The KE0VH Hamshack for May 2018

A BLAST FROM THE PAST!  Circa 1979!

Currently “KEØVH” then “WD4HPO” ON AIR  in Lafayette Georgia (35 miles or so SE of Chattanooga TN) on then 1590 WLFA, now WQCH!  Look how young!  Doin’ the afternoon show!  This 5000 watt daytimer was my 3rd job at the time.  The station still exists pretty much now as was then, the cart machines and McMartin control board are of course long gone.  Then GM and PD Rich Gwyn is still there today, having taken over from his father the late Charlie Gwyn who founded and owned the station.  You can see the station’s website at http://wqch.net/ .  The building and 5/8’s wave antenna are still pretty much the same too.  Take a look!  Part of my history!  It was a very exciting time for this then 19 year old!  I actually have an aircheck from this station at this time.  If I get brave enough I may put it on YouTube!

And, this is really cool, just before the above part of my DJ career, as I have written before, WFLI Lookout Mountain Chattanooga, a 50,000 watt mid-south powerhouse top station in the 60’s and 70’s has come back on air playing the HITS from the time period.  This station was beloved by so many of us growing up in the area, and is the only station in town to have the same call letters and the same building on O’Grady drive just west of the city.  Still to this day I have dreams about WFLI!  It has been a lifelong radio love to many who were on the station.  Now so many of us remember those years when Top 40 boss jock type of radio was king of the airwaves and the DJ’s of the era were upbeat, LIVE, and very entertaining.  I was very fortunate to get on the air there as a young almost 16 year old High School guy!  That was in the day just after you had to have a 1st Class radiotelephone certificate to operate a directional AM, thank God!  I still though had to study and go to Atlanta FCC office to test for my 3rd Class Radio Telephone operator permit (I still have it).  I learned about radio from my first program directors Jim Pirkle and Max O’Brien, and had a lot of fun being on air, driving station vehicles, meeting people, and the music was just incredible.  SO I was SO sad to hear that the heritage station was going dark after nearly 50 years of broadcasting!  But then, a couple of entrepreneurs  in the Chattanooga area, Evan Stone and Marshall Bandy, longtime fans of WFLI were going to buy the station and a week after the sale turned it back on with basically a news/talk format with some of the original music thrown in here and there.  Evan told me that the response to the music blocks was such that they decided to return to the stations roots and put the “pop, soul and Rock n’Roll back on the station full time.  So Monday April 23rd, the station after its morning news show (very good I might add, wish Denver had a REAL news station, they could take lessons from these guys) turned on the old WFLI music with all the old production elements, positioning statements, and format!  Of course today they are also streaming, taking the audio off a real air monitor!  This is SO COOL because for me, I can stream the station here in Denver and pipe it thru to my old tube Zenith radios and such.  Man the nostalgia of this is absolutely amazing!

The station was known as “The Big Jet Fli”, with a special jet sound effect that was a staple of the station, and so many times that sound was the signature effect of the programming.  There are a lot of great stories about that.  One of the really cool things too about the transmitter plant for the station was the distilled water cooled Western Electric transmitter that started its life actually at WTOP in the NE. See a full article on this at https://www.thebdr.net/articles/prof/history/HPH-WFLI.pdf.  (Thanks Barry)  Back in 1992 there was a video shot by Stanley Adams and put up on YouTube that gave a nice tour of the facility, and believe it or not little has changed since the 70’s, it is almost like a time capsule of what the times were like in radio back then.  Now, the Western Electric is still there and is capable of operation, but a Harris DX-50 handles the daily on air operations and of course is much cheaper to operate.  And these days parts for the Western Electric are nearly impossible to find, but ran until just a few years ago, being lovingly maintained and kept on air by a couple of longtime broadcast engineers from FLI.

My Kawasaki Vulcan in front of the still there WFLI building during a visit last year

So after hearing the news about music coming back to WFLI from my friend David Carroll of WRCB TV3 in Chattanooga, I got in touch with Evan Stone, and offered to do liners and voiceovers for the station, and sure enough, I sent some promo’s and production to them, and now you can hear ME on WFLI!  AFTER 40 YEARS!  Glad I have improved since then!  Unfortunately I don’t have any air checks from my days there, but you may hear me again on WFLI as a jock just for fun!  Stay “TUNED”!  Check it all out at https://tunein.com/radio/WFLI-1070AM-The-Legend-s28777/

Speaking of “vintage”, check out these OLD films on ham radio.  These are really AWESOME!  A real look at what is was YEARS AGO!  Old chirpy code, a look at Field Day, homemade antennas and more!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0igVLrt3uY

And some of you may remember K6DUE (SK), Roy Neal of NBC back covering the space program.  I actually got to contact him and have Roy’s QSL card!  Check out his video here on YouTube promoting ham radio.  In this video he is talking about upgrading from CB Radio to Ham Radio!  I have to admit that I was a fan of his when he covered many Apollo flights and more, then I got to contact him via ham radio!  SO COOL!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba1S6bnyr1s

By the way if you aren’t familiar with hamspeak, SK means “Silent Key”.  Roy passed on in August 2003

By the way, yes I have a real affinity and affection for CB Radio.  That’s how I got started in 2 way communications!  I also happened to live in an area growing up that had some very friendly and helpful people on the CB!  In this video, in the first few minutes, you can see my first ever CB, a Realistic TRC-24C 23 channel radio.  AND a Signal Kicker antenna.  So that along with shortwave listening, was the beginning of what I do today!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMeFe68vDCc

My first CB!

Another activity with ham radio this month I got running was setting up my Kenwood TS-2000 and Winlink RMS Express and then setting up the TS-2000 internal TNC and using WInlink to send and receive email via VHF packet radio.  Its text based email, so nothing fancy, send me one at ke0vh@winlink.org.   I have been doing this via HF for a while and have a demo video on running this at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR5dnDS65DA .  I will try to get a demo up of doing it on VHF and how to setup the TS-2000.  Actually very easy to do, and a lot of negative reviews on the Kenwood TS-2000 on board packet TNC are out there but with the right setup works great!  There is already a video on how to do this from Rick, K4REF.  You can see it at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XTGlp2Gkow

See Ricks ENTIRE Kenwood TS-2000 training series at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxvd7Hts-hw&list=PL0-gH_7Nm60Zkogw5sdlSTcOseWaefHI6

This month I have installed a small buffer board in my TS-2000 to be able to have basically a full SDR panadapter utilizing a RTL SDR dongle and rig control from the free HDSDR and Omni-rig software available.  You can also use SDR Sharp.  This essentially takes just about any HF rigs 1st or 2nd IF and uses it to feed the dongle and display the range of frequencies for whatever band you are using.  This really almost can replace any of the higher priced SDR radios that are on the market. Plus this allows you the pleasure of operating your older HF rig with all the advantages, filtering, and visual display of the full SDR radios.  I really have been fascinated with this, and love working on projects in the Hamshack so this was a fun and pretty easy effort too, thanks to all those whose information can be looked up so easily!

And again just about any rig where you can tap into the IF can be done in this manner.  Some of them even have an IF port on the outside of the radio, but modifying is pretty easy regardless.  The TS-2000 has a readymade spot for the buffer circuit to go in where for a digital voice recorder could go, so that was easy.  Connections for the 1st IF required just a small modification of the connection point, the first IF connection (giving more visible bandwidth due the fact that it is before the roofing filter which limits you to about 30 kHz bandwidth but does provide some susceptibility to dongle front end overload) is an open pinned test point easily accessible.  I then used the HF receive only RCA antenna connection to get the buffered signal out of the radio and with a piece of coax connects to the dongle.  Works GREAT.

The bottom cover of the TS-2000 has to come off to get to the connections needed.  As you see in the picture below the buffer board (a PAT 12 from https://www.sdr-kits.net/ is in the upper left, the connection to the input of the board is from TP 4 or CN6 which is right after the 1st IF before the roofing filter.   The red wire is from a 12 volt tap off a diode on the other side of the radio’s RF board to power the PAT 12.  The coax on the left side output is going to (in my case unused) HF receive only antenna input to the radio.  The buffer board gets its negative power from the coax shield.

Another couple of good websites to check for more information are:

http://www.hamradioandvision.com/hdsdr-accessibility/

https://kd2c.com/

And by the way, live near a high powered broadcast facility and RF is wiping out your receive on HF?  Check this out:

https://kd2c.com/filters

 

Our friend Skyler KDØWHB while in school in Socorro New Mexico is getting a chance to intern at the Very Large Array radio telescope facility this year.  Take a look at how they move these gigantic antenna’s in this video shot and edited by KDØWHB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyLfQjxrYYk

You know you can find anything on YouTube of course, and I really enjoyed watching this set of 2 videos on the repair of the sensitivity of a Kenwood TS-2000 from the “TRX Bench” YouTuber.  A fine example of systematic troubleshooting and repair.  Glad to know where this one is in case I ever need it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FjSme0C5B8

One night on the Monday night SBE NET George, NO7O brought this up as a topic of discussion.  You may want to check this out:

From Amazon:

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

 

Code Girls reveals a hidden army of female cryptographers, whose work played a crucial role in ending World War II…. Mundy has rescued a piece of forgotten history, and given these American heroes the recognition they deserve.”—Nathalia Holt, bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls

Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.

Thanks George, sure this would be really great reading!

Visiting my friend Harold, W6IWI at his home QTH was a lot of fun one day earlier in April.  Harold has a very nice setup in his shack and his HF rig is a Seacomm SEA245

Harold at his operating position

Harold’s remote antenna tuner.  It tunes his multiband dipole seen in the picture below.

 

A close up of Harold’s rig

 

The power for the radio and power conditioner/charger for the battery power

 

See Harold’s site at www.w6iwi.org for more details

 

What do you do when you drive up to a site (to investigate an off air situation) and find this:

Unfortunately one day someone had accidently backed into the dish feed and broke the feed horn!  But he is a great guy and left a note and STUFF happens!  So, take it apart, re-piece it together, a little electrical tape, and station BACK ON THE AIR!

The BUC just temporarily taped up until the new mount arrived

Repaired, cross-poled, and note the reflectors for future reference!  J

 

                                                                    2 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/05/

 

3 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/05/   

 

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

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

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at 

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

 

 I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits! 

Clay’s Corner for May 2018

Clay’s Corner for May 2018

Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

 

Something that we all hate to hear about is a broadcast tower falling…Worse yet when you hear that someone you knew was killed in the process.     This was the case on April 19th when a very big, 1980 footer, went down in Fordland, Mo.   (Near Springfield)   Killed in the accident was a fellow many of us in the PNW had known for years, Steve LeMay.

Steve and his crew were working near the 100 foot level of the structure, according to some reports, replacing members on the tower to strengthen it for antenna changes related to re-packing, in this case, the TV station was moving from Channel 23 to Channel 16. The tower belongs to KOZK-TV and also housed an FM Antenna.

