Clay’s Corner for June 2021

 

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

Well, here we are at the mid-point of the year. Looking back, this first half has been anything but normal. Here’s a look at some of the events of this past month that caught my attention.

Mike Gilbert advised me that KEYG-AM has suffered major structural damage to its tower. Unfortunately, in light of the state of AM Radio, they have determined that this will be the end of KEYG. For those of you not familiar with this station, its licensed to Grand Coulee, WA and has been operating on 1490 since 1980. Their other station in the market, KEYG-FM will continue with programming coming from their KCSY studio in Wenatchee. Therefore, scratch another AM off the list.

Crego Hill (Southwest of Chehalis) is the home of several towers and broadcast operations. If you recall, I wrote about this site recently, citing it’s history as an old Air Force Radar Site. It’s a very unique structure. A self-supporting tower with a guyed tower on top. The time had come to replace the guy wires. That work was accomplished by Joe Harrington and crew on May 5th and 6th. This tower supports KCKA (TV) as well as KSWS operated by NWPB.

Steve Newsom reported that Jim Belsvig has joined KBTC in Tacoma as Assistant Chief Engineer. Previously Jim had been with KCPQ-TV in Seattle.

Here’s a trivia question for you –

What was the nickname for the engineers who created IBM’s first PC?

Answer – Dirty Dozen

The back story: IBM chose 12 of their best and brightest to create their first PC (personal computer) in 1980. The 12 engineers (dubbed the “Dirty Dozen”) worked on the project for two years, revolutionizing the PC with a smaller, less expensive, and easier-to-use model. The device was simply called the “IBM PC,” with an initial price point of $1,565.

Despite a term that is someone misleading if not inaccurate…the term ‘Digital AM’ appears to have stuck. This past month another AM has announced they will be making the switch…WFAS (Near NYC) will become ‘Digital AM 1230 HD: New Talk for New York’.  They’ve set the date of May 24th to make the flip.

This is what they are telling those that may wish to know –
“Broadcasting in digital will eliminate annoying static and interference, improve the sound quality to equal FM radio and streaming, and extend the range for clear reception.”

What is perhaps notable about this change is the fact that the station is owned by one of the biggest companies in Radio – Cumulus.

For those who have been hoping that we would be able to hear an HD only AM here in the PNW, you may not have to wait too long, as KXPD has advised the FCC this is what they want to do.

The station is licensed to Tigard, OR, a suburb of Portland. It operates with 2.2 kW Day and 200 watts at night, Non-Directional on 1040. According to the FCC’s records, the station does not have an FM Translator. I state this because smaller AM’s may well be operating an FM Translator that has decent coverage that listeners can, or perhaps have already, migrated to.

The Big Shoe to fall will be when a 50,000 Watt AM jumps into this arena. Time will tell.

Speaking of which – Andy Skotdal emailed me recently on this topic. As you may know, he is involved with KRKO and KKXA in Everett and has some unique experiences in this area. Here’s what he wrote:

The last time I spoke with Joe D’Angelo was six months ago and the in car digital penetration in Seattle was still about the same as a couple years ago ~22%.  Most big markets are similar. And, still no portable AM digital radios, and there may never be portable AM digital radios.

So, with that as a backdrop, I’m very grateful to those who are starting to make the all-digital lift. Taking under performing signals and making one of them an all digital music format will be the only way to improve in-dash penetration over time.

I’d prefer to be running MA-1 again for now, and if we can see receiver penetration increase to 40+% then with the stream and the translators (even though they aren’t great), I could see us going to MA-3. Alternately, we talk about going to one format, and then simulcasting AMs with a waiver, if needed, one in MA-3, the other analog, and trying to push everyone to the MA-3 until we can transition the other signal.

It may be too little, too late.  We won’t know for many more years.

Has it really been 50 years? I received this from Joey Cohn, GM at KNKX on May 3rd:

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the very first National Public Radio broadcast. All Things Considered debuted on Monday, May 3, 1971. Among other things, the fledgling news program covered Vietnam War protests that were happening in Washington D.C. that same day.

With the reopening of the economy, we are seeing a lot of interest in deal making. For instance, in the world of Broadcasting – Gray Television announced a $2.7 billion deal to buy 17 stations in 12 markets from Meredith. Yeah – 2.7 with a ‘B’. Not small change. Understand that two stations in PDX will be involved – KPTV and KPDX.

The local housing market is an example of this pent-up demand. According to Zillow the value of my house has increased by 70K in the past 60 days. A house down the street from me sold in a matter of days from being listed for 70K more than the listing price. I found it interesting in chatting with them recently. They told me (with a roll of the eyes) they moved to Auburn – from – Seattle.

There have been a lot of rumors flying about regarding the impact of the Pandemic and/or Social issues on Seattle. Some have people running for the exits, while others paint a different picture. Gene Balk, writing in the Seattle Times, dug into the matter. Here are some of his findings:

> New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020, Seattle’s population increased by about 16,400, hitting a total of 769,700. That pencils out to a growth rate of 2.2% last year.

> And that means that among the 50 biggest U.S. cities, Seattle is  No. 1 for growth in 2020.

> Last year’s 2.2% actually beat out the rate of growth between 2018 and 2019, which was 1.4%.

> Only one place in Washington, among those with at least 60,000 people, grew faster than Seattle last year. Kirkland had a 2.6% growth rate in 2020, and its population is now 95,400.

> The Census Bureau data doesn’t include any of the components of population change. In other words, we can’t see how much of Seattle’s growth was due to in-migration vs. out-migration, and we don’t know how many moved to the city from within Washington, from other states, or from other countries. The data also doesn’t show “natural growth” numbers — births vs. deaths.

One thing that’s impacting all of us is the shortage of housing and the cost of building materials. Helping fuel some of this is the fact that the Pandemic caused a number of lumber mills to close. The result is that the price of wood building materials have skyrocketed. I heard a story recently of a party that had agreed to a purchase price for a new home, who was told by the builder that he would need an additional $100,000 to build it! Here’s an interesting piece from the Wall Street Journal that explains a lot of this –

The Housing Market Is Crazier Than It’s Been Since 2006 – WSJ

Meanwhile, Zillow reports that over half of the homes sold in Seattle recently sold for over their asking price.

Here’s another one from one of those sites. This one from GOBankingRates. The question was ‘How much to you have to earn to be in the top 5% in each state? Those in the top 5% are considered to be ‘rich’. In Washington State you would have to earn $457,171 per year. Consider the fact that the ‘average’ income for the entire state is $105,775, you would need over a four times the income. I wonder if anyone in broadcasting in this area makes over $450,000?

In the event you think the Seattle area is an expensive place to live…you are right. According to a recent survey this is the sixth most expensive place to live in the U.S. Housing prices are now, reportedly, 113% higher than the national average. Makes you wonder when a person is offered a job here if they do check out these costs and adjust their salary demands accordingly.

If you are wondering where those who are leaving this area are going, checkout:

Where people in Seattle are moving to most | Stacker

Here are some interesting  facts associated with area names:

What former great retailers, past and present, have their products carrying the name of local communities, both starting with the letter ‘K’?

Answer – Sears with Kenmore and Costco with Kirkland.

What former automobile maker shared the name with the King County community that used to be called Slaughter?

Answer – Auburn.

And, if you did not get either of these, an easy one:

What is the name of the best selling mid-sized pickup truck that shares it’s name with the 3rd largest city in Washington State?

Answer – Toyota Tacoma

In the event you are thinking the Toyota Pickup truck was named after the Puget Sound area city, well, perhaps not, considering there are a number of places named Tacoma. In addition to the Tacoma in Washington (the biggest one of the bunch), there are Tacomas in Virginia, Ohio, New York, Maine, Florida and Colorado, and even one in Bolivia (South America).

The only other Tacoma I’ve been in, is in Colorado. It’s located North of Durango in the beautiful Animas Valley, at an elevation of 7,296 feet near Electra Lake. The whole area from Ouray to Durango is incredible. It should be a ‘must’ on  your bucket list! And it’s only a short 19 hour drive from Seattle 😊

We have a new Chief in town. Josh Harstad is the new Chief at Bonneville Radio’s KIRO AM & FM and KTTH. Here’s a picture I shot of him in front of the KIRO-FM Transmitter at West Tiger Mt.

On the Covid Front there is a lot of news.

> The BAD NEWS – On May 26, it was reported that we have had over 432,000 Coronavirus cases in Washington State, so far.

> The GOOD NEWS – Just over 41% of our residents are fully vaccinated.

> The BAD NEWS – We need to get to at least 70%.

Most of it good, as it appears the Vaccines are doing what they are supposed to do with the pandemic in retreat. As a result, the restrictions are being eliminated and things are edging toward what we call the ‘new normal’. This is, of course, all conditional. Should the number of cases and hospitalizations increase, we could find ourselves in reverse.

The understanding is that 70% of us need to be vaccinated. The problem with that goal is there remain a number of people (including my next-door neighbor) that will not get their shots. It was announced on May 24th that 40.75% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated…and we are not there yet. The question is how to deal with those that are against getting their shots. Unfortunately, what should be a clear – medical message – has been clouded by the political aspects of this pandemic. I guess I would never let a politician replace my Doctor…but…it’s happening!

According to a recent survey, 80% of those who say they won’t get vaccinated also say that there is nothing that can change their minds. So how do we get 30% more to get their shots? Apparently the old ‘Dangle the Carrot’ is being tried.

As I predicted in this column many months ago, we may reach the point where there will need to be incentives for those who are on the ‘vaccination fence’. To get there, we are hearing a variety of techniques being employed.

> Oregon has a $1 million drawing as an incentive for those residents over 18, in addition to 36 $10,000 prizes, with a winner in each county. Those ages 12-17 will have a chance to win one of five $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan scholarships.
> New York is giving a lottery scratch ticket.
> Maryland has announced an incentive lottery too.
> New Jersey has a lower cost incentive. Those who get vaccinated will get a free beer.
> Ohio is using a $1,000,000 lottery.
> And the list goes on.

The question is – do these incentives work? The answer appears to be yes.  In Ohio, their lottery, cleverly called ‘Vax-a-Million’ has, reportedly, resulted in a 28% increase in vaccinations. Time will tell if this method works. In addition to state governments offering incentives, many employers are doing it too. Perhaps I should ask my anti-vax neighbor how much money would it take for them to change their mind?

Another way to get the percentages up – vaccinate younger people. That’s happening too. U-Dub and WSU have announced that if you want to attend, you need your shots.

In the meantime, the Mask Rules are changing rapidly. On the 24th of the month, I visited a Costco and a Fred Meyer store. Everyone was still wearing them. Many are saying that until we reach that 70% mark, wearing masks inside and in public spaces is required.

As pointed out, we had very little flu this past winter. The reason cited was the precautions taken by people to avoid the Coronavirus also worked very well in keeping them from catching that ‘bug’. It’s been suggested that, come flu season, not only should you obtain a vaccination, but consider social distancing, washing your hands, and…wearing a mask.

On the personal side – One aspect of this Pandemic that has really got to me is the politicization. I fully understand there have always been some that object to getting vaccinations of any kind for any number of reasons. In the case of the vaccinations for COVID-19, I would expect some of the legacy reasons for not getting vaccinated to prevail. However, we now have a relatively new element injected into the mix – Politics. Recent surveys have concluded that those who are ‘Antivaxers’ (Perhaps a new word for the dictionaries?) also align themselves with a particular political party. On Page 81 of Scientific American there is a piece written by Naomi Oreskes titled ‘Do Republicans Mistrust Science’. Her piece is not a typical letter to the editor. She is a Professor at Harvard and author of a book titled ‘Why Trust Science’. Allow me to quote her last paragraph entirely.

Everyone deserves accurate information to be presented in an apolitical way and to be addressed with respect and not condescension. But the reality is that most of the science that matters most comes from government or from scientists funded by the government. Until Republican leaders stop telling voters not to trust the government, many of them won’t trust science.

A good piece, I encourage you to read it.

In some other countries, things are much worse. The big question, with Broadcasting related issues, will there be Olympic Games in Tokyo this year? A lot of advertising revenue is hanging in the balance.

Did you ever dream that the little On-Line book seller with the funky name (Amazon) would have grown into what it is today? Did you ever dream Amazon would purchase MGM for 8.45 Billion to become even a bigger player in producing TV programming? This list goes on.

I recently received word that long-time broadcast engineer Dave Hebert passed on June 17th. I got to know Dave back in, about, 1970, when he was chief at KXRO in Aberdeen. (I was at KMO at the time) Dave moved on to Tri-Cities where he worked at (if I recall correctly) KONA and perhaps other stations in that area. I understand that, in recent years, he was in poor health. Dave was also a ham with the call sign WA7YKV. Looking up his call in QRZ I found:

> Originally licensed as WN7YKV in February, 1974, while living in Aberdeen, Washington. In July, 1974, upgraded to Advanced Class. Moved to Tri-Cities, Washington, in February, 1976. Upgraded to Amateur Extra Class in March, 1979.
> Past president of the Grays Harbor Amateur Radio Club, and the Tri-Cities Amateur Radio Club.
> Taught classes in Amateur Radio theory at Columbia Basin Jr. College from 1977 to 1978.
> Life member of the ARRL since 1979. Member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers since 1976.
> Became involved in Broadcast Engineering in 1966. In 1997 moved to Dallas, Texas, to work in AM transmitter test at Continental Electronics.
> Married Judy Turner in 1989, who’s callsign is now N7PGJ.

Thanks to Michael Gilbert for passing on the information.

We all know about ‘Climate Change’. A recent story ran about how the National Weather Service has reviewed the last 10 years in our area and has concluded that our climate has indeed changed in a couple of ways.
1 – It’s getting Warmer
2 – It’s getting Wetter.

In local Translator News:

> 92.1 in Tacoma that used to be affiliated with the long/dark 1480 AM in Lakewood is now running the same programming as KMIA/1210 in Auburn. Check out (20+) Radio Amor | Facebook.

In what might be termed a unique-twist:

> The 102.1 Translator (antenna located on the KMIA AM Tower in Auburn) is back on the air re-broadcasting KOMO-FM 97.7.

OK – I fall for it all the time – if for no other reason that I want to know what others think of the area that I call home. In this case, the headline read:

The Most Beautiful Places in All 50 States

 

 

The picture was taken from one of my favorite locations – Chinook Pass looking over Tipsoo Lake at Mt. Rainier. They went on to recommend the hike around Natches Peak. Boy it did score points with me on this one. This is a hike I’ve taken many times over the years. Let me add some recommendations.

Park your vehicle along SR-410 on the west side of the pass. Your hike will begin along the side of the lake and over the log bridge at the summit of the pass. (You want to be sure and go this way). The Trail will take you around Natches Peak in a ‘clockwise’ direction. As you get to the south side of the peak, suddenly you are looking straight at Mt. Rainier for the rest of the way. To your left, looking south, you will be able to see Dewey Lake along the PCT. At the high point, to your right, is a wonderful little tarn that makes a perfect place to break out that picnic lunch. The trail continues around the peak to SR-410 to your car. This is a perfect place to bring friends from out of state that have never been to the PNW. They will be hooked!

You may wish to do this on a weekday, as the place is very populated on weekends. Be sure to put this one on your bucket list.

Here are some links with additional pictures:

Naches Peak Loop Trail – Washington | AllTrails

Naches Peak Loop — Washington Trails Association (wta.org)

Obviously you want to visit the Chinook Pass during daylight hours. However, coming up on August 11th is a significant reason to visit the Pass after dark to view the Perseid meteor showers. (Yes, I’ve done this several times.)

You want to arrange to get there just before dark so you can see to pick out your viewing location. It will likely be warm, however a jacket is recommended along with a thermos of your favorite keep-warm liquid. A late picnic dinner works too.  You will want to bring along an old fashioned lawn-chair (The kind you can almost lay down in) or perhaps a cot. I’ve usually found a nice place on the North side of the Log Bridge, on the hill above Tipsoo Lake. Bring some friends as they will enjoy it too. Children over 10 or 12 will remember it for sure.

Lay back just as it really gets dark and enjoy the show. You will likely be able to see over 50 meteors an hour. You will also be able to spot what appears to be a steady stream of satellites in polar orbit scooting across the shy. The Milky Way will be clearly visible as it rotates overhead. The Moon is projected to be at about 13% so it should not be an issue, perhaps providing just enough light to illuminate Mt. Rainier.

In years past, I’ve been amazed by the number of people who travel to this wonderful location from Seattle and Yakima for the same reasons. If you go, do let me know how you enjoyed it.

The world has been waiting to see who, or what, was going to occupy the time slot once occupied by Rush Limbaugh (9 a.m. to noon in Seattle). The answer came down the last week in May, with Premiere Networks announcing that Rush, and those who have been filling in since his passing, would be replaced with, not one, but two hosts, Clay Travis and Buck Sexton. Apparently, the local outlet for Rush, 770AM/KTTH, elected to go a different route, putting Dan Bongino in that time slot. It will be interesting to see how this works out and who might pick up Clay and Buck in this area.

I find this interesting because Mr. Travis and I share the name ‘Clay’…not the most common name out there.

Acronyms are always interesting. Government’s love them, and so do engineers!

Jerry Olson in Spokane recently joked about TLA’s (Three-Letter Acronyms) submitting there was a shortage of letters so we were moving to ETLA’s (Enhanced Three Letter Acronyms) . I recently used one of my favorites – SPOF (Single Point of Failures). From that came the suggestion there should be MPOF’s (Multiple Points of Failure).

A recent thread on a national remailer popular with Radio Broadcast Engineers drifted to how our telephone system was not as reliable as it used to be. One of the lists frequent contributors contributed the following:

One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingy, three…TELCO was once required to provide 911 service and to this end the “telephone” needed to be immune from power outages. It isn’t anymore. No power, no phone.

The old phone company–yeah there were pros and cons. The downsides were the stuff of jokes. I remember an episode of Get Smart when Max Smart confronted a Kaos agent who had just cut a phone cord, “You have a much bigger problem now than Control; now you have to deal with AT&T.”

I remember being at a party around 1992 and an AT&T executive was there and the conversation turned into the DoJ breakup of the Bell System. I remember him saying, “Yes it was a monopoly, but it was a benevolent monopoly.” We’ll never know how we’d be communicating today had the Carter Administration left Ma Bell alone 40 years ago, but back then I never heard anyone complain about telephone cost or service. I came to regard Bell Tel Co as a sort of national communications utility, similar to the way I see McDonald’s as the U.S. Dept. of Hamburgers.

The Bell System operating units, AT&T, Western Electric and Bell Labs, all produced a telephone system that was second to none. I remember being in S. Korea in the 1970s and trying to place in-country phone calls. It would take hours. Here, you could direct dial from N.Y. to Hawaii. The reason for the reliability was that the phone company owned everything right up to the handset at your head. Everything was made to be bomb proof, literally in the case of the concrete microwave relay towers, which had walls two feet thick. The breakup ended Bell Labs eventually, which was a Nobel Prize factory, and Western Electric, which manufactured some of the best audio gear in the last century.

PICTURE TIME !!!!! Once again, the Earth’s wobble means that Dwight Small is able to enjoy sunsets at the west end of his ‘backyard’. The poor guy, for the past few years, has been subjected to clear air, no traffic jams, riots, and a view like this.  😊

Suddenly we have job openings in Radio.

OPB is hiring two positions for our Bend shop – a Chief Engineer and a Maintenance Engineer.

For those of you who know Max Culbertson, our current Chief, he’s announced that he’s ready to retire by next summer. We are hiring his successor now to give plenty of time for knowledge transfer about the 34 sites he maintains in Central and Eastern Oregon.

The Engineer position will report to the Chief and will help round out that team. As I’m sure many of you are aware, there aren’t a ton of Broadcast Engineers out there, so we are considering candidates with experience in fields that have parallel technologies. If you know someone who enjoys working on mountaintops and has done microwave, two-way, cell, radar, or military weapons systems, please encourage them to apply.

