist, Dr. Karl Pfleumer, who gave him a basic formula for magnetic tape. Within two weeks, Major Orr had managed to manufacture his first reels of usable audiotape.

After returning to his home in Opelika, AL, after the war, Orr set up a magnetic tape manufacturing facility and soon began marketing his own tape under the "IRISH" brand name. Orr continued his manufacturing operation and in 1959 Orradio Industries became part of the Ampex Corporation.

Ampex, founded by Alexander M. Poniatoff, had been developing audio tape recorders since the end of WWII starting with their model 200. The company's first sales of the Model 200 were to Bing Crosby Enterprises and the American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). In 1956, Ampex announced an historic breakthrough: the first practical video tape recorder.

Shortly after this introduction, Poniatoff and Orr entered into negotiations and in 1959 Orradio Industries became the Ampex Magnetic Tape Division of Ampex Corporation. After a long partnership, the company divested itself of its media division and the Ampex Recording Media Corporation was put up for sale. The sale was completed in November of 1995 and the recording media pioneer became Quantegy.

Quantegy had the number one market share worldwide in professional audio mastering tape products. More albums went gold on Quantegy audiotape than all other brands combined.

black line

Return to table of contents

Random Radio Thoughts

Cris Alexander, CSRE
Crawford Broadcasting Company

Last month, we learned that FCC chairman Powell resigned. The resignations did not stop there. This comes as no great surprise, as rumors of Powell's resignation have been floating around the industry for months now.

Another resignation came on the heels of Powell's. Media Bureau chief Kenneth Ferree resigned. "It has been a privilege and pleasure to work with the staff of the Media Bureau and FCC for the last four years, but it is time for a new team to take over the helm of the agency," Ferree said. His resignation becomes effective in early March 2005.

You might recall that the Media Bureau was created in March 2002 when the Cable Services Bureau was combined with the Mass Media Bureau. Kenneth Ferree then became the chief of the new consolidated bureau.

So Far, So Good
Crawford Broadcasting Company met with success at the Adams County Planning Commission meeting in mid-January. Crawford had filed an application for conditional use permit to build four new 200-foot towers at the KLZ transmitter site for the 430-watt 810 kHz KLDC nighttime facility.

The planning commission staff did an excellent job preparing a Power Point presentation for the commissioners complete with maps, aerial photos and site photos showing sight lines and neighborhood factors. The commissioners asked a lot of questions, and although I was in the "hot seat" for a few moments, I was able to educate the commissioners on AM antennas, directional arrays and other factors pertinent to AM. At the end of the Q&A, the commissioners expressed their appreciation for the information. The conditional use permit application was approved.

This is the second time we have been through such proceedings at Adams County, and in both instances, the planning commission and its staff has been very reasonable and easy to work with.

HD Radio Update
KBCO has been promoting its HD Radio transmissions on the air of late. To my knowledge (and without an HD tuner, I have no way to check), this makes two FMs in the Denver market transmitting digital carriers. KUVO has been transmitting digital carriers for several months now and has even experimented a bit with 5.1 surround.

On the AM dial, KPOF has been transmitting digital carriers for quite some time. KOA fired up its IBOC signal late last year. I first noticed it as a "bacon frying" sound on my Chrysler radio, which (believe it or not) has a C-Quam detector and is "wideband," whatever that means. Interestingly, I don't hear the "bacon frying" sound on KPOF on the same receiver, and I only hear it on KOA on my Chrysler "wideband" radio. I'm sure that means something, probably having to do with the load the KOA transmitter is seeing, but I don't know enough about it yet to make an educated guess.

At last month's CES show in Las Vegas, IBiquity Digital announced what it is calling an historic agreement with 21 domestic radio groups to convert an additional 2,000 stations to HD radio. The agreement includes ABC, Clear Channel, Cumulus, Emmis, Entercom, Entravision, Infinity, Jefferson-Pilot and Univision among others. My guess is that we will be seeing a lot more digital signals on the dial along the Front Range in the next year or two.

Maybe it's time to replace that Chrysler C-Quam radio with a new Kenwood head and HD Radio tuner. The best price I have found for a mobile HD setup is around $430, and this is at The Kenwood KDC-422 head is $130, and the KTC-HR100 HD Radio tuner is $300. They also have the JVC KD-SHX900 all-in-one auto radio with CD player and built-in HD Radio tuner is $510, if you like simplicity.

For those of you contemplating HD conversions, in other markets, we use the Kenwood setup for transmitter site/studio off-air monitoring. The KTC-HR100 HD Radio tuner has separate line-level outputs (unbalanced) that are independent of the head volume control, making them ideal for feeding an air monitor DA. The amp in the head can be used to drive local speakers if you desire.

