Clay’s Corner for August 2018

Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

 

Have you been enjoying summer?  Hot enough for yah?  From what I hear, this July has been the 2nd hottest on record.  Perhaps all part of global warming….Heard someone say recently that the Pacific Northwest is the only place in the country where Climate Change is making things better.  Perhaps, frankly I’d trade some of these 90 degree days for some 70’s in October.

Well the big news has certainly got to be the action of the FCC regarding the Sinclair/Tribune deal.  Media watchers were all saying that the deal was about to be approved by the FCC when – BOOM!  The FCC honcho, Ajit Pai announced that he is recommending that the merger be reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  As a result, those same outlets did a ‘180’ saying that this move could kill the deal.  Sinclair has been scrambling to make modifications in the hope that the FCC would back down.  Thus far this does not seem to be happening.  Some have been so bold as to suggest that Sinclair has shot themselves in the foot due to the way they were handling the matter of divesting of some stations.  In other situations, sending a merger to an ALJ can mean a ‘dead-deal’.  If you recall, AT&T tried to buy local cell provider, T-Mobile – In that case the FCC just threatened to send the matter to an ALJ for review causing AT&T to give up.

Then there is the political side of this….Sinclair is known for having a very conservative position on things.  As such, many figured the FCC Chairman, being a Republican would help…Apparently it did not…Perhaps surprising a lot of media-watchers.

So what’s going to take place in the Emerald City with the two Tribune Stations?  Not sure anyone is bold enough to be making bets.

Right after this bombshell – Cox, owner of KIRO-TV, announced that they are putting their 14 TV stations up for sale!  In an interesting reversal, where we have seen Radio/TV groups shed their Radio stations (CBS for example), Cox owns 61 Radio stations.

My heart goes out to all of those that work for the Tribune and Cox stations as they deal with a special kind of ‘Limbo’.  In my career I endured several ownership changes…In the end, most of them ended up being positive….However, getting there can be very unsettling.  In all of these it was pretty cut and dried…The old owners announced they were selling and identified the new ones…Then you waited for the FCC to approve the sale followed by the introduction of new management and, with fingers crossed, the announcement came that you had a job with the new firm.  In this case, things are far from clear, which is a breeding ground for anxiety.

On a much more cheerful note….I took my camera to the transmitter site recently and captured some scenes to share.  This first one is looking north at the ridge that is West Tiger Mountain with a foreground of wild flowers.  This is not a setup…There is a ton of nature’s color up there this year.

On the left is what we call West Tiger #1 or WTM-1.  It was the first broadcast site developed on the mountain back in 1988.  On the right, the two towers are at WTM-2, a site developed some years later by American Tower.  Although it does not look like it from this angle, the tops of all three towers are at the same elevation, 3148 feet above sea-level.

In recent columns I’ve written about Smart Speakers.  New reports are the sales of these devices will reach 100 million by the end of this year….and there will be 225 million of them by 2020.  Of special interest locally is the news that the Amazon Echo will account for more than 50% of sales.  Pretty impressive.  This is another classic case of a lot of people asking the question ….’Why didn’t I think of that?’

One of our area’s Non-Comms…KUOW is making use of these devices.  They’ve been chosen as a test station to receive donations from listeners who stream the station via the Alexa.  Amazon teamed up with NPR and KUOW on the project.

Time to look at the Seattle Radio (6+) Ratings in what Nielsen calls ‘Market #12’ –

  • Hubbard is at #1with their CHR formatted KQMV (92.5)
  • Close behind is KIRO-FM with News/Talk
  • Non-Comm, KUOW has dropped to a tie for 4th place with KISW
  • The top-rated AM station is KIRO/710.  Perhaps the hot Mariners having a role here?
  • The other highly rated Non-Comm, KNKX comes in at #10
  • The two Country Music stations, KKWF and KNUC (The Wolf and Bull) are tied
  • The next highest rated AM is KOMO at #16
  • Of the bottom 10 stations – 4 are AM’s with 3 of them 50 Kilowatts.

More examples of wildflowers along the road to West Tiger.  There are still some that think I’m crazy for preferring to drive up this ‘rustic’ road than drive on a freeway.

 

 

Road and Track magazine recently had a headline that read:

The 100 Worst American Cities for Driving – Adding – “You don’t want to be in the driver’s seat when visiting these cities.”

Sure, you knew where I was going with this one …Ranking #96 is Seattle…They added –

“Downtown Seattle is surrounded by a collection of lakes and peninsulas, meaning a lot of choke points for drivers trying to get places.”

We are joined at the bottom of the list of desirable places to drive by Oakland and San Francisco, Detroit and Philadelphia.  So what about Portland, Oregon?  Not much to brag about.  They came in at #60.

Meanwhile – Back to the tranquil road to West Tiger Mountain…and Foxgloves

The battle over what we call ‘C-Band’ continues to rage (3.7 to 4.2 GHz).  As time goes by, it appears that indeed wireless will end up with a portion of the band.  The question remains, where and how much.  Clearly the message that this spectrum is being used has been heard, with the FCC acknowledging that the existing users of this spectrum need to be accommodated.  I have contended that we will be looking at another ‘repack’ on this band.  That position is being echoed by others now as well.  One segment that has been very vocal has been Non-Commercial users.  Even Chairman Pai is on record that no action should be taken that threatens Public Radio.  Driving all this is the desire by the Wireless industry for spectrum for their 5G systems.  So now we wait for announcements to come from the east.

An interesting story out of NPR this past month.  They are reporting a spike in donations for Non-Comm Radio and TV Stations.  Interesting to note that this is the first time in decades that these facilities have seen increases in donors and revenue.  I wonder how much that is a result of the current battle between elected officials and news organizations?

So now that IHeart Media is Bankrupt – What’s next?  Sensing there is ‘blood in the water’, some organizations with money to spend are circling.  Already some of them have trotted out offers sparking comments of a coming bidding war.  Will the media giant be parted out…or what is the question?  Like all of these issues, only time will tell.

Just when we are getting used to the term ‘Fake News’ comes word on how ‘Fake Video’ could mess with our heads in the future.  Think of it a photo-shop for video.  I recall the term – You can’t fool a camera – Well, sorry Grandpa….Today you can using facial mapping and AI.

Received news that Kelly Alford is moving back home.  He recently wrote –

We’re in the process of packing and putting our Virginia house on the market to move back to the PNW in the coming months.  I don’t want to disclose where yet, but I start in my new position August 1st.  I’m sure there will be announcements accordingly.  Suffice it to say it will be nice to get back to my roots, with no more endless overseas work-related travel.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed getting to know the various cultures and customs in my prior gig, but at my age, 14 to 16 hour flights through numerous time zones, including dangerous places for American’s like Baghdad, was taking a toll.

Not everyday that the retirement of a local Radio General Manager makes the news.  However, a lot of attention is being given to the retirement announcement that Hubbard’s Marc Kaye is going to hang it up.  Marc’s been in the business 45 years.  He was the Cluster Manager for the Sandusky group in Bellevue and continued in that role with Hubbard.

Whereas I am one of those ‘older people’ that has elected to keep working beyond conventional retirement age (whatever that is) I found this item interesting –

The headline read – A record number of folks age 85 and older are working.

70 may be the new 60 and 80 may be the new 70…but 85 is still pretty old to work in the U.S.  Interestingly 255,000 people 85 and older are working, the highest number on record.  So what are they doing?  All kinds of things…crossing guards, farmers and ranchers and even truckers.  The number has doubled since the last depression.  There are a number of supporting reasons for all of this.  Longer life expectancies, lack of retirement plans, less physically demanding work.

What is not mentioned is doing what you like.  This is the situation in my case.  Frankly, I like what I do, perhaps because of its relationship to my hobby.  For the last eight plus years I have been working for a number of different firms…pretty much doing what I’ve done for the last 55 plus years.  The best part is I don’t have to deal with any politics and my hours are pretty flexible.  The best part is knowing that I could quit any one, or all, of these jobs any time I want and live comfortably thanks to doing some good financial planning.

Does the name Randy McCune ring a bell?  I first met Randy over eight years ago as he was leaving WSU after 15 years, in Pullman as I was coming in.  He moved on to KIRO-TV here in Seattle.  Where is he now?  Director of Engineering at Sinclair in Memphis.

A name that is very familiar with Radio Broadcast Engineers is Nautel.  There have more more new Nautel radio transmitters installed in the Seattle area made by the Canadian company than any other in recent years.  What you may not know is that Nautel has been awarded the prestigious, “Canada’s Best Managed Companies” designation.

For those of you that are members of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, SBE, you know that elections have taken place.  I have not heard any results.  One of the members of the Seattle Chapter is running for the board, Tom McGinley.  If he is elected he will be the 3rd member of our Chapter to serve at the national level.  The others were John Schnider and myself.

We lost Mike Scott, who passed away July 5th.  In recent years, you would see Mike’s picture in the Seattle SBE Chapter newletter – The Waveguide.  Mike had retired from teaching broadcast technology at Bates Technical College in Tacoma.  Prior to that, he was on the Engineering Staff at Channel 11.  Those that knew Mike, will long remember that twinkle in his eye and his wonderful sense of humor.

I recall traveling to various SBE Functions with Mike and his wife.  In fact, one of the pictures that showed him with his hair blowing in the wind was taken on one of those jaunts.  When I posted the news of his passing on the Chapter Remailer, the rapid response and volume of comments underscored how much Mike was thought of, and his incredible value to our industry.  Many of his students work in broadcasting in this area.

WSU’s Northwest Public Broadcasting deploys technical support people in various locations in the State.  One of those locations is Wenatchee.  Replacing the recently retired Don Eckis is Brady Aldrich.  I recently had the opportunity to spend a couple of days with Brady visiting some of the Western Washington sites I look after.  Brady is a familiar name in these parts, having worked for KOMO in years past, having roots on Vashon Island.  Most recently he had been working in Mississippi and was (as you might guess) anxious to return to the PNW.  I found it interesting that he happened to have relatives in Wenatchee.  I got this picture of Brady will visiting KVTI in Lakewood recently.

 

In recent years I have been receiving emails from readers of this column.  Many reach out to me, perhaps concluding that I have become a historian in this market.  One such email was from Charles Reinsch.  To be honest, the name was not familiar.  Chuck wrote –

It would be highly unlikely, but thought I would ask anyway: Could one of those old Collins on Cougar Mtn be KRAB’s?  It was a 737A that Lorenzo claimed was SN 1.  I would very much like to find some photographs.  All I have right now is a Collins sales brochure, and a pretty awful scan of a student newspaper photo of the front panels of the exciter and final.

Chuck Reinsch

I did not have the answer to his question, so I reached out to Dwight Small who worked at 107.7 with Sunbelt back on the air in 1984.  Dwight reported that the old Collins was gone by that time.

Chuck and I had several email exchanges and from this I received the following information about the type of transmitter that was used by KRAB.  Take a look –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things have changed a great deal since that old transmitter was made – For openers, there are no longer Vacuum Tubes in modern 5Kw FM Transmitters.

 

Here is a comparison of the old, circa 1948,  Collins 737A with a modern Nautel GV5

 

 

Collins 737A Nautel GV5
Width 93 ¼ inches 23 inches
Height 79 inches 72 ½ inches
Depth 37 1/3 inches 33 inches
Weight 4700 Pounds 333 Pounds

 

 

As I mentioned earlier – I receive some interesting emails – Here is one I recently received.

Hello Clay, I enjoyed your recent article about the improvements to AM….it
was mostly spot on!

However, you said “The old “Clear Channels” are not there anymore, folks.
Just turn on your AM radio at night and try and find them”

Here in Massachusetts I can get WFAN(660), WABC(770), WCBS(880),WBAL(1090),
WQEW(1560), WFED(1500), WTAM (1100), CFZM(740), WBT(1110), WPHT(1210), WWVA
(1170).

These listed above come in at night regularly….and reliably.  So, from my
standpoint…they are “still there”.

Now, is there any programming on them that anyone would be interested in?
That’s another story!  😉

He signed his email with a simple ‘D’ However his address included his Amateur Radio Call Sign, so I looked him up.  He is David Boucher, KB1USP from Methuen, Ma.

A question for you, my readers here in the Pacific Northwest – How many Clear Channel AM Stations can you receive?  David sent along this link to a fascinating site that shows all the AM Nighttime patterns:

http://www.nf8m.com/patternmaps_night.html

I’m always happy to hear from you – feel free to drop me a note – if you work in the industry.  Let me know what’s going on, and send a picture while you are at it.

Speaking of pictures – Thanks to Kent Randles of Entercom Portland for this picture of one of the big FM Station Combiners in that city.  A lot of plumbing for sure!

Before I forget it – Congratulations to Kent on his promotion.  He is now overseeing the technical operation of Entercom’s cluster of Stations in Seattle as well as Portland.  He was up here recently spending a day with me while I showed him the transmitters and systems used in Seattle.  The following is Kent taking a picture of me. J

Well that’s about it for this month.  Not a lot of news, but certainly some interesting happenings non-the-less.  We have a month or so of Summer left – make the most of it.

Lord willing I will catch you next month with more.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
SBE Member for over 50 years, #714.

The KE0Vh Hamshack for July

SUMMER IS HERE!  Lots of projects completed and ongoing!

SO I have written a lot lately about the BIG JET FLI!  I am now voice tracking the 7p-12 midnight (Eastern Time) Top 40 of the 60’s and 70’s show on Monday and Tuesday nights, filling in other time slots when needed!  It feels AMAZING to be on the radio again having fun and playin’ the hits!  You can check it out at

https://tunein.com/radio/WFLI-1070AM-The-Legend-s28777/ or the WFLI App on the phones.

SO when you can tune in and check it out!  Jack Rockin’Roland!  (Works well huh?)

 

As of this writing, this past weekend myself,  Jim Langsted KCØRPS and Skyler Fennell KDØWHB just climbed Torreys Peak, one of the 53 mountains out here over 14,000 feet, topping out at 14,275 feet above sea level.  https://www.14ers.com/route.php?route=torr5&peak=Grays+Peak+and+Torreys+Peak

We all brought HT’s, and so worked Rich W9BNO, Cris W5WCA, and Robert KC8GPD on simplex and thru the 449.450 Rocky Mountain Radio League repeater.  GREAT WEATHER, an early start, and a great round trip hike of 8 miles and a total elevation gain (and down) of 3040 feet from the trailhead in Stevens Gulch near the “ghost town” of Bakerville on I-70 west of Denver.

Hams on the SUMMIT!

Getting started at the trailhead about 5:15am

An hour or so later! Torreys on the right.

 

KCØRPS on the trail about 11,500 feet!

 

KDØWHB heading over the snow trail to the saddle at 13,500 feet

 

Above the snowfield to the SUMMIT at the saddle between Grays and Torreys

 

ALMOST THERE!

View back down the mountain from the summit to the I-70 Exit leading to the trailhead

View off to the WSW of Mount of the Holy Cross, which I hope to SUMMIT this summer!  You can almost make out the “cross” snowfield in this picture

KCØRPS and the EOSS group (www.EOSS.org, Edge of Space Sciences) launched a 2 mylar balloon set carrying a micro solar powered 20 meter APRS transmitter this past June that had quite the adventure and actually really became lost in a circular eddy of winds the the Bermuda Triangle.  NO KIDDING!  It circled for about 3 days in a pattern of wind and finally the signal was lost as it traveled no more.  It was tracked by WSPR stations on the frequency of 14.097 mhz.  It generally remained above an altitude of 30,000 feet until its last day when it dropped to around 21,000 feet and then was finally not heard from again.  The transmitter was a super micro 20 meter unit, flea weight, and was suspended by half of a 20 meter thin wire antenna with the other half of the dipole suspended from the transmitter.  Check the prep and launch of the system here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RVhlBpa1k0

KCØRPS should have a full article up soon about the flight and I will report on that here as soon as possible.