According to reports, 7 members of Steve’s crew were working on the project when it came down.  3 of them suffered injuries, unfortunately Steve did not survive.

I first met Steve many years ago when we worked for Seacomm.   We probably were involved in a number of projects over the years.   Later Steve formed his own company.   The last job where I was with him was the replacement of the KIRO-FM Antenna at West Tiger on the 4th of July 2016.

Steve will be remembered as an extremely nice, polite, soft spoken guy with a great smile.

The above pictures show Steve helping with the antenna installation for the Voice of Vashon
Below are some related comments –

Voice of Vashon’s low power FM (KVSH-LP 101.9FM) would not be where it is today without the “get it done” spirit of Steve Lemay. After Madison Batt designed our mast he said he’d invite a friend to come along for the install day. That friend — Steve Lemay — became our friend during a long day up top of a million gallon water tank.  Our team of volunteers worked on the tank with Steve and Madison supported by more volunteers on the ground crew. That day we all witnessed Steve take any problem in his stride and calmly solve it….And he did all that work for our dirt poor nonprofit at no charge, taking a day away from his family.

​One ​newspaper article about the Missouri tower collapse describes Steve as a “picture perfect dad.” We learned that day he was just plain picture perfect as a human being.

The cause of the disaster will certainly be investigated, as will the engineering firm involved, TCI Tower Consulting.   The questions to be answered are – Did the tower crew do something wrong, or was it a structural engineering miscalculation?

Another aspect of this is the whole matter of re-packing that is requiring a lot of changes being made to a lot of towers nation-wide over a fairly short period of time.   Whenever you disturb something that’s been standing for years, you open the door for these kinds of things to take place.

 

This is certainly not the first big tower to fail, you can do an internet search and find stories and, in some cases, videos, of previous disasters.  Interestingly another big tower, not far from this one, collapsed back in 2001.   In that case it was ice accumulation that was the cause.

The Sinclair/Tribune story continues to un-fold with announcements of spin-offs around the country …Except for Seattle.    Many are waiting to hear which of the 4 stations will go to different owners.   Rumors still are that Fox will end up with an O&O in this market.  We should know soon.

Gotta hand it to Gates Air as they announced they are going to debut a program to teach RF Fundamentals    I personally think this is a great move.    Gates Air put it this way-

In May, GatesAir will launch a new training program intended to help “younger, IT-educated broadcast engineers” learn to operate and maintain “next-generation TV and radio transmission sites,” the company announced.

The new training program, launching with an “Introduction to Broadcast Transmitter Technology” course, is described by GatesAir as an adjunct to the its existing “RF:101” program, which was designed for trainees with a basic understanding of RF technology. Because “RF:101” participants increasingly lacked a solid foundation in RF, the company developed a “new entry-level RF training course designed to prepare IT professionals for an RF transmission-centered career.”

“Since many new professionals entering the field have IT backgrounds, this new introductory training program responds to our customers’ pressing needs to find qualified engineers that can operate and maintain their next-generation, over-the-air content delivery systems,” GatesAir Vice President of Operations Bryant Burke said in the announcement. “We’re addressing broadcasters’ concerns regarding the shortage of broadcast engineers, and leveraging the current crop of IT-savvy engineers for ATSC 3.0 and other next-generation DTV and digital radio networks.”

The course begins with three webinars and is followed by a four-day, hands-on training workshop at Gates Air’s Quincy, Ill., campus. The first session is scheduled for May 22–25.

The program limits the workshops to groups of 8-10 trainees. It covers fundamentals, including maintenance of liquid- and air-cooled solid-state transmitters, digital modulation schemes and troubleshooting/repair of modular transmission components. After these stages, participants receive a certificate of completion.

The program is open to everyone — including non-GatesAir customers — and costs $2,150, according to the training website, where registration is also available.

A couple of weekends ago we made a trip to Boise to visit with our Kids, and their kids…Our Granddaughter (who is very technosavvy) has an Amazon Echo….She has learned how to use this clever device for entertaining her one year old Son (our Great Grandson) by asking it to play various Songs etc.    I asked her if she ever used to play a radio station.   She said no, she had not.   So I asked Alexa to play KIRO-FM…almost instantly, a Seattle radio station was playing in Boise.   She immediately asked Alexa to play 103.5 and there it was.  I did not ask her if she knew their call letters, however, it apparently did what she wanted.   This leads me to believe that are thousands of the Echo’s out there with owners that had no idea they would function as a radio.  It times of emergency this knowledge might be handy.    Wonder how many in the radio broadcast industry understand and are addressing this issue?

There is a Seattle side of this story too – Amazon reportedly owns 2/3 of the smart speaker market.   Not a bad market share !!    It should be noted that over 1/3 of all homes have one.

It’s too bad that these devices do not include the ability to be a public warning device.   Seems to me that by including that feature a lot of lives could be saved….So would making sure that radio stations direct their EAS equipment to their streams.

The announcement that KEXP is going to be receiving a $10 million donation raised a lot of eyebrows.   According to news reports this is the largest single donation to a public radio station in history.   Pretty impressive when you consider that this is a relatively small, Class C3 station operating with only 4.7 kW using a directional antenna from their site on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

Looks like the FCC is going to be making changes in the way they deal with interference complains involving FM translators.    This will be a good thing, if not a bit overdue in light of the number of these things being licensed these days

Nielsen is working on a new PPM device – the new one will reportedly be smaller.

 

Bottom of Form

 

Amazon has reached he size that it’s time to start ‘bashing them’   Even the President has joined the chorus.     Seems like a repeat of a few years ago….

 

Remember when the little ‘East Side’ software outfit was just starting off?

Everyone was thrilled with the success of MS-DOS (Back when CP/M and others were in the race) Apple came out with the Mac and it’s Icon/mouse driven system – (many thought that MS/DOS machines were dead) Then that little local company hit it big with Windows….Not long after that the critical comments started to roll in The Federal Government was annoyed because they had the gall to include a browser (what people wanted) Soon, in the minds of many, Microsoft was too big, was killing its competitors ..The feds were making strong demands

 

Now, apparently,  it’s Amazon’s turn.

 

 

According to Nielsen, the two most listened to radio formats are – County and News/Talk, but they are very close.    Looking at the big stations in Seattle – The top new/talkers are KUOW with a 6.3 and KIRO-FM with a 5.6. (11.9 Total) On the Country side – KKWF has a 3.6 and KNUC a 1.6 (5.2 Total).  Appears there are far more listening to News/Talk than country in this area.   Not to too surprising when you consider that Seattle is, in many ways, unlike other markets.

 

 

One thing I’ve never quite understood….How is it that many churches are involved with Pirate Radio?   One of the latest stations to be shut down by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau was a pirate operating on 93.3 from the Gospel Tabernacle Church of Jesus Christ in Irvington, N.J.

But then again, you periodically hear about other wrong doings connected with houses of worship.

 

 

Amador Busto’s continues to develop his operations – The FCC recently approved the assignment  of the license for the Oak Harbor licensed 103.3 to Bustos Media Holdings.  Meanwhile I note that Bustos has applied for an FM Translator for his KMIA-AM in Auburn to be on 101.1

 

 

Questions remain in the matter of the Bankruptcy of iHeartMedia…..Namely, are they going to spin off some of their radio stations?     Some are saying yes, the company is apparently saying nothing.   Typically firms become leaner when faced with this sort of situation.   Cumulus has recently sold off several.   Of course iHM became bigger here in Seattle by trading some stations with the new, larger, Entercom.  One has to assume that this deal factored in the overall financial health of the company.  Certainly there are those that would be eager to pick up some additional broadcast properties, especially if they are going for bargain prices.

 

David Field, CEO of Entercom, recently weighed in on the situation with iHeart and Cumulus saying that the industry will be healthier because of what’s taking place. Certainly investors are not exactly excited about an industry where two of the biggest players are in this mode.

 

I love it when my readers are led to contribute to my column.    Thanks to Buzz Anderson for this jewel –  Try spraying some of this around your favorite coffee shop, explaining that you are just trying to help speed up their WIFI (Note the reference to its scent)

It appears that the translator sought for the Puyallup AM on 94.5 may have overcome some of their objections as the FCC recently reinstated their application for Construction permit.  The folks at 94.5 in Shelton are obviously concerned.

I recently ran across a picture of a person that should be familiar to many of us who have worked in this market for a long time.    None other than Garnet Drakiotes.   Drak, was he was known to his friends, was Chief Engineer of KUBE way back when.

Here’s an eye-catcher –

Shortwave Supports Secure Digital Communications

The Ampegon Group is promoting the use of shortwave (HF) broadcasting as a means for providing high-speed, secure data transmission.  In their ads, they state the world needs real-time secure communications between centralized locations and receivers located at great distances.   Uses include, transfer of business communications, dissemination of warnings etc.

Considering the fact that HF or Shortwave systems are no longer a popular as it once was, this is certainly a unique ‘pitch’ for those making high powered HF Transmitters.  If you want more info, go here-  http://www.ampegon.com

Here we go again – A survey of the –Least Affordable Markets for Homebuyers from Zillow –

San Jose, CA 

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 46.1%

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 41.6%

San Francisco, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 40.6%

San Diego, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 34.7%

New York, NY

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 26.3%

Sacramento, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 26%

Riverside, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 25.6%

Seattle, WA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 24.9%

Portland, OR

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 23.6%

Here’s some more – In March the median home sale price in Seattle rose to $819,500.  Seattle home prices are up 17% in the last year…with the King County increasing 15%.   Looking for something less expensive – Condos are going for just over $525,000 in Seattle and $466,500 for King County.   However, Condo prices are increasing faster than homes.   Perhaps the bottom line is what kind of money do you have to make to be able to live here?

 

Here’s a great motto – Always plan for the fact that no plan ever goes according to plan.

 

If you live here in the PNW, you know that we are not lacking for rainfall this year…Not so for other areas of the U.S. however –

There are likely many high tech firms that want to claim that they were the first to intoduce Tablets…..Well, perhaps not –

In response from last months Column where I wrote about all the Nautel 50,000 Watt Transmitters on Vashon. Here’s a list of the stations and Nautel models – (North to South)

 

1000/ KOMO – XR60

710/KIRO-   ND50, NX 50

1090/KFNQ –  NX50, Ampfet 50.

 

The Seattle area has  9 AM radio stations that are operating 50,000 Watts

During the day and various powers at Night –  Here is a table listing them –

(Power levels are in Kilowatts)

FREQUENCY CALL DAY POWER NIGHT POWER ANTENNA

INFO

TRANSMITTER

LOCATION

710 KIRO 50 50 DA-N Vashon
770 KTTH 50 5 DA-2 Vashon        Shared wirth 1090
820 KGNW 50 5 DA-2 Vashon        Shared with 950
880 KIXI 50 10 DA-2 Bellevue
950 KJR 50 50 DA-2 Vashon         Shared with 820
1000 KOMO 50 50 DA-N Vashon
1090 KFNQ 50 50 DA-2 Vashon         Shared with 770
1300 KKOL 50 3.2 DA-2 Bainbridge    (Construction Permit)
1380 KRKO 50 50 DA-N Everett          Shared with 1520
1520 KKXA 50 50 DA-N Everett           Shared with 1380
  • All but 3 of these stations operate 50 kW at night.