You can read more about both jobs at the link below.

https://workforcenow.adp.com/mascsr/default/mdf/recruitment/recruitment.html?cid=57277703-45c0-4e1a-8db6-3bfa4b30f628&ccId=9200063795075_2&lang=en_US

Jonathan Newsome | Director of Engineering

Please note updated address:

OPB | 7140 S Macadam Avenue | Portland, OR 97219 | (503) 293-1952

Meanwhile, John McDaniel has announced that he is going to retire around the first of September. This creates a job opening with WSU’s NWPB which I have worked with for the past 11 years. The job will be based in Tri-Cities. If you are interested, or know someone who might be, give me a call or shoot me an email. The job opening will be officially posted soon.

I guess it’s official – NAB has announced that registration is open for the Oct. 9 to 13th show in Las Vegas. This is even hard to write after all these years writing about the ‘Spring Show’.

The FCC recently put out a notice with this headline:

FCC DEMANDS TWO MORE COMPANIES IMMEDIATELY STOP FACILITATING ILLEGAL ROBOCALL CAMPAIGNS

You can read it yourself here. DOC-372543A1.pdf (fcc.gov)

Frankly, I have a wait and see attitude about this. For some reason I wonder if this is all bluster and no action, similar to the FCC’s efforts to stop Pirate Radio?

Nielsen reports that 10% of radio audiences use digital streaming to listen, double the rate that did so a year ago. “Share of Ear” data indicates that streaming audiences account for 13% of radio listeners between 18 and 34 and 11% of those between 35 and 64.

Looking at the latest Radio Ratings for Seattle-Tacoma:

> KISW has claimed the #1 spot
> KIRO-FM is right behind at #2
> For reasons that are hard to explain, little KEXP is holding on to the #3 position.
> News Talk, KUOW is #4

Just for fun – I decided to look at how Seattle and Portland might differ in terms of ratings and format. Here’s a table, looking at the top 15 stations, that does a comparison. I used the top 15 ranked stations in Seattle and compared the rank of the same listed format to Portland.

Can you draw conclusions from this? Perhaps….Maybe not.

Certainly there are many stations rated below #15. Likely every format can be heard in both cities. It’s just that some of them are more popular in one place than the other.

One more thing – the population, according to Nielsen, for those over six looks like this:

Seattle Tacoma (Market #12) – 4,042,000
Portland  (Market # 22) – 2,428,000

More on how various magazines rate things in our State –

Woman’s Day ranked the most beautiful small town in every state. For Washington, Friday Harbor got #1 here. Interesting choice considering you have to take a ferry to get there.

Town & Country rated the 60 most scenic drives in America. Here we claimed two of the 60.

> The first one is the 440 mile “Cascade-Loop”. From Everett you would go north on I-5, east on SR20, then south to Wenatchee and west on US-2 (of course you can travel the loop in the other direction).

> The second is the 330 Mile ‘Olympic Peninsula Loop’. Good Starting Point would be Olympia following US-101

As the economy shakes off the pandemic, we will be seeing more deal-making in Radio. Certainly not as large as recent TV deals, however. Here in our state, a deal was recently announced that will see the sale of two stations and a translator in Spokane. In this case, 104.5/KHNK and 1300/KYOZ and its translator on 95.7 are going to the owners of stations in Walla Walla. $395,000 was the announced price.

Since 2010 I have been driving a Barcelona Red Toyota Tacoma Pickup. Nick Winter and I both purchased 2018 models. Later the Chief Engineer at Bonneville Seattle got one. Recently the ‘club’ was enlarged once again with Jeff White joining in. What are the odds we’d all be driving the same make and color vehicle? If you don’t know what Barcelona Red looks like, here’s a picture of my ‘Taco’:

During our weekly WSU/NWPB Engineering Zoom Meeting I used a word to describe an upcoming planning trip to a mountain top in Eastern Washington, where I will be installing a different transmitter. I chose to use the word – Reconnoiter. I immediately saw a number of funny expressions. Much to my surprise no one on the call knew the word.

In the event this word is new to you too…here is what I could find online:

Reconnoiter is to conduct a military mission to observe something or someone or to find something out. (intransitive, military) To perform a reconnaissance (of an area; an enemy position); to scout with the aim of gaining information. Our scout will reconnoiter the path ahead of our troops. To examine or survey (a region, area, etc.) for engineering, geological, or other purposes.

OTHER WORDS FOR RECONNOITER

inspect
The definition of inspect is to carefully look over someone or something, especially to determine if minimum criteria or standards are met.

survey
To conduct a statistical survey on.

examine (related)
To test by carefully questioning in order to find out the knowledge, skill, qualifications, etc. of (a student, witness, job applicant, etc.)

explore
Explore is defined as to search, investigate or travel in.

inquire
To seek information about

look

For a bit of fun….Use Reconnoiter in a memo or email and then hide and watch for a reaction.

Electric Vehicles are certainly becoming increasingly popular. The changeover is not always a smooth one as the following pictures will show:

A generator, using fossil fuel, powering an electric vehicle charging station.

This one speaks for itself.

 

 

Who do you call when you are out of electrons? AAA perhaps?

That’s about it for this month, my friends. Lord willing, I will be back next month at most of the usual locations.

Until then, get your shots and stay safe.

Do try and be nice to those who refuse to get vaccinated.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
A SBE Fellow
SBE Member # 714
Since March 1968

 

The KE0VH Hamshack for May 2021

 

Starting off this months newsletter with a picture of my son William KCØYPJ then, in June of 2007 (see the article at: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/oldnews/0907news.php ) and talking on my then VX-5 handheld back to his sister Emily KC0YYG on a hike to the top of Grays Peak west of Denver. My kids since then have really given up ham radio, but we have some cool memories of the time when as my wife homeschooled our kids part of that was getting a ham license.

William is since grown and a homeowner and adult living his life as a bassist musician and is teaching others and performing in bands around the metro area and is doing life wonderfully! I am very proud of him these days, finding this picture recently and wanted to include it in the “Hamshack”!

And another picture, which I made into a QSL card!

Myself, my sons William & Levi, my father-in-law Bill, and nephew Michael, on the top of Grays Peak.

One of my projects this month is to get the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 ready for great rides over the summer. I have really wanted to incorporate ham radio along, also APRS so I can beacon my position out for my wife and those who might want to follow along, especially on longer day trips and more. So last month I wrote about how I was going to mount the system on the motorcycle, and now I have been able to prove out my headset Bluetooth link to both the FT3D handheld and the FTM-400. I purchased the Yaesu BU-2 bluetooth module for the FTM-400, and installation into the radio with the already integrated Bluetooth connector took less than 5 minutes, and then the headset and FTM-400 paired right up much easier than anticipated. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube on how to do this, so I will not go into those details here. The headset had paired with the FT3D just as easily in a preliminary test and I had used it on a ride one Saturday afternoon talking to several of the folks on the SkyHubLink system thru the 448.350 Fusion repeater.

Motorcycle helmet headset connected to the FT3D before the ride.

And then paired to the FTM-400, where then I made a couple of contacts thru the 448.350 repeater for testing.

Reports were great!

 

Note the Bluetooth symbol on the FTM-400 display.

To protect the control cable from the display and where it was mounted on the handlebars to the saddlebag, I installed a section of cable tubing. It was easy to find a route for it down and under the fuel tank, into the middle area and out to where it will attach using a small electrical wiring passthrough into the saddlebag for connection to the radio.

Cable protective tubing running from the handlebars to the back of the motorcycle for the control head

 

The new Colorado Springs Fusion Wires-X repeater to be located at the KRDO TV studios downtown will hopefully be online by the time you read this. Daniel KFØDZG, the chief engineer for the station will be installing it and getting all ready to go as seen here in these pictures. The repeater will be on the frequency of 447.425 and will be locked to DN (Digital Narrow) and will homeroom on Wires-X SkyHubLink room 46361. With the other SkyHubLink Wires-X repeaters on air now from Bakulite Mesa (447.900), Cedar Point near Limon (447.650), and Hugo (447.150) Colorado Springs and the surrounding area should be completely covered by SkyHubLink Fusion Wires-X. All are fully Wires-X steerable and can be used on the Yaesu Wires-X repeater linking system https://www.yaesu.com/jp/en/wires-x/index.php. You can check a listing of Wires-X repeaters online now at this site: https://www.yaesu.com/jp/en/wires-x/id/id_usa.php.

Daniel KFØDZG, Chief Engineer for KRDO Radio and TV with the boxes of gear to install, and the rack that will be the new home of the KDØSBN SkyHubLink 447.425 repeater

One of the control rooms of KRDO-TV and other affiliates that it feeds with television signals.

 

The Colorado Springs repeater getting setup on my workbench. Ready for install and tested.

 Another project I worked on this month was to have a backup battery supply for the Yaesu FT-991A when the power goes out. I wanted it to be switchable from the main PS to the battery with ease at the operating position. This project incorporated the use of two manual switches to route power to the Rigrunner 4008 power distribution box from the main station power supply and the battery bank backup. That battery bank has four 7 mah batteries in parallel to provide the 12 volts for the radio, which allows me to have about 8 hours or so of operating time (with 5 watts out to the 448.350 repeater in tests) in case of Xcel failure. The switches are standard DPDT mounted in an electrical box from Homey Depot and wired into the system as seen below. I have standardized all my radio power connections with Anderson Power poles, continuing the scheme with this project.

Switches wired up with Anderson Power Pole connectors and the housing box.


The box mounted and with the wiring in place, and the switch configuration powering the radio from the battery.

 

And another project regarding converting computer and server power supplies to power our ham radios. This one involves a HP model DPS-750RB A supply that I salvaged out of an old Dell server that was discarded. The PS is capable of 12 volts at 62.5 amps! I looked it up and sure enough it is easy to get running to power a mobile or with that amount of current available power a 100 watts HF rig! There are several YouTube videos available to do the conversion and make the PS go up in voltage. I used a 22 kohm resistor as prescribed by the video I saw and with the small adjustment pot adjusted the voltage to 13.8 volts. I tested the supply with the FTM-400 on the workbench and it ran the radio very well at 50 watts. These power supplies have been tested to be low noise even with an HF rig, so it is a great alternative power supply in a pretty small package. You could add a power switch, metering, and whatever power plug design you need for your particular setup. As mentioned before, I really like the versatility and safety the Anderson power poles give. If you need any information on these, shoot me an email!

The HP DPS-750RB A Power supply at the beginning of the modification process. Note the jumper that turns the PS ON

The 22 Kohm resistor connection points on the side circuit board. The bottom is the 4th from the right in this row of points. The pot at the top connector point is tapped at the left hand contact point, then adjusted for 13.8 volts.

Heat shrunk and insulated against shorts.

 

Initial test running the FTM-400 and later with a power indicating BRIGHT WHITE LED, with a full up transmit test talking Tom KD4DT and Tony EI7BMB on the SkyHubLink below!

Details on how to modify this are at: https://makenotes.de/2020/04/turning-on-a-hp-dps-750rb-server-power-supply/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQwuC1_SIbE

On the Monday night 5/17 SkyHubLink NET we talked about our mobile installations, radios, wiring, etc. I thought that this month I would feature a couple of other installs in addition to the motorcycle setup I described earlier. The first is our good friend Tom KD4DT and his FTM-300 setup in his vehicle. Tom did an excellent job of his install, making the radio come in and go out between his two vehicles, taking only about 3 minutes to move from one to the other.

Toms’ setup with the FTM-300 in vehicle number 1, then 3 minutes later,

Setup in vehicle #2!

Part of the reasons Tom can move the radio’s so efficiently and quickly:

Modular design and two sets of cables mounted in each car.

 

And our friend Steve KDØSBN in Pueblo has a neat install in his Ford truck, an FTM-300 and FTM-400. He uses one for direct on air to repeater comms, and the other for use as a mobile node radio.

Looking for a Raspberry Pi case, how about this that Mark NØXRX printed up from a file on the internet!

This Pi will also be serving one of our node radios here soon on SkyHubLink! More details on that soon!

************************************************************************************************* By the way, as of this writing, we are looking to have the Pilot Hill Laramie/Cheyenne repeater on the air soon, new coordinated frequency is 447.400. Fully Wires-X capable and home-roomed on SkyHubLink 46361. Pictures of the install and more information will be in next month’s newsletter!

AND, at one of our radio sites in Colorado!

 


Our good friend Lou Moyer from Rhode and Schwartz transmitters, and Chris KK6QCP
working on transmitter modules in the field at the site. These liquid cooled transmitters are amazing and have solved a lot of issues for high altitude transmitting. Lou and Chris are doing an upgrade of the heat sink and power supply bus in one of the modules, 6 of them to make around 28 kw. These are liquid cooled, and the system is really ingenious! I hope to do a full write up on this system in a future “Hamshack” article.

And here is the KE0VH Hamshack you see in the lead picture in “Flight Sim” mode, using X-plane 11 and the Zibo 737- 800 at 35000 feet on the way to Denver from Albuquerque. And yes, I was talking on the 448.350 repeater on SkyHubLink during this flight, combining ham radio and virtual flying. WAY TOO MUCH FUN AND COOL!

AND we have 3 new repeaters on the air on SkyHubLink on the eastern plains covering along I- 70 east of Denver and Colorado Springs bringing much needed coverage and communications out in the “hinterlands” east of the front range. This will also bring top notch severe weather information to this area via SkyHubLink as Daryl W3ORR and Matt KØLWC are on air with the Colorado Severe Weather Watch Net (www.coloradosevereweather.net) on the system.

Thanks so much to Bill KDØOXW in Limon for this addition to the system. We are looking forward to welcoming all out on the plains to amateur communications with the rest of the state and travelers along I-70. With this edition we are pretty much covered from almost Kansas to Utah on I-70, and Wyoming to New Mexico along I-25. See the skyhublink.com/repeaters for more information.

 

And the perfect wine for the amateur radio operator!

And finally!

I CAN RELATE!!!!!!!!!

 

 

HAMSHACK ARCHIVES FILES

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

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

7 Years AGO: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/05/

 

Click HERE TO CHECK OUT the latest BDR.net articles at: https://www.thebdr.net/articles/thisweek.html

May 2021 – Clay’s Corner

 

 

May 2021 – Clay’s Corner

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

 

The middle of April we received what I often call our ‘April Teaser’, a long period of warm and wonderful weather. In this case, featuring temperatures that were 20 degrees above normal. Just enough wonderful weather to make many feel that summer has indeed arrived. Just to re-enforce the notion, there was a wildfire near Black Diamond, east of Auburn. This is just a ‘sampler’ to help us forget the days of overcast and wet. This time around we did set some records for the two-week long April dry-spell. Remember, in this area, summer often will begin after the heavy rain on the 4th of July.

Make it three AM’s that are making their move to all digital broadcasting. The latest to make the change will be WFAS located in White Plains, north of NYC which has announced that starting on May 24 their AM will become Digital.

“Once WFAS has switched to an all-digital operation, only radios equipped with HD radio technology will be able to receive and play the station programming.“ WFAS explains to listeners in a posting on its website, “WFAS will no longer be available on analog-only AM radios. Broadcasting in digital will eliminate annoying static and interference, improve the sound quality to equal FM radio and streaming and extends the range for clear reception.”

What makes this situation a bit unique is that WFAS does not have a companion FM Translator so that listeners with ‘conventional’ AM/FM radios can continue to listen. Their on-line stream will continue as usual.

Prior to this change, WMGG in Tampa-St. Petersburg made the switch, back in January of this year. Here, the former AM station is simulcast on an FM frequency in addition to having a translator on the former AM. Word is now that another AM in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market is about to switch also.

Prior to these changes, the only Digital-only signal on the AM Band has been Hubbard Radio’s WWFD in Frederick, MD.

I have to admit that I’m a bit frustrated by those who insist on calling this – ‘Digital AM’. I have a couple of gripes:

#1 – We need to come up with a universally agreed label for these AM stations that switch to all-digital to avoid further confusing listeners. Whereas many new HD receivers can receive them, perhaps a station making the switch would change from KRUD-AM to KRUD-HD? Perhaps a more correct term would be Digital Medium Wave or DMW, but that violates the ‘2-letter’ designation rule (AM, FM, HD, XM, TV etc.)

#2 – There are those who refer to the process of changing from AM to Digital as a ‘chicken and egg problem’, saying that you must have demand before it would be worth building.

If you have been in this business as long as I have (60 years on August 1 of this year) you will recall the VERY SAME argument used for FM.

I was the engineer of a station back in 1966 and tried and tried to convince the owner of the station to get an FM frequency (back when you could). He had the same argument. As years went by, he – FINALLY – came to understand after it was too late for him to afford to buy one. He ended up selling his AM station for a fraction of what FM’s were going for.

History is full of examples of this argument. We have one of them operating here in this area. Major retailers were convinced that selling things on-line was fine for that little book store in Seattle but not for them. It appears that Amazon was right and they were very very wrong!

Those who are willing to chart new territory (with their money) should be applauded for their courage and foresight. Where would we be if every new product had to wait for ‘demand’ before investing in the future?

From Kent Randles in Portland, we recently learned that 1330 KKPZ, Portland has filed for Silent Special Temporary Authority – looking for a buyer. Perhaps another indication of the health of AM Radio? KKPZ operates with 5,000 watts full-time and has good coverage of the entire Portland/ Vancouver area. Yes, the station also has an FM translator.

On the personal side, I remember listening to 1330 when I was a kid in PDX. In those days the call letters were KPOJ, which stood for the Portland Oregon Journal, a daily newspaper back then. The station has a rich history going back to when it signed on in September of 1925. One of its early call letters was KALE which you will find on old radios from that era. The call letters, KALE, later showed up in Tri-Cities.

Perhaps someone will purchase this historic station and put it back on the air running Digital?

https://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101825618&formid=910&fac_num=4113

The U.S. Supreme Court backed the FCC allowing relaxed rules regarding media ownership limits. Now we will have to wait and see what this means in terms of acquisitions, mergers etc. This change also impacts long standing rules regarding common ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations. Considering the present state of print media these days, I don’t see this as having a big impact.

If you are old enough, you remember when Color TV came along. Back in those days, about the only way to receive TV was via an antenna. Yes, there was TV before Cable and Satellite!

The makers of antennas jumped all over this opportunity to sell the masses new antennas implying that you needed a new antenna to get proper Color TV.

Well….Guess what? It’s happening again, this time with HD Radio. Winegard, perhaps sensing that this HD Radio thing might be something they should incorporate in their marketing, are doing so with a new model. I copied this from the Amazon site recently. Technically, it’s a pair of crossed dipoles. You can have one for about 30 Bucks.

Winegard HD-6010 HD FM Radio Antenna

No….You don’t need a special antenna to receive HD Radio…😊

Look closely and you will notice that the connection appears to be balanced. Perhaps they expect you to use ‘Twin-Lead’ …or perhaps a balun and coaxial cable?

 

SAY GOODBYE TO ENTERCOM

 

 

AND HELLO TO AUDACY

If this news item had been released a day later, I would have suspected it was a spoof. However, on March 30th it was announced that Entercom is rebranding itself as ‘Audacy’. If nothing else, such a change will attract some media attention. The firms that supply business cards and letterhead will be pleased. David Field, the President and CEO of the firm said this about the change:

“We have transformed into a fundamentally different and dramatically enhanced organization and so it is time to embrace a new name and brand identity which better reflects who we have become and our vision for the future.”

For a long time we have referred to the company by its ‘Ticker Symbol’ – ETM. That too will be changing to ‘AUD’. I’m sure that many will feel this is an ‘odd’ move. (Sorry, could not resist.)

Others have commented that they had the ‘audacity’ to make the change.

While on the topic – Entercom….uh…Audacy, has an opening for a Staff Engineer in San Francisco where they have a seven station cluster. For more info:

https://entercom.avature.net/careers/JobDetail/Staff-Engineer/15650

I sent a note to the local Chief, Phil VanLiew asking if this changed his email address as well…
Yup ! – That is correct: phil.vanliew@audacy.com

At least for awhile, there is more than one Audacy. If you Google it, you will come back with:

> Audacy Wireless Controls – Intelligent Lighting – Products (creelighting.com)
> Audacy – Crunchbase Company Profile & Funding
> Audacy – Spaceflight
> Working at Audacy | Glassdoor

Apparently having several different users of the same name is not an issue. Betcha that would not be the case with names like – Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft etc.