 

Another activity I am involved with and very happy to have become a member of is the Christian Motorcycle Association, the “Riders In The Light” Lakewood Chapter.  I am looking forward to a very long association with this fine group of folks who love the Lord and motorcycles.  Look them up sometime!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Todd, KEØVH Jack, VP Tony giving me my RTL patch

Here is the new “remote base” AllStar Node in my shack.  We are using it to connect the AllStar Network to the 449.450 K1DUN repeater in Denver.

The 449.450 repeater covers from Cheyenne Wyoming down to Monument hill and HUGE area’s of eastern Colorado from 11,440 feet on Squaw Mountain 35 miles west of Denver.  Think almost a “clear channel” frequency repeater and it is a BLOWTORCH coverage wise.  We can control the AllStar link radio seen here with a GUI interface and are developing its use on the Rocky Mountain Radio Leagues (http://www.rmrl.org/) repeater.  More to come on this exciting development, and we hope you will join us on the Monday Night Society of Broadcast Engineers “Chapter 73’ of the Air” net at 7pm Mountain time, 9pm Eastern.  Details on how to join us are below in the newsletter article.  Thanks to Skyler again, KDØWHB for the setting up and administration of the link radio AllStar system.

 

And speaking of KDØWHB, here is his well setup APRS system using an old Motorola Radio and Raspberry Pi3 being fed by an inexpensive GPS antenna.

 

And the ham of the month!  Amanda KDØCIC in her neat hamshack here in CO

 

And FINALLY THIS MONTH, trying to learn OHMS LAW!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

 

I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits!

73’ from “the Shack” & God Be With You!

Clay’s Corner for July 2018

Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

The headline read –

Broadcasters Raise Red Flag Over FCC’s C-Band Plans.

Sitting just a few feet from FCC Chairman Pai at NAB recently I came away thinking that he is not anti-broadcast…Then I learned his position regarding C-Band (3.7-4.2 Gig) Called Mid-Band by the wireless industry.  Once again we are in a defensive position in terms of spectrum.  The wireless industry is not dumb – They want additional spectrum and they consider any of that is not heavily used fair-game…On the surface, apparently, our C-Band qualified.

Remember the battle over the 2 Gig spectrum when the wireless industry set its sights on that band?  Broadcasters were scrambling to show the FCC that we did indeed use the spectrum a lot more than they thought.  The issue was the lack of information regarding the number and location of receivers.  Frankly, we were caught short on this one…As a result we experienced our first dose of ‘repacking’…(even if it was not called that).  In the end, we lost spectrum.

Then it was deemed that Broadcasters were never going to use all the TV spectrum they were allocated….and, on top of that, the FCC had done a poor job of spectrum management with the switch from analog to digital and the case was made to ‘re-pack’ TV….One more time, we lost ground.

Now the wireless ‘cross-hairs’ are on C-Band.  This spectrum has been used for a very long time for program/network distribution and, in the minds of many, is un-utilized…..”Wireless Speak’ for ‘We want it’.  Much like the 2-Gig issue, broadcasters have laid back thinking that the FCC was never going to let anyone else use this band…Nothing to fear.  All it took is for the Wireless crowd to assert that the band was under-utilized and contend that, at least, it could be shared by them.  IMHO, much of the blame here rests with Broadcasters, in particular Radio Stations, that have sprinkled satellite receiving antennas all over the land and not bothered to have any formal data documenting all this use.  This ‘under-counting’ is proving to be dangerous.  Now, all of a sudden there is this scramble to try and make a case that this is not a suitable location for shared use.  Whether or not we will be successful at beating back this threat remains to be seen.

History has shown that, when confronted with this kind of a situation, that we may well be looking for a loss of spectrum in exchange for a smaller piece of the pie with some protection.  Several organizations are involved in this battle – NAB, NPR, iHeartMedia, program distributors, networks etc.

Has this has put the FCC in a position that, perhaps, they did not see coming?

On the Wireless side – they are making it clear that they need the spectrum, and this particular piece is ideal for their new 5G systems.  Seems to me that this pits the desire of new ‘Gee-Whiz’ wireless toys up against old fashioned systems that are frequency hogs anyway.  Let’s face it – 5G is being pre-sold as the do-all, end-all, wireless system that’s likely exciting to the policy makers while Broadcasting is being pushed to the rear of the bus as old technology.

We were being told that the FCC would be voting in July on the proposal….Then we got word that the filing deadline had been extended to October 17.  As a lot of media coverage has pointed out.  Our C-Band systems impact a huge amount of Radio and TV operations.  A lot of fingers are crossed – My Guess – Standby for more re-packing.  See GN Docket Nos. 18-122.

Remember the 103.3 Oak Harbor Station?  It was on the air playing a Country format using the old call letters imported to the Seattle area from Hood River, KMCQ.  The station is now KZNW and part of the Bustos family of stations airing their Le Zeta format.  The Transmitter, operating with 1400 watts, is SE of Mt Vernon.  Le Zeta is the same format they run at their 1210 AM  Auburn Station.  I’ve found there are a number of locations in the Everett area that you can hear both quite well.  Now the question is who will be next to pick up the KMCQ call-letters?  As of early June the only station on the air with it is KMCQ-LP in Salem,  Oregon.

Congratulations to Sue Qualls who is retiring from KUOW in Seattle after 32 years.  Now she can have time to come to the SBE Chapter Meetings and make all the working-stiffs feel bad Sue recently posted this on Pubtech –

After 32 years at KUOW it is time to retire.  This list has been oh so helpful (and entertaining!).  I will miss my fellow public radio engineers but who knows I might show up for the PREC some year!  Hard to let go some times.  I leave KUOW in the capable hands of Sam Roffe and Tim Meinig.  There is a lot on their plate but with the help of Dane Johnson and crew nothing they can’t handle.

All the best,
~Sue

Apparently the Retirement Bug is ‘catchy’.  I was at Daniels on South Lake Union recently to attend the Tom Pierson Retirement Gathering.  Tom has changed his email signature to read –

Paul Carvalho is the new Chief Engineer for Bonneville Seattle
You can contact him at Pcarvalho@bonneville.com

The very best to both of you.  To be very honest, I too would like to retire…Unlike these folks, I will likely begin to do this in phases by cutting back on the amount of work I do.  The problem is how to start the process.  I figured by now that it would be ‘others’ that make the first move.

I attended the 35th annual gathering of Amateur Radio operators in Seaside the first weekend in June.  The weather was spectacular.  Here’s a picture taken from the balcony of our hotel looking east at the Coast Range.  I actually bought a new radio too!

Unfortunately, on May 31st, another broadcast tower fell.  This time the cause was not related to re-packing but rather a pilot of a crop-duster clipping a guy wire.  The pilot died and the 1040 foot tower for KTUZ-FM in Okarche, Oklahoma (NW of Oklahoma City) went crashing to the ground.  I am reminded of the time an aircraft clipped a guy wire on the Channel 13 tower on Gold Mountain.  In that case the tower survived, the plane and pilot did not.

There is a lot of buzz these days about SFN’s (Translation: Single Frequency Networks) for TV.  Locally Buzz Anderson has been working on a radio version of this with the addition of a number of on-frequency boosters for the Bustos Media’s KDDS on 99.3, to my knowledge the first of its kind in this area.  Perhaps he could come tell us about it at a future SBE-16 Chapter Meeting?

A number of years ago this column started appearing on the Northwest Broadcasters website.  This provided access to my musings to an additional number of readers.  This change meant that I would be receiving incoming mail from many of them.  Often, very interesting.  One of those new readers was named John Ashbridge.  John never wrote about what he did, but would rather make comments about something I had written.  I was saddened recently to receive an email from Gord Lansdell, the NW Broadcasters webmaster,  informing me that John had recently passed.  He passed on his Obit where I learned that he was the longtime PA Announcer for the Canuck’s in addition to being a newsman at CKNW.  It’s always great to have new readers, but always hard to lose an old one.  He was 71.

On the 13th of June we learned of the Passing of Dick Harris.   Thanks to John Price for coming up with this picture of Dick standing next to some fellow (on left) who was an obvious shutterbug (A young Dwight Small)  I recall hearing Dicks great voice on KIRO and the Crista Stations.

Like many of us in Broadcast Engineering, Dick was a Ham with the Call of K7VCD.   The following is a picture of Dick that he had posted to QRZ-

He also posted these comments –

 

Back in the 50’s while working at the RCA plant in Camden, NJ, and being surrounded at work by a lot of Hams, I succeeded in getting my first license, KN2MBT and plunged in as a Novice. Not being satisfied with Novice limitations I worked hard and earned my general in 1955. In 1962 we moved out to Washington State and became K7VCD. For the next 43years I was satisfied with my General class privileges, until March 23rd, 2005. After much persuasion, encouragement from a friend, N6TZ, and hours of studying practice exams, I earned my Extra Class privilege and decided to keep my call, K7VCD, because it has been me since 1962. My current station includes a Kenwood TS570, Ameritron AL-811 linear amp, working into an inverted V fed with ladder-line, a Hy-gain DX-88 all-band vertical. My Hy-gain 20-10 Triband beam was completely restored again on Memorial Day weekend 2005, with a lot of help from family and friends. It’s now working better than ever, and is my window to the world of Ham radio once again. I’ve been in radio broadcasting since 1949, starting as a board announcer/disc jockey gravitating over to the engineering side. Finally retired as fulltime Corporate Project Engineer with Salem Communications in the Spring of 2003 after 19 years.

 

Dick was a warm and wonderful person, loved and appreciated by all that knew him…and a reader of my column…I know this for he too would occasionally drop me a note about something I had written.  To say the least, another great loss.

John Price located a prior business card from when Dick was in NYC –

A spy in our midst?  That’s what a lot of people were wondering on learning that the Amazon Echo smart speaker could be listening in to our conversations….or that someone, somewhere, could be.  Many news organizations jumped all over this one.

In the years that I’ve been around I’ve seen many things come and go.  When I started in broadcasting, back in the last century, AM was king and FM was something that some experimented with.  Now that has completely reversed.  Not long ago, Medium Wave (or so it’s called in other lands), was also the predominant audio delivery.  Now with AM’s popularity fading all over the world, some are suggesting that moving from Amplitude Modulation to Digital might give the medium a new lease on life.  In this country our experiences with HD Radio have been less than stellar….Those that are advocating Digital Radio Mondiale are viewing things a bit differently.  Regardless of what music lovers will tell you, there is still an audience for non-music programming – News, Talk, Sports etc.  The latest ratings surge of KIRO-AM-710 is a great example.  The problem with AM is not so much the lack of stereo or fidelity, but rather the ever increasing noise level that effectively, progressively, reduces the coverage of AM Stations.  Operating with a different modulation scheme, one that is less subject to noise would certainly be a move in the right direction.  The potential is likely great.   However…There are a couple of minor problems with DRM….1) No one has a receiver for it,  2) Owners of broadcast stations are not going to invest money in transmitting equipment to broadcast to no-one (much less invest in new AM equipment) and 3) You can’t buy a receiver at Best Buy, Costco, Walmart etc.  However, you can buy one from Amazon… https://www.amazon.in/Avion-DRM-Digital-Radio-DRM-AM-FM-M/dp/B012GIDF1O

The problem here is the classic – Should we do it just because we can?  Can anyone tell me just how we could make a transition from today’s AM to a DRM system in the US or Canada?  In other countries they have it easy….Just sunset AM and mandate that everyone do DRM.

Oh oh….I forgot – 5G is going to eliminate all broadcasting anyway….What was I thinking?

Appears that KZQM in Sequim has been granted a license by the FCC.  The little station had to deal with the objections of the neighbors on Dungeness Heights.  KZQM is on 104.9 operating with 6 kW ERP with a directional antenna, providing a broad null to the NNW.

They are not the only station facing objections.  Apparently there are those on Bainbridge Island that don’t like the idea of a 3rd station at the Salem transmitter site. in this case KKOL/1300.  The City of Bainbridge Island is one of the objectors.

Nice to know that it’s not just broadcasting that’s causing objections…So is the roll out of 5G.  With about 300,000 new antennas sprouting from all kinds of structures across the land, it’s not the visual impact that is raising concerns, it’s the old fear that this new service will cause cancer and this cancer causing emitter could be on a light pole in your front yard.  This is going to be interesting to watch.  New broadcast station transmitters rarely have a lot of support ….However, with all the hype about 5G there is likely going to be a lot of pressure to overlook objections.  The old fear that having a transmitter in your backyard will lower property values may not hold true this time.  The fact is that a property that does not have 5G coverage may well suffer because of it.

July 10th at 9:30 a.m. is the date and time of the next SECC Meeting at Clover Park Technical College.
The SECC is in the process of re-structuring some of its procedures as our To-Do-List continues to grow and our mission expands.  One of our biggest assignments will be to re-write our EAS Plan.  If you have an interest in working with this group – please do make plans to attend, either in person, or via telephone conference bridge.  To help facilitate participation we will be adding other methods of joining the meeting very soon.

On the subject of EAS – This fall we will likely, once-again, have a National Test.  At this time it’s not known whether this will come via the Internet and the FEMA/IPAWS CAP system or if it will be via the legacy EAS (Analog) system we’ve had for years.  There are some suggesting that FEMA may ‘stress-test’ the system by surprising us.

If you attend the NAB Convention in Las Vegas, and deal with broadcast transmitters, you have probably looked at the giant Stratosphere Tower and wondered how it would work as a broadcast transmitter site.  The wondering is over as Beasley now has a 250 watt translator there (translator for their 720 AM).  Reports are that it works very well, nearly the same as the higher powered stations on Black Mountain.

Here’s a view that you don’t often get of a tower.  In this case, we are looking down on the top of the original broadcast tower at West Tiger Mountain, all thanks to Martin Gibbs and his UAV.  The elevation of the top of this tower is 3148 ft (or about 960 Meters) above sea-level which helps explain why FM stations located here cover such a large area.

  • The Black items at the top of frame is the transmit antenna for KIRO-FM-97.3.  97.3 was the first station at this site, some 30 years ago.  Below the KIRO-FM Antenna, and not visible in this view, is the Master FM Antenna used by 7 other stations at the site.
  • The white ‘round thing’ in the middle of the tower is one of the 3 TV ENG receive antennas.
  • The transmitter building is the rectangular item below the tower.
  • The red item on the right is my pickup truck.

 

More from CNBC

The Headline read –

What salary do you need to afford a Seattle-area home?

This was followed with this question –

How much do you reasonably need to be earning to afford a median-priced home in the Seattle-area compared to the rest of the U.S.?

The following information comes from Lending Tree, who made the following assumptions about the borrowers –

  • Secured a mortgage with a 4.5% interest rate
  • Had a 10% down payment
  • Paid a private mortgage insurance premium of 0.25%
  • Had a debt-to-income ratio of 28%

Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue, Wash. – Median home price: $410,000 – Monthly mortgage payment: $1,870 – Salary required: $97,554

Portland/Hillsboro, Ore., Vancouver, Wash. – Median home price: $348,050 –  Monthly mortgage payment: $1,587 – Salary required: $83,311

Denver/Aurora/Lakewood, Colo. – Median home price: $360,000 – Monthly mortgage payment: $1,642 – Salary required: $81,157.

If you think that buying a home in Seattle is expensive….We are far below San Francisco…But that is another story.

On a personal note – I just received my Official Property Value Notice from King County…My 2018 to 2019 change is $50,000.   A friend of mine in Seattle had his valuation increase just under $100,000.  We can only guess the impact this will have on the property taxes we will be paying next year.  Is it any wonder why retiree’s look to move out of the area?