 

  • DA-N means the station operates with a non-directional antenna during the day and a Directional Antenna system at Night

 

  • DA-2 means the station operates with a different Directional Antenna system day and night.

 

 

 

You are getting OLD if you recall when this was the way you moved data between a telephone and a computer!  (Note the rotary dial)

Changes in the Engineering Department at Entercom in Seattle

Out is Matt Green

In is Phil Van Liew

Another big voice is lost –

Longtime, late night, radio host, Art Bell passed recently.  He was 72.      As you can see from this picture, Art was not only on the air on many radio stations but on Ham Radio as well with this impressive array of equipment.    He was quoted as saying that he loved radio…lt was his life.

At last it appears that Spring has finally arrived at West Tiger.  The following picture was taken on March 26th using our precision snow depth measurement device. –

A certain iHeartMedia engineer asked me recently when it was going to stop snowing at West Tiger  J

While I was working on installing some equipment at KIRO-AM on Vashon Island recently I spent a couple of minutes taking pictures of some of Steven Allens wonderful collection of legendary broadcast equpment.    What hit me hard was the fact that I’ve used this stuff!

First is a Nems Clark Phase Monitor.  This was used with a 2-Tower directional AM Station.

Who recalled that Ampex, maker of Audio and Video tape equipment, also made a radio receiver?   Here’s a picture of a portion of the front panel.

Back in the days….When TV repair was even possible….You might have had one of these –

A device for generating Color Bars for setting up a TV Set.

This item really grabbed my attention. It was on the bottom of a loudspeaker.   The inventory lables were on a long sheet that was inserted into a typewriter.  You set the ribbon so it was not used and typed in the letters and numbers.   What him me hard was the fact that – I MADE THIS LABEL , likely in the early 70’s

This item, an AM Audio Processor. Made by the late George Frese in Wenatchee.  The Audio Pilot would transform any AM station using it into the loudest station on the dial.  This was long before CBS Labs introduced their equipment.    George incorporated some features that have never been duplicated to this day.

Here is a classic radio – Take a close look at the FM Band frequencies – This was prior to the FM band we know today (88-108 mHZ)

 

How about the push-buttons –

KIRO-710 –

KXA -770- Now KTTH

KJR – 950

KOMO- 1000

KRSC – 1090 – Now KFNQ

KOL – 1300 – Now KKOL

 

 

 

Want to buy an AM Transmitter Site ?

 

On Apr 1, 2018, at 18:18, Andrew Skotdal via SBE16-Seattle <sbe16-seattle@sbe16.org> wrote:

 

FWIW, please feel free to circulate to the community of Hams that KRKO is listing the 7115 Larimer Road, Everett, WA. transmitter site for sale since we no longer need it.  The site has two, 179’ towers (above the base insulator), and the 1956 Gates BC-5 is in place, ready to be converted.  The Continental Power Rock can come with it, too.  The building has been rehabilitated and could serve as a club facility complete with a kitchen and two bathrooms.  The site has eight acres.  If you know of a HAM operator or club that would like to buy the site, please have them contact Dan Gunderson, dgunders@windermere.com

 

In the same category as the Internet Path Conditioner – is BLINKER FLUID.

Blinker fluid is the stuff which makes the turn indicators on cars work – usually the amount the car is supplied with from the factory is enough, but sometimes it needs topping up.

Sometimes people put too much in – you may have seen cars where the blinkers are flashing unusually fast? That’s the problem.

On the serious side for a moment.   As most of you know I was recently the recepient of an award from NAB.    (That’s me, the old guy in the middle)

What you may not know is that I was being recognized for my work with the Emergency Alert System here in Washington State, something I have been working on for the past 22 years.

Perhaps the best part is that this is recognizing work I have done without compensation.

They asked that I supply my acceptance remarks, in advance, so they could load it on their prompter  – Here is what I said in accepting this award –

TO SAY THE LEAST – I AM FLATTERED AND HONORED TO RECEIVE THIS AWARD…..

 THOSE THAT KNOW ME… KNOW THAT I AM NOT A MAN OF FEW WORDS, HOWEVER…..A COUPLE OF THINGS I’D LIKE TO SHARE

 

  • OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE LOOKING AT WHAT’S CALL A –SENIOR – GETTING HERE HAS TAKEN A LOT LESS TIME THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD!

 

  • OLD AGE IS A BLESSING GRANTED THE VERY FEW…IF YOU ARE BLESSED WITH IT – MAKE THE MOST OF IT

 

  • I, FIRMLY, BELIEVE THAT OUR MAKER WANTS US TO HAVE A PURPOSE THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES THIS GIVES US FULFILLMENT

 

 

  • IT’S BEEN SAID THAT IF YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO….YOU WILL NEVER WORK A DAY IN YOUR LIFE. I HAVE,  INDEED,   BEEN BLESSED TO BE ABLE TO EXPAND MY EARLY LOVE OF HAM RADIO INTO A VOCATION THAT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE ME TO THIS DAY.

 

 

  • DO SOMETHING WHERE YOU CAN ‘GIVE BACK’. SOMETHING WHERE YOUR COMPENSATION IS KNOWING THAT YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING FOR THE GOOD OF THE ORDER.  PERHAPS SOMETHING THAT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO SAVE LIVES.  THIS IS WHAT KEEPS ME WORKING TO IMPROVE OUR PUBLIC WARNING SYSTEMS

 

THANK YOU AGAIN, FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART, FOR APPRECIATING WHAT I HAVE DONE, AND CONTINUE TO DO.

As most older people do – We enjoy looking back – In this case, looking back at something much older than me!    The year is 1917, just over 100 years ago.   Wow what a difference a century makes !

 

The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.


Fuel for cars was sold in drug stores only.


Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.


Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.  (We may be getting back to that level again)

 

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph. (Sounds like Seattle at Drive Time)


The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.


The average US wage in 1910 was 22 cents per hour.


The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.


A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year.


A dentist $2,500 per year.


A veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year.  (A vet making more than a Dentist!!)

 

And, a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.


More than 95 percent of all births took place at home

 

Ninety percent of all Doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!

Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as “substandard.”

 

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

 

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

 

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound. (Yes,  this was before Starbucks)


Most women only washed their hair once a month, and, used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.


Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.


The Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

 

The American flag had 45 stars ..


The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was only 30.


Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented yet


There was neither a Mother’s Day nor a Father’s Day.


Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write.

And, only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.


Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at local corner drugstores.

 

Back then pharmacists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach, bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health!” (Shocking?)


Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.


There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A.!

One of the blessings of doing my work with NWPB/WSU is traveling.    I could not help but stop and take a picture of this sign.   Just off Frogner Road, north of Crego Hill, site of KSWS and several other Radio/TV stations.

Sometimes you are convinced that our educational efforts have failed.

Well, my friends, that’s it for my Column for this month – Lord willing, I will be back with more next month.

 

73,

 

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

SBE Member for over 50 years, #714.

 

 

Passing of Byron St. Clair

Dr. St. Clair Honored in 2008 by SBE48/SMPTE Rocky Mountain with Scott Barella

Byron W. St. Clair November 13, 1924 – May 20, 2018

Dr. St. Clair was known to most of us as a long time member and frequent attendee at our local events as well as for his outstanding contributions to our industry.  The following obituary was provided by Susan Hansen, his Daughter, who will continue his practice for the time being as he had so many LP and translator clients impacted by the repack:

Byron St. Clair, a renowned television and radio engineer who was instrumental in bringing early TV to the mountainous rural West, has died.

He had been diagnosed recently with a brain cancer, and died peacefully in Lakewood, Colorado aged 93. He leaves behind Julie, his wife of seventy one years, and a daughter, Susan Hansen of Arvada, Colorado.

At 2014 Christmas Party

St. Clair was President Emeritus of the National Translator Association, which he served as president for nineteen years. He made regular visits to Washington, D.C. where he worked tirelessly to preserve effective and universal free TV delivery. He pioneered the development of mountain-top repeaters that rebroadcast metropolitan signals on an automatically switched channel, devices known as TV translators.

St. Clair was director of research and development for Adler Electronics, and a founder and president of EMCEE, manufacturer and installer of TV translators. Later he took his knowledge West to Colorado, and beginning in 1967 founded and was president of Television Technology Corp. in Arvada, later Larcan-TTC, Inc. During his three decades in running TTC the company became the best-known supplier of TV translators to the Inter-Mountain West.

Gradually he moved from management to telecommunications consulting, and in that role he has strategized equipment design and channel selection, and submitted hundreds of engineering exhibits to the Federal Communications Commission.

At 2017 Christmas Party

In 1978 he became an informal advisor to the FCC Low Power Television Task Force, which was developing rules to enable TV translators to originate programs from any suitable source. The FCC adopted rules for low power television in 1982. Its growth into a broadcast service with thousands of licensed stations and its record of virtually no destructive interference are in major part the result of St. Clair’s technical expertise and vision.

St Clair obtained his B.S.E.E. (1945) and MA in Physics (1949) from Columbia University, and his Ph. D. in physics (1953) from Syracuse University. He was a member of the National High Definition Television Subcommittees, Systems Subcommittee Working Party to Field Test Task Force; a Board Member of the Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance; a long-time member and active participant in the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers (AFCCE); and 33 years as a Member of the Board of Directors for Denver PBS station KBDI-TV. Last year the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest technical professional organization, recognized him with its Jules Cohen Award for Lifetime Achievement. In his long career, St. Clair accomplishes a rare synthesis of theoretical knowledge, executive skill as a manufacturer, and expositor and advocate for rural America.

With Duane Evarts

In addition to his wife, daughter, and Son in Law Douglass West, St. Clair is survived by his brother, Dr. James O. St. Clair, Mull River, Canada and two grandsons, Michael and Peter Hansen. A memorial gathering is being planned in June.

The National Translator Association and the AFCCE are establishing a scholarship fund in his name, to foster education in the field of broadcast engineering.
###

The KE0VH Hamshack for April

April 2018

Still keeping on with the Society of Broadcast Engineers Monday Night Chapter 73’ of the AIR VHF/UHF Hamnet.  Details on how to join us at the bottom of the article here.  Sure would like to have you join us from ANYWHERE in the world!

