CONTENTS

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SBE Chapter 48/SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section Meeting Report

Random Radio Thoughts

CeBIT

From The CGC Communicator

PDX Radio Waves

Certificaton Exam Session Dates Announced For 2005

Afternoon In The Backyard

Amateur Radio News

What Could You Do With A 240-Foot Long Ham Antenna?

Tivo:The Box And Tivo:The Service

Clay's Corner

Corporate Lessons

Web Site Of The Month

Dim Bulbs

Etc.

 

April, 2005

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SBE Chapter 48/SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section Meeting Report

Meeting Date: 3/10/05
Place: Green Gables Country Club - Denver, CO
Attendees: 33

Each year the Rocky Mountain Chapter of SMPTE and SBE Chapter 48 honor one of our industry veterans. Our selection process is based simply on those who have dedicated their careers to the local industry; have served SMPTE or SBE in some capacity; and have shown a dedication and willingness to assist industry colleagues over the course of their careers.

This years recipient of the Chapter Lifetime Achievement award was Burst Communications; Robin Heywood and Kirk Basefsky of Burst Communications accepted the award. Burst has, in the 25 years of doing business, been instrumental in providing support to our local chapter activities: through sponsorship, hosting meeting venues, and Burst employees serving on our chapter board. The award is the chapter's way of saying "thanks" for service.

Robin Heywood, Rome Chelsi, Kirk Basefsky: Burst Communications Lifetime Achievement Award
Robin Heywood, Rome Chelsi, Kirk Basefsky: Burst Communications Lifetime Achievement Award.

John Burshton, Production Manger of High-Noon Productions, provided the key-note address with an anectodal description of his industry experiences.

John Burshton keynote Address Rocky Mtn. Section
John Burshton keynote Address Rocky Mtn. Section

We wish to thank our sponsors for helping to make this event possible: Omnibus Systems, Sony Corporation, Pinnacle Systems, Lietch Corporation, Video Systems Trading Co., Miranda Corp, and Rocky Mountain PBS.

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Random Radio Thoughts


Cris Alexander, CSRE
Crawford Broadcasting Company

More Dialogue
Last month, I told you about some of the back-channel discussions and correspondence that has been circulating with regard to AM IBOC and AM bandwidth reduction. This dialogue continues, although this month it has (in my case, anyway) been with those in a different camp.

For many years, there has been a loosely-organized AM Stereo contingent out there, folks who are fans of high-fidelity analog AM. These folks cling to the hope of a resurrection of music formats on AM stations transmitting in C-Quam stereo. On the surface, it seems that these people are off their rockers. What they hope for is not likely to happen. We live in a completely different world vis-à-vis AM radio than we did in the mid- and late-1980s, when C-Quam was in its... ahem... heyday.

And yet they are right about some things. AM does have the potential to be a high-fidelity medium. Many of you have heard it. Modern PDM, PWM or digitally-modulated transmitters have tremendous capability for accurate reproduction of source audio, even up to 15 kHz and beyond, with minimal distortion. To some degree, this has made the task of audio filtering for NRSC compliance a bit more of a challenge than it perhaps was with older, tube-type, plate-modulated transmitters with limited high-frequency modulation capability. And even those old iron and glass filled transmitters could sound very good, lending a certain "warmth" to the audio that is missing with the current generation of transmitters.

I remember an experience from my formative years, sitting in the dark, listening to local and distant AM stations by the light of the dial and the glow of the tubes in an old console radio. That console radio - and I can't remember the brand - had a huge speaker in it, probably 12" in diameter. While the passing of time does tend to fill in the rough spots, I clearly remember how good those 1960s tunes sounded coming from that speaker. The bass boomed and the highs were clear and true.

In the years that followed, a lot of things changed. They were already changing in the 1960s, in fact. More and more stations were authorized, many times with waivers of the allocation standards to gain a "first local service" for some community. First- and second-adjacent channel interference produced heterodyne whistles and monkey chatter, sometimes even on relatively strong local stations. When the Class IV stations were given blanket upgrades to 1 kW day and night, designated local channels became "graveyard" channels. Receiver manufacturers who once made great-sounding radios began using tighter and tighter IF filters to mitigate adjacent-channel interference. As a result, what we once thought of as "broadcast quality" moved ever closer to "telephone quality."

At the same time all this was happening, FM radio was increasing in popularity. Not only did FM offer clear, static-free high-fidelity reception, many stations broadcast in stereo (some even experimented with "quad" in the mid-1970s). It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that FM sounded better, particularly for music formats (and most stations offered some amount of music programming in those days).

As the popularity of FM increased, the popularity and financial viability of many AM stations declined. To make matters worse, a lot of AM station owners, faced with declining revenues, let their facilities go and skimped on maintenance. A lot of directional antennas fell into disrepair. I saw a good bit of this firsthand, patterns that no longer in any way resembled what was licensed, adding to the interference problem.

The whole situation was something of a spiral, like a battery in thermal runaway, a vicious cycle. The stations that transmitted anything close to good quality audio were the exceptions rather than the rule. But it didn't matter a whole lot because the receivers that were being produced themselves sounded awful.

And then came AM Stereo. A few stations got aboard during its ten or so year run, from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, something like 500 as I recall. A lot of those stations had some work to do to get their transmitters and antenna systems up to snuff before they could get acceptable C-Quam performance. A few receiver manufacturers got aboard and began producing "wideband" units with stereo decoders. Some of these sounded quite good, boasting FM-like quality.

It was my observation at the time that on some of the available receivers, AM music formats sounded better - with a larger stereo image - than most FM music stations. I think this was largely due to the matrix processing (compression and limiting of L+R and L-R instead of L and R), but whatever the case, a properly adjusted AM Stereo station on a wideband receiver was something to listen to.

But it was too little too late. The FCC's infamous "marketplace decision" and the ensuring Kahn-Motorola war effectively killed AM Stereo. What might have had a chance of success during a fairly narrow window, utterly failed. A few stations, including most of Crawford Broadcasting's AM stations, continued to transmit in C-Quam, mostly because there were still a good number of C-Quam receivers out there that were triggered into the wideband mode when a C-Quam pilot was detected, but today, virtually all those are gone.

And yet the AM Stereo contingent hangs on. This contingent avidly opposes digital AM. With Crawford's 22 or so C-Quam stations, I was once venerated by this group. Following our across-the-board bandwidth reduction a few months ago, that is no longer the case.

While I respect the views of these people, the truth lies in the economic realities. At this late date, except for some niche ethnic and nostalgia formats, music on AM is largely gone. Thankfully, Rush Limbaugh and his contemporaries have breathed some life into what was quickly becoming a dead medium. But how much time did they really buy us? Just enough, I believe, for our industry to do something different and better. Whether that's Ibiquity's HD Radio, Kahn's Cam-D or something else is up to us to figure out. The bottom line is that like the AM Stereo window of yore, this opportunity won't last long, either. Something to think about.

A Bigger Rock
Many of you no doubt saw the sidebar story in the March 16 issue of Radio World wherein a local engineer (the name was changed to protect the... um... innocent) took a dead-of-winter swim across an agricultural canal north of Denver while making a set of close-in field strength measurements. I have gotten a number of email messages in response to that story, including one from the erstwhile swimmer, who still works in the engineering department of one of the larger clusters here in Denver. That was one of those great stories, destined to be told time and again through the years.

