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Random Radio Thoughts

Clay's Corner

Diamond In The Sky

FAA Urges Caution WITH "Stealth" Paint For Towers

FCC Issues Report On Over-The-Air TV

FCC Rulemakings

Amateur Radio News

New SBE CertPreview Now Available

PDX Radio Waves

Television: The View From 1939

The YXZ Report




May, 2005

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Random Radio Thoughts

Cris Alexander, CSRE
Crawford Broadcasting Company

NAB Observations
This year's spring NAB convention was different than in years past for me. I had to leave the convention for a day to attend the funeral of a dear friend and longtime employee, Gary Bloodworth. Gary (KJ6YA) had been chief engineer of Crawford's KBRT in the Los Angeles market for many years. He passed away from a heart attack the week prior to the show. It was tough getting from Las Vegas to the funeral in Lubbock, Texas and back in a day, but thank God, everything worked out. Still, that absence compressed the show to essentially one day for me.

During that one day, I observed a lot of stuff, and not just the "vaporware" of years previous. If anyone had any thoughts that HD Radio is not going to happen, a day on the show floor might have convinced him otherwise. Not only do just about all the transmitter manufacturers have working product on the shelves and ready to ship, but these companies continue to pour considerable R&D efforts into these and other products.

And it wasn't just the transmitter manufacturers. Companies that make support products also had a lot of ready-to-go products on display. Antenna manufacturers, load manufacturers, those making monitoring equipment and others have very obviously gotten behind this thing in a big way. And it's easy to understand why, with so many of the big groups making commitments to convert substantial portions of their groups to HD Radio within a few years.

Let's not forget the 5.1 Surround "war" that we've been watching play out in the pages of the trade press over the past few months. Manufacturers such as Telos/Omnia/Axia had entire radio stations "on the air" with live demos of what can and does work. The Telos group's demo included a DSSS over-the-air link between two booths. It was hard not to get excited about the new technology, especially the fact that we could have FM HD Radio 5.1 Surround available in our cars within a few years.

Ibiquity Digital had its usual booth in the usual place toward the back of the radio hall, but it had some new products to show us, namely auto receivers that are coming soon and some reasonably-priced tabletop/portable receivers. Some of the receiver manufacturers were offering cooperative deals, whereby radio stations are offered a commission on the sale of any receivers. It was hard to even get close to that booth, the crowds were so big.

Nautel had a live demo of HD Radio multicasting. Both a local in-booth two-program HD Radio signal was available (coming from a V10 feeding an "imperfect" dummy load) and a real-world over-the-air signal from a local Las Vegas NPR station were presented. Both over-the-air streams were at 44 kHz, and the sound quality was excellent. Much of the discussion I heard around the convention centered on multicasting and what it offers FM stations.

But that wasn't all. Two stars of the show were new 50 kW AM transmitters from Nautel and BE, both amazingly small. The BE unit was narrower and taller while the Nautel transmitter was a bit wider and shorter. In my humble opinion, BE won the overall contest, though, with its large color LCD display (including a Smith chart plot of the load sweep) and light weight (1,100 lbs.). This 50 kW transmitter is smaller than some refrigerators! To my knowledge, it is the first 50 kW AM rig with a switching power supply (no "big iron").

One thing I heard from a reliable source at the convention is that the FCC plans to begin allowing nighttime AM HD Radio transmissions this summer. I think that once that happens, we will see a large number of AM HD Radio conversions nationwide. There was no mention of whether digital carrier injection levels will be restricted at night or allowed at the nominal daytime levels. Stay tuned.

What was I thinking?
Here in my "ivory tower" office near downtown Denver, I spend a fair bit of time running "what-if" scenarios on our various facilities to see if I can find some way to improve them. Our few daytime-only AM stations always head the list of facilities that I revisit in this way. And just as even the blind squirrel finds the occasional nut, from time to time I find a way to better one of our signals.

It was about this time last year that I started looking hard at Crawford's KLDC (1 kW-D, 800 kHz, Brighton). KLDC has a respectable daytime signal with a good dial position, but at night... the low-power secondary nighttime service is just about worthless with all the interference from 150 kW XEROK blasting in like a local. And so it was that after a lot of noodling, I found a way to move KLDC from 800 to 810 kHz, increase the daytime power to 2.2 kW and add nighttime service with 430 watts. The new daytime facility will use the existing three-tower KLDC array north of Brighton (U.S. 85 at Weld Co. Rd. 6); the nighttime facility will use a new four-tower trapezoidal directional array constructed in the middle of the KLZ two-tower wide-spaced array at Welby (8170 York Street). Most all of Denver metro should receive a 50% interference-free or better nighttime signal from this new facility.