 

So with lots of flying flight simulator and drones for both EMF and for fun there hasn’t been a lot of ham radio activity for me the past couple of months.  Talking with my great friend Cris W5WCA on the 449.450 repeater most mornings here in Denver (mostly about flying!) and the Monday night net, plus checking into the Columbine Statewide Net on 3.989 MHz 7:30 MTN time has been most of my ham radio operations lately.  Earlier in the month of March my good friend Tim KAØAAI stopped by and we did some setup on his DMR handheld, and I have been talking some on the WØTX Local DMR machine with Kenny K4KR in the Chattanooga Tennessee area a bit.  Plus we are still on the ALLSTAR network usually connected into the KDØWHB Skyhub (node 46079) and on the WØGV AllStar repeater locally here in Denver.  The WØKU 449.625 repeater can also connect into the AllStar network via IRLP.  Pretty versatile stuff and we hope to expand the capabilities of all soon.  Stay tuned!
As mentioned flying both my company issued drone for work and my personal Phantom 3 Advanced for practice and fun has been a source of real enjoyment for me.  Getting to fly up and around towers in my zone are going to be quite informative and money saving for our company.  It gets you up and close to the antennas on the towers of course without having to have a tower crew and the expense.   This past month I put up a video on my “ke0vhjacktv” YouTube channel flying one of our sites.  It was a bit of a windy day and I got QUITE close to the antenna and guy wires on the tower.  WHEW! But I kept a close watch and am learning how to fly the drone (a Phantom 3 PRO) to get some great footage and detail on the upper reaches of the structure.  If you didn’t already take a look at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7v2ceKfqyY

Due to the current rules of flying near airports with controlled airspace you must now use a system that can take up to 90 days or so to get FAA permission if your tower is located within that space.  I have a tower that is in just that position that I really need to do an inspection at.  SO, at this time I have applied for the permission to do so but am waiting, and so I expect that it will be May before I get the OK to do so.  Details on how to apply are at: https://www.faa.gov/uas/request_waiver/  This web site shows a list of waivers granted, so I keep a look on it for mine to come thru: https://www.faa.gov/uas/request_waiver/waivers_granted/

 

However the FAA is beginning a program to make this process almost instantaneous.  That will certainly make things quicker and easier especially when you need to inspect a tower in controlled airspace quickly.  Take a look here:

http://aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2018/march/08/faa-expands-drone-authorization-program?utm_source=drone&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180320drone

 

The FAA UAS data delivery system website is absolutely outstanding at showing permitted flight levels and areas of the whole country.  This includes an amazing map that is movable and you can zoom into the area you are interested in.  Take a look at it at: http://uas-faa.opendata.arcgis.com/

 

Another discussion says Part 107 operations do not require that you contact nearby airports in Class G airspace.  That is a Section 336 (recreational) requirement.  Please follow up with any further inquiries at UASHelp@faa.gov.  Additional information is also available at https://www.faa.gov/uas/.  Please select:  UAS Safety and Integration Division AUS-400.

I am having a great time with my Flight Simulator setup in the hamshack.  I now have 3 monitors so it is very easy to simulate the “cockpit” with this setup.  It gives you a really 3D feel with depth perception, with a peripheral vision feel. I bring the monitors in so that they are together in what I call Flight Sim Configuration.

The computer screen on the left is switchable between the sim computer and my Win 10 machine so I can look up other airport and flight info.

As you can see the ham radio shelf is behind the center 32 inch monitor and inaccessible when I want to operate ham radio in this config.  So I took a wall mount and set it up in a vertical way so the monitor will hinge up and rest on the shelf.  That then makes the radios accessible and is in “ham station” mode!

Another view with the simulator in progress flying a Cessna 172

Making a turn to land at Centennial Airport in south

Denver

See my Flight Simulator X landing a 737-800 at KATL Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport at night here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op8wOfeG0kg

See my Flight Simulator X Piper landing at Centennial Airport Runway 28 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZCiNSwrlx8

This picture shows me “flying” the Beach Baron over our building in the Denver area!

With the Megascenery Colorado Flight Sim software flying over the state is really accurate and almost like using Google Earth!    Pretty cool!

Right under the trailing edge of the wing is our transmitter site buildings near Denver!

This is flying SW of Pueblo Colorado over towards Greenhorn MT near our Rye Colorado site.  WISH I could really get there this quick!  J

One weekend in March we had what the natives refer to as “Thundersnow” in Denver.  Sure enough, lightning struck near our Denver transmitter site and took out the ham radio connection to the 449.625 repeater up there AND our Nanobridge studio to transmitter backup link to our Trango main STL system.  Not a good thing.  Funny thing is the studio Nano was communicating with the unit on the mountain but the transmitter side wouldn’t pass any network data.  Checked the cable to the transmitter building and it was fine.  So, to make a several day ordeal short the transmitter site Nanobridge was taking power from the building but passing NO traffic.  Brought it down to the studio workbench and sure enough the network card was working from one side but not the other.  SO, we switched out the whole Nanobridge M5 system (no longer made by the way) for the Ubiquiti PowerBeam 5AC 300 system.  I won’t list here all that it is capable of doing, but it is really outstanding in 2 ways that I will tell you about here.  The first is if you need to change frequency to a different part of the 5 gig spectrum (5730 to 5840 MHz) you can tell the end you are working with to change and it will CHANGE THE OTHER END FIRST, then lock up both units together!  OUTSTANDING!  It has an onboard software alignment tool, speed testing, discovery mode, and a spectrum analyzer called “Airview”.  VERY updated from the old Nanobridge system.  BTW, the price is only right around $100 per unit.  The GUI has immediate real time monitoring of all parameters, signal strength on both ends, isolated capacity and throughput, signal to noise and interference, data rates of both ends, etc.  This was one of the easiest to aim and get working projects I have ever done.  Cris W5WCA helped me with the initial bench setup, Robert KC8GPD and Shane KØSDT helped with the studio and transmitter site setup.  Robert and I ran a brand new cable and lightning protector up at the transmitter and then I “sight” aimed both ends and we walked it in for maximum signal from both sides.  All tested well and I look at it just about every day.  Should our Trango system fail it is ready to go.  And soon, when our April pledge drives are over, we will put the PowerBeam on the air so we can do some needed work to the Trango system feed.  More about that in a later edition!

Transmitter site PowerBeam

STUDIO SITE UNIT WITH LIGHTNING PROTECTOR

A picture of the GUI for the Transmitter site end

 

And the studio site end.  As you can see the noise floor is higher at the transmitter end as might be expected.  We put a bunch of Ferrites on the network leads up at the dish to reduce the noise floor from -92 to -98, improving the Interference + Noise from a -79 or 80 level to -88.  Of course with a high power FM and UHF TV station less than 100 feet away this is outstanding performance almost as good as the parameters at the studio end.  I am really impressed with these units and recommend them.  Thanks to Cris for the original heads up about the Nano bridges and now the POWERBEAMS!  And since we ran our network link and HD2 audio for the better part of a year using these prior to the install of the licensed Trango system I am confident that they will do the trick!

Check out this article on the use of a solid state analog TV transmitter as a superconducting electron gun power amplifier.  https://accelconf.web.cern.ch/accelconf/IPAC2012/papers/thppc071.pdf

 

 

                                                                 TWO YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/04/

THREE YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/04/

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

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

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at 

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

 I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits! 

73’ from “the Shack”& God Be With You!

Clay’s Corner for April 2018

 

 

Clay’s Corner for February 2018

 

Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

 

In keeping with my recent series of pretty pictures…This one, supplied by Ralph Sims of Accel Net, taken by one of their Tower Cameras at West Tiger the day after Christmas.  Here we are looking east, at sunrise.  The two towers in the upper right are what we call, Tiger-2, home of TV Transmitters for DayStar and Ion Media, as well as the following FM Stations – 94.1, 92.5, 96.5, 98.9, 102.5 and 106.1.  The clear-cut area was logged about 3 years ago.  On the lower left is the road going to the summit site.

That time of year is rapidly approaching when a bunch of us die-hard scroungers head to Puyallup for the annual Mike and Key Club Electronic Flea Market.  This year it’s on Saturday March 10th.  If you are an electronic tinkerer/collector or just like to visit old friends, it’s a great fun time.  For the past several years, a bunch of us have gathered at Odd Fella’s in Auburn at 7 a.m.for breakfast and then headed to Puyallup.  Hope you can join us.  One sad note however…All the friends you used to see there that are no longer with us.  This is the 37th year for the event.

In this picture, taken from the same tower as above, we are looking Northwest.  The tower you can see on the peak in the distance is on what’s call West Tiger #2.  The tower belongs to Boeing.  I love how the early morning sun causes the sky to look yellow.

The Main Studio rule is now something for the U.S. history books.  This change has made a lot of people happy…and some not.  I’ve read a number of comments from those that feel the FCC made a bad decision and this will end up being harmful etc.  Here’s my question:  If having a local studio, in the city of license is a great idea, what’s stopping a broadcast station from continuing to do so?  Is it possible that a broadcast station whose COL is in a smaller town near the ‘big city’ could continue to have a ‘local studio’ and reap the benefits that it would provide?  That is assuming that those benefits are real and not just imaginary.  Here in the Seattle area KCPQ and KSTW-TV and KBKS, KHTP, KIRO-FM could open Tacoma Studios and KRWM could open one in Bremerton.  Would this automatically mean that those locations would benefit?  Would  the citizens and businesses in those cities be happy to make sure that such a move is economically viable?  Perhaps what’s missing here is a clear understanding of what it takes to keep a broadcast station operating….INCOME!  The income can come from various sources….In the case of a Non-Commercial facility it’s called ‘underwriting’ or contributions.  Commercial stations almost all rely on advertising.  I will grant you that there is something at play here called ‘Big City Magnetism’ (aka – the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence).  Many businesses that are on the outskirts of a major city often strive to be identified with a nearby or adjacent larger city.  Some of this may be based more on desire than good economic sense.  Then there is the perception of the broadcast operation in the mind of the consumer.  Consumers too, like to be identified or connected with the largest city in the region.  You could have two stations with the same programming and find it likely the one associating themselves with the major city in the region will be more successful.  Once you get out from under the influence of the big city and into a community with its own strong identity, you find that facilities there tend to attract consumers that don’t feel as concerned with the big city in their area.  I recently wrote about a good example of this, KNWP in Port Angeles.

One of the latest iterations of radio stations are what’s called LPFM’s or Low Power FM stations.  These little operations rely on contributions and volunteers as they are non-commercial in nature.  Many of these new operations are shutting down as the financial reality of operating a broadcast station sinks in.  Then there is the struggle of AM Radio, where their continued operation is becoming increasingly questionable.

Regardless of the City of License or where the studio is located…. Perhaps it’s too easy to be critical of something that you know little about?  Many continue to view broadcasting as something other than a business that, like other ventures, have bills to pay and are forced to make decisions based on that, their greater need.