Anyone who has been in this business very long undoubtedly has a few stories of his own to tell. I'd love to hear yours and maybe even share them in these pages. Drop me an email.

Reminders
As we enter the second quarter of 2005, this is a good time to think about quarterly tower inspections, occupied bandwidth measurements, issues-programs lists and other statutory requirements. With spring in the air, this is also a good time to get that pre-emergent down on your transmitter site property and maybe even the lawn at home. And better get ready for miller moths. They'll be here soon. During a nighttime visit to the transmitter site, turn on the inside lights and inspect the building from the outside for light leaks. Not only will such leaks attract the moths, they also provide them a way in.

If you have news you would like to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, email me at crisa@crawfordbroadcasting.com.

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CeBIT

(As he does every year, Telos founder Steve Church investigated the goings-on at CeBIT. This issue of eNews brings you Steve's look at what's on the technology horizon-Ed.)

CeBIT is the world's biggest technology exhibition, with 480,000 visitors jostling to get a peek at the wares on display from 6,270 exhibitors. I've made the annual trek for the past few years because it's the best place on Earth to try to understand what is going on in the world of communications, computing, and consumer technologies.

The economy has surely entered an upswing, if CeBIT attendance is an indication - and it probably is. In the past 3 years there's been no problem to get a hotel in Hannover, Germany, where the show takes place. This year, your reporter secured a place to sleep only after pulling a favor from his travel agent, who called a connection, who somehow tapped into a "reserved block" and finally landed a room - in Berlin! This is about 160 miles away, but there's a fast train (200km/hour) that makes the trip in an hour-and-a-half. Figured this was not much worse than the commute from the suburbs into downtown that some of you make each day, so no complaint, really. The show is so big, it was impossible to see it all in the two days I was there, but I was able to catch most of the stuff relevant to audio broadcasting. Which, on the one hand was exhilarating, and on the other, worrying.

The exhilarating part was the explosion of networking technologies that we can use to build modern studio facilities. Ethernet and things to plug into it were everywhere - as if some natural force was causing every ecological niche to be filled. Switches, routers, phones, interfaces, servers, WiFi, WiMax, iPods and other players, a bewildering variety of PCs, optical links, Telco central office gear, on and on, aisle after aisle. This is certainly the age of the network, and you'll see our contribution to this phenomenon at the NAB next month, where we'll show you how to use computer networks to build a studio facility and air chain that is both cheaper and more capable than the old-fashioned way.

Our long-time partner, the public German Fraunhofer laboratory, inventors of MPEG MP3 and AAC, had a big display in the Future Park hall. They announced that DIVX will use MP3 Surround as the next-generation audio codec for their video software and that more announcements are soon to come. The surround part of this is the same technology that we are proposing for HD Radio, so it was good to see this traction. It means that chips will be coming with the surround decoder built-in. They also had their new surround headphone technology called Ensonido on display. This takes a 5.1 channel input and creates a surround experience on normal stereo headphones using head-related-transfer-functions. I convinced the FhG guys to let us demo this at the NAB, so you'll soon have a chance to check out this system for yourself if you'll be in Las Vegas. It seems this tech will be coming to MP3 players soon and may be a catalyst for surround music for the masses. Of course, this could also work to deliver surround to broadcast listeners on headphones.

Americans invented the PC and the Internet, and vendors like Microsoft, Intel, and Cisco still dominate the "value chain", but one cannot fail to be impressed by the amazing variety of PC-related products on offer from Asian outfits. Endless booths with cases, coolers, cards, boards, monitors, supplies, drives, keyboards, speakers, DSL boxes, wireless stuff. Perhaps the most impressive thing that caught my eye was the tiny PC on a card from VIA. About the size of a credit card, it runs standard Windows and Linux applications. I also loved the computerized sport shoes that adjust their sole elasticity to the surface upon which they are running, and the jacket with MP3 player buttons built-in to the sleeves.

The power of creativity was everywhere to be seen and is a vivid reminder of what people can accomplish when they are using their imaginations. One comes away with a feeling of tremendous respect for human inventive capacity and optimism for the future.

But for our industry, there are developments that look worrisome. The iPod is today's Walkman. You remember that the Walkman started as a cassette player, but quickly went on to include an FM radio. The iPod doesn't have one, and almost no other MP3 player does either. At the same time, there are now docks that let you use your iPod as a substitute for your car radio and home stereo. Supposedly, these docks are going to be in some original equipment car radios by next year. Over in the red-hot mobile phone exhibits, you could see a bunch of them sporting integrated MP3 players and download services to fill them are getting started. (Motorola was rumored to be introducing one that would work with iTunes, but seems it was postponed.) No FM radios. At the consumer electronics exhibits, flat-screen TVs with surround speaker set-ups were the norm. No FM radios.

There were some demonstrations and a lot of buzz about a new category of living room product called "HDD DVD" to be introduced later this year. These are DVD player/recorders with a hard drive and some intelligence. At first glance, this might look a bit like TIVO, but HDD DVD is much more - or much less - depending on how you look at it. HDD DVD will allow you to record programs, sports events, movies, etc., and cut your own DVD's for storage. Unlike TIVO, HDD DVD will not have a monthly charge. The unit is always standing-by to record your favorite programs. When you are ready to watch them, an on-screen menu shows you what was recorded. You click a button to view only what you want to view and in what order. In what could be a blow to TV stations and networks, commercials can be automatically deleted. These are supposed to be $299 at Walmart by this Christmas. A similar, but more powerful product is the PC-based "home media center". These are usually built around Microsoft's media software, but there are also Linux-based products. Microsoft says they have already sold a million software packages. A bunch of Asian companies were showing sleek devices with TV tuners, DVD drives, hard disks, and network interfaces - wired and wireless. As with the HDD DVD boxes, you can record and play TV, but most also let you download music and video from the Internet and you can have terminals around your house that tap into the programs stored on the unit's hard drive. But FM tuners? Nope. (I'm guessing that Howard Stringer - a content guy - being named Sony CEO is going to heat up this category in a big way as he searches for new ways to "synergize" programs and technology.) More than a few people are sounding off on radio's distressed future lately, and that alarm surely needs to be sounded. But we also need to keep things in perspective. Will media centers and iPods kill radio? I don't think so. Human nature is working against it. When I got my first car CD player, I loved it. Rotated all my favorite discs through the car - for about two months, when boredom set in and radio's right-now news and talk variety won me back. Even ad-laden music stations were better than CDs because they offered the element of surprise and the chance to hear something new. The story repeated a couple years later when I got an MP3 disc player in the car. All the fresh stuff on my PC was fodder for on-road listening, so it was back to recorded music - for awhile. Couple of months later, and the radio was on more than the player.

Broadcast radio is an effective way to connect audio producers and consumers. It's a tech that works without hassle and everybody has a receiver. Despite complaints about today's radio being repetitive and stale, it's probably true that programmers have pretty well figured out how to appeal to mass-market listeners. But, just as thousands of small-signal AM stations were marginalized as FM caught-on in the 70s and 80s, so might FM suffer a similar fate under pressure from satellites, iPods, networked media centers, MP3-enabled mobile phones, surround music DVDs, and all of the mutations and combinations of these themes sure to be coming. While listeners are mostly still with us, the technology world is finding nothing compelling in today's radio broadcasting.