After months and months of waiting, the FCC granted the final modification of CP last month, so we're off to the races with this project. The Adams County Commission already approved our conditional use permit for the new tower construction, so we're really good to go; the building permit application is being filed as I write this. Towers will be supplied by Utility Tower Company, the nighttime transmitter is a Nautel J1000, and the phasing/coupling/filter equipment will be supplied by Kintronic Laboratories, all the above coming through dealer RF Specialties of Texas. The daytime site will use the existing Nautel ND-2.5 2.5 kW transmitter, but a new Kintronics phasing and coupling system will be used.

Anyone want the 1983-vintage Vector phasor? How about a 1963-vintage Gates BC500K transmitter? They're yours for the asking. Bring a trailer.

The schedule calls for us to break ground at the KLZ transmitter site in early June. The towers should be up by early July. That's when the real work begins for Ed Dulaney and his crew. The plan is to get the nighttime site built, proofed and program test authority issued first, allowing us to move to the new frequency and begin operating while we gut and rebuild the daytime facility. We hope to wrap up the nighttime in mid-August, completing the rest of the project before we go back on standard time in October. Something tells me that at some point, probably in the middle of July, I'll be looking up at those new towers, scratching my head and wondering, "What was I thinking??"

And that's not all...
In the midst of the big two-site KLDC DA project, CBC-Colorado will also be busy implementing HD Radio on three of its Denver stations, KLZ, KLDC and KLTT, before year's end. KLZ and KLDC shouldn't be too bad, as the new phasing/coupling/filter system has been designed for HD Radio. KLTT may be a different story. That four-tower array was built in 1995, and the phasor was designed for C-Quam stereo, which is to say that it is in good shape within the 10 kHz bandpass. What it looks like further out is a good question, one that we'll have to answer before we get started,

Otherwise, these HD Radio conversions will entail module replacements in all the existing transmitters plus addition of the IBOC generator and ancillary equipment. Digital STLs are already in place to each site.

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

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Clay's Corner

Featuring News, Rumors and Views
From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources
September 2002 Issue

By Clay Freinwald

I recently returned from San Antonio, Texas, where I attended the SBE Executive Board meeting. I was hoping for sun and warm... but instead got what should be Seattle Weather... quite cool and moist. I can tell you that SBE is very much alive and well. Membership is at an all time high and we have lots of new exciting things 'in the pipe'.

For me this year's trip to L.V. was my final SBE Board meeting. This fall will wrap up my run of 6 years on the National Board. It's been a great ride and as I have told you several times....You should do it also. SBE is an organization that you can be very proud of and one that you should definitely should allocate some time to support as a member of either the local or national Board of Directors.

Our last Chapter 16 meeting had a great turnout at Neural Audio in Kirkland. Makes one proud to have folks like this right here. The crew from the FCC were in full attendance.... All they had to do is walk downstairs.

A lot of attention is being paid to the annual trek to Las Vegas and NAB. I can tell you that for Radio all eyes will be on HD Radio as this new system ramps up in installation and acceptance.

I am not sure how many of you recall the name Merle Kimball. For many years Merle taught broadcasting at Bates in Tacoma. He passed away on January 25th in Tacoma. Another passing of note is that of Dick Aspenwall, W7PV, former owner of Amateur Radio Supply in Georgetown.

When you get to my point in life you start getting folks asking questions about retirement, a sure sign you are 'looking' old. I have given the matter some serious thought, usually about 10 seconds after the alarm goes off in the morning. But then I reflect on the fact that my income would go down dramatically and the thought seems to dissipate. James Watson put it this way: 'Never retire. Your brain needs exercise or it will atrophy'.

Speaking of retirement - John Forbes has announced his retirement as editor of the Waveguide. I can remember back some 19 years ago when I would send John this column at 300 baud... and that was before email!

Heard of MobileTrak? Well that might change as the company is reportedly installing equipment in the Seattle area to track who is listening to what in their cars.

Congratulations to Allen Hartle with the announcement that Broadcast Electronics has purchased his firm, The Radio Experience. Allen has developed solutions for radio stations nationwide in the area of RDS, Streaming and HD's PAD. From what Allen told me, BE will now be handling the marketing and he and his co-workers will be able to concentrate on product development. For example, in a recent conversation (at West Tiger Mt) he bounced an idea off me that could be a real problem solver. If you have been in this market for a while, you'll remember Allen was Chief at KZOK and was the father of the Billboards that displayed the name of the song that was playing on a particular station.

