Monthly Archives: July 2012

Random Radio Thoughts – July 2012

July 8, 2012
By

Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD, DRB Crawford Broadcasting Company

The FCC EAS CAP deadline is now in the rearview mirror.

It’s amazing to me as I read the trade press how many stations waited until the last minute to order CAP-compliant EAS equipment. Of course they are finding out that there is a backlog of orders and it may be several weeks until those units are shipped. I’ve read on various list servers advice on how to deal with FCC inspectors should they happen to come by before the CAP-compliant equipment arrives and is installed, measures such as keeping documentation of the equipment order at the control point. And not surprisingly I have read other reports that say the FCC won’t be giving any breaks in such cases, documentation or no. And who can blame them? We have had almost two full years to deal with this! My company had everything installed and working before the first deadline, and I know a lot of others took care of this months ago.

It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the Enforcement Bureau didn’t make an inspection sweep of stations this month or next to check for EAS CAP compliance. I remember past deadlines and the sweeps that followed those. In the summer of 1990, when the NRSC-2 standard became law, the FCC made a sweep looking for the required NRSC audio filters. I think it was 1996 when the Part 17 Antenna Structure Registration rules became law, and the FCC subsequently made a sweep of tower sites looking for the proper posting of ASR signage. And then again in 1997, when the EAS system replaced the EBS system, the FCC made a sweep looking for EAS equipment in stations. Since this seems to be a pattern, forewarned is forearmed; we should probably expect a visit in the coming months.

Despite having CAP-capable equipment installed since December of 2011, it was still a bit of a last-minute scramble for the stations in our company to get firmware updates installed and the units properly polling the IPAWS server. But it did work and we immediately began receiving daily weekly tests from that server (FEMA was sending “weekly” tests on a daily basis through the first week in July so that stations could confirm proper operation as they installed, updated and configured their equipment). It will be interesting to see what the routine is in terms of CAP tests going forward.

Wildfires

June was a very challenging month as we all, to one degree or another, dealt with record heat, wildfires and smoke/ash. Buckhorn Mountain was perhaps the broadcast site that was most affected. While the site itself was mostly untouched by fire, power to the site was lost early on in the High Park fire, and the generator either didn’t start or ran out of fuel, taking several stations, including KUNC, KJAC, KYEN, KGCO, KXGR and a couple of translators, off the air for the duration. Some stations scrambled to temporarily relocate to other sites, but others remained off the air until either power was restored or the generator came back on line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But just because the fire did not burn the building doesn’t mean there wasn’t fire damage at the site. There was evidently tremendous heat coming up the slope behind the building (west). That heat melted the KGCO Andrew Ku-band dish, melted the jackets on the L-band and control cables and melted the deicer control. Even the “Andrew Flash” decal was melted off the face of the dish. The EMF Broadcasting folks had to replace the dish and all to restore the satellite feed to the station.

Air conditioners were strained pretty hard from the 105-degree heat along the Front Range. Two of the units in our stations failed at various times and had to be serviced. The one unit that seemed to weather the heat the best was the new (last summer) BreezeAir high-tech evaporative cooler at KLZ. That unit was pumping ice-cold air into the building even on the hottest afternoons, and it’s no wonder… I saw the dew point on a couple of those days down in negative territory, -27 degrees F in one instance! There’s a lot to be said for evaporative cooling in our usually arid climate, but since most transmitter sites do not have water, it’s probably not an option except in a very few cases.

As things wind down with the big fires of June along the Front Range, we all need to recognize that the danger is far from over. The “dog days of summer” have yet to arrive, and once the monsoonal flow is gone, I suspect we’ll be back in the same situation – maybe worse if we get good rains in July and early August and the grass/brush grows up.

As I have visited our various sites in recent weeks, I have thought about how easy it would be for a fire to start and sweep through those sites. A passing train, for example, might easily spark a grass fire along the right of way out by Barr Lake and the westerly winds would drive that fire right through the KLTT antenna site. The fences and exposed parts of the electrical, control, transmission and sample lines to the towers would be vulnerable to fire/heat damage. I suspect the same is true at many other sites, AM and FM, in the area.

All of that points to the need to take extraordinary brush clearance measures this summer. Keep the grass and weeds cut all the way to the ground with a good-sized buffer zone around tower base fences, doghouses, ATUs, transmitter buildings, generators and generator fuel tanks. Think about what would happen if a fire were to come through. If there is very little standing fuel available, your chances of escaping damage are good.