What can we do to reverse this? To start, we need to get our transmission tech up to date. Everything media-related is already, or soon will be, digital. Radio is going to be an analog orphan if we don't get HD Radio on the air everywhere. Digital machines need to eat digital food. Once we have that in place, broadcasters and manufacturers can go on to collaborate to invent devices that have internal storage to make a new hybrid that includes traditional radio programming, "podcast" downloads, and MP3 playback. As listeners, we often want to actively choose, but we are also happy at times to be in a passive just-play-me-something or tell-me-something mood. And we usually want the comfort of a human connection and knowing that we'll be on top of important news. A hybrid device that lets this happen in a flexible way would energize gadget inventors and listeners alike. NPR's Tomorrow Radio is a step in this direction, and the FCC's decision to allow HD streams to be divided into multiple channels will let these experiments get underway. But there is so much more unexplored potential. In addition to dedicated radio receiver/iPod devices, we should work to get HD tuners into media centers. Then we could tag our on-air programs as well as offer special record-only ones to let a listener build the personal "radio station" she wants, including targeted advertising. She could listen at home or load up her iPod for the road. We could integrate elements downloaded via mobile phone channels or the Internet. We could collect fees for downloads. We could offer ad-free programming, for a price. We don't have a lot of bandwidth on HD radio, but local storage and clever engineering can work around that limitation.

As to the immediate future, I suppose we'll see a proliferation of spoken-word radio formats as a competitive reaction to all the music delivery alternatives. Probably a lot of talk is going to move from AM to FM and there'll be yet more of it coming to sliced-up HD channels. For those stations staying with music, we need to get a capable surround system on the air so that we don't get beaten because of an obvious and correctable technical deficiency. All the home-theater-in-a-box systems you see on consumer electronics shop floors should have HD surround tuners in them - and many probably would if we were transmitting this signal today. (You'll see the first live demo of the FhG/MPEG/Telos/Omnia surround system in our booth at this NAB, too.)

Again, we need this upgrade to keep both technology developers and listeners on-board. Don't we want all those media center terminals to be able to receive our radio broadcasts in the kitchen, bedroom, etc.? Don't we want to defend clock-radio listening, perhaps the last place in the home where radio is still routinely used? Don't we want radio tuners in today's home listening systems? Don't we want a way to get our programs into iPods? To protect our future, don't we need to be perceived as "cool" by techies and teenagers?

As always, change offers both challenges and opportunities. As computing and networking become ever more a both rival and an enabler to our industry, I wonder where we will end-up. These are, indeed, interesting times.

- Steve Church

Looking for a link or a story from a back issue of eNews? Visit www.zephyr.com/enews/ . Got a friend who'd like eNews? Have them send an e-mail to subscribe@telos-systems.com.

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From The CGC Communicator

by Robert F. Gonsett W6VR
Communications General(r) Corporation (CGC)
www.bext.com/_CGC/

THREE SAN DIEGO TV STATIONS FINED: CLOSED CAPTIONING VIOLATIONS

KFMB-TV, KUSI-TV and KGTV have been fined $20,000, $25,000, and $20,000 respectively for "failing in a timely manner to make accessible to persons with hearing disabilities emergency information that it provided aurally in its programming.... during a wildfires emergency in the San Diego, California area on October 26 and October 27, 2003."

According to FCC Chairman Powell, "Today's Enforcement Bureau actions are the first in the Commission's history regarding its emergency closed captioning rules. People with hearing disabilities have a right to the same timely emergency information as stations provide to their hearing audiences...."

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-05-455A1.doc
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-05-456A1.doc
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-05-457A1.doc
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-256935A1.doc

For easy-to-read details from the San Diego Union-Tribune: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20050224-9999-1n24fcc.html .

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PDX Radio Waves

by Michael D. Brown N7AXC CSRE
Brown Broadcast Services, Inc., Portland
mike at brownbroadcast.com
From Portland Chapter 124

The grand-daddies of FM translator applicants - Radio Assist Ministries and Edgewater Broadcasting, have also been quite busy. With a combined 5308 applications filed, they've now been granted 1122, and thus far have sold or donated 83, for a total of $270,000. If they sell the remaining CP's (forget about the pending mutually exclusives - MX), it's been projected they could gross over $10.5 million. Portland is one of the few cities of size that these entrepreneurs did not exploit.

If you haven't installed that delay unit for your morning crew yet, you will be soon: The House just passed, 389-38 the "indecency" bill that hikes fines up to $500k per naughty word or wardrobe malfunction. The current max is $32,500. Does it seem that the pendulum has swung way out of kilter, or is it just me? Perhaps we can incorporate the inherent HD radio delay into...no, I guess not. On the digital side, it's interleaved data. Live-event TV aired live, and perhaps on the radio side also, is history if this stinker passes.

My latest favorite saying, when it comes to getting things done in D.C., is that the FCC is like my cat - things move at lightning speed, or barely at all, and seldom in-between. I've had two "problem" FCC apps approved in 48 hours or less, recently. Meanwhile, they're still sorting out old NCE MX's that date back from nearly a decade ago.

It's really looking like the big buzz-word for radio at the NAB convention this year will be 5.1 Surround Sound. So where do I put the center-channel speaker in my SUV? Can I order a car that sits the driver perfectly centered, for best balance?

Speaking of the NAB, if you haven't reserved your hotel by now, time's a wastin'. More than ever, Sin City's pricing is supply and demand based, with some hotels charging 3x or more during the convention, than just before and after. Remember when LV hotels (and even the shows) were cheap, and gambling supported everything? Those days are completely gone. But, thankfully, the monorail appears to be working again - at least until another wheel falls off.

(Editor's note: try travelocity.com or swavacations.com)

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Certification Exam Session Dates Announced For 2005

The SBE Certification Committee has established exam dates for 2005. Check the list below for the exam period that is best for you. For more information about SBE Certification, see your Chapter Certification Chair Fred Baumgartner or contact Linda Baun, Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000 or lbaun@sbe.org.

Exam Dates

Location

Application Deadline

June 3-13

Local Chapters

April 22, 2005

August 12-22

Local Chapters

June 10, 2005

November 11-21

Local Chapters

September 23, 2005

The SBE Certification Committee has created the concept of specialist certifications in order to recognize individual technical strengths. They've now added the AM Directional Specialist Certification to "help evaluate an individual's ability to perform the necessary tasks to keep facilities operating properly." The exam covers the operation, maintenance, and repair of a directional antenna system. More information is available on the SBE website.

Please note: SBE Certification exams are administered only by SBE and are proctored in-person by qualified and approved representatives of SBE. No other organization is authorized to administer SBE exams.

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Afternoon In The Backyard

By Paul Stoffel
Thanks to Madison Chapter 24

Living on the east side of Madison, I was happy to hear that WMTV was building a new tower and that WBUW was joining them as a tenant. I could finally point my Radio Shack antenna in a westward direction and receive all of the area DTV channels. I couldn't wait to climb a ladder, tools in hand, to remove the extra antenna that was pointing south toward Janesville.