If you just Google Audacy to see what it means you get – Audacity.

There are a lot of things these days that share names. For instance: If you went into a pet store and asked for a KONG, they would know exactly what you wanted. Perhaps never giving a thought that KONG are call letters for a Seattle TV Station.

 

In last month’s column I wrote about how the ubiquitous XLR connector was introduced before Pin 1 had become the standard for Ground. This quickly generated interest in the form of the following email:

I was just reading your column. Did you know that, on XLR’s, pin 1 is longer on the female, so it mates first? It’s why you don’t get a buzz when you plug an XLR into something.  Someone at Cannon was pretty smart.

Taking this line a step farther, an RCA ribbon is the one type of mic that you’d better not plug in with phantom power turned on. Some of them have a grounded center tap on the output transformer, which is a rare thing. If pins 2 and 3 don’t mate at exactly the same time, which they are unlikely to do, DC current flows for that instant, causing the fragile ribbon to experience magnetic force with an unhappy result.

Lowell Kiesow
Chief Engineer
88.5 FM KNKX ● Jazz24.org

Perhaps you never thought about Airbus having an airplane with that name? (Look closely.)

 

Do you remember? The first operational transistor was declared 70 some years ago, on December 23, 1947! The transistor is probably one of the most revolutionary components ever invented. I started experimenting with them in the late 50’s. I still have a Raytheon CK722 in it’s original container! It was a germanium PNP. My first NPN was a 2N35. I recall building a transistor radio in a small plastic box while in high school in 1956. I used it to listen to the World Series, creating quite a stir back then. (Yup, getting old!)

If you recall, Congress adopted some new ways to deal with pirate radio. They increased the fines to as much as $2 million while the Commish said it would be going after landlords, advertisers and any other business that does business with pirates. All this was to go into effect on April 26th. Now we will see if there are any new enforcement actions. The methods of the FCC will likely involve what are called ‘sweeps’ in major cities were the practice is more common. It’s been a while since I’ve run across a pirate operating in the Seattle area. Targeting landlords may prove to be more successful, as many of the pirates cite the lack of ability to pay and are let off the hook.

Every so often you run across a comment made by someone that brings a chuckle….*If you only have two ducks, they will always all be in a row.*

Bonneville-Seattle (KIRO AM/FM and KTTH) has announced that Josh Harstad is their new Chief Engineer. Previously Josh worked for Hubbard and CBS in Seattle. More recently he has been working in Denver. Whereas this area is home, I’m sure he’s happy to be back

On the Covid-19 front: Despite having a number of vaccines for this terrible pandemic, we still have a lot of bad news. Here are a few snippets:

> On the 18th of April the world-wide death toll surpassed three million.

> Total global infections are over 140 Million.

> The U.S., Brazil and Mexico lead the world in Covid-19 deaths.

> A very large percentage of people say they are not going to get the vaccine, citing their lack of trust in the process. Perhaps fall-out from the fact that the issue became politicized?

> The blood clot issue with the J & J vaccine only re-enforced the never-vacciners.

> Voluntary compliance measures have apparently failed to stop the spread of variants.

> Now, younger people, who perhaps thought Covid-19 was an old-folks disease, are getting hit hard.

> We are being warned that we are losing the race between vaccinations and infections to the point that health officials will have no choice but recommend that we, again, tighten restrictions.

> The term ‘4th Wave’ is based on solid evidence. Unfortunately, this is not going down well. It’s easy to blame government and hard to blame our own behavior.

> There is a lot of debate, and push-back, for the idea of having some sort of vaccination verification system. Meanwhile major segments are doing just that with their vaccination requirements.

> Several major schools have announced a policy requiring vaccination for admission.

> Perhaps the most sobering is this fact – “It’s a mistake to think that we’re going to get to COVID-zero. This is not an eradicable disease.” Read more here – U.S. COVID-19 cases will dip in summer, rise in winter, experts say | Science News

> Number of reported Washington coronavirus cases is now over 400,000. Thus far 5,474 have died and 22,111 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus. 28.86% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated.

> Washington State University will require proof that students and staff are vaccinated against COVID-19 before they return to live or work on campus. WSU is the state’s first public university to announce vaccine requirements. Two private universities have made similar announcements, and other higher education institutes may follow suit. The big question, will this requirement spread to private industry, i.e., broadcast stations?

The Pandemic has caused many of us to increase our vocabulary via the introduction of new words and phrases, for example ‘Mask Up’ or ‘Social Distance’. One of the down sides to all of this has been our ability to understand others…especially when they are wearing a mask and behind a large sheet of plexiglass. Another problem is reading a person’s reactions and/or expressions when they are wearing facial covering. This brings me to a new word for your vocabulary, ‘smizing’ which means smiling in a way that’s visible in your eyes.

Another look back (and ahead): Remember when phone numbers had less digits and they had a ‘prefix’ that was a word. I recall my phone number when I was a kid in Portland to this day, Webster-1265. How about this one …..SUnset 3-2404? Then along came Area Codes and direct long-distance dialing. To start with, just about everything in the Seattle area was area code 206, Oregon was 503 etc. As the area codes ran out of numbers they added more area codes. Outside of Seattle became 253 or 360. Back in those days you could tell where a call was coming from by the first 3-digits, or numeric prefix. That worked for awhile, then it was determined that they needed to shuffle the deck and do what they called an ‘overlay’ that would permit the phone companies to use any Area Code, anywhere in the area. This was the end of 7-digit dialing. Going forward, you would have to dial 10 digits to call the person across the street.

You’d think that with the reduction in the number of ‘Land-Lines’ that there would be plenty of excess phone numbers these days. Guess again! Apparently the 360 area code is running out of numbers and, once again, it’s time for another area code. This time, it will be 564. Like the others, this will be an overlay. We are told that eventually 564 will be used in the Seattle metro as well. So don’t be shocked if your new neighbor calls you and your caller-ID shows a 564. It’s just a sign of progress. By the way, this is our state’s 6th area code. The following map shows how this will work:

This map certainly underscores the population distribution in the state.  Look at the percentage of Washington that still has only one area code.

Here’s a great word that we don’t use very much in common-speak – KERFUFFLE – a word beginning with a ‘K’ that makes sense.

Here are some definitions I scrounged:

> A kerfuffle is some kind of commotion, controversy, or fuss. If you read about a scandal in a newspaper, it could be described as a kerfuffle. Kerfuffle is a humorous-sounding word for a mostly non-humorous situation: some kind of disturbance, scandal or mess.

> A commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views.

The root of “kerfuffle” is the very old Scots’ verb “fuffle”, which first appeared in print in the early 16th century and means “to throw into disorder.” The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that the “ker” part of “kerfuffle” may hare come from the Gaelic word “car,” meaning “to twist, bend or turn around.

Yes, I do maek mistrakes.

I recently ran a picture that was sent to me by a friend in Arizona in response to my mentioning to him that Snoqualmie Pass was getting a lot of snow this year.

‘Eagle-Eye’ Tim Schall (Transmitter Engineer at KING/ KONG-TV)  Sent me this note:

Clay:
Greetings from TV land.
I am currently enjoying your April 2021 ‘Clays Corner.’  However, the picture your friend living in Arizona shared with you is not, in fact, Snoqualmie Pass. It had been, and it seems still is, circulating on various social media sites as several different mountain passes. It is, in fact, “…just North of Manitou Springs, going towards Ute pass, Colorado, along what’s now US 24.”

I refer you to the Facebook page of the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum: https://www.facebook.com/SnoqualmieValleyMuseum/photos/a.225637984131655/4272448902783856/

Be sure and take some time browsing this site, a lot of fascinating pictures of days gone by.

Looking at the picture again, shouldn’t Snoqualmie Pass have a lot of big fir trees in the shot? Appears that I fell for it. I apologize for not spotting the error. Thanks Tim. Good catch.

Here’s a word to add to your broadcast term dictionary, Trimucast. We all know what to call a common program aired on two stations in a market, Simulcast. Trimucast is the term for when it’s aired on three stations. (At least according to one source.)

I recently chatted with Terry Spring who informed me that he is going to retire effective June 1st. Terry has been the Chief Engineer at the local Ion Media (now Scripps) TV station for many years. The writing is on the wall – I’m going to have to knuckle under and join that club, sooner or later. The fact is I am winding down. It’s just very hard to say goodbye to those who you have been associated with for many years.

Another retirement to mention this month. Tom Saylor is retiring from the Engineering Department at WSU’s NWPB in Pullman. I’ve had the great privilege of working with Tom for over 11 years and that we’ve shared the same employers. He is leaving some extremely large shoes to fill and will be missed by many.

For many years, when it comes to building radio or cellular towers, the term NIMBY, which means Not In My Back Yard.    When it comes to things that are underground there is NUMBY…Not Under My Back Yard. Then there is BANANA …Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.  😊

For the second time in the last year, Seattle has been eclipsed as the crane capital of the United States. But who beat us this time around might surprise you.

 

Construction consultant firm Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) released a glimpse of their biannual Crane Index rankings of all North American cities for the first quarter of 2021 yesterday, and found that Washington, D.C. now leads the nation for the most cranes at 45.

But Seattle wasn’t far behind, tying for second with Los Angeles with 43 cranes each. Los Angeles had previously inched forward to beat the Emerald City in the count last year at the beginning of the pandemic, and the new findings show that the two West Coast cities are still neck and neck.

But look at Toronto – WOW!!

Seattle didn’t add any cranes since the last report issued in September 2020. Residential construction projects still amount for a majority of the cranes in Seattle followed by transit work, according to the Daily Journal of Commerce. Seattle has also slipped in the rankings of hot housing markets from #1 to #2. The new leader is Phoenix with San Diego at  #2.

Travel Trivia will occasionally send me something that I am compelled to follow, like this one: “Rainiest States in the U.S.” If you have lived in this area any length of time you have likely run across someone that wonders how you could live in a place like this with all the rain, etc.

So how does Washington stack up compared to other states? Georgia (50.22 inches) – Hawaii (50.33 inches) – Tennessee (51.85 inches) –  Florida (54.73 inches) – Alabama (56 inches) – Mississippi (56.48 inches) – Louisiana (59.15 inches).

Washington State was not even close. Of course, thanks to the Cascade Mountains, a good portion of the Evergreen State is ‘Everbrown’.

So what’s the rainiest city in the U.S.? Mobile, Alabama with an average rainfall of 67 inches and 59 rainy days per year.

Now about Seattle: On average, we get 38 inches of rain per year. Interestingly, the U.S. – AVERAGE – is 38 inches. Our reputation comes from the fact that we have – more days – with rain, or, more-frequent rain…but less total amount of the stuff.

Now with that behind us, how about our neighbor to the North?  What’s the rainiest city in Canada?  Here’s what I found:

Location                            Annual Inches     Annual mm

Abbotsford, British Columbia        60.5                  1538

St. John’s, Newfoundland             60.4                  1534

Halifax, Nova Scotia                     57.8                   1468

Vancouver, British Columbia         57.3                   1457

So why does it rain more in Vancouver than in Seattle? Just like the Cascades make Eastern Washington dryer, the Olympic Mountains to the West of Seattle provide a shadow on their east-side. This is demonstrated by the fact that Olympia receives 53 inches per year and Aberdeen gets 76 inches. The Olympic rain-shadow is well demonstrated in Sequim where their annual rainfall is only 16 inches, about the same as Los Angeles, California.

Ever wonder about the, perhaps, over-use of the word ‘Mount’ in a city name? Example:

Mt Pleasant, Texas – Elevation 404 ft
Mt Vernon, WA – Elevation 180 ft

The FCC periodically publishes a list of station totals. This time around, surprisingly, the FM Station total is down…and, as expected, the number of AM’s is down as well with that total approaching 10% less than there were in 1990. As you might expect, the number of FM translators and boosters is up 30% from five years ago.

For those of us living in the Seattle area, we are very close to the best country in the world!

For my readers in Canada, you are living in it!

This all according to a Best Countries report in U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings recently released. Canada ranked #1 in Quality of Life and Social Purpose and is seen as a stable and safe society in which individuals can develop and prosper and is open, fair and equitable.

Here are the rankings from their survey:

The Top 10 Countries in the World:

  1. Canada
    2. Japan
    3. Germany
    4. Switzerland
    5. Australia
    6. United States
    7. New Zealand
    8. United Kingdom
    9. Sweden
    10. Netherlands

 

The 10 Lowest-Ranked Countries in the World:

  1. Iraq
    77. El Salvador
    76. Serbia
    75. Belarus
    74. Lebanon
    73. Uzbekistan
    72. Kazakhstan
    71. Ukraine
    70. Oman
    69. Guatemala

You’d think that with all the political news and a pandemic that indecency would not be a big issue, but it was. In fact in 2020 the FCC had more than 1,000 indecency complaints filed. Interestingly many of them were related to pirate radio broadcasters. Apparently, some of these folk’s broadcasts are offensive. Overall, the FCC had some 4,768 complaints about Radio last year.

Here’s a chart showing what people had a beef about Radio:

Time to, once again, take a look at the 6+ Radio Ratings for Seattle-Tacoma.

> Hanging on to the #1 spot is KIRO-FM, with KISW close behind.
> At #3 is KUOW.
> Surprisingly little KEXP is now #4. Perhaps proving that you don’t need a big signal to be popular?
> KOMO-AM is hanging in there at #5. Granted they do have an FM that may well be helping.
> HD-2 signals from KING-FM and KNKX are both listed this month.

In a past Column I mentioned the total audience share of the top Radio stations in the News/Talk segment. San Francisco (Market #4 with 6.7+ Million) has a couple of interesting market leaders. At the top is a Non-Commercial station (KQED-FM) with a 10.6 share. #2 is KCBS-AM with a 7.5. That’s an 18.1 share between them. Yes, you read that right…the #2 station is an AM!

In past years, for my April Column, I would talk about our ‘annual trek to the desert’ for the NAB Convention. Obviously the Pandemic got in the way last year, and will again this year. In it’s place NAB will, however, be hosting a bit on-line/ virtual event April 12-23 for a number of award presentations and new product launches. This will include a deep-dive into HD Radio. For those of you who long for an in-person show, that will be Oct. 9-13 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Radio Show will be at the same venue, Oct. 13-14.

Perhaps you can explain the connection? Since the start of the pandemic, UFO sightings are up 50% in the U.S. and Canada. When local TV Stations show images of UFO’s – That will be big news.

Here’s one of those interesting questions you see pop up on-line. What salary do you need to live in Seattle? The answer is $72,092.

If you rephrase it and ask, what is considered a good salary in Seattle you get – A person working in Seattle typically earns around 100,000 USD per year.
How about – What is the average annual pay in Seattle? You get this:

Top Earners – $97,704
75th Percentile – $80,334
Average – $66.834

Not sure what to make of all of this, but it is interesting. What we do know is Seattle is an expensive place to live and if you want to live there, your income is a big factor.

One economic indicator that’s doing well is home sales, with some areas showing around 30% increases over last year.  I recently received a note from Zillow that showed my house value increasing over 32% in the last month!

Back in the early 90’s, engineers from the various FM stations at West Tiger would routinely have a lunch meeting at a place in Kent. They had a conference room that we could use, good food and coffee and it was not too far out of the way. Over the years, and especially after consolidation, the routine was discontinued. In later years, I would meet friends there for lunch etc. Apparently they are one of those places where the Pandemic and its shut-downs was the last-straw. Mitzels in Kent is no more. Even the signs were removed from the building.

Old guys love looking at pictures of things that are not as old as they are. For example:

 

And a classic groaner from Dwight Small…Yep, Spring is right around the corner.

 

 

Guess who?

None other than Allen Hartle.   Nice to see others with beards that color. 😊

Anyone old enough reading this column remember when Allen was the Chief at KZOK?

So what do automakers and computer makers have in common? They both use computer chips. Was not that long ago that car makers did not have any computers. Now, most have several. The fact is everything today employs ‘chips’, vehicles, computers, TV’s, household appliances…and the list goes on. So what happens when the demand for the little critters exceeds supply? Makers of these products have to slow down producing them to match the supply.

Recently Apple announced the chip shortage would (are you ready for this?) take a bite out of Apple and make It harder for you to get that new device. Likewise, some automakers are being forced to shut down production lines awaiting delivery of these little critters. Likely you would not purchase a vehicle these days that did not have them, as in days of old!

The FCC recently released an NPRM that will make a number of changes to the EAS. Some of this is designed to institute changes whose need was brought to light in the fall missile attack on Hawaii a few years ago. The Washington SECC responded to this action. If are wondering what we had to say, you can find our filing on the FCC’s Web Site. We will likely also discuss this in the next SECC meeting on May 11th at 9:30 a.m. These bi-monthly meetings are open to all and are held via Zoom. Invitation and agenda are posted on the EAS-WA Remailer.

That’s about it for this month, my friends. Lord willing, I will be back next month at most of the usual locations.

Until then, get vaccinated, stay safe and continue to wear your mask…and that means cover your nose too. The ‘All-Clear’ is getting closer.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
A SBE Fellow
SBE Member # 714
Since March 1968

 

Ramblings from the Mind of Amanda

May 2021

May be an image of 1 person

For most people, education ends when they graduate.  They’ve done it and have the job they want (hopefully).  For some industries like TV and radio, education is never-ending.  Every year is something new to learn.  Because of that, the SBE has worked hard to create educational opportunities with monthly webinars and on-demand SBE University courses. They even have a monthly livestream on YouTube.  This is only scratching the surface of what is offered.

I suggest everyone go over to the main www.sbe.org webpage and see all the educational opportunities they offer.  I will warn you  ̶  these are not free.  But, with the SBE MemberPlus membership, the webinars are free.

To become a member, you need to be actively involved in broadcast engineering, have an academic degree in electrical engineering or its equivalent, or have scientific or professional experience in the communications field, including the design or marketing of broadcast-related products; have at least four years of active participation in broadcast engineering or its allied fields and have demonstrated acceptable technical proficiency.  So, someone off the street with no real ties to this world would not be able to join.  You just need to meet one of those criteria. There are some exceptions listed on the SBE membership page.

There are two types of membership: Traditional and MemberPlus.  I highly recommend MemberPlus for educational purposes.  As noted above, with a MemberPlus membership you will gain access to all the webinars for free.  The cost of this membership is $175, which may seem costly to some, but when you factor in that webinars are $62 for members ($92 for non-members), the membership pays for itself once you do three webinars.  And with over 90 webinars and more being added each month, you can do the math.  I wouldn’t binge all the webinars at once, I’ve done the MemberPlus membership the last three years and try to do one or two webinars a month, typically, a current webinar and then an archived webinar.

It is so important for any engineer to keep up with technology, to continually learn.  The more you know, the more valuable you may become to an employer.  I am reminded of when I went through the Broadcast Engineering course from Cleveland Institute of Electronics many years ago.  It was the same course my dad had gone through in the 1970s, and I would go over the material with him, getting advice and knowledge from someone who has been there and done that.  What we quickly realized was that the course hadn’t been updated since he did it decades before.  Some of the material was timeless, some current and good, something I could use for the time, but other stuff I just had to learn by doing because the material was outdated and didn’t help me much, at least at Crawford where we try not to keep transmitters that are more than a few years old.

Not all employers even know about the Society of Broadcast Engineers.  That means it is up to us to do continuing education ourselves.  I have no doubt that if brought to an employer, many would reimburse the cost of a membership if they can see how it will help the company.

We must push ourselves to be active and to find the webinars we need and to go through any SBE University courses that will help us in our career.  We need to make ourselves irreplaceable.  I know this may not always work, but it will also make you more appealing to a potential employer.  I know at Crawford, to join our engineering department, you need to have a certification at the minimum.  But the more you have, the more you know, the fact you show active participation within the SBE, the more appealing you are.