During the Catalina Island fire of 2007, the blaze swept through our transmitter site but didn’t damage anything at all with the exception of a single fence post. The fire went through the site in about five minutes but found no standing fuels because our chief engineer had maintained his clearances around the towers and any flammable structures or improvements. The one fence post that we did lose was the victim of an airborne ember that landed on top of the post many hours after the fire passed the site. It smoldered for a couple of days without anyone noticing before it finally burst into flame.

Let’s all hope that the second half of the summer (and the second half of the Rockies’ season!!) is better than the first!

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

The KE0VH Hamshack for July 2012

July 8, 2012
By
Jack Roland KEØVH@q.com

Jack Roland KEØVH@q.com

The latter part of May and all of June have been very busy months for me, so that is why I didn’t post an article last month.  As of this writing I will be on the NEW job as the Denver based Colorado Engineer for the KLOVE facilities here.  I am very sorry to be leaving my wonderful boss and crew in Colorado Springs at the Salem Communications facilities there, but God has called me on to new things in a very amazing and I still can’t quite believe it way.  I will now be covering all of Colorado and some of Nebraska, Wyoming, and New Mexico looking after the EMF/Klove transmitters and facilities.  I am very excited and looking forward to many new explorations and adventures!  And I will have the Icom 706MK2G installed in the new company truck totally ready for some hamming on the road too!

The KLOVE NOC in Rocklin California, looking after 700 or so sites across the entire country!

Many have contacted me over the first part of July of course about the Waldo Canyon fire in the Colorado Springs area and have been concerned for the many who have lost homes on the NW side of the city, plus asking about how my Salem facilities were effected.  There was no problem for our stations there, as we are located just to the EAST of I-25, on the north side of Woodmen Drive there.  BUT, the evacuations all happened just on the west side of I-25.  Here is a map of the main fire boundaries during the evening of Tuesday, June 26th when it was just obliterating neighborhoods on the west side.

                                                 

I took this picture of KMGH-7 off our TV during this evening.   Also, a video was put together from a vantage point NE of Colorado Springs showing a time lapse over several days of the fire.  It is absolutely fascinating but really frightening at the same time.  Fortunately as of this writing the fire is contained and no one else is in danger, but as the news has pointed out, “Colorado is burning”, with many fires statewide.  We are most definitely praying for rain!

See the video at : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBA7eHY022k

The High Park fire west of Fort Collins was still burning at the same time.  One of the Klove facilities are located on top in the old ATT bunker building meant to survive even a bomb blast if needed back in the Cold War days.  But the fire burnt up and over the mountain, with many of the facilities there off air for several days until it cooled down enough for people to get up safely.  My co-worker Butch, Alan from EMF/Klove in Rocklin, and the new Denver area tech Patrick went up to check the Klove transmitter there, and while there was no trouble with the transmitter, the satellite dish behind the building indeed suffered some heat damage, take a look at what the heat did to the coax feeding the LNB there.

You can see how the outer jacket of the coax melted down in a curve off the cable.  Amazing picture!

Don’t forget our SBE hamnet is happening still the 1st Saturday of the month as always.  Details on how to join us are at www.qsl.net/ke0vh/SBEhamnet.

More to come next month!

73’ de KE0VH

Clay’s Corner for July 2012

July 8, 2012
By

By Clay Freinwald SBE Seattle Chapter 16Featuring News, Rumors and Views From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources

Met Park Sells    The Metropolitan Park buildings have sold (again) for $210 Megabucks to Brookfield Office Properties of New York.    Met Park West houses Entercom’s radio operations.   The Seattle times called the buildings ‘Twin Toasters’….hmmm sounds like a name change to me, I always called them, especially the West Tower, the ‘Spam Can’.   Then there is the Amazon where they are going to build some 3.3 million square feet of office space in a series of new 38 story buildings not far away.   At least they are thinking of a good name …..Rufus 2.0.  Reportedly the name of a Corgi that used to come to work with an employee..  Gotta love Seattle.

Not often I write about any programming….However, I must mention how much I am going to miss Car-Talk.   The news that the ‘brothers’ are going to hang it up is a bit hard to take.   C.T. is heard locally on KUOW, KPLU and the stations of NWPR.     They plan on airing re-runs, so at least we will still be able to get our dose of weekend yucks.

In previous columns I have written about how the Seattle area ranks in various categories…Tyrone Beason wrote in the June 3rd issue of The Seattle Times magazine how one way to look at things is the number of patents issued to people and companies in a region.   Interestingly, Seattle ranks #2, second only to the Bay Area in this category…Pretty impressive when you consider the population in that region of California is twice that of Seattle.  Adding to that stat. is the growth rate of new patents by area.   Between 2006 and 2010 the number of patents issues in the Bay Area increased by 26% while that category grew by 79% here.    What does all that prove?  Perhaps it has something to do with our climate?…Plenty of indoor time to think and create? ….Or perhaps the per capita consumption of coffee?  Or (long shot here) the quality of our local Radio and TV programming?    Nice thought – now go out and invent something and patent it!