If you haven't already marked your calendars, now is a good time to schedule quarterly tower inspections, annual occupied bandwidth measurements and other regulatory requirements. It's also a good time to get on the schedule with the tower contractor of your choice for spring tower maintenance.

Many of you may not be aware that the Wireless Bureau puts notification dates (essentially CP expiration dates) on Broadcast Auxiliary authorizations. Notification must be filed in ULS as a condition of the grant. Usually, the bureau sends out reminders in plenty of time, but not always. To find out if any of your Broadcast Auxiliary authorizations require notification, go to...

...and do a license search by callsign, FRN, licensee name or whatever. For each active license, click on the callsign, then click the "Paths" tab, click the "Path Details" link, then click the "Buildout Dates" link. Note any deadline listed. If one is coming up, log into the ULS online filing system at...

...and file the appropriate completion date for the system.

If you have news you would like to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, email me at

black line

Return to table of contents

National Office News From SBE

SBE Exhibit Booth Location & Hours
Central Hall Lobby Booth 17, located near the entrance to the NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference rooms N110 and N112
Open Sunday 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Monday thru Wednesday, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thursday, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Saturday, April 16
Ennes Workshop
Building the Next Generation Master Control -- Radio and TV
9:00 am - 5:30 pm
N110, LVCC
Sunday, April 17
SBE Board of Directors Meeting
8:30am - 12:00pm
Grand/Royal Salon, Las Vegas Hilton
Monday, April 18
SBE/NFL Game Day Coordinators Meeting
9:00am - 11:30am
Conference Rooms 4-5, Las Vegas Hilton

SBE Ennes Trust Meeting
12:00pm - 1:00pm
Conference Room 13, Las Vegas Hilton

SBE EAS Meeting
2:00pm - 4:00pm
N236, LVCC
Tuesday, April 19
SBE Certification Exams
9:00am - 12:00pm
Grand/Royal Salon, Las Vegas Hilton

SBE Frequency Coordinators Meeting
10:00am - 12:00pm
Conference Rooms 4-5, Las Vegas Hilton

SBE Membership Meeting
5:00pm - 6:30pm
N109/110, LVCC

Beginning in April of this year, SBE plans to inaugurate exams in several Certification "Specialties." The specialties will target areas of broadcast engineering knowledge that are becoming harder to find and/or are of a specialized nature. The first specialty will test on maintaining AM directional antennas with testing available at the exam session held during the NAB convention. Those wishing to take a SBE Specialty exam will need to already hold a current SBE Broadcast Engineer or higher certification. A one-day seminar on AM directional antennas is also in the works.

SBE has scheduled Course I of the SBE Leader Skills Seminar for June 7-9, 2005 in Indianapolis. The SBE Leader Skills Seminar provides management and people skills training for broadcast engineers and technicians. We are pleased to have Dick Cupka back to lead our seminar. Please mark the dates and make plans to attend yourself or send someone from your organization. Both the individual and the company will benefit. Contact Angel Bates at the SBE office for more information or (317) 846-9000.

Eligible members of the Society of Broadcast Engineers interested in serving on the national Board of Directors of the Society are encouraged to contact any of the members of the SBE Nominations Committee by mid-April. They include: Larry J. Wilkins, CPBE, CBNT, Chairman ( and members Jim Bernier, CPBE, CBNT (, Bob Stroupe, CSRE ( and John Bisset, CSRE (

What does the next generation broadcast master control look like? Is it an IT closet? Is it glass and fly by wire? Is it baseband or precompressed? Is it centralized, distributed, multichannel, or is the pendulum swinging back to dedicated ergonometric, operator centric environments? Is it twisted pairs or coax? Are master control routers circuit-switched or packet-switched devices? Does multichannel sound or SCTE 35 have a role? What are the architectural design fundamentals that lend to, or take away from, reliability, maintainability and quality?

The topic for the Ennes Program at NAB2005 is neither radio nor TV centric. Clearly, the bulk of the material is applicable or has implications to broadcasting, with or without pictures, but the program will intertwine the more specific material. As in years past, presenters will include chief technical officers who direct the design and rollout of technology, chief engineers and system's integrators with insights from behind the racks and noted pundits and futurists of our industry.

For 2005, PBS joins the Ennes Educational Foundation Trust and SBE in presenting this one-day program. The event will be held on Saturday, April 16 at the Las Vegas Convention Center beginning at 9 a.m. The Ennes Program is a part of the Broadcast Engineering Conference, co-presented by NAB and SBE at NAB2005. To register, visit the NAB web site, .

