Monthly Archives: September 2012

Clay’s Corner for September 2012

September 13, 2012
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By Clay Freinwald SBE Seattle Chapter 16 Featuring News, Rumors and Views From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources

With sadness we note the passing of John Battison the founder of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. Who passed at that age of 96 on August 28th.      I recall chatting with John at an SBE Meeting a couple of years ago.  He noted that my membership number was 714 and asked when I joined SBE, I told him that it was in February of 1968….A couple of years after SBE was formed…He smiled and asked why I waited so long…I responded that I wanted to make sure that this new group was going to be around.    We will miss you, John.  Thanks for all the great things you have done on behalf of those that work in this industry.

Another passing of note this past month was Kathi Goertzen who worked for KOMO for many years.   Kathi was a very brave soul who shared with her many fans her ordeal with her condition.   Kathi was a long supporter of WSU’s Murrow College.

The SBE Election results are in –

Ralph Hogan has been re-elected for a 2ND term as President, V.P – Joe Snelson,  Secretary – Jim Liefer, Treasurer – Jerry Massey

Elected to the Board of Directors – Tim Anderson, Gary Kline, Scott Mason, Andrea Cummis, John Heimerl and Wayne Pecena

It’s been reported that this year’s on-line voting system results in a 64% increase in the number of ballots cast.   A clear indication that we have indeed moved beyond snail-mail.   The new officers will be seated at the Society’s annual meeting on Oct 24th in Denver.

As I write this another hurricane is battering the Gulf Coast and New Orleans…And once again stories of how Broadcasters are the lifeline to so many with reportedly 75% of the city without power.

At long last the extension of the West Tiger Power line project has been completed.  On August 28th a small army of workers assembled on the summit of West Tiger to make the connections that resulted in the sites on the Summit of West Tiger being fed from the power line that was installed by PSE for the ATC Site about a half mile to the East.   Judging from the number of people involved…I could not help but recall the old joke about how many people it takes to screw in a ligh bulb (5 – One to hold the lamp and 4 to rotate the ladder).

The first broadcast station on West Tiger was 97.3 FM (then called KBSG) back in 1988.   To get the required 3-phase power to the site required the installation of 3 miles of new power line from a location on PSE Right-of-way near Highpoint.   Over the years this line had become exposed due to hikers that used the plowed in cable route as a trail up the mountain. The resulting erosion turned portions into a creek-bed leading to the once 3 foot deep wiring to be, in places, on the surface.   The time had come to plan on an alternative.     The new configuration has the Boeing facility, on West Tiger 2, to be fed from West Tiger 1 using that portion of the old underground wiring in reverse.

Understand that Madison Batt is leaving KPFF

From the – What in the World is That Dept. …..On KOMO/Fisher Broadcasting sign at the KOMO-AM transmitter site on Vashon Island – I could not help but notice this strange gizmo sitting on the ‘N’

Speaking of the SBE Picnic at KOMO – It was great to see Steve Allen is alive and well and enjoying Island life as the Editor and Publisher of the Vashon Island Newspaper The Vashon Loop.    Steve, in a previous life, was a radio CE in Seattle.    He brought along some great historic pictures of KIRO etc. that all enjoyed.    It’s great that there is a written and picture history of these great old stations.   Tragically, I fear, no one is doing the same for FM Radio..

If you have driven thru South Center (I-405 and I-5) and were listening to KOMO-FM on 97.7 you may have noticed that the signal is greatly improved thanks to the work of Jim Dalke and others there is now an operational on-channel booster serving this area.    The majority of the Seattle area FM’s are located on either Cougar or West Tiger which are much closer and more line of site to this freeway and retail hub.  KOMO, like KDDS, transmit from South Mountain west of Shelton some 50 miles away….add this to the fact there is a big hill to the West (Under Sea-Tac Airport) and you have a location with historically minimal signal.   What makes this unique is that this is, as far as I know, the first operational FM on-channel booster in this area…and it works really well.

While on the topic of Fisher….Understand that our home-town broadcast company will be paying out almost 90 million to their shareholders.    Interesting to note that last year they sold their home, Fisher Plaza, for $160 million.

Vandals are always a threat, especially to remote broadcast sites.   Recently they took their toll on a station north of San Francisco where they broke into the stations transmitter site and stole solar charging equipment that took the station off the air for 5-Days.   My feeling about vandalism at transmitter sites….If your site has not be hit….It will, it’s a matter of time and how aggressively you prepare for that day.