Let me encourage you to join in.  You’re already at the chapter 48 website, which is a great starting point.  Sign up for our email list and attend the local meetings (currently being held online).  This chapter is a combined chapter with the Rocky Mountain Chapter of SMPTE (the global society of media professionals, technologists, and engineers).  While I don’t know much about SMPTE (shame on me), you should also check out their organization and see what they can offer you (www.smpte.org).  We try to keep our web page up to date with local meetings being held and encourage you to attend.  The meetings are free for the most part.  If there ever is a cost, we will let you know.  Join us and you will find a second family.

 

 

The KE0VH Hamshack for April 2021

                   April 2021    

Greetings and Welcome to springtime in April!

We had some really warm days here in the Denver area during the latter part of March and early April, and now cold and wet back in as is pretty typical.  One of my projects for the year is to get APRS and voice ops running on the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 utilizing my other FTM-400.  That project saw a test run on a Saturday here recently as I configured the system for a test run and took off for what ended up being a 200 mile 6 hour or so ride thru the mountains west of the front range area west and north of Denver.  My good buddy Todd Hooks (of my Christian Motorcycle Association group) and I left about 10am and got back around 6 or so.  The mountains were beautiful and the temperatures were in the upper 50’s so the ride was a comfortable one.  The APRS system worked very well in showing our trip that day.  The radio was in the right saddlebag with the Diamond SG-7500 on a mag mount on the back “luggage rack”.  The radio head was mounted on its RAM mount on the handlebars.  All in all it worked very well as you can see in the following pictures and maps of the trip taken from APRS.fi.

Above you can see the antenna mounted with the mag mount (also chrome!) and below are APRS.fi shots of our route!

The total route above, and the closer up views below

Todd’s Harley and my Vulcan (KE0VH-9) with Mt. Meeker and Longs Peak (14,259 ft AMSL) in the background.

KEØVH, the Vulcan 900, and Estes Cone (11,000 AMSL) in the background, near Estes Park CO

The Vulcan also turned over 50,000 miles on this trip!  Just outside of Nederland CO.

Myself and Todd Hooks in Nederland CO, and yes, we stopped at a transmitter site on Buckhorn Mountain!  Look at the HUGE piles of snow.  During the “blizzard” I wrote about last month, this particular spot got the most amount of snow of any location along the front range.  Nearly 75 inches!

Here is the FTM-400 on the workbench after the ride.  I am converting all my power connections to Anderson Power Poles for ease of changing out configs and they are so solid and reliable.  You see the display in the small case next to the

Radio and notice the small turbine type fan next to the control head, it will exhaust with small outlets on the other side of the case.  Note the power tap insert for the fan in the right hand picture.  It is my plan to utilize this “pelican” type case to house the radio in the saddlebag while riding and to contain the whole radio system for storage and to take with me away from the bike when parked, as seen below.

And new this month, the new 449.775 KEØDNL SkyHubLink Fusion Wires-X repeater is on the air from the temporary Borie Hill transmitter site west of Cheyenne.  Thanks to the courtesy of our good friend Vic Michael for the site, & Daryl W30RR who houses the node radio at his QTH in Cheyenne.   For about a week Daryl had the repeater on the air from his home QTH since the weather wasn’t co-operating with getting it to the site.  Below are some pictures of the temporary setup at Daryl’s home.  Note the “clothesline” antenna support, and the repeater and duplexer on the workbench.

And finally, on to the site itself:

The temporary placement for the repeater antenna at the Borie site, a L-Com ASPD-701 UHF band antenna that will eventually move to the 449.625 Mt. Morrison site for that repeater.  We have another antenna for the Cheyenne repeater that will stand up to Wyoming’s windy conditions.  WHY is this all TEMPORARY? More on that here shortly!

Daryl’s FTM-100 Node Radio feeding the repeater via the Wires-X system, and Daryl at the site with the antenna

Daryl W3ORR in his hamshack with the node radio lower right

Before we deployed the antenna pictured above, I used a stand that used to be a roadside stand for signs.  I needed something that would hold up a heavy antenna during test.  This antenna was tested using the Nano-VNA analyzer and it did a great job showing the characteristics of the L-Com ASPD-701 antenna under test before deployment.

The “test” stand, borrowed from Mark NØXRX under test with the NanoVNA, & the antenna stood up in the back yard

Pertaining to the temporary mentions above.  Since the Cheyenne repeaters deployment we have secured an even better site with much better coverage for the 449.775 Fusion repeater on Pilot Hill thanks to my good friend Paul Montoya, the DOE for Wyoming Public Radio.  This spot will just about triple the repeater coverage and also cover way west of Laramie along I-80, nearly to Scottsbluff to the northeast, and I-80 to Nebraska.  Stand by for news on this one, it will be a very exciting move for SkyHubLink.

Current Cheyenne 449.775 coverage above, and below is the proposed Pilot Hill coverage.

AND, Larry KCØWVE is working on a new site for the Scottsbluff 444.825 repeater that was previously housed at the Scottsbluff hospital location.  Plans at this time are to move it to a site south of Mitchell on the high bluffs west of Scottsbluff/Gering.  This site will also improve the coverage of this repeater overlapping the Pilot hill site coverage, providing continuous SkyHubLink coverage from Scottsbluff to New Mexico along I-25 and more.  Here is a picture of the proposed NEW coverage of the Scottsbluff repeater.

And another new system is now connected to SkyHubLink full time on Fusion Wires-X, the VA5YXE repeater in Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada!  Thanks to Richard VE5RH for linking up and becoming part of the SkyHubLink.  Below is the repeater, duplexer and amplifier for VA5YXE/R

                                                 The VE5RH Hamshack in Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada

 

Have you heard about the “Hamshack Hotline”

The Hamshack Hotline VOIP phone system is by and for amateur radio operators to enhance communications capabilities, a FREE dedicated VOIP service to the amateur radio community.  See https://hamshackhotline.com/ for more information and details.  Setup couldn’t be easier, you can attach an outside phone number to the system to receive regular phone calls, and the tech support is awesome.  Some of us in SkyHubLink are using these to keep in touch and discuss “behind the scenes” information and other uses.  Pretty soon you can communicate over SkyHubLink the system using these phones.  See Matt KØLWC’s you tube channel offering on Hamshack Hotline https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMr9a_6CuNE and how it might benefit you.  Pretty soon we will be setting up a directory of those of us on SkyHubLink that are using the system. The phones are inexpensive, using a lot of the now “discarded” Cisco phones such as the model SPA514G seen pictured here in the KEØVH Hamshack.   My Hamshack Hotline number is 12113, feel free to call!

 

UH OH!  Something burnt up!  No wonder it’s not putting out power. Thanks to Mike ABØRR for the picture

showing why the Park County repeater in Bailey went down.  Mike is working feverishly to resolve the issue and get the repeater back on the air, normally linked to SkyHubLink.

Check out this magnificent picture, taken from a plane getting ready to land at Denver International Airport. SPECTACULAR!

Saw this on an Instagram posting, a UHF VHF combined polyphaser setup, and below, I LOVE these old aviation radio adds: Does anyone remember this Channel Master radio that would receive VHF and AM frequencies on a portable radio, complete with a leather carrying case. The Price: $54.95 ($456.32 today)

 

1974

 

Product: Zenith Royal E94Y

Key features: 6-band receiver, including AM and FM, weighed a hefty 5 lbs.

Price: $99.95 ($530.33 today)

1984

Products: Sony Air-8 and Sporty’s Air-Scan

Key features: A powerful scanner from electronics giant Sony and a desktop receiver custom designed by Sporty’s.

Price: $269.00 ($677.24 today) and $79.95 ($201.28 today)

____________________________________

1989

Product: Sporty’s A300

Key features: Sporty’s first transceiver moved beyond just listening to transmissions to become a valuable backup option for talking to Air Traffic Control.

Price: $365.00 ($730.51)

____________________________________

2001

Product: Sporty’s SP-200

Key features: Third generation Sporty’s transceiver added localizer display for backup navigation—a first in a portable radio.

Price: $299.00 ($441.88 today)

____________________________________

2010

Product: Sporty’s SP-400

Key features: Top-of-the-line model with a huge screen and full ILS display—the ultimate backup radio.

Price: $399.00 ($478.64 today)

____________________________________

2019

Product: PJ2 COM Radio

Key features: The only portable radio with built-in headset jacks, the PJ2 is ideal for emergency use and costs under $200.

Price: $199.00

 

HAMSHACK ARCHIVES FILES

  

                                                  4 Years AGO: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/03/

                                                  5 Years AGO:  http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/03/

                                                  6 Years AGO: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/03/

Click HERE TO CHECK OUT the latest BDR.net articles at: https://www.thebdr.net/articles/thisweek.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 2021 – Clay’s Corner

 

April 2021 – Clay’s Corner

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

 

Just after my previous column was shipped out, I received this picture of one of the West Tiger Broadcast Towers with a nice load of ice from Jeff White of iHeart Media. Here you can see how the tower is pretty much filled with ice while the antenna (those black things) are not. The Antenna is fitted with black covers called radomes. Not only are they slippery, but solar energy will warm it because of its dark color helping to melt the snow and ice.

The following is a nice closeup of what ice does to a tower and antenna at West Tiger.

It all begins with a piece of ice that sticks to the ‘leading edge’ (the side toward the prevailing wind) and it just keeps adding on. The Yellow Square thing is called an ‘Ice Shield’. In the case of the one here, it’s job is to prevent falling ice from damaging some of the horizontal items in the system below. When the temperature rises, the ice looses it’s grip and falls. You don’t want to be around when that’s happening!

Speaking of Jeff White – I should mention that he has moved up at iHeart and is now the ‘Regional Engineering Lead’.

 

iHeartMedia, commonly called IHM is moving, company-wide, to regionalization. Roughly translated, this means less people spread over a larger area. This is impacting their Engineering department as well. It was not long ago that the Seattle IHM cluster saw a significant reduction in its engineering department. This latest change saw cuts to 39 nation-wide, according to reports in Radio World. Reportedly, some of the work performed by full-time employees will go to part-timers or contractors. This, all part of a company wide effort to reduce their overall ‘head-count’. Sure, the COVID economic situation is a factor, so is making the company more attractive to investors. Meanwhile, Bob Pittman, CEO of IHM was recently stating that he is positive about the pandemic recovery, citing vaccine rollouts and the lifting of restrictions.

Meanwhile, Sinclair announced company-wide staff reductions. Recently KOMO laid off more than a dozen employees in Seattle. In this case, the cuts came to various departments, including one in Engineering. According to the Sinclair CEO, Seattle was not alone in seeing staff reductions, as they were looking and reducing their workforce by about 5% or 460 positions nation-wide. A February earnings report showed revenue was down 7% over a year ago.

If you are like me, perhaps you are wondering about the timing of these reductions just when the news about the Pandemic is getting better.

Speaking of getting better, KMIA (AM-1210) is no longer ‘MIA’ but back on the air. This time it’s running non-Bustos Latino programming, apparently under some sort of an LMA relationship.

On March 11th,  NAB announced the 2021 Crystal Radio Award Finalists. Quickly scanning the list for stations in the area, I could not help but notice KIRO-FM in Seattle was named. Perhaps it should be noted that they are the only major market station named in the Pacific Northwest.

These days it’s hard to find a market where the #1 rated Radio Station is an AM. Interesting to note that you don’t have to look any further than Spokane, where KQNT appears to be doing quite well. The station is owned by iHeartMedia and has a News/Talk format. A bit of history: This station went on the air back in 1922 and was known for years as KHQ. It’s one of a few stations in Washington State that operate with 5,000 watts, non-directional day and night. Others in that ‘club’ are KVI in Seattle and KKMO (formally KMO) in Tacoma. Most AM Stations either reduce power or change antenna patterns, or (in the case of a daytimer) sign off at night to protect others on the same or adjacent frequencies.

Here’s another wonderful picture from the Seattle Times. This time looking east from Seattle at Downtown Bellevue. The associated story was of how Amazon is going to lease a new 25 story building on the East Side.

Interesting how we often see pictures of Denver with the Rockies in the background, but rarely see this view of cities in our area, where the Cascades are just as impressive.

Looking a COVID News:

It’s Hard to believe that it’s been a year since the world was turned upside down with this virus. At last…things are looking up in many areas.

> As of Mid-Month about 12% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated.
> Restrictions are starting to be relaxed with schools re-opening.
> Watching sports is coming back.
> And the list goes on.

What we hope is that we don’t over-mingle and have another spike. With so much pent-up demand for a return to normal, in many cases our guard may be down.

Now that my wife and I are fully vaccinated, we can now mingle, mask free, with others in the same boat. Perhaps we need to wear some form of visual communication? If we are in a group with unknowns, mask wearing will continue. As people get back to their places of employment, this may become an issue.

The impact of increased vaccinations and relaxed restrictions means that many who have been working from home will be returning to their offices and studios. Those local news programs will begin to look like they used to. For many, I suspect, those returning will be having to adjust to a new reality. Some things are never going to be the way they were. Certainly, now that it’s been proven a company can function without being under the watchful eye of a supervisor, space requirements will be reduced. Add to this, the staff reductions that the Pandemic has been experienced by many.

There is one downside to the economic recovery. Unless you are driving an electric vehicle, you are going to be paying a lot more for petrol in the near future. With gas prices this past year in the sub-$3 range, they’ve already increased substantially. Warnings have been posted for $4 gas soon. Nice to know that lawmakers have electric vehicle owners in their sights.

From the looking back dept:

I am old enough to recall the days when the XLR connector came out, before pin one became the standard for ground and how a certain major manufacturer (beginning with the letter G) produced products using pin 3 as ground, which we followed in building a new TV studio, just to later have to change them all. (Anyone else remember this?)

The old saying – I remember … “From the highest high, to the lowest low”

Thus Pin 1 = +
Pin 2 = –
Pin 3 = ground/shield
It was easier to remember.

For a wonderful look back at yesteryear, check this out!

https://mailchi.mp/65527e30cd4f/chrs-radio-clinic-swap
-meet-saturday-spring-journal-mailed-warehouse-sale-around-radio-central-675238

Did you know Einstein was born on Pi Day back in 1879?   (3.14.79)

A topic discussed on one of the popular list-servers broadcast@radiolists.net this past month was the historic Vanport Flood in Portland, Oregon in 1948. The story of this event is a great read with plenty of details of the Hams and Broadcasters who dealt with the event.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/x8jnyd8wzqi07u5
/AABz_sG0qvrTBN7reWRr77c-a?dl=0&
preview=Voices+of+Vanport.pdf

Some interesting history of some of the historic AM stations in PDX…Like the “KEX Toothpick”.

On the Ham Radio side, a couple who were very active in our area for many years, Harry and Mary Lewis were mentioned, including a picture of a very young Mary at their home in Seattle.

I was a wee lad living in the Rose City at the time of the great flood, but remember it well.

Recently I was communicating with an old friend, now retired and living in Arizona, about all the snow we’ve had this year at Snoqualmie Pass. In response, he sent me the following picture.  Looks like the late 1800’s. Look closely, those are animals pulling covered wagons.

 

Today, with a 6-lane freeway crossing this pass, it’s hard to imagine how much of a barrier the Cascades once was. When I moved here, this corridor was known as US-10. Today, of course, it’s now I-90. With very few exceptions, it’s open for travel year around at freeway speeds. When winter weather forces a closure, it’s a magnet for TV crews to do stories about those who are forced to ‘wait it out’.

I did a bit of poking around and came up with this picture taken at similar location.  Here showing US-10 as a 2-lane road.

 

I Received an email from Terry Spring with a snazzy new logo — Out with ION and in with Scripps!  Terry.Spring@scripps.com

Nick Winter is resting at home after undergoing bypass surgery. I understand things went well.

Long time member of WSU’s NWPB Engineering  Department, Tom Saylor has announced his retirement. Tom has been working with this team since 1999. I can personally say that he will be thoroughly missed. In my 11 years working with NWPB, Tom and I have been involved in many projects.

As the sun moves to the north, retired Seattle broadcast engineer, Dwight Small will now start getting sunsets. This one from the 15th of March:

 

It’s still amazing what we are able to do with our landers on Mars. Each time, the game is ‘upped’ to a new level.

A couple things about the parachute that was used by the latest Mars lander:
> Did you wonder why they used such a funny pattern of red and white? The answer. It’s a binary code that reads ‘Dare Mighty Things’, a phrase made famous by former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

The following picture decodes the message (betcha you didn’t get it on your own).

> We keep hearing of how thin the atmosphere is on Mars and yet they used a parachute to help with the landing. If this seemed like a contradiction, you need to know that this ‘chute’ was 70 feet in diameter. For those of you north of the 49th, that’s 21 meters. In other words, Really Big!

From the Department of Misinformation:

It’s nice to see others write about this topic as well. Here are the comments of others who say it went very well.

The publication ‘The Hill’ carried the following story on March 6th.

It was 40 years ago on March 6 that news anchor Walter Cronkite signed off “The CBS Evening News” for the final time, stating his tag line, “That’s the way it is.” The phrase was more than just a signature ending of his nightly newscast. It was a statement that his newscast was designed to, as he put it, “hold up the mirror — to tell and show the public what has happened.”

Holding up the mirror meant focusing on actual news, steering away from advocacy, and nailing down facts. There was a reason that polls of the era listed Cronkite as the most trusted man in America. He projected a fatherly personality and professional image. He spoke in a slow, deliberate manner. He imposed strict standards for accuracy and objectivity into his broadcasts. Every writer and producer on his team knew the perfectionist’s expectations and knew not to stray into personal bias or activism.
The journalism world could use more of the Cronkite method today.

The following item I received by WSU News. Here the writer explains much of what is behind those who are mislead by some of the contents of social media:

Blind trust in social media cements conspiracy beliefs

March 5, 2021

Creative Comments by https://www.staceymacnaught.co.uk/

By Sara Zaske, WSU News

PULLMAN, Wash. – The ability to identify misinformation only benefits people who have some skepticism toward social media, according to a new study from Washington State University. Researchers found that people with a strong trust in information found on social media sites were more likely to believe conspiracies, which falsely explain significant events as part of a secret evil plot, even if they could identify other types of misinformation. The study, published in the journal Public Understanding of Science on March 5, showed this held true for beliefs in older conspiracy theories as well as newer ones around COVID-19.

“There was some good and bad news in this study,” said Porismita Borah, an associate professor in WSU’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and a corresponding author on the study. “The good news is that you are less susceptible to conspiracy theories if you have some media literacy skills, one of which is being able to identify misinformation. But if you blindly trust the information you find on social media, those skills might not be able to help.”

Porismita Borah, Identifying misinformation is just one part of media literacy, Borah pointed out, and people may need a deeper education around social media to avoid falling for conspiracy theories.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 760 people recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing website. The participants were roughly split between male and female as well as Democrat and Republican. The majority, 63.1%, used Facebook and 47.3% used Twitter daily. They answered a range of questions related to the level of their social media news use and trust as well as ability to identify misinformation.

The participants were also asked to rate the truth of several COVID-19 conspiracy theories, such as the belief that the virus was a weapon of biological warfare developed by foreign countries. They also were presented with older conspiracies to rate, such as that the moon landing was a hoax and that Princess Diana was killed by a British intelligence agency.

The researchers found that a greater ability to identify misinformation lowered beliefs in all conspiracy theories—except for those who had high levels of trust in social media information. This is particularly problematic because other research has shown that once a conspiracy belief takes hold, it is very hard to convince the believer that it is false.

“The patterns around trust is one of the most important findings from our study,” said Borah. “We need to go deeper into what this trust means.” Borah and her co-authors, recent WSU Ph.D. Xizhu Xiao and current doctoral student Yan Su, suggest that political ideology may play a role in this trust—that people want to believe the words of political figures they admire, whether what they say is actually true or not. Borah said more research is needed to understand why conspiracy theories appeal to people and how best to combat them as there can be serious consequences.

“There are different levels of danger with these theories, but one of the prominent conspiracy beliefs about COVID-19 is that it isn’t true, that the virus is a hoax and that can be really dangerous: you’re putting yourself, your family members and your community at risk,” said Borah.

Istarting it well before college. They argue that such education should include a better understanding of how information can be manipulated as well as social media environments, news production and dissemination.

“There’s a long list of tasks to do to keep ourselves well informed,” Borah said. “I think there is hope with media literacy and a better understanding of the information environment, but it is a complicated process.”