Interesting to note that John Bisset, who was selling Dielectric products recently, has also joined the team at BE. In fact it was John that gave me that Dielectric cap that I wear from time to time.

The State of Missouri is trying to block the use of the term 'Engineer'. We discussed this at the EC Board Meeting recently. If the state gets their way, only those with a PE will be able to use the term. This issue comes up from time to time; so far SBE has been successful.

Dave Biondi, who supports many SBE chapters and EAS groups with free Remailer systems, suffered some major technical failures recently taking down most of these systems. Interesting how we have become so dependent on these systems... we really know it when they break. SBE National recently moved their online services to a new provider closer to the SBE Hdqtrs. Barry Miskind also moved his 'lists' to new providers. Here in our state the biggest casualty was the loss of the state's EAS Remailer. At the next SECC meeting we will have to decide how we are going to handle that issue.

Big news on the national level is the resignation of Michael Powell as chairman of the FCC. Certainly Powell was somewhat of a lightning rod. For Amateurs he will be remembered as the one that pushed the BPL system. For Broadcasters we all will remember his efforts toward changing limits on network/station ownership that ended up getting Congress involved. The area of concentration of power in the hands of media giants is likely to be what Powell will be most remembered for. Gee, remember when a change at the top of the FCC was a ho-hum event? Times have certainly changed.

As you know, the FCC a few years back dropped the Morse code requirement for Amateur Radio (Ham) licenses. Looks like Canada will be joining the no-code countries. Just the other day I was eating at a restaurant when all of a sudden my ears perked up to Morse coming from the kitchen. Over and over again I was hearing S-M-S... S-M-S.... I could not stand it. I had to know what was sending Morse Code in the kitchen. The employees there likely thought I was nuts as all they heard was 'beeping'... for me it was a message... SMS. It turned out to be a cell phone belonging to one of the cooks! Think of it this way: in a few years Morse could be used as a 'secret code'... as no one will be able to decode it.

On one of the broadcast related remailers recently there was a thread going dealing with phrases used by broadcasters. Here are a few funny ones....

[Recorded before a live audience] - As if there were recordings before dead ones?

[Recorded live] - Again why not just say recorded?

[Live, on the scene] - Again what does the term 'live' tell the average Joe?

[Someone was seriously killed] - Is not that a serious event?

[Portions of the program were pre-recorded] - What's the diff. between recorded and pre-recorded?

One contributor brought up the phrase used by radio stations.... 'Remotes'... or remote broadcasts. What image do you suppose that tells the average listener?

I wonder just how many times we use terms on Radio and TV that mean something to us in the business but mean nothing to the listener or viewer? I just had to add this one. A small sign on the side of a piece of equipment reads - 'WARNING ROTATING FANS' How come they have to tell us they rotate?

Well that's about it from this end for this month. I will close with a bit of trivia....What well-known person used to be a rock-and-roll jock with the air-name of Jeff Christie? Would you believe Rush Limbaugh?

Catch ya next month. Clay, CPBE, K7CR

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Diamond In The Sky

By Vicki W. Kipp
From Madison Chapter 24

Have you ever seen a tower that is wider in the middle than it is at the top and bottom? If you have, consider yourself fortunate. Only a few of these diamond-shaped towers exist. This is the story of a diamond-shaped tower near Nashville, Tennessee.

Small Beginnings

This story began on October 5, 1925 when WSM-AM signed on the air with a thousand watts of power at 1060 kilohertz. The transmitter and antenna were installed in downtown Nashville. WSM broadcast from a horizontal long wire antenna stretched between two self-supporting towers, in a setup known as a "cage" or "flat top" antenna. A tuning house centered between the two towers fed a vertical source wire to the center of the horizontal long wires.

Edwin W. Craig, an insurance executive for the National Life and Accident Insurance Company, created WSM to promote the company while providing a public service. Craig drew the station's call letters from the National Life slogan: We shield millions. WSM-AM was given a dreamy nickname: Air Castle of the South. An informal live-performance country music show called WSM Barn Dance premiered on November 28, 1925. The live show attracted so many guests to the WSM Studio, that people soon joked that WSM stood for We seat many. Two years later, the immensely popular show was renamed "The Grand Ole Opry." Almost eighty years later, "The Grand Ole Opry" still attracts giant studio crowds and many radio listeners on Friday and Saturday nights. On December 6, 1982, WSM-AM became Nashville's first stereo AM station.

The present day studio for WSM-AM is in the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville. WSM-AM broadcasts a combination of country music and talk radio.