Question of the day –

Do you think the state of the electronics ‘art’ will reach the point where equipment will continue to operate properly without having to be power cycled?   We can all appreciate the many features that computer based technology have brought to us…However, we have all been frustrated by the fact that, in all too many cases, human intervention is required.

Looks like great strides are being made in the technology behind today’s Lithium-ion batteries. Our love affair with Ni-Cads has faded quickly.   Thanks to the push to get better batteries for vehicles, this technology is rapidly moving forward.

EAS News –

The next meeting of the Washington State EAS Committee (SECC) will be on Wednesday, Sept 12th.    I hope that many more broadcasters will consider getting involved with this activity.  Like a lot of efforts, what we get out of EAS is hugely dependent on what we put into it.

Meanwhile – The Committee that’s working on revising our States EAS Plan to bring it into compliance with the FCC’s new rules are meeting frequently addressing that issue.   The next meeting will be on Wednesday, Sept 5 at 130 PM at WEMD at Camp Murray.

I will be posting meeting info on the Washington State EAS Remailer.

Northwest Public Radio now has a new outlet in Yakima with the addition of KYVT 88.5.

This is a partnership between WSU’s NWPR and the Yakima School District.     This station will air the News/Talk service augmenting the existing Classical Music service of NWPR’s existing station in the area – KWWY 90.3.

Ever wonder what call letters might look like had the Left-Coast also used ‘W’ calls?

On the TV side we could have had – WOMO, WING, WIRO, WSTW and WCPQ

On Radio – WVI, WIRO, WTTH, WGNW, WHHO, WIXI, WJR, WOMO, WING, WKOL, WKMO and WRKO

According to the Portland Oregon newspaper, The Oregonian, Greg Walden may be in line to become the chairman of the Republican National Congressional Committee.   Greg has been a broadcast station owner in the Beaver State.

Occasional there will be discussion thread on one of the many list-serv’s I subscribe to that I wish to share – In one case the discussion was how to keep your tools, or other valuables, from being stolen from your car.    John Cone came up with this jewel ….’Pack them in old accordions…Then people will break into your car and put more in…..”

We all know that Vashon Islands biggest product is RF energy with all the big AM’s located over there.  But did you also know that Vashon is the home of Burn Design Lab?    This firm has developed a more efficient cook stove for use in poor countries where they presently cook over open files using wood from trees that have been cut down.  The so called ‘Jiko Poa’ stove or rocket stove is 43% more efficient that cooking over an open fire.   Check out www.burndesignlab.org.

The FCC continues their enforcement activity –

WSKQ, In NYC, has been asked to pay 16 Grand for a classic violation of the Rules…Broadcasting a phone call without – first – advising the party on the phone that the call was being recorded for broadcast.  Meanwhile a station in San Juan Puerto Rico. WZNT-FM is looking at a 25K fine for a similar violation…..You’d think that this rule would be universally understood by now!

WBAV-FM in Gastonia, N.C. found out about their $10,000 fine after they did not follow their own rules for a contest.  Ooooops

Sometimes the FCC’s cuts the offender some slack, as was the case with a pirate operator in Ft Meyers Florida who saw his fine reduced from 15,000 to 1200 bucks when the operator provided documentation that he could not pay the earlier requested amount.

The operator of a pirate station in West Palm Beach, Fl.  Turned himself in to authorities.  The 23yr old faces 5 years in prison.   Reportedly he was playing rap and interfering with a licensed station on an adjacent channel.  In Florida there is a law against un-authorized transmissions

It happens, but not often….A university purchases a commercial band station.    In this case, The University of Texas Board of Regents, which operates KUT in Austin, is picking up an FM on 98.9

Nothing new to report regarding 91.7, the new silent FM channel in this area.   I have heard rumors of a pirate operating on the channel.   Certainly an open frequency on the FM band will be a magnet for this type of operation.

Now here is something that you don’t hear about in this area…..A snake causing a problem with a broadcast station.   In this case, Doug Fisher, local contract engineer, told me about one of the stations he does work for reporting that their transmitter was doing weird things.    Going to the site he found that indeed the stations Broadcast Tools remote control equipment was indeed operating in an unusual manner.    Removing the lid from the device revealed the source of the problem.

Doug added that ‘liquid’ from the snake had attacked components on the circuit board causing the ‘Site Sentinel’ to act abnormally.