 

The recent public warning screw-up in Hawaii certainly got world-wide attention.  Emergency managers, everywhere are being questioned by the media with ‘could it happen here’ questions.  The fall-out over this one will serve as a great lesson for many years to come.  Here in Washington State, the matter is being taken very seriously.  State EMD is working with the SECC and all the stakeholders to make sure that we are learning from the mistake.  It would be unfair to draw conclusions until the ongoing investigations are completed, however,  preliminary findings are pointing to human error.  As happens in events of this magnitude….Congress wants an investigation.  What will result from that is anyone’s guess.  One part of this drew a lot of fire.  The fact that it took Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency 38 minutes to send a correction.  You can just imagine the panic that filled the minds of those that saw this message on their smart phone –

One of the big questions is – Who should be initiating an attack warning?  There are those that feel that this should come from the Federal rather than a State government.  The issue is that, other than an EAN/Presidential Message, we really don’t have a mechanism set up to handle this since the end of the Cold War.  My guess is that this will all change, certainly the States will be pushing in this direction.  Those of us that have been at this for a long time, well remember the days of EBS when we had Attack Warning messages.  Unfortunately, here we are again.  Makes me wonder if the shelters that people were installing in their backyards will make a comeback?

Many times bad things happen for good reasons.  I recall back when Mt. St. Helens erupted that we suddenly received the funding for our State Relay Network that we’d been asking for…for a long time.  One of our public warning system’s greatest weaknesses is a lack of training – at all levels.  The timing of the Hawaii event uniquely occurred about a week after our SECC Meeting, where recently retired from NOAA, and SECC Vice Chair, Ted Buehner agreed to on the matter of  training in Washington State.  This training will need to involve all levels of public warnings.  Those that initiate messages (Emergency Managers and 911 Centers, as well as Broadcasters and Cable Systems, whose job it is to distribute warnings to the public.  There will be much more to come on this topic…Stay tuned!

JUST AN OBSERVATION DEPARTMENT
As you can likely guess, my entire life has been one of great interest in science.  In the past year or so, we have been hearing the word ‘Fake’ all too frequently.  In fact, I’ll wager that we have heard that word more in the last year than all the years previous.  This got me thinking….

Have you noticed how those that are constantly speaking out about ‘Fake News’ are also great believers in ‘Fake Science’?

…..Like I said – Just an observation.

I was recently having a conversation with a fellow broadcast engineer regarding the life cycle of equipment.  Being of an older generation, we tend to place a very high value on this matter when selecting equipment.

For example – I recently purchased a new vehicle.  I did a lot of shopping with one of the most important criteria being – How long is this likely to last.  I submit that this is not always a prime decision making component when you are buying a new vehicle…Chances are, higher on the list are things like – Features, safety, color and style etc.

Many of the items used in a broadcast station these days appear to have relatively short life-cycles.  Perhaps one of the drivers for this are the rapid changes in technology that tend to make something obsolete sooner.  Another is the lack of demand for long term reliability coupled with the willingness to pay for it.  Who is doing the buying is also a big factor.  When the person that is charged with maintaining a piece of equipment makes the final decision, they are likely to be looking at a purchase through a different lens than would be a person in, say, accounting.  Service after the sale, long term support and parts availability are not valued as they once were.  In the ‘old-days’ we did not have the two views of purchasing we have today.  Operating and Capital Budgets…back when…there was only one pocket of money.

Something the ‘old salts’ have a problem with is the fact that many items today are not repairable.  This is for several reasons….1) They are designed to be thrown away when they no longer function. The manufacturer does not want you to repair them, as this lowers their profit margin.  2) The cost of repair in terms of knowledge and equipment makes repair not economically feasible.

Short life-cycles have become acceptable in this ‘throw it away if it does not work’ society’.  It’s all about change.  Just don’t be surprised to hear some old guy say something to the effect of …In my day, we would fix that.  Those days are gone and with it many of the jobs that used to be.

Before I leave this topic – a couple of changes in our area to note – Marty Hadfield is no longer with iHeart Media as he ponders what to do now that he has become an official senior citizen .  Tom Pierson has announced that he is retiring this summer from Bonneville (KIRO/KTTH etc.).

Now that we are entering another phase in the world of TV Repacking, stations are asking for more repack money….Like 2 Billion Dollars’ worth….Twice the amount that was allocated for the big shuffle.  ‘Tis also interesting how the demand for spectrum from this big shuffle has turned out to be lower than some were saying, leading many to ask if all of this was really necessary?  There will likely be some books written about this one.

The FCC continues to fill up the FM Band – For a while the only signal you could hear in the area on 94.5 was KRXY based in Shelton/Olympia.  Then came the co-channel AM Translator for KTTH (Located on Cougar Mt.).  Now there is a CP for another on 94.5, translator (BNPFT-20171201AMU), this time to be located on the 1450 AM Tower in Puyallup.  As expected KRXY (Olympia Broadcasters)  has petitioned the FCC to deny it.  Pretty clear that existing radio stations are going to be busy just watching the application process in an effort to protect what has been their exclusive turf.

 

It’s hard to imagine in a year when we essentially went three months with only a few hours of drizzle, but Seattle is about to cross a soggy mark for 2017.  As the rain fell Friday, Seattle was moving over 47 inches of rain for the year in the morning.  If and when it passes 47.49 inches, we’ll be officially 10 inches above normal rainfall for the year.  Summer might have been dry, but a very soggy winter and spring was enough to counter balance, and this year’s autumn ended up doing well in the rainfall department as well.  For those of you that read this and feel that Seattle is all about rain – Here are some things to consider –

1. Mobile Alabama receives an average of 67 inches of rain per year.
2. Buffalo, N.Y.  holds the title of cloudiest city in American (yes, more than Seattle).

Here’s my view on the latest Radio Ratings – (all 6+)

  • Hubbard’s KRWM had some impressive numbers –#1 and into double digits
  • Sinclair’s KPLZ jumped up to #4
  • The bottom appears to have fallen out of the Country Format with KKWF at #15 and new-comer KVRQ well below that
  • The two big non-com’s continue to do well with KUOW at #2 and KNKX at #10
  • AM’s continue down the same path, downward.  Interesting that KIRO is now ahead of KOMO.
  • 13 stations at the bottom with a 1.0 or lower…5 of them are AM’s

 

There have been changes in Pullman – Washington State University has been busy re-branding their Radio and TV broadcast operations.  On January first they rolled out their new Logo.  This action combines Wazzu’s Radio and TV operations under a common name – Northwest Public Broadcasting…Perhaps a good thing as there was a lot of confusion between NWPR and NPR..

From time to time we read about how Europe is dumping FM radio in favor of some form of Digital Radio system.  Apparently not everyone is marching in lock-step, with word that Sweden is granting new licenses for commercial FM Stations.

In the U.S. FM Radio continues to grow with over 600 new signals on the air in 2017.  The biggest area of growth has been with Translators, Boosters and LPFM’s.  All you have to do is tune around the FM band to hear for yourself how the FM band is being filled up.  On the TV side, the number of VHF TV’s increased (part of the big shuffle).  Not surprising, the number of AM stations continues to fall with 30 less last year.  My prediction is that number will continue to fall to the point that the number of AM’s more truly represents the demand for that service…A slide that will continue for the next several years.

Here, locally, the owners of the 1230 AM in Everett are planning on adding an FM on 102.1 with 180 Watts.  Site appears to be their AM tower just east of downtown Everett.  The same group is planning an FM Translator on 94.5 at the site of their Puyallup 1450 AM operation.

KZQM is a new FM for Sequim.  They will be on 104.9.  A good deal of paperwork being exchanged in that one from a neighborhood organization who has been opposed.

On a site known as Green Mountain, east of Kalama, local Kelso station KLOG is planning a translator to be on 100.7.  At over 2000 feet, that 250 watt operation will be quite impressive.

ANOTHER FROM  THE  OBSERVATION DEPARTMENT

If women do the same job for less money, why do companies hire men to do the same job for more money?

In the category of ‘who wudda thunk?’….Did you ever think there was would be such a device as a SMART SPEAKER?  Speakers where usually inside a Radio or TV…Component Stereos may have had external speakers….But those, even though they might have been expensive, were hardly ever considered – smart.  Of course now we have gone from just plain Phones to Smart Phones. .Anyway we now have a battle brewing between the makers of Smart Speakers.  In the event you missed it, these are speakers that are interactive, that you speak to.  Makers include Google and Amazon.  Radio has discovered these gizmos in a big way because you can ‘talk’ to your smart-speaker and request a particular radio station be played.  This requires the Radio industry to figure out how to make these things work to their advantage.

Congrats to David Field, the CEO of  Entercom who was recently named by Radio Ink as their Executive of the Year.  Perhaps credit is due, as his company was able to gobble up CBS Radio and end up becoming a major player in Radio, while others in the industry (iHeart and Cumulus) struggle.

Speaking of Cumulus – They recently announced they were dropping their sports deals with major Chicago teams as well as canceling a deal to buy a couple of additional FM’s in that market, all while negotiations continue in their bankruptcy processes.  Recent price for a share of Cumulus was 5 Cents!

Recent news from the FCC, with the announcement that Al Shuldiner has been named to head up the Commission’s Audio Division.  Mr. Shuldiner replaces Peter Doyle.  His experience includes stints with Ibiquity/DTS (The parent of HD Radio).  The U.S. Radio industry will be watching this move very closely.

So what’s going on with Sinclair and Fox?  Rumors are that the two are about to do a deal that will, in part, satisfy the FCC’s concerns about numbers of stations in certain markets as a result of the Sinclair/Tribune deal.  Here in Seattle, could it be that KCPQ/13 could become a Fox O &O?  This could impact a number of other markets as well, for example….Denver.  Stay tuned!

For some reason I keep thinking about the old saying about being too late to close the barn door because the horse is already gone.  Then there is better late than never.  The deal is the FCC has apparently showed interest in a North Dakota car dealership that they feel is causing interference with Cellphone reception from their outdoor lighting system.  Apparently Verizon has a nearby cell site and they have determined that the source of their interference is the car dealership’s outdoor lighting system, because when it was turned off the problem stopped.  When the problem could not be resolved, the FCC got involved.  They told the dealership to fix it or start paying a fine for every day they refuse to act. (Time to go back to incandescent?)

Is this a simple matter of whose Ox?.  Seems to me if you are the FAA, Public Safety or a Wireless carrier you can get FCC action.  What about the poor Ham Operator that can no longer hear any signals because of the ‘Grow Lights’ in the neighbor’s basement?  Or what about the AM Station whose coverage has been reduced due to all manner of un-regulated RF noise generating devices?  Appears to me that what’s needed here is a level playing field when it comes to dealing with sources of RF pollution.  The SBE, NAB and ARRL have been trying to push this rope up-hill for many years.  Hopefully the new FCC Chair will be in listening, and more importantly, action mode.  Time will tell.

Sad news this past month with the announcement that legendary Keith Jackson has passed at 89.  Many of us who have been in the Seattle area for many years recall him at KOMO where he worked from 1954 to 1964.  Not only was Keith a fixture in Seattle Broadcasting…He was a Cougar…A WSU Graduate.  It was just a few years ago, in 2014, that a building in the Murrow College was named in his honor.