Balloting will take place this summer and will be tabulated on September 1, 2005. Those elected will be installed during the SBE National Meeting, held in Grapevine, TX (Dallas/Ft. Worth) in conjunction with the 2005 Broadcast Engineering Expo (BEE) SBE Regional Convention, October 19-20.

The Fellow designation is the most distinguished recognition presented to members of the SBE, by SBE. Members may be elected to the Fellow rank through conspicuous service, valuable contributions to the advancement of broadcast engineering or its allied professions, or by disseminating their broadcasting knowledge and promoting its application in practice.

Candidates must be proposed in writing by a voting member to the Fellowship Committee. The nomination must include an appropriate and complete history of the nominee's career and written letters of endorsement from at least five voting members. Nominees should not be made aware of their candidacy.

Submit nominations for Fellow by March 31 to Martin Sandberg, CPBE, Chairman, SBE Fellowship Committee, 9807 Edgecove Drive, Dallas, Texas, 75238-1535 or to .

black line

Return to table of contents

Congress Passes Satellite Transmission Bill

(from SBE Chapter 59 newsletter via Chapter 24)

Satellite companies will be able to retransmit broadcasters' television signals for another five years but would have to offer those signals on a single dish, under legislation approved by Congress. The bill represents a setback for satellite providers like Echostar Communications, who has argued that capacity constraints require it to split its signal onto two dishes, Reuters reported.

Broadcasters had complained that less-popular channels are commonly shunted onto the second dish, which some customers choose not to install. Echostar, the number two satellite provider under its Dish Network name, said any move to consolidate signals onto one dish would cost the company $100 million, according to Legg Mason analysts.

Satellite providers will have 18 months to phase out the two-dish arrangement under the measure, which passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives as part of a $388 billion year-end spending bill. The retransmission agreement allows satellite customers in remote areas not served by broadcast TV to view network shows. That provision was set to expire at the end of this year. A similar measure passed the House of Representatives in October.

Echostar said it was disappointed that it has only 18 months to eliminate its two-dish configuration. However, the company said it would work to meet this tight deadline and to minimize the impact on consumers.

Echostar also suggested that the new law require terrestrial broadcasters, who have been slow to roll out full-power digital transmissions of their signals, to do some fast work as well. Over the next several years, it said, the bill will allow satellite TV carriers to begin offering distant high definition TV network channels to many consumers if the local broadcasters lapse on their promises to Congress to begin broadcasting full-power HDTV to their viewers.

The digital white area provision will motivate local broadcasters to build their towers and broadcast at full power in order to serve their communities, Echostar said. The changes will also help accelerate the digital transition and ensure the return of the 700MHz spectrum to the government.

The Digital Transition Coalition, a coalition of consumer groups, said the new legislation could provide relief to millions of television viewers, especially those in rural areas who cannot receive local network programming in digital.

black line

Return to table of contents

WWV'S Male Voice-Provider Passes

(Internet Via Marty Soehrman KA9PYQ)

The Voice of WWV has passed away. Marty Edwards, a newscaster who doubled as the voice of WWV; died on Friday, December 10th. Edwards did the voice transcripts for the time checks provided by the U.S. Navy Bureau of Standards and broadcast on WWV - Ft. Collins, Colorado.

Many of us have used the WWV time signals all over the world to recheck our watches and on-board clocks. When propagation permitted the reception of WWV the voice of Marty Edwards was a welcome sound. Thank you, Marty. (For information on WWV see

black line

Return to table of contents

Tower Lighting 101

By Mike Wenglar, Director of Engineering, KVUE TV
Thanks to Chapter 79 - Austin

Many of us have been in the broadcast business a long time and have dealt with tower and the required lighting, upkeep and notification of any outages. I'm sure many of you heard or read about the tragic accident involving an Army Black Hawk helicopter that encountered several damper cables on a tower near Waco. Although the tower owner with the lighting impairment did everything in accordance with the rules, let's re-visit some of the requirements so that maybe someone who is not clear with the requirements can do the right thing if a lighting failure occurs or verify proper operation of their tower lighting systems.

The information in this article can be found in the FAA Advisory Circular for Obstruction Marking and Lighting however I have condensed the major points that apply to broadcasters with towers. It would be a good idea to obtain a copy of this document which explains tower lighting in detail. Be warned, it covers everything from power lines to wind turbines. It makes for good reading if you really want to understand all the FAA's requirements for lighting just about any tall structure that may present a hazard to aircraft.

