Monthly Archives: December 2015

The KEØVH Hamshack for December 2016

December 30, 2015

01 TheKE0VHHamshack Logo


02 KE0VHShack


03 Christmas

AND, Merry Christmas and God Bless you from the Denver offices of


Well here we are diving into the winter months in Colorado and a lot is still going on in the state with new transmitters and finalizing up a lot of things for the year. Yearly Inspections to finish up, Arbitron software to update, and just generally getting most tasks wrapped up for the year or planning for next. Snow started to fly in November and now site access isn’t as easy but we are getting the last minute installs and things done before some sites become nearly impossible. Gray Head mountain at approximately 11000 feet, our site near Telluride is virtually inaccessible in the winter months due to snow depth and steepness. We upgraded a transmitter there, and got all secured for winter. Thanks to my good friend Bill Frost, WØBX for the work there, and then Rich Anderson W9BNO and I installed the upper end of our Axia IP audio system installed at Castle Peak north of Eagle CO at about 11k feet AMSl in October, and now we have installed the IPump and Sat receiver at the site down below in Eagle so we can feed audio up to our station above via our Trango STL system. We have been awaiting this for quite a while, and I am very proud of the Eagle site now. I will put some pictures in next months article of that site. We also will have a backup site location for the station above on the little “East Beacon Hill” as Eagle County calls it so WHEN the site above goes down we can cover Gypsum and Eagle from the lower site. The new Thermobond building at the site is really AWESOME.


04 CastlePeak

KEØVH and the Argo at Castle Peak in October

By this time the snowtracks are going to be re-installed on the Argo as it will definitely be needed here in Colorado! Only 4 to 6 inches of snow was on the mountain this day, so the ATV tires did fine, and especially in the mud that was further down. We already used it in “tracked” mode for a trip to Eagle, and more are on the horizon.


I have been reading a lot lately about the capabilities of the FlexRadio 3000 in the Hamshack and continue to be amazed at its capabilities. I have really been enjoying operating the rig with its filters and abilities of pulling in weak signals and working stations that I have a very difficult time hearing on another radio. Check out this article that I found about the Flex 3000.


I also now have another SDR receiver in the Hamshack that receives 100 khz to 1.7 mHz. It operates with the SDR Sharp and HDSDR software I have written about here before. I am really amazed with the abilities of this little self contained HF/VHF/UHF and above receiver. I have been using it to monitor broadcast, communications, track airplanes with the ADSB Sharp software included within the SDR Sharp package, using its Spectrum analyzer features and more. It is the Yosoo 100KHz-1.7GHz Full Band UV RTL-SDR USB Tuner Receiver/ R820T+8232 available as always on Amazon.

05 Yosoo

This is what you get for around $60 or so

The “set” comes with an antenna that will work fairly well for UHF and even receiving the ADSB from aircraft, but it works much better being connected to proper outdoor antennas. You will need male SMA connector to whatever your coax’s have on them for proper adaption. The box has female SMA’s. The little box connects to USB, and Windows 7 automatically tries to download drivers for it. The USB works just fine but then you need to install the Zadig RTL drivers for the SDR box itself as Windows will not automatically find drivers. I am working on a tutorial video for this as there isn’t a lot of information on the internet how to do this. This is what I used initially:   I had some experience getting the SDR USB stick I had previously to work with the quick start guide, so I figured it out pretty quickly, but there are a lot of complaints about there being not a lot of real documentation on this little box and how to get it running.   More to come.

Hey if you haven’t had a chance to see any of my latest videos, check this out:

Don’t forget the Monday Night Broadcast Engineering

IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

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

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio. The first and

3rd Mondays are also SBE NET nights. Details on how to

Join are at 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! de KEØVH


Clay’s Corner for January 2016

December 30, 2015



Clay’s Corner for January 2016

This past year I submitted a number of items related to the drought we were experiencing…Then, as Cliff Mass said would happen – A switch was thrown and we went from drought to deluge.   Finally, after perhaps after wading thru deep-water – the word has come down- The drought is officially over as of the first of the year….Meanwhile we have been enjoying the 2nd wettest December on record!

Don’t you just love it when the obvious becomes published official policy.   Weather was supposed to be warmer too – Tell that to the Ski Areas that are getting dumped on.   At this writing the road to the transmitter sites on West Tiger are now closed to everything except –over the snow- vehicles.   Arthur Willets recently had to snowshoe his way in to the site and spend the night there.   Last winter was a no-show and spoiled us that go up there with the ability to drive to the top all winter.


Here’s a picture, courtesy of Ralph Sims of AccelNet (They now operate the former Collins Site on West Tiger) – Note the amount of ice at the top of the tower.

Towers in Fog


So just how many Starbucks are there in Seattle ?   The answer is 104!   And, believe it or not, someone has actually rated them –


Over the years I’ve had various people ask me how far can a certain transmitter transmit.   People have asked me that question regarding my Ham Radio equipment at home, or about a broadcast station etc.   I’ve never been good at answering this one….I usually say something to the effect that it depends on how good your receiver is…Thankfully, this usually satisfies them….At least until I am able to change the subject.   I recently got to thinking about this when reading about the recent NASA success visiting Pluto.   Looking at the numbers – Distance – 3 Billion Miles (spelled with a ‘B’) Power – 12 Watts. Obviously what’s left out are minor factors like transmit and receive antenna gain, modulation mode and rate and, of course, path-loss.   I can hear it now – Mr. Station Manager will tumble across this information and demand to know why their station can’t be heard or viewed 50 miles away with much higher power.     This is much like the old expression -“ if we can put a man on the Moon why can’t we _______!     Ahhh…The Laws of Physics J


According to the latest estimates, there are 291,513 solar panel systems in California. That’s about one system for every 130 people.   Even in our overcast climate, we see a lot of solar arrays on roof tops.


Finally someone is selling an outside antenna designed for Omni-directional reception for use with AM

and FM (and presumably HD) receivers.   A company well known in Amateur Radio circles, DX Engineering has introduced their AFHD-4 which includes a splitter (presumably to feed the AM and FM signals separately.     Now to find a recently manufactured receiver with provisions for connecting an external antenna.   At one time this was very common, especially with the component system tuners, but that was about it.   In the text for the product they do mention HD Radio as an application.


Last month I mentioned that we now have a radio station in Vancouver (the big one to the north) that’s operating HD Radio –


To their credit that are going where I have rarely seen a US broadcaster go….


  • Ø Advertising that an AM Station is available on an FM’s HD-2.   U.S. broadcasters

appear to be scared to death to promote, or (shudder) even mention their HD Radio channels…Apparently out of the fear that this would mean violating the first law of broadcasting (Promoting another station, even if it’s owned by the same company)



the real reason that fm \”took off\” was that the fcc issued an order that co owned am and…


In a contest among FM, AM and internet the quality from highest to lowest is FM without Op…


I applaud FCC for working to improve both the really old transition website and the old FC…


You are so right, Ken. It’s not enough to just transport over IP. It’s about doing stuff w…


Not going to happen in the US. With the repacking a lot of channels will be looking at mov…

  • Ø Explaining to their listeners HD Radio is…

We are so excited to let you know that you can now enjoy CKNW in High Definition.
HD Radio stations broadcast a digital signal over traditional radio frequencies. This technology enables your receiver to display song titles, album art, and station information so you get the best listening experience.