Mike Brooks from KING-FM is a frequent contributor to my column.  This time something for the ‘techies’ in the group.  Who will be the first one to properly identify this item?

One thing that Broadcasters are always concerned about is airing something that they should not, for fear that the FCC would make them subject to a sizable fine.  The question is now…What do you do when the person that utters the subject to fine word is the President of the country?  Perhaps the fact the FCC understands there are differences between newscast language and entertainment programming?  Never a dull moment in this industry.

For some time FM Broadcasters have been installing Boosters, lower powered transmitters operating on the same frequency as their main transmitter…Especially in areas where there is significant terrain shielding.  In the area South of Seattle, Bustos Media has recently been installing a few on-channel boosters. Initial reports are they are working reasonably well.  All this to fill in terrain shielded areas from their South Mountain transmitter some 50 miles away.

HD Radio opens up some interesting possibilities for Radio with some recent articles been written.  In these cases the term ‘Single Frequency Network’ or SFN is used.  For television, new technologies are opening the door for SFN’s.  Recent reports are that Sinclair and some others are about to build an SFN in the Dallas Area.  This all to validate the concept.  If this works, as some hope, it could make some major changes in the way TV is delivered to consumers – Everywhere.

How about a couple of TV memories?

In the category of look who is retiring – Don Imus is apparently hanging up his spurs.  Don has been a fixture in New York radio since 1971 and was widely seen on TV as well.  Don represents an inspiration for us older-types, working well past the point that many retire.  He’s 77.  And that is older than me (by a little).

The well-known feud between Pacific Lutheran University and their radio station, KPLU has been the subject of much press, and national attention.  It all started when the University decided to sell KPLU.  This effort backfired resulting in an uproar and a lot of negative press for the Parkland-based school.  Ultimately the station was purchased from PLU by the listeners and the call letters changed to KNKX.  Making this a bit more complicated is the fact that the station operates from a building owned by PLU from which they are making plans to move.

More recently another issue has come up.  The matter of funds left in wills by the station’s listeners.  Both parties claimed the money was theirs.  Near the end of January, a Court Commission ruled in favor of the radio station adding that the station, and not the former owners are entitled to the money, as well as any future funds that have been earmarked for KPLU.  Whereas this is not pocket-change, the matter may not be settled yet, as the University may well appeal.  The station is looking at a couple of options for relocating their operation, all in Tacoma.  Reports are they will maintain their Seattle operation as well.

Congratulations to Kent Randles of Entercom Portland on his promotion to Director of Technical Operations for the Rose City Cluster of radio stations where he has worked for a number of years.  Kent has been a longtime friend.

 

FM Translators have become a hot commodity in the Radio business, especially since the FCC started allowing them to be added to AM Radio stations.  The demand for these relatively low-powered FM add-ons has driven the price skyward.  Recently half a million dollars was paid for a 250 watt FM translator in Puerto Rico.  Doing the math, this price represents some $2,000 per watt.  Perhaps this is an indication of the recovery taking place there?

Looking for a job in Radio?  Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) has an opening.  Here is how their notice reads:

OPB is looking for someone with broadcast experience who embraces the ever-changing media landscape to lead the team responsible for the media creation pipeline at our network center in Portland and the RF distribution technology at our remote sites located between The Dalles and Astoria, OR.  For more information and instructions on how to apply, visit OPB’s careers page http://www.opb.org/about/jobs/.  OPB is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Here’s an item for Broadcasters in Washington State –

Question – Is your Washington State EAS Plan up-to-date?

In this State, the EAS plan is designed to occupy a 3-ring binder.  What’s unique about our Plan is that it is not just a single document, but rather a number of them, called Tab’s, addressing various aspects of EAS.  The State EAS Plan is constantly being updated with updates distributed via the WaState EAS Remailer, additionally, they are posted on the WaState Emergency Management Web Site.

To determine if your plan is up-to-date – all you have to do is check the latest Tab Index (Tab 31) Dated 1/26/18  and compare the release date for each Tab to the one you have in your binder.

Here is where you get connected –

The Washington State EAS Remailer – http://sea.sbe16.org/mailman/listinfo/eas-wa

The WEMD Web Site – https://www.mil.wa.gov/other-links/emergency-alert-system

Any and all questions about EAS in Washington State should be posted to the EAS Remailer.

Before I leave the topic – The next Meeting of the SECC (State EAS steering committee) will be March 13th at Clover Park Technical College.  You are welcome to participate in person or via conference bridge.  Full information for the meeting will be distributed on the EAS Remailer.

Many of my generation have come to learn that there are many ‘younger folks’ that don’t know how to tell time using an analog clock. (Seriously!)  Apparently this is not something that many youngsters are no longer taught in school (along with how to write in cursive).  The concept of the Big-Hand and Little-Hand is fading away.  The other day, while getting a medical check-up, a nurse whips out her smart phone and selects an app. having an analog clock, complete with second hand, and checks my pulse. Cool!  I have to admit that I have not warn a watch for several years.  I use my Smart Phone for time telling.  Thinking about my future years and those that have retired already….There is this option – The ONE-HAND WATCH.

Perfect for old folks that don’t need to count seconds and very reasonable for those that know how to read an analog clock, or Engineers that know how to read analog Meters.  For those of you that prefer, it comes in a 24 hour model as well.That’s it for this month- Looks like we can look forward to an early spring as trees in my neighborhood are getting leaves already, not mention the bulbs are sprouting and my grass needs cutting.    Better believe in climate change!!  It’s happening.

That’s it for this month- Looks like we can look forward to an early spring, as trees in my neighborhood are getting leaves already, not to mention the bulbs are sprouting and my grass needs cutting.  Better believe in climate change!!  It’s happening.

Lord willing, till next month, thanks for the read
Clay Freinwald. CPBE, K7CR etc.

Clay’s Corner for March 2018

Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

 

Wow !….I had just mowed the lawn…The bulbs are several inches tall, my Rhodies and trees have buds on them….and It snows!  I’ve been driving up to West Tiger on a weekly basis when suddenly I’m sitting with Doug Fisher in his Gator with tracks again, heading up the hill passing stuck pickups.  Mother Nature will determine when winter is over!

This unusually late dose of winter snow impacted Portland too.  In fact I was supposed to travel to PDX on the 20th.  Looking at the forecast, we opted to put it off.  Here’s a picture of fresh snow in Gray Haertig’s backyard in Portland on the 21st.

I did note that he did not use a hardware store wood yard-stick for the measurement….As an Engineer should.

Denver is another example of where things can, and usually do, change…in their case, big changes are famous.  On the 18th the temperature (In Boulder just north of Denver) hit 69 Degrees.  40 hours later, on the 20th it was 3 below zero.  This is a 72 degree drop and tied for the 8th biggest swing ever noted in 2 days or less.  Hate to think what the impact of that kind of change would have been in Seattle or Portland.  Denver is famous for the saying –‘Lawnmower to Snow blower in one day’.

The big shake up in Seattle Radio is over and now attention is turning to the picture makers, specifically, the Sinclair/Tribune deal that will involve four of the Seattle area TV Stations…Among them KOMO and KCPQ.  The almost $4 Billion dollar deal has drawn a lot of attention and, in some cases, objections and interest of the DOJ.  It’s been long known that Sinclair would have to divest two of the stations in this area, and that has been sufficient to keep the rumor mills running overtime, conjecturing as to who might the new owners be.  For some time the odds appear to be on Sinclair spinning KCPQ, and perhaps its stable-mate, KSJO, to FOX.  Looks like the big reveal is getting close – and then we will know.  This is a huge transaction, impacting a number of markets around the country…some of which may also see FOX become an O&O, for example, Denver.  One unique aspect of this has been the political side.  The Sinclair ownership has a reputation for being biased to the right and the FCC’s present leadership is being criticized for, in some way, helping this process.  One of the issues has been the rules involving national audience reach.  Bottom line – A good amount of political theater and legal maneuvering.

There is a radio side to all of this too – Sinclair, who used to be in radio, got back in with their purchase of the Fisher properties in Seattle, picking up KOMO, KVI and KPLZ.  Word has it that Sinclair plans on keeping WGN Radio in Chicago.  Like Seattle and KOMO, WGN has had a long standing strong ‘news-tie’ with its TV partner.

In the event you have not kept track, Sinclair is a big company, and about to get bigger, with some 193 stations in 100 markets.  They are very actively involved with the next generation of TV as this article in TV Technology will explain.

http://www.tvtechnology.com/atsc3/0031/putting-next-gen-tv-to-the-full-test/282799

In terms of ownership group size…Looking at Seattle area stations, Sinclair is #1, CBS is #2 (Owner of KSTW) Fox #3 (perhaps the new owner of KCPQ) Tegna is #6 (owner of KING/5 etc.), Cox is #13 (Owner of KIRO/7), ION is #18 (Owner of KWPX).

Picture time!  This one, courtesy of Joe Taylor, West regional broadcast site manager for ATC.  It is one of the two broadcast sites on West Tiger Mt, near Seattle.  We call this site – West Tiger-2.  No, the towers are not leaning.  It’s just the distortion caused by the wide angle lens.  The 2-story transmitter building is between the towers.  The Generator/Electrical building is on the right.  And this picture, obviously not taken during the winter, does prove that we can have blue skies in this area.  Right now these towers are likely covered with Ice and snow.

Every year about this time, attention of many in Radio turn to the Crystal Awards.  I always like to look at the nominees to check for stations from areas where this column is read.  Looking at the  finalist list….Sorry Seattle – No stations listed.  Denver did better with KYGO-FM making the cut.  Portland has listed KUPL.  Noted that KMOK-FM and KRLC-AM in Lewiston, Idaho (just across the river from Clarkson, WA) also are listed.

The Seattle area Radio Numbers are out- And here are some of my observations:

  • KUOW is doing awesome landing in the #1 spot….Proving that you don’t have to play music to gain listeners. Have to wonder how the programmers at the 30 or so other commercial stations feel about this event?  Should point out that KNKX continues to do very well in the numbers race, but they do play music.

 

  • Another radio operation proving you don’t have to play music to succeed is KIRO-FM in the #4 spot.

 

  • After the breakup of CBS, Entercom and iHeart became the two biggest groups in Seattle. Of the top 10 stations – Entercom has three and iHeart has four.

 

  • A lot of eyes were on 94.1, the frequency of the historic CBS Country station, KMPS. As we all know, Entercom elected to change the station’s format and call letters (now KSWD).  The latest results put them in the #10 slot.  The new format is similar to Hubbard’s KRWM which is still in the #3 slot.  This will be a race to watch.  More on 94.1 later.