Any temporary or permanent structure, including all appurtenances, that exceeds an overall height of 200 feet (61m) above ground level (AGL) or exceeds any obstruction standard contained in 14 CFR part 77, should normally be marked and/or lighted. However, an FAA aeronautical study may reveal that the absence of marking and/or lighting will not impair aviation safety. Conversely, the object may present such an extraordinary hazard potential that higher standards may be recommended for increased conspicuity to ensure safety to air navigation.

Normally outside commercial lighting is not considered sufficient reason to omit recommended marking and/or lighting. Recommendations on marking and/or lighting structures can vary depending on terrain features, weather patterns, and geographic location. The FAA may also recommend marking and/or lighting a structure that does not exceed 200 (61m) feet AGL or 14 CFR part 77 standards because of its particular location. Recommend minimum standards in the interest of safety, economy, and related concerns. Therefore, to provide an adequate level of safety, obstruction lighting systems should be installed, operated, and maintained in accordance with the recommended standards.

Red Obstruction lights are used to increase conspicuity during nighttime. Daytime and twilight marking is required. Recommendations on lighting structures can vary depending on terrain features, weather patterns, and geographic location.

Red obstruction lights should be operated by a satisfactory control device (e.g., photo cell, timer, etc.) adjusted so the lights will be turned on when the northern sky illuminance reaching a vertical surface falls below a level of 60 foot-candles (645.8 lux) but before reaching a level of 35 foot-candles (367.7 lux).

Lighting with medium or high intensity (L-856) flashing white obstruction lights provides the highest degree of conspicuity both day and night. Recommendations on lighting structures can vary depending on terrain features, weather patterns, and geographic location. This type of lighting is common in areas that are not widely populated.

This dual lighting system includes red lights (L-864) for nighttime and medium or high intensity flashing white lights (L-865) for daytime and twilight use. This lighting system may be used in lieu of operating a medium or high intensity flashing white lighting system at night. There may be some populated areas where the use of medium intensity at night may cause significant environmental concerns. The use of the dual lighting system should reduce/mitigate those concerns. Recommendations on lighting structures can vary depending on terrain features weather patterns, and geographic location.

a. Day-to-Twilight. This should not occur before the illumination drops to 60 foot-candles (645.8 Lux), but should occur before it drops below 35 foot-candles (376.7 lux). The illuminance-sensing device should, if practical, face the northern sky in the Northern Hemisphere. b. Twilight-to-Night. This should not occur before the illumination drops below five foot-candles (53.8 lux), but should occur before it drops below two foot-candles (21.5 lux). c. Night-to-Day. The intensity changes listed in a and b above should be reversed when changing from the night to day mode.

If you want to check your system if it is operating at the required lighting levels, contact me for where you can obtain a meter for footcandle measurement.

a. Tower owners/operators should keep in mind that conspicuity is achieved only when all recommended lights are working. Partial equipment outages decrease the margin of safety. Any outage should be corrected as soon as possible. Failure of a steady burning side or intermediate light should be corrected as soon as possible, but notification is not required. b. Any failure or malfunction that lasts more than thirty (30) minutes and affects a top light or flashing obstruction light, regardless of its position, should be reported immediately to the nearest flight service station (FSS) so a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) can be issued. Toll-free numbers for FSS are listed in most telephone books or on the FAA's Website at most telephone books or on the FAA's Website at This report should contain the following information:
1. Name of persons or organizations reporting light failures including any title, address, and telephone number.
2. The type of structure.
3. Location of structure (including latitude and longitude, if known, prominent structures, landmarks, etc.).
4. Height of structure above ground level (AGL)/above mean sea level (AMSL), if known.
5. A return to service date.
6. FCC Antenna Registration Number

(My suggestion) Make a form with the above information, some of which can be filled in permanently. This eliminates delays, missing or inaccurate information. Also make a place on your form for the person you talked with at the FSS to cover all bases. They will not give you their name, so ask them for their "Operating Initials". After this is completed and called in, it can be attached to your transmitter maintenance log. You now have 15 days to correct the problem as discussed later in this article.

Pilots of aircraft traveling at 190 mph or less should be able to see obstruction lights in sufficient time to avoid the structure by at least 2,000 feet horizontally under all conditions of operation, provided the pilot is operating in accordance with FAR Part 91. Pilots operating between 190 mph and 288 mph should be able to see the obstruction lights unless the weather deteriorates to 3 statute miles visibility at night, during which time period 2,000 candelas would be required to see the lights at 1.2 statute miles. A higher intensity, with 3 statute miles visibility at night, could generate a residential annoyance factor. In addition, aircraft in these speed ranges can normally be expected to operate under instrument flight rules (IFR) at night when the visibility is 1 statute mile.