Growing Audience

By 1926, WSM-AM had increased its power to 5,000 Watts, formed an affiliation with the NBC Network, and expanded its broadcast day to eight hours. WSM received Class 1-A clear-channel status in 1932. The clear-channel classification enabled WSM to increase power to 50,000 Watts. WSM-AM became the only station in the United States allowed to broadcast at 650 kilohertz. After the 1981 Rio Agreement changed the original clear channel classifications, WSM-AM retained the protection that no other station within a 750-mile radius can broadcast at 650 kilohertz at night. WSM is one of America's twenty-five clear channel stations. The low frequency channel assignment and channel protection gave WSM an enviable nationwide coverage pattern. WMS-AM can be received in much of the US and Canada at night. The change in designation to a high-power clear channel status was the impetus for WSM to build a new broadcast tower.

Enter Blaw-Knox

The Blaw-Knox Company of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania was formed on July 6, 1917 by a merger of the Blaw Collapsible Steel Centering Company and the Knox Pressed and Welded Steel Company. The city of Hoboken, Pennsylvania, which was home to an early Blaw-Knox factory, changed its name to Blawnox, Pennsylvania. Beginning in 1927, the Blaw-Knox company began building radio towers. Diamond shaped antennas - also called dual cantilever center-guyed antennas - are usually referred to by their trade name, Blaw-Knox towers. The vertical diamond shaped WSM antenna tower (Figure 1) made by the Blaw-Knox Company was cutting-edge antenna technology in 1932.

Figure 1. The pole at the top of the WSM-AM antenna tower holds a turnstile FM antenna for the now defunct WSM-FM 100.1 MHz station. The functionality of the open air transmission lines (lower left) have been replaced by underground transmission lines.

WSM's Blaw-Knox tower was built by a tower crew from Columbia, South Carolina. Upon finishing construction of WSM, the crew ventured on to build the WLW Blaw-Knox tower near Mason, Ohio.

Steel Landmark

Located about eight miles south of Nashville at the intersection of I-65 and Concord Road in Brentwood, Tennessee, WSM-AM is a middle Tennessee landmark. The WSM Blaw-Knox tower transmitted its first broadcast on October 5, 1932.

The tower was originally built with 758 feet of square structural lattice and then 120 feet of tapered mast to measure 878 feet tall. At the time of construction, WSM was the tallest tower in the US. The steel members on the bottom part of the WSM tower are larger than the steel members on the top of the tower. There is a transition between the bottom linear taper and the top non-linear taper at 680 feet. Where the top and bottom tapers meet, there are eight insulated steel guy cables attached. At the point of maximum force at the tower base, the tower rests on two porcelain insulators (Figure 2). Contemplating the physics at play with the WSM-AM tower is overwhelming.

Figure 2. The porcelain insulators at the base, which support the entire weight of the structure, are predicted by one expert to support in excess of 300 tons. A very large spark gap (not shown) is behind the insulators.

It is not unusual for passersby to call the station to report that the tower is tipping over. Watt Hairston, the Chief Engineer of WSM-AM, often gets calls of this nature. Watt concedes that "The tapered nature of the tower can create the illusion that the tower is falling, although it's been standing straight for more than 70 years now."

Upon use, it was discovered that the tower was too long electrically. The daytime signal is carried by ground waves while the night time transmission is carried by sky waves. An interference zone with cancelled or distorted reception occurs when the ground waves and sky waves become equal. At a height of 878 feet, WSM's very high angle of radiation caused cancellation between ground waves and sky waves 120 miles away in Chatanooga and Knoxville. This was a problem. The tower would have to be shortened in order to shift the signal cancellation zone to less populated areas.

A portion of the tower's tapered top was removed in 1939 so that the tower now stood at 808 feet. The removed portion of the tower was then put in to service as a flagpole at the nearby Lipscomb School. The tower section flag pole was used until the school was rebuilt in 1996. WSM's sister tower, WLW-AM in Ohio, also had to be lowered in order to avoid having its interference zone fall over Indianapolis, Indiana.

FM Not Financially Feasible

A new mast pole was installed at the top of the modified WSM-AM tower in 1939 for an FM sister station in the 45 MHz band, W47NV-FM. WSM-FM's allocation moved up to 100.1 MHz after WWII ended. The 45 MHz FM antenna was replaced with another turnstile antenna. WSM relinquished their FM license and ceased operation in 1952 because FM transmission had not caught on at that time and WSM wanted to start a television station instead. The 100.1 MHz FM antenna remains installed on the WSM-AM tower. Another later attempt at an FM sister station for WSM-AM succeeded. The WSM-FM station 95.5 MHz antenna is located on a guyed tower a few miles away.