 

  • The race for the country audience is interesting. The numbers for Entercom’s KKWF had a small improvement, but not adding up to what one would expect.  Hubbard jumped into this race with their 98.9 FM but is way back in the pack at this point.  Certainly there will be a lot of changes as the two country stations duke it out.

 

  • AM Radio continues its downward trend. The top rated AM, All News KOMO, is about #15, with ESPN KIRO-AM a couple of notches below that.

 

It seems like a very long time ago when I was up on Cougar Mountain taking part in a demonstration of HD Radio while the NAB Radio show was in Seattle.  Not long after that, the equipment starting arriving at West Tiger for this new radio system I would be installing on five stations at a time.  It was a bit like putting on the air an FM station back in the 50’s.  People, then, thought you were nuts as there very few receivers out there….and almost no FM Car Radios.  To this date, there are many owners and operators of FM radio stations that view HD Radio in the same way.  What’s been happening should be a wakeup call to those folks in particular – HD Radio, thanks to the efforts of the makers of motor vehicles, is making some impressive gains.  According to a recent release of date, the penetration is now close to 50%.  Pretty hard to ignore the facts…Yet some continue to do so….especially in smaller markets.  Perhaps the day that HD Channels generate rating numbers will be the turning point?  With all the new vehicles with HD Radios out there and the number growing, wonder how long it will be?  Part of the equation is content.  Many broadcasters have been dumping low cost to produce content on their HD Channels.  Perhaps a ‘Catch-22’?

It’s always sad to report the loss one of our own.  On Friday, January 26, Al Bednarczyk lost his battle with Cancer.  I first met Al and his family when he was dating his wife to be, Linda, back in the 60’s.  Later we worked in a team to maintain a small radio station in Lakewood.  Years later we were on the same team in the engineering department of KCPQ-TV.  Then, as years passed, I went back into radio as he stayed with TV, but, for a while, doing radio on the side.  Al was the Engineer at 106.1/KLAY following Terry Denbrook.  I followed Al at that gig.

In recent years I found myself maintaining the KVTI transmitter.  A quick look at some old inspection logs recently – Yep….There were notes written by Al.

 

There are a couple of things that will live on…First, his famous statement, ‘I hate TV’, which was usually followed with that great smile.  Second, his remarkable ability to rapidly find the source of a problem with any electronic gizmo.  I always swore that he could put his hand on it and tell you which part was bad.  He was in a league of his own.  Later in retirement, he found time to travel.  A great man that left his mark, and a bunch of fellow broadcast engineers deeply respected him.

 

Darin told me that Al did not wish a memorial service.  He did say, however,  that we will have a time to gather ‘Friends of Al’ over pizza at a date to be announced.  Hopefully many of you that knew him will be in attendance to share your Bednarczyk stories!

 

Here are some pictures of Al, thanks to Darin Gerchak.  The first taken at the KCKA Transmitter

on Crego Hill near Chehalis, sitting on top of their previous transmitter’s tube.

In this picture you can see Al (center) with a couple members of the Bates TV Crew, Jelson on the left and Darin on the right.   They are the lucky guys having been able to work with Al.

 

I understand a brand new Nautel 50,000 Watt AM transmitter is on its way to KIRO-AM on Vashon Island.   According to their chief, Tom Pierson, the present Main (a Nautel ND50) will be moving to the #2 spot with one of their two old Continental 316’s moving to #3.  If my information is correct, this will be the 2nd NX50 on the Island, the other being at 1090.  For those of you that attend the annual SBE Picnic’s on Vashon, you often get to tour these historic sources of radio signals.  This year, perhaps we will get to see the new KIRO rig.  What’s amazing is the reduction in size of these machines.

I very much recall the days when I would spend a lot of time removing and inserting FCC rule updates in binders.  Like a lot of things, the requirement that licensees have a copy of the rules on the shelf are over with.  Public files are gone too.  Everything is on-line these days.  The issue is that as powerful as these Internet systems are, they are still fragile.  The term ‘Backhoe Fade’ did not exist back in those days.

Every time there is a change in Administration in this country, we all wonder how it will impact the Broadcast Industry.  With a lot of new attitudes in WDC, we have already seen a lot of what has been termed ‘modernization’.  Like all things in our government, there are the ‘proposals’ of the Administration and then the wait to see what, if any, parts actually become laws.

Example – The Trump Administration recently has proposed a boat-load of new user fees to be paid by broadcaster, cable and satellite operators, etc.  The rationale is that these fees would pay the cost of the regulation that they have to adhere to.  We are not talking about pocket change here.  The proposed fees would bring to the FCC some $4 Billion over the next ten years.  [Got that?  Hold on to that thought for a moment].  Meanwhile the FCC Chairman is calling for more staff cuts…over 100 employees…all the while the new proposed budget says it will need all the existing staffing.  So what will really happen?  Anyone’s guess. The old admonition of hide and watch sounds like good advice.

Are you ready for the roll out of ATSC 3.0 or Next-Gen Television?  The new standard will be rolling out this month (March).  I have to wonder what amount of public education will be involved explaining this to consumers?  Consumers (at least older ones) are used to –

  • The All Channel Law
  • Conversion to Color
  • Conversion to HD

This time a lot of the rules are different and things have the potential to become quite a bit more complicated.  This time it’s a voluntary roll-out (Dare I say like HD Radio?).  Will the lure of 4K TV be enough to entice new buyers?  Certainly those that provide broadband services to consumers have a horse in this race too.  There are a lot of questions.  Will the other big broadcast outfits join Sinclair in their push for this new technology?  How would this impact folks like Ion that operate a huge ‘Central cast’ system?  Will the religious broadcasters like Daystar or TBN jump into this?  What about the Cable Channels like Fox or the offerings of Discovery.  Exciting times for sure.

Last Month I touched on the term that we hear all too much these days – Fake News.  If you stop and think about it, have not the grocery store check-out lines given us a steady diet of that for many years?  Seems to me that Fake News (at least the print version) has been with us for a very long time.  You do read this stuff don’t you?  Apparently they are similar.  Consumers lap it up and the only ones that complain are those that are offended.

One of the bigger radio deals to come along following the big CBS/Entercom deal is the sale of the Emmis stations in St. Louis to Hubbard and Entercom.  In the deal, both firms will pick up a pair of stations and Emmis will pocket, reportedly, 60 million.  That’s approx. 15 Million apiece for a radio station in Market 21.

Interesting to look up Market Ranks of some of the locations where this column is read –

MARKET        MEDIA MARKET        NIELSEN        TV MARKET     TV STATIONS

St Louis                       21                       21                             21                    10

Seattle                         12                       14                             14                    17

Denver                        17                        17                            18                    30

Portland                       22                        25                            22                    18

The number from this that jumps out at me is the number of TV stations in Denver – 30!  That’s the same number of stations as the #1 Market, New York City.  NYC has over 7 Million TV households while Denver has just over 1.1 Million.  Wow!

The changing media landscape upset what was a long formula used by artists, composers etc.  Now comes word that royalty payments paid by streaming firms like Apple and Spotify are going to be going up by almost 5%.  This ever-changing situation requires a program to keep track.  A little Seattle outfit called Amazon also has a horse in this race.

The Commish was busy recently in the area north of Denver shutting down a pair of pirate radio stations, both on FM.  Interestingly they both had call letters…KNED and KWHR…apparently of their own choosing.  Similar to what pirate Ham Operators do, pick out an un-used set of call letters.  Unlike Amateur Radio, probably no-one in the area bothers to look them up.  The stations stated on their Facebook page that they were under attack by the FCC.  Interesting choice of words.  In the minds of many of these types, they feel that they have the God given right to broadcast…or that the First Amendment somehow does.  Perhaps the big test here will be to see if the FCC really means it.  Historically, stations like this come back on the air while the FCC does nothing.  In other cases, they get fined and, for some reason, get away with non-payment.  The Commish is very aware of this and is trying to get additional authority to deal with the problem.  Someone with one of the groups publically stated that they just want the FCC to leave them alone.

Perhaps the FCC could do as they did with CB Radio – throw up their hands and let the mice rule?  Perhaps, in the future, a segment of the AM Broadcast Band could be set aside for un-licensed broadcasting?  It would be kind of fun to watch.

Speaking of AM – the last round of license applications for AM Translators ended up producing some 850 applications.  All in all, there has been a tremendous amount of interest by AM’s wishing to add FM, even if it meant at very low power or the use of a directional antenna.  This is all part of the FCC’s effort to ‘revitalize’ the AM band where broadcasters have seen audiences adopt FM as their primary source of radio.  As of the end of 2017 there were over 7500 Translators and Boosters licensed.

One recent issue has cropped up – the apparent FCC willingness to consider a new class of FM (C4) that would boost power of some stations to 12,000 watts.  Concern has been expressed that this could adversely impact translators and other lower powered FM operations.  It will be interesting to see how the FCC deals with that issue.

The Seattle area has been getting a lot of press of late, much of it regarding the pace of housing and rental price increases causing a huge increase in homeless etc.  One statistic that has helped Seattle be recognized as a world class city is the area’s traffic congestion.  According to INRIX, an outfit that keeps track of such things, Seattle now ranks #9 in terms of the most congested.  Tacoma (just south of Seattle) is ranked #16.  INRIX is able to put a price tag on all this congestion too – $5 Billion for Seattle and $2.4 for Tacoma.  OK, so it’s #9 in the US.  Consider that Seattle area traffic ranks #20 in the world!  You probably guessed – LA ranked #1 in both the US and World.

The fact is that people are pouring into this area and this has created a housing shortage that contributes to the rising prices (and with it, rising property taxes).  Being a homeowner (with no mortgage) puts me in a much better position than someone moving to the area or just starting out.  In the last couple of weeks I’ve received letters from firms making it clear that they want to buy my house or have buyers for it.  One of them sent along a color picture of the place with my pickup in the driveway.  They call this a sellers’ market.Top of Form

Bottom of Form

 

 

There has been a lot of buzz regarding these new smart speakers in the radio industry.  Not only can you ask it questions, you can ask it to find a radio station for you.  You’ve probably seen a TV spot for them, or perhaps a comedy U-Tube video.  There was a recent survey that turned up some interesting findings.  What was perhaps surprising is how popular they are with Country Music listeners.  Meanwhile, Country stations need to do more to develop their own skills with these new devices so they work to their advantage.

 

Getting back to Seattle Radio – The Entercom/CBS deal resulted in several ‘spin-offs’ in the Seattle market.  Among them was 1090 AM which went to iHeartMedia.  Many wondered what they would do with KFNQ.  That answer came early in February, with the company announcing that they would indeed keep the station, and do some re-branding.  If you recall, CBS aired their network Sports on the station.  Well it appears that it will continue with Sports, doing something a bit unique, calling the station 1090-KJR, airing mainly national sports/talk shows, but clearly linking it to KJR/950 (Seattle Sports Radio).  Meanwhile, down the dial to 850….KHHO is being rebranded South Sound Talk 850.  This station, which does not propagate very well into Seattle, will be a mixture of syndicated talk shows.  However, they will be airing the Tacoma Rainiers baseball games.