a. Flight Visibility. The average forward horizontal distance, from the cockpit of an aircraft in flight, at which prominent unlighted objects may be seen and identified by day and prominent lighted objects may be seen and identified by night. b. Meteorological Visibility. A term that denotes the greatest distance, expressed in statute miles, that selected objects (visibility markers) or lights of moderate intensity (25 candelas) can be seen and identified under specified conditions of observation. c. Candelas. Candelas are equal to the square of the distance multiplied by the number of foot-candles. For example, if your meter is ten feet away from the light source and your meter reading is 10 foot-candles, the equivalent candelas equals 10 feet squared (e.g. 100) times 10 - which equals 1,000 candelas. d. FSS. Flight Service Station e. NOTAM. Notice to Airmen f. Foot-candle. A foot-candle is the unit of illuminance on a surface that is a fixed distance from a uniform point source of light and is equal to one lumen per square foot. g. Lux. Lux is the metric unit for foot-candle (one lumen per square meter) and is equivalent by a ratio of approximately 10:1.

I talked with the FAA office in Fort Worth regarding when to call the FSS on a high or medium intensity strobe failure, for this is not really spelled out in the Circular. I was told if the top strobe was out or intermittent, call the FSS. If only one strobe is out on any level except the top, you don't have to call. If more than one is out on the same level (usually there are three per level, one on each leg spaced equally on the length of the tower. Number of levels is determined by the height of the tower) then a call to the FSS can't hurt. If all three are out, a call is required.

Now as to the length of time a tower owner has for a repair. Again, not documented in the Circular, but here is what I was told. A tower owner has 15 days to correct a problem which was reported to the FSS. At the end of the 15th day unless the tower owner called prior to the last day to clear the problem, the discrepancy is automatically cleared and a NOTAM is sent out that the problem is cleared. The rule of thumb is that if you cannot clear the problem in 15 days, you need to contact the FSS and request another 15 days prior to the first 15th day. Now that you have asked for another 15 days, the FCC is now notified regarding this lighting discrepancy and they can investigate if they wish. This FCC notification is to prevent a tower owner from just continually extending the outage by another 15 days, but doesn't do anything about the problem.

I hope this article serves as a short refresher course on your vertical real estate for it is one of those things that we sometime take for granted. As mentioned earlier in this article, most of the above information and more is contained in the FAA Advisory Circular for Obstruction Marking and Lighting, publication AC70/7460-1K available in PDF format from

black line

Return to table of contents

PDX Radio Waves

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

Is this decade flying by, or what? It's hard to believe it's '05 already. And while we continue to be compelled to do more with less (and be glued to a PC more often than not), '04 had several sobering reminders of just how "small" we are. The devastation wreaked by the Asian Tsunami defies comprehension. It washed away island and beach communities in a half-dozen nations, including Phi Phi, a Thai island paradise that we visited a few years back. An entire generation of young people is said to have been lost in these regions. I'll no longer scoff at the preparations (i.e.: escape-route signage) that Oregon and other western states have already made. More is needed. Immediate forwarding of all TSA and TSW EAS codes should be mandatory. In 1958, a tsunami in Alaska triggered by an 8.3 earthquake caused a massive rock slide, creating a secondary "local tsunami" with 100 foot-high waves and water surging as high as 1720 feet..
It could happen here.

Clear Channel's three Portland-area FM's, 105.9 KRVO Vancouver, 100.3 KKRZ Portland, and 103.3 KKCW Beaverton, have signed on with HD radio transmitters. This brings Oregon's total to four, with eight more likely to fire up this year: the other four Entercom FM's, along with NCE stations KBPS, KBOO, KOPB, and KMHD. Meanwhile, tests of HD boosters are now underway in L.A.. Are we sliding towards the kind of "cellular" system that we scoffed at, when looking at L-Band DAB? And will this further frustrate the fortunes of 2nd-adjacent rimshots?

From last month: What does BNC stand for? Well, it depends who you ask. Most will answer BAYONET NEILL-CONCELMAN, named for its inventors (Others claim it was invented by Pennsylvania professor Octavio Salati). Other common BNC translations include: Bayonet Nut Connector, British Naval Connector, and Baby N Connector. Give yourself extra credit if you've discovered that a male N will slide right onto a female BNC. The rumors that BNC might actually stand for "Banana Nutmeg Chocolate" were probably started by a very frustrated and very hungry engineer going on his or her 11th foodless hour at a remote transmitter site. We've all been there. These days, there are always a couple of energy bars in the glove compartment.

black line

Return to table of contents

Static Line

News From All Over!
Thanks to Kansas City Chapter 3

SBE is still growing! Welcome Chapter 139 of Reno, Nevada, chaired by Tim Stoffel, CSTE, to the SBE. If you are interested in their chapter, contact Tim at

SBE will introduce specialty certifications, beginning in April 2005. They plan to inaugurate several Certification "Specialties." which will target areas of broadcast engineering knowledge that are becoming harder to find and/or are of a specialized nature. The first specialty will test on maintaining AM directional antennas. Those wishing to take a SBE Specialty exam will need to already hold a current SBE Broadcast Engineer or higher certification. A one-day seminar on AM directional antennas is also in the works. Here is a chance to document and demonstrate improvement in your expertise to your boss! Get certified and prove your worth!

