Monthly Archives: December 2013

Clay’s Corner for January 2014

December 28, 2013
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I hope that Santa was good to you this past Christmas  and that New Year will be a bright and good one….Now If we can just get used to writing 2014 on things.  2013 we certainly full of interesting events, some of which will be with us for a long time.   

 One event in our industry was the change in ownership of the Fisher stations to Sinclair and the Sandusky Radio group to Hubbard.   Approval by the FCC to transfer of Belo to Gannett came at the end of the year after some FCC conditions were met.   Interestingly the Seattle Times expressed their displeasure on the Editorial Page on the basis that it would negatively impact viewers of the station’s news broadcasts.   Locally this will involve KING and KONG TV along with NW Cable News.     I’m sure many will recall when these stations were part of KING Broadcasting.  What’s not often mentioned is that Belo started back in the 1920’s.   

 Not talked about as much is the FCC’s approval of Tribunes big deal with ‘ Local TV Holdings’  that will increases its size with 16 new stations in 14 markets.    Tribune owns 2 stations in the Seattle Market – KCPQ/13 and KSJO/22

 As I like to  do, from time to time…..Point out how the Seattle area is thought of  by others.    For many years, when you ask anyone from other parts of the country what they think of when you mention Seattle you are likely to hear first – I rains all the time, followed by comments about Starbucks, Boeing.. Costco, Amazon etc.    A new item has been added to that list that just might end up at the top….Pot !

Perhaps our reputation for a location for fresh air will be changed as a place of ‘haze’.   Already the statistics are showing the 1 in 9 are consumers of weed….and – A study released recently by the Rand Corporation showed that Washington’s 750,000 users will have consumed perhaps 225 metric tons of it in 2013.  

 Forbes just announced their top 10 list for cities with the biggest pay checks – Coming in at #5 was Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue with an overall median pay of $71,200, Starting median pay of $53,900 and a  Mid-career median pay of $99,000.    Who was at the top of that list?  – As suspected the Bay Area, San Francisco- San Jose-Sunnyvale- Santa Clara  California.   Interesting that Portland and Denver were not in the top 10.     The offsetting factor here is the cost of living.   I would doubt that this area would be ranked anywhere near the top of the cheapest place to live list.     From the looks of the number of tower cranes in downtown Seattle and Bellevue we are in for another boom cycle around here.

 On this topic – A national organization recently released rankings of the top 10 best places for early retirement.   Bellevue came in at #6.    Despite having a cost of living that is 16% above the national average.

 Looking further back ….Here’s an item that will help re-enforce just how far we have come. 

 

 

Have you looked at the prices of desk and lap top computers these days?    $3398 for 10 MB…..Hard to find a computer these days with something smaller that a TB.

Looking back not that many years microwave was the way communications was handled across the country as the things we wished to communicate exceeded the capacity of the twisted pair.   Radio and TV networks used multiple hops of terrestrial microwave.   A couple of developments came along that changed all that.   Satellites became the preferred option for point-multi-point distribution for the networks and buried fiber replaced many shorter routes.     On December 8th the Times ran a story on how a new firm called ‘Strike Technologies’ is underway building a network of ultrafast microwave links to speed up the delivery of Wall Street data.   The piece talks about the hoisting of a 6 foot dish up a 280 foot tower.    The new system is using a number of towers to link New York with Chicago….Just like days-of- old.   They claim what’s driving this is the need for speed and cite that Fiber carries data at about 65% of the speed of light and their microwave system is faster.   Who would have thought that the need for speed would lead to a resurgence in terrestrial microwave systems?     Gee…Maybe  AT&T should have not sold off all those ‘Long-Lines’ sites many years ago.

The other day I was chatting with a fellow who asked me where the next generation of broadcast engineers that work on transmission systems are going to come from.   I explained that this was the $64,000 question.   Frankly I have no idea.    I don’t know of any school that turns out people ready to tackle high powered RF systems, much less understand  vacuum tubes.     Just look around a chapter meeting at the ages of people in attendance and you can quickly see what I’m talking about.   Those that own and manage these broadcast facilities are likely too busy keeping the stock-holders happy to worry about such trivial matters.    I just hope that when the truth sinks in they will be able to explain to their boss why they are going to have to pay a lot more to replace the fellow that just retired.    As the pool of skilled labor goes down, prices are likely to go up….At least this is the way it’s supposed to work.