XL Media has announced they are buying KZIZ/1560 and KKDZ/1250 for $850,000.  For those old-timers in the area, KKDZ/1250 started back in the 1920’s as KTW.

Local, Seattle area, station KNKX uplinks it’s program streams to a Satellite.  Recently that system went down on June 9th sending Lowell Kiesow on a mission to discover what happened.  The cause was quite unique.  Apparently a local high school was holding their graduation nearby and let loose a number of balloons.  A bouquet of metalized, Mylar balloons stuck in front of the uplink feed horn which is 14 feet off the ground.

Look closely at the feed on the antenna – As Lowell said…’It’s a first for me’.

Perhaps a new term – ‘Balloon Fade’??

I’ve written, in past columns, about ‘parking of call letters’.  This is a common practice by big companies who feel the need to change call letters in a market but don’t wish to give up letters that they feel have value.  iHeartMedia recently did this with KUBE, likely knowing that a lot of other broadcasters would love to have them (pronounceable call letters are very hard to come by) so they changed the call of a co-owned AM in California to KUBE.  Now, after some format shuffling, KUBE is back in Seattle on 93.3.  I recently spotted a billboard reading ‘KUBE 93.3 is Back’.

Apparently AM stations that are operating FM Translators, in some cases, have discovered HD Radio.  Whereas many of these translators are operating with very low power or highly directional arrays.  It’s not likely that a station owner will make the investment in the equipment required.  However, some of them, with 250 Watts and a decent location have.  Could it be that some of these operations might even devote some time and energy to their HD and HD2’s?

HD Radio certainly has grown, with some 2200 Stations now broadcasting with HD.  Radio’s version of  Multicasting is growing also, with almost 1500 stations operating HD2 (a second program channel) and close to 500 operating HD3  (a third program channel).

Installing HD Radio systems for a station is a matter of receiver penetration.  According to Xperi – 51% of all cars sold in 2018 came with HD Radio.  Breaking this down further…There are 40 brands with 253 different models that come with the mode.  Penetration bottom line – over 16% of all cars on the road have HD Radios or a total of 45 million vehicles, a figure that is growing at the rate of about 10 million vehicles per year.  That’s a pretty compelling reason for broadcasters to get on the band-wagon.  The owners of 107.7 in Vancouver are the latest in SW B.C. to jump on the bandwagon.

I recall when HD multicasting was just being talked about.  Back then broadcasters were excited to have a multicast channel, as they considered it to be ‘another radio station’ they could make money with.  Then the reality of the matter sunk in.  They were fearful of putting on compelling programming or cross promoting the new system for fear it would mean moving listeners away from their FM station that was paying the bills.  Many made it clear – If it can’t make money on day-one…they were not interested.

Then there is the problem of educating consumers.  An owner of a new vehicle may stumble across the fact that their car-radio can receive content that they like, but have never heard about and have little chance of getting additional information.  Most HD program streams do little to explain how it works.  Auto dealers are, generally clueless.  You would think that broadcasters in a given market area would have a printed hand-out that comes with every new vehicle that explains how HD Radio works and promotes the content that is available.  Nope – Not happening.  My ‘technical mind’ obviously operates on a different plane than those that could really do a lot more to make HD Radio into the money maker that we all want.

Again this is so much like the roll-out of FM many years ago.  Then AM Station owners, not realizing the advantages and potential for FM were afraid to promote it for fear it would hurt their AM operations.  Sure it had better fidelity, Stereo, less noise, worked in places that AM would not, etc.  FM finally had to almost make it on its own…and that it did.  In many cases consumers were the leaders and station owners were the followers.

I am beginning to have hope that attitudes are changing with young and more techno-savvy managers taking the reins that HD Radio and other new technologies will be embraced rather than being feared.

Speaking of new things – No, not Smart Speakers …Podcasting.

So what is a Podcast?  According to Wikipedia:

A podcast, or generically netcast, is an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download and listen to.  It is often available for subscription, so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player.  [1] It is very similar to, and may overlap with, Internet radio, though perhaps distinct in revolving around topics personalized exactly to listener preferences, [2] plus podcasts are often able to be streamed or downloaded on demand.

Some broadcasters are very much Involved with Podcasting…Especially those stations that have non-music content.  Some podcasts are, essentially, recordings of previously aired programming.  NPR and their affiliates are naturals for this mode as they do more long-form content that lends itself to becoming a podcast.  In some respects this reminds me of being able to access old-time radio shows.

Meanwhile iHeartMedia is working on its own Podcasts.  These will be scripted episodes targeting teens.  There is nothing like a great story, in audio form.  As a kid I grew up listening to wonderful stories on the Radio.  The mind can paint pictures just as good as you can find on TV or in the movies.  Interestingly there has been a huge gap between the days when Radio was the story teller and today when Podcasting is catching on as something ‘cool and new’.  If you have a story about some locally produced Podcasts – Let me know.

Many were wondering if Cumulus Media would be parted out and sold off as part of their re-organization.  Sounds like they did exit a few properties, but not as many as some suspected.  The major change was to cut their debt load by about a Billion Bucks.

Time to look at the highlights of the latest Seattle Radio – 6+ – numbers…

  • KISW has grabbed the #1 Spot.
  • Apparently KIRO-AM did not get the memo that AM Radio is dead showing up at #8.
  • KIRO-AM’s sport format appears to be dominating the competition with the other 2 AM Sports-Talkers way down the list.
  • The spread between the two FM country stations is getting narrower with KKWF at 3.6 and KNUC at 2.8.
  • Looking at the Christian CHR format, locally owned Crista/KCMS is leading that race with a 2.6 compared to EMF’s KLSW with 1.1.

Did you ever think that someone would develop a device like a UAV or Drone?…Obviously advancements in computers and electronics have made these devices not only possible but common.  The earlier picture of the top of the West Tiger tower would have required a big helicopter with a pilot and camera operator in the past.  Now, with something that can be stored in a small case, you can launch your camera in minutes, for a fraction of the cost.  TV news has certainly discovered the usefulness of these devices, so has spot or commercial generation.  A recent look at one of those real-estate magazines showed aerial views of a lot of properties.  Fire fighters are using them to locate hot-spots in wildfires.  Ranchers are using them to keep track of their cattle.  Farmers are using them to look over their crops.  The list goes on.  With any kind of device like this there are going to be those that fly them where they should not…and there are those that don’t want to be snooped on.

And of course, you will find this sign –

And the Headline read…

WiFi Now Available at Potholes State Park!

I suppose you could ask – Why would someone want a park named after a hole in a road?
Wonder how many others noticed that in Washington State, Pot has another, and popular meaning? (Canada is not that far behind.)

At least there is Wi Fi there!

What’s happening to KUIK in Hillsboro, OR (West of Portland)?  Recently I received a list of equipment that was for sale at the station…Could it be that it was off the air and selling parts and pieces?  Apparently this is the case.  I ran across this on-line:

https://portlandtribune.com/ht/117-hillsboro-tribune-news/390339-281853-updated-radio-station-kuik-to-cease-operation-march-31

The following U-Tube video gives you a look around the station on their last day of broadcasting.  Note how their studios were at the airport.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfifrPprCAs

According to the FCC, KUIK was first licensed in November of 1954.  It appears they were operating with 5 kW Non-Directional Day and 5 kW Directional at night with 4 towers.  There are rumors that they lost their lease at their transmitter site.  Others report the station was sold and will be back, in some form.

The bottom line appears to be that yet another AM will become nothing more than history.  Sadly, I suspect the trend will continue.

To wind up my column for this month….Some miscellaneous, off the top, ramblings, all of which will likely confirm what many of you have suspected for a long time…

Have you ever noticed how we have a habit of asking the wrong question ?   Let me give you an example –

You have just arrived at your hotel.  You walk up to the desk and the person there asks you, “What brought you here today?”  My typical response – ‘I drove’ – at which point the clerk is clearly set back.  If they had asked – What is the reason for your visit here today, that would have been a better question.  Why do we do this?

Another favorite of mine is when in a restaurant many servers will ask  – “Can I grab something else for you?”  What!!  Did they really mean to ask if they could bring me something else?

How about that question on a form at a medical provider’s office – “In case of an emergency who should be called?”  I like to write ‘Ambulance’ .. Just to see if anyone actually reads those things.

Some questions are just an invitation to have a little fun.  For example when at the checkout of the grocery store they will often ask “Did  you find everything OK?”  Responding with something like “I couldn’t locate the Pickup Trucks” will often stop them cold, leaving them with no idea of what to say.

Responding with a totally unexpected answer is also fun – Example – When people see a cat’s litter box they will often ask if you have a cat….Responding with, “No, that’s for company” is certain to generate an interesting expression.

I’m among the few that have no middle name.  Often, when filling out a form, I am asked to complete my name at which time I write NMI.  Occasionally someone will ask me how I pronounce it.  Thinking about this a bit more I have concluded that I am a very lucky follow.  I determined long ago, the only reason people have middle names is so a child will really know they are in trouble when a parent uses it.

I recall, several years ago, I was on my way to, or from, an Amateur Radio event.  I stopped at a grocery store while wearing a little pin on badge that looked like this.

CLAY
K7CR

 

The checker kept looking at me ….and finally she took a deep breath and said, “How do you pronounce your last name?” (She was very serious.)

When you reach my age you have come to the point in life that you have no choice to accept what the passing of time has done.  A lot of people have trouble admitting how old they are and will try and hide it, or will subtract a few years from the actual number.  I have a lot more fun approaching this differently.  I like to ADD about 10 years to the actual number.  The response is amazing….People will often remark about how good you look.  Hard to get compliments at this point!

Well that’s it for this month.  Thanks for permitting me to share these items with you.  If you have a thought – feel free to drop me a note – always happy to know that someone, somewhere is reading it.

Have a wonderful Summer.  Remember, at this latitude, it is our shortest season.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
SBE Member for over 50 years, #714

 

 

The KE0VH Hamshack for June 2018

                                                     

June 2018

SUMMER IS HERE! Lots of projects completed and ongoing!

Gotta thank my boyz from Galvanized Endeavors for the great and fun install of the antenna’s at the Loveland translator site in May!

Up goes the receive antenna on the VERY busy tower site and the antenna installed:

Thanks to Victor, Shane, Chuck, and Hodges! GREAT JOB GUYS!
Also Daniel and Alex from the best tower guy company!
As I wrote about previously, I’ve been helping out the guys at WFLI in Chattanooga Tennessee. My original first job in radio station. 50,000 watts on 1070 AM, 2500 night. They are going to open up the National Top 40 Radio Museum at the station here this summer. Visit when you can!

And how about this! Still operational, and a part of the museum to open, this 1964 Gates Gateway console from the late 60’s that was still on air when I started in 1976!

More summertime work! Proofs of our stations go on, using the connection back to HQ, the Field Fox, and Bird BPME’s. Makes it easy and quick!

 

Watching on Amazon, in a series called “ Man in the High Castle”, low and behold, a D-104 microphone on the podium!

Pretty cool movie prop!
Well for those of you who know W9BNO Rich, you know that he carries a virtual office with him almost anywhere he goes. So one Sunday afternoon as I am talking to him on the local 449.450 repeater he sends me a picture of his “mobile office” on a Denver RTD Light rail train! Leave it to him! 🙂

Radio in the window on the left, yes he is checking station logs on his laptop! Even on the train! Had to laugh out loud!

Well we had scehduled the new antenna installation at our Denver station for this month and that is why the newsletter is a little bit late! First of all I have to thank my crew from Galvanized Endeavors again for the 2 days of hard work to get this beautiful antenna up and operating, and then our good friend Steve KE6FIO for the QUICK tuning and proofing of the antenna and Nautel GV40 system.

Thanks to the guys from GE!

Chris, Hodges, Tor, Vic (not pictured Brett)

One of the shiny new antenna bays unboxed

The old antenna bay number 1 and tuner unit

The old antenna removed and new antenna ready to be deployed

The Chris and Brett removing the old antenna (drone shot)

Hodges and Tor mounting the top bay
Thanks again to all the crew, and Alex and Daniel at Galvanized Endeavors! By the way I will have some great video of the guys doing the install up soon. I will let you know by email when it is ready.

So again about Rich, while at a Wyoming transmitter site near Laramie, he had just finished getting our station up there back on the air. He walked out the door and saw this!

This thing has to be at least an F3! It passed to the North of our transmitter site there. Rich and I were talking on the IRLP link repeater in Laramie to Denver as the storm marched thru. Some great video of this very photogenic twister here:
https://weather.com/storms/tornado/news/2018-06-07-wyoming-tornado-laramie-albany-county-june-6

There is also animation on this page of the radar and satellite views of the storm. Some of the most AMAZING video I have ever seen!

https://weather.com/storms/tornado/news/2018-06-07-wyoming-tornado-laramie-albany-county-june-6

And finally, if you haven’t seen this:

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air
AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING
At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both
Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.
Details on how to join us are at
http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

I hope
You will be able to join us and share your engineering and
Ham exploits!

73’ from “the Shack” & God Be With You!

 

 

Clay’s Corner for June 2018

Clay’s Corner for June 2018

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

One of the big items in the news recently has been the eruption of Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii.  It’s not that the eruption of Kilauea is something new as it has been in eruptive mode for many years spilling lava into the Pacific Ocean and making the Big Island bigger.  This time the lava has been erupting along what’s called a ‘Rift’ or crack in the earth some distance away from the actual summit of the volcano and impacting populated regions of the island.   The below picture shows how a cracks in the earth have opened up spilling lava onto the land, covering roads and destroying structures and flowing into the ocean.

Kilauea is unlike the volcanos we have here in the Pacific Northwest…It’s what’s called a ‘Shield Volcano’….Much like a large dome with gently sloping sides.    The shape of it, unlike our steep volcanos, is due to the type of lava they have there….Very ‘runny’.  A type that spreads out across the land rather than building mountains.

Of course with a volcano doing its thing elsewhere is good cause for the News Industry to begin asking questions and making comparisons to the PNW Volcanos.      AP’s Headline read-

Hawaii volcano raises concerns of eruptions along West Coast

The story featured pictures of many of the well-known mountains including the one below of

Mt Rainier as viewed through the, landmark, 11th Street Bridge in Tacoma.    Mt Rainier has long been mentioned as being one of the most dangerous volcano’s and has been subject of a number of stories on TV and in Print.     What is perhaps not well known is that the danger from Mt Rainier is not from flowing lava, like Hawaii, but rather from large land-slides called Lahars.

We have an extensive warning system set up to monitor for just such an event that is tied into our EAS system here in this area.  In fact, the Earthquake EAS Event Code came from the work of Washington State Emergency Management.    Another little known fact is that the towns of Enumclaw, Orting, Puyallup, Sumner and Auburn are all built on top of material that, long ago, slid off Mt Rainier.

A good place to go to monitor volcano earthquake activity in our areas is –

https://pnsn.org/volcanoes.   Checking this site on May 26th I learned that Mt St Helens has had 130 earthquakes in the last 30 days.

According to the USGS, there are about 160 active volcanoes in US …10 of them are considered the most active and should be watched.  Here’s the list-

Volcano Name   Last Erupted

Kilauea,  Big Island, Hawaii           Doing it now

Redoubt, Alaska               2009

Mt St Helens      2004-2008 (Still having quakes)

Mauna Loa, Big Island, Hawaii     1984

Lassen (South end of Cascades, California  )          1914-1917

Mt Hood, Oregon             About 200 years ago

Mt Shasta, Northern California   200-300 years ago

Mt Rainier           About 1100 years ago

South Sister, Oregon       About 2000 years ago

Yellowstone, Wyoming  70,000 years ago

Will T-Mobile and Sprint really come together as one?  Will there be a $26 Billion Dollar deal that will create a formidable competitor to AT&T and Verizon that will be based in the Seattle Area with some 100 million customers?    Whereas we have heard this before, I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.