Limited Production

Despite being effective radiators and impressive works of architecture, there were very few Blaw-Knox towers ever built. Shortly after WSM and WLW were constructed, builders determined that a uniform cross-section tower could be built for about half the cost of a dual cantilever center-guyed antenna. By one count, there are five diamond-shaped towers remaining in the U.S..

The Blaw-Knox company exited the tower business in 1958. In addition to building towers, the Blaw-Knox company also built tools for the public works and highway construction industries. The Ingersoll-Rand company has a line of paving and road-surfacing equipment called Blaw-Knox.

In the Doghouse

The WSM doghouse is an aged brick building with charming white double doors with windowpanes. The doghouse contains equipment used to tune the characteristic output impedance of the transmitter and transmission line to the input impedance of the WSM-AM tower. An inventory of the WSM Antenna Tuning Unit (ATU) includes extremely large metal capacitors, inductive coils, a dummy load, and grounding straps. The coils and capacitors form a coupling network (Figure 3). A Caterpillar generator and a backup antenna at the site help ensure reliability.

Figure 3. Inside the doghouse, a person can hear an emulated version of the transmitted audio in the vibrations of the tuning coils.

Transmitter Building/Museum

While the WSM tower was awe-inspiring, the WSM-AM transmitter building is just as much of a treat. Besides the obvious contents of transmitters, the building contained old-fashioned treasures.

Two Harris transmitters, a DX 50 and a 3DX50 Destiny, occupy the main room. WSM alternates weekly between the two transmitters. The transmitters were among the newer items in the transmitter building.

The transmitter building is large by today's standards, but it needed to be built big to house the first 50 kilowatt transmitter. Storage drawers containing all of the original blue prints the Blaw-Knox Company prepared for the tower. In Watt Hairston's office, a blackboard is entirely covered by schematics, formulas, and computations intended to determine the impedance of WSM.

A spiral staircase connects the main floor to the basement and the present to the past. The machine shop in the basement contains a DoALL Countour Machine Job Selector with War Finish made after WWII. WSM engineers preferred to craft solutions on site (Figure 4). A group of filing cabinets hold records from the 1960's and 1970's of a fight to keep the assigned clear channels clear. An electrical box holds a maze of fabric-wound wires attached to pegs. On the shelves are old radios and antiquated electronic measurement tools.

Figure 4. WSM-AM Chief Engineer Watt Hairston shows off the site's machine shop. In the past, WSM engineers would build any tower or transmitter parts that they needed.

If you find yourself near Nashville one day, keep your eyes open for a diamond-shaped tower on the horizon.

Acknowledgements: Watt Hairston, Chief Engineer of WSM-AM; John Hettish, moderator of Tower-Pro forum;;; and

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FAA Urges Caution With "Stealth" Paint For Towers

by Everett E. Helm W7EEH CPBE
Chapter 124 - Portland

A Greatview, Montana company recently formulated a new paint mixture specifically designed to help with the concealment of Cellular radio towers, light poles, and highway signs in environmentally sensitive areas. Designed to exploit the human eyes sensitivity to colors in the visible spectrum, and the spatial dynamic resolution typical of HDTV compression algorithms, the paint, when properly applied, virtually makes towers disappear, especially when viewed from a moving vehicle. This could be a real breakthrough for those of us with sites in the Columbia River Gorge, or on Awbrey Butte in Bend, where environmental restrictions have nearly shut down tower development.

The FCC & FAA are urging extreme caution with the use of such paint formulations, and remind tower owners that visibility remains the goal of the current FAA Circular regarding painting, & lighting of structures. The agencies will however, grant waivers on specific situations where the structure will not exceed the height of other properly identified structures in the immediate vicinity, or where the painted structure will not extend beyond 60.96 meters AGL.

I wonder of there are any Amateur Radio applications for the paint?

All for now, & have a great April!

Thanks, CUL, & 73, Ev.

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FCC Issues Report On Over-The-Air TV

By Tom Smith
Chapter 24 in Madison

On February 28th, the Media Bureau issued a report on over-the-air TV usage. This report was the result of an inquiry that the Media Bureau issued last year. The inquiry was to determine the impact of the shut off of analog TV transmission on the public. For those who have followed the debate over setting an end date for analog transmissions, the results are not unexpected and most of the information has been mentioned in other reports and hearings by the FCC and Congress on the DTV transition.

The FCC found that 15% of the homes in the U. S. rely on over-the-air signals for all of their viewing and that 5% of the homes in the U.S. use over-the air because the cannot afford cable or DBS. The rest of the homes using over-the-air TV, use it because TV is not that important to them, with a small share having other reasons not listed. With DBS homes that use over-the-air for local stations (about half), and sets in cable and satellite homes not connect to the service, about 30% of the sets in the U.S. view over-the-air signals.