The misinformation problem is not confined to the U.S. and Canada. Take a look at the source of this study:

GLASGOW, Scotland — Misinformation and fake news continue to be a major problem across social media platforms. Now, a new study reports people with high emotional intelligence are much less likely to fall for deceptive and untrue news items.

Conducted at the University of Strathclyde, the study asked a group of volunteers to take a look at various social media news stories, some true and some false. The group then tried to determine which were real and which were fictitious. Each participant also gave a short explanation as to their fact-checking thought process and filled out a test to gauge their emotional intelligence.

The news stories presented to participants covered a variety of topics, including health, the environment, crime, and wealth inequality. The fake headlines in particular featured a lack of trusted sources, not a lot of information in general, and emotive language.

What do different people say about fake news?

Ultimately, participants scoring high on the emotional intelligence test were most likely to accurately pick out fake news items. Study authors also noted a similar relationship between education level and fake news detecting ability. In other words, participants with more education appear to have a better eye for spotting fake news.

The Headline read:

Washington once again ranked best state in the US in national report

Washington state has once again been ranked the best state in the country, according to a new report from the U.S. News and World Report. Washington has held the top spot since 2019.

The publication annually ranks all 50 states based on several factors including health care, education, the economy and infrastructure, among others.

Other top ranked states were Idaho (the only other PNW State), Utah (the only other western state), Minnesota and New Hampshire.

In terms of rankings:

  • We ranked #8 in health care
  • Education – #4
  • Broadband access – #1
  • Opportunity – #25
  • Affordability – #44

Over the years, in past columns, I have written about the impact of Climate Change driving increases in Sea Level and how high tides will make matters even worse. The following link should be studied carefully to see what lies in our future. Be sure and zero in on the impacts in our area.

U.S. High Tide Flooding Probability Scenarios through
2100 (esri.com)

Extreme High Tides, often called King Tides, will become higher and more frequent as the data explains. In our area, this year, we can expect eight of them. By 2031 we will experience 25. 20 years from now, in 2041, the number increases to 99. By 2066, we will have one of these Extremely High Tides – EVERY DAY!

The impacts of these will becoming increasingly real, especially in low-lying areas. The ports will have some serious issues, requiring some serious money be spent to stay above it all, as most of them are now barely above existing sea level.

There are residential areas that will be feeling this as well. Along the coast, the Long Beach and Ocean Shores areas will be losing a lot of land. Around the sound, the Nisqually Wildlife area will be under water more of the time and Tacoma’s Day Island may need to be evacuated, along with many of the waterfront homes around the Sound.

Combinations of events – Extremely high tides and strong winds will be a recipe for a lot of damage, as will flooding rivers during heavy runoffs. The impact of high tides will be felt a lot further upstream.

This issue is sure to impact some of AM station’s antennas. One of them I installed many years ago at Browns Point for KMO.

The following pictures from Sinclair’s RF Guy, Tim Moore, show the impact of a King Tide on the antenna system at KVI at Point Heyer on the eastern side of Vashon Island.

There is something quite unique about the KVI Site. The beach is officially named ‘KVI Beach’. Where else is there a beach with call letters in its name?

In Tim’s pictures you can see how KVI Beach all but disappears with these Tides.

In the future, broadcast stations like KVI will likely need to make changes to the equipment at the base of their tower to keep it out of the salt water.

For more information about KVI Beach – check out these links:

KVI is a special place, let’s take care of it – Vashon Nature Center

Point Heyer (KVI Beach) and Point Robinson | Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber (vashonbeachcomber.com)

Heart This Place – Tramp Harbor and KVI Beach – Historic SeattleHistoric Seattle

The following contributed by Dwight Small:

Lou Ottens, Dutch Inventor Of The Audio Cassette Tape, Dead At 94

It’s likely you never heard of Lou Ottens, however, it’s highly likely that you are familiar with the Audio Cassette that he developed. He wanted to come up with something that would make tapes and the machines that recorded and played them more portable and easy to use. For those of us who have been around a very long time, we recall very small reel-to-reel machines that used reels about 3 inches in diameter and played at very slow speeds. For them the Cassette was a dream come true. The format was widely adopted when introduced in 1962. I’m sure you recall the Sony Walkman. It was a hit, to say the least.

 

The format permitted a person to carry with them their favorite tunes, or talking books. Vehicle manufacturers jumped on board with players coming standard in their radios.

Despite the audio quality lacking in many areas, the portability of the format made it a hit.

Retailers carried commercially produced cassettes along side vinyl recordings. Suddenly there was a standard that permitted a person to listen to their favorites no matter where they were.

Several broadcast versions of recorders and reproducers were made as well.

Lou Ottens recently passed at the age of 94.

As I mentioned, audio quality was just not possible with tape tracks that small, running at those speeds. However, it had a good run until the development of the Compact Disc.

Another beautiful picture of our part of the country. This one of a fabulous sunrise taken from the window of KRKO/KXA in Everett by Ted Buehner.

In addition to Robocalls that continue to increase, have you seen the Amazon Scam? The email reads something to the effect that Amazon needs to update your credit card information, otherwise you will lose your Prime membership. These lowlifes must lay awake at night trying to figure out a new way to gain your credit card information.

From time to time, someone will erect a tower near an AM broadcast station and give little thought to the impact this will have on the station, nor their obligation to deal with it. All of this happened recently on Vashon Island with a new communications tower constructed very near the diplexed KGNW/820 and KJR/950, three-tower, directional array. The following picture shows the relationship between the towers.

Notice at the top center of this picture ‘PSERN Tower’. This is the new tower that was added to the area, in very close proximity to the existing AM Towers. (Those are labeled – Northwest Tower, Center Tower and Southeast Tower)

The issue here is that both of these AM stations employ directional patterns, the three towers being shared by the two broadcasters. The introduction of the new tower caused both of the stations to have to employ consulting engineers to make certain modifications to the PSERN Tower so as to preclude it from being a part of the stations directional antenna systems.   Then, they had to perform an analysis of the stations directional antenna array to prove that any interaction was addressed.

This, perhaps, could have been avoided had PSERN located the new tower some distance away from the AM Antennas.

It should be noted that Cellular Antenna poles can also be of concern, with many of them having to go through the same process.

PSERN, as you can see from their logo above is a new radio network for Emergency Responders. They are erecting these new towers in many locations in the area. For example, here’s a view of the PSERN tower on West Tiger as taken from one of the AccelNet Tower Cams at sunrise. You can see the bottom of it on the right.

For additional information, go here: Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network (psern.org)

An interesting story about a small college station in La Grande Oregon that is losing its funding.

Eastern Oregon University radio station may go silent | Local News | eastoregonian.com

The portion of the article that got my attention was, “…KEOL, based in the Hoke Union Building, was defunded in part because studies indicate radio is a fading industry with a dim future. “Radio may be obsolete in 10 years.”

The latest Radio Ratings are out. Here are my highlights:

> 97.3 – KIRO-FM continues to lead the pack with their commercial News/Talk followed by 94.9 KUOW with their non-commercial News/Talk. Together they have a 14 share!
> KOMO-AM continues to be the best performing AM in the #5 slot.
> If you add KOMO ratings to those with News/Talk that total is over a 19 share.
> KEXP, another non-commercial station is doing VERY well in the #6 spot.
> Two of Bonneville’s AMs are just about tied with Conservative Talk KTTH.
> Two stations HD-2’s are in the numbers, KING and KNKX. Many have suggested that this is because they are feeding translators with those HD Channels – Surprise! Neither one of them are. These are ratings generated by people listening to HD Radio.
> In the Country-Race – The Wolf (KKWF) is ahead this go-around.
> Poor KFNQ continues to share the cellar with those with just enough of a showing to make the list.

Meanwhile, in the Rose City (PDX), like Seattle, the top two rated stations are news/talk. The difference is the non-commercial station (KOPB) is number 1 with a huge lead over the commercial outlet (KXL-FM). Together they have over a 17 share.

As you might expect, Washington DC has a lot of news/talk listeners. Three of the top four stations are running that format, and combined they have over a 26 share.

Some other markets are the opposite with music stations on top and news/talk way down the list.

Travel Trivia posted an item recently that got my attention. Typically, folks like these will have the states in alphabetical order. So I sit here and page-down until I get to Washington to see how we fared in some category or another. This time the headline read:

Hilarious and Bizarre Town Names in All 50 States

I just knew they would pick – Humptulips, Sequim, Physt or Puyallup. For some reason they picked Vader.  Huh! How is that funny or bizarre? For reasons I can’t explain they picked the little town sound of Olympia because it made them think of Darth Vader?? Truth is the town was named after Martin Vader, a German immigrant and Civil War veteran.

Looking for work in Broadcasting?How about a job in Kansas? For more info check-out:

https://www.hutchcc.edu/jobs/1159/101994 or start at http://www.radiokansas.net/employment.cfm

Received this item from Ben Dawson on March 22nd:

Somebody broke into the storage locker in our apartment yesterday morning, and stole, among a few other things, all of my hand tools, and the office’s HP 8753 (?) network analyzer, which was in a Pelican case.

If you could put out the word in case anybody spots the analyzer or my tools, some of which were in a black telco-issue fiber case, some in a turquoise bag labeled “France Telecom,” and some of which were in a military ammo box. It’s all insured, but the tools included a lot of
irreplaceable items, like my grandfather’s machinists’ square and a few other items no longer made in the US.

If you can help with the recovery, contact Ben at  – dawson@hatdaw.com

OK, time for some humor.

 

That’s about it for this month, my friends. Lord willing, I will be back next month at most of the usual locations.

Until then, get vaccinated, stay safe and continue to wear your mask…and that means cover your nose too. The ‘All-Clear’ is getting closer.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
A SBE Fellow
SBE Member # 714
Since March 1968

 

 

 

The KE0VH Hamshack for February 2021

                                                                                        February 2021

This month we have 3 new SkyhubLink projects in the works.  The first is the new Fusion/Wires-X repeater to be deployed just west of Cheyenne on 449.775 (Callsign soon to be KE0DNL).  Daryl W3ORR will be running the node radio system at his QTH on the west side of town to link the repeater into the SkyHubLink Wires-X room 46361.  The repeater will be steerable for Wires-X rooms of course.  We would like to thank the members of the SkyHubLink email list who responded with donations to make this happen.  Thanks also to our good friend Vic Michael for the providing the site for the repeater.  More to come as it becomes available on the deployment time as we are awaiting weather and scheduling to get it on the air.  We hope to be at the 100 plus foot level on this fine tower Vic has in “Granite” WY.

Second will be the 2 linked repeaters in Sterling & Holyoke.  Kent Seger, who is a ham operator and tower owner in the area will be providing the repeaters, internet connection and sites (Sterling’s is just east of I-76 in the area) for this NE CO coverage along I-76 helping to pretty much fill in the coverage to Nebraska.  More information and maps will follow soon.

Thirdly, the Brandmeister Talkgroup 31083 for the Colorado Severe Weather Watch NET will be moving to the SkyHubLink.  More information on that will be upcoming to the SHL Email list soon.

Our good friend Steve KDØSBN who is running the Pueblo Wires-X Fusion repeater that is now on the new coordinated frequency of 447.900 -offset.  Steve will also be setting up a NEW repeater soon south of the Spanish Peaks from the Weston Colorado area that will have coverage from about Walsenburg to Trinidad along I-25 in the southern part of the state.  When this project is completed, and the move of the Scottsbluff NE repeater is accomplished (also this spring) SkyHubLink will have almost continuous coverage from Scottsbluff down to Cheyenne WY and on down the almost the New Mexico State line.  Stand by for more news!

As I wrote in last month’s edition, I have been working full time now from the home “office/hamshack/Flight Simulator” and really enjoying it.  I have everything I need right at my fingertips and with the addition of the worktable on the left I can do my personal and work projects with just the spin of the chair.  The table is actually a kitchen prep all metal aluminum table that I also have now a static pad that covers the workspace.

Here is a test of the Field Fox spectrum analyzer after it had returned from service on the new worktable and interfaced with my computer on the left side of the office area.  My vertical HF ham antenna and the multiband dipole made really good test subjects.  The Field Fox is now ready for some real-world real work projects coming up in the next couple of months.  Great setup!  I have been loving this little “office” in a major way!  I can monitor and control all work functions via remote facilities, test equipment and get a LOT DONE!

One of my personal projects over one weekend was the rebuilding of the Flight Sim X-plane 11 computer.  The newly setup worktable and static pad grounded at the station ground made a very safe and secure way of handling static sensitive parts including the old and new motherboard, RAM memory, and hard drives.

I upgraded the computer from an Asus Z-97 to an Asus Z-490A with 16 gigs of DDR3 RAM, and the processor changed from a 4 core i5 3800 to an 8 core i7 10700 with 32 gigs of DDR4 RAM.  I am still using my Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics card.  But quite the upgrade!  Also, with the new as of Christmas CH Products flight yoke and the rudder pedals, flying the simulator software is pretty dang realistic!  I have also been adding a lot of scenery files via the Ortho4XP free software.  See videos on how to do this at: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ortho+4+xp+x+plane+11 and if you need some simplified instructions on how to use the software, email me for a copy that my good buddy Jeremy N6JER put together.

Flying close to the 808-foot-tall in real life WSM Blaw-Knox radio tower south of Nashville Tennessee in

X-Plane 11 and the real-life thing!  The scenery in the upper picture was generated in ORTHO4XP.

And here I am sharing the “cockpit” with my copilot little grandson Lucas, complete in an aviator jacket visiting Grandpa!

Hitting “TOGA” button Grandpa!

Many thanks to our good friend Paul WBØQMR for the repeater facilities of 146.70 in Dillon/Silverthorne. The repeater is connected to SkyHubLink full time and covers Breckenridge, Dillon, Silverthorne, Frisco, and up the valley on CO 9 towards Green Mountain Reservoir.  Thanks, so much Paul for being part of the system!

And from another NETFLIX movie I watched lately, another great prop using a Zenith Transoceanic H-500 tube radio.  The story was set in the 50’s and this was actually in a radio station in the movie “The Vast of Night”.  And below, another radio setup with some pieces that are recognizable from the series “The Walking Dead”, also on NETFLIX.  A D-104 mic and Heathkit radio?  Motorola handheld?

 

And finally, this from my friend Evan Stone at WFLI in Chattanooga Tennessee!

What DO YOU DO with an old cart machine?

 

I was really happy to be able to get out on a ride this fine and WARM January day!  Sure do look forward to more!

HAMSHACK ARCHIVES FILES

 

                                                  4 Years AGO: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/01/

                                                  5 Years AGO:  http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/01/

                                                  6 Years AGO: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/01/

 

Click HERE TO CHECK OUT the latest BDR.net articles at: https://www.thebdr.net/articles/thisweek.html

 

 

 

SBE VHF/UHF Chapter 73’ of the Air SKYHUBLINK HAMnet

 

 

The SBE Chapter 73 of the Air SKYHUBLINK Hamnet is every Monday at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT) worldwide via Echolink KG0SKY-L, node 985839 (available via computer and radio), Allstar node 46079, DMR Talkgroup 310847, AND try it with your hotspot on YSFtoDMR then TalkGroup 310847 or C4FM Fusion YSF node 92722.  The Hamnet is based in Denver on 449.450, pl 103.5, KDØSSP-RPT 448.350, Fusion/Wires-X, 449.600 Fusion and the 449.625 Fusion repeater, linked to WiresX room “DenverSkyhubLink” node 46361.  Also on DMR Talkgroup 310847 on the 449.750 Timeslot 1 DMR repeater in Denver.  See www.skyhublink.com for more information.

You can listen on the LIVE STREAM thru Broadcastify at:

https://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/25448/web

or https://hose.brandmeister.network/group/310847/  

We hope you’ll join us. 

See the latest edition of “The KE0VH Hamshack” for more information at www.ke0vh.com.

 

 

The Society of Broadcast Engineers

9102 North Meridian St, Suite 150
Indianapolis, IN 46260
317-846-9000 ■ Fax 317-846-9120

 

 

 

 

 

The KE0VH Hamshack – March 2021

                                                              March 2021

I meant to include the “Happy Birthday” to Nichelle Nichols in December 2020!

She paved the way for women in so many fields as Lt. Uhuru in “Star Trek TOS”.  Here she is at the “Capcom” position in Apollo Mission Control Center.  She is 88 years old!

The “First Lady” of COMMUNICATIONS!  Wonder if she ever thought about getting a ham license!?!?

I am going to start off this months edition by typing about the big winter storm that we had the weekend of March 13/14 here along the front range of Colorado, and up into Wyoming and Nebraska.   The storm (and yes the Weather Channel had to dub it with the name “Xylia”)(who sits around and thinks of this stuff?!?!?) was a prodigious snow producer and set up just perfectly to pound the northern front range and really hit a knockout punch to Wyoming as you will see in the pictures that follow.  I had 12.5 inches officially at the KEØVH QTH with drifts of 25 inches or more in spots.  The wind blew tremendously on Sunday, and I spent several hours digging as the storm progressed to help keep my driveway clear as possible without leaving me way to much digging to do when the storm abated.  We had blizzard warnings here in my area during Sunday afternoon, and the wind kept the snow horizontally coming down for several hours.  During the storm beginning on Saturday, we activated the brand on “Colorado Severe Weather Watch Net” (https://skyhublink.com/csww-net/) on the Skyhublink system with Matt Kaskavitch KØLWC as lead forecaster and NET control.  He is a well known forecaster in the storm chasing severe weather national community so having him with his system on SkyHublink is a real plus!  Matt is a former Colorado resident who has always been fascinated with our crazy weather patterns.  Matt maintained a tireless vigil, taking more than 100 check ins during the weekend, answering questions, giving updated forecasts for certain areas, and continuous briefs on the movements of the storm plus road and highway closure information.  Here is a picture of Matt’s “command, and net control” hamshack in Maple Grove Minnesota.

Above picture my looking out my front door in Wheat Ridge after a couple of shovelings!  WET HEAVY SNOW! Didn’t want a busted car windshield either!  And WAS THE WIND EVER BLOWING!!!

This picture shows the center of the storm wrapping around the powerful Low Pressure point in the eastern part of Colorado.  Below is the associated radar.  Just about a perfect slow moving “upslope” condition here that produces large amounts of snow over the front range.  Note the extremely well defined “dry line” thru western Kansas down into Texas.  This was producing severe tornadic producing thunderstorms ahead of the dry air.

Here you can see the dry clear sky air extending all the way down to the western edge of Mexico

nearly to Baja, drawing large amounts of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico….  No Wonder!!!

 

Daryl W3ORR from his vantage point in Cheyenne Wyoming provided information and totals on the storm during the event as well.  Daryl is a certified SkyWarn ham radio operator and a professional news/weather broadcaster.  He provided up to the minute information as well during the event.  All in all the very first activation of the Colorado Severe Weather Watch Net kept all SkyHubLink users informed and kept a lot of ears on the system repeaters for not only the forecasting but in case of emergency needs such as stranded motorists and the like.

Daryl W3ORR next to a Wyoming drift against his home!

Daryl’s hamshack and the Wires-X link radio for the SkyHubLink node in Cheyenne.  He will also use this node radio, a FTM-100 for the SHL link to the new 449.775 repeater that we will deploy as soon as we can.  Currently the node is operating on 449.775 simplex until weather and scheduling permit the deployment.

Clearing the massive amounts of drifted snow from I-80 near Daryl’s QTH (photo W3ORR)

 

Starting to clear the runways at KCYS (Cheyenne airport) and Daryls weather monitoring station at his QTH

Matt and Daryl linked into the SkyHubLink system using DMR, YSF, Wires-X and Echolink connections over the duration, providing a great test of the different connecting systems on the SkyHubLink during an actual activation.  As many of you have heard me say, SkyHubLink is here to provide communications for fun and everyday amateur use for connected repeaters and to be available for emergency communications when needed.  SHL is monitored daily by quite a few folks that alert us to outages and issues, which fortunately are few and far between these days thanks to Skyler WØSKY, Jermey WØJRL, Steve KDØSBN, and others. 😊 PLEASE JOIN US! www.skyhublink.com!