  • Ø Explaining why they should consider it …

Our HD channel broadcasts in clear digital quality to your local area making radio static, hiss and fuzz a thing of the past. Experience all news, all talk in crystal clear HD quality!


  • Ø Explaining how to get the HD station on a car radio…
  1. Determine if you have HD radio. Best bet is to check your car manual or check out the list of car manufacturers below
  2. Tune your radio to the FM band and dial up to Rock 101
  3. Wait about 8 to 10 seconds for HD radio to kick in (you may hear a change in audio when this happens)
  4. Use your seek up and down/ side to side buttons to switch to channel 2 on your radio – this is where you’ll find us, on HD2
  5. Add us to your presets so next time listening to CKNW in HD is just one click away

Get 10% off a new HD Radio with promo code: CKNW

Hats off to our neighbors to the North for having the guts to promote HD Radio – Even if they are late to the party.

One of the latest fads is the GoPro camera.   We see these items attached to a larger of variety of things – Helmets of people doing interesting (and stupid) things…Drones…You name it.   In fact my new pickup came with a mount for one of these creations so I could record my travels.   What I’ve been trying to do is to determine whether or not I should buy one and if I did, what I’d do with it.   How many people would like to see me drive to West Tiger or South Mountain?   Perhaps our SBE Chapter should have a contest for the best GoPro video of the year?   Any thoughts – Let me know.




Top of Form

I recently read that the nut-case that went on a shooting spree in Colorado was telling everyone to install a metal roof so the government could not spy on them. Yikes ! – I have a metal roof on my house…What are my neighbors going to think?

Here are some additional stats about the Seattle area –

  • Ø King County (the County Seattle is within for our non-resident readers) is in 64th place nationally.
  • Ø Washington States per capita median income if ranked at #12
  • Ø Don’t look for good drivers around here….A recent survey has them ranked 184th out of 200.
  • Ø Nearly 9% (6 of 66) of experts say Seattle is in a housing bubble. The median home price is $521,400 and values are up 12.7% in the last year.
The matter of the sale of KPLU to KUOW appears to have taken a number of interesting turns.   It could be said that this deal did not quite go as planned by the participants with both parties coming under considerable criticism.         At last report, Pacific Lutheran University, who started the station many years ago, has agreed to give some time to those that would like it to become a, publically supported, independent         station…Perhaps something like KING-FM is today.   The station certainly enjoys a lot of support from its listeners…. The big question now will they be able to come up with the money to purchase it from PLU in the time frame given.     The following is a portion of a letter from station General Manager Joey Cohn that’s been sent to their supporters – I will let speak for itself-All of us at KPLU appreciate your incredible outpouring of support over these past few weeks. It has been heartening and humbling. It has also helped to keep us going as we try to find our way through uncertain circumstances.When trying to describe what this station means to them, many listeners have said that KPLU is at least “a friend” and more often, “family.” We’ve learned that our listeners have a deep, emotional connection with the people and the programs they hear. They feel the station is ingrained in the cultural fabric of the Puget Sound Area.

How can we not have hope in the future when we receive sentiments like this (from a listener): “KPLU doesn’t bring us the world; they are the world to us.”

Recently Pacific L Lutheran University and the University of Washington decided to allow for a community group to submit an application to buy KPLU. If this application and its fundraising efforts are successful, KPLU’s people, programs and its service to the community will remain intact.

Many listeners have asked us what they can do to support this effort. Right now I can tell you that many individuals are pursuing the community option. There are numerous details to work out and there will be more news on the situation early next month.

In the meantime, KPLU does have an important need to keep the day-to-day operations running. If you would like to make a year end, tax-deductible donation, you can do so by clicking here.

Thank you again for all of your kind words of support. It means so much to all of us here and helps us to continue to bring you the original, in-depth northwest news you rely on, and the jazz and blues that makes you feel good.

Happy holidays to you!

Joey Cohn
KPLU/ Jazz24 General Manager

Some more news from WSAB …. In addition to the retirement of Mark Allen as President and CEO of the organization, Bill Johnstone recently retired at the helm of the Oregon Association (OAB) .   Starting January first, the WSAB will –also- be providing management services for the Oregon Association of Broadcasters under the leadership of new CEO, Keith Shipman.   Each entity will remain separate and will have their own governing Board of Directors.     Both organizations have a long history. The WSAB was founded in 1935 and the OAB in 1940.     For more information, contact Keith Shipman at 360-705-0774.

There are two major events that draw many from the broadcast industry to Las Vegas every year. First is the Consumer Electronics Show or CES in January and then the NAB event in April.   It has just been announced that the CES will be implementing new security measures including bag restrictions, body screening as well as other increased security measures such as the requirement that everyone have picture ID badges.   I have no information to lead me to believe that these measures will be adopted by the NAB for the April show…However, it would come as a surprise if they do.       When you look at the size of these events and the number that attend them, such a change will require a lot of additional effort on the part of many.   Stay tuned.   Oh, by the way….The sponsoring organization for CES is now known as CTA for Consumer Technology Association.   CES 2016 will take place in Las Vegas from Jan. 6-9.

The NAB show in Vegas will be April 16-21.   Related…The NUG (Nautel Users Group) meeting will take place April 17th from 9 AM to 1 PM at the Flamingo.   For many years this popular event was held in the Riviera that is the site of further expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. If you are planning on attending – Obtaining reservations is highly encouraged.


Congratulations to the Washington State University Edward R. Murrow College of Communications for ranking #6 in the recent Newspro- RTDNA Survey of 2015 Journalism School Rankings. There are a lot of grads of this program working in our industry.


Sad news this month is the passing of George Marti at the age of 95– The RPU equipment he developed have only recently been replaced with cellular based devices.   All of us that have been in the radio biz for some time have used his equipment and have fond memories of doing so.   For me- I started using Marti equipment in 1961….and that is quite a while ago.




I don’t have a GoPro camera…But my smartphone has a dandy that has me looking for interesting items to share with my readers.   This month I have another.   While at the local grocery store I could not help but to a double take when I saw this item…..RF MILK !!! Gee just when I thought that RF was bad for you…now they have it in milk – Where is the outrage ??

RF Milk


Do you recall the little 1480 AM station in Lakewood that lost its site with the towers to be replaced by houses?   Before the demise of their AM Transmitter site they operated an FM Transmitter located on the KBTC Tower at 19th and Trafton in Tacoma.   Then the station, along with those in Lacey/Olympia and Bremerton were sold to a new owner.   More recently the AM station was back on the air with a very in-effective antenna system on top of a single story building in Lakewood.   The other day I was in Lakewood and thought I’d see just how well this temporary lash-up was working.   I could not find the station on my truck radio.   A bit more snooping uncovered information that despite the AM being off the air….The FM Translator is ON!.   Seems to me that the way the game is supposed to be played is that an AM can operate a translator, but it can’t operate one without the AM ??   With the shortage of FM Frequencies in these parts …My guess that this type of operation is going to raise a number of eyebrows, perhaps justifiably.

While cleaning out my home-office I ran across an RCA Aural Broadcast Systems Short Form Catalog with Prices from 1982- Thought I would share some items from 33 years ago to show how much has changed.