Considerable space was spent on the use of converters to receive DTV by current over-the-air users and how to get them into homes. The question of the government aiding in the cost of purchasing converters for those unable to afford them was discussed, as was consumer education on the DTV transition. The report finished with an analysis and list of options on methods for making the DTV transition including the timing of the transition.

From FCC Media Bureau Report (
Disclosure: Author filed comments for this inquiry and was quoted in the report.

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FCC Rulemakings

Compiled By Tom Smith - Madison Chapter 24

MM-Docket 99-25
Creation Of a Low Power Radio Service The FCC has issued a Notice of Further Rulemaking concerning low-power FM. The notice covers a number of issues including ownership and technical issues. In this notice, the FCC gave immediate relief to stations that need to relocate their transmitter sites by increasing the distance of such a move to 5.6 km for a 100 watt LPFM and 3.2 km for a 10 watt LPFM. The previous limit was 2 km for a 100-watt station and 1 km for a 10-watt station.

The FCC has asked for information on allowing LPFM stations to be transferred to different ownership, which is now not allowed. Currently, only changes of the board of directors are allowed. A station must cease operating if the current license wishes to withdraw from the operation. The FCC also asks if ownership should be limited to local entities and limited to one station. The rules now allow for ownership of up to 10 LPFM stations nationally after 3 years, but the FCC has frozen the limit to one station at the present time.

Another ownership question concerns licenses that timeshare a frequency. The Commission asks if the time for an agreement to be negotiated should be extended from 30 to 90 days, if they can relocate their transmitters to a central location beyond the distance allowed for minor changes and if time shared stations should be renewed. Now a timeshared station must cease operation after the 10-year license expires.

The FCC asks if the construction period should be increased from 18 months to 36 months to match the construction period of full power stations. Another issue raised concerns the relationship between LPFM stations, translators and full power stations. The Commission has been asked to make LPFM stations primary stations in relations to FM translators. The reason is because a LPFM station is meant to serve a local area and many of the translators filed for recently have be for national networks of satellite feed transmitters. It was also proposed to allow a LPFM to remain on the air if it caused interference to a new full power station within its 70 dbu contour on the second and third adjacent channel.

The FCC rejected the use of contour protection instead of mileage separation for LPFM stations and clarified the definition of local origination. Translator application grants were frozen for six months.

The notice was adopted on March 16th and released on March 17th.

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Amateur Radio News

By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Chapter 24 - Madison

o The FCC has released a Report and Order (R&O) on cognitive or "smart radio" systems. In its 42-page R&O, the Commission declined to adopt any new regulations for amateur radio transceivers or for digital-to-analog (D/A) converters "at this time." In its December 2003 Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), the FCC had proposed exempting manufactured software defined radios (SDRs) designed to operate solely in amateur bands from any mandatory declaration and certification requirements, provided the equipment incorporated hardware features to prevent operation outside of amateur bands. The Commission also had sought comment on the need to restrict the mass marketing of D/A converters "that could be diverted for use as radio transmitters."

But, in its R&O, the FCC concluded, "No parties have provided any information that shows that software programmable amateur transceivers or high-speed D/A converters present any significantly greater risk of interference to authorized radio services than hardware radios." The Commission went on to note that "certain unauthorized modifications of amateur transmitters are unlawful" and that it may revisit the issues "if misuse of such devices results in significant interference to authorized spectrum users."

The Commission said its R&O, released March 11, is intended to "facilitate continued growth in the deployment of radio equipment employing cognitive radio technologies and make possible a full realization of their potential benefits." The hope is that cognitive radios will allow more efficient use of the radio spectrum. The American Radio Relay League and the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council had commented earlier on the impracticality of incorporating hardware features to prevent out-of-band transmissions. The League also opposed regulating the marketing of high-speed D/A converters as burdensome, more costly to consumers and unnecessary because the devices don't pose a risk of interference.

o An Irving, Texas, Broadband over Power Line (BPL) pilot project has shut down and removed its equipment. In mid-March, the ARRL called on the FCC to shut down the system and issue fines for causing harmful interference to amateur radio communications. The ARRL's March 15 filing to the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, its Office of Engineering and Technology, system operator TXU and equipment manufacturer Amperion supported a complaint from ARRL member and North Texas Section BPL Task Force Chair Jory McIntosh, KJ5RM, who regularly commutes through the BPL test zone in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. McIntosh said when the system was running, interference in its vicinity was 20 dB over S9 or stronger on all amateur bands from 40 through 6 meters.