The KEØVH backyard and HF antennas, and below, Liu Liu, enjoying finally being out of the house!

In other happenings this month, on the Monday night before the snow started I was in Scottsbluff NE to install a new transmitter at our site the next morning.  The SBE/SkyHubLink Monday Night Net was ran via hotspot to cell phone tethering from my hotel room that evening.   Hotspot versatility is so useful when away from the main repeater coverage, although we hope to have the Scottsbluff SHL repeater back on the air soon from the South Mitchell site west of Scottsbluff and Gering.  When it is back on the air not only will the repeater cover the local area but a large section north, west into Wyoming, east towards Hastings, and SE towards Cheyenne, bringing just about non-stop coverage from Nebraska to New Mexico!

The Hotspot in the hotel room.  It is a Raspberry Pi-ZERO with an MMDVM board inside a small plastic case picked up at Walmart.  Travels well, I always carry it with me for reaching back to SkyHubLink when no linked repeaters are available.  You can get a kit that includes all except the $15 or so RPi0 board by going to this link:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/For-Raspberry-pi-UHF-VHF-MMDVM-hotspot-OLED-Antenna-Case-Support-P25-DMR-YSF-/402644605559

Our friend and sysop of the KDØSBN repeaters Pueblo west and Weston Steve, has been working on and tuning filters as of late for the machines he is setting up.  He has found a very effective way to test using Baofeng HT’s along with utilizing the NANO-VNA antenna analyzer.  Steve has done a great job setting these up using these inexpensive testing tools.  Very clever and cost effective!

Tuning the filters using the NANO-VNA

And then testing the passthrough and rejection frequencies using the Baofeng HT’s

 

 USING THE NANO-VNA connected to a laptop with the software

By the way, he is setting this system up for the, as he says, “somewhere near Weston” deployment for SkyHubLink coverage south of Walsenburg down to Trinadad.  Right now, he is operating it on the repeater frequency of 145.31 down in that area.  GREAT COVERAGE, and we cannot wait to get the repeater on line down there!

 

We may actually have another announcement regarding Fusion Wires-X and Colorado Springs SOON!  Stand by for NEWS!   Oh, and By The Way:

HAMSHACK ARCHIVES FILES

                                                   4 Years AGO: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/03/

                                                  5 Years AGO:  http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/03/

                                                  6 Years AGO: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/03/

 

Click HERE TO CHECK OUT the latest BDR.net articles at: https://www.thebdr.net/articles/thisweek.html

 

 

SBE VHF/UHF Chapter 73’ of the Air SKYHUBLINK HAMnet

 

 

The SBE Chapter 73 of the Air SKYHUBLINK Hamnet is every Monday at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT) worldwide via Echolink KG0SKY-L, node 985839 (available via computer and radio), Allstar node 46079, DMR Talkgroup 310847, AND try it with your hotspot on YSFtoDMR then TalkGroup 310847 or C4FM Fusion YSF node 92722.  The Hamnet is based in Denver on 449.450, pl 103.5, KDØSSP-RPT 448.350, Fusion/Wires-X, 449.600 Fusion and the 449.625 Fusion repeater, linked to WiresX room “DenverSkyhubLink” node 46361.  Also on DMR Talkgroup 310847 on the 449.750 Timeslot 1 DMR repeater in Denver.  See www.skyhublink.com for more information.

You can listen on the LIVE STREAM thru Broadcastify at:

https://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/25448/web

or https://hose.brandmeister.network/group/310847/  

We hope you’ll join us. 

See the latest edition of “The KE0VH Hamshack” for more information at www.ke0vh.com.

 

 

The Society of Broadcast Engineers

9102 North Meridian St, Suite 150
Indianapolis, IN 46260
317-846-9000 ■ Fax 317-846-9120

 

 

 

 

 

March  2021 – Clay’s Corner

March  2021 – Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers

perspective since September 1986

 

Some liked him, some did not….but all can likely agree that Rush Limbaugh was one of the most influential broadcasters of our time. Just about a year after he announced that he had cancer, and it was terminal, Rush passed away on February 17th. For over 32 years, since August 1, 1988, Rush was on the air, daily, on some 600 stations and an audience in the millions.

Here, locally, his show was carried by Bonneville’s KTTH from 9 to noon. If you traveled much around the country, regardless of where you were during this time slot, you could find Rush on the air, usually on AM.

Many did not know that he got his start on the Radio as a DJ while still in high school and worked at various stations across the country. Give a listen to the following link. In it you will be certain to recognize his voice and the type of patter he continued to use in his show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=FPgO9NLy-7A&fbclid=IwAR3cGmuexJhybKJQ3RBIKpgUrS7xZ6Q0ZL3flLmDE5gudbgGaScEz1plYlo

Many are saying he got his real break in 1984 at KFBK in Sacramento.

Rush was an entertainer who became a political figure even though he was not a politician. People in entertainment know how important it is to find their niche. Rush certainly found his, and made millions doing so. Along the way he became the voice of the conservative movement and is given credit for having been very influential in the process. Apparently, much what we heard was ‘Showman Rush’ while in private he was a lower key humble man.

Another area needs to be mentioned…how he influenced AM Radio. I don’t know if he was on an FM Station somewhere…perhaps so…however is show was predominately on AM Stations, both large and small. His popularity was welcomed by owners and operators of AM’s at a time that many of them were falling behind to FM’s. Some have called him the savior of AM.

His passing  has now created a lot of concern at those stations that could well be viewing Rush’s death as an event that may, ultimately, cost them money and audience. Many a station felt that they were lucky to have Rush on their station…and often the ratings proved it.

Not often do we lose a talk show host and have a governor announce that flags will be flown at half staff. That’s what took place in Florida.

What is often not discussed is how he was very generous with his support of charities.

The network that carried his program, a division of iHeart Media, is certainly aware of the issue and is planning on airing re-runs, or ‘The Best of Rush’ for those that will want to hear his voice. He was the kind of a personality that you can’t just go out and hire a replacement for.

Since the onset of his illness, there have been several who have been subbing for Rush, including some from this area. I was thinking that this would be like trying to replace John Wayne or Alex Trebek. These are shoes that may be impossible to fill. Eventually, perhaps someone will be hired that can build on his success. Only time will tell. As I heard someone say, not everyone can sit down and talk three hours without a script! Another said, Jimmy Fallon may host “The Tonight Show,” but he’ll never be Johnny Carson. Another example comes to mind. Remember when Paul Harvey passed? There was an attempt to fill that slot with (if I recall correctly) his son that did not work as hoped for.

For those who need a periodic infusion of hyper-conservative rhetoric, there are no shortage of on Radio and TV willing to fill their tank with questionable substances.

Speaking of Jeopardy, the search goes on for a host for that popular show upon the death of long-time host Alex Trebek. In this case, the producers are going to be using some big names as guest hosts. That may work for a TV game show, but one that requires the host to do what Rush was doing is another matter.

Interesting bit of timing in that we recently lost another in a similar line of work – Larry King. Both of these men have left a very big mark in the world of Broadcasting.

Certainly, worth mentioning is what might be called one of the most difficult ‘remote broadcasts’ that came in the form of the latest landing of a package of equipment on the planet Mars. This one will have many more cameras and – microphones!!

The fact that the time difference makes it impossible for anyone to make a last minute correction, makes this all the more challenging. This is, perhaps, the ultimate automation system. In this case, it had to be smart enough to ‘think on its own’ and make last second corrections if required. This is nothing short of amazing.

One aspect of this mission is demonstrated in the following picture. Think of it. You have this automated landing sequence involving multiple devices that in the end lowers the rover to the surface with a parachute…and, in a case of incredible timing, you have the MRO orbiting the planet and able to capture an image of that portion of the landing sequence and transmit that image back to us millions of miles away. Words cannot adequately express how this one made me feel.

Now the exploration process will be ramping up and our TV screens will be filled with new images that only a few years ago would have been deemed totally impossible.

© JPL-Caltech/NASA HiRISE captured this image of Perseverance on its way to the landing site.

 

As my readers know, this past month I wrote rather extensive comments about truth, misinformation etc. After I had finished writing my column, news items were coming in that were related directly to what I was talking about.

Note this one came from ABC News (I highlighted portions).

 

DHS uses alert system for 1st time in a year to warn of domestic terrorism threat

Using a federal system designed to warn all Americans about terrorist threats to the U.S. homeland, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning that anger “fueled by false narratives”, especially unfounded claims about the 2020 presidential election, could lead some inside the country to launch attacks in the coming weeks.

 

And this from the New York Times –

The Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol has become a catalyst strengthening federal lawmakers’ resolve to enact stronger regulations on technology giants like Google and Facebook, whose platforms were used to spread election misinformation and incite the deadly riots. Members of Congress are already pursuing antitrust regulations to prevent big tech companies from wielding too much power, but action on hate speech, disinformation and data privacy could also come under President Joe Biden’s administration.

I recall hearing warnings, about 70 years ago, about this kind of thing. In those days we were told that this was the work of ‘Communists and Enemies’.

So congress is holding hearings and probes…’Tis what they do! They are also looking into popular social media platforms. Of course we can expect the political parties to get irritated. Frankly, I’m not sure that the U.S. Congress will be able to be objective, as they are likely to spend more time trying to protect their own biased view of the truth.

I wonder if they will also look into YouTube. There you can find people talking about every topic on the planet as if they were an expert…some of it pretty radical. What’s stopping anyone from putting on a white coat and adopting a name with doctor in front and promoting the latest snake oil?

In my opinion (which is worth as much as the ink that this column is printed on) we may well be incapable of having an objected, unbiased, bipartisan view of these issues. What we need to create is ‘Truth Police’. Or perhaps the ability to take the truth stretchers to court to prove what they are saying is true or face mandatory punishment. Many would, of course, call this a form of censorship and claim that their constitutional rights were being trampled. Oh well…I can dream, can’t I?

Former CNN host and now employee of Hearst Television Soledad O’Brien put it this way:

“I think that is nothing that the Congress has to deal with. It’s news organizations themselves who should hold themselves to this standard. It’s a journalistic standard,” O’Brien pushed for news outlets to avoid posing every story as “having two sides,” and to stop booking “liars” that spread false information. “Every perspective does not deserve a platform,” she said. “Media thrives on the open exchange of ideas, but that doesn’t mean you have to book a neo-Nazi every time you book someone who is Jewish.”

If you think that misinformation is something new…well, think again. The following is from ‘Science News’:

 

100 years ago, in 1921, The media magnate E.W. Scripps was contemplating the parallel goals he saw in science and journalism: to discover how the world works, and to explain it truthfully and in a way that people can understand. An informed, educated public, he believed, was essential to a democratic society.  Scripps was appalled by the media’s willingness to promote fake cures and dangerous theories, writing in 1919 that “there is a vast quantity of misinformation being constantly spread abroad by our newspapers.

 

As pointed out by the previous, we have been dealing with misinformation and conspiracy theories for a very long time. Unfortunately some broadcasters and the Internet have provided a vehicle to spread further and faster than ever before.

Fear is a ‘lubricant’ for these items. Remember a few years ago when NIER first was mentioned. Suddenly many who lived near a broadcast transmitter was thinking that they were getting ‘radiated’ and would, as a result, develop cancer. Cougar Mountain in our area became ground zero due to, at that time, the 10 – 100,000 kW FM’s that were there. Broadcasters across the country were suddenly having to deal with a new issue. Cellular has had their battles with neighbors putting up a fight over the thought of having a cell site nearby. Keeping those radiation hazards away from schools is common. More recently, the term 5G has come to mean evil with conspiracy theories linking these new communications systems with the Coronavirus, in some cases, causing people to attempt to destroy these new systems. In the case of the Internet, there is no limit to the amount of misinformation that can be spread. Only recently, after the Capitol Riots, have the social media system that many use to spread false and misleading information come under review of law makers that have come to learn first hand the damage that can be done, all in the name of free speech.

A well known person in this area, Bill Gates, has a conspiracy theory attached to his name as well. There are those who think that the Covid-19 vaccine being administered now also contains microchips that would permit tracking of those that received the shot. This is enough for some to declare they don’t want to be vaccinated.

A firm, based here in Seattle, according to this item from the Seattle Times appears to be also involved in the promotion of misinformation.

By Katherine Khashimova Long

Seattle Times business reporter

As vaccine misinformation has prompted some to say they will refuse to be inoculated against the coronavirus, the world’s largest online retailer remains a hotbed for anti-vaccination conspiracy theories, according to a new study by University of Washington researchers.

Amazon’s search algorithm boosts books promoting false claims about vaccines over those that debunk health misinformation, the researchers found — and as customers engage with products espousing bogus science, Amazon’s recommendation algorithms point them to additional health misinformation.

In the future, the fallout and damage from all of this will, perhaps, lead to regulations where there are licenses involved. Could a licensee of a Radio or TV station be challenged because they aired misinformation?

On the Coronavirus front:

The sad news is that deaths from this terrible virus have now gone past the 500,000 mark and they are predicting another 100,000 may succumb in the next couple of months. Looking at the annual death toll from other diseases, you find that about 730,000 or 29% of all deaths in the U.S. are attributed to heart disease and stroke. 580,000 or 23% are due to cancer. 140,000 die due to chronic respiratory disease and 130,000 die from accidents (including motor vehicle). Looking at it this way, at least over the past year, Covid-19 has become the 3rd largest cause of death.

Perhaps interesting is that Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. have lowered the life expectancy in this country by just over a year (1.13) with a disproportionate impact on Black and Latino populations.

The good news is the curves are (finally) going in the right direction. Vaccinations are increasing and we are all gaining hope.

Olympic Games authorities have yet to decide whether the Tokyo games will go forward this summer, due to rising coronavirus case numbers and vaccine shortages. NBCUniversal had bet on Olympic coverage in 2020 to kick start Peacock, and could lose billions in advertising revenue if the games are cancelled.

Looks like we will indeed have an NAB convention in Las Vegas this year, albeit, in the fall. Already plans are being made for a Spring show in 2022 to get us back on track.

As has been said by many – for the vaccine to work its magic, the majority of the population has to get it. Therein lies a problem. We have way too many who feel that the virus is a hoax or they have a degree of vaccine hesitancy. The sad part is some of these people are not likely to change their mind. This brings us back to the idea I wrote about quite a while back. We are likely to have to resort to some kind of incentive system to help with the issue. Employers can and should be engaged here (already some are). I suspect certain modes of travel may have to impose restrictions. How about if you want to attend a sporting event, you have to have been vaccinated? However, this would likely start up those who would take advantage of the situation by selling bogus Vaccination ID cards.

Perhaps we should look at Israel, a country with a high percentage of its citizens now vaccinated, to see how things are working there. Their parliament just passed a law allowing the government to share the ID’s of those that have not had their shots with other authorities until the pandemic is determined to be over. The big question, do people have a right to not be vaccinated? Which takes me to a couple of questions:

  • Could KRUD Broadcasting ask an applicant, or one that’s been working from home, if they have been vaccinated, or would that violate their rights to privacy?
  • Could KRUD choose to hire a vaccinated person over one that was not?

The pandemic has provided an opportunity for those who seek to profit from the situation. I recently received this item from a provider of internet spam:

According to Google, Gmail users received 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19 during the early months of the pandemic (back in April). Add to that another 240 million COVID-related daily spam messages.

OK enough of that…shifting gear to EAS (one of my favorite topics):

For well over a year the Washington State SECC has had a Committee working on revising the State EAS Plan. One of the major reasons for this activity has been the FCC’s efforts in creating a uniform platform for EAS plans. At this point, state EAS plans have been ‘all over the map’ making it difficult for the FCC to approve them. Additionally, the FCC needed a better way to determine what the SECC’s were doing in the area of providing monitoring assignments for Participants (Radio and TV Stations and Cable). They have developed a system called ARS that will provide a method for SECC’s to report their work to the FCC. In turn, this information will be used to ‘cross-check’ the information the FCC receives from participants via ETRS. Fortunately, the Washington SECC’s Plan Revision Committee has been able to participate in a couple of webinars and beta tests of the system. Frankly, we have been waiting for the FCC to launch this new system. Well, the wait is over. What we did not know is the Commission is launching ARS within a new NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making).

This NPRM has hit the streets and is being reported on by various organizations that provide news etc. to Radio and TV Broadcasters (and I assume Cable operators). Most are labeling this as ‘FCC plans for improving EAS’.

The NPRM certainly does cover the long awaited ARS, but it also deals with some areas of EAS changes that are not part of it. Keep in mind that the FCC, like the Washington SECC, considers WEA as part of Public Alert and Warning. Therefore some of the new NPRM concerns both.

Here are some of the highlights (there are many more):

  • Mobile devices (FCC speak for your smartphone) would not be allowed to opt out of WEA alerts from FEMA
  •  SECC’s would have to meet at least once per year (Washington meet bi-monthly)
  •  Establish a requirement for SECC’s to work with the FCC (ARS)
  •  EAS Plans would not be available on the FCC Web Site (States could, if they wished)
  •  We may have some new Event Codes. For example, one dealing with National Security. Event codes dealing with this issue were dropped some years ago with the winding down of the cold war.
  •  Create a new Originator Code (NCA) that would permit FEMA to issue national level emergencies (presently only provision is for Presidential Messages). With that would come a new Event Code (NSE). Yes, this would likely require all EAS equipment to be upgraded.
  •  Create a mechanism for reporting EAS or WEA false alerts (think Hawaii missile attack)
  •  Propose a rule to require repeating an EAS message (currently these messages are a one time thing)

Part of the FCC release is an NOI (Notice of Inquiry)  that asks questions. These are typically efforts by the FCC to ‘run the matter up the flag-pole’.

  •  They are looking for input on the feasibility of delivering EAS Alerts via the internet and streaming services.
  •   How to augment Radio and TV, Cable and Satellite Radio message delivery via the internet.

I highly recommend that everyone carefully watch this activity as it will – very likely – impact many. I also recommend that you download the entire 52 page document from the FCC for the simple reason that the devil is in the details! Knowing the details has a lot of benefits.

Looking back at my early days in this business, maintenance of a broadcast station was very different than it is today. Sure, we had Vacuum Tubes, but we were required to determine the reason why a piece of equipment failed and then replace it so it would be placed back in service. The term for this is ‘component level trouble-shooting’. We relied on a number of businesses in our area that stocked the necessary parts. Those firms did not rely exclusively on broadcasters to keep them in business, as there were a large number of Radio-TV repair shops that were repairing consumer electronic equipment.

Over the years electronic equipment underwent major changes…becoming significantly more reliable. It also became increasingly more complicated to the point that some equipment could no longer be repaired locally. In many cases, it became more cost effective to replace it rather than repair it.

At the hobby level – electronics have made a major shift.

At the consumer level – you no longer see a Radio-TV repair shop in your area. Today you see consumer electronic equipment awaiting to be picked up with the trash.

So, when the demand dries up, so do the suppliers. Remember it was not that long ago that we lost Radio Shack. Recently it was announced that Fry’s were closing their doors – not just the huge facility in Renton – but all 31 stores, after nearly 36 years in business. Sure the Pandemic played a role, but the demand for a local electronics store has just about totally dried up. Today, there are (maybe) a handful in our area.

Thankfully there is still sufficient demand, so that a firm operating nationally can still supply those resistors and capacitors. And, yes…you can buy them from Amazon.

Now that huge building in Renton will be on the market, joining others that include K-Mart, Sears and others.

So who are the winners in this? As I sit here at home writing this, to my left is a window looking out at my street. Already today I’ve see trucks from Amazon, FedEx and UPS…and I live on a dead-end! Welcome to the new world.

Last month I noted the amount of gray, or missing, hair at the SBE Chapter Meeting. Here’s an item I ran across from NAB that digs into that issue:

Stations struggle to recruit, train new generation of broadcast engineers | Current

Another manufacturer of equipment has called it quits. Ward Beck Systems, maker of audio equipment has ceased operations. The company was founded by in 1967 by Ron Ward and Rodger Beck.