One of the big topics in the world of wireless is 5G.  Those promoting the latest ‘G-Whiz’ system are promising lightning fast speeds designed to thrill the makers of wireless gizmo’s who see this as a pathway to even greater profits.    So where are they going to get all the spectrum for this new technology? The FCC announced last year that it is looking at the band of frequencies between 3.7 and 4.2 GHz….Hardly anyone is using it now    Just a bunch of broadcasters !!

On the surface there does not appear to many because the existing transmitters are in orbit and the receivers are scattered about here and there…and who knows how many there are?   Therein lies one of the problems.   The FCC’s lack of knowledge of where the receivers are located because many of the owners of them did not feel a need to tell the Commish where they were!.   Afterall – Who cares where the receivers are ….Right?

 

In this case broadcasting is being asked share the spectrum with other users spectrum….FCC Chairman, Pai, put it this way – He wants to ‘make more intensive use of the spectrum’. The decision is likely to come soon, perhaps in July.

This sounds like another chapter from the old 2Gig battle of several years ago.   Broadcasters would be careful to license their 2 Gig transmitters but did not feel the need to make sure the locations and azimuth of their companion receivers was known.   Not to mention those 2Gig systems with rotatable receive systems using with ENG.   That was another scramble to get those receivers locations made known to the regulators.

Now it’s up to the Sat Receiver owners to stand up and be heard.    Funny, in the process, there are those that are whining about the cost of doing it.    Lets face it, in this day and age when others want the spectrum that you thought was yours…you’d better be ready to ‘Pay for Protection’.     Has a funny ring to it, does it not?

Typing the word protection reminds me of another topic – Robo-Calls.     I don’t know anyone that is not receiving those anoying calls these days.   Most of them call my cellphone with only a few to the home land-line.   I find, perhaps, the most amusing is the one, supposedly, coming from the IRS that informs me that there is a warrant out for my arrest and how they are going to call ‘The Cops’ if I don’t call them back.  Of course there are those that promised to lower your cedit card balance or offer a free vacation to the Bahama’s etc.     It was a number of years ago that I first experienced ‘number spoofing’ (The ability of the ‘perp’ to make your phone display a number that makes you think you should answer it) In that case it was the ‘front-desk’ number from a client – So I answered thinking is was a business call….It was not.    Just the other day I experiences a different variation.   The caller used my own Cellphone number…My (not-too) smart phone looked at the number and displayed MY NAME.    Whereas I don’t often call myself I knew what was going on.   I played along as long as I could and heard in the background a rather young sounding voice chuckling.   This issue has gotten the attention of many who are turning to law-makers for relief.   Caught a recent news story about the matter where the report played back some very familiar pitches (Including the IRS lady)…They then reported on some firms that are selling means to block these calls.    What struck me was that some of these outfits could be connected to those making the calls. …A classic ‘Protection Racket’.

The sad part about all of this is the fact that if people were not falling for the scam, and calling them providing credit card info etc. there would be no profit and the scam would dry-up.   The bottom line is that that there are thousands out there that are encouraging this kind of behavior proving, once again, that P.T. was very correct about a sucker being born every minute.

The term ‘Smart Watch’ seems logical, expecially compared to the old ‘flip-phone’  but who would have though that we’d have ‘Smart Speakers’.      Come to think of it…When did the term ‘Loudspeaker’ fade away?   Were not early day ‘loudspeakers’ designed to reproduce human voices?   Perhaps playing music through a ‘speaker’ is a contradiction in terms? …I digress.

The Smart Speaker seems to be a great gift to radio – afterall it is an audio device.   According to a recent survey,…Radio’s biggest users are likely to own one….perhaps 20% now do.   In my experience Radio broadcasters have some education to do as many that own smart speakers don’t know that they will function as a radio.  I recently read about a radio station that jumped on the name ‘My favorite radio station’.    Being the early bird, they are catching all the users of smart speakers that ask their device for ‘My favorite Radio Station.   This is nothing new as Radio is historically bad about advertising things enhance the medium.  Witness the almost total lack of promotion of HD Radio.  Interesting how Radio is getting more active in promoting Podcasting ….Smart Speakers being a natural play-out device for the mode.   Remember that these devices are not really radios.   They don’t receive OTA Radio signals…but rather use the stations streaming on the Internet.    This is where ‘branding’ comes in.   Smart Speakers respond to call letters – IF – the stations stream uses their call letters as their brand.   Today’s FM stations may well stream their FM Signal as well as several HD Channels…Each one need to have an identifier that the gizmo’s will recognize.    Who wudda thunk?

What I find interesting is the potential for the technology.   Don’t think for a moment that the makers of motor vehicles have not taken notice.   Many vehicles today feature voice commands with that feature often associated with vehicular use of cell phones.  I know that all I have to do is push one button in my truck and say ‘Call Home’ and it does.    Stands to reason that we will soon see the ability to select radio stations using voice commands.      This could get interesting with others in your car talking ….or comments you might make about some bozo cutting you off!

Congratulations on the new set of license plates for Dwight Small.    What makes this ‘Ham-Call’ interesting is that the previous owner was Jon Marcinko who passed a couple of years ago.  Dwight knew him.  Not often that happens.   Makes me wonder if someone I know will seek K7CR after I’m gone?

We, in this area especially, talk about how big Amazon or Microsoft is …Consider for a moment the really big elephant in the room – Apple.  Here are some interesting Stats –

             Apple earns almost twice as much as the second most profitable company in the U.S.

             Their Smartphone generated $48.35 billion in profit in fiscal 2017 and made $13.9 billion in net income during the March 2018 quarter.

             Compare this to Amazon who has had $9.6 billion in sales since it started.

Amazing !

The raging success of Seattle in recent years has recently hit a speed bump in the form of the City’s new ‘Head Tax’ (No,  it’s not a tax on toilet use).   Taking a page from ‘Robin Hood’  the City has decided to take (Tax) the rich to give to the poor.   Remains to be seen whether or not this will continue.    A petition drive has been launched to roll back the decision.   Probably the more interesting are the remarks of other cities that are openly proclaiming that Seattle is now anti-business while inviting relocation to their town.  Even sleepy Tacoma has jumped into the fray by offering to pay an amount equal to Seattle’s Head Tax to companies that would like to move south about 25 miles.

There is no denying that Seattle has been growing fast…Some say it’s the fastest growing big city in the country with the population within the city now close to 750,000.   The Metro Population is nudging 4-Million.     Apparently the long-held notion that it rains all the time no longer is working to keep growth in check.    The bottom line is …People want to live here and the stats prove it.   Seattle has been in the top 4 for growth among major cities for the last 5 years .  Because they are often compared – Seattle grew 3.1% in 2016….Portland grew about 1%.   Other cities in the Seattle area posted significant gains – Redmond and Auburn grew at the same rate as Seattle, while Bellevue grew 2.3% .  Tacoma grew by only 1.5%…but, if they have their way, this may change ….Thanks to Seattle’s new ‘Head-Tax’

Many of you have read this column on the Web Site ‘Northwest Broadcasters’ hosted by Gord Lansdell and have perhaps missed recent editions.   This is because Gord has been dealing with a serious medical issue.   He hopes to resume his activities ASAP.   Your prays are appreciated.

It was back in March of 2014 that a helicopter fell from the roof of the KOMO TV building onto the street below.   Now, just over 4 years later, it was announced that KOMO and an aviation contractor have agreed to a $40 Million settlement in the matter.   The process revealed a number of things that went wrong….Including ignoring long standing safety concerns in addition to pilot error.    One of the released statements said – It was the wrong pilot with the wrong helicopter landing in the wrong place.

Speaking of KOMO- Congratulations to their DOE, Gabe Joseph, who recently mentioned that has accepted a job with Sinclair in Chicago.    He said the company had not determined who would be replacing him.

Coming soon – The exit from Chapter 11 of Cumulus.   Presumably free from a large amount of he debt, It will be interesting to see what happens going forward.  It was back in November of last year when they filed for voluntary Chapter 11 with nearly $2 Billon in debt.

A brief update on EAS Events –

 

             The last WaState SECC Meeting was held in Ellensburg on May 15th.   Minutes were posted by Terry Spring soon after to the EAS-WA Remailer.

             On May 24th there was an EPIS meeting at KIRO-TV.  Work is progressing on establishing a VHF Radio system to link the Radio/TV news operations with EOC’s.   Testing is scheduled with KCEM to verify that circuit.   Phil Johnson is chairing this activity.

             June 5th there will be a planning session at CPTC to discuss the future of public warning systems of all kinds in our State.

             The Next SECC Meeting will be July 10th at CPTC (You are invited to attend) Details will be posted on the WaState EAS Remailer.

             In September a Committee to undertake the re-writing of the Washington State EAS Plan will begin work.   If you would like to participate, we’d love to have you join us.   Contact me for details

             Also in September the next WECCWG Conference will take place, perhaps in Ellensburg,  The topic – Public Alert and Warning.

Here’s another license plate I spotted while in the Boise area recently visiting our Kids – The owner is likely an ex-marine and an electrician (just a guess)

Lots of FCC activity around here recently-

Remember the situation between the owners of the 103.3 north of Seattle and Entercom who has operated a Translator on that frequency downtown for many years?   Apparently the matter Is now moot with the station having new owners.  Busto’s Media and a new Latino format

Bicoastal Media’s historic KELA in Centralia has a CP for an AM Translator on 101.3.   From the FCC data it appears the new emitter will be on Crego Hill (SW of Chehalis) at the same site as their FM, KMNT on 104.3.

Remember the application by Pamplin Broadcasting to build a 740 AM near Redmond a few years back?  Apparently it’s not going to happen as he CP has been dismissed.

Looks like EMF’s operation on 88.1 from Capital Peak is going to be moving to South Mountain (West of Shelton) with 65Kw Direction.    Who would have thought that this site would become one of the major FM sites in this area?

The folks at Hubbard in Bellevue are also jumping into the AM Translator on FM movement with two applications for their two AM’s.   The KIXI (880) translator will be on 92.9 while the KKWN (1150) will be on 96.1.   Location for both appears to be their studio building in the Eastgate area.

KLAY (1180) in Lakewood is thinking of a translator on 107.3.  Site is the AM Transmitter located east of Lakewood near Parkland.

KBRC (AM) in Mt Vernon may soon be heard on 102.9.

One of the more interesting stories involves the old KOL.    If you recall the station moved from Harbor Island to a boat, then to a site in the Tacoma Industrial area.  More recently the station went dark with plans to Tri-Plax the Salem AM site on Bainbridge Island…Then the news that Salem has traded 1300 for 860/KPAM in Portland.   Not sure how this will Impact the 1300 move to Bainbridge.

Bustos Media has filed for licenses for several of their KDDS/99.3 Boosters in Kent, Tukwila and Seattle.

Across the pond, news from the UK is that more analog FM stations may be going dark as listening to digital radio has passed the 50% mark.    Don’t think we have to worry about this happening here.

A political story with a broadcast flavor – Greg Walden, is running for re-election, won his GOP primary recently in Oregon.  He previously owned stations in the Columbia Gorge.  I should mention that Greg is also a Ham – W7EQI.

The May issue of TV Technology has a story titled ‘The Most Dangerous Job in America’.  The writer points out how the rush to re-pack may be contributing to the number of accidents.   He mentions the recent tower failure at KOZK in Fordland, Mo that took the life of Western Washington based Steve LeMay.

The FCC continues to deal with Pirate Radio Stations.   Recently shutting down a Station calling itself ‘LaRumba’  FM and operating on 95.3.   Pirate operators have become a lot more brazen these days.  No longer a CD Juke-box connected to some cheap little transmitter.   These guys operate as if they were licensed.  In many case having Web-Sites and selling spots.

Now the Commish is getting help from other federal agencies, like the U.S. Marshals Service and is seizing their equipment and going after building owners who permit illegal activities on their roof tops.    Congress is getting involved in a, perhaps, unique way…with legislation what would require the FCC to make ‘sweeps’ in top markets to rid the airwaves of these unlicensed operations.  If would also permit the FCC to levy larger fines.    The problem is, as I have pointed out previously, is getting these folks to actually pay them.

Major cities are not the only locations for these operations…Witness the fact that the Commish recently tracked down a pirate operator at a Motel in La Grande, Oregon.   Usually they yeah-who’ are trying to attract attention.  Hard to believe there was much of that going on in La Grande with a population of just over 13,000.   Perhaps contributing to the pirate operation in La Grande is the fact that the radio dial is relatively quiet.    Just for drill, I looked a Radio Locator who showed 13 vacant channels on the FM dial there.

https://radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/vacant?select=city&city=La%20Grande&state=OR

Reportedly there have been 36 pirate-related FCC actions in Oregon between 2003 and April of this year.   Compare this to 513 in New York.

The Site ‘Radio Locator’ is interesting, but hardly an accurate, or FCC acceptable means of locating a frequency for a radio station.   In fact, it may encourage some into thinking that no-one will be bothered with their operation.   The Site fails to consider international agreements, adjacent channels etc.   For example – The site should 75 vacant FM channels in Forks.

Apparently ignoring rules and regulations is not a problem for one pirate station owner…A Pastor of a church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who was not only operating an unlicensed station on 87.9 …but an AM on 1710.    Not often you hear of a pirate AM Station.    Perhaps this pirate felt he was given authority from ‘higher authority’?

The April Seattle- Tacoma Radio (6+) numbers are out – Here again is my thoughts, from an Engineers perspective…

Non-Comm. KUOW claimed the #1 Spot – Perhaps because of shuffling of ratings of those below like KISW and KZOK that enjoyed some modest increases.   KRWM, who usually hovers near the top of the heap has not really come back from their Christmas break.

Looking at the top 10 – It appears the iHeart is doing very well compared to the other big ownership, Entercom, with four of the top 10 compared to Entercom’s two.

The country music audience, now shared by Entercom’s KKWF and Hubbard KNUC, is still below the days when KMPS and KKWF shared that segment.  Underscoring this situation, KKWF is tied with Entercom’s hip-hop KHTP …and KNUC is tied with Bonneville’s conservative talk KTTH-AM.  Both are just behind Classical KING-FM  (Truth is there are a number of situations where stations are tied)

ESPN/KIRO-AM appears to be the clear winner in the Sports-Talk segment with KJR-AM and KFNQ near the bottom of the list. In fact KIRO-AM continues to move ahead of all-news KOMO-AM

Just below the top-10 is KNKX at #11 proving that a Non-Comm.  can do well in this market.  Speaking of which …Little KEXP beats out 11 other stations whose numbers are lower.

I have to admit I don’t understand this one.    According a UK Newspaper article – Schools in the UK are beginning to remove analog clocks from the classroom because students are complaining they can’t read them….They are being replaced with Digital models.     The obvious question is – Why don’t they teach them how? –    Seems to me that was part of education….Teaching students how to deal with things in life.  Over here there are likely many that have no clue what you are saying when you use terms like – Quarter after 3 or half-passed 4 etc.   The other challenge involves math- How many can tell how many minutes before the bell-rings when it rings at :58 and the lock reads ;37?    Don’t tell me they all have mastered the math.   Working in broadcasting where you had to time-breaks and net-work re-join times using an analog clock was easy…Perhaps another sign that I am indeed getting old.

In a matter somewhat related…Dwight Small sent me this item – Shure has announced that the discontinuation of their phone products after 90 years.   No more needles for that Shure Cartridge!