  • Ø A BC-300 Console had 10 rotary faders and listed for $6,570. Mic and Line preamps were additional.
  • Ø Cartridge Tape equipment was being sold with RCA clearly slapping their name on machines that were made by other manufacturers.   Anyone remember the A, B & C Size Cartridges?
  • Ø A 3 speed turntable would set you back $390 adding a pickup arm would add $95.
  • Ø The Otari MX5050 Reel to Reel was being sold for $2295. The bigger MTR-10 went for $6450
  • Ø Audio processing was crude by today’s standards.   You could purchase the BA150 Stereo Digital Overshoot Controller (aka – a clipper) for $1200.
  • Ø The Blue RCA racks were being sold. An 84 inch (BR-84U) would set you back $395. Interestingly they were only 24 inches deep
  • Ø The Potomac AT-51 test set (analyzer and generator) were selling for $3195

On the subject of looking-back- I recently received a phone call from Alf Anderson, W7ALF.   Never met the gentlemen, but we had a great conversation about times long past in Tacoma broadcasting.   I am always amazed as who reads this column.   Shortly afterward he sent me a copy of a couple of pages from the 1966 Broadcast Yearbook (Pages B-163 and B-164).   Wow!   That was 50 years ago.

For those of you that are also in silver/white or no-hair club ….It’s time to share some memories from before many of my readers were born.     I’m just going to list the call letters and frequencies and Chief Engineers – There have been a LOT of changes in the last 50 years as you can tell –



KAYO/1150 –Tad Jones

KBBX/98.9 –Robert Gerry

KBLE/1050 – KBLE-FM/93.3 –Ernie Opel

KETO/1590 – KETO-FM/101.5 –John Maxon

KING/1090- KING-FM/98.1- Arthur Shultz

KIRO /710- KIRO-FM/100.7 –Jim Upthegrove

KISW/99.9 –Dean Hickey

KIXI/910-KIXI-FM/95.7 (No CE Listed, however Wally Nelskog was listed as President, GM and PD)

KJR/950 –Gorge Newton

KLSN.96.5- P.H. Davis

KOL/1300 – KOL-FM/94.1 – Richard Smart

KOMO/1000 –C.E. Miller

KRAB/107.7- T. Lansman

KTW/1250 – KTW-FM/102.5 –James Ross

KUOW/94.9- Hal Syrstad

KVI/570 –Dick Velo

KXZ/770 – No C.E. Listed

KZAM/93.5 –KFKF (AM) – No C.E. Listed



KCPS/90.9 –Bill Evans

KDFL/1560- No Chief Listed

KFHA/1480 –Clay Freinwald (WHO?)

KLAY-FM/106.1- Terry Denbrook

KMO/1360 –Peter Policani

KTAC/850- KTAC-FM/103.9 –, Bill Luckhurst

KTNT/1400-KTNT-FM/97.3 –Dick Engh

KTOY/91.7 –Ken Keigley


While scanning these two pages, a couple other names got my attention – Chief at KPQ in Wenatchee was George Frese and at KIMA in Yakima was Dave Hubert.   These names brought back a lot of memories for me – Many of these gentlemen I had the privilege of meeting.   Golly – 50 years ago !!!   In the interest of accuracy – In January of 1966 I was actually working with Jim Ross at KTW in Seattle and in May of that year I went to work for KMO in Tacoma replacing Pete Policani who had taken a job with Boeing.   THANKS ALF !


Remember when Satellite Radio came along?   Many, at the time, felt that it was nothing but a passing fad and projected its ultimate failure.   Guess they are having the last laugh –According to recent reports, back in 2008 Sirius and XM joined forces to become a company with 242 million dollars in annual revenue – Last year that figure was 4.2 Billion.     My new truck comes with 90 days of free service (obviously in an attempt to woo me over) Just for drill, I tried it driving the 6 miles down the Tiger Mountain Road the other day – Unfortunately all I was able to get was a message on my radio to the effect there was no signal.   Oh well – Back to terrestrial radio…it was working just fine.   On that subject – my new truck is missing something – A visible antenna. All there is that little fin on the roof for Satellite Reception….To my surprise I am able to pick up several AM stations from Portland – Wow!   Kudo’s to Toyota for actually having a working AM radio in their new vehicles. (The FM Section is good too) …..Now then, where is that antenna ?


We all recall a few years ago the Feds lifted the ownership caps for radio stations.   As a result of this some outfits played it cool and expanded in a very conservative manner, while others appeared to explode in terms of numbers of stations.   Now comes word that a couple of these firms may not be able to adequately service their mountain of debt.   Reports are that I heart (formally known as Clear Channel) has over 20 BILLION in debt with Cumulus in a similar boat.   The stock price for these firms, as of Dec 24th, is a good indication of their position. iHeart was trading at $1.05 and Cumulus as at 32 cents.   The route out of situations like these include words like – Bankruptcy, massive restructuring, selling of a ton of assets etc.   We saw a lot of this type of corporate activity during the recent historic recession impacting a number of industries. The will likely be more on this topic in 2016.   iHeart owns station clusters in Seattle, Spokane, Portland etc.


The FAA, in perhaps record setting time, has come up with regulations covering the operation of drones.   Certainly there are a lot of applications for these devices in our industry.   Video coverage of the damage from the rash of tornados just before Christmas was a great example.   These devices are joining VOIP (Video over IP) as new tools in the TV station ENG Toolbox.   On the engineering side these platforms

are finding work in the area of antenna pattern determination.   An Australian company – Innovative Drone Solutions is putting a compact signal analyzer called a Signal Hound on board and flying about broadcast transmitting antennas. Check out Jason Schreiber’s information at –


Congrats to KEXP on the completion of their new studios in the NW Corner of the Seattle Center. The little station got a lot of press on this move.   Their old location on Dexter would be an interesting story in itself.   The new facility has a performance studio….Something that not many radio stations have anymore.   I’m sure the folks at KPLU have been following this item with a great deal of interest


There has been a lot of talk about Climate Change and the impact it will have on us here in the Puget Sound area. What is not often thought about is the fact that Portland Oregon is impacted by Tides also. A 250 foot increase in Sea-Level could have a dramatic impact on the Portland/Vancouver area as the below map shows.   The good news is that not many are predicting that much increase …   I found it interesting that this area would gain a 2nd ‘Vancouver Island’.

Islands Portland

I can’t help but wonder what a map would look like for New Orleans with an increase in sea-level of 250ft?   Likely not much would be above the water line there.   Then there is Florida – the ‘Southeast Sand spit’ would be reduced to almost nothing – Then again so would Ocean Shores and the Long Beach area in our State.   The good news – at least for me – is that I won’t be around that much longer so it will be someone else’s worry.




Under the category of ‘Discoveries while Christmas Shopping’   I could not help by notice a portable Phonograph…The basic kind that we used to buy for the kids…Comes in something like a briefcase etc. Then I looked at the back.   It’s powered by a 9 Volt – WALL WART !!!   I guess it’s a sign of the times where just about everything uses these things….just something in me said that this is very wrong!


Here’s a variation on the Glass Half Empty ….

wind and sails


Well it’s finally happening – the move of the ‘Home Team’ to Sodo from their long time home at 333.

I’m thinking a tour for our SBE Chapter is a must for 2016.