Also, this seemed like a good time to fine-tune the aim of the remaining antenna. I whipped out my cell phone to call to my wife who was inside the house watching the signal strength indicator on the DTV set-top box. "A little clockwise." "Stop." "A little counter-clockwise." "Stop." "WHA has a locked picture." ALL is good.

I descend, put the ladder away, wash my hands and settle into my favorite chair to do a little DTV channel surfing.

Ugh! ALL was not good. I couldn't get WBUW-DT. Why!? Is the reception problem the neighbor's huge maple trees, strategically placed between my antenna and the TV towers? (Always did have bad ghosting on NTSC when it rained.) Darn multipath! Is it the DTV set-top box with the no-longer-trendy 3rd generation receiver chip-set? Is it the Radio Shack RF amplifier I use to feed a noise-free NTSC signal to the five other TVs in the house? Why I ask?

I borrowed my workplace's Tektronix Signal ScoutTM RFM151 to take a peak at the DTV signals. The Signal Scout, used in the spectrum analyzer mode, shows signal strength and occupied spectrum above the noise floor. A DTV signal's waveform should be seen as somewhat flat across the top, but I found it to be quite jagged (see figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1. DTV signal as depicted by the Signal Scout. The jagged, non-flat top resulted in receive problems. Remember that retired antenna? I hooked it up to the Signal Scout and walked around the back yard, pointing west under the canopy of the neighbor's trees, watching for the flatness of WBUW's DTV waveform to appear. I found THE location. It looked great! (See figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2. DTV signal after receive antenna relocation. The amplitude is more constant over the 6 MHz band. But wait, now WHA's waveform looked jagged. Keep hunting. Ten minutes later I found a location near the flower bed where all the DTV signals were received as expected.

This spring, the mast and antenna, now anchored in the frozen ground, should make a good trellis for the climbing morning glory. And be careful not to nick the RG-6 with the lawnmower.

Note: The Signal Scout is now sold by www.tempo.textron.com, http://65.36.183.19/prod_detail.cfm?cat=950&subcat=951&pid=10847

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Amateur Radio News

By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Madison Chapter 24

o The ARRL has asked the FCC to invalidate a Florida law that prohibits anyone making radio transmissions without a license or Commission "exemption" from interfering with licensed broadcast stations, apparently including interference caused by poor receiver design. In a Request for Declaratory Ruling to the Commission February 25, the League maintains that only the FCC has authority to regulate radio stations and radio-frequency interference (RFI). "It would appear that Commission-licensed amateur radio stations in Florida are subject to felony prosecution if their transmissions interfere with interference-susceptible broadcast or other radio receivers used in listening to public or commercial radio stations," the ARRL said.

Citing case law and legal opinions dating as far back as the 1930s, the ARRL requested a declaratory ruling from the FCC that the Florida statute "exceeds the jurisdiction of the State of Florida and intrudes on the exclusive jurisdiction afforded the Commission by the Communications Act of 1934 as amended, to regulate radio stations and to address interference phenomena."

The Florida Legislature enacted the law, 877.27 of the Florida Criminal Statutes (under "Miscellaneous Crimes"), last year. Violations would be considered third-degree felonies in Florida. The ARRL says it's not clear that Florida lawmakers intended the law to be as broad in its application as it reads, but that the new law-apparently aimed at unlicensed "pirate" broadcasters-"nonetheless on its face prohibits any person from causing interference" with an FCC-licensed broadcast station.

In a 2003 case, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the FCC "held clearly that all attempts by states and municipalities to regulate RFI are void as preempted by the supremacy clause of the Constitution," the ARRL said. The League's petition concludes that the Florida statute "is void as preempted by federal communications law."

o The FCC continues to work toward developing a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that will spell out what the Commission has in mind with respect to possible changes in the current Morse code requirement and amateur radio licensing. 18 petitions have been filed seeking Part 97 rule changes addressing the future of the 5 WPM Morse requirement (Element 1) and revisions to the overall amateur radio licensing structure. The FCC is planning to tackle all 18 rulemaking petitions within the framework of a single proceeding.

As far as the code issue is concerned, petitions-and comments in response to them-run the gamut from retaining or even beefing up the Morse requirement to eliminating it altogether. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) proposed to retain the 5 WPM Morse examination for Amateur Extra class applicants only. The League and others have also put forth proposals for a new entry-level amateur radio license class.

At this point, personnel in the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau are continuing to review the thousands of comments filed on the 18 petitions. While the FCC appears unlikely to release an NPRM any sooner than mid-2005, the issue still may be a major discussion topic during the FCC Forum at Dayton Hamvention, May 20-22.

(Excerpts from the arrl.org web site)

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What Could You Do With A 240-Foot Long Ham Antenna?

Just hang it from your 1000-foot TV/FM tower. The Skyline Amateur Radio Club, which is basically engineers from KGW, KOPB, KRSK, and a bunch of their friends, hung a 1/2-wave "sloper" dipole from the Skyline Tower. Our goal was to try the single sideband part of the CQ World-Wide 160 Meter DX Contest, which was February 25-27.

The usual problems with broadbanding and resonance between 1.8 and 2.0 MHz occurred. These were compounded by: interleaved guy wires for two big towers that are less than 50 feet apart, and a 5 kW AM station on 970 (do the math: 2nd harmonic at 1940) less than a mile away. But it performed well enough for Ev Helm W7EEH, Joel Determan K7TGZ, Marty Soehrman KA9PYQ, Kurt Warner KA7ZDD, and me to have a great time "working" about 16 states, four Canadian Provinces, and Mexico with 100 Watts using the call W7DTV. Next time: 1500 Watts (PEP). Eric Dausman KD7DNM helped build the antenna.

Next up: ARRL Field Day in June. If you have any interest in ham radio, come join us at least for dinner on Saturday June 25th in Molalla. See www.w7dtv.us . My favorite quote from the site designed by Marty Soehrman KA9PYQ is "Warning: Not all photos will contain radios."

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Tivo:The Box And Tivo:The Service

By Vicki W. Kipp
Madison Chapter 24

While Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) may be harmful to broadcasters, people who own DVRs are very attached to these appliances. The number of DVR brands available increases almost weekly, but one DVR in particular has become a household name. "TiVo," used as both a noun and a verb, is the best publicized DVR on the market.

TiVo Delay

TiVo never really displays live TV. When a viewer watches "live" TV, they're actually seeing TiVo's recording which appears onscreen about one second after the signal reaches the home. That one second of latency is the time TiVo requires to convert the incoming analog signal to digital. TiVo constantly records whatever channel is selected on the TiVo, and buffers the past 30 minutes of signal. TiVo owners can come home fifteen minutes after a show has started, play it from the beginning, skip through the commercials, and have the show recorded to hard drive for future access. If a viewer is interrupted during a live show and hits "pause," TiVo will continue to capture the next 30 minutes of content. If the viewer will be gone more than 30 minutes, they should hit the record button.

To give the viewer a context of where they are in a particular show, TiVo has an elapsed time status bar (Figure 1). The bar on the bottom of the screen always represents one full hour of live TV. The light-colored block inside the Status Bar represents TiVo's recorded portion of the show. By looking at the size of the block and its location within the lour time slot, the viewer can gauge how much of the show has been recorded and which portion of the show they're currently viewing.