Still no news regarding the future of KCPQ and Joe TV in our town.  The most popular rumor remains FOX will be the winner.   Should know soon….Or so they keep saying.

 

In another, wait and see, situation involving the Tribune/Sinclair deal ….This time in Chicago.   The question of who will end up with legendary WGN Radio.

 

 

In deploying my home garden hoses for the summer season…I discovered that the little short hose between the faucet and the reel had seen better days…So off to the big-box store to purchase a replacement.    I described to the clerk what I wanted and he quickly brought me to just what I needed.    This was when I learned what they call these things .   Not being able to tame my thoughts I quickly asked the young fellow if these were made in Germany?     Obviously this one went way over his head 

I too have dreams –

About the electric car in Seattle–

             Conventional auto repair shops are needing fewer conventional mechanics and more electronic techs providing a great opportunity for employment of former broadcast engineers.

             With more electric cars on the roads cities (Like Seattle) will discover a new means for income…Combine parking meters with charging stations…and great way to penalize those that have the money to own a Tesla.

About electrical power generation –

             With all the demand for clean power….Will we, at last, see power generators in the Tacoma Narrows?

             How about PV Shingles being required so that everyone contributes to the grid?

The power of the Cloud –

             Laws and Case-Law are all on the cloud eliminating many face-to-face meetings with lawyers…of course Google will charge for the service.

             Judges could be replaced with Alexa too.

Cloud based Medicine –

             Medicine is already changing.   Today your doctor carries a tablet when he sees you…This is so he can enter your symptoms into his diagnosis software that almost instantly tells him where to look, what tests to order etc.   Much of this work will no longer require a highly trained human.  All this is done with your new really-smart phone….or Alexa.   Are we getting close to having a Tricorder?

Personal Identification –

             Identification will change.   Everyone can have a chip implanted at birth…Works for Dogs and Cats now.

One of my readers sent me this collection of interesting facts-

             More people live in New York City than in 40 of the 50 states.

             The word “Pennsylvania” is misspelled on the Liberty Bell.

             There is enough water in Lake Superior to cover all of North and South America in one foot of liquid.

             In 1872, Russia sold Alaska to the Unites States for about 2 cents per acre. (Wonder of Putin has nightmares about it?)

             It would take you more than 400 years to spend a night in all of Las Vegas’s hotel rooms.

             Boston has the worst drivers out of the nation’s 200 largest cities. Kansas City has the best drivers.   (Wonder what end of that spectrum Seattle ranks?)

             The entire Denver International Airport is twice the size of Manhattan.

             A highway in Lancaster, California plays the “William Tell Overture” as you drive over it, thanks to some well-placed grooves in the road

             The inventor of the Ouija board lived and died in Baltimore; his tombstone stands as a reflection of his achievement.

             Only one-third of all $100 bills are actually inside the United States.

Now that your head is filled with things you never knew –     It’s time to wrap up this column for another month.     From the looks of things outside – Summer is here….So get out and enjoy it while you can, remember this is our SHORTEST Season.

Lord willing, till next month –

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

SBE Member for over 50 years, #714.

The KE0VH Hamshack for May 2018

A BLAST FROM THE PAST!  Circa 1979!

Currently “KEØVH” then “WD4HPO” ON AIR  in Lafayette Georgia (35 miles or so SE of Chattanooga TN) on then 1590 WLFA, now WQCH!  Look how young!  Doin’ the afternoon show!  This 5000 watt daytimer was my 3rd job at the time.  The station still exists pretty much now as was then, the cart machines and McMartin control board are of course long gone.  Then GM and PD Rich Gwyn is still there today, having taken over from his father the late Charlie Gwyn who founded and owned the station.  You can see the station’s website at http://wqch.net/ .  The building and 5/8’s wave antenna are still pretty much the same too.  Take a look!  Part of my history!  It was a very exciting time for this then 19 year old!  I actually have an aircheck from this station at this time.  If I get brave enough I may put it on YouTube!

And, this is really cool, just before the above part of my DJ career, as I have written before, WFLI Lookout Mountain Chattanooga, a 50,000 watt mid-south powerhouse top station in the 60’s and 70’s has come back on air playing the HITS from the time period.  This station was beloved by so many of us growing up in the area, and is the only station in town to have the same call letters and the same building on O’Grady drive just west of the city.  Still to this day I have dreams about WFLI!  It has been a lifelong radio love to many who were on the station.  Now so many of us remember those years when Top 40 boss jock type of radio was king of the airwaves and the DJ’s of the era were upbeat, LIVE, and very entertaining.  I was very fortunate to get on the air there as a young almost 16 year old High School guy!  That was in the day just after you had to have a 1st Class radiotelephone certificate to operate a directional AM, thank God!  I still though had to study and go to Atlanta FCC office to test for my 3rd Class Radio Telephone operator permit (I still have it).  I learned about radio from my first program directors Jim Pirkle and Max O’Brien, and had a lot of fun being on air, driving station vehicles, meeting people, and the music was just incredible.  SO I was SO sad to hear that the heritage station was going dark after nearly 50 years of broadcasting!  But then, a couple of entrepreneurs  in the Chattanooga area, Evan Stone and Marshall Bandy, longtime fans of WFLI were going to buy the station and a week after the sale turned it back on with basically a news/talk format with some of the original music thrown in here and there.  Evan told me that the response to the music blocks was such that they decided to return to the stations roots and put the “pop, soul and Rock n’Roll back on the station full time.  So Monday April 23rd, the station after its morning news show (very good I might add, wish Denver had a REAL news station, they could take lessons from these guys) turned on the old WFLI music with all the old production elements, positioning statements, and format!  Of course today they are also streaming, taking the audio off a real air monitor!  This is SO COOL because for me, I can stream the station here in Denver and pipe it thru to my old tube Zenith radios and such.  Man the nostalgia of this is absolutely amazing!

The station was known as “The Big Jet Fli”, with a special jet sound effect that was a staple of the station, and so many times that sound was the signature effect of the programming.  There are a lot of great stories about that.  One of the really cool things too about the transmitter plant for the station was the distilled water cooled Western Electric transmitter that started its life actually at WTOP in the NE. See a full article on this at https://www.thebdr.net/articles/prof/history/HPH-WFLI.pdf.  (Thanks Barry)  Back in 1992 there was a video shot by Stanley Adams and put up on YouTube that gave a nice tour of the facility, and believe it or not little has changed since the 70’s, it is almost like a time capsule of what the times were like in radio back then.  Now, the Western Electric is still there and is capable of operation, but a Harris DX-50 handles the daily on air operations and of course is much cheaper to operate.  And these days parts for the Western Electric are nearly impossible to find, but ran until just a few years ago, being lovingly maintained and kept on air by a couple of longtime broadcast engineers from FLI.

My Kawasaki Vulcan in front of the still there WFLI building during a visit last year

So after hearing the news about music coming back to WFLI from my friend David Carroll of WRCB TV3 in Chattanooga, I got in touch with Evan Stone, and offered to do liners and voiceovers for the station, and sure enough, I sent some promo’s and production to them, and now you can hear ME on WFLI!  AFTER 40 YEARS!  Glad I have improved since then!  Unfortunately I don’t have any air checks from my days there, but you may hear me again on WFLI as a jock just for fun!  Stay “TUNED”!  Check it all out at https://tunein.com/radio/WFLI-1070AM-The-Legend-s28777/

Speaking of “vintage”, check out these OLD films on ham radio.  These are really AWESOME!  A real look at what is was YEARS AGO!  Old chirpy code, a look at Field Day, homemade antennas and more!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0igVLrt3uY

And some of you may remember K6DUE (SK), Roy Neal of NBC back covering the space program.  I actually got to contact him and have Roy’s QSL card!  Check out his video here on YouTube promoting ham radio.  In this video he is talking about upgrading from CB Radio to Ham Radio!  I have to admit that I was a fan of his when he covered many Apollo flights and more, then I got to contact him via ham radio!  SO COOL!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba1S6bnyr1s

By the way if you aren’t familiar with hamspeak, SK means “Silent Key”.  Roy passed on in August 2003

By the way, yes I have a real affinity and affection for CB Radio.  That’s how I got started in 2 way communications!  I also happened to live in an area growing up that had some very friendly and helpful people on the CB!  In this video, in the first few minutes, you can see my first ever CB, a Realistic TRC-24C 23 channel radio.  AND a Signal Kicker antenna.  So that along with shortwave listening, was the beginning of what I do today!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMeFe68vDCc

My first CB!

Another activity with ham radio this month I got running was setting up my Kenwood TS-2000 and Winlink RMS Express and then setting up the TS-2000 internal TNC and using WInlink to send and receive email via VHF packet radio.  Its text based email, so nothing fancy, send me one at ke0vh@winlink.org.   I have been doing this via HF for a while and have a demo video on running this at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR5dnDS65DA .  I will try to get a demo up of doing it on VHF and how to setup the TS-2000.  Actually very easy to do, and a lot of negative reviews on the Kenwood TS-2000 on board packet TNC are out there but with the right setup works great!  There is already a video on how to do this from Rick, K4REF.  You can see it at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XTGlp2Gkow

See Ricks ENTIRE Kenwood TS-2000 training series at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxvd7Hts-hw&list=PL0-gH_7Nm60Zkogw5sdlSTcOseWaefHI6

This month I have installed a small buffer board in my TS-2000 to be able to have basically a full SDR panadapter utilizing a RTL SDR dongle and rig control from the free HDSDR and Omni-rig software available.  You can also use SDR Sharp.  This essentially takes just about any HF rigs 1st or 2nd IF and uses it to feed the dongle and display the range of frequencies for whatever band you are using.  This really almost can replace any of the higher priced SDR radios that are on the market. Plus this allows you the pleasure of operating your older HF rig with all the advantages, filtering, and visual display of the full SDR radios.  I really have been fascinated with this, and love working on projects in the Hamshack so this was a fun and pretty easy effort too, thanks to all those whose information can be looked up so easily!

And again just about any rig where you can tap into the IF can be done in this manner.  Some of them even have an IF port on the outside of the radio, but modifying is pretty easy regardless.  The TS-2000 has a readymade spot for the buffer circuit to go in where for a digital voice recorder could go, so that was easy.  Connections for the 1st IF required just a small modification of the connection point, the first IF connection (giving more visible bandwidth due the fact that it is before the roofing filter which limits you to about 30 kHz bandwidth but does provide some susceptibility to dongle front end overload) is an open pinned test point easily accessible.  I then used the HF receive only RCA antenna connection to get the buffered signal out of the radio and with a piece of coax connects to the dongle.  Works GREAT.

The bottom cover of the TS-2000 has to come off to get to the connections needed.  As you see in the picture below the buffer board (a PAT 12 from https://www.sdr-kits.net/ is in the upper left, the connection to the input of the board is from TP 4 or CN6 which is right after the 1st IF before the roofing filter.   The red wire is from a 12 volt tap off a diode on the other side of the radio’s RF board to power the PAT 12.  The coax on the left side output is going to (in my case unused) HF receive only antenna input to the radio.  The buffer board gets its negative power from the coax shield.

Another couple of good websites to check for more information are:

http://www.hamradioandvision.com/hdsdr-accessibility/

https://kd2c.com/

And by the way, live near a high powered broadcast facility and RF is wiping out your receive on HF?  Check this out:

https://kd2c.com/filters

 

Our friend Skyler KDØWHB while in school in Socorro New Mexico is getting a chance to intern at the Very Large Array radio telescope facility this year.  Take a look at how they move these gigantic antenna’s in this video shot and edited by KDØWHB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyLfQjxrYYk

You know you can find anything on YouTube of course, and I really enjoyed watching this set of 2 videos on the repair of the sensitivity of a Kenwood TS-2000 from the “TRX Bench” YouTuber.  A fine example of systematic troubleshooting and repair.  Glad to know where this one is in case I ever need it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FjSme0C5B8

One night on the Monday night SBE NET George, NO7O brought this up as a topic of discussion.  You may want to check this out:

From Amazon:

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

 

Code Girls reveals a hidden army of female cryptographers, whose work played a crucial role in ending World War II…. Mundy has rescued a piece of forgotten history, and given these American heroes the recognition they deserve.”—Nathalia Holt, bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls

Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.

Thanks George, sure this would be really great reading!

Visiting my friend Harold, W6IWI at his home QTH was a lot of fun one day earlier in April.  Harold has a very nice setup in his shack and his HF rig is a Seacomm SEA245

Harold at his operating position

Harold’s remote antenna tuner.  It tunes his multiband dipole seen in the picture below.

 

A close up of Harold’s rig

 

The power for the radio and power conditioner/charger for the battery power

 

See Harold’s site at www.w6iwi.org for more details

 

What do you do when you drive up to a site (to investigate an off air situation) and find this:

Unfortunately one day someone had accidently backed into the dish feed and broke the feed horn!  But he is a great guy and left a note and STUFF happens!  So, take it apart, re-piece it together, a little electrical tape, and station BACK ON THE AIR!

The BUC just temporarily taped up until the new mount arrived

Repaired, cross-poled, and note the reflectors for future reference!  J

 

                                                                    2 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/05/

 

3 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/05/   

 

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at 

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

 

 I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits! 

Clay’s Corner for May 2018

Clay’s Corner for May 2018

Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

 

Something that we all hate to hear about is a broadcast tower falling…Worse yet when you hear that someone you knew was killed in the process.     This was the case on April 19th when a very big, 1980 footer, went down in Fordland, Mo.   (Near Springfield)   Killed in the accident was a fellow many of us in the PNW had known for years, Steve LeMay.

Steve and his crew were working near the 100 foot level of the structure, according to some reports, replacing members on the tower to strengthen it for antenna changes related to re-packing, in this case, the TV station was moving from Channel 23 to Channel 16. The tower belongs to KOZK-TV and also housed an FM Antenna.

According to reports, 7 members of Steve’s crew were working on the project when it came down.  3 of them suffered injuries, unfortunately Steve did not survive.

I first met Steve many years ago when we worked for Seacomm.   We probably were involved in a number of projects over the years.   Later Steve formed his own company.   The last job where I was with him was the replacement of the KIRO-FM Antenna at West Tiger on the 4th of July 2016.

Steve will be remembered as an extremely nice, polite, soft spoken guy with a great smile.

The above pictures show Steve helping with the antenna installation for the Voice of Vashon
Below are some related comments –

Voice of Vashon’s low power FM (KVSH-LP 101.9FM) would not be where it is today without the “get it done” spirit of Steve Lemay. After Madison Batt designed our mast he said he’d invite a friend to come along for the install day. That friend — Steve Lemay — became our friend during a long day up top of a million gallon water tank.  Our team of volunteers worked on the tank with Steve and Madison supported by more volunteers on the ground crew. That day we all witnessed Steve take any problem in his stride and calmly solve it….And he did all that work for our dirt poor nonprofit at no charge, taking a day away from his family.

​One ​newspaper article about the Missouri tower collapse describes Steve as a “picture perfect dad.” We learned that day he was just plain picture perfect as a human being.

The cause of the disaster will certainly be investigated, as will the engineering firm involved, TCI Tower Consulting.   The questions to be answered are – Did the tower crew do something wrong, or was it a structural engineering miscalculation?

Another aspect of this is the whole matter of re-packing that is requiring a lot of changes being made to a lot of towers nation-wide over a fairly short period of time.   Whenever you disturb something that’s been standing for years, you open the door for these kinds of things to take place.

 

This is certainly not the first big tower to fail, you can do an internet search and find stories and, in some cases, videos, of previous disasters.  Interestingly another big tower, not far from this one, collapsed back in 2001.   In that case it was ice accumulation that was the cause.

