Monthly Archives: March 2016

Clay’s Corner for April 2016

March 30, 2016


Clay’s Corner – Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

Over the many years I have been working in this business, and writing this column, I run across the name of a person that I have worked with in the past. In this case Andy Laird.   First met Andy at West Tiger Mt when he was involved with one of the stations there.     Much later I looked him up at WTMJ in Milwaukee.   Happy to report that Andy will be receiving the NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award at the big show in the desert (NAB) on April 20th.     Congrats Andy !

 Andy LairdAndy is another one of those people who are much smarter than I ….He retired J

The ‘Rumor Mill’ is in full production with the announcement that CBS – might- sell off their Radio stations.   This group consists of 117 stations in 26 markets that produced some 1.28 Billion in revenue in 2014.   Based on an often used equation, the group could be priced in the vicinity of 3 Billion Bucks.   This matter is of obvious interest to those that would be potential buyers.     Just who that might be is a matter of considerable debate. ….Then again would CBS do, as it has been doing, selling off chunks…or would they be looking for someone to buy the whole thing.   Parting out appears to be the most likely due to the amount of money involved….This also expands the list of possible buyers considerably. Here in Seattle CBS owns 94.1, 96.5, 102.5 FM and 1090 AM.   Perhaps, due to their already heavy debt load, we can rule out Cumulus and iHeart Media.   Selective markets might well interest Alpha, Entercom and Hubbard.   Then again…Perhaps they ran this up the ‘flagpole’ to increase investor awareness and help elevate the stock price?     This will be a matter that will we watched by many.

The recent retirement ‘gathering’ for Dwight Small was well attended by present and previous Entercom employees.   Here is Dwight’s reaction to being presented a plaque by Market Manager Jack Hutchison and HR director Noreen McCormick.

Dwight Small

No word yet on Dwight’s replacement – I will continue to ‘mother’ the stations transmitting equipment at West Tiger and Cougar, as a contractor, as I have been for the last 6 years since leaving Entercom as a full time employee

Just as predicted – The plan, by Crescent Heights, to build a 101 story building downtown has been down-sized to 94 stories due to FAA concerns.   I will believe that Seattle will have something higher 1049 feet AMSL when I see it.   Meanwhile, on the Eastside – Bellevue’s skyline continues upward with the recent announcement that a cluster of 4 -40 story buildings will be built.   Downtown Bellevue is something that any major city would be proud of and is remarkable when you consider the population of Seattle’s across the lake neighbor.

It’s official –This has been the wettest winter in history.   If you are new to the Seattle area and have known, all your life, that it rains all the time…. and have heard natives poo-poo it as an urban legend…you are now on solid (or soggy) ground.   Now, let us pray that we have a summer like the last one.   In this area a week of warm and wonderful weather is enough to forget a month of rainfall.     The following picture of the tower at South Mountain (Home of KDDS, KOMO and KLSY-FM) clearly shows how winter at the higher elevations is still a factor in mid-March.   The tower was due for some lighting maintenance but their efforts were cut short as this picture, supplied by Doug Fisher, shows why.   If you look close the top half of the tower is solid ice !

Icy Tower

Always like to see where the markets that this column appears in stack up compared to others …

This month I note a survey of 20 good places to live from the magazine US News – Here are some selected results – City and Ranking –

Portland, OR- #20

Seattle, WA – #7

Boise, ID – #6

Colorado Springs – #5

Denver, CO – #1


I have to admit that I like Denver – Even though it has the reputation of being a location where you may need a lawnmower and snow-blower on the same day !   They proved this saying with a nasty snow storm near the end of the month that was so bad it closed the airport.

Are you ready to be un-leashed?   If so, the big show in the desert April 16-21 this year. Yes, we are talking about the NAB show.   Not likely I will be going this year….No big EAS activity and no need to walk the floor looking for the latest toys.

Speaking of NAB…The organization is backing a request for additional time and funds allotted for station re-packing after the FCC’s incentive auction.     I wonder what some of the old timers would say if they were to come back to life and see what’s happening to broadcast TV spectrum?