The ARRL became involved after FCC failed to respond to a formal complaint McIntosh filed last fall. ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, also took measurements at the Texas site that verified McIntosh's observations.

There's been no word from TXU as to its reasons for shutting down the system and removing the equipment. The test report the League included with its complaint pointed out that the interference was not confined to amateur radio spectrum but included additional HF spectrum. The ARRL said the system even failed to protect many of the bands that the FCC's new BPL rules require to be notched.

The Irving BPL test site is the third using Amperion BPL equipment to shut down following complaints from amateur radio operators. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, last June, Alliant Energy cut short its BPL "evaluation system" after the utility and Amperion were unable to resolve ongoing HF interference to amateurs. In the Raleigh, North Carolina, area last October, Progress Energy Corporation shut down Phase II of its BPL field trial after pronouncing the test a success.

[Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League web site,]

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New SBE CertPreview Now Available


The new SBE CertPreview sample certification test software is now available. It's Microsoft Windows-based and replaces the previous DOS-based software. New sample tests are available for Broadcast Technologist, Audio Engineer, Video Engineer, Broadcast Networking Technologist, Broadcast Engineer and Senior Broadcast Engineer in both radio and television. Sample tests include 50 to 100 questions and indicate when an incorrect answer has been given. It provides a list of resources from which to learn more about a subject. Cost for each SBE CERTpreview practice test is $27 plus $3 shipping. Contact the National Office to order a copy.

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PDX Radio Waves

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

Entercom has added 94.7 KNRK to the HD Radio family in Portland, while 91.5 KOPB-FM was on for a few days, but at press time was down for some testing of possible intermod into the analog passband. Portland is turning out to be a good test city for HD. We have a variety of feed methods, with stations variously using separate antennas (KGON, KWJJ, KKSN) dual feed antennas (the Skyline group - KRVO, KKRZ, KKCW, KOPB) mid-level combining (KBOO - soon) and high-level combining (KNRK). We also have both rugged and flat terrain conditions in various directions, and different brands of hardware. Among the few conditions we don't have are very-low ERP stations, but these are being examined elsewhere - i.e. KCSN Los Angeles, with just 4 watts HD. The station is also currently testing a synchronized HD Radio booster. The coming months are going to be interesting in examining several issues, such as: How much audible degradation is noted to the analog signals? How much effect will there be on 2nd adjacent "rim shots"? How badly is the system affected when the analog and digital signals don't track well in the field? And finally, will broadcasters start announcing plans for their 2nd "tomorrow radio" HD channel? Hopefully it will be used for more than just re-runs of the morning zoos.

According to reports circulating in Radio Business Report and elsewhere at press time, Entercom may be in talks with Citadel on a possible merger. From a purely financial sense, it's quite logical. There are only three markets in which they have overlap. Citadel is heavy in small and medium markets, while Entercom has more Top-50 properties. The two companies have similar revenues of just over $400 mil/year, but Citadel has more than twice as many stations: 213. The combined group would have about 320 stations, making it the 3rd largest group in the country. Entercom has 8 stations in Portland/Salem and another 7 in Seattle, while Citadel has 7 in Spokane. (Citadel sold off its stations in Eugene, Medford, and Tri-Cities, a few years ago.) Yes, it makes sense to Wall Street, but from an engineering standpoint, I can see the rolling eyes already.

The city of Beaverton has signed on a new TIS (Travelers Information service) station at 1610, claiming to cover virtually the whole city. It will broadcast emergency information, and "updates on city programs and events". See: While the Beaverton, Camas, Portland Airport, and other local municipal- based TIS stations appear to be on the up-and-up, I've often wondered how far the TIS rules have been stretched. Elsewhere, there certainly are those that have violated at least the spirit of the antenna and grounding limitations in a effort to increase the signal reach, and others (such as the station at George, Oregon) that use TIS for naked political means - in their case, lobbying for unregulated chemical-intensive agriculture.

As we predicted here, Kevin Martin has been named the new FCC chairman. The reactions are decidedly mixed. Martin, who worked for Ken Starr during the Clinton investigation, was perhaps the strongest voice on the commission for cracking down on "indecency", but occasionally sided with the two Democratic commissioners on some split-decision issues. In the wake of the increasing concern over FM translator trafficking, and related affects on LPFM, the FCC has frozen further new translator processing for 6 months, relaxed some LPFM rules, and is seeking comments on others. See:

My favorite quote of the month is attributed to Bob Groome. "Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easer ways to do something." Amen.