There is even a bigger problem that many are now talking about on a broad scale.   This issue is that our conventional educational system is not keeping up with the demand  for new employees that have the required knowledge for tomorrows jobs in the area called STEM which stands for Science, technology, engineering and math.    Broadcasting is not alone here.   Jim Sterling, writing in the November issue of Scientific American put it this way – -“Science career paths in the US have a ‘Goldilocks’ problem.   BS degrees are ‘too small’ or inadequate  for employer requirements.     Translation – We need an educational system that provides a solid background in –why- things work and, at the same time – how things work.       Then again… Will firms be willing to pay for people with this knowledge or will they do like a lot of them do today…Seek a contractor that has the expertise and pay them whatever it takes? The days when a broadcast stations engineering department  could handle just about anything that came along are evaporating and being replaced by people who don’t have the (STEM)  knowledge and by management that is willing to pay more for the outsider to come to the rescue.     Even if these firms were willing to pay for having the talent ‘on-staff’.  Where are they going to get them?   Seems to me that our educational system is in a serious need of an overhaul if it’s going to meet the challenges of the future, thankfully, I’m not the only one that sees this.   Folks like Hatfield and Dawson are likely pleased the way things are going as it just means more business for them….

Remember Hal Kneller?   Last time I saw Hal he was working for Nautel and hosted one of our Chapter Meetings.     Hal has moved on and is now VP of Sales and Business Development for GeoBroadcast Solutions.   This firm is working on Zone-Casting a technology that will permit geotargeting radio listeners in single frequency FM networks.   Harris did a presentation on this during one of their recent Road-Shows.

Olympia’s KGY-FM has a new set of call letters – KYYO-FM .  The station, for some time, has been branding themselves as KAYO which was the call letters used by South Sound Broadcasting’s 99.3 before it was sold a few years ago to become a Latino formatted operation.   Guess you can still pronounce KYYO …Kay-O if you wish.   

The change of format for Entercom’s 103.7 appears to have been well received.  The former ‘Mountain’ KMTT was rebranded as KHTP and has zoomed upward in the radio ratings. 

From the camera this month I caught this gem near the KVTI Transmitter Site in Lakewood.  Probably the most unique Christmas Lighting arrangement I’ve seen in a while.   For those of you not from this area – The number 12 is all about the ‘12th Man’ supporting the Seahawks.

 

 Our legacy broadcast band, commonly referred to as the AM or Standard Broadcast band is undergoing a lot of attention with the FCC participating in the quest for what to do to save it from potentially  gradual extinction.    If no-one does anything It appears that some of the problems will just go away along with the economic justification for owning one.   Certainly many of the smaller operations  are treading water these days.     Radio itself remains quite viable, however the percentage of listeners listening to AM continues to go down… in favor of FM.   (And to think that not that many years ago it was the reverse).  Many small AM’s are hoping to snag an FM translator as a lifeline but that is a gamble as there are not a sufficient number of FM frequencies to give every AM one…Not to mention all those frequencies that will become LPFM’s, then there is the issue where the power limit on a translator would likely yield coverage that would be smaller than that of the parent AM..    Going away with the potential to make money with an AM station has gone their value on the market.   There are likely a lot of stations owners will never see their investment return.    In cases where stations own the dirt under their antenna systems, the value of the property may well exceed the value of the radio station, in those cases the owner may elect to cash in and return the license to the FCC.    In the case of stations that lease their land…other options are sure to be considered.    In some situations giving a station to a non-profit becomes the best option….and that’s just what Entercom recently did in Salem Oregon with KWOD.   This facility, operating with 5 Kw Day and 690 watts at night on 1390 will become the property of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council.     Now don’t get me wrong, many of the larger AM stations in this market are likely doing well, however, the smaller ones in our area may well be faced with making un-wanted decisions ….regardless of what the FCC comes up with during this current, save AM effort.   My answer remains the same – Look to Brazil for the answer.   The time has come to make plans to QSY.  (Ask a Ham for a definition)

 I find it interesting that we, in this country, are trying to find a way to keep AM alive…meanwhile other countries appear to be way ahead of us – In Europe many countries are making plans for the shutting down of FM Broadcasting in favor of all Digital.    I am left to wonder why we are so far behind the rest of the world?