After wondering if we were going to get any lowland snow this winter, the wait was over on the afternoon of the 12th as the flakes began to fall. Our area was turned into a winter wonderland with snowfall over just about all of Western Washington. Officially, SeaTac Airport recorded just over 12 inches of the stuff. Not often you see snowmobiles going down your street!

Like most snow events in this area, warmer air was winning out later on Saturday. Meanwhile, south of us, Northwest Oregon was getting freezing rain that was causing a lot of headaches and power outages. I recall living in Portland, as a kid, and experiencing what my folks called a ‘Silver Thaw’ that did a lot of damage with inches of ice covering everything. Thankfully, we have few of these events in the Seattle/Tacoma area. I do recall one however, around Christmas, when the ice brought down a lot of power lines and trees. SR-18 east of Auburn was closed due to fallen timber.

Here’s a picture of a Ham Radio antenna from the Portland area belonging to former Entercom-Portland Chief Engineer, Kent Randles being bent over by the ice-storm that hit that area.

The Ice winning this battle!

Here Kent is showing how the ice built up on the guy ropes holding his antenna.

 

On the hills to the west of downtown Portland are many very large towers that support antennas for the area’s FM and TV Stations. You have to believe that they collected their share of ice as well. When the temperatures warmed, that ice falls to the ground. You DO NOT want to be near one of them when this is taking place.

Pat Shearer, Broadcast/RF Systems Engineer for KPTV/KPDX Broadcasting, shared the following picture. He wrote:

“The attached pic shows the 4″ ice that was covering the tower at the peak of the storm

There were literally hundreds of pieces of ice laying on the ground at the base of the tower. I took that pic to show the thickness but that piece was by far not the largest one I saw. there was one that was about 16″ x 5″ x 4″ thick and you could see the curve where it came off a tower leg.”

Look at the size of those ‘ice-cubes’ compared to that glove.

 

Pictured here is the second winter site access vehicle owned by AccelNet. They need to access West Tiger too, due to their growing amount of facilities up there. It’s been interesting to observe how Land Mobile/2-Way radios were replaced by Cellular, which significantly reduced the amount of equipment at these mountain top facilities. Now they are being put to use by firms, like AccelNet who are called WISPs or Wireless Internet Service Providers.

 

 

This picture was taken by Doug Fisher of the transmitter building at South Mountain, home of KOMO-FM, KDDS and KLSY. He said there was 4-5 feet of snow on top.

The forecast on Saturday the 13th indicated that by the following weekend, all of this would be just a memory with temperatures to be near 50. Time to be putting away the snow shovels and thinking about getting that lawn mower started for the season to come.

For those of us who still, routinely, travel to higher elevation locations, we can look forward to, perhaps, two more months of winter weather at locations like West Tiger Mt. where snow can, and often does, remain a factor until mid April.

Meanwhile, Snoqualmie Pass (25 miles to the ESE at a similar elevation) is experiencing the most amount of snow they’ve had in 10 years…and winter is not over yet. You can check out the snow totals by going to WSDOT, Mountain Passes, Snoqualmie Pass, Snow Dept. Report. It will ask you to choose which pass and season. Interesting to look back at previous years to see how this year stacks up (no pun).

After the big snow, Alex Brewster and Rob Purdy needed to go up to West Tiger for a Hubbard Issue and found this about two miles up the 6+ miles to the site:

Their Jeep, with chains, was dragging bottom. Next step – call Doug Fisher to come up with his Gator with tracks.

Steven Allen visiting the KIRO-AM Transmitter on Vashon after the snow found that someone had built a snowman…with a big smile!

Meanwhile other parts are dealing with some historic winter conditions. This headline is something you don’t often see.

Blackouts Cascade Beyond Texas in Deepening Power Crisis

Severe winter weather is not something you normally associate with Texas, but not this year, as the mid-February frigid weather spread across the middle of the continent all the way into Mexico. Here are some of the high (or low) points related to this years winter blast.

The record low temperatures are exceeding the capacity of many electrical utilities, which have been forced into having rotating outages all the way into Mexico.

  • At a time where there is political pressure to shift from a fossil fuel generation to one based on renewable energy sources, this is proving to be a huge wake-up call.
  • Many wind power systems have been rendered out of commission due to something they apparently did not plan on – ice on the blades.
  • Oil production has been reduced due to the cold, which is causing gas prices to increase all over.
  • A shortage of natural gas has forced a number of generating plants off line as consumers furnaces are running like never before.
  • Cold is having an effect on the electric grid much as excessive heat did this part year.
  • It was 18 degrees in Houston, matching the temperature in Anchorage. Meanwhile, it was 5 degrees in Dallas.
  • Abilene Texas had 14 inches of snow (we had just over 4).
  • This storm is a big one — stretching all the way from Texas to New England. Unlike most winters, Texas has been hit the hardest.

Here’s a picture of them de-Icing blades on a wind turbine:

I wonder if the operators of all the wind farms in our state are prepared to deal with a situation like this?

Texas broadcasters jumped into action providing citizens with badly needed information. Many scrambled to stay on the air. Certainly those with generators and an adequate supply of fuel learned of the value of planning ahead for the unforeseen. Tragically, the state did very little in the way of public warning via EAS etc. Obviously there are going to be a lot of ‘corrective actions’ taken in the months ahead.

Thinking about this, I wonder what would happen to this area if we were hit with the kind of weather Texas had? There are likely many that feel. ‘That won’t happen here’.

Obviously there will be some serious repercussions from this event. We’ve not heard the last about this one. Far from it. A lot of politicians likely are very apprehensive about the next election cycle.

Interestingly the Chinese are using this event to tout how this would not take place in their country due to their superior system of government.

The following was posted on the EAS Forum: Needless to say, there are a lot of very upset people in the Lone Star State.

Time to add Texas to the list of states needing to learn lessons from other states. All disasters may be local, but the resources and response shouldn’t be just local.

Texas Tribune

As Texans endured days in the dark, the state failed to deliver vital emergency information.

When the lights went out this week and Texans lost access to power and clean drinking water, the Texas Division of Emergency Management failed to provide accessible and life-saving updates on outages and inclement weather.

Texas was not the only place in the country to experience the ravages of winter this year.

What you are looking at here is the top of a tower that used to hold an FM broadcast antenna (the black things in the picture) for KOEZ in Des Moines, Iowa, laying on the ground.

 

In this case the storm toppled the top half of the tower of the 100,000 watt station.

The bottom line – we here in this area have it pretty good in many ways and should be very thankful! At the same time, we should not be smug and complacent!

I often write about West Tiger (the mountain). Lowell Kiesow (Chief Engineer for KNKX) ran across this one. Look closely at the little white building.

According to Lowell, the place pictured is on the BNSF Cherokee sub near Catoosa, Oklahoma.

Just for fun, I Googled West Tiger and found some interesting and unrelated things.

  • How about the Appleton West Tigers Lacrosse Team in Appleton, Wisconsin?
  • Let’s not forget the West Tiger Salamander.

 

Well….The Radio Ratings are out. Here’s how the 12+ top-stations stack up:

#1 KIRO-FM  (News/Talk)
#2 KUOW      (News/Talk)
#3 KISW         Rock (of course)
#4 KOMO       (News)
#5 KZOK
#6 KQMV
#7 KJR-FM
#8 KEXP
#9 KSWD
#10 KRWM

A couple of observations…

  • 3 of the top 4 don’t play music
  • #2 and #8 don’t play commercials
  • #8, compared to the others, has very limited coverage

 

From the department of ‘I recall those call letters’…

KFKF – Once used in Bellevue now resides with an FM station in Kansas City.

Here is truly a great picture from the Seattle Times. You can see the I-90 Floating Bridges crossing Lake Washington. If you look carefully at the upper right corner, you can see the broadcast towers on West Tiger Mt.

 

Coming as no surprise – Boeing announced an $11.9 billion loss in 2020. Their list of issues just keeps growing.

  • The grounding of the 737 Max (thankfully recently lifted)
  • QC issues with their 787
  • Huge write-off on the 777 Max
  • The recent engine failure on a 777 (not their fault)

As a result they are moving all the 787 production to South Carolina and recently announced they are moving out of one of their buildings in the former Longacres site.

Sinclair and KOMO recently made the news with their announcement that they will be delivering their local radio stations via the KOMO-TV ATSC-3.0 signals.

Probably a bit early to ask that auto dealer where you are shopping for new wheels if they can receive it. Time will tell if this will be a competitor to other providers of audio content to vehicles such as SiriusXM. I have to wonder, are we doing this because we can or because of a forecast for demand. Oh yes, it has a name – Nextgen TV Hybrid Service. If you have a NextGen TV let me know how it works.

In the big bad world of spectrum shuffling, a company representing the small user is asking the FCC to reverse a decision. Shure Inc., maker of wireless microphones has filed a petition with the Commish, asking them to reverse its position and guarantee that at least one 6 MHz TV channel in each market be reserved for wireless use. What is perhaps not well understood inside the Beltway is the fact that there are a zillion wireless microphones out there that need a place to operate. I’d bet that most of their owners are not aware of all of the spectrum changes or are just ignoring them, hoping for the best.

To their credit, the FCC did identify spectrum at 900 MHz, 1.4 and 7 GHz as alternatives. Shure has pointed out how this effort falls short. There is more info on the Shure Website.

Congratulations to KISW in Seattle as they celebrate their 50th anniversary. KISW is not just celebrating 50 years on the air, they are celebrating 50 years with the same format. Not many radio stations can make that claim. Feb 14th, 1971. Do you remember those days? Over the years the station has been owned by various firms. For the last several, it has been Entercom. Their transmitter is at West Tiger, where they share a transmit antenna with other Entercom stations KNDD, KKWF and KHTP (as well as several others). They moved to West Tiger from Cougar Mt. Before that, their transmitter was on Roosevelt Hill.

How about a couple of pretty pictures from the AccelNet Cameras. This first one is from their Cougar Mt. camera. The tower on the left is used by 94.1 and 96.5 as an auxiliary. In the distance you can see the entire Olympic Mountain range sporting a wonderful coating of snow.

The following is from one of the several cameras they have on West Tiger. I liked this one as it was looking directly into the Sun. Note the coating of snow on the trees.

Radio employment opportunities in Seattle this month:

  • Daniel Sipe has elected to exit broadcasting and iHeartMedia and is going to work for a gaming company. This means there is a job opening….

https://iheartmedia.wd5.myworkdayjobs.com/en-US/External_iHM/job/Seattle-WA-645-Elliot/Regional-Engineer_Req23058-1

  • Paul Carvalho is no longer with Bonneville-Seattle creating an employment opportunity. Steven Allen is filling in until a permanent replacement is named.

https://deseretmanagement.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/en-US/BonSeattle/job/Seattle/Chief-Engineer_R3162

And, you are looking to get out of town and really love snow…consider this one:

There are two job openings at New Hampshire Public Radio. One is Senior Broadcast Engineer, which is primarily responsible for the studio facilities, and the other, Broadcast Transmission Engineer, which is primarily responsible for the transmitter sites. Both will overlap into the other, but this is their primary focus. If you’re interested, please take a look at  https://nhpr.applicantpro.com/jobs/

Interested? Contact Randy Woods –  RWoods@NHPR.org

The NAB has filed an objection with the FCC to a proposal from Geo Broadcast that would let programs originate on FM Boosters. Much of this is based on Geo’s experience with what are called SFN’s or Single Frequency Networks. This is where an FM Station operates one, or more, boosters using the same frequency. (Bustos Media has been doing this here in this area for some time on 99.3.) The concept would permit these systems to geo-target commercials on those boosters that serve specific areas. There are obviously pros and cons, and now that the FCC has been asked to create rules that would make this a permissible activity. Its time for interested parties to make comments.

The NAB has stated, “permitting program origination on boosters will almost certainly drive both advertising rates and revenues down even further as advertisers push to purchase geo-targeted ads.”

Photographer extraordinaire, Dwight Small, captured this gem with his cellphone camera of a wonderful moonset over his backyard. Can you imagine telling George Eastman that one day you would be able to take pictures like this with a telephone…at night?

 

I asked Dwight what he was doing up at that time of morning. He said he just woke up early…and now we can all benefit.
Permitting foreign ownership of a broadcast station in the U.S. has long been an issue. In recent years rules have changed. It was recently announced that a British radio/ outdoor media firm has purchased an 8.8% stake in iHeartMedia worth 117.6 million U.S. Bucks.

Speaking of money changing hands, three law firms will receive $3.47 million in fees as a part of a Class Action settlement with SiriusXM. Seems the Satcaster used the term ‘Lifetime Subscription’ with some of their customers. When those customers tried to transfer their subscription to another vehicle the company baulked. Apparently they meant for the lifetime of the receiver or vehicle, not the customer (oops). So now, as a result of the settlement, about a million SiriusXM customers will indeed have a ‘lifetime’ subscription. At times it pays to read the fine print.

From the category of ‘Is it just me?’ I have certainly noticed a big increase in the number of Robocalls I’ve been receiving. Some of the more memorable:

  • Hello, this is Kate…From the broken English used, I have to assume a Eastern Europe location. The pitch varies. She is telling you that something you don’t want is about to happen and to press a number to be connected to someone that can help. The one I recently received advised me that my computer virus protection company has gone out of busines and I am to Press- ___ to be connected to the refund department.
  • The Social Security Fear Call (they know my age and that I’m likely collecting it.) The caller advises you that they are from the Social Security Administration and have detected illegal activity and are to press a number.
  • The Car Warranty call. Your vehicle warranty has expired, but they can help.
  • The Expensive Amazon Purchase. You have ordered something expensive (usually an I-Phone) and if you wish to cancel…Press…

Number spoofing only adds to the problem as your Caller ID has been rendered useless. If  you call the number back you often find out it’s a number that’s been disconnected…but not always. I have found that an innocent person will answer and be surprised to learn how their number is being used.

Just about all of them are wanting you to ‘take the bait’. Often using fear as the prime motivator. Once you press that number you get some smooth talker that wants your credit card number so they can get you a refund. Just for fun, a while back, I played along. When they asked if I wanted the refund…I said Sure! When they asked for credit card information, I told them that I did not use a credit card and requested they send a cashiers check. In about two nanoseconds they hung up.

The sad part is that there likely many that take the bait and become a scam victim. If there were not, they would give up and go away.

And, we have been given the opinion that our Government is cracking down on this kind of thing. Perhaps these operators are like those that operate Pirate Radio Stations? They are, apparently, a few steps ahead of the law…or could care less about government efforts to curtail their business?

This has impacted me in one major way. Whereas I am on call for the people I work for, I have always left my cellphone on in my bedroom at night. Regrettably, these yahoos like to make their calls at all hours. My desire to get a full nights sleep is going to mean that if I am wanted during bed-time they are going to have to call my land line. I will simply put my phone on mute.

Remember the old days when a long distance phone call cost a lot of money? And there were no computers to do all the dirty work? Back then these types had to use real money and pay for printing and postage to get this stuff into your mailbox. Here’s a reversal: A Radio broadcaster in Milwaukee is reported to be signing a deal that will have them move their stations to a downtown mall. The new space will have window view of the studios. In the past, locating radio stations within malls or at street level in downtowns was popular. I fondly remember KISN being on a downtown Portland street where you could view the announcers.

Perhaps this is in the category of when old becomes new again?

Guess I should mention that across the street from T-Mobile Park in Seattle are the KING-TV Studios.

With Malls and Radio stations both hurting financially, perhaps this will come back?

Earlier in this column I was lamenting about the demise of the local electronic parts store. One of those ‘components’ that we used to use is becoming increasingly scarce. That being the 3AG fuse. Recently someone wrote about this little critter titling the piece: Goodbye 3AG fuse, we’ll miss you

He lead the piece with a picture of a ‘good fuse’:

And followed with a blown one:

His article was written for someone that likely does not repair electronic equipment.

The bottom line is the good old fuses, like these, are indeed becoming increasingly rare in today’s equipment, as power levels are lower and the demand for something smaller has become essential.

Then there is the old joke –

The story of the newbie who was tasked to check and sort all of the spare fuses. When the boss returned to check, all of the fuses had been discarded. “They were all shorted!”

Over the years I’ve worked with a lot of people in the ‘Radio Biz’. Perhaps because of the fear that your gender will be confused by your listeners, most announcers/ DJ’s etc. have ‘lower’ pitched voices. I’m sure you have heard someone say to a person with a low voice – They have a voice for Radio.

Well,  there are low voices and then there are LOW voices –

Listen To The Guy With The World’s Lowest Voice Sing ‘Lonesome Road’ – Digg

I always like to end this column with a funny or two, usually sent to me by my readers.

The next one is certainly in the ‘Groaner’ category.

A special thanks to all of you that sent me pictures this month. (Keep ‘em coming.)

That’s about it for this month, my friends. Lord willing, I will be back next month at most of the usual locations.

Until then, get vaccinated, stay safe and continue to wear your mask…and that means cover your nose too.

The ‘All-Clear’ Is getting closer.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

A SBE Fellow

SBE Member # 714

Since March 1968

 

 

 

 

February  2021 – Clay’s Corner

February  2021 – Clay’s Corner

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

 

 

The big news item of this past month was likely the events in WDC. The amount of air-time given to this was huge.

The word of the month was ‘STORM’…

  • Storming the Capital in WDC on Jan. 6th
  • Rain and wind Storms in WA State on Jan. 12th

On the night of the 12th our Atmospheric River induced heavy rain was aided by a pretty intense windstorm that knocked out power to, reportedly, over 500,000 customers of PSE, Seattle City Light, Clallum County PUD, Tacoma Power and Lewis County PUD (I’m sure there were others).

Many likely did not receive much warning about the windstorm, giving them time to be able to avoid flying patio furniture. Lowell Kiesow (KNKX) submitted this excellent item about the sudden storm:

https://theconvergencezone.com/2021/01/13/5-reasons-why-a-significant-puget-sound-windstorm-occurred-with-almost-no-warning/

Sinclair’s Tim Moore submitted these pictures of the power lines feeding the Cougar Mt. broadcast transmitters, at this point, laying on the ground. This was one of the longer power outages at Cougar Mt., with power being restored about 10 p.m. on the 16th, making it about a five day outage.

Look closely at this tree that was snapped off by the wind.

 

I received a note from Paul Carvalho at KIRO Radio that was an interesting twist. Due to Covid, many of their on-air personnel were working from home, as opposed to coming into the downtown studios. Then, along comes a big windstorm, with many of those home studios being without power. Time to find isolated places within the studio for them to work from, causing quite a scramble.

Arthur Willits was on his way to West Tiger to check on the Day-Star TV transmitter when he discovered that access was going to require a big chainsaw.

Doug Fisher reported that South Mountain got hit very hard with flooding and landslides taking out the powerline and generator failures. That site, finally got its power back from Mason County PUD at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Many of the AM’s on Vashon were impacted by power outages, as well indicated on the PSE Outage Map on the morning of the 13th. Thankfully, all of them have generators.

Thankfully, the evening of the 14th we were treated with a wonderful sunset. This taken from my back deck:

 

On the Covid front –

Did you ever think we would see ‘Drive-Thru’ vaccinations?

Some good news for us seniors. We will be able to get it earlier than once thought. I received my first dose on January 21st. My second one is already scheduled for February 24th.

The good news is now it appears that our Governor and President are on the same page with this pandemic. Perhaps even better news is that our President is NOT anti-science!

Meanwhile, as of the 24th of January, the totals are still grim!

  • Total worldwide cases –  Approaching 100 Million
  • Total worldwide deaths – Approaching 2.2 Million
  • Total U.S. Cases – Over 25 Million
  • Total U.S. Deaths – Over 423,000
  • Total Washington cases – Over 300,000
  • Total Washington deaths – Over 4,100

Even if you have been vaccinated we will continue to have restrictions until a sufficient number of us have been poked. Bottom line – We have a way to go. Don’t throw away those masks!

On the good news front (yes there is some), Salem Media Group just announced that they are restoring employee compensation to 2019 levels. Like many firms, salaries were cut due to the Covid-related economic downturn.