It looks as though wind turbines will get the go ahead soon, following announcement of a protected area in the Flint Hills, bounded roughly by I-70 on the north, Highway 400 on the south, K-77 on the west and K-99 on the east, in which no construction will be allowed to protect a portion of the pristine tallgrass prairie now said to be less than 1% of original. Construction will be encouraged by the extension of a federal tax credit to those building these devices. I have heard it said that the business end of this enterprise will not prove profitable without this tax break. You can still see a few small wind generators left over from a tax break of several decades ago for homeowners who installed such gear. Once the tax break went away and the owners were faced with maintenance, the glow of owning a wind generator faded quickly, and few are in operation today.

Have you noticed the blip on the weather radars when they zoom in close to Dodge City? The wind turbine farm at Montezuma shows up as a large blob of green, unless the weathermen tilt the radar up over the tops of those towers. What will happen with a large proliferation of these towers over the state? Will they mask the ability of the the weather radars to discriminate storms at street level?

An article in the Wichita Eagle noted large numbers of bats falling victim to the wind turbines in Kentucky. Environmentalists were switching their stance on the value of the wind turbine towers because of the value of the bats in reducing the mosquito population. No word why the bats are crashing. The FCC has contracted with an outside source, Avatar Environmental, to revisit and survey the damage caused to migratory birds who fly into tall towers or their guy wires..

Will your data stored on CD or DVD still be retrievable 10 or 20 years from now? This is the question facing researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Researchers are testing how well these recordable media hold up when exposed varying temperatures, humidity, and light levels. The test revealed that some manufacturing processes are better than others, and that deterioration can be accelerated. In general it is best to avoid conditions that cause excessive exposure.

NIST and the DVD Association (DVDA) along with several government agencies have formed the Government Information Preservation Working Group. The groups main goal is to set requirements regarding archival quality of CD and DVD recording media, and specifying the minimum number of years that they must last to meet the the groups requirements.

Read the complete story at:

black line

Return to table of contents

The YXZ Report

by Kent Randles K7YXZ CBRE
Portland Chapter 124
kent at


As I write this, there are four FM HD signals on in the Portland market. The three Clear Channel FM stations in Portland turned on their HD carriers Tuesday morning, December 21st. These are the first signals in Portland to be fed into their "main" antenna by using the panel antenna's combiner with input isolators, separate power divider for the two halves of the antenna, two feedlines for the HD signals, another round of power dividers to feed the 24 bays, and cables to the fourth port of each antenna bay's hybrid. Coverage should be the same as the analog signals', but with only 1% of the ERP, which in 105.9 KRVO's case is 225 Watts. Entercom's 99.5 KWJJ HD is ready to go as soon as the FCC issues the STA to feed their Stonehenge Tower aux antenna and end up with 500 Watts ERP.


Clear Channel Director of Engineering Jeff Littlejohn ignited a firestorm when he mandated that Clear Channel's talk-formatted AM's reduce their audio bandwidth to 5 kHz, and music-formatted AM's to 6 kHz. An amazing number of fanatics came out of the woodwork to scream their opposition. You can read a lot of these at Radio World's website at .

Personally, I think it's a good idea. During the 18 months I was Chief Engineer of 750 KXL, ending in 2003, I was vilified by the AM fanatics at after I made the mistake of posting that I had set KXL's nighttime audio bandwidth at 5.5 kHz for loudness reasons. There is no pleasing those folks, period. The fact that at my house, where 1190 KEX has NINE TIMES more signal strength (in millivolts per meter) at night, KXL was able to be just as loud, was lost on those who don't actually work in radio.