What you don’t see very often any more is a small, portable, radio.    Well Sangean is changing that by offering a the kind of radio we all used to own (we likely called them a transistor radio in those days) that we would take with us on family outings for the entertainment or to hear the ballgame.   Cute little critter – and it includes an clock radio feature (been awhile since we’ve used that term too)

 

Since we last met,  a number of people have passed that I’d like to mention  –

 Ø      Larry Lujack who was a DJ on KJR many years ago and moved on to do great things in Chicago recently passed at 73.

Ø      Larry Estlack who was the technical director for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters  and whom I worked with on the BWWG regarding EAS, passed at age 64, also of cancer.

Ø      Bernie Wise left us on Dec 13th.  Bernie was a legendary engineer and was the founder of several broadcast equipment manufacturers, he was 87.

Ø      Bill Rohrer, W7IJ.   Most of you did not know Bill, I was introduced to Bill via our mutual hobby of Ham Radio friend  Nick Winter, K7MO.   Bill had a fantastic station well south of Tacoma where I was fortunate to be able to operate during a number of contests.    A truly great man that many loved and all will miss.   He had been dealing with Cancer for some time.

Congratulations to Deb – Arne Skoog’s widow – not only did she pass the Technician Class exam, but she now has Arne’s  call letters of WA7WKT.    Word is that she is about to start studying for her General Class.  

This shot was taken going up the road to West Tiger of the sun shining through the fog.  The road is noticeably bare of snow as our year finished warmer and dryer than normal.

 

I love to report on Copper theft arrests…. In this case video cameras mounted on a tower in Alabama alerted 911 dispatchers that suspects were in the process of stealing copper  from the county radio site (which had been hit 5 times in the last 3 years).    The surveillance camera installation paid off.

As I keep saying – It’s only a matter of time before one of our broadcast sites gets hit hard….How is your security system?   One of the problems is how to identify copper that is ripped off.   A firm called MicroDot has an interesting approach to this problem.  Check it out at  http://microdotus.com/

Did you hear about the weird sound coming from the recently completed One-World-Trade Center in NYC?   Apparently wind is making the building emit a strange eerie sound.     Click here for more –

http://video.foxnews.com/v/2897634501001/eerie-sound-heard-coming-from-one-world-trade-center/?intcmp=obnetwork.    Can imagine how residents of Queen Ann would react of one of the TV towers there made sounds like this?

A new study has concluded that cellular networks cannot replicate current radio broadcast economics and coverage to which I say – DUH !.   There is this notion that everything you want can be distributed by broadband cellular based systems.   The problem is that each site must transmit all the same information.   This is where the point-multi-point architecture of Broadcasting shines.    Interesting that some are finally starting to wake up and accept this fact.    The problem is that broadcasting is viewed as ‘old-school’ by many who are determined to do it their way.     Reminds me of the mind-set that says that you must use a computer to change the level in a piece of equipment when we all know that this is what a ‘Greenie’ is for.   

That’s about it for this month – May 2014 be good to you and yours

Clay, K7CR, CPBE etc.

The KEØVH Hamshack For December 2013

December 16, 2013
By

The KEOVH 

 

By Jack Roland, CBRE, AMD and CBNT

KLove /Air 1 EMF Colorado Engineering.

Well here we are, in December, as of this writing Christmas is almost upon us, and the beginning of the New Year.  AND new projects with EMF/KLove/Air1.  And we got to break out the Argo Avenger 750 snow vehicle for its first use this season.  My assistant Nick, KK6GSJ, and Harry, N0SFP (the DOE for Clear channel Colorado Springs that owns the site) went down so Harry could show me the building for a possible location for a KLove transmitter.  This site has a GREAT link to the 146.97 repeater located on the top of Pikes Peak, and my friend Rich, W9BNO and I were able to communicate over a path of about a hundred miles or so via the repeater.  This is really a great way to stay in touch along the front range of Colorado too for safety’s sake and just plain fun.  Greg, WB7AHO and I were talking to each other via this repeater from his home in Thornton to me way down near Walsenburg on I-25.  Well, with a 14 thousand foot stick for a repeater antenna, what would you expect right? J

 

 

Harry, NØSFP, and KEØVH talking to Denver from more than 100 miles away.