Quoting Richard Johnson –  Sometimes I don’t get it right because I have been taught wrong.

We all understand the competitive situation between commercial broadcasters, however not much is written about how this situation is alive and well in the non-commercial world…

On the TV side,  KBTC, operating out of the former KSTW facility in Tacoma, not only operates KBTC from the former KCPQ (KTVW) Site in the north end of Tacoma (RF Channel 28) but they also operate from the KZJO Tower on Capitol Hill, which just happens to be across the street from KCTS.   Bates Technical College, in addition to KBTC, operates KCKA

Some of our areas NCE Radio Stations often carry similar programming, for example –KUOW from the KCTS tower on Capitol Hill, KVTI from Lakewood (SW of Tacoma) and KPLU from West Tiger Mt

‘Oddio’  – A term used to describe the electrical characteristics of strange and unusual sounds.

One of the two major cable companies in lower BC have stopped carrying FM Radio stations.    In this case, a few Seattle stations are no longer available, via cable, in these areas.  This usually generates complaints from listeners to these stations asking that they do something.   Likely the reason that Cable has, over the years, been dropping carriage of radio stations is that there is little incentive for them to do so.  Radio stations don’t pay cable systems for carriage, and cable companies don’t charge their subscribers for doing so.   Radio stations on cable will likely be another item added to the dust pile of history.

Fisher has been granted a minor change for their KPLZ-FM (101.5).  From the looks of the FCC data, they are going to move their operation back to their own tower on Cougar and away from the Ratelco combiner and master antenna.  Rumor also has it that Fisher is about the pull the trigger on their option to purchase what is known as KOMO-FM operating from South Mountain on 97.7.   In a related move, the Tukwila/South Center area is now served with an on-channel booster on 97.7.   How it gets there is interesting.  97.7 is received in Auburn and re-transmitted on 93.7 to the booster in Tukwila.    Interesting to put your radio in scan and have it stop on 93.7 and the RDS display KOMO-FM.   A good deal of the work to make this happen can be credited to Jim Dalke.

Tim Schall recently posted this comment on the SBE-16 Remailer –

Got a kick out the piece of junk mail from ‘Spotify’ (An internet provider of music programming….) today that said, “Have you heard?  Free mobile radio has arrived!”  I thought, “Wow, really?  I’m supposed to be paying someone for that AM/FM thing in my dash?”

This is right in there with those that are amazed to find out that milk comes from a cow or that you can get – free- TV through the use of an ancient device known as an antenna.

The FCC has been sent back to the drawing board when it comes to Indecency by a recent Supreme Court ruling.    Apparently the airing of visual or verbal ‘malfunctions’ are now OK.   Just don’t stage them.   How this will turn out will be anyone’s guess.

I have to admit that after 25, or so, years of writing the column I have become increasingly interested in our language and, occasionally, will be compelled to write about it.   A few years ago I wrote about the ‘F’ and ‘PH’ situation.    Recently I have been pondering the L – As in what the L.     Let me explain.

Who in the world determined that we should have the letter L in a world and not pronounce it?  Here are some examples

Why is it HALF and not HAFF?

Why is it SALVE and not SAVVE (As in Savvy)

Why is it HALVES and not HAVZ?

Or CALVES and not CAVZ

Of course there is SALMON…Pronounced SAMON (Unless you are from the South)

HD Radio continues to gain with HD Radio coming standard on 14 new models from nine different makes of vehicles and optional on many more.  The totals are more impressive with now 28 car-makers offering HD in 140 models.    This should take the wind out of the sails of those broadcasters that have been holding back awaiting the day when there receivers out there.   Granted, it will take some time for these new vehicles to take the place of the millions that are stuck with analog equipment.   To be honest, I am somewhat caught in the middle with an HD radio in my Truck and an analog in my car.   When driving the truck I sure don’t miss the multipath and distortion.

Another positive move for the digital radio system is the announcement this past month that HD Radio is on the air in the Dominican Republic.  Interesting that some stations are going on the air, immediately, with HD2 and HD3 programming.

The FCC is going after a couple of broadcasters for tower light infractions….