K5 building

Concerns are being voiced about the congestion of the FM Band to which I say – DUH!.   Just like what happened to the AM Band….The FCC has caved to the pressure of those that want more – Power, coverage, stations etc. etc.   On the FM band we have every little space being filled with, first, Low Power stations (LPFM’s) and now we have AM stations wanting a piece of that spectrum for their needs. Here in the West we have really had it good…I challenge you to go to the East-Coast and drive around and listen to the FM band and you will quickly come to understand what I’m saying.   There are those that, perhaps rightly, state that the FCC is AM-ing the FM Band.   Perhaps the problem in this country is that these agencies are being driven by forces other than good engineering practice.     Recently some stations based in Seattle have come to understand what is meant by erosion of their ‘bonus coverage’ or areas, beyond their protected contours where they may have many listeners….fasten your seatbelts…It’s going to get worse. Today there are about 6500 translators and boosters on the air…approx. 900 of them are associated with AM’s ….With over 4500 AM’s, it’s likely that the number of applications will increase with the new rules in place.     Contrary to the thinking of many – the size of the existing FM Band is fixed.


I was tooling around the Internet recently and came across this headline –

10 Hot Real Estate Markets To Watch In 2016

Reading more I found that Trulia’s Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin compiled a list – So I went looking for markets in this area.   To my surprise – I noted that #10 is – TACOMA !     With the intense building boom in Seattle one cannot help but wonder if Tacoma might, one day, ‘take off’.   With a population closing in on 850,000, Pierce County has not exactly been sitting still it’s just barely ahead of Snohomish County…North of Seattle. One thing for sure, property and rental prices are certainly lower than in King County/Seattle.


When I started in this business (0ver 50 years ago) I lived in Pierce County. Back then the cities of Seattle and Tacoma might have well been 50 miles apart.   Over the years they have grown together in many ways.   During this time all the broadcast stations that were licensed to Tacoma (with only a couple of exceptions) have moved to Seattle to be a part of the bigger city. I call it Seattle worship.

Now even KPLU is likely to leave town for the land where the grass certainly is greener.


Last month I wrote about how there are a reduced number of manufacturers of Tube type transmitters.

Bill Fram, from Boise, wrote – “You did forge to mention BE who for now is still manufacturing high power tube transmitters and up to 20 kw SS FMs. Haven’t heard much about their SS ones tho.”

Thanks Bill – I stand corrected.


Last month I showed a picture of a number of old modulation monitors on their way to be re-cycled. This prompted a response from Bruce Hart –

Are those modulation monitors you showed a picture of in your Clay’s Corner really going to the electronics recycling place?  We have a couple of bins down here in the garage at KCPQ that we put dead and obsolete stuff in for electronics recycling, and I’ve pulled some stuff out from time to time and donated it to some of the local Low Power startups (OK, only KVWV in Bellingham so far).  Could these be used in one of those facilities?  Low Power or full power, modulation still needs to be monitored.  I’d be happy to take these off of your hands and do the leg work of finding some facility that could use them if there’s any life left in them.  There’s plenty of new LP’s here in town that might be able to use them and if not around here, there’s some new LP’s coming on the air in my hometown of Fargo, ND.  Seems a shame to recycle that equipment just because a newer model comes along.

Let me know-

Thanks-Bruce Hart KCPQ-TV

Yes Bruce – They were indeed sent to recycling.   Not only were they all in need of repairs, but were quite old.   Perhaps a list of items that are wanted by these groups would help us know what not to throw away etc.?

Another legend has passed on – Norman Pickering died at 99 on November 18th. The name Pickering was familiar to many that were involved with Hi-Fi Audio. I have to admit I was one of many that had a Pickering in my stereo tone-arm (You do remember those don’t you?) Norman was 99.

We are used to the FCC issuing large fines for EAS violations or wardrobe malfunctions….But this time – it’s a whopping $718,000 against M.C. Dean (a large electrical contractor) for Wi-Fi Blocking at the Baltimore Convention Center. Apparently they would block access to other Wi-Fi sources and then charge high prices to use theirs.   Oops.   Apparently the FCC did not find this practice amusing judging from the size of the fine.   Interesting that these folks did not consider the fact that the Commish has lower the boom on previous attempts to do the same thing. (Sounds very much use of EAS tones where there are plenty of previous violations to have learned from)   Not just Wi-Fi but Cellular has experienced similar issues….Even places of worship, who traditionally don’t like to hear the ringing of cellphones, have tried to block them electronically just to find out that signage would have been cheaper.

There has been a lot of talk about ‘cutting the cord’…and there has been some action too – A recent study suggests that in two years 21% of US households will no longer be paying for traditional TV. The reason stated for this change is the rapid adoption of digital video services. This is probably the reason why the big cable companies have been pouring money into their ability to deliver VOIP and Internet services that gives them an edge over their competitors.   Personally I recently dropped my 25 year connection to the local cable company in favor of an overhead distribution outfit.   Unfortunately the cable company kept increasing prices and did not increase video quality.   Now I have multiple receivers with superior resolution and pay less money for it.   Granted they don’t carry local Radio Stations…for that I still have OTA.

A note was recently posted to the Washington State EAS Remailer by Tim Schall underscoring the effectiveness of WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts) and the Amber program.   He mentioned that an Amber Alert was sent during his company Christmas Party that set off 38 cell phones in the room at the same time- Each with a bit different ring …He explained it this way – “You should have heard the cacophony of tones. “.     A similar thing situation occurs in an SBE Chapter meeting – One phone goes off and everyone in the room is suddenly searching for their phone to find out it its there’s that’s ringing.

I was flying back from Pullman recently and while waiting for my flight at the PUW Airport I could not help but notice all of the students that were in the process of going home for their Christmas Break were all holding their ‘communicators’ with their thumbs rapidly in motion….Then I received the following –


Wonder what your high school typing teacher would have thought if she knew that one day……

  • Ø Typewriters would all be tossed in the trash
  • Ø Keyboards would be electronic and connected to a word processor that would automatically correct your mistakes
  • Ø Keyboards would then be made to fit in the palm of your hand and you would type with your thumbs

Taking this a bit further – –

I wonder if, in the future, we will see equipment designed for those that don’t do old fashioned keyboards that have little ‘entry devices’ that are specifically designed for operate with a person’s thumbs?


Unless you have been living off the grid and are allergic to all things electrical – You know that Web Advertising is on the rise.   You get teasers that take you directly to an ad….or in middle of reading, or watching something….Zap an ad. (Wonder where they learned that??) As more and more people migrated to on-line gizmo’s for their information and entertainment, the more advertising money will be joining them….In fact, predictions are now that Web-Ads will overtake Television by 2018 (2 years away) According to Zenith media- by 2018 the advertising pie will be split about like this –


Internet ads – 36.6% – Up from 29% now

TV ads – 34.8% – Down from 38% now

Radio ads – 5.9% – Down from 6.5% now


Here’s another prediction – By 2018 mobile marketing will overtake Desk-top marketing (I assume you are getting your share of advertising on your hand-held-gizmo already.


The only elements of good news in all of this are the facts that we are entering a political cycle with a lot of money to be spent.


Wise broadcasters have realized that their transmitter is just one way to reach their customers (Listeners and/or viewers) and that method is declining in use and popularity (no need to tell the owner of an AM Radio station that one). Today our Radio and TV stations are becoming product providers and, if we are to survive, need to derive our revenue from all the devices and systems that get our product to our consumers.     Personally, I watch a lot less local TV news than I used to and, therefore, an not seeing the spots I used to.   However, I do view the news content created by my local TV stations via their web-site where I get exposed to ads that their sales department have sold.   This is all part of the new-normal that continues to evolve.