The reality remains that maybe 1/10th of 1% of the AM radios in existence can reproduce anything over 3 kHz. At the time, I swept every radio I owned plus those at KXL. The only receivers I tested with more than 5 kHz of audio bandwidth were my SuperRadio II with the treble up all the way (almost 8 kHz), my Sony SRF-42 AMAX WalkMan (8 kHz per the AMAX portable radio standard), and KXL's Carver tuner (about 11 kHz) and Broadcast Electronics modulation monitor (13 kHz). At the other end of the scale was my Sony CFD-S33 digitally-tuned boombox, which started rolling off at 1 kHz! Floating in the middle were my "Hi Fi" Sansui AM stereo tuner and Delco AM stereo car radio at only 5 kHz. Plus, all of these tests measured the audio amplifier's output on a meter, so the actual acoustic frequency response, from the fine speakers in most radios (gag), would be much worse.

Finally, there's the source material and processing. Almost all the syndicated, satellite-delivered talk show audio is limited to 7.5 kHz. Most sports broadcasts' first link is by G.722 ISDN that cuts off at 7 kHz. Most modern audio processors doing the mandated NRSC curve end up clipping the hell out of the high frequencies. Most AM antenna system phasors and antenna tuning units are well-warmed by high frequency audio, pretty much for nothing.

black line

Return to table of contents

Amateur Radio News

By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Thanks to Chapter 24

o As governments and relief organizations attempt to gauge the scale of death and devastation from the December 26 South Asia earthquake and tsunami and to aid the victims, amateur radio operators throughout the stricken region are offering their services as emergency communicators. The death toll from the disaster now is being estimated at upward of 140,000. Thousand remain unaccounted for, millions have been left homeless and many are without food or water. Victor Goonetilleke, 4S7VK, president of the Radio Society of Sri Lanka (RSSL), reports that "uncomplicated short wave" radio saved lives.

"Ham radio played an important part and will continue to do so," he said in an e-mail message. Goonetilleke said that even Sri Lanka's prime minister had no contact with the outside world until amateur radio operators stepped in. "Our control center was inside the prime minister's official house in his operational room," he recounted. Goonetilleke reports that even satellite phones failed, and only the amateur radio HF link remained open. One problem: Batteries were running out, and there are no generators to recharge them.

o Charly Harpole, K4VUD/HS0ZCW, now in Bangkok, Thailand, reports he's been helping to handle emergency traffic to India on 20 meters. Harpole had been visiting the VU4RBI/VU4NRO DXpedition in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands when the earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck.

The DXpedition's sponsor, the National Institute of Amateur Radio (NIAR) in India, told ARRL that the DXpedition team is continuing its communication efforts at the government's request on behalf of rescue and relief operations in that region. "Ham radio is the main link from the people of Andaman Island to people all over," said S. Suri, VU2MY, the NIAR's chairman and director.

o Wyn Purwinto, AB2QV, reports that the government of Indonesia's Aceh province had banned amateur radio since the rebel uprising in that region, and he's asked the Aceh government to lift the ban so Indonesian amateurs can handle emergency traffic. Aceh was among the most severely affected regions in Indonesia.

Although the US does not have third-party traffic agreements with any of the countries affected by the disaster, international emergency and disaster relief communications are permitted unless otherwise provided. The international Radio Regulations as revised at World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03) provide that amateur stations may be used for transmitting international communications on behalf of third parties only in case of emergencies or disaster relief.

(Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League's web site)

black line

Return to table of contents

FCC Fines Trucking Centers For Marketing Illegal "AMATEUR" Transceivers

From the Madison Chapter 24

The FCC has proposed fining Pilot Travel Centers LLC $125,000 for allegedly marketing unauthorized RF devices-specifically, transceivers labeled as Amateur Radio Service (ARS) equipment but intended for use on both Citizens Band and amateur frequencies. CB transmitters must receive FCC certification-formally called "type acceptance." Amateur Radio equipment does not require FCC certification. The Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) released November 22 asserts that Pilot continued to market CB transceivers labeled as amateur gear despite multiple citations and warnings.

"Commission field offices issued a total of nine citations to Pilot's corporate headquarters and its retail outlets warning Pilot that future violations would subject Pilot to penalties including civil monetary forfeitures," the NAL said. The Commission alleges that from October 2002 until last July, Pilot, in 47 separate instances, offered for sale various models of non-certificated Galaxy CB transceivers labeled as "amateur radios" that easily could be modified for CB operation. The FCC says in some instances, Pilot employees referred to the units as "CBs."

The ARRL expressed its full support for the FCC's enforcement action against Pilot. "The marketing as 'Amateur Radio' equipment of transceivers that are intended for other uses causes widespread interference to licensed radio amateurs operating within their allocated frequency bands," ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ said on the League's behalf. "We hope that the Commission's long-awaited action will be followed by additional measures taken against marketers who persist in similar violations."