The Sinclair/Tribune story continues to un-fold with announcements of spin-offs around the country …Except for Seattle.    Many are waiting to hear which of the 4 stations will go to different owners.   Rumors still are that Fox will end up with an O&O in this market.  We should know soon.

Gotta hand it to Gates Air as they announced they are going to debut a program to teach RF Fundamentals    I personally think this is a great move.    Gates Air put it this way-

In May, GatesAir will launch a new training program intended to help “younger, IT-educated broadcast engineers” learn to operate and maintain “next-generation TV and radio transmission sites,” the company announced.

The new training program, launching with an “Introduction to Broadcast Transmitter Technology” course, is described by GatesAir as an adjunct to the its existing “RF:101” program, which was designed for trainees with a basic understanding of RF technology. Because “RF:101” participants increasingly lacked a solid foundation in RF, the company developed a “new entry-level RF training course designed to prepare IT professionals for an RF transmission-centered career.”

“Since many new professionals entering the field have IT backgrounds, this new introductory training program responds to our customers’ pressing needs to find qualified engineers that can operate and maintain their next-generation, over-the-air content delivery systems,” GatesAir Vice President of Operations Bryant Burke said in the announcement. “We’re addressing broadcasters’ concerns regarding the shortage of broadcast engineers, and leveraging the current crop of IT-savvy engineers for ATSC 3.0 and other next-generation DTV and digital radio networks.”

The course begins with three webinars and is followed by a four-day, hands-on training workshop at Gates Air’s Quincy, Ill., campus. The first session is scheduled for May 22–25.

The program limits the workshops to groups of 8-10 trainees. It covers fundamentals, including maintenance of liquid- and air-cooled solid-state transmitters, digital modulation schemes and troubleshooting/repair of modular transmission components. After these stages, participants receive a certificate of completion.

The program is open to everyone — including non-GatesAir customers — and costs $2,150, according to the training website, where registration is also available.

A couple of weekends ago we made a trip to Boise to visit with our Kids, and their kids…Our Granddaughter (who is very technosavvy) has an Amazon Echo….She has learned how to use this clever device for entertaining her one year old Son (our Great Grandson) by asking it to play various Songs etc.    I asked her if she ever used to play a radio station.   She said no, she had not.   So I asked Alexa to play KIRO-FM…almost instantly, a Seattle radio station was playing in Boise.   She immediately asked Alexa to play 103.5 and there it was.  I did not ask her if she knew their call letters, however, it apparently did what she wanted.   This leads me to believe that are thousands of the Echo’s out there with owners that had no idea they would function as a radio.  It times of emergency this knowledge might be handy.    Wonder how many in the radio broadcast industry understand and are addressing this issue?

There is a Seattle side of this story too – Amazon reportedly owns 2/3 of the smart speaker market.   Not a bad market share !!    It should be noted that over 1/3 of all homes have one.

It’s too bad that these devices do not include the ability to be a public warning device.   Seems to me that by including that feature a lot of lives could be saved….So would making sure that radio stations direct their EAS equipment to their streams.

The announcement that KEXP is going to be receiving a $10 million donation raised a lot of eyebrows.   According to news reports this is the largest single donation to a public radio station in history.   Pretty impressive when you consider that this is a relatively small, Class C3 station operating with only 4.7 kW using a directional antenna from their site on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

Looks like the FCC is going to be making changes in the way they deal with interference complains involving FM translators.    This will be a good thing, if not a bit overdue in light of the number of these things being licensed these days

Nielsen is working on a new PPM device – the new one will reportedly be smaller.

 

Bottom of Form

 

Amazon has reached he size that it’s time to start ‘bashing them’   Even the President has joined the chorus.     Seems like a repeat of a few years ago….

 

Remember when the little ‘East Side’ software outfit was just starting off?

Everyone was thrilled with the success of MS-DOS (Back when CP/M and others were in the race) Apple came out with the Mac and it’s Icon/mouse driven system – (many thought that MS/DOS machines were dead) Then that little local company hit it big with Windows….Not long after that the critical comments started to roll in The Federal Government was annoyed because they had the gall to include a browser (what people wanted) Soon, in the minds of many, Microsoft was too big, was killing its competitors ..The feds were making strong demands

 

Now, apparently,  it’s Amazon’s turn.

 

 

According to Nielsen, the two most listened to radio formats are – County and News/Talk, but they are very close.    Looking at the big stations in Seattle – The top new/talkers are KUOW with a 6.3 and KIRO-FM with a 5.6. (11.9 Total) On the Country side – KKWF has a 3.6 and KNUC a 1.6 (5.2 Total).  Appears there are far more listening to News/Talk than country in this area.   Not to too surprising when you consider that Seattle is, in many ways, unlike other markets.

 

 

One thing I’ve never quite understood….How is it that many churches are involved with Pirate Radio?   One of the latest stations to be shut down by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau was a pirate operating on 93.3 from the Gospel Tabernacle Church of Jesus Christ in Irvington, N.J.

But then again, you periodically hear about other wrong doings connected with houses of worship.

 

 

Amador Busto’s continues to develop his operations – The FCC recently approved the assignment  of the license for the Oak Harbor licensed 103.3 to Bustos Media Holdings.  Meanwhile I note that Bustos has applied for an FM Translator for his KMIA-AM in Auburn to be on 101.1

 

 

Questions remain in the matter of the Bankruptcy of iHeartMedia…..Namely, are they going to spin off some of their radio stations?     Some are saying yes, the company is apparently saying nothing.   Typically firms become leaner when faced with this sort of situation.   Cumulus has recently sold off several.   Of course iHM became bigger here in Seattle by trading some stations with the new, larger, Entercom.  One has to assume that this deal factored in the overall financial health of the company.  Certainly there are those that would be eager to pick up some additional broadcast properties, especially if they are going for bargain prices.

 

David Field, CEO of Entercom, recently weighed in on the situation with iHeart and Cumulus saying that the industry will be healthier because of what’s taking place. Certainly investors are not exactly excited about an industry where two of the biggest players are in this mode.

 

I love it when my readers are led to contribute to my column.    Thanks to Buzz Anderson for this jewel –  Try spraying some of this around your favorite coffee shop, explaining that you are just trying to help speed up their WIFI (Note the reference to its scent)

It appears that the translator sought for the Puyallup AM on 94.5 may have overcome some of their objections as the FCC recently reinstated their application for Construction permit.  The folks at 94.5 in Shelton are obviously concerned.

I recently ran across a picture of a person that should be familiar to many of us who have worked in this market for a long time.    None other than Garnet Drakiotes.   Drak, was he was known to his friends, was Chief Engineer of KUBE way back when.

Here’s an eye-catcher –

Shortwave Supports Secure Digital Communications

The Ampegon Group is promoting the use of shortwave (HF) broadcasting as a means for providing high-speed, secure data transmission.  In their ads, they state the world needs real-time secure communications between centralized locations and receivers located at great distances.   Uses include, transfer of business communications, dissemination of warnings etc.

Considering the fact that HF or Shortwave systems are no longer a popular as it once was, this is certainly a unique ‘pitch’ for those making high powered HF Transmitters.  If you want more info, go here-  http://www.ampegon.com

Here we go again – A survey of the –Least Affordable Markets for Homebuyers from Zillow –

San Jose, CA 

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 46.1%

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 41.6%

San Francisco, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 40.6%

San Diego, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 34.7%

New York, NY

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 26.3%

Sacramento, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 26%

Riverside, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 25.6%

Seattle, WA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 24.9%

Portland, OR

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 23.6%

Here’s some more – In March the median home sale price in Seattle rose to $819,500.  Seattle home prices are up 17% in the last year…with the King County increasing 15%.   Looking for something less expensive – Condos are going for just over $525,000 in Seattle and $466,500 for King County.   However, Condo prices are increasing faster than homes.   Perhaps the bottom line is what kind of money do you have to make to be able to live here?

 

Here’s a great motto – Always plan for the fact that no plan ever goes according to plan.

 

If you live here in the PNW, you know that we are not lacking for rainfall this year…Not so for other areas of the U.S. however –

There are likely many high tech firms that want to claim that they were the first to intoduce Tablets…..Well, perhaps not –

In response from last months Column where I wrote about all the Nautel 50,000 Watt Transmitters on Vashon. Here’s a list of the stations and Nautel models – (North to South)

 

1000/ KOMO – XR60

710/KIRO-   ND50, NX 50

1090/KFNQ –  NX50, Ampfet 50.

 

The Seattle area has  9 AM radio stations that are operating 50,000 Watts

During the day and various powers at Night –  Here is a table listing them –

(Power levels are in Kilowatts)

FREQUENCY CALL DAY POWER NIGHT POWER ANTENNA

INFO

TRANSMITTER

LOCATION

710 KIRO 50 50 DA-N Vashon
770 KTTH 50 5 DA-2 Vashon        Shared wirth 1090
820 KGNW 50 5 DA-2 Vashon        Shared with 950
880 KIXI 50 10 DA-2 Bellevue
950 KJR 50 50 DA-2 Vashon         Shared with 820
1000 KOMO 50 50 DA-N Vashon
1090 KFNQ 50 50 DA-2 Vashon         Shared with 770
1300 KKOL 50 3.2 DA-2 Bainbridge    (Construction Permit)
1380 KRKO 50 50 DA-N Everett          Shared with 1520
1520 KKXA 50 50 DA-N Everett           Shared with 1380
  • All but 3 of these stations operate 50 kW at night.

 

  • DA-N means the station operates with a non-directional antenna during the day and a Directional Antenna system at Night

 

  • DA-2 means the station operates with a different Directional Antenna system day and night.

 

 

 

You are getting OLD if you recall when this was the way you moved data between a telephone and a computer!  (Note the rotary dial)

Changes in the Engineering Department at Entercom in Seattle

Out is Matt Green

In is Phil Van Liew

Another big voice is lost –

Longtime, late night, radio host, Art Bell passed recently.  He was 72.      As you can see from this picture, Art was not only on the air on many radio stations but on Ham Radio as well with this impressive array of equipment.    He was quoted as saying that he loved radio…lt was his life.

At last it appears that Spring has finally arrived at West Tiger.  The following picture was taken on March 26th using our precision snow depth measurement device. –

A certain iHeartMedia engineer asked me recently when it was going to stop snowing at West Tiger  J

While I was working on installing some equipment at KIRO-AM on Vashon Island recently I spent a couple of minutes taking pictures of some of Steven Allens wonderful collection of legendary broadcast equpment.    What hit me hard was the fact that I’ve used this stuff!

First is a Nems Clark Phase Monitor.  This was used with a 2-Tower directional AM Station.

Who recalled that Ampex, maker of Audio and Video tape equipment, also made a radio receiver?   Here’s a picture of a portion of the front panel.

Back in the days….When TV repair was even possible….You might have had one of these –

A device for generating Color Bars for setting up a TV Set.

This item really grabbed my attention. It was on the bottom of a loudspeaker.   The inventory lables were on a long sheet that was inserted into a typewriter.  You set the ribbon so it was not used and typed in the letters and numbers.   What him me hard was the fact that – I MADE THIS LABEL , likely in the early 70’s

This item, an AM Audio Processor. Made by the late George Frese in Wenatchee.  The Audio Pilot would transform any AM station using it into the loudest station on the dial.  This was long before CBS Labs introduced their equipment.    George incorporated some features that have never been duplicated to this day.

Here is a classic radio – Take a close look at the FM Band frequencies – This was prior to the FM band we know today (88-108 mHZ)

 

How about the push-buttons –

KIRO-710 –

KXA -770- Now KTTH

KJR – 950

KOMO- 1000

KRSC – 1090 – Now KFNQ

KOL – 1300 – Now KKOL

 

 

 

Want to buy an AM Transmitter Site ?

 

On Apr 1, 2018, at 18:18, Andrew Skotdal via SBE16-Seattle <sbe16-seattle@sbe16.org> wrote:

 

FWIW, please feel free to circulate to the community of Hams that KRKO is listing the 7115 Larimer Road, Everett, WA. transmitter site for sale since we no longer need it.  The site has two, 179’ towers (above the base insulator), and the 1956 Gates BC-5 is in place, ready to be converted.  The Continental Power Rock can come with it, too.  The building has been rehabilitated and could serve as a club facility complete with a kitchen and two bathrooms.  The site has eight acres.  If you know of a HAM operator or club that would like to buy the site, please have them contact Dan Gunderson, dgunders@windermere.com

 

In the same category as the Internet Path Conditioner – is BLINKER FLUID.

Blinker fluid is the stuff which makes the turn indicators on cars work – usually the amount the car is supplied with from the factory is enough, but sometimes it needs topping up.

Sometimes people put too much in – you may have seen cars where the blinkers are flashing unusually fast? That’s the problem.

On the serious side for a moment.   As most of you know I was recently the recepient of an award from NAB.    (That’s me, the old guy in the middle)

What you may not know is that I was being recognized for my work with the Emergency Alert System here in Washington State, something I have been working on for the past 22 years.

Perhaps the best part is that this is recognizing work I have done without compensation.

They asked that I supply my acceptance remarks, in advance, so they could load it on their prompter  – Here is what I said in accepting this award –

TO SAY THE LEAST – I AM FLATTERED AND HONORED TO RECEIVE THIS AWARD…..

 THOSE THAT KNOW ME… KNOW THAT I AM NOT A MAN OF FEW WORDS, HOWEVER…..A COUPLE OF THINGS I’D LIKE TO SHARE

 

  • OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE LOOKING AT WHAT’S CALL A –SENIOR – GETTING HERE HAS TAKEN A LOT LESS TIME THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD!

 

  • OLD AGE IS A BLESSING GRANTED THE VERY FEW…IF YOU ARE BLESSED WITH IT – MAKE THE MOST OF IT

 

  • I, FIRMLY, BELIEVE THAT OUR MAKER WANTS US TO HAVE A PURPOSE THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES THIS GIVES US FULFILLMENT

 

 

  • IT’S BEEN SAID THAT IF YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO….YOU WILL NEVER WORK A DAY IN YOUR LIFE. I HAVE,  INDEED,   BEEN BLESSED TO BE ABLE TO EXPAND MY EARLY LOVE OF HAM RADIO INTO A VOCATION THAT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE ME TO THIS DAY.

 

 

  • DO SOMETHING WHERE YOU CAN ‘GIVE BACK’. SOMETHING WHERE YOUR COMPENSATION IS KNOWING THAT YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING FOR THE GOOD OF THE ORDER.  PERHAPS SOMETHING THAT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO SAVE LIVES.  THIS IS WHAT KEEPS ME WORKING TO IMPROVE OUR PUBLIC WARNING SYSTEMS

 

THANK YOU AGAIN, FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART, FOR APPRECIATING WHAT I HAVE DONE, AND CONTINUE TO DO.

As most older people do – We enjoy looking back – In this case, looking back at something much older than me!    The year is 1917, just over 100 years ago.   Wow what a difference a century makes !

 

The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.


Fuel for cars was sold in drug stores only.


Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.


Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.  (We may be getting back to that level again)

 

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph. (Sounds like Seattle at Drive Time)


The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.


The average US wage in 1910 was 22 cents per hour.


The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.


A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year.


A dentist $2,500 per year.


A veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year.  (A vet making more than a Dentist!!)

 

And, a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.


More than 95 percent of all births took place at home

 

Ninety percent of all Doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!

Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as “substandard.”

 

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

 

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

 

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound. (Yes,  this was before Starbucks)


Most women only washed their hair once a month, and, used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.


Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.


The Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

 

The American flag had 45 stars ..


The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was only 30.


Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented yet


There was neither a Mother’s Day nor a Father’s Day.


Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write.

And, only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.


Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at local corner drugstores.

 

Back then pharmacists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach, bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health!” (Shocking?)


Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.


There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A.!