Earlier in March , our own Jim Dalke was in the hospital dealing with ‘stones’.   Yeeouch !    Understand that corrective procedures went well.

Perhaps you have noticed that we have not heard much about copper thefts of late.   Not too long ago we were hearing about the theft of air-conditioners (this happened to my dentist) street light wiring and, of course, broadcast equipment.   It’s not that the bad-guys have all reformed, it’s based on the fact that the prices for, recycled just about everything, is depressed.   For instance …. A recycler used to pay 3 dollars per pound for copper.   This was just enough to make it worthwhile for the no-good-nicks of the world to rip it off .   Now the price for scrap copper is more like a buck a pound.   Couple this with greater efforts at curbing theft via security measures….Our copper items are less attractive.   The same thing is taking place for other items that were previously economical to recycle.

I’ve recently flown several times out of SeaTac Airport….You can’t help but notice that things are getting crowded.   The North Satellite used to be pretty much all United, now it’s pretty much Alaska. In the past an N-Gate was for just one plane…Now Alaska has several aircraft sharing the same gate with gate numbers now having a letter suffix.   Then there is the ever increasing presence of Delta that’s been expanding significantly.   The bottom line is little Sea-Tac airport handed some 42,000,000 passengers in 2015 and that number is going up.   This is yet another indication of how the Seattle area is growing at a rapid pace.   We are all familiar with the ‘forest’ of tall cranes putting up new buildings in Seattle and Bellevue…However we don’t think about the airport…Unless we use the facility.     Speaking of airports etc.…Last month I ran a picture of a new paint scheme for Alaska.   Did you hear that our hometown airline, Alaska, is one of several carriers that has made application to expand service to Cuba?

From the – Boy, that did not take long department – the FCC has granted a modified CP for a new FM station north of Everett on 103.3 (COL – Oak Harbor) The interesting part is the fact the call letters will be KMCQ-FM.     Up until EMF took over the operation of the Seattle area 104.5, KMCQ was that stations call, in fact, that was call used when 104.5 was in Oregon.   EMF changed it to KLSW.   There are a number of former Seattle area call letters being used by smaller stations in the State, for example – KLSY – Long time the call for 92.1/Bellevue – is now operating from South Mountain on 93.7.

Standards are great things…especially if they open the door to interoperability that was once closed.   Of late we have some progress to report –

In the world of Audio we now have AES70 that, according to its proponents, will allow Audio over IP (AoIP) devices, made by different manufacturers, to not only send their audio to and from each other but will permit the related control information to flow as well.   In the practical sense, this will mean that equipment made by Wheatstone or Axia, perhaps one day, can work together.   As we move beyond analog audio AES70 promises to be able to see this process accelerate.


Just about everywhere you look today – IP – is becoming the standard method which things communicate with other things.   The XLR and BNC cables being replaced with the RJ45 and Cat XXX. This is the case for Radio – and – Television.   This is especially the case for new buildouts

Recently a European operation demonstrated the power of IP with a remote broadcast consisting of 10 mic, 4 cameras, intercom, tally lights etc. all connected to their production studio some distance away all via Fiber and IP. The cool thing was they did not need a remote truck…     In the world of Radio and TV remotes and news gathering IP has become the vehicle of choice to get the picture and audio back to the station.   This has probably been the biggest revolution since we moved away from tape.


Ray Tomlinson is not a very familiar name…But perhaps should have been.   Ray is credited with being the inventor of modern email.   Ray died early in March at age 74..   Next time you write an email address and use the ‘@’ symbol between the users name and their address…..You can thank Ray …this was his idea.Was in Bellingham recently and took time to have lunch with Mike Gilbert. He was telling me about a fire they had at KARI in Blaine.     Apparently an old ceiling light fixture overheated resulting in a lot of damage to a couple of studio and adjacent rooms.Hubbard, owner of a cluster of 3 FM and 2 AM’s in the Seattle market recently changed formats on their 98.9 FM to what they are calling ‘Rock 98.9’.     According to those that follow these things, they are targeting a similar audience to that of KISW 99.9.     Let the games begin !