 

Last month I wrote about the problems I was having with my Icom 706 Mk2G HF/VHF/UHF rig.  Turns out I didn’t find the problem.  So with time at a premium this month I turned to my ole’ buddy Greg, WB7AHO.  If Greg can’t find it, it ain’t there!  Sure enough, he found an almost microscopic crack in a trace line from the driver board to the main PA switching relay to supply current to the PA transistors.  Greg is one of the most thorough engineers I know, preferring to even take a magnifying glass to looking at boards and components to, as he puts it “sneak up” on the problem.   So now, the radio is back to full speed and ready to operate all bands from “Truckzilla” during my trips.  AND, as I am going to need to go to Durango and SW Colorado here before too long, so HF will be a necessity.  Because of the roughness of the roads I have to travel, I am trying another mounting scheme with some foam packing on the transmission hump of the truck.  Here you can see me working Greg, WB7AHO on 7.180 in Breckenridge  CO.  WB7AHO had a great Q5 S9 signal on the radio using a 40m hamstick antenna.

                      

                              706 “mount”                           

 

                         Talking to WB7AHO on 40m

 

 

706 on the dash of the Ford F-250 work truck.

 

I have been wanting to get on 160 meters.  For Years!  Finally I figured out that with the length and width of my backyard, I can do this with what  I am going to call a “wraparound dipole” that will be only about 10 – 15 feet  high, so it will be a cloudwarmer but will get me on the TOP BAND !  Here is the general layout and plan.  I will be assembling this over the next couple of weeks I hope with the weather being nicer in the Denver area after a couple of weeks of very frigid temperatures.  Well, that is my excuse anyway. 

 

 

KEØVH yard and antenna layout plan

 

Also, I am planning a modification to my 5 BTV vertical to make it a “7BTV”.  It is very easy to add 12 and 17 meters to the antenna with some wire and standoffs.  You can read about how to do that here: http://www.powerlinenoise.com/n0rq/6btv-mod/ .

I will report on these antenna projects here as soon as they are done.  I plan on using the Field Fox and MFJ antenna analyzer to tune these and get them working!

As always don’t forget the SBE IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, the first Saturday of the month.  AND the EMF Hamnet now is the same manner on every Monday evening at 7pm Mountain time for radio discussions, both broadcast engineering and Amateur radio.  Details on how to join are at  http://www.qsl.net/ke0vh/sbehamnet.  I hope you will be able to join us and share your engineering and ham exploits!

73’, God be with you, & see you next time!  KEØVH

Clay’s Corner for December 2013

December 3, 2013
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Can you believe it? ….Another year almost gone…Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas a few days away.   Time to close the books on another one and get those year-end things in order and get ready for the tax-man. ..and… Make those hotel reservations for NAB in Vegas.   I’ve skipped the last couple, however we are going to have some EAS Sessions and my arm is being twisted.  

 Up-coming this month is our annual SBE Chapter 16 Christmas Party on Saturday, Dec 14th– Hope you can all make this event!  Check the Chapter Web-Site for all the details. 

   Speaking of EAS…I’ve been deeply involved in the CSRIC (You a can look it up) process for the last couple of months, my chore is to chair a weekly conference call with people all over the country working EAS Plans…Specifically the relationship between the FCC and SECC’s….Really interesting.   Other Committees are working on EAS Cyber-Security and the EASNT.

 Looking back this has been a big year for the broadcast industry in our area with a few new names added….Gannett, Hubbard, Sinclair….and a few departed…Fisher, Sandusky and soon to be Belo.   As we look ahead who knows what other changes will take place, as they say….Time will tell.

 From my Camera Card this month –

 Here is something you can add to the category of Huh ?   I found this item sitting at a location where some electrical work was being done.   Apparently an electrician experienced what we all have…The end of our measuring tape breaks off.   Most of us simply throw it away, but not this resourceful person.  A conduit connector, some green-tape and a sharpie for re-labeling the tape and he was good to go….I’ll have to bring this to a chapter meeting.