TiVo is two things: a box and a service.

TiVo: the Box

The hardware portion of TiVo is a box sold in electronics stores or at TiVo.com. Viewers who purchase TiVo from an electronics store may be able to order a professional installation package at the same time. Viewers who purchase TiVo from TiVo.com can purchase a professional installation from TiVo.

The TiVo box is a computer with a hard-drive running a Unix OS. TiVo runs on two programming languages: C and Tcl. C performs much of the heavy lifting in TiVo, and the main processes are written in C. Tcl (pronounced "tickle") is the glue that passes commands between interactive applications, and is a general purpose tool command language used to build lightweight TiVo applications.

There are two types of TiVo boxes: TiVo Series 1 and TiVo Series 2. TiVo box choices include a 40, 80, 120 GB, or larger hard drive, and an optional internal DVD Recorder. While the TiVo box has great potential, there is little the box can do without the TiVo service. A TiVo box alone is limited to manual programming to record specific channels at specific times and pestering its owner to pay for TiVo service.

Older Series 1 TiVos limp along without service by permitting the user to schedule records manually, by entering the date, time, channel, and recording length of desired shows. Without a subscription, the Series 1 TiVo's internal clock slowly loses accuracy, leading to missed record times. The clock may be reset if the viewer forces the Series 1 TiVo to make a daily call to TiVo Headquarters.

Classifying TiVo: the box

Four types of TiVos have been released so far. Series 1 (first generation) TiVo, Series 2 (second generation) TiVo, DirecTV TiVo (Series 2), and non-TiVo brand consumer recorders that incorporate TiVo and come with TiVo Basic service.

Series 1 TiVo is no longer sold. They were bulkier and heavier and had a slower CPU and less RAM than Series 2. The modem in Series 1 is failure-prone, but used open-source code which is easier to modify. Series 1 TiVos lack some popular software enhancements found in Series 2 models such as folders and the Home Media Option.

TiVo Series 2 is the current model. Along with a faster CPU and more RAM, Series 2 TiVos boasts popular software enhancements such as grouping shows into convenient folders, TiVoToGo, and the Home Media Option. The Series 2 have more recording capacity than Series 1. Despite these improvements, the standalone Series 2 lacks some desired features, such as the inability to receive or record HD format and reducing 5.1 surround sound audio to a stereo signal.

DirecTV TiVo records 5.1 AC-3 Dolby Digital surround sound and records all signals at "best" quality in the same pre-compressed format that DirecTV transmits in. Since the DirecTV TiVo has two tuners, viewers can simultaneously record two live shows on different channels or can record one channel while watching a different live channel. There is a DirecTV TiVo model available that records HD signals. DirecTV TiVos work only with DirecTV's satellite source, and the Home Media Option is not available for these boxes.

The final type of TiVo is a non-TiVo brand consumer recorder that incorporates TiVo and come with Basic TiVo service, allowing the viewer to control live TV with pause, rewind, and instant replay functions. Basic TiVo service also includes a three-day advance program guide with a simple TiVo interface for easy program selection. Basic service can be upgraded to standard "TiVo Plus" service subscription with Season Pass, WishList, and Suggestions. Basic TiVo can also be upgraded with the Home Media Option.

Setting Up TiVo: the Box

First, viewers should connect TiVo to their phone line and television signal. Viewers with a separate cable box or satellite receiver must follow two additional steps: They must set up TiVo to change the subscription box channels by running the included TiVo IR control cable or serial control cable between TiVo and the receiver. Viewers should then connect the audio and video cables from the subscription box to TIVo's input ports.

The on-screen setup leads viewers to indicate which channels and subscription services they receive. If they choose to record a show on a channel they don't receive, TiVo will record a black screen. While it may seem illogical for a viewer to tell TiVo that they receive channels that they don't get, it will enable the Electronic Program Guide information for those channels. Lastly, the viewer needs to instruct TiVo which shows to record.

TiVo is only designed to record shows that come in from broadcast or subscription television service because it gets its record cues from Tribune Media Service (TMS) listings. To date, TiVo-brand DVRs are not set up to record manual inputs such as camcorder feeds or router feeds. However, TiVos can be "tricked" in to recording these sources by adding a fake channel. Some TV stations use DVRs to record air checks.

TiVo: the Service

The TiVo service supplies the TiVo box with area station listings. The service sorts through the users personalized channel lineup and content preferences to record the shows they've chosen.

Service Costs

When it comes to the TiVo Service, the cost varies according to the TiVos circumstances. TiVo service for a standalone TiVo for over-the-air/cable viewers costs $12.95/month for the first TiVo owned and $6.95/month for each additional TiVo, or $299 for a lifetime subscription for each TiVo owned. Viewers come out money ahead to buy the lifetime subscription if they use TiVo for more than 23 months.

The TiVo for DirecTV box is purchased by viewers, but the DirecTV subscribers are not eligible to purchase a Lifetime service membership. DirecTV subscribers pay $4.99/month for the service, regardless of how many DirecTV TiVos they own.

Lifetime Defined

A lifetime subscription is tied to the life of a TiVo motherboard, not the lifetime of the subscription owner. If a viewer sells the TiVo, they sell the Lifetime Subscription along with it. It is up to the seller to ask the TiVo company to transfer the subscription to a new owner. If a TiVo motherboard dies within its warranty and it is repaired through a TiVo authorized service center, TiVo allows viewers to transfer the dead TiVo's Lifetime Subscription to the replacement TiVo. Viewers can replace non-motherboard TiVo parts such as the hard drive and still keep their Lifetime Subscription valid.

TiVo EPG and Metadata:

TiVo gets its data from TMS, which lists its program data at www.zap2it.com. If viewers see incorrect show listings or descriptions, they can notify a TiVo Lineup Specialists by filling out a form at Tivo.com. Viewers are also asked to notify the station of the problem.

TiVo automatically adjusts for lineup changes, and catches requested shows at their new time. However, if a show is preempted because a game or news event ran long, the end of that show will get cut off. TiVo can't correct for long-running live events because it relies on pre-published network schedules to make decisions.

TiVo Phones Home

Each day, TiVo phones TiVo headquarters for five minutes to fetch updated program listings, software updates, and messages from the TiVo company. The service automatically loads the upcoming fourteen days of listings, noting any schedule changes. It then compares that list with the shows the viewer wants recorded, and juggles all the recordings to avoid schedule conflicts. Aside from the initial setup of TiVo, viewers don't need a landline connection for TiVo if they connect TiVo to a computer network with a broadband connection.

Removing any personally identifiable information, the unit tells the TiVo company what shows have been watched. By allowing their monitoring habits to be reported, the viewer gives ratings support to the shows they like to watch. The user can opt not to report their viewing habits.

Unique to TiVo

Besides enjoying the status of being a household name, TiVo owns patents on unique features such as Season Pass and WishList. With the Season Pass feature, the viewer selects a show title, and then TiVo records every episode of that show. TiVo recognizes when a show is a rerun, and does not record that show unless the user has requested TiVo to record reruns. TiVo offers a WishList to automatically search for and record shows with a particular topic, title, actor, director, or band.