Sorry to note the passing of Anne Nelskog, wife of the late Wally Nelskog…radio broadcast legend in the Seattle area. Their daughter, Carol, continues to work in this business in Seattle.

I was recently sent this picture of a trusty old Pacific Recorders AMX Console that was the on-air board for 97.3 when they moved from Met Park East to the KIRO facility on Eastlake Ave.   The Bonneville facility there now has become an all Axia AoIP facility under the leadership of Tom Pierson. Bet this would look really cool at some LPFM station !

AMX Console

Congrats to WSAB and OSAB honcho, Murrow Professional Advisory Board member and broadcast station owner, Keith Shipman, on having one of his stations in Bend Oregon be named as OSAB Radio Station of the year.
I love looking back at advertisements for products that –

  • Ø Are not needed any more
  • Ø That many of today’s adults have no clue what they would be used for

I will let the following speak for itself –

Dial Eze

I was chatting with someone recently about this and they remarked they were at a transmitter site recently when they found a dial-phone that was still connected and working.   Am curious, will a present day central-office even respond to ‘dial-pulse’ ?


The FCC continues to try to breathe life into AM Radio with a number of proposals.   These proposals have certainly drawn a lot of comment, just how many have been filed with the FCC I don’t know.   Some of the more interesting thoughts that caught my attention –


  • Ø They are barking up the wrong tree.   One of the major reasons that AM’s are suffering is the ever rising noise level produced by all manner of un-regulated devices that have raised the noise floor, and in the process, severely reduced the coverage of all AM Stations. Many have been calling out the FCC for turning a ‘blind-eye’ toward these noise sources.
  • Ø The SBE has filed comments with the FCC regarding the ambient noise issue as well.
  • Ø Some are suggesting that the lower powered AM’s be forced out, with perhaps the government buying them thereby allowing the remaining AM’s to increase power, relax directional antenna systems etc. with the thought that AM is still valid, but only if we return to the days of much fewer stations.
  • Ø Others have proposed that AM’s be permitted a significant power increase.
  • Ø There are those that have proposed letting stations increase power at night.   Certainly there was a time when day-timers or full time stations that altered something at sunset was understood…but that day has past.   With FM these daily shifts don’t take place and many AM owners want the FCC to let them go full time, apparently ignoring the negative aspects of night time interference.
  • Ø The proposal to further restrict the coverage of major, Class 1A, stations at night has caused many of them to object.   (Think KIRO and KOMO in Seattle) KIRO-AM’s GM, Carl Gardner, has spoken out publically about this issue.
  • Ø There are EAS impacts involved here too with many of these Class A station being Primary Entry Point (PEP) facilities.
  • Ø Some Class A’s have a petition drive underway to preserve the historic sky-wave night signals.
  • Ø There seems to be a growing understanding that there will not be enough FM Translators to go around and that this effort will not, in itself, resolve all the AM issues.
  • Ø The FCC is finally getting pressure to require those that moved to the expanded AM band a few years ago to surrender one of their licenses (Like they were supposed to do way back when)
  • Ø As expected, some have proposed that the AM band be shifted to all Digital, perhaps DRM.
  • Ø One commenter suggested that the FCC should bring back AM Stereo (it did work pretty well)
  • Ø Several have recommended what I have been advocating for a long time – Provide a migration path for AM to the spectrum adjacent to the present FM band where Low-Band VHF TV was until the switch to ATCS.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of interest in this activity and the FCC appears to be asking a lot of questions.   Many reasons to keep an eye on the results as they trickle out of WDC.   Whatever happens, AM is going thru major changes and will likely continue to do so for years to come.

Once again a broadcast station group has sold off a bunch of its towers to a firm that manages these structures. In this case, some 200 towers belonging to Alpha Media have been sold to Vertical Bridge…A firm, like American Tower, that specializes in vertical real estate.   I have to admit I would have never predicted that a station would sell its tower and then lease the portion used back…again providing that there nothing more constant than change.

This old saying is being underscored in the television business with the coming of incentive auctions and re-packing the TV band.   This all brings up another thought – Fight or flight?     The broadcast landscape is being changed that no-one would have even dreamed about several years ago.