 

 

 Remember the days when someone asked you for your ‘address’ and you gave them the only one you had?…..Your street address.   Now a person is just as likely to give you their email address and refer to their street address referencing the term ‘snail-mail’.    Email addresses are handy for a number of reasons, like being able to come up with your own.   For a lot of us that are Ham’s we like to use our Amateur Radio call sign rather than our name.   Then there are those addresses that are so cryptic that you can’t possibly remember it.  That’s where your emails address book comes in- provided- that you entered the person by their name, otherwise you are lost.   Just pray your computer  does not croak and you lose your address book.   Good thing that we have these, mostly easy to remember short-cuts because those that designed IP addresses did not have recalling them as their primary goal.   

 On the subject of IP – Everything is becoming IP based.   Those little plastic (RJ) connectors that used to be exclusively involved with your telephone cords have become the universal connector of choice for data systems.    Switches used to be always thought of as something that you use to turn on or off the lights or some other electrical device, now switches for data look like yesterdays’ switches for telephones that were hidden in some closet down the hall and they all use the same little plastic connector.   Getting back to IP….The switch (pardon the use of the word) to IP based systems is taking place at a rapid pace.    In broadcast operations IP based systems for handling video and audio are now the standard and those, older/analog systems are now used with words like – Legacy.   In the process of re-writing our State EAS Plan, that committee had to recognize that we have two systems operating now for broadcast based public warnings.  The Legacy EAS (Analog) and the Digital EAS (CAP).   Every broadcast station now has an EAS unit that deals with both (an FCC Requirement) and yes….Those units have the same (RJ45) connectors to connecting to the world of IP.   Often the IP term adds a couple of letters to help you understand what’s going on, for example, AOIP tells the reader that this is Audio Over IP.   IP techniques have invaded telephony as well.  Look at DSL for example.   This popular technique has leveraged the standard telephone, or POTS, line to also transport data that enables a single pair of wires to not only provide you with standard phone service but data as well (more data and RJ45’s).  I recall writing about the development of what was then called ADSL not that long ago.   VOIP, or Voice Over IP has become common place as the merger of computers and telephones becomes standard.   Chances are your business has already made the switch to a VOIP phone system, or will be doing so.   

This is my segue to the following news item – The State E911 Office is bringing Washington State into the 21st Century. We’re moving from a 60-year-old telephone-based 911 system to an updated Internet Protocol-based Next Generation 911 network. With this evolutionary change comes a vastly expanded set of options for how our citizens will be able to communicate. When the transition is complete, they will be able to use nearly any device to make 911 calls via Voice, Text, and Images. Check it out in BlogEMD at http://www.blogemd.blogspot.com/

 So what’s next ?   In the not too distant future, all of your major appliances will come with RJ45’s for connection to your home network (More switches).  This will provide a new profit center for those that service these devices as they will be able to receive a message from your freezer indicating it’s temperature is too high.   Their computer will look up this information to see if you have a service plan and call you to see if they can stop by tomorrow to service the device.    The future for this technology is endless – everywhere you look.   Major broadcast transmitter manufacturers are already doing this.   Of course everyone will want a wireless connection and that’s where we in the broadcast industry find out backs against the wall.   The spectrum to do all of this comes under the heading of Broadband and the appetite for more of these techniques represents a real danger to those that have been doing point-multi-point distribution for years….Some call this broadcasting.   The battle for spectrum will make the historic battle for water look pale by comparison.   Fasten your seat-belts.

  Last month copper thieves were at work in Spokane, their target – KMBI (AM).  According to Marlin Jackson of KXLY the bums broke into the tuning shack and stole copper straps and tuning coils, while they were at it, they broke some vacuum capacitors.   Unfortunately the station is a 5 kw Day-Timer and they were at work at night. (RF can leave a lasting impression).   Marlin added that his company has 3-AM’s on a tower located about half a mile away.   His instructions are for their MCO’s are easy to understand – If one station goes down, call Engineering, if all 3 do, call 911.    This is another unfortunate example of where a lot of money could be saved with an adequate alarm system, which most small stations usually avoid.    Seems like I’ve been harping on this issue for years.

 Seems to me that the Brazil equivalent of the FCC is way ahead of us, at least in one respect.   They plan to migrate AM Radio to what they call Band 1.   What we call TV Channel 5 and 6.   If you recall, in a previous column I wrote about my solution to the AM situation in detail and proposed the same thing.  Personally I hope that our FCC is watching this very closely.    On the digital radio front…They are looking at two systems, DRM and HD Radio.   Interestingly John Schneider (Yep,  the one we claim) spoke in favor of HD-R at a recent congress on this topic in that South American Country.   It will be really interesting to read the comments that are filed in this country regarding what to do to re-vitalize our legacy radio band.