Recommendations

TiVo fills empty hard drive space with shows it thinks the viewer might enjoy, based on previously recorded shows. When its hard drive fills up, TiVo cleans house by automatically deleting its suggestions. Users can help TiVo pick suitable recommendations by pressing the "Thumbs Up" or "Thumbs Down" buttons to rate shows they've watched. The more that viewers utilize the "Thumbs" buttons, the better TiVo gets to know their tastes.

Save to Media

The "Save to VCR" option lets users archive programming to VHS tapes or DVDs so they can be deleted from TiVos hard drive to free up space. When TiVo begins playing back a show for archive, it neatly displays a slate with the show's name, date, length, and episode title at the head of the record. TiVo won't edit out the commercials, but the user can do that if they are willing to babysit their VHS or DVD recorder pause button during the archive process. In certain situations TiVo is tightly integrated with a record device. For example, Sony brand TiVos mind-meld with Sony VCRs; the "Save to VCR" option enables TiVo to turn on a Sony VCR, automatically record the show, and turn off the VCR when the show concludes.

I predict that TiVo will soon rename the "Save to VCR" option to "Save to DVD." TiVos with an integrated DVD recorder are now available for a few hundred dollars. Standalone DVD Recorders are now available for less than $300.

When using a standalone DVD Recorder to record shows from TiVo, the user needs to monitor the dub in order to stop the DVD Recorder promptly at the end of the show. If not stopped, the DVD recorder will keep recording until it fills up the disc. Once the DVD media has been written to, it cannot be written on again. The exception to this rule is DVD+/- RW rewritable discs which allow users to erase the entire disc. Some DVD+/-R recorders allow users to erase a file on a DVD by rendering that file unreadable during playback.

TiVoToGo

TiVo recently released a new content transfer feature called TiVoToGo. TiVoToGo pulls shows from a networked Series 2 Tivo to a computer. Once on a computer, the shows can be played back with Windows Media Player 9 or 10, or burned to DVD.

TiVoToGo is available at no charge, and does not require TiVo's Home Media package. However, users may incur a few related expenses while setting up TiVoToGo. To get started with TiVoToGo, TiVo must push their new TiVo software to the user's TiVo box. TiVoToGo is being distributed in stages. However, eager users can request to be bumped to the top of the list. Once the TiVo box has been updated, users must connect TiVo to their computer network. Since TiVo's output is USB, a USB-to-Ethernet or USB-to-Wireless adapter is required to connect to their Ethernet network. Once TiVo is connected to the network, it will get its program schedule updates over the Internet instead of over a telephone connection. Lastly, users need to download TiVo Desktop software (Figure 1) on their computer. TiVo Desktop allows users to see what is saved on their TiVo, request shows to be transferred to the computer, and play transferred shows on the computer.

Tivo
Figure 1. TiVoToGo Desktop enables programs to be transferred from TiVo to a computer.

The time needed to transfer a show from TiVo to a computer can take from several minutes to several hours, depending on network speed, quality the show was recorded at, and length of show. It is not unusual for a transfer to take almost as much time as real-time playback. Users can begin watching a show on the computer as soon as the transfer begins. TiVoToGo Desktop also enables users to transfer music and photos to their TiVo box for playback on TV.

Shows saved on the computer have a .TIVO file extension. In order to record shows to DVD, users have to buy Sonic MyDVD 6. This is the only software available that can write .TiVo formatted files to DVD. Sonic creates a fancy menu for TiVo shows recorded to DVD, but so far lacks the episode slate that is displayed when you record shows to a VCR or standalone DVD player.

Home Media Option

For an additional $99/TiVo box, TiVo will supply the Home Media Option (HMO). This upgrade lets viewers connect TiVo to their computer through an Ethernet or 802.11 connection. Viewers can then schedule TiVo recordings from anywhere over an Internet interface, send music (MP3 files, playlists in PLS and ASX format, and Internet radio stations) and digital photos to their TiVo for TV or stereo playback, and copy shows from one TiVo that they own to another TiVo that they own for multi-room viewing. Once a viewer purchases the HMO, the HMO setup process is almost identical to the TiVoToGo setup.

Record Capacity

TiVo is commonly available in 40-, 80-, or120-hour record capacity. The hour rating indicates the hours of recording typically available at medium or high quality recording. Viewers can store more hours of programming on their TiVo if they select slower record speeds. Record quality choices are basic, medium, high, and best. Best is recommended for fast-paced action films, sports, and movies. Medium is well-suited for talk or cooking shows. News and some animation shows look acceptable at basic quality.

Viewers can increase their TiVos record capacity by replacing the original hard drive with a bigger hard drive and/or adding a second hard drive. TiVo owners can send their TiVo in for an upgrade or order parts to do the upgrade themselves. Upgrade parts and service are available through Weaknees.com or Ptvupgrade.com. Upgrade providers sell TiVo owners a hard drive, printed instructions, and installation tools.

There is a caveat to upgrading a TiVo: The warranty for most models covers 90 days of free labor and one year of free parts, but opening the case voids the warranty. If something breaks during an upgrade which requires the DVR to be sent to TiVo for repair, TiVo is likely to charge for that repair.

Hackers

TiVo hackers don't write malicious codes, but rather write their own software to make their TiVos do unique things. TiVo hacks have been written to display a stock market ticker along the bottom of the TV screen. A hack for DirecTV TiVo displays caller ID information for incoming calls on the TV screen if the TiVo owner subscribes to caller ID. The "Shagwell" Easter egg on TiVo lets the viewer see a closed caption list of the names of TiVo developers. By pressing the TiVo button followed by the zero key on the remote control, viewers can activate an animated sequence of the TiVo guy playing in a mechanical contraption

A popular TiVo hack allows users to manually skip commercials by jumping ahead in 30-second increments. Although the 30-second jump is not officially supported by TiVo, nor covered in its manuals, this hidden feature can be activated by using the remote control to program the Skip-to-End (Advance) button to move forward 30 seconds each time it is pressed. Since TiVO doesn't officially support the 30-second skip feature, it could be discontinued at any time.

Hackers connect a computer to TiVo to load their hacks. This requires a TiVo serial control cable and a null modem adapter. The TiVo serial control cable has a male headphone jack connector on the TiVo end and an RS-232 connector on the computer end.

Wrapping Up

Well, there you have it: all the details of the record device that became a noun, a verb, and a household word.

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Clay's Corner

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

By Clay Freinwald

Wow! No shortage of news this month.

The tragic events in the Indian Ocean have again proved the viability of our electronic media as we have been seeing a steady stream of pictures from the impacted area. This event has caused a great deal of attention to be focused on our own alerting systems. The timing is interesting as the FCC is in the process of making what some are saying are substantial changes to our EAS system. Some are proposing that some events that are now voluntary be made mandatory… it's not a stretch to imagine that Tsunami warnings will be high on their list of considerations. The good news is that we here in this area are way ahead of the rest in that department.

Work is underway to have an EAS Summit in WDC for the last weekend in February. One of the goals is to get state EAS Chairs from every state there. This effort, largely led by the state broadcaster associations, is designed to show the FCC that we are working the problem on a voluntary basis and really don't need a bunch of new Federal Regs.