More milestones for the satellite radio broadcaster, Sirius XM who recently reported there are now 50 million cars with their service in the dashboard.   Helping their effort is a high percentage of new vehicles that leave the factory with Sat-Radio installed.   No word on how many opt to keep paying for the service.   In a related move, Liberty Media has been purchasing shares of Sirius stock and now controls the company.

No news on the sale of the broadcast division of Harris.  The company did report that there are a number of potential bidders for the long time maker of broadcast equipment.

Sine Systems is reported to have gone out of business.  The small firm made a line of broadcast remote control systems.   Apparently the passing of company employees led to the decision.

So what is a big AM station in NYC worth?    Apparently $30 Million as that’s what Clear Channel has agreed to pay to pick up WOR which had been, for years, the flagship station of Buckley Broadcasting.

Nautel has announced they are moving beyond Beacon and Radio transmitters and will start making transmitters for TV, starting with low power models.

Here are some facts that you just might not have known-

Ø      Albert Einstein never learned how to drive a car.    Now that you know that, when someone things you are stupid…tell them that at least you know how to drive.

Ø      No US President has been an only child ….In light of the current season…No comment.

Ø      To keep their tools from flying around, Apollo 8 astronauts used Silly Putty to keep them in place.    And to think that there are those that poke fun at you for using duct-tape to do repairs!

Ø      Gasoline was once sold in small bottles as a cure for head-lice.    Betcha the price per gallon was over 4 bucks!

That’s it for this month – Put on your Kevlar, its election time !

Clay, CPBE, K7CR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 2012 Meeting Report – Nikola Tesla Historical Visit

September 1, 2012
By
Date: Thursday, August 23, 2012
Time: 1:00 PM until ?
Location: Old Town Guest House, 115 S. 26th Street, Colorado Springs
Topic: Nikola Tesla Historical Visit
Cost: $15 Cash Contribution Requested
stock shot of tesla

What we hoped to see... Publicity photo of Nikola Tesla with his Magnifying Transmitter in Colorado Springs. Source: Wikipedia

So… more than a few folks have asked what the Tesla program last Thursday (8-23-12) in the Springs was like. Where to begin? Well… Peter Douglas and I, some 20-years ago looked for the Colorado Springs Tesla Museum… This is pre-WEB and GPS. We had a PO Box and an address we couldn’t find. We did see the first or oldest or whatever 3-phase generator at the Cripple Creek mine. Later I’ve been to the New York Hotel (no they don’t let you go up to room 2613 or whatever…) where Tesla lived most of his adult life, wandered Long Island looking for the death ray lab, and found the concrete block near the Staten Island ferry that the first Edison generator sat upon… and don’t even ask about how I feel about Howard Armstrong (point being that I spent a lot more time following Howard’s trail).

So, when the Colorado Springs guy; no we don’t know his name… well I do because he slipped on the phone… who you call and then he calls back… Well… the thing is that every Tesla fanatic I have ever met was a bit eccentric. So here is a real guy, with a real address, who really calls back when you call, who says he really wants to build a real Tesla Museum that isn’t about the nuttiness… Well… you just have to go see that…

There were plenty of cameras there, but no pictures… per our hosts rules.

There were toys, but not great ones. The presentation was better than I expected. I really did learn things and I really am glad that I went and not just to check off the bucket list item. If nothing else, it sure lead to a lot of conversation. He does have documents I didn’t know existed. He sure knew a lot. I don’t think for a moment that he realized that everyone in the room knew a lot more about electricity, science, and dare I say life in general than he did. Not the show Tesla did, where folks like Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain lost bowel control… but not bad either.

old town guest house

What we did see... Old Town Guest House... actually the basement of the Old Town Guest House

So, what is the truth about Tesla? Mad genius? I think in the end, he did make 3-phase happen, maybe even was useful getting Niagara Falls on line. I think after that, he discovered high voltage RF, and just had a grand old time entertaining. Magic then. I don’t think any free power or for that matter any useful power was sent wirelessly. I don’t think the death ray had any scientific basis. My take is that Nicola Tesla had one good idea, and then had a lot of fun entertaining. Wish there was more to the story, but it is what it is. Art Bell’s guests aside…

I think the best part is that some of the group offered to get him tubes and stuff, and of course our support for a permanent Tesla museum. Personally, I’m just glad it was better than I feared, but not what I could dream of. I’ll go back..