 We have a new station on the air in this area with the signing on of KXIR-FM in Freeland.  The 89.9 MHz, 1800 watt station will be running the same programming as KSER according to Chris Wartes, K7II, their engineer.  Freeland is located on Whidbey Island at the sound end of Holmes Harbor approx. 16 miles west of Everett.

 Engineers at Duke University have come up with a device that, as they put it- ‘Harvests’ microwaves and converts them into electricity.  Sort of like a microwave solar cell.  Like a lot of inventions, the question is what use will it be?  They are thinking that it would make possible the transmission of power sufficient to charge batteries or power equipment could take place using microwaves.    Can’t help but wonder what the NIER Police would say about this one?  

 New FCC rules dealing with tower construction near AM transmitter towers are here.  The FCC has established a new AM protection method that utilizes the ‘Moment Method’ to deal with these issues.

Seattle’s consulting firm of Hatfield and Dawson were part of a number of consultants and broadcast owners that proposed this change.     A welcome change for many.

 Old friend Bill Wolfenbarger dropped me a note the other day where I commented on the lack of HD Radio on the coast of our state.   He said that this was about to change with his purchase of a new Nautel transmitter for his KSWW that will operate the mode after the first of the year.    He added “Now, if I only had somebody to help me install this stuff in a reasonably professional manner.”    In a recent lunch with a person who works in Radio on the coast, I asked about  the lack of HD-Radio ‘out-west’….I submitted that with all the car makers coming out with HD Radios installed, that the time is coming that the owners of these stations will want to add the mode.   I suggested that all it will take is for the boss to get a new car and hear it for the first time.

 On the subject of HD-R….I understand that the Chicago Bears are exploring the idea of launching their own radio station on WBBM-FM –HD3….Perhaps in 2015.   Already pro-sports teams are already doing this in Philly and Dallas etc.  Wonder if this idea would catch on in this area?   Seahawks on K____ HD3?   Probably would go a long way toward selling a boat-load of HD Radios.

 Meanwhile a Delaware company is suing a large number of broadcast groups alleging they are infringing on a patents.  Some feel that this is all an action of what they call a ‘patent troll’ and will be tossed out.   I’ve not seen the specifics, all I know is they claim to have a patent for something called

‘Side-Channel Communications in Simultaneous Voice and Data Transmission’ and appears to describe techniques used by HD Radio for multicasting.  Some of the firms named have operations in Seattle – CBS, Clear Channel, Cox, Entercom, Hubbard, Disney etc.   The amount of legal horsepower these firms can put on the case will be substantial.   This will be fun to watch.

 Old friend Bob Gorjance sent me this picture of an AM Station in Michigan.  Apparently the top of the tower folded over in a wind-storm…and after the event, the top beacon continued to work.  That must have been an interesting phone call to the FAA.  Plans were to replace the big self-supporter with a guyed tower.  The gray skies are not the best for viewing this…Look for the former ‘top-beacon’ now pointing downward along the left face of the tower.

  

 

Happily the FCC finally acted on the matter of using EAS Tones within commercials and other non-emergency programming.   Those of us in Broadcasting have long known that this was a no-no.  However, those that are not involved with things like FCC rules are not.   Stations were concerned if they aired something that contained EAS tones that they would be in trouble with the Commish.   Every time something like this happened, EAS and other List Servers ‘lit-up’ with comments. Finally, on November 4th, the FCC cleared the air with this news release –