I am very pleased to note that David Layer has received the Excellence in Engineering Award from Radio World.   David is senior director of advanced engineering for NAB in Washington.   I can tell you, based on the occasions that I worked with him in the past, He is truly a great guy and very much deserves the award he has received.


As usual, I like to leave you with something to ponder and/or smile …This item courtesy of old friend Jerry LeBow –


ARAPROSDOKIANS are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence is unexpected.

(I will have to admit that #17 hit me pretty hard)


  1. Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.


  1. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.


  1. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.


  1. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.


5    Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.


  1. They begin the evening news with ‘Good Evening,’ then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.


  1. To steal ideas from someone is plagiarism.  To steal from many is called research.


  1. In filling in an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency’, notify:  I put ‘DOCTOR.’


  1. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.


  1. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer           gut, and still think they look sexy.


  1. Behind every successful man is his woman.  Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.


  1. A clear conscience is the sign of a bad memory.


  1. I used to be indecisive.  Now I’m not so sure.


  1. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. Nor is there any future in it.


  1. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.


  1. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.


  1. Finally: I’m supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now.


  1. I am not arguing with you, I’m simply explaining why you are wrong.



That’s it for this month – May 2016 be the best for you and yours.


Clay, CPBE, aka K7CR







Annual Holiday Luncheon at Park Hill

December 12, 2015

December 2015 Meeting
Annual Holiday Luncheon at Park Hill

SMPTE-SBE2015 Holiday Luncheon

Date: Friday, December 11, 2015
Time: 11:30AM to 1PM
Location: Park Hill Golf Club, 4141 E. 35th Avenue, Denver, CO 80207 met at the Park Hill Golf Club to conclude another successful year for our combined SMPTE section and SBE chapter.

At this year’s luncheon we honored one of our members, Don Hayford, who last month retired from KUSA-TV after 33 years with the station. Prior to KUSA Don worked in radio including a stint in Breckenridge, CO. Our group was pleased to recognize Don for his long time commitment to Denver broadcasting.

We would like to thank ZeeVee Incorporated and Paul Beckelheimer as a new sustaining member and sponsor of the December luncheon. Thanks as well to Harmonic and Fred Ramsey and RF Specialties and Jim Schoedler who also sponsored this event.

Clay’s Corner for December 2015

December 3, 2015



I was listening to Cliff Mass recently explain how the last week in October or the first week in November is the time that the weather-switch is thrown and, for us, we say goodbye to nice weather and hello to storms.   Boy was he right!.   Especially when I think about the fact that we had over 50% of our normal rainfall by the middle of the month and that was followed by a dandy Pacific Storm that dumped more rain and swept the area with a lot of wind resulting in about 400,000 out of power.   The wind portion of the storm impacted Eastern Washington as well hitting the Spokane area especially hard. US 2, west of Stevens Pass was closed due to downed trees. Many roads, including I-84 thru the Columbia Gorge, were closed.   All together the storm related death toll stood at 3.   The following picture speaks volumes- Look at the size of that tree!   Many areas were dealing with significant flooding for the next couple of days….After that, thankfully it turned cool and dry.


A storm of a different kind recently roared thru Parkland and Pacific Lutheran University when they announced that they were selling KPLU to KUOW.   For those of us that have been in this business for a while we vividly remember the good-ole-days when you worked for a company that had ONE set of call letters and ONE program feed ONE transmitter.   Several years ago the FCC put an end to that mode and opened the door, in Radio and TV, to having multiple call letters, and streams, under one roof.   On the commercial side, this became SOP.   In this market, the KPLU/KUOW deal marks the first time that the change that rocked our house is now rocking theirs.   However, I should point out that KUOW, in the past, did operate then called KXOT, however that station was not purchased and the relationship ended.

This deal is interesting in a number of ways….

From a personnel perspective this is not good news as this is, reportedly, an asset sale. This means that the new owners will end up with a bunch of equipment and FCC licenses and will be hiring their own people to staff it.   (Funny how these things often come down the road just before Christmas).

On the technical side, KPLU has a fairly spread out system with transmitters not only at West Tiger and Cougar, but in several locations in Western Washington. Keeping all this up and running is a tall order for the existing tech-crew at KUOW.   If they are smart, they will be talking with Lowell Kiesow and Nick Winter.   It’s been my experience that engineers are often considered to not be a threat to a new ownership, but rather an asset.   There are a number of us in this game that have worked for multiple owners at the same channel or dial position.   Those in other departments are not as lucky.

Certainly the studios for KPLU will be leaving Parkland (South of Tacoma) for Seattle where they are following in the footsteps of those that have gone before.   The City of License of KPLU is Tacoma…But so are TV Channels 11 and 13 and FM stations on 97.3, 103.7 and 106.1…all of whom have their S&O (Studios and Offices) in Seattle.   The same can be said about AM stations on 850 and 1360 whose transmitters are still in the Tacoma area, but whose offices are in the big city to the north.   KPLU’s move is perhaps just unique because they are late to the game.

Another interesting wrinkle is the fact that KUOW is on a commercial FM Channel (94.9) while KPLU, on 88.5 is in the NCE band.   Some years ago, when consolidation was in full swing in Seattle and we were having trouble keeping up with who owned what ….There was a certain party that was rumored to have approached KPLU about selling.   The goal here was to purchase KPLU, then give it to KUOW in exchange for 94.9 that would become another commercial FM outlet.   Granted this was back in the days when FM stations in Seattle were priced –considerably- higher than they are now.   Despite that, there are those that have recently suggested that KUOW is purchasing KPLU for 8 Million will simply move KUOW to 88.5 and sell 94.9 for a bundle.   The result, bigger signal, more coverage, and a tidy profit.   Granted they are telling the world that 88.5 will remain with KUOW as a Jazz Station…but again, history has clearly demonstrated, at this stage, new owners frequently change their mind. Time will tell.

Another interesting aspect of this is the fact that the announcements I’ve been seeing indicate that all hands will await the FCC’s approval of the deal before any changes are made.   Seems to me that this is not the way the game is played.   As soon as the deal has been signed between the parties and the application filed with the FCC the buyer takes over the operation with an LMA so that the FCC approval is a formality that comes along later.   Certainly everyone at KPLU is likely flooding the market with resumes at this point.

One interesting, and perhaps unusual aspect of this is the fact that they have telegraphed how they see this new Duopoly coming together ….Complete with maps (see below).   Here are some thoughts after looking at this graphic –

  • Ø KUOW will be ‘cherry picking’ the KPLU translators and Class A’s considerably increasing the coverage of 94.9
  • Ø 5 will be left with their rather impressive signal from West Tiger as well as little translators in Bellingham and Tumwater.

Related content

Coverage Maps


KPLU feeds these smaller market Class A’s and Translators using Satellite C-Band as well as off-air.   The reduced coverage of the 94.9 operation from Capitol Hill will likely cause them to utilize the HD2 Channel of 88.5 for that purpose.   KPLU’s 88.5 has been used for the past few years for something they call Jazz 24…Perhaps that will move to the Main Channel whereas it’s been announced that 88.5 will no longer be carrying NPR in favor of an all-music format.