On Dec 19th a small plane hit the KFI tower in L.A., very near the top, and took the historic structure to the ground (killing those aboard). Thanks to today's electronic cameras and email there were pictures of the results distributed world-wide. Thankfully the tower had a spare tower to operate from. How many Non-Directional AM's have that benefit? Shortly afterward wind took down the KSON tower in downtown San Diego. In this case the top of the self-supporter bent over like a paperclip. Again lots of pictures to see.

A broker recently got a lot of attention when he listed, without call letters, the Fisher TV stations in Seattle and Portland. Fisher was quick to put the brakes on the news. Apparently the broker was 'trolling'. Another shoe has dropped in the quest to get more radio stations into this market with the moving of Clear Channel's KMNT to Capital Peak, southwest of Olympia. With the move of KAYO to South Mountain two stations are now challenging the lead of Infinity's KMPS in the radio wars. My quick and non-scientific evaluation tells me that KAYO is the better of the two signals. No word on the 3rd member of this move-in crowd, the new station to be licensed to Covington.

If you think that Radio requires a program to keep track of… just wait for TV to start shuffling channels as the transition to DT moves along. For instance, we all expected KOMO-DT to end up on channel 4 and channel 38 would be given back to the Feds. Apparently not so with KPXG now on the air on channel 4 in Portland. What we have here is overlap that would not have been the case in a pure NTSC world. Word has it that KOMO will now drop channel 4. This will likely mean that KOMO will have a new Ch 38 array on their tower running higher power. These kind of issues will impact the rest of the TV stations as we move along. You will indeed need a program. But then again the big question is when? As predicted by anyone with an IQ over 27 the 2006 date will slide.

Got an email from John Mangan (KVTI), who is also a ham, in response to my call letter comments last month. He suggested that Nick Winter should have applied for K1CK.

The CES show in Las Vegas was full of neat toys and peeks into the future. In this year's show there was a lot of buzz about HD Radio with lotsa news about new products on the receiver side.

On the Broadcast side, a number of major ownerships announced that the roll-out of HD would be sped up. If you have been sitting on the sidelines wondering if this new-fangled mode would catch on, may I submit the train has indeed left the station? I can tell you that this year will likely see a number of new HD (FM) stations in this market, in fact it's possible the number will double. On the AM side, the wait is on to see just how the FCC is going to deal with this.

The UK is having some success with their DAB system using the Eureka system. It will be interesting to see if the Ibiquity system spreads elsewhere. I do know that testing has been going on in Mexico and South Korea.

A strong candidate for the 'hearty-engineer-award' this year is Tim Vic who recently was seen at West Tiger, in the snow, in sandals.

On a related note. Ibiquity has officially approved the Neural Audio 5.1 Surround Sound system. Neural is based right here in the Seattle area. It's really cool.

On a related matter: The U of Mass. recently successfully tested sending the HD Radio data stream via a standard 200 kHz digital SCPC channel on a satellite. This opens the door to distribution of the new format for companies that employ a number of local transmitters.

Congrats to Shively's Bob Surette who-finally-became an SBE Member (boy if I'd known that he was not a member I could have…).

How many of us have cell phones? According to a recent survey, 25%. This is not just in the US but in the world! Now there is move afoot to permit cell-phone use in aircraft…Yeech!

Understand that there was a great retirement party for Denny Anderson. I had just had my shoulder worked on and was unable to attend. Taking over the reins, at least for the time being, is Kris McGowan. Having got to know Kris via her work with EAS for the past several years-- we are in VERY good hands.

The big flap over the Broadband Over Powerline issue had taken a new turn with the publication in the Federal Register of the FCC's final rules on the subject on January 7th. This is not likely to stop the ARRL from fighting BPL that has been proven to increase noise on HF frequencies. The FCC appears to have been bombarded with technical reasons why this should not move forward. Like a lot of issues, politics has won out.

With Howard Stern turning his program into commercials for Sirius, a number of stations are dropping the shock-jock. This is not likely to happen here with Howard pulling in huge numbers for KISW. When he does leave the air for Sirius it's going to leave a huge void for those that follow him. But again perhaps they will then be paying to listen.

Another big shake-up in the radio world around here with KIRO AM moving Dave Ross to afternoon drive, to be followed by long-time TV sports anchor Tony Ventrella.

If you have not made your reservations for NAB in Las Vegas, it's getting late. Speaking of which… Did you see that they had snowfall on the strip recently? That must have been a sight! I also understand that the Monorail is up and running. Last year all we could do is watch it being tested.

The FCC has been doing a 'fine' job of late. Here are a couple of examples: Entercom (yep the same one) was nailed to the tune of 220 Grand for alleged indecency in Kansas City. A Florida station was hit with Seven Grand for not having a locked secure fence around their tower. Remember the flap over stations exceeding the NIER limit on Mt Wilson in Los Angeles? Well three stations get to contribute Ten Grand apiece. A Texas LPFM station decided to replace their three bay antenna with a four bay model, but neglected to tell the FCC. Three Grand.

I have learned that one of the most famous voices on the air has passed away. Marty Soehrman, voice of WWV is a SK.

Want to really feel old? It was back in 1954 that Regency came out with the first transistor radio to hit the market-the TR-1. Cost was just under fifty Bucks. It had a 22.5 volt battery that would power the innovative receiver for about 20 hours. I recall building radios around the CK-722 and CK768 back in the 50's when I was in high-school; being able to have a radio that would 'hide' in my pocket and listening to the World Series. Here's a question for your employment application: Define an A, B and C battery. If you'd like to look back at the TR-1 there is lots of interesting history online on the subject.

Sirius has raised a lot of eyebrows with the recent announcement that they are adding 'video' content to their Sat-Radio system. Apparently the target is kids. I can see it now: that display on the dashboard will have choices of, Radio, Nav-Aids and Roadrunner.

If you have an Auditronics console... Lightner has acquired the service rights for them.

CUL, Clay, CPBE, K7CR Wow! No shortage of news this month. The tragic events in the Indian Ocean have again proved the viability of our electronic media as we have been seeing a steady stream of pictures from the impacted area. This event has caused a great deal of attention to be focused on our own alerting systems. The timing is interesting as the FCC is in the process of making what some are saying are substantial changes to our EAS system. Some are proposing that some events that are now voluntary be made mandatory… it's not a stretch to imagine that Tsunami warnings will be high on their list of considerations. The good news is that we here in this area are way ahead of the rest in that department.

Work is underway to have an EAS Summit in WDC for the last weekend in February. One of the goals is to get state EAS Chairs from every state there. This effort, largely led by the state broadcaster associations, is designed to show the FCC that we are working the problem on a voluntary basis and really don't need a bunch of new Federal Regs.

On Dec 19th a small plane hit the KFI tower in L.A., very near the top, and took the historic structure to the ground (killing those aboard). Thanks to today's electronic cameras and email there were pictures of the results distributed world-wide. Thankfully the tower had a spare tower to operate from. How many Non-Directional AM's have that benefit? Shortly afterward wind took down the KSON tower in downtown San Diego. In this case the top of the self-supporter bent over like a paperclip. Again lots of pictures to see.