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Subject: Television: The View From 1939

From: Mark Durenberger
Sent: Monday, April 25, 2005

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The YXZ Report

by Kent Randles K7YXZ CBRE
watercooled at INSERT AUTHOR HERE



Chris Pannell, Harris Radio District Sales Manager, did a presentation on the Harris-PR&E RMXdigital audio console , which has 4, 12, 20, or 28 inputs, and Harris Vista Max networkable audio management system, with up to 64 24-bit bi-directional digital audio channels plus logic on each piece of CAT-5 or fiber. See . Thank you Chris for picking up the tab!


Chris did a presentation on the Neural Audio products that Harris sells. The one thing making the biggest splash at the moment is 5.1 Surround Sound for HD Radio, but it also works for HDTV. See . Thank you Chris for picking up the tab!


As I write the newsletter, there are eight FM HD signals on the air in the Portland market. The eighth HD signal, KOPB-FM, is not full time yet, but their new Broadcast Electronics "analog" FM transmitter has been on the air for a few weeks. All three Clear Channel FM HD's have Program Associated Data (PAD), the HD version of RDS, and the four Entercom FM HD's will have it shortly.


I had the opportunity to drive from Portland to San Diego and back to Sacramento during my vacation in March. We listened to the one FM HD station in Sacramento, at least seven in the L.A. area (including one in Spanish, and four non-commercial stations including the one with just 6 Watts ERP of HD Power at 2925 feet height above average terrain), and none in San Diego. I did not try to listen to any San Francisco bay area FM stations as we got no closer than I-5.

Apparently the only AM HD station on the west coast at that time was 740 KCBS in San Francisco, although shows three other California AM HD's on the air. (No Ibiquity AM licenses are shown on their site in Oregon or Washington). The HD signal was not strong enough for my JVC car stereo to stay on digital for more than a few minutes as we drove near Stockton. I have not talked to anyone about their program sources, but I noticed that the CBS Radio Network sounded great, as did most of the commercials (but I didn't notice any in stereo, could be the playback system is all mono), but the live local voices all sounded "flanged."

We drove right by the 640 KFI site in La Mirada with its now-lone aux tower, but alas, they aren't back to doing HD Radio yet. Earlier in our trip, I got to meet Marv Collins W6OQI, KFI's former Chief Engineer, and talk with him about his reaction when they called him after the main tower fell down.

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2005 Edition of "You Know You're A Redneck When..."

You take your dog for a walk and you both use the same tree.

You burn your yard rather than mow it.

The Salvation Army declines your furniture.

You offer to give someone the shirt off your back and they don't want it.

You come back from the dump with more than you took there.

Your grandmother has "ammo" on her Christmas list.

Your house doesn't have curtains, but your truck does.

Your lifetime goal is to own a fireworks stand.

A tornado hits your neighborhood and does a $100,000.00 worth of improvements.

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A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.

A place where women curl up and dye.

Someone who is fed up with people.

The only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead.

A b ody that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

Mud with the juice squeezed out.

Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.

Cold Storage.

Cutting money in half without damaging the paper.

An insect that makes you like flies better.

Grape with a sunburn.

Something you tell to one person at a time.

A bunch of bones with the person scraped off.

The pain that drives you to extraction.

One of the greatest labor saving devices of today.

An honest opinion openly expressed.

Something other people have.
You have character lines.

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I Wonder

Here are a few things to think about that you probably have never thought about (some old, some new):

Can you cry under water?

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

If money doesn't grow on trees then why do banks have branches?

Since bread is square, then why is sandwich meat round?

Why do you have to "put your two cents in".. . but it's only a "penny" for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going to?

Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

What disease did cured ham actually have?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up like every two hours?

If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?

If you drink Pepsi at work in the Coke factory, will they fire you?

Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

How come we choose from just two people for President and fifty for Miss America?

Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.

If a 911 operator has a heart attack, whom does he/she call?

Why is "bra" singular and "panties" plural?

Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet soup?

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out!"

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?

When your photo is taken for your driver's license, why do they tell you to smile? If you are stopped by the police and asked for your license, are you going to be smiling?

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Subject: Red Skelton Tips on Marriage

For those of you who are too young to know who Red Skelton is, he was a super comedian back in the days when entertainment wasn't so raunchy.

Red Skelton's tips for a happy marriage:

Two times a week, we go to a nice restaurant, have a little beverage, then comes good food and companionship. She goes on Tuesdays, I go on Fridays.

I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back.

We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

Remember. Marriage is the number one cause of divorce.

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Newsletter Committee

Bill Harris
  (505) 767-6735

Garneth M. Harris

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