Not everyone is silently accepting this deal with plenty of un-happy folks trying to stop the train. Probably one of the more vocal has been Cliff Mass. You can read his blog filled with weather info and KUOW/KPLU deal- bashing here –

Whatever happens – This is certainly an interesting change.

On the subject of changes.   Remember the 1480 operation in Lakewood that lost their transmitter site and both of the towers were taken down?   Well, the station is apparently back on the air operating with a random wire antenna from a house near the middle of Lakewood.   The coverage of the, what appears to be a temporary operation, is very limited…but perhaps it qualifies the station to turn back on their FM translator in Tacoma.       This station, along with one in Bremerton and Lacey were recently sold.

Thanks to a dandy 16 MP camera in my smart phone….I have found that I’m taking pictures of a lot more things these days….Most of them are work related…but occasionally I find something to share with my readers.   The following was taken from the Collins Road, looking East toward Cultus Mountain in the Skagit Valley as I was on my way back from visiting a NWPR transmitter site just north of where this picture was taken, near Burlington.   The vivid green land and blue sky is what got my attention. Those of us that live in this neck of the woods are so blessed.

Mountain Clouds


Speaking of cool cameras….How about those that recently sent back pictures of Pluto?   NASA has certainly taken Cameras to a new level.   Here’s a cool site that you can visit that shows the entire earth at one time –

I probably should give credit to someone for this – But I don’t recall to whom I should give it –

I’ve found there exactly two kinds of persons in the world –

1, Those who do and, 2, those who don’t

Those who do, take all the blame and those who don’t… take all the credit!

I suppose you have heard, Tom McGinley is retiring and heading back to his roots in Montana.   For the past several years Tom has been the DOE and IT at the CBS Radio cluster in Seattle.   Word is that CBS is, at this writing, interviewing for his replacement at 1000 Dexter.     CBS Operates 3 FM and an AM Station in Seattle.

Tom Pierson, DOE at the Bonneville Radio cluster in Seattle (KIRO AM&FM and KTTH) recently underwent knee surgery.   He is planning some intensive re-habitation therapy in Hawaii. Spoke with Tom recently, he said he is doing better than he expected.

Old friend, Joe Fleming, sent me this one.   One of his stations, WWLB-FM had been suffering abnormal VSWR issues for a long time.   Taking apart the antenna system revealed the problem.

Bad Bullet

This is a classic case of what’s called a ‘Split Bullet’.   Note how the inner connector is splayed outward. In a higher powered operation this kind of thing would have likely been more of a problem.   His guess is that it was built this way.

The FCC has recently issued CP’s for a number of on-channel boosters for the Bustos Media 99.3/KDDS.   They would be in areas that are within the normal service contour of their main transmitter (South Mountain west of Shelton) but are somewhat shadowed by terrain.   They would be located at Rainier Beach, Tukwila, Kent and Seattle.   The system they are proposing to deploy is called Maxx-Casting and it a product created by GatesAir and Geo-Broadcast Solutions.   You can read more about it by Googling GatesAir FM Boosters.   The system will not be simple to install, nor in-expensive to operate.   Local Engineer Buzz Anderson is heading up the project.

Some of the other interesting items on the local news scene include –

  • Ø Seattle’s 1590 AM is increasing day power to 20 Kw rom their site on the island west of Seattle.
  • Ø Looks like the efforts to stop KRPI from moving to Pt Roberts may have paid off.
  • Ø Rumors are that possibly two more FM’s may be re-locating to South Mountain, already the home of 3.

More from ‘Clay’s Camera’ – This shot of a fellow about to climb up one of the towers on Cougar Mountain.   What makes this interesting is that he is wearing an ‘RF Suit’.   This process started out with the need to climb the tower to make some measurements and the tower outfit contacting me asking that the stations at the site either reduce power or turn off.   I pushed back and asked if they could do this work in what they call a ‘Hot-Suit’….they agreed.   Looks much like something would wear if they were a bee-keeper.

Guy RF Suit

Every once in a while I come across an example of superior, out of the box thinking and examples of just what Broadcast Engineers are cable to doing in the field.   The word MacGyver might be used in this example – In an effort to protect the creators….No names will be used !


Now tell me, do you really think the FAA is going to permit them to build a 101 story building in Downtown Seattle?   That’s the plan of the developer. 4/C would be on the SW corner of 4th and Columbia – Across the street from the presently tallest building in Seattle, Columbia Tower. To put this into perspective at 1111 Feet above street level it would be twice a tall as the Space Needle. If you recall the amount of flack that was generated when they wanted to put twin antenna masts on Columbia Center you can understand my wondering how the FAA would tolerate this.   Back then the FAA said no and that was it.   This will be interesting

It appears that the movement to get FM chips in cellphones is gaining a bit of traction. Recently Commissioner Rosenworcel weighed in with support.   IMHO the only problem is that the phones are pretty deaf in terms of receiving without having an earphone, doubling as an antenna, plugged in. Then there are the questions like – Would the users know where to tune for emergency information and which FM stations are likely to be broadcasting the information needed?   Perhaps this is a chicken and egg argument?

And then there are these classics on their way to the re-cycle joint – On the Left is a QEI FM Modulation Monitor. In their day they were super cool. On the right Is a set of RCA FM Monitors.   These were made by Belar that also produced them with a beige panel and orange labels.   A lot of programming was monitored with these old critters.   Betcha some of my readers have a story or two to tell about them too.

Mod Monitors

It was 20 years ago that I first met Mark Allen as he attended the kick-off meeting for our new EAS system.   He stayed with the EAS Effort, and just this past month attended his last SECC Meeting. Hopefully the new, incoming WSAB President will wish to engage this project as well.   Marks history is an interesting read –

The Washington State Association of Broadcasters has announced that President & CEO Mark Allen will retire at the end of 2015. He will continue with the Association as a consultant during 2016. Allen has been the Chief Executive Officer of WSAB since 1990 and prior to that served for seven years as WSAB’s Assistant to the President & General Counsel. July of 2015 marked the 50-year anniversary of Allen’s first employment in the broadcasting industry. He was a 17 year-old high school junior when he began working as an announcer at KASY-AM, a 250-watt daytime-only station in his hometown of Auburn, Washington. Since that time, Allen has held on-air and programming positions in markets such as Seattle, Spokane, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He currently serves as the play-by-play announcer for KIRO-TV’s coverage of the Seattle Seafair unlimited hydroplane race and KNDU-TV’s coverage of the Tri-City Water Follies Columbia Cup unlimited hydroplane race. He joined the Seattle law firm of Ogden Murphy Wallace in 1980 when WSAB was run as a part of the firm’s law practice. Allen is currently a member of the Bench-Bar-Press Committee of Washington; chairs the Washington AMBER Alert Advisory Committee; is a member of the Northwest Communications Law Group. He is the Broadcast Vice-Chair of the State Emergency Communications Committee (EAS Steering Committee) and is a member of the Professional Advisory Board of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. He served as the President of the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations (NASBA, then known as the Broadcast Executive Directors Association) in 1989 and is currently the 7th most senior member of NASBA.

In my comments about Mark Allen I noted that he and I started the Washington SECC 20 years ago.   To be exact, it was Nov 14th, 1994 that the FCC Adopted the EAS Rules.   They have been upgraded and changed a number of times since then.