WNLA, an AM in Miss. is on the hook for about 14 Grand.   Apparently last November they were inspected and, among other issues, the tower lights were not functioning.   The folks at the studio were very helpful and explained to the inspector that they knew about the outage.  Then there is the case of 3 towers in San Souci, S.C.  In this case the station said they knew their tower lights were not working and submitted the reason was ‘negligible gross revenues’ , i.e., they claimed they could not afford the repairs.  Reportedly they will be paying $1000 on top of the cost of getting those lights back on.

The FCC has proposed a 15 Grand fine for the operator of a pirate radio station in Miami.   Like a lot of these un-licensed stations they don’t try and hide their operation and operate Web Sites to promote their stations.   89.1 is now silent.

It’s congratulations time as the winners of the 2012 National Edward R Murrow awards were announced…

On the national level/networks –

Overall Excellence, TV – NBC News ….Radio – CBS Radio News

Here’s a look at how local facilities performed –

Video Continuing Coverage – KING-TV – Seattle

Video News Documentary –   KING-TV – Seattle

Website – mynorthwest.com – KIRO- Radio- Seattle

The FCC has announced the end of analog milestone with the announcement that cable systems no longer have to carry stations in digital and analog, however, if this could be revisited if there is a public outcry.   The impact of this decision will be interesting to watch as many subscribers have a mixture of types of cable boxes.

The effort by the FCC to put their public files on-line is being supported by many broadcast groups, including some that operate stations in Seattle like Cox and Belo.  If you recall we had a Chapter 16 program last year on this topic.    It appears likely that radio will follow in the future.

I spoke with Nick Winter recently and am happy to report that he is doing well recovering from his recent stroke and hopes to be back to work at KPLU in the next couple of weeks.

Copper theft continues to plague many.   Occasionally the thief appears to playing with less than a full-deck as demonstrated by the following picture.   In this case a County deputy thought this was slightly out of the ordinary.  When the deputy attempted to find out more, the occupants drove into a golf course and ran off.   They found two smaller spools inside.   The value of the wire was $4700.   Somehow they used a forklift to put the pallet and spool on top of the car causing it to be very dented in.     Reminds me of a theft a few years ago from a facility where I worked.    In this case the thieves managed to make off with a large spool of large Heliax.   In this instance, they used a power saw, cutting into the spooled cable cutting it into about 8 foot lengths.   They then tossed the chunks of cable thru a broken window into the back of a van and drove off.    They were caught.

 

Looks like the car was ‘Top-Loaded’

On the subject of copper, and such….

ERI, Electronics Research, has announced a new line of un-flanged transmission line components featuring aluminum outer conductors and coppery inners.   They claim lower cost and lighter weight.  Certainly a side benefit will be less attractive to copper thieves.

Warehousing spectrum???   I’m shocked that anyone would think this would happen.  Apparently AT&T is not to secret with their feelings on the subject with the release of a recommendation to the FCC that spectrum holders should make use of the spectrum they have, within a specific time period and if they don’t team up with a partner to use it or sell it.

Yah, I know we have been hearing it for a long time ….Word continues to circulate that Tribune is about to exit bankruptcy.    WGN in Chicago has been in this mode for 3.5 years.    Tribune owns KCPQ and KZJO here in Seattle.

Broadcasters continue to find ways to save money via staff reductions.   So was the case recently in Yakima where TownSquare Media eliminated the position held by Chris Duncan who has been the clusters Chief Engineer.   Chis told me he was going to be heading back home to Arkansas.

The FCC has granted a construction permit to BBC Broadcasting to change their city of license to Pt. Roberts and operate on 1550 with 50Kw full-time.    For those of you that are not familiar with Pt. Roberts, take a look at a map of the US/Canadian border just south of Vancouver.    This little chunk of US real estate is not connected to the US mainland.  To get there you have to drive in and out of Canada.  This may become the first US licensed station to get its power from another country.

This gem comes from Entercom Chief, Dwight Small –

“Don’t you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There’s one marked ‘Brightness,’ but it doesn’t work.” – Gallagher

Ludwig Enterprises has secured a patent and has chosen LG to building a satellite receiver for a planned network that is reported to be used to target ethnic and senior groups that the firm feels are presently being underserved.    If this is the case, wonder why we don’t have an HD Format targeting these groups?

Finally, I will leave you with the following –

I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

I’ve also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I’m not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.

I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older.

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!

I may have been in Continent, but I don’t remember what country that was in. It’s an age thing.

Life is too short for negative drama & petty things. So laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly!
I hope everyone in your head is happy – we’re all doing well in mine!

Enjoy summer – Remember that fall is not very far behind –

Till next month –

Clay, K7CR, CPBE