A number of us got together on the 5th of March for breakfast before heading to Puyallup for the annual flea market sponsored by the Mike and Key Amateur Radio Club. One of the attendees was Lowell Smith who handles IT chores for Entercom in Seattle.   To my surprise, he has been studying for his Ham License….and to his surprise, he took the exam at the Puyallup event and passed!   Congrats to Lowell indeed!

Here he is, in his office at Met Park West next to a historic piece of test equipment.

Lowell Smith

This past month, the media that covers the media, has been doing pieces on the debt situation at iHeart Media.   This company, formally known as Clear Channel, is faced with some huge amount of debt… Like, over 20 Billion Dollars’ worth.   The question is what is going to happen to the company?   Much of this debt is in the hands of private equity firms.   One has to wonder if no-one really knows how to handle this. Not likely the Feds will come to the rescue like they did GM.   Not likely anyone would pay off the ‘note’ and buy the company.   In other industries they would be selling for some fraction on the dollar and/or be sold for ‘parts’.     Then there is a matter of Cumulus, the #2 Radio company that is also massively in debt with declining revenues.

I was recently over in Forks, Washington…..You know, that former logging town and home of Twilight?\

I went over to perform periodic work on the transmitters for NWPR (Northwest Public Radio).   Before I go on, let me provide you a brief overview of Forks –

  • Ø It’s a former logging town situated end the west end of Clallam County which runs along the north side of the Olympic Peninsula.
  • Ø You cannot receive any broadcast station from the Seattle area due to shielding of the Olympic Mountains.
  • Ø They receive about 3 times the annual rain fall of Seattle.
  • Ø Area population is 6,240 and it’s going down.
  • Ø It’s likely that this is the smallest market in the state with a broadcast station.

Now with that being said, the only AM/FM station in town historically sounded awful.….Now for the surprise …..


On my recent trip I put the radio in my 2016 Toyota Tacoma pickup on scan just to see what I could hear.   The scan stopped on 96.7 and out of my speakers came great sounding audio….Shortly thereafter the big surprise surfaced…They were operating in HD….and not just HD1              , but HD2 and HD3.   I quickly grabbed my smart phone and snapped a picture of the display (Yes those ae my fingers in the reflection)

….All I can say is wow !

HD Display

If you recall, earlier in my column I mentioned that I had lunch with Mike Gilbert….Mike confessed that he set up the HD-R equipment at KBDB.   And a great job did he !

On the drive back I could not help but think about this little station in this tiny market, with a great sounding station operating in Digital !!!!   I then began to think about all the excuses I’ve heard from broadcasters in much larger markets as to why they can’t/won’t install HD Equipment or how they are waiting for some magic moment to arrive when they can convince themselves that HD Radio is here to stay??

There has been some recent antenna activity on Cougar Mt.   EMF’s KLSW (104.5) began broadcasting in this area as KMCQ, licensed to Covington, from Radio Hill east of Enumclaw.   A while later they moved to the then Entercom site on Cougar connecting their 1.5 kw transmitter to the directional master antenna where they have operated for some time.   Recently, under new owners, EMF, they decided to compare the 6 bay DA to an Omni, single bay antenna at the tower top.   The following picture should you what the tower looks like now.

You can see the single bay on the top right (arrow).   Below that the 6 bay panel array used by all the Auxiliary stations installed there.   The 2 bay panel on the lower left, is KNHC, Seattle Schools.

Panel Antenna


Another change in the world of local AM stations- 1560/KRIZ is being sold to XL Media for $680,000.   The stations transmitter site is located south of Auburn and East of Pacific in Green River Valley.

Another addition to the South Lake Union area – Google has announced they will be moving into new buildings between Valley Ave and Mercer.   (Remember the Denny’s in that area?)

Nick Winter and I set off to deal with an issue recently on Crego Hill (West of Chehalis and South of Adna, transmitter site for KMNT, KSWS, KCKA-TV etc.) discovering that we could not access the site because someone had rammed the gate on the Access Road.     I contacted Darin Gerchak, Engineer at KCKA-TV, and he responded with the proper tool…..A hot wrench !