Mark Allen

WSAB’s Mark Allen

On the topic of EAS – I have agreed to stay on as chair of the SECC past my announced retirement date of December 31 this year.   This thanks to the fact that the SECC has a new member. Jon Kasprick, who has agreed to take on the newly created position of Data Base Manager.  In this role Jon will be keeping track of Monitoring Assignments, giving me a chance to do more of what chairman does.   One of my new projects is something that I discussed with the SBE Chapter a few months ago….That is work toward creating emergency communications circuits between our areas EOC’s and broadcast stations and/or their transmitters to provide a means for Emergency Management offices to provide the public with vital information after the ‘Big One’.   There is an exercise planned for next year based on us having a 9.0 Quake called Cascadia Rising.   I’ve given this effort a name – EPIS for Emergency Public Information System.   Thus far the reception has been very good in my conversations with Emergency Managers and Broadcast engineers and managers.     The SECC appointed Phil Johnson and Roy Benavente to work with me in getting this to the next level.   That will be a meeting to be held at the King Co EOC on January 27th.   There will be more information coming out on this in the coming days.   This will be something that news directors and engineers from those stations having news departments in our area will want to attend.

There were some interesting comments posted to some of the national list-servers regarding going back to Standard Time.   Some object to the time shift, claiming that it messes up their sleep schedule.   Another writer submitted that he runs on GMT and has no trouble.   Not wishing to leave this item alone I have an idea for a compromise –

Next Spring, instead of ‘springing forward’ ONE hour….I proposed that we ‘spring forward ONE-HALF hour and just move all the clocks ahead one hour.   For example – Instead of moving the clocks ahead one hour at 2 AM – Move them ½ hour.     This would mean, from this point forward, we would all be on ‘half advanced time’. And would never move the clocks again.


This would be a great time to get rid of our old base-12 time system and go to Metric Time.   (Thanks to Dwight Small for his research on this topic).   Stop and think about how time is measured.   We use Hours, Minutes and Seconds and then –leap- to metric measurement and TENTHS of a second etc.   For example- Time is expressed – 12hrs, 37 min, 16.5 Seconds.   This is stupid.   Let’s do away, once and for all, with this double standard time measurement system.   Here is how it works-


  • Ø Each day would be divided into 10 hours.
    • o Yes, we can still call these Time Units Hours if we wish.
  • Ø Midnight, the start of a day, would become 00 Hours (Like it is now)
  • Ø Noon (the day 50% completed) would become 5 hours.
  • Ø 30 Minutes would become .5 hours
  • Ø Utilizing Metric principles – You could create time divisions, much like we have now with Nana, Mili etc.
  • Ø Digital Clocks would really be – Digital
  • Ø Speedometers would be interesting – They would still indicate Kilometers per hour, it’s just that an hour (base 10) would be quite different than an hour base 12.
  • Ø A great deal of work would need to be done making new clocks, road signs and the like, perfect for this time when we are trying to figure out what all the new aliens will be doing….

While we are at it – We might as well change the way we measure directions too.   A base 10 compass would seem reasonable to me.   Not to mention geographic coordinates. No more Minutes and Second there…no-sir!.   Come to think about it, a lot of these measurements are already in that mode…Checked your GPS location device lately?   Perhaps this is sneaking up on all of us and we have not been watching?

Former Seattle resident and noted historian, John Schneider, is out with a new calendar (Still 12 months and not 10….Yet) This year he has picked a number (well OK, actually the number is 12!) vintage pictures from radio studios in the 1920s onward. John, as he did last year with vintage transmitters, has colorized the black and white pictures to produce a very realistic set of pictures that can “put you in the picture.” For more information, John is selling them on eBay with free shipping:

Guy At Console

From the ‘Where is the outrage’ department comes news that some of the new Ultra High Def TV are power hogs costing owners 30 percent more in electrical usage compared to their present HD TV’s.   Sounds like a candidate for an investigation by the Light Bulb Police to me.

I know it will come as a shock to my readers….But Sony – Officially – has ‘finally’ decided to kill their Betamax format.   For those of you that still use the stuff, understand you can buy hardware on eBay.

Wonder how many other companies would even both to tell the world that they are killing a product line…Seems to me most just quit with some kind of press-release…They don’t wait 30 years.   Of course, in many cases, the company that quit making something may well be out of business.

I love writing about surveys that show just how the states where this column is published stack up against others.   Time looking at the States with the fastest job growth…Often a good barometer of how well our industry could be doing.   Kiplinger recently rated the top 15 states – Here’s what I learned….

  • Ø Ranked #13 is Idaho
  • Ø #8 is Oregon
  • Ø #6 is Washington

Looks like the Pacific Northwest is in pretty good shape.

iHeart Media has a new Nautel GV40 being installed at their facility on West Tiger for KBKS/106.1.   Here’s a picture of DOE, and SBE Chapter Chairman, Marty Hadfield standing next to his new baby.

Marty with Nautel

It’s certainly heartening to see radio broadcasters invest in new transmitting hardware.   Of the 13 FM’s at West Tiger the last couple of years have seen 6 new Transmitters – The score card looks like this –

94.1 & 96.5 – Gates Air FAX series

92.5, 97.3, 98.1 & Now 106.1 – Nautel GV Series

Slowly but surely the trusty old Continentals are being put out to pasture….Or finding new lives in smaller markets. For instance, one of the old 97.3 rigs is now on the air in Lewiston, Idaho. Pretty

Hard to kill these transmitters.   Perhaps what is most notable is that Continental , who at one time, had a huge market share, elected to stay with the single tube design rather than move forward to all solid state construction.   They were not alone in this decision.   Today we are left with what appears to be only two manufacturers of AM and FM transmitters, Nautel and GatesAir….Who would have thought that this would have happened?   A lot of familiar names have been relegated to that famous location…the Dust Bin of History.   Remember – RCA, GE, Westinghouse, CCA, ITA, Wilkinson, Bauer, Collins, Energy Onix, AEL etc come to mind.   Continental is still alive and well, and still offering their 816 Series of Single Tube FM Transmitters while concentrating on their legacy products – Really high power HF transmitters and specialty products where large amounts of RF are needed.

Try this shot of a school girl dealing with homework in front of the home radio.   If you remember when radios were that size – YOU ARE getting old….Notice- No earbuds or smart phone…and I’ll bet that was a real light bulb in that lamp.   Those things on the top of the radio console – they were called ‘books’ Chances are the notebook in her lap had pieces of paper with ‘hand-writing’.   Nope – no laptop or tablet.   That think she is holding in her right hand, perhaps a pencil?? How it the world did this poor girl function??

Gal with Radio

I recently received a note from KING’s Ace-Transmitter Engineer, Mark Huffstutter.   He sent along a copy of a page from the December 14th 1953 Seattle Times that read –

Christmas Light on KING-TV

“Television Station KING-TV last night lighted up its 459 foot antenna tower on Queen Anne Hill like a Christmas Tree.   The tower is decorated with 1,500 colored lights. They will be turned on each night during the Christmas Season.”   For the benefit of those that are not familiar with this tradition.   There are 3 big self-supporting towers on Queen Anne Hill, NW of Downtown Seattle. KING’s tower is the eastern most of the 3.   These lights are now all white and are put up each season by Joe Harrington of Harrington Tower services. 62 Years !

Mark added –


The Christmas lights are a lot of work, but once they are up the tower

And lit they look great. I remember coming in to Town as a little Kid to look at them.