Responding to the citations, Pilot told the FCC that all of the radios in question were "marketed as amateur radios and, as sold, operate on the 10-meter amateur band." Pilot contended the units fell under Part 97 rules and didn't require FCC certification. In January 2002, the FCC Dallas Field Office advised Pilot that the devices referred to in the Citation had built-in design features to facilitate CB operation and that the FCC considered them CB transmitters that fall under Part 95 rules. The NAL says the Dallas Field Office received no further response from Pilot.

In 1996, the FCC defined a CB transmitter as one that "operates or is intended to operate" at a Citizens Band station. The Commission subsequently clarified its rules to specify that transmitters intended for operation on non-amateur frequencies "must be approved prior to manufacture, importation or marketing." The clarification notice specifically included among devices requiring FCC certification all Amateur Radio Service transceivers designed to be easily user-modified to extend their operating frequency range into the Citizens Band and other non-amateur radio service frequencies.

(From the web site)

black line

Return to table of contents

Travels With Fred

Fred Baumgartner

Travles With Fred Given the overwhelming response to this column (read that; no on has complained to the best of my knowledge), I'll continue it... for a while anyway.

The KFSN Lobby in Fresno, California. A SD TV in the left corner, looking blurry and noisy, and THREE DTV feeds on the KFSN multiplex looking digital. The standard, mostly HD fare... Did he say Standard HDTV fare? I guess it has come to that.

The other two SD feeds are a 16:9 ABC News channel and an SD local news and weather. This is not a major market, it is definitely not a wealthy market, and it is not an experimental market.

Nonetheless, this station, which often uses ABC hand-me-downs, is under the care of Ron Neil... and what more can you say... HD and Multichannel lives.

Radio wise... or Tower wise anyway... I do believe that the largest tower in the state is the Hoyt tower to the North East of town. Taking a caddy corner path to the Iowa DTV program this year, I drove by this guy... As I recall from Dave Porta who was curious, the tower is a 2,000 footer. I have no idea what goes on here, and you can see as much from the pictures as I can... All taken looking east I might add, and the day was beautiful... but you can see that too. The longest lens is 400mm on 35mm film.

Next Month... guys with AM radio receivers doing DX.

black line

Return to table of contents


Chicken Soup For The Beer Drinker

Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, "It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.
Jack Handy

I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day.
Frank Sinatra

When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.
Henny Youngman

24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not.
Stephen Wright

When we drink, we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. Sooooo, let's all get drunk and go to heaven!
Brian O'Rourke

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
Benjamin Franklin

Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.
Dave Barry

And saving the best for last, as explained by the character Cliff Clavin of the TV show Cheers...One afternoon at Cheers, Cliff Clavin was explaining the Buffalo Theory to his buddy Norm. Here's how it went:
"Well ya see, Norm,it's like this...A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers."

black line


Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that our government can track a cow born in Canada almost three years ago, right to the stall where she sleeps in the state of Washington. But they are unable to locate 11 million illegal aliens wandering around our country. Maybe we should give them all a cow.

black line


They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it's worked for over 200 years and we're not using it anymore.

black line


The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a Courthouse. You cannot post "Thou shalt not steal", "Thou shalt not commit adultery", and "Thou shalt not bear false witness" in a building full of lawyers, judges, and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment!!!

black line

Colorado Driving

You must learn to pronounce the city name. It is: "den-ver" not Denvah. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Denver has its own version of traffic rules...the cars/truck with the loudest muffler goes next at a 4-way stop. The truck with the biggest tires goes after that. (Note: Blue-haired, green-haired or cranberry-haired ladies driving anything have right of way anytime.)

To find anything in Denver it is required that you know where Colfax and Broadway are.. which is the Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End.

The morning rush hour is from 5:00 am to 10:00 am. The evening rush hour is from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Friday's rush hour starts on Thursday morning.

You must know that "I-25 and the Valley Hwy" are the same road. Same goes for Hampden Ave, Hwy 285 - they are the same too.

Construction is a permanent fixture in Denver The barrels are moved around in the middle of the night to make the next day's driving a bit more exciting.

Ground clearance of at least 12" inches for your vehicle is recommended for city driving. Lots of "stuff" falls off or falls from something.

The minimum acceptable speed on all freeways, I-25, Hwys 76, 225, 285 (Hampden) , Hwys 87 and 36 is 85 mph. Anything less is considered downright sissy This is Colorado's version of NASCAR. The difference is some drivers are armed and irritable!

Never honk at anyone. Ever. Seriously.

If you are in the left lane and only going 70 in a 55-65 zone -- you are considered a road hazard.

black line

Return to table of contents


Newsletter Committee

Bill Harris
  (505) 767-6735

Garneth M. Harris

Newsletter archives are available online.

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

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