Gate Work

Congratulations to NAB’s David Layer, winner of this year’s Radio World Excellence in Engineering Award. David is the 12th person to be presented this award…joining a very exclusive club of which I am proud to be a member.

Received a note from Tom McGinley, former chief of the CBS cluster in Seattle.   He is now enjoying life in ‘MSO MT’.   From the sounds of things, spending a great deal more time on Ham Radio.   Wow is that ever a tempting thought.   Here I am approaching ¾ of a century and still working J

I wrote, in previous column, about KING-TV leaving 333 Dexter. One of my readers (Ash), wrote that he was old enough to recall when the KING Address was on the ‘other side’ of the building.   (on Aurora)

Time is flying – Just made reservations to attend the annual Seaside Amateur Radio gathering on the Oregon Coast – Perhaps I will see you there?

Big thanks to Jim Hatfield for the following items –





*On the main road to Mombasa, leaving Nairobi: * TAKE NOTICE: WHEN THIS SIGN IS UNDER WATER, THIS ROAD IS IMPASSABLE.





*On the menu of a Swiss Restaurant: * OUR WINES LEAVE YOU NOTHING TO HOPE FOR.




*Advertisement for donkey rides, Thailand: * WOULD YOU LIKE TO RIDE ON YOUR OWN ASS?

*Airline ticket office, Copenhagen: * WE TAKE YOUR BAGS AND SEND THEM IN ALL DIRECTIONS.


*And finally, the all-time classic, Seen in an Abu Dhabi Souk shop window: * IF THE FRONT IS CLOSED, PLEASE ENTER THROUGH MY BACKSIDE.

That’s it for this month – Enjoy Spring !

Clay, CPBE – aka K7CR

The KEØVH Hamshack for March 2016

March 18, 2016

Hamshack March 2016

The KEØVH Hamshack for March 2016

Hamshack Photo March 2016

     The latest layout of the KEØVH Hamshack November 2015 till now!

I am continuing to recover from the head and neck cancer treatments. My doctors say I am doing great, the cancer cells are dying and going away, and I am progressing well. I will be getting another PET scan in the next couple of months for the follow up. As of this writing (which is really late for March, sorry Bill!) I am back up to speed enough to be taking some day trips to transmitter sites and doing some work that really needs to get done. I really want to thank my contractors and all the K-LOVE staff for all their help during the time I was in treatments and was not able to travel or take care of the things I usually do. Thanks to Rich Anderson W9BNO, Bill Frost WØBX, Greg Beveridge WB7AHO, Mike Baldur, Ray Uberecken AAØL, Jon Banks in Glenwood Springs, and of course all the fine folks at EMF who supported and prayed (and still do) for me, plus other friends around the country. I have been blessed beyond ALL imagination with love, care, support and friendship. I am grateful to our Lord for it all.


As a matter of fact, one of the things as I mentioned previously was that my wife and I want to do some motorcycle riding around the state of Colorado. What a more beautiful place to do so I cannot imagine. So as of the weekend of 3/12 to 13, I took a beginners motorcycle course sanctioned by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation of the USA at Blue creek Motorcycle School here in the Denver area and HIGHLY recommend this school if you are in the area and ever decide you want to pursue riding a bike with great training on how to be the safest you can be on a motorcycle. ( They even test you at the end of the two day course in skills riding and the written exam then when you pass it they give you a voucher to take the Colorado DMV so you can get your license motorcycle endorsement. So that is what I did. This is REALLY COOL! So now, after paying off medical bills we will look into getting a bike of our own one day in the next year or so. In the meantime I will probably rent a bike to practice on occasionally and get more experience. Lots of fun, YOU BET!