 1953 was, I think, a big Year for KING-TV. The “Freeze” of 1948 was over,

and competition was on the way. With no other TV station in Town, KING continued with the original KRSC-TV 100’ tower, still here, by the way (minus the antenna) and the RCA TT-5A 5KW transmitter, with an ERP of 19KW.

Sometime in January, 1953 KING got FCC approval to go to the newly

established Full Power rating for low-band VHF Television, 100KW. according to articles in the Seattle Times, tower construction started in July of 1953, and a new

GE TT-42A 35KW transmitter as well, to make the 100KW. At some point the target

Date of Thanksgiving Day was set for the new high power operation, likely because

It was the 5th anniversary of KRSC-TV/KING-TV going on air. They were certainly shooting

for First 100KW TV Station in the area, a race with newcomer KOMO-TV. As it turns out,

KOMO-TV did hit the air first with 100KW, on November 18th, but it was only a test pattern.

KING-TV was still first at 100KW with programming on Thanksgiving Day. So there!

So lighting up Their brand new, Full Power Tower with Christmas lights must have been pretty satisfying!


Mark  KB7WAL

Any broadcast technical/engineer worth his salt will instantly know what a Greenie is.   In fact, as the story goes, someone encountered Walt Jamison at KOMO long ago (Knowing that Walt was a master of details) and asked him about his R3322 upon where he instantly produced his Excelite Screwdriver.



I have to admit I just had to grab my S5 and take a picture of this item at the store the other day.   I’m sure my Dog, Yagi (who is quite bright) would be able to ID a Greenie also.

Dog Greenies


I recently ran across a piece of equipment in the shop (yes I’m trying to down-size). I contacted Ben Barber of Inovonics asking if he would be interested in receiving it.   He was delighted and sent me a shipping sticker.   Happy to report that their model 705 Stereo Max encoder is now back home where it was built.

Anyone recall using one of these ….or even recall what FMX was all about?

FMX Unit

FMX Closeup

From the ‘time sure does fly’ department –   Can you believe it was 30 years ago that Microsoft launched its first version of Windows. Some say as an answer to the Apple Macintosh.   I well recall sitting in front of a PC having to load DOS from a floppy and then load the program I wanted to work with.   This was all before color and hard-drives and mice.   The only color the monitors had was a choice of white, green and amber.   Oh yes, these was before the Mouse (Trackballs were not thought of yet I suppose). Everything you did was with the keyboard and arrow keys etc.   We all got pretty good at memorizing ‘DOS Prompts’ etc.   Here I sit operating a Win 7 computer and being pestered to upgrade to Win 10.

We’ve come a long way.   Wonder what the next 30 years will bring?   Guess I won’t have to worry about it as I will be long gone.

Gee Bill – You looked a bit younger back then.

Young Bill Gates

Going back in history just a bit father- It was 50 years ago we had the great northeastern power blackout (Nov 9, 1965) That situation woke up many to the fact that our electrical grid was very fragile.   The hard part for me writing about this is the fact that I was already working in this industry back then.

One more history item – Can you believe it was 25 years ago that the I-90 bridge sunk in a wind-storm?

The FCC has come out with their plans to help the struggling AM Band.   I’m not going to go into all of this in this column….But do have a couple of observations –

  • Ø I find it interesting that many are, apparently, of the notion that the solution to the economic situation of AM stations lies in having an FM Translator and that license to begin operating on the FM band is just awaiting the submission of a simple application to the FCC after which – Presto! – You are on an equal footing with the local Class C FM.   The simple fact is that there are not enough FM frequencies to support those that want them, especially on the heels of the FCC’s approval of LPFM….Which leads me to ask-
  • Ø Where in the world were all these AM station owners when that process was going on ?   It’s not like they did not see this coming down the road!   Now many will be PO’d because they were late to the party.   When they come up empty handed…Who are they going to blame – Perhaps the FCC for not manufacturing additional spectrum?
  • Ø IMHO FM translators may help out those small, out in the boondocks AM’ers, however by being on two bands is not going to improve their content…and chances are their content will not improve.   Granted if that little station is a Day-Timer, a full time FM will be viewed as a godsend.
  • Ø I have to wonder if the Commission is trying to breathe life into a terminally ill patient?   Think about all the other industries whose products or methods have been allowed to move to the dust-bin of history because something better came along etc. Just how many times has a Federal regulatory agency come to the aid of something that has fallen out of favor? (Seriously, I’d like to hear some examples)
  • Ø The FCC, on one hand, works to address relaxation of their rules to give AM Radio a hand while, at the same time, does little about the rapid increase in ambient noise floor that has the impact of continuing to reduce the coverage of AM Radio whose emissions are decoded by receivers equally with the noise producers.     The December 2015 issue of QST has a great piece on how they, the ARRL, is fighting to get the FCC to regulate the sale of know noise producers.   It could be said that the FCC is issuing mixed message. Where in the ____ are the owners of AM Stations in this battle?? Where is the outrage??
  • Ø Other than the fear of the costs involved, why aren’t the AM Station owners pushing to open up the, just below the FM band, Spectrum for aural broadcasting as they are doing in Brazil? Why have they not banded together to mount a full-court-press for a long-term solution instead of pinning their hopes that they (may or may not) get a low powered FM Band-Aid?
  • Ø My crystal ball tells me that AM will, on its own, slowly loose favor with the masses and the smaller facilities will go silent, meanwhile, those that provide unique and popular programming will soldier on for many years.   Perhaps call it survival of the fittest, or natural selection.


As those of us know…October was very mild ….in fact abnormally so.   NOAA has come out confirming what we all were thinking – This past October was the warmest – ever!.. In fact the entire western half of the country was warmer.
 State Temps
Part of global warming? ….Perhaps.   A recent news item caught my attention I dealt with the impact of higher sea levels increases of up to 6 feet in New York and what they are doing about it.     Such a Sea-Level rise will have a huge impact on a lot of things in the Seattle area.   Coming to mind are the AM Transmitter sites on the shores of Puget Sound in Tacoma (1360 AM) and Vashon (570 AM etc.)Again, like other predictions for the future ….Perhaps I will be lucky in that I will be ‘out of here’ and won’t have to deal with the troubles created. Then again, perhaps some of the folks reading this today will be involved.   If you are in Denver –Looks like you are pretty safe.I recently had fun with an email exchange with a number of friends talking about a vacuum tube that is likely only familiar to those with ‘ Advanced’ hair coloring.     We were talking about the great 807-      An interesting side-bar about this old Tube was the fact that it’s shape reminded many of a beer bottle to the point that old-timers (of which I am an member) recall being asked if I would like a cold ‘807’ knowing that I would soon be enjoying a cold brew.And….Another survey where some familiar locations are named….. In this case, the category is – The most fun places to retire in every state – (some surprises here) I’ve had the good fortune to spend time in each of these locations – – In Washington State – PORT TOWNSEND (Cute town for sure, some rain shadow weather etc.) In Oregon – ASTORIA – (Don’t get it, you really have to like Rain to live there) Colorado – VAIL (You need some deep pockets to afford that place…Beautiful country , the Vail Valley)

Well folks – That’s it for this edition – Thanks allowing me to invade your head for a few minutes for another year.. Have a great Holiday Season. Hope to see many of you on the 12th at the Annual Seattle SBE-16 Christmas Gathering.=-

Till next year – Clay Freinwald, K7CR, CPBE