A broker recently got a lot of attention when he listed, without call letters, the Fisher TV stations in Seattle and Portland. Fisher was quick to put the brakes on the news. Apparently the broker was 'trolling'. Another shoe has dropped in the quest to get more radio stations into this market with the moving of Clear Channel's KMNT to Capital Peak, southwest of Olympia. With the move of KAYO to South Mountain two stations are now challenging the lead of Infinity's KMPS in the radio wars. My quick and non-scientific evaluation tells me that KAYO is the better of the two signals. No word on the 3rd member of this move-in crowd, the new station to be licensed to Covington.

If you think that Radio requires a program to keep track of… just wait for TV to start shuffling channels as the transition to DT moves along. For instance, we all expected KOMO-DT to end up on channel 4 and channel 38 would be given back to the Feds. Apparently not so with KPXG now on the air on channel 4 in Portland. What we have here is overlap that would not have been the case in a pure NTSC world. Word has it that KOMO will now drop channel 4. This will likely mean that KOMO will have a new Ch 38 array on their tower running higher power. These kind of issues will impact the rest of the TV stations as we move along. You will indeed need a program. But then again the big question is when? As predicted by anyone with an IQ over 27 the 2006 date will slide.

Got an email from John Mangan (KVTI), who is also a ham, in response to my call letter comments last month. He suggested that Nick Winter should have applied for K1CK.

The CES show in Las Vegas was full of neat toys and peeks into the future. In this year's show there was a lot of buzz about HD Radio with lotsa news about new products on the receiver side.

On the Broadcast side, a number of major ownerships announced that the roll-out of HD would be sped up. If you have been sitting on the sidelines wondering if this new-fangled mode would catch on, may I submit the train has indeed left the station? I can tell you that this year will likely see a number of new HD (FM) stations in this market, in fact it's possible the number will double. On the AM side, the wait is on to see just how the FCC is going to deal with this.

The UK is having some success with their DAB system using the Eureka system. It will be interesting to see if the Ibiquity system spreads elsewhere. I do know that testing has been going on in Mexico and South Korea.

A strong candidate for the 'hearty-engineer-award' this year is Tim Vic who recently was seen at West Tiger, in the snow, in sandals.

On a related note. Ibiquity has officially approved the Neural Audio 5.1 Surround Sound system. Neural is based right here in the Seattle area. It's really cool.

On a related matter: The U of Mass. recently successfully tested sending the HD Radio data stream via a standard 200 kHz digital SCPC channel on a satellite. This opens the door to distribution of the new format for companies that employ a number of local transmitters.

Congrats to Shively's Bob Surette who-finally-became an SBE Member (boy if I'd known that he was not a member I could have…).

How many of us have cell phones? According to a recent survey, 25%. This is not just in the US but in the world! Now there is move afoot to permit cell-phone use in aircraft…Yeech!

Understand that there was a great retirement party for Denny Anderson. I had just had my shoulder worked on and was unable to attend. Taking over the reins, at least for the time being, is Kris McGowan. Having got to know Kris via her work with EAS for the past several years-- we are in VERY good hands.

The big flap over the Broadband Over Powerline issue had taken a new turn with the publication in the Federal Register of the FCC's final rules on the subject on January 7th. This is not likely to stop the ARRL from fighting BPL that has been proven to increase noise on HF frequencies. The FCC appears to have been bombarded with technical reasons why this should not move forward. Like a lot of issues, politics has won out.

With Howard Stern turning his program into commercials for Sirius, a number of stations are dropping the shock-jock. This is not likely to happen here with Howard pulling in huge numbers for KISW. When he does leave the air for Sirius it's going to leave a huge void for those that follow him. But again perhaps they will then be paying to listen.

Another big shake-up in the radio world around here with KIRO AM moving Dave Ross to afternoon drive, to be followed by long-time TV sports anchor Tony Ventrella.

If you have not made your reservations for NAB in Las Vegas, it's getting late. Speaking of which… Did you see that they had snowfall on the strip recently? That must have been a sight! I also understand that the Monorail is up and running. Last year all we could do is watch it being tested.

The FCC has been doing a 'fine' job of late. Here are a couple of examples: Entercom (yep the same one) was nailed to the tune of 220 Grand for alleged indecency in Kansas City. A Florida station was hit with Seven Grand for not having a locked secure fence around their tower. Remember the flap over stations exceeding the NIER limit on Mt Wilson in Los Angeles? Well three stations get to contribute Ten Grand apiece. A Texas LPFM station decided to replace their three bay antenna with a four bay model, but neglected to tell the FCC. Three Grand.

I have learned that one of the most famous voices on the air has passed away. Marty Soehrman, voice of WWV is a SK.

Want to really feel old? It was back in 1954 that Regency came out with the first transistor radio to hit the market-the TR-1. Cost was just under fifty Bucks. It had a 22.5 volt battery that would power the innovative receiver for about 20 hours. I recall building radios around the CK-722 and CK768 back in the 50's when I was in high-school; being able to have a radio that would 'hide' in my pocket and listening to the World Series. Here's a question for your employment application: Define an A, B and C battery. If you'd like to look back at the TR-1 there is lots of interesting history online on the subject.

Sirius has raised a lot of eyebrows with the recent announcement that they are adding 'video' content to their Sat-Radio system. Apparently the target is kids. I can see it now: that display on the dashboard will have choices of, Radio, Nav-Aids and Roadrunner.

If you have an Auditronics console... Lightner has acquired the service rights for them.

CUL, Clay, CPBE, K7CR

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Return to table of contents

Corporate Lessons

Corporate Lesson #1

A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower when the doorbell rings. After a few seconds of arguing over which one should go and answer the doorbell, the wife gives up, quickly wraps herself up in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next door neighbor. Before she could say a word, Bob says, "I'll give you $800 to drop that towel that you have on."

After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob.

After a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves. Confused, but excited about her good fortune, the woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets back to the bathroom, her husband asks from the shower, "Who was that?" "It was Bob the next door neighbor," she replies.

"Great!" the husband says, "Did he give you the $800 he owes me?"

Moral of the story:

If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Corporate Lesson #2

A sales representative, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out in a puff of smoke. The Genie says, "I usually only grant three wishes, so I'll give each of you just one." "Me first! Me first!" says the admin clerk. "I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world." Poof! She's gone.

In astonishment, "Me next! Me next!" says the sales rep. "I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of pina coladas, and the love of my life." Poof! He's gone.

"OK, you're up," the Genie says to the manager.

The manager says, "I want those two back in the office right after lunch."

Moral of the story:

Always let your boss have the first say.

Corporate Lesson #3

A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day. A small rabbit saw the crow and asked him, "Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?"

The crow answered: "Sure, why not?" So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow and rested. All of a sudden a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story:

To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

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Web Site Of The Month

Jackhammer

Not enough bass in your life? Check out this for the JackHammer, a 23" tall 320 lb woofer with a power handling capacity of 5kW RMS or 10kW peak.

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Dim Bulbs

Did you hear about the two not-so-bright fellas that nearly froze to death in a drive-in movie? They went to see "Closed for the Winter."

There was a near tragedy at the Mall. There was a power outage, and the same two guys were stuck on the escalators for over four hours.

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Etc.

Newsletter Committee

Bill Harris
  (505) 767-6735
   billharris@ix.netcom.com

Garneth M. Harris

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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.