One of the blessings of doing my work with NWPB/WSU is traveling.    I could not help but stop and take a picture of this sign.   Just off Frogner Road, north of Crego Hill, site of KSWS and several other Radio/TV stations.

Sometimes you are convinced that our educational efforts have failed.

Well, my friends, that’s it for my Column for this month – Lord willing, I will be back with more next month.

 

73,

 

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

SBE Member for over 50 years, #714.

 

 

Passing of Byron St. Clair

Dr. St. Clair Honored in 2008 by SBE48/SMPTE Rocky Mountain with Scott Barella

Byron W. St. Clair November 13, 1924 – May 20, 2018

Dr. St. Clair was known to most of us as a long time member and frequent attendee at our local events as well as for his outstanding contributions to our industry.  The following obituary was provided by Susan Hansen, his Daughter, who will continue his practice for the time being as he had so many LP and translator clients impacted by the repack:

Byron St. Clair, a renowned television and radio engineer who was instrumental in bringing early TV to the mountainous rural West, has died.

He had been diagnosed recently with a brain cancer, and died peacefully in Lakewood, Colorado aged 93. He leaves behind Julie, his wife of seventy one years, and a daughter, Susan Hansen of Arvada, Colorado.

At 2014 Christmas Party

St. Clair was President Emeritus of the National Translator Association, which he served as president for nineteen years. He made regular visits to Washington, D.C. where he worked tirelessly to preserve effective and universal free TV delivery. He pioneered the development of mountain-top repeaters that rebroadcast metropolitan signals on an automatically switched channel, devices known as TV translators.

St. Clair was director of research and development for Adler Electronics, and a founder and president of EMCEE, manufacturer and installer of TV translators. Later he took his knowledge West to Colorado, and beginning in 1967 founded and was president of Television Technology Corp. in Arvada, later Larcan-TTC, Inc. During his three decades in running TTC the company became the best-known supplier of TV translators to the Inter-Mountain West.

Gradually he moved from management to telecommunications consulting, and in that role he has strategized equipment design and channel selection, and submitted hundreds of engineering exhibits to the Federal Communications Commission.

At 2017 Christmas Party

In 1978 he became an informal advisor to the FCC Low Power Television Task Force, which was developing rules to enable TV translators to originate programs from any suitable source. The FCC adopted rules for low power television in 1982. Its growth into a broadcast service with thousands of licensed stations and its record of virtually no destructive interference are in major part the result of St. Clair’s technical expertise and vision.

St Clair obtained his B.S.E.E. (1945) and MA in Physics (1949) from Columbia University, and his Ph. D. in physics (1953) from Syracuse University. He was a member of the National High Definition Television Subcommittees, Systems Subcommittee Working Party to Field Test Task Force; a Board Member of the Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance; a long-time member and active participant in the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers (AFCCE); and 33 years as a Member of the Board of Directors for Denver PBS station KBDI-TV. Last year the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest technical professional organization, recognized him with its Jules Cohen Award for Lifetime Achievement. In his long career, St. Clair accomplishes a rare synthesis of theoretical knowledge, executive skill as a manufacturer, and expositor and advocate for rural America.

With Duane Evarts

In addition to his wife, daughter, and Son in Law Douglass West, St. Clair is survived by his brother, Dr. James O. St. Clair, Mull River, Canada and two grandsons, Michael and Peter Hansen. A memorial gathering is being planned in June.

The National Translator Association and the AFCCE are establishing a scholarship fund in his name, to foster education in the field of broadcast engineering.
###

The KE0VH Hamshack for April

April 2018

Still keeping on with the Society of Broadcast Engineers Monday Night Chapter 73’ of the AIR VHF/UHF Hamnet.  Details on how to join us at the bottom of the article here.  Sure would like to have you join us from ANYWHERE in the world!

 

So with lots of flying flight simulator and drones for both EMF and for fun there hasn’t been a lot of ham radio activity for me the past couple of months.  Talking with my great friend Cris W5WCA on the 449.450 repeater most mornings here in Denver (mostly about flying!) and the Monday night net, plus checking into the Columbine Statewide Net on 3.989 MHz 7:30 MTN time has been most of my ham radio operations lately.  Earlier in the month of March my good friend Tim KAØAAI stopped by and we did some setup on his DMR handheld, and I have been talking some on the WØTX Local DMR machine with Kenny K4KR in the Chattanooga Tennessee area a bit.  Plus we are still on the ALLSTAR network usually connected into the KDØWHB Skyhub (node 46079) and on the WØGV AllStar repeater locally here in Denver.  The WØKU 449.625 repeater can also connect into the AllStar network via IRLP.  Pretty versatile stuff and we hope to expand the capabilities of all soon.  Stay tuned!
As mentioned flying both my company issued drone for work and my personal Phantom 3 Advanced for practice and fun has been a source of real enjoyment for me.  Getting to fly up and around towers in my zone are going to be quite informative and money saving for our company.  It gets you up and close to the antennas on the towers of course without having to have a tower crew and the expense.   This past month I put up a video on my “ke0vhjacktv” YouTube channel flying one of our sites.  It was a bit of a windy day and I got QUITE close to the antenna and guy wires on the tower.  WHEW! But I kept a close watch and am learning how to fly the drone (a Phantom 3 PRO) to get some great footage and detail on the upper reaches of the structure.  If you didn’t already take a look at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7v2ceKfqyY

Due to the current rules of flying near airports with controlled airspace you must now use a system that can take up to 90 days or so to get FAA permission if your tower is located within that space.  I have a tower that is in just that position that I really need to do an inspection at.  SO, at this time I have applied for the permission to do so but am waiting, and so I expect that it will be May before I get the OK to do so.  Details on how to apply are at: https://www.faa.gov/uas/request_waiver/  This web site shows a list of waivers granted, so I keep a look on it for mine to come thru: https://www.faa.gov/uas/request_waiver/waivers_granted/

 

However the FAA is beginning a program to make this process almost instantaneous.  That will certainly make things quicker and easier especially when you need to inspect a tower in controlled airspace quickly.  Take a look here:

http://aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2018/march/08/faa-expands-drone-authorization-program?utm_source=drone&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180320drone

 

The FAA UAS data delivery system website is absolutely outstanding at showing permitted flight levels and areas of the whole country.  This includes an amazing map that is movable and you can zoom into the area you are interested in.  Take a look at it at: http://uas-faa.opendata.arcgis.com/

 

Another discussion says Part 107 operations do not require that you contact nearby airports in Class G airspace.  That is a Section 336 (recreational) requirement.  Please follow up with any further inquiries at UASHelp@faa.gov.  Additional information is also available at https://www.faa.gov/uas/.  Please select:  UAS Safety and Integration Division AUS-400.

I am having a great time with my Flight Simulator setup in the hamshack.  I now have 3 monitors so it is very easy to simulate the “cockpit” with this setup.  It gives you a really 3D feel with depth perception, with a peripheral vision feel. I bring the monitors in so that they are together in what I call Flight Sim Configuration.

The computer screen on the left is switchable between the sim computer and my Win 10 machine so I can look up other airport and flight info.

As you can see the ham radio shelf is behind the center 32 inch monitor and inaccessible when I want to operate ham radio in this config.  So I took a wall mount and set it up in a vertical way so the monitor will hinge up and rest on the shelf.  That then makes the radios accessible and is in “ham station” mode!

Another view with the simulator in progress flying a Cessna 172

Making a turn to land at Centennial Airport in south

Denver

See my Flight Simulator X landing a 737-800 at KATL Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport at night here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op8wOfeG0kg

See my Flight Simulator X Piper landing at Centennial Airport Runway 28 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZCiNSwrlx8

This picture shows me “flying” the Beach Baron over our building in the Denver area!

With the Megascenery Colorado Flight Sim software flying over the state is really accurate and almost like using Google Earth!    Pretty cool!

Right under the trailing edge of the wing is our transmitter site buildings near Denver!

This is flying SW of Pueblo Colorado over towards Greenhorn MT near our Rye Colorado site.  WISH I could really get there this quick!  J

One weekend in March we had what the natives refer to as “Thundersnow” in Denver.  Sure enough, lightning struck near our Denver transmitter site and took out the ham radio connection to the 449.625 repeater up there AND our Nanobridge studio to transmitter backup link to our Trango main STL system.  Not a good thing.  Funny thing is the studio Nano was communicating with the unit on the mountain but the transmitter side wouldn’t pass any network data.  Checked the cable to the transmitter building and it was fine.  So, to make a several day ordeal short the transmitter site Nanobridge was taking power from the building but passing NO traffic.  Brought it down to the studio workbench and sure enough the network card was working from one side but not the other.  SO, we switched out the whole Nanobridge M5 system (no longer made by the way) for the Ubiquiti PowerBeam 5AC 300 system.  I won’t list here all that it is capable of doing, but it is really outstanding in 2 ways that I will tell you about here.  The first is if you need to change frequency to a different part of the 5 gig spectrum (5730 to 5840 MHz) you can tell the end you are working with to change and it will CHANGE THE OTHER END FIRST, then lock up both units together!  OUTSTANDING!  It has an onboard software alignment tool, speed testing, discovery mode, and a spectrum analyzer called “Airview”.  VERY updated from the old Nanobridge system.  BTW, the price is only right around $100 per unit.  The GUI has immediate real time monitoring of all parameters, signal strength on both ends, isolated capacity and throughput, signal to noise and interference, data rates of both ends, etc.  This was one of the easiest to aim and get working projects I have ever done.  Cris W5WCA helped me with the initial bench setup, Robert KC8GPD and Shane KØSDT helped with the studio and transmitter site setup.  Robert and I ran a brand new cable and lightning protector up at the transmitter and then I “sight” aimed both ends and we walked it in for maximum signal from both sides.  All tested well and I look at it just about every day.  Should our Trango system fail it is ready to go.  And soon, when our April pledge drives are over, we will put the PowerBeam on the air so we can do some needed work to the Trango system feed.  More about that in a later edition!

Transmitter site PowerBeam

STUDIO SITE UNIT WITH LIGHTNING PROTECTOR

A picture of the GUI for the Transmitter site end

 

And the studio site end.  As you can see the noise floor is higher at the transmitter end as might be expected.  We put a bunch of Ferrites on the network leads up at the dish to reduce the noise floor from -92 to -98, improving the Interference + Noise from a -79 or 80 level to -88.  Of course with a high power FM and UHF TV station less than 100 feet away this is outstanding performance almost as good as the parameters at the studio end.  I am really impressed with these units and recommend them.  Thanks to Cris for the original heads up about the Nano bridges and now the POWERBEAMS!  And since we ran our network link and HD2 audio for the better part of a year using these prior to the install of the licensed Trango system I am confident that they will do the trick!

Check out this article on the use of a solid state analog TV transmitter as a superconducting electron gun power amplifier.  https://accelconf.web.cern.ch/accelconf/IPAC2012/papers/thppc071.pdf

 

 

                                                                 TWO YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/04/

THREE YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/04/

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at 

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

 I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits! 

73’ from “the Shack”& God Be With You!

Clay’s Corner for April 2018

 

 

Clay’s Corner for February 2018

 

Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

 

In keeping with my recent series of pretty pictures…This one, supplied by Ralph Sims of Accel Net, taken by one of their Tower Cameras at West Tiger the day after Christmas.  Here we are looking east, at sunrise.  The two towers in the upper right are what we call, Tiger-2, home of TV Transmitters for DayStar and Ion Media, as well as the following FM Stations – 94.1, 92.5, 96.5, 98.9, 102.5 and 106.1.  The clear-cut area was logged about 3 years ago.  On the lower left is the road going to the summit site.

That time of year is rapidly approaching when a bunch of us die-hard scroungers head to Puyallup for the annual Mike and Key Club Electronic Flea Market.  This year it’s on Saturday March 10th.  If you are an electronic tinkerer/collector or just like to visit old friends, it’s a great fun time.  For the past several years, a bunch of us have gathered at Odd Fella’s in Auburn at 7 a.m.for breakfast and then headed to Puyallup.  Hope you can join us.  One sad note however…All the friends you used to see there that are no longer with us.  This is the 37th year for the event.

In this picture, taken from the same tower as above, we are looking Northwest.  The tower you can see on the peak in the distance is on what’s call West Tiger #2.  The tower belongs to Boeing.  I love how the early morning sun causes the sky to look yellow.

The Main Studio rule is now something for the U.S. history books.  This change has made a lot of people happy…and some not.  I’ve read a number of comments from those that feel the FCC made a bad decision and this will end up being harmful etc.  Here’s my question:  If having a local studio, in the city of license is a great idea, what’s stopping a broadcast station from continuing to do so?  Is it possible that a broadcast station whose COL is in a smaller town near the ‘big city’ could continue to have a ‘local studio’ and reap the benefits that it would provide?  That is assuming that those benefits are real and not just imaginary.  Here in the Seattle area KCPQ and KSTW-TV and KBKS, KHTP, KIRO-FM could open Tacoma Studios and KRWM could open one in Bremerton.  Would this automatically mean that those locations would benefit?  Would  the citizens and businesses in those cities be happy to make sure that such a move is economically viable?  Perhaps what’s missing here is a clear understanding of what it takes to keep a broadcast station operating….INCOME!  The income can come from various sources….In the case of a Non-Commercial facility it’s called ‘underwriting’ or contributions.  Commercial stations almost all rely on advertising.  I will grant you that there is something at play here called ‘Big City Magnetism’ (aka – the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence).  Many businesses that are on the outskirts of a major city often strive to be identified with a nearby or adjacent larger city.  Some of this may be based more on desire than good economic sense.  Then there is the perception of the broadcast operation in the mind of the consumer.  Consumers too, like to be identified or connected with the largest city in the region.  You could have two stations with the same programming and find it likely the one associating themselves with the major city in the region will be more successful.  Once you get out from under the influence of the big city and into a community with its own strong identity, you find that facilities there tend to attract consumers that don’t feel as concerned with the big city in their area.  I recently wrote about a good example of this, KNWP in Port Angeles.

One of the latest iterations of radio stations are what’s called LPFM’s or Low Power FM stations.  These little operations rely on contributions and volunteers as they are non-commercial in nature.  Many of these new operations are shutting down as the financial reality of operating a broadcast station sinks in.  Then there is the struggle of AM Radio, where their continued operation is becoming increasingly questionable.

Regardless of the City of License or where the studio is located…. Perhaps it’s too easy to be critical of something that you know little about?  Many continue to view broadcasting as something other than a business that, like other ventures, have bills to pay and are forced to make decisions based on that, their greater need.

 

The recent public warning screw-up in Hawaii certainly got world-wide attention.  Emergency managers, everywhere are being questioned by the media with ‘could it happen here’ questions.  The fall-out over this one will serve as a great lesson for many years to come.  Here in Washington State, the matter is being taken very seriously.  State EMD is working with the SECC and all the stakeholders to make sure that we are learning from the mistake.  It would be unfair to draw conclusions until the ongoing investigations are completed, however,  preliminary findings are pointing to human error.  As happens in events of this magnitude….Congress wants an investigation.  What will result from that is anyone’s guess.  One part of this drew a lot of fire.  The fact that it took Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency 38 minutes to send a correction.  You can just imagine the panic that filled the minds of those that saw this message on their smart phone –

One of the big questions is – Who should be initiating an attack warning?  There are those that feel that this should come from the Federal rather than a State government.  The issue is that, other than an EAN/Presidential Message, we really don’t have a mechanism set up to handle this since the end of the Cold War.  My guess is that this will all change, certainly the States will be pushing in this direction.  Those of us that have been at this for a long time, well remember the days of EBS when we had Attack Warning messages.  Unfortunately, here we are again.  Makes me wonder if the shelters that people were installing in their backyards will make a comeback?