Jack on Bike

Training on a Honda Nightwing 250


Listening to a podcast of “Hamnation” with Bob Heil, I heard Bob talk about the “gentlemen’s agreement” about band use specifically concerning AM mode windows on the ham bands. Now this is not an official “band plan”, or allocations, but back in the days when AM was KING and SSB was starting to become popular on the HF bands, there were certain frequencies that were generally agreed upon to continue to operate in the AM mode. The ARRL has a couple of excellent pages on operating in this nostalgic but still really useful mode, especially if you enjoy the wider bandwidth fidelity of a great sounding AM station. Check out:   Many have not only restored old AM tube rigs but when a broadcast AM station has retired an old transmitter these enterprising amateurs have even converted the transmitters to the 160, 80 and even some 40 meter operation. Check out for even more information and some great reading.


Here is another old Zenith model Royal 1000 radio as seen in the Kevin Costner movie “Thirteen Days”, a movie about the Cuban Missile crisis. Way too cool man! I have a model Royal 3000 Zenith. The 1000 was the first transistorized model that the company put out after stopping production on their tube radios, finishing out with the 600 series, like my A600 Zenith Transoceanic I featured here a month or so ago.


Actor Kevin Costner in “13 Days” with the Zenith Transoceanic Royal 1000 radio on the office shelf.


PRAISE GOD! We are making great progress on getting KLCX Pueblo (Rye CO) on air with its “new” to me Continental 816-R 5C. After a window in the weather where my crew from Galvanized Endeavors out of Colorado Springs (Alex Arpins Tower climbing do it all guys) was able to transport the transmitter from their loading dock to the site, up a really snowy road using chains, and some great help from Rich Anderson and Mike Baldauf, we are now turning the transmitter on and going thru the tuning process. It was a great day when I was able to turn it on and begin the tuning process. We did run into a couple of snags though and will get’er done here soon. These pics tell the tale:


I think I can I think I can I think I can, I KNEW I COULD I KNEW I COULD!


Delivery at the building! GREAT JOB GUYS!

And KEØVH getting to turn it on for the first time!


And hey, how about some antenna stuff? Here is the latest addition to the antenna farm on “Truckzilla”! As some of you may remember, the K-LOVE company truck is a big Ford F-250, and when I went to work for EMF I had been driving a Dodge Neon before as a commuting vehicle, and going into a large truck was huge difference. So hence, “Truckzilla”! JJJ On board is my APRS setup, and a Yaesu FT-857D mobile HF thru 440 rig. My HF antenna is a ham stick (I have several different ones for different bands), and APRS antenna, and of course a 2 meter/440 antenna. I just replaced a Larsen 2m/440 antennas with a higher gain Diamond SG7500 NMO antenna with a 3.5 dB gain on 2 meters and 6 dB on 70cm! This is almost double what my Larsen was capable of. And, I ordered it off of on a Friday. Couldn’t believe it, it was here on the following Monday! Free shipping too from And in the first week it definitely performed better than the old antenna. This will improve the signal received and transmitted thru the mountains of Colorado for sure. Great buy and value. Check it out at: or Or you can get even more gain with their SG7900 model, but it is taller and requires more than a magnetic mount, or a very large one. The one I use is a 5 inch diameter model and it does very well with this antenna at highway speeds.


You can also see the Ham stick and APRS antenna in this shot too. The Diamond antenna also looks really cool too.


And speaking of antennas, I am really glad that my contractor Mike Baldauf turned me on to the copper J-Pole antenna’s made by KB0BVR. They make several different models for different VHF frequencies and Mike had told me that they make very tough wind resistant antennas that he has used for EAS reception at some of his other stations. This really appealed to me as the winds in Colorado can sometimes get hurricane force and above in the mountains and Front Range. I have had to deal with a few broken, bent, and de-ranged (I like that) EAS reception antenna’s at several of my sites here. They cost in the 30’s, have several different frequency bands to choose from, and are easy to mount and setup. I chose the weather “band” model as most stations don’t have a problem picking up the LP1 and LP2 broadcast stations but the weather stations are of course sometimes a lot weaker. The first one I installed out on the NE plains of Colorado at a site worked very well and since the winds get really high out there I am looking forward to seeing how durable it is at this site in particular.

The J-Pole and mounted to the building




The signal received by the antenna was full quieting on the 2 broadcast stations and the weather station received by this site. A pretty good solution price wise, and in durability. AND, it would be fairly easy to duplicate cheaper with a trip to a hardware store! J

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