Washington, D.C. – The Enforcement Bureau today took action against Turner Broadcasting  System and reached agreement with Kentucky television station WNKY(DT) for apparent  misuse of the actual Emergency Alert System (EAS) tones or close simulations of those sounds. The Bureau also issued an Enforcement Advisory to address growing concern about the misuse of these sounds to capture audience attention during advertisements and at other times when there is no emergency or test. The Advisory reemphasizes the wide-ranging and long-standing  bar on such abuses and the potential for sanctions in the case of violations. “Today’s enforcement action sends a strong message: the FCC will not tolerate misuse or abuse of the Emergency Alert System,” said Enforcement Bureau Acting Chief Robert H. Ratcliffe. “It is inexcusable to trivialize the sounds specifically used to notify viewers of the dangers of an incoming tornado or to alert them to be on the lookout for a kidnapped child, merely to advertise a talk show or a clothing store. This activity not only undermines the very purpose o f a unique set of emergency alert signals, but is a clear violation of the law,” added Mr. Ratcliffe. The FCC has prohibited the transmission of actual or simulated EAS Attention Signals or tones under any circumstances other than a real alert or an authorized test of the EAS system for two decades, but there has been a recent spike in consumer complaints about misuse of the sounds. In response to a consumer complaint about a promotion for the Conan O’Brien Show carried on the TBS cable network, the Enforcement Bureau initiated an investigation. Turner provided a recording of the promotion and additional viewer complaints. Review of the recording established that the promotion includes audio material that constitutes a simulation of the prescribed EAS codes and Attention Signal. A $25,000 Notice of Apparent Liability has therefore been issued to Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.�
The Enforcement Bureau also initiated an investigation in response to a consumer complaint  about an advertisement broadcast by TV station WNKY(DT) in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The complaint alleged misuse of the EAS Attention Signal in an advertisement for “The Fan Wear & More Store.” Station licensee, MMK License LLC, did not dispute that it broadcast a simulation of an EAS sound within that advertisement, and cooperated with the Bureau to negotiate a  settlement. As a result of those negotiations, MMK has agreed to pay a $39,000 voluntary contribution and to implement a robust compliance plan that will help prevent future violations of the Commission’s EAS rules. In coordination with local public safety and emergency responders, MMK also voluntarily initiated a public education campaign to inform its viewers about EAS alerts.  The EAS is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television operators, wireless cable operators, wireline video service providers, satellite digital audio radio service providers, and direct broadcast satellite providers to make it possible for the President of the United States to address the American public during a national emergency. Federal, state, and local authorities may also use the EAS to deliver important emergency information, such as Amber Alerts and weather information, such as tornado warnings, targeted to specific areas. The FCC enforces its EAS rules to ensure that the EAS Attention Signal and tones are not used for unauthorized purposes.

The FCC recently gained a new Chairman as Tom Wheeler started heading up the Commission.   Whereas Mr. Wheeler did not come with a broadcast background, many in this industry and worried that he will lean toward broadband at the expense of broadcast…Time will tell on this as well.   Meanwhile broadcasters are fastening their seatbelts.

Another item from Clay’s Camera Card this month –

All of us in broadcasting are familiar with mounting things in equipment racks.   Every once in a while something comes along that does not have the mechanical construction to be quickly bolted into to a rack so you have to do something to accommodate it.   Often you will place the item on a rack shelf etc. Then there are those cases where either the person doing the work did not have a ‘conventional’ mechanical interface and used what they are familiar with.   In the following example, the person installing this unit in a rack was likely an electrician who was familiar with Beam-Clamps and Strut.

Interestingly, the ‘Rack’ or ‘Relay-Rack’ became standardized at 19inches wide back in the 1930’s. Western Electric, who was known for doing things a bit differently, opted for 23 inches which you will still find in use in the telephone industry.   Today you can purchase racks from a large number of manufacturers….Including IKEA!

I present this as I know there are some broadcast engineers that will smile when they see this installation method.  Many of you know where this is located too!

 

Congratulations to Jim Pace on his retirement as Washington State RACES Officer effective the end of this year.   Jim, who turned 70 this year, hands the baton to Monte Simpson.   For those of you that follow EAS in our State, Jim has a seat on the SECC.    We look forward to working with Monte.  Likely Jim will continue in his role as Northwest Division Vice Director for the ARRL.     Amateur Radio has played a historically important role in Emergency Communications.

Well, my friends, I am going to leave you with one more picture before I end this month’s column.  The following was taken from Crego Hill, looking west toward Boistfort Peak, commonly called Baw-Faw.  Crego is the home of a number of broadcast systems.   Several  translators for Seattle area TV and FM stations, as well as the main transmitter site for KCKA-TV,  KSWS and KMNT-FM.    It’s located SW of Chehalis.

 

May you all have a wonderful Christmas and a great new year !   Lord willing, til next time –

Clay, K7CR – CPBE