And on the ‘not so good news front’, Alpha Media has filed for Chapter 11. The firm that owns 200 radio stations, based in PDX (Portland, OR) said the action was due to ‘Covid-19 Headwinds. The firm owns stations in Wenatchee and Grays Harbor as well as Portland.

The list of events being cancelled continues –

  • The Mike and Key Club Flea Market in Puyallup
  • The Sea-Pac Convention in Seaside
  • NAB in Las Vegas
  • The summer Olympics in Tokyo

Certain to make headlines will be the announcement that an annual event will be held!

NAB is planning on having enough of us vaccinated by this fall to have a show in Las Vegas. Along with this will be the fall SBE Meeting. We shall see.

For some time, some of the larger Radio companies have been taking advantage of the talents of some of their on-air personalities and syndicating them. Thanks to the fact that you can send a high quality audio signal across the continent these days with minimal expense. Here in our area, Hubbard has decided to do this with one of their morning shows. Recently Entercom announced one of their stations would be switching to 100% syndicated operation. This means there will not be any life/local announcer/DJ’s. Come to think of it, has not KJAQ/96.5 been in this mode for a long time? The changes caused by the Pandemic have accelerated this process in many cases. New radio studio facilities may well look a lot different in the future as a result. It will be interesting to see if a ‘Live and Local’ time segment, within the same format, will be more successful. Perhaps hearing a DJ talk about local things, weather etc. will prove to not be that important? Look at TV. At one time, many stations had live/local programming. Now, other than newscasts, this is rare. Remember when there were four stations in this area than had live programming for children every afternoon? (Stan, Captain, JP and Brakeman)

Now that Pai is gone, and we have a new administration, it’s time for a shake-up in leadership at the FCC. Accordingly, President Biden has appointed Jessica Rosenworcel as the acting head of the Commission. This follows a natural process, as she was the senior Democrat on the FCC for some time. Time will tell if her new job will become permanent.

At the Inauguration, someone snapped a picture of Bernie Sanders seated with mittens. Boy did that attract attention, with his picture showing up all over social media. People are showing Bernie in all kinds of various locations. It did not take long before someone had him sitting in a broadcast setting, like the following in front of a huge old RCA Transmitter.

A thank you to the Seattle SBE Chapter for inviting me to be their ‘program’ at their January Meeting. I showed, via Zoom, my collection of 75 pictures of the West Tiger-2 Antenna Fire and re-construction. While reflecting on who was in the meeting when I joined SBE, if I recall correctly, only one person. Good to see you Walt! There are not many of us around with 3-digit membership numbers that remember those days at the Dog House and the W7 Room.

The FCC is making it clear to owners of C-Band stations they have to move to make room for more wireless operations…and have set a deadline for doing so. The following link provides more details: FCC gives earth station operators final warning Earth Stations that don’t appear to be operating or that haven’t notified the Federal Communications Commission of their operational status will be shut down as of April 19. The FCC says most stations are accounted for and will make the transition to the upper part of the band, but some have not responded to multiple communications and are at risk of being terminated.

And now, a bit of technical humor –

Now, if I may, I’d like to share some personal thoughts regarding something else – Truth.

I recall the days when I got into this business, we had several sources for news and information –

  • AP and UPI wire services – Every station, Radio or TV, had one or both.
  • Radio Networks – ABC, CBS, NBC and MBS
  • All but the smallest stations were affiliated with one of them.
  • TV Networks – ABC, CBS and NBC
  • Just like Radio, the major stations were affiliated with a major network.

Back in those days, just about every radio station aired 3-5 minutes of news every hour. TV ran a combination of local and network news, much as they do now. In those days news, pretty much, meant factual reporting.

Over the years – Radio and TV started changing.

  • Radio Stations stopped trying to be what was called ‘Full Service’, opting for specialization, usually adopting a specific music type, or, in some cases, just news and/or talk. The number of stations that aired news or had a wire service, or network affiliation, was reduced to just a few. As the number of stations grew, so did the number of formats without any news.
  • As the number of TV stations increased, only a few hung onto their long-standing formats that featured news. Many of the new ones, became…news-less.

Looking back at radio, one is hard pressed to come up with names and programs that were delivering anything but good, old fashioned, objective news. There were some exceptions, many of whom were newspaper columnists that adapted to broadcasting. Walter Winchell, Drew Person, Gabriel Heatter, and of course, Paul Harvey come to mind (yes, I do recall my family listening to them). We knew that these were newspaper columnists and a lot of what they were airing was opinion. Back in those days, Broadcasting was much like newspapers. There was a clear line between fact and opinion.

Fast forward to today –

We have had an explosion in the number of delivery systems – Cable and Satellite Radio and TV and program providers, and, of course the Internet that has become the biggest distributor of all. Perhaps one of the biggest changes was the introduction of 24/7 news outlets on Cable and Satellite.

With the resulting multiplication of choices has come the need to do whatever it takes to attract attention to your brand so as to be able to survive, or increase profits.

Somewhere along the way, the philosophy of the ‘Supermarket Tabloid’ was adopted by many sources looking for a niche. Many discovered that you did not have to tell the truth. What you needed to do is appeal to the subconscious to the point that they would make a purchase based on very different criteria. These folks learned, long ago, that truth did not matter. They were in the business to sell their paper and, thereby, make money. Sadly, some broadcasters followed suit.

Add to all of this the increasingly polarized political climate in our country, coupled with the desire to see and hear what you want to see and hear, you have the recipe for a lot of what we have today where, in some cases, truth has become optional. Or, putting it another way, one man’s truth has become the other man’s lies. In order to maximize your potential audience (and thereby maximize your profits), many have learned that you can appeal to a specific segment that believes a certain way and turn that into money. Who would have thought that we’d have, to this extent, polarized media?

In the past, I’m sure, some politicians stretched the truth…or, perhaps, outright lied. What’s new here is that now we have broadcasters (using the term loosely) that have moved away from objective, honest and factual reporting, apparently catering to those that like to hear news that fits their point of view. A lot of what bills itself as news today is not based on facts or objectivity, but rather on a bias that is designed to appeal to a target audience who wants to hear what they have come to believe. The owners of these outlets know well what they are doing. In some cases, the size of the bottom line overshadows the desire to be truthful, something the ‘Snake-Oil’ salesman of yesteryear knew very well, and in some cases, political leaders.

Those that are not willing to ‘drink the Kool-Aid’ and are willing to sort out the fact from fiction are likely OK as they are not as gullible. However, I am concerned that their numbers are declining.

When I was 20 (way back in the last century) I was, pretty much, provided information that was not only factual but could be verified. I have to wonder about those that are 20 now, with fewer reading newspapers and magazines, and more getting their information via social media etc. How are they choosing what’s fake or factual? Do the 20-somethings take the time to determine whether a Left or Right leaning information source is telling the truth? Do they bother to compare the broadcast or even cable offerings that bill themselves as news?

I’m not the only one that has noticed this issue.

Recently journalist Megyn Kelly said this, “…because there has been a complete lack of trust, a destruction of trust in the media, and people don’t know where to turn for true information.”

As we look back at the previous four years where truth telling from the ‘top’ has been optional, have we, as a society, learned something? Perhaps, most importantly, how can a broadcaster convey that what they air is true and can be believed? Seems to me our industry has a lot of work to do – lest it be as credible as those tabloids. I should mention, at least one, of our local TV stations is running clips featuring various anchors, stating how they stand for truth. This just underscores what I have been saying here.

One of the major problems for mainline broadcasters is the fact that many no longer tune in, preferring to get their information from Social Media, where there are little, if any,  checks and balances and where facts are often replaced with falsehoods, rumors and, propaganda. Some politicians have seized on the opportunity to push their agenda using these platforms knowing well that there is a huge audience out there ready to adopt rumors and outright fiction. Look as what’s happened with 5G. Social media nuts have pushed the idea that it causes Covid, to the point that many cell sites have been vandalized in an attempt to stop the ‘death rays’. When it comes to conspiracy theories, the Internet has become the wild wild west. And, in the minds of many – a source of truth! (P.T. Barnum perhaps foresaw the Internet.)

Perhaps the most frightening thing is the statistics that show how many, firmly, believe things that are not true. Those numbers are huge!

Broadcasters have a huge challenge – how to attract an audience with the truth. This goes back to the supermarket checkout. Chances are a fiction filled tabloid will outsell the local daily newspaper.

Hats off to Tegna who recently announced they are expanding their ‘Verify’ program, whose goal is to combat disinformation (or is it misinformation?) You have likely seen this feature on Tegna stations in your area.

Were things better in this regard 50 years ago? I really think so. Does anyone else see it this way?

(Soap box off.)

There are a number of firms now with a portfolio of a large number of towers, many of which used to belong to cellular, land-mobile or broadcasters. Crown Castle, Vertical Bridge and American Tower quickly come to mind. Most of these firms continue to grow. Recently American Tower, who owns a number of major sites in the Seattle area, has expanded with their, reportedly $9 billion acquisition of Telxius and has gained a large foothold by adding some 31,000 sites in Europe and South America.

Another great picture from one of the NWBP Engineers, Jason Royals.

This time the transmitter location of KNWV, a Class A licensed to Clarkston,WA on 90.5.

Working on this side of the Cascades, we rarely get to see open country like this, thanks to our forests.

As far as I can tell, there has not been a great rush by owners of AM stations to jump on the ‘All-Digital’ bandwagon now that the FCC has given the mode the ‘Green-Light’. However, the number of stations running this mode, apparently, recently doubled with WMGG in Tampa, Florida joining the ‘club’.

Much like the station in the WDC area that started the process, WMGG has a companion FM band translator affording those that don’t have an HD Radio the ability to continue to hear the station on their analog receivers.

WMGG operates on 1470 using a shared directional antenna running 2800 watts daytime and 800 watts at night.

There was a recent editorial in Radio World that describes what I’ve been saying for years. To a significant degree, Broadcast Engineering has become full of Gray Haired folks, or, if you are like me – no hair. The author makes a number of good points.

  • He sees trouble ahead due to a shortage of qualified broadcast engineers who know how to read schematics and troubleshoot problems to the component level.
  • We are seeing newbies whose troubleshooting abilities are limited to calling the factory, describing the problem and waiting until a loaner gizmo arrives.
  • Not helping the situation is the fact that a lot of equipment in use today is made overseas and is so cheap, that tossing it in the trash and buying another has become a viable option.
  • Today, stations have become full of computers that employ those that maintain them, but we should not forget we also have a lot of other things that enable a station to ‘Radiate’.
  • Quoting now the author who wrote, “sending an IT guy into that is like sending a 90 year old woman into the Indy 500 with her Buick LeSabre. She ain’t gonna win and she will probably die trying.”
  • His recommendation, “We all, especially big conglomerates who own most of the broadcast stations, have to make a concerted effort to get high school and college kids interested in broadcast engineering as a career. Get them interested, get them educated, best by shadowing an old goat who can show them the tricks of the trade”.

On the personal side, as of the first of the year, I am no longer receiving a regular check from Entercom. I started with ETM when they swapped an FM station in NYC for 97.3, 100.7 and 1210 AM back in about 1995. When I left being a full timer, I became a contractor with a retainer and a steady paycheck. Now that too is in the past. I may still do some ‘task-specific’ work for them. This is TBD. 25+ years with the same company, in one capacity or the other, is a long time. This means that Phil Van Liew will now pick up the slack and be taking care of the transmitters for all five of the local Entercom stations. ‘Tis time that I cut back anyway. I still make routine visits to Cougar and West Tiger for my other clients.

Not often I look at the obits in the Sunday Times. On the 3rd there were three former area broadcasters that passed.

Dick Curtis, formerly with KJR, KOL and other related businesses. He, like many, attended Bates (then known as Tacoma Vocational School) and went on to a successful career in radio.

Alan Houston was with KING 5 for almost 40 years.

Mark Simonson, formerly with KOMO-TV for over 30 years.

Another passing I want to mention is that of Mike McCarthy. Likely few of you in the Seattle area knew him. I first met Mike, waaay back when I was working for Viacom at a meeting we had in Chicago where he was the assistant Chief at WLAK. We hit it off and remained friends for many years. A couple of years ago he and his family came out here for a look at the PNW. Unfortunately, we were in the middle of a heavy layer of smoke and forest fires. At least we did get to all have lunch together. Mike was very active on several national engineering remailers and was known to all as a very knowledgeable engineer.

.

August 31, 1962 – December 30, 2020

 Michael McCarthy, of Downers Grove, IL died peacefully after a long battle with lymphoma, a stem cell transplant, and GVHD. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer Adelman-McCarthy, daughters Kelly and Colleen McCarthy, and his therapy dog, Koehl; sister Christine (Albert) Goetz of Roselle; niece Alison (Goetz) Martin; and brother Thomas (Laura) McCarthy of Leander, TX.

Mike was a longtime member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers and served on both the National and Local Boards of Directors. Mike attained certifications CSRE and CEA. Serving as the Chicago Frequency Coordinator was perhaps his favorite “side job”, as it allowed him behind-the-scenes access to Bears, Cubs, White Sox, and Blackhawks playoff games. For the past two decades he has been the Chief Engineer for Newsweb Radio. Mike took great pride in making everyone sound their best on the air. Owner of McCarthy Radio Engineering, he was happiest when messing with transmitters and towers.

He was a ham radio operator and spent time and talent giving back to the community in emergency communications. He and his friends built a huge network of repeaters allowing Chicago area ham operators to communicate with the weather service. They spent many a stormy day and night at the weather office relaying messages. He contributed technically, with Jen and a local group of hams, to rescue efforts on 9/11. He was always ready to step up and help.

I’ve recently been doing some ‘house cleaning’ and came across a number of things to share with you –

This item was on a box that was, apparently, used to ship a Vox Pro (Audio Editor) from Audion Labs to Cal Vandegrift in Federal Way. Do you remember when Harris (now GatesAir)  and Allied were one? Anyone care to guess the year?

 

How about this gem? This nice metallic label was once attached to an ATC Cartridge Tape unit.

 

I have no-clue how I ended up with this item. I found it in a pile of ‘stuff’ at my shop. Apparently it was used by KTAC (now known at KHHO) in Tacoma. The Wall-Wart power supply was smashed. I scrounged another and it leaped to life with a very scratchy volume control. Don’t know about the tape player. All my cassettes are long-gone.

Last fall I stopped by KELA in Centralia where John Mackey showed me the old KELA Transmitter. It had been moved to a second story room to keep out of the site’s frequent flood waters. He said it did not work, and wanted to know if I knew how to get it going. I said ‘sure’ but not sure they’d be willing to pay for the parts. Incidentally, this is the same model transmitter used by KTW when I worked there in the late 60’s.

 

The following picture adorned my office when I worked with KNBQ in Tacoma. It was a full page from the station owner’s newspaper, the Tacoma News Tribune, announcing the birth of their new radio station using a mode of modulation that was new back then…called FM. The Studio, Offices and Transmitter were all located at what they called ‘The Top of the Town’ at 11th and Grant Streets in Tacoma. The Tribune was not done with broadcasting, later adding an AM Station (the FM became KTNT-FM) and, a couple years later, KTNT-TV Channel 11, all operating from the same location. (They did add onto the building). Later on, the FM’s call letters were changed to KNBQ.  Today they are KIRO-FM. This picture now resides in the technical area of Bonneville-Seattle.

 

The following is an enlargement of the tower showing on the top the stations first FM Antenna.  There are very few of us that recall the name of that antenna (That’s another story)  As time went by they mounted that antenna on a platform on the roof of an adjacent house for a while, eventually giving it to Clover Park in the late 50’s for use with their FM on 90.9 (Then called KPEC)  there It was mounted inside the tower at what is now Clover Park Technical College that was used to support their UHF/Channel 56 TV Antenna.   Last I know, it was cut up for scrap.

 

On another front, some FM’s that are operating ‘Multicast Channels’ (sometimes call Side-Channels) are starting to attract attention. We’ve seen a few instances in the Seattle area where one of the HD-2s will show up in the Nielsen Ratings…but nothing substantial.

For some time I have been told that HD Radio is fine for large markets where revenues are higher and pockets are deeper, but not in smaller markets. This theory is pretty evident when you travel east of the Cascades and discover a lot of FM signals, but few running HD.

Then along comes Nielsen with their recently publicized ratings of radio stations in markets, large in small. Most of the time I scroll through these lists just looking for call letters that used to reside in the Seattle area. Earlier in January, something caught my eye that I want to share.

Lincoln, Nebraska, market #163 with a total population over 12, of 273,000. The 8th ranked station is KBBK-HD2, with a 3.2 share running CHR.

How about Canton, Ohio, market #142 with a 12+ population of 342,700, where WHOF-HD2 is #5 in that market with a Country format.

Or, Hagerstown-Chambersburg- Waynesboro, MD-PA, market #165 with a 12+ population of 263,000. They have TWO HD Channels generating ratings, both of them owned by the same company. WWEG-HD2 is #6 and WWEG-HD3 is #8.

This time looking at Reading, PA…

WLEV-HD2 is #2 with Urban AC owned by Cumulus
WRFY-HD2 is #5 airing Spanish CHR – iHM
WAEB-HD3 is #8 running CHR- IHM

There are a couple of questions that come to mind.

Why do certain markets have very successful HD Channels while others do not?

Could it be because, in these markets, the stations are trying harder to gain ratings?

So Channel 9 wants to change channels? This has been an interesting process to watch, when the big channel shuffle took place and the shift to Digital. The low channels, in the case of Seattle, Channel 4, 5 and 7 opted to stay on UHF  (granted there was some shuffling as part of RePack). From all of this we got ‘Virtual Channels’, so the historic channel numbers would still work for those who would be confused with new numbers. During all of this, the higher VHF Channels in our area, channels 9, 11 and 13, opted to stay where they were. Now Channel 9 is saying that their coverage is not what they thought it would be, and are asking the FCC for permission to move to Channel 17. I assume, if this comes to pass, they will still be known as Channel 9. I have not heard of Channel 11 or 13 having the same issues and are planning to move upward in frequency. Apparently they are happy with being Channel 11 and 13 that are actually on those historic RF Channels.

Another picture from the East-Side. On the far right you can see the antenna (the 3 black things) for KQWS, located on a 5200+ foot mountain in the Okanogan. KQWS is licensed to Omak and is operated by WSU’s NWPB.

I was informed recently by Kent Randles (retired from Entercom in PDX) that KYCH has purchased a new 35 kW GatesAir liquid-cooled transmitter for their station in Portland. Apparently having a lot to do with space and lack of room for ducting an air-cooled model. This may well be the first liquid-cooled FM transmitter in the area. These days, most TV Transmitters are liquid cooled. Speaking of new Entercom transmitters, reportedly they have ordered a new ‘air-cooled’ model for their 107.7/KNDD in Seattle. I understand it will be installed in the latter half of February, weather permitting.

In the wake of the storming of the U.S capital, the FCC came out with a warning about the use of Ham or CB frequencies for coordinating illegal activity.

Frankly, I find this a bit amusing. There are a large number of people who are of the opinion that if you have a law or rule prohibiting an activity that this will solve the problem.

Seattle is, finally coming to grips with a similar issue and is discovering that you have to ‘enforce’ a rule and punish the violators if you expect those that are intent in doing what they want to have second thoughts. In many ways the FCC and Seattle have become what’s known as ‘Paper Tigers’. If you are not familiar with this term, here are some definitions I found:

  • “Paper Tiger” is a literal English translation of the Chinese phrase zhilaohu. The term refers to something or someone that claims or appears to be powerful, or threatening, but is actually ineffectual and unable to withstand challenge.
  • Something, such as an enemy or foreign country, that seems very strong and dangerous but is really weak and not harmful.
  • A paper tiger is someone who at first glance seems to be in charge but who, on closer examination, is completely powerless.
  • A person or organization seeming powerful but really weak.

Interesting to note that this term is used by many languages.

Before I end this, a collection of images that many can relate to.

A flag for all countries!

 

 

That’s about it for this month, my friends. Lord willing, I will be back next month at most of the usual locations.

Until then, stay safe and continue to wear your mask….and that means cover your nose too. The ‘All-Clear’ Is still a long way off.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
A SBE Fellow
SBE Member # 714
Since March of 1968

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