Many times bad things happen for good reasons.  I recall back when Mt. St. Helens erupted that we suddenly received the funding for our State Relay Network that we’d been asking for…for a long time.  One of our public warning system’s greatest weaknesses is a lack of training – at all levels.  The timing of the Hawaii event uniquely occurred about a week after our SECC Meeting, where recently retired from NOAA, and SECC Vice Chair, Ted Buehner agreed to on the matter of  training in Washington State.  This training will need to involve all levels of public warnings.  Those that initiate messages (Emergency Managers and 911 Centers, as well as Broadcasters and Cable Systems, whose job it is to distribute warnings to the public.  There will be much more to come on this topic…Stay tuned!

JUST AN OBSERVATION DEPARTMENT
As you can likely guess, my entire life has been one of great interest in science.  In the past year or so, we have been hearing the word ‘Fake’ all too frequently.  In fact, I’ll wager that we have heard that word more in the last year than all the years previous.  This got me thinking….

Have you noticed how those that are constantly speaking out about ‘Fake News’ are also great believers in ‘Fake Science’?

…..Like I said – Just an observation.

I was recently having a conversation with a fellow broadcast engineer regarding the life cycle of equipment.  Being of an older generation, we tend to place a very high value on this matter when selecting equipment.

For example – I recently purchased a new vehicle.  I did a lot of shopping with one of the most important criteria being – How long is this likely to last.  I submit that this is not always a prime decision making component when you are buying a new vehicle…Chances are, higher on the list are things like – Features, safety, color and style etc.

Many of the items used in a broadcast station these days appear to have relatively short life-cycles.  Perhaps one of the drivers for this are the rapid changes in technology that tend to make something obsolete sooner.  Another is the lack of demand for long term reliability coupled with the willingness to pay for it.  Who is doing the buying is also a big factor.  When the person that is charged with maintaining a piece of equipment makes the final decision, they are likely to be looking at a purchase through a different lens than would be a person in, say, accounting.  Service after the sale, long term support and parts availability are not valued as they once were.  In the ‘old-days’ we did not have the two views of purchasing we have today.  Operating and Capital Budgets…back when…there was only one pocket of money.

Something the ‘old salts’ have a problem with is the fact that many items today are not repairable.  This is for several reasons….1) They are designed to be thrown away when they no longer function. The manufacturer does not want you to repair them, as this lowers their profit margin.  2) The cost of repair in terms of knowledge and equipment makes repair not economically feasible.

Short life-cycles have become acceptable in this ‘throw it away if it does not work’ society’.  It’s all about change.  Just don’t be surprised to hear some old guy say something to the effect of …In my day, we would fix that.  Those days are gone and with it many of the jobs that used to be.

Before I leave this topic – a couple of changes in our area to note – Marty Hadfield is no longer with iHeart Media as he ponders what to do now that he has become an official senior citizen .  Tom Pierson has announced that he is retiring this summer from Bonneville (KIRO/KTTH etc.).

Now that we are entering another phase in the world of TV Repacking, stations are asking for more repack money….Like 2 Billion Dollars’ worth….Twice the amount that was allocated for the big shuffle.  ‘Tis also interesting how the demand for spectrum from this big shuffle has turned out to be lower than some were saying, leading many to ask if all of this was really necessary?  There will likely be some books written about this one.

The FCC continues to fill up the FM Band – For a while the only signal you could hear in the area on 94.5 was KRXY based in Shelton/Olympia.  Then came the co-channel AM Translator for KTTH (Located on Cougar Mt.).  Now there is a CP for another on 94.5, translator (BNPFT-20171201AMU), this time to be located on the 1450 AM Tower in Puyallup.  As expected KRXY (Olympia Broadcasters)  has petitioned the FCC to deny it.  Pretty clear that existing radio stations are going to be busy just watching the application process in an effort to protect what has been their exclusive turf.

 

It’s hard to imagine in a year when we essentially went three months with only a few hours of drizzle, but Seattle is about to cross a soggy mark for 2017.  As the rain fell Friday, Seattle was moving over 47 inches of rain for the year in the morning.  If and when it passes 47.49 inches, we’ll be officially 10 inches above normal rainfall for the year.  Summer might have been dry, but a very soggy winter and spring was enough to counter balance, and this year’s autumn ended up doing well in the rainfall department as well.  For those of you that read this and feel that Seattle is all about rain – Here are some things to consider –

1. Mobile Alabama receives an average of 67 inches of rain per year.
2. Buffalo, N.Y.  holds the title of cloudiest city in American (yes, more than Seattle).

Here’s my view on the latest Radio Ratings – (all 6+)

  • Hubbard’s KRWM had some impressive numbers –#1 and into double digits
  • Sinclair’s KPLZ jumped up to #4
  • The bottom appears to have fallen out of the Country Format with KKWF at #15 and new-comer KVRQ well below that
  • The two big non-com’s continue to do well with KUOW at #2 and KNKX at #10
  • AM’s continue down the same path, downward.  Interesting that KIRO is now ahead of KOMO.
  • 13 stations at the bottom with a 1.0 or lower…5 of them are AM’s

 

There have been changes in Pullman – Washington State University has been busy re-branding their Radio and TV broadcast operations.  On January first they rolled out their new Logo.  This action combines Wazzu’s Radio and TV operations under a common name – Northwest Public Broadcasting…Perhaps a good thing as there was a lot of confusion between NWPR and NPR..

From time to time we read about how Europe is dumping FM radio in favor of some form of Digital Radio system.  Apparently not everyone is marching in lock-step, with word that Sweden is granting new licenses for commercial FM Stations.

In the U.S. FM Radio continues to grow with over 600 new signals on the air in 2017.  The biggest area of growth has been with Translators, Boosters and LPFM’s.  All you have to do is tune around the FM band to hear for yourself how the FM band is being filled up.  On the TV side, the number of VHF TV’s increased (part of the big shuffle).  Not surprising, the number of AM stations continues to fall with 30 less last year.  My prediction is that number will continue to fall to the point that the number of AM’s more truly represents the demand for that service…A slide that will continue for the next several years.

Here, locally, the owners of the 1230 AM in Everett are planning on adding an FM on 102.1 with 180 Watts.  Site appears to be their AM tower just east of downtown Everett.  The same group is planning an FM Translator on 94.5 at the site of their Puyallup 1450 AM operation.

KZQM is a new FM for Sequim.  They will be on 104.9.  A good deal of paperwork being exchanged in that one from a neighborhood organization who has been opposed.

On a site known as Green Mountain, east of Kalama, local Kelso station KLOG is planning a translator to be on 100.7.  At over 2000 feet, that 250 watt operation will be quite impressive.

ANOTHER FROM  THE  OBSERVATION DEPARTMENT

If women do the same job for less money, why do companies hire men to do the same job for more money?

In the category of ‘who wudda thunk?’….Did you ever think there was would be such a device as a SMART SPEAKER?  Speakers where usually inside a Radio or TV…Component Stereos may have had external speakers….But those, even though they might have been expensive, were hardly ever considered – smart.  Of course now we have gone from just plain Phones to Smart Phones. .Anyway we now have a battle brewing between the makers of Smart Speakers.  In the event you missed it, these are speakers that are interactive, that you speak to.  Makers include Google and Amazon.  Radio has discovered these gizmos in a big way because you can ‘talk’ to your smart-speaker and request a particular radio station be played.  This requires the Radio industry to figure out how to make these things work to their advantage.

Congrats to David Field, the CEO of  Entercom who was recently named by Radio Ink as their Executive of the Year.  Perhaps credit is due, as his company was able to gobble up CBS Radio and end up becoming a major player in Radio, while others in the industry (iHeart and Cumulus) struggle.

Speaking of Cumulus – They recently announced they were dropping their sports deals with major Chicago teams as well as canceling a deal to buy a couple of additional FM’s in that market, all while negotiations continue in their bankruptcy processes.  Recent price for a share of Cumulus was 5 Cents!

Recent news from the FCC, with the announcement that Al Shuldiner has been named to head up the Commission’s Audio Division.  Mr. Shuldiner replaces Peter Doyle.  His experience includes stints with Ibiquity/DTS (The parent of HD Radio).  The U.S. Radio industry will be watching this move very closely.

So what’s going on with Sinclair and Fox?  Rumors are that the two are about to do a deal that will, in part, satisfy the FCC’s concerns about numbers of stations in certain markets as a result of the Sinclair/Tribune deal.  Here in Seattle, could it be that KCPQ/13 could become a Fox O &O?  This could impact a number of other markets as well, for example….Denver.  Stay tuned!

For some reason I keep thinking about the old saying about being too late to close the barn door because the horse is already gone.  Then there is better late than never.  The deal is the FCC has apparently showed interest in a North Dakota car dealership that they feel is causing interference with Cellphone reception from their outdoor lighting system.  Apparently Verizon has a nearby cell site and they have determined that the source of their interference is the car dealership’s outdoor lighting system, because when it was turned off the problem stopped.  When the problem could not be resolved, the FCC got involved.  They told the dealership to fix it or start paying a fine for every day they refuse to act. (Time to go back to incandescent?)

Is this a simple matter of whose Ox?.  Seems to me if you are the FAA, Public Safety or a Wireless carrier you can get FCC action.  What about the poor Ham Operator that can no longer hear any signals because of the ‘Grow Lights’ in the neighbor’s basement?  Or what about the AM Station whose coverage has been reduced due to all manner of un-regulated RF noise generating devices?  Appears to me that what’s needed here is a level playing field when it comes to dealing with sources of RF pollution.  The SBE, NAB and ARRL have been trying to push this rope up-hill for many years.  Hopefully the new FCC Chair will be in listening, and more importantly, action mode.  Time will tell.

Sad news this past month with the announcement that legendary Keith Jackson has passed at 89.  Many of us who have been in the Seattle area for many years recall him at KOMO where he worked from 1954 to 1964.  Not only was Keith a fixture in Seattle Broadcasting…He was a Cougar…A WSU Graduate.  It was just a few years ago, in 2014, that a building in the Murrow College was named in his honor.

Mike Brooks from KING-FM is a frequent contributor to my column.  This time something for the ‘techies’ in the group.  Who will be the first one to properly identify this item?

One thing that Broadcasters are always concerned about is airing something that they should not, for fear that the FCC would make them subject to a sizable fine.  The question is now…What do you do when the person that utters the subject to fine word is the President of the country?  Perhaps the fact the FCC understands there are differences between newscast language and entertainment programming?  Never a dull moment in this industry.

For some time FM Broadcasters have been installing Boosters, lower powered transmitters operating on the same frequency as their main transmitter…Especially in areas where there is significant terrain shielding.  In the area South of Seattle, Bustos Media has recently been installing a few on-channel boosters. Initial reports are they are working reasonably well.  All this to fill in terrain shielded areas from their South Mountain transmitter some 50 miles away.

HD Radio opens up some interesting possibilities for Radio with some recent articles been written.  In these cases the term ‘Single Frequency Network’ or SFN is used.  For television, new technologies are opening the door for SFN’s.  Recent reports are that Sinclair and some others are about to build an SFN in the Dallas Area.  This all to validate the concept.  If this works, as some hope, it could make some major changes in the way TV is delivered to consumers – Everywhere.

How about a couple of TV memories?

In the category of look who is retiring – Don Imus is apparently hanging up his spurs.  Don has been a fixture in New York radio since 1971 and was widely seen on TV as well.  Don represents an inspiration for us older-types, working well past the point that many retire.  He’s 77.  And that is older than me (by a little).

The well-known feud between Pacific Lutheran University and their radio station, KPLU has been the subject of much press, and national attention.  It all started when the University decided to sell KPLU.  This effort backfired resulting in an uproar and a lot of negative press for the Parkland-based school.  Ultimately the station was purchased from PLU by the listeners and the call letters changed to KNKX.  Making this a bit more complicated is the fact that the station operates from a building owned by PLU from which they are making plans to move.

More recently another issue has come up.  The matter of funds left in wills by the station’s listeners.  Both parties claimed the money was theirs.  Near the end of January, a Court Commission ruled in favor of the radio station adding that the station, and not the former owners are entitled to the money, as well as any future funds that have been earmarked for KPLU.  Whereas this is not pocket-change, the matter may not be settled yet, as the University may well appeal.  The station is looking at a couple of options for relocating their operation, all in Tacoma.  Reports are they will maintain their Seattle operation as well.

Congratulations to Kent Randles of Entercom Portland on his promotion to Director of Technical Operations for the Rose City Cluster of radio stations where he has worked for a number of years.  Kent has been a longtime friend.

 

FM Translators have become a hot commodity in the Radio business, especially since the FCC started allowing them to be added to AM Radio stations.  The demand for these relatively low-powered FM add-ons has driven the price skyward.  Recently half a million dollars was paid for a 250 watt FM translator in Puerto Rico.  Doing the math, this price represents some $2,000 per watt.  Perhaps this is an indication of the recovery taking place there?

Looking for a job in Radio?  Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) has an opening.  Here is how their notice reads:

OPB is looking for someone with broadcast experience who embraces the ever-changing media landscape to lead the team responsible for the media creation pipeline at our network center in Portland and the RF distribution technology at our remote sites located between The Dalles and Astoria, OR.  For more information and instructions on how to apply, visit OPB’s careers page http://www.opb.org/about/jobs/.  OPB is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Here’s an item for Broadcasters in Washington State –

Question – Is your Washington State EAS Plan up-to-date?

In this State, the EAS plan is designed to occupy a 3-ring binder.  What’s unique about our Plan is that it is not just a single document, but rather a number of them, called Tab’s, addressing various aspects of EAS.  The State EAS Plan is constantly being updated with updates distributed via the WaState EAS Remailer, additionally, they are posted on the WaState Emergency Management Web Site.

To determine if your plan is up-to-date – all you have to do is check the latest Tab Index (Tab 31) Dated 1/26/18  and compare the release date for each Tab to the one you have in your binder.

Here is where you get connected –

The Washington State EAS Remailer – http://sea.sbe16.org/mailman/listinfo/eas-wa

The WEMD Web Site – https://www.mil.wa.gov/other-links/emergency-alert-system

Any and all questions about EAS in Washington State should be posted to the EAS Remailer.

Before I leave the topic – The next Meeting of the SECC (State EAS steering committee) will be March 13th at Clover Park Technical College.  You are welcome to participate in person or via conference bridge.  Full information for the meeting will be distributed on the EAS Remailer.

Many of my generation have come to learn that there are many ‘younger folks’ that don’t know how to tell time using an analog clock. (Seriously!)  Apparently this is not something that many youngsters are no longer taught in school (along with how to write in cursive).  The concept of the Big-Hand and Little-Hand is fading away.  The other day, while getting a medical check-up, a nurse whips out her smart phone and selects an app. having an analog clock, complete with second hand, and checks my pulse. Cool!  I have to admit that I have not warn a watch for several years.  I use my Smart Phone for time telling.  Thinking about my future years and those that have retired already….There is this option – The ONE-HAND WATCH.

Perfect for old folks that don’t need to count seconds and very reasonable for those that know how to read an analog clock, or Engineers that know how to read analog Meters.  For those of you that prefer, it comes in a 24 hour model as well.That’s it for this month- Looks like we can look forward to an early spring as trees in my neighborhood are getting leaves already, not mention the bulbs are sprouting and my grass needs cutting.    Better believe in climate change!!  It’s happening.

That’s it for this month- Looks like we can look forward to an early spring, as trees in my neighborhood are getting leaves already, not to mention the bulbs are sprouting and my grass needs cutting.  Better believe in climate change!!  It’s happening.

Lord willing, till next month, thanks for the read
Clay Freinwald. CPBE, K7CR etc.

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