 

Regarding 1090 –  This station has had quite a history, going way back to the late 1920’s with call letters of KVL, KGBS, KEVR and, of course, KING-AM, operating on a number of different frequencies over the years, 1321 (yes an odd number) 1480, 1370, 1100 etc.  They started with only 100 watts and now operate with 50,000, using 2 different directional patterns.  One interesting fact is, at one time they operated on a share-time basis with KRKO in Everett.

Another  takeaway from all this is the fact that iHM has elected to stay with their 3 AM’s.  In this day and age of declining AM listeners, no-one would have been surprised if they had elected to sell the station rather than operate it.  Of course, with all the financial issues facing the company, who knows how long 1090 will remain ‘1090-KJR”?

I love to see old magazine ads about broadcasting.  Here’s a jewel about Television, using expressions you would not see today.  Note the round picture tube on the left, a far cry from today’s 16×9.

 

 

Apparently not everyone got the memo explaining that international broadcasting was dead.  It was recently announced that Christian Broadcaster, TWR Bonaire just put on line a new Nautel NX400 AM transmitter that produces 450,000 Watts!  They are saying that it’s the largest (perhaps most powerful) AM Transmitter in the Western Hemisphere.  Kintronic Labs supplied the phasing equipment that connects the new transmitter to the station’s tower.

 

Oh yes….This is not shortwave broadcasting …They are operating on 800 KHz.  Target audience for the station are listeners in Venezuela, Brazil, Columbia and Cuba.  For more information, you can check out their web site – http://www.twrbonaire.com/

The new One World Trade Center building in NYC is taking shape as a broadcast transmitting facility.  Five of the new stations there will be using Rohde and Schwarz transmitters which, according to the maker, are the largest solid state digital transmitters in the world.  The new structure, some 1776 feet of it, replaces the twin towers that were destroyed in 2011.

 

I recently had an opportunity to play show and tell at one of ATC’s facilities on Cougar Mountain, where I explained to several from the FAA how we combine and filter FM transmitters.  This picture shows a portion of the big Shively Combiner at the site.  That’s me in the white baseball cap.

 

Hey Chuck Morris, are you reading this?  We have yet another call letter change in Seattle Radio.  In this case, KVRQ has become KNUC.  Something that perhaps you don’t know is that often radio station call letters are used for other things.  Just Google KNUC and you will see what I mean.

 

The picture below is of KNUC.  In this case, this is the FAA designator for the US Navy landing field on San Clemente Island off the coast of California.  It’s been owned by the Navy since 1937.

Now to be honest, when I first saw the letters KNUC – I thought of how you would pronounce it.

KaNuck J After all, we have a number of ‘pronounceable’ call letters in this area – (KIRO, KOMO etc.)  That got me thinking about Hockey and the Vancouver Canucks.

 

 

 

Just to be fair – I Googled KSWD, the new call letters for Seattle’s 94.1.  No FAA designation popped up …However some interesting tid-bits worth sharing:

 

Entercom calls KSWD ‘The Sound’.  This requires the use of the ‘Radio broadcaster’s magic dictionary’…(Stay with me now)… – K  So Wn D – From the letters SWD we get the word Sound….Got it?  Can’t be any greater stretch than pronouncing KMPS – Compass.  Of course we now have KNKX…which the ‘magic dictionary’ says is pronounced ‘Connects’.

 

Meanwhile – the call KSWD was moved from LA where it too was used by Entercom and pronounced ‘The Sound’.  Entercom clearly liked KMPS, for they moved that to Sacramento where it replaced KRAK (I’m going to leave that one alone).

 

Looking at 94.1 – I see it went on the air in 1961 as KOL-FM.  At that time the station was running a 1 kW Gates transmitter into a big antenna hanging on that huge KOL tower on Harbor Island.  Later they increased power at that location.  Then it was moved to Cougar Mt.  In 1975 it became ‘Cute’ or KEUT…then in 1978 the call was change to KMPS for (Manning P Slater).  In 1988 it was moved from Cougar to West Tiger along with 3 other stations, becoming the first use of a multi-station combiner in the area.  A few years ago it was moved to the new ATC site on West Tiger where it remains today.  Even though the call letters are now KSWD, they continue to call their HD2 – Classic KMPS.  More on that below…..

 

With the battle cry of – ‘PAY ME FIRST’  the various creditors of heavily in debt Cumulus are trying to figure out how to best deal with it.  Reading about this is head-bending.  Secured vs. unsecured creditors etc.  According to some reports, Cumulus owes Broadcasters General Store just under $1,000,000.  One has to wonder why they did not have their credit line turned off a while ago.  Cumulus is underway using Chapter 11.  As is the case with situations like this – many will only receive a portion of what they are out, while others will get nothing.  The true winners – the lawyers that are crafting all the language, who get well over $1000 per hour, will be, reportedly making millions.  Apparently, the process is supposed to end up with the firm having a Billion Dollars less debt (but still not debt free).  We have a few more months to go to see how this pans out.

 

Oh yes – as if they did not have enough bad news – Cumulus was recently slapped with a $58,000 fine by the FCC for some public file violations.

 

A number of comments have been made regarding the FCC’s apparent move to allow 100% control of a broadcast station by a foreign entity.  In this case, the Commish has granted a petition by a pair of Australian citizens involving stations in Alaska and Texas.  They have permitted less than 50% in this past,  This could just be a start.  Apparently there is a small FM station in New York State that has a buyer that would keep the station from going dark.  However the buyers are not US citizens.

How about we look back a bit with this one –

Reflecting on how things have changed –

  • Back then Shafer was a big name in Radio automation systems.
  • Note the terminal the girl is operating – Black and White display, obviously a big box to house that CRT.
  • This model was computer based permitting things that previously were impossible.
  • Back then Commercial announcements were all on Tape Cartridges. To handle that chore were three Shafter Audiofile multi-cart systems.
  • Likely the station’s music was being played on those ITC Model 750 Reel to Reel machines.
  • Logging was done with a dot-matrix printer.
  • Walk-away time was limited to the amount of music those reel-to-reel machines could hold or the number of commercials the Cartridge Players could handle.

Think how much of this has changed.  Now computers play the announcements from hard-drives.  Broadcast schedules still have to be entered, however.  Likely the station’s music library is all on a hard drive as well and is managed by yet another computer.  Today a radio station will be operating from a computer based system most of the time and certainly all weekend…With no one in the building.

Looking for a job in Oregon?  Here is the message I received about it – OPB  is hiring for their Bend Oregon operation.  Details below:

 Network Support Technician

 

OPB is looking for a Network Support Technician (to be based in Bend, OR) passionate about technology to join an expanding team supporting OPB’s content creation and distribution. This non-exempt regular status represented position is full-time and includes benefits.

 

 Jonathan Newsome | Director of Engineering

OPB | 7140 SW Macadam Avenue | Portland, OR 97219 | (503) 293-1952

 

 

Last month I ran a picture of a circuit board  with a strange component.  The question was answered by Mike Graves of KIRO-TV.

 

It’s a ZERO OHM resistor, of course! Why do such a silly thing?  Sometimes circuit boards are designed to have different components stuffed depending on what model/features are required of it.  A hand built board might have a piece of jumper wire added.  Automatic component insertion machines can’t install bare wire so the solution is to have a zero ohm resistor.

 

Contributor Mike Brooks at KING-FM has another one this month –

What’s wrong with this picture?

 

Here’s another one that I caught on my vehicle radio recently.  A good example of mixed messages.  (Excuse the glare, but I was in a hurry to get this before it went away.)  I sent this onto Matt Green at Entercom who informed me that they corrected the problem.   Call letters are, these days, hidden in strange places.

On this topic – If you have a funny or picture of something a bit unusual …Please send them to me.  Would love to share.

A familiar name to many in this industry – Belden, long time maker of wire and cable, has been buying things related to broadcasting.  Most recently they purchased Snell Advanced Media which will become part of Grass Valley which became part of Belden a couple of years ago.

In my many years in this industry I have encountered a variety of people – Some are afraid of change, while others view change as a vehicle for advancement.  Some I’ve worked with will burn 1,000 calories trying to get out of a 100 calorie job.  Some will find a zillion reasons why something cannot be done, while another will accept the challenge and be quick to tackle and resolve the issue.  I was reminded of some of these experiences recently when I read a comment  made by long time Califormia-based broadcaster Bill Ruck regarding why some issues with EAS could not be quickly resolved.  I asked Bill if I could use this in my column.  He said yes – I wanted to share it with you.  Very applicable to many situations.

 

 

 

So why can’t this be done now?

 

In U.S. Navy boot camp I learned the difference between a “reason” and an “excuse”.  Being kinda thick it took more than one instance of my Company Commander screaming into my face “That’s an excuse.  Now give me the reason” before I recognized the difference.  Hint: In that environment there is no “reason”, just “excuses”.  So far all I have heard about why this can’t be done falls into the category of “excuse”.

 

Bill Ruck

Curmudgeon

San Francisco

 

Many of us are faced with challenges – perhaps we need to ask ourselves and/or the people we are dealing with whether or not we are dealing with a ‘Reason’ or and ‘Excuse’?

 

Another picture to share with you.  This was taken just north of Depoe Bay on the Oregon Coast (one of my favorites places in the world) …Yes, it was January!

One more thing – The annual trek to the Puyallup Electronic Flea Market is on Saturday, March 10th.  A bunch of us traditionally gather at Odd Fellas Pub in Auburn about 7:30 for breakfast and conversation, and then make our way to the day’s event.  Hard to believe that this is the 37th year.  Hope you can join us.

With that, it’s a wrap on this edition of my little contribution.

May the snow go away and warm spring breezes fill your life as well, look forward to longer days and the glory of summer in the Pacific Northwest.

‘Til, Lord willing, next month –

Clay Freinwald, K7CR, CPBE

 

The KE0VH Hamshack for March 2018

 

From my great friend and fellow EMF Engineer Shane Toven KØSDT, he leads off the March edition with this:

Item 1: Portable Allstar node using a 7” LCD touchscreen (and matching case) for the Raspberry Pi along with a small wireless keypad for control. This setup allows manual operation without a node radio using a standard USB audio interface and headset. The display and keypad are also handy for troubleshooting. The Pi, case, LCD, headset, and audio interface were all sourced locally from MicroCenter. I used the latest Allstar node image for the Raspberry Pi posted at hamvoip.org, which made it really easy to get started. Oddly, the display needed to be flipped 180 degrees. The appropriate Linux magic was simply adding the line lcd_rotate=2 to /boot/config.txt.

I also purchased a USB Radio Interface (URI) from DMK Engineering (http://www.dmkeng.com/Products.htm) and plan to press one of my handhelds into service as a node radio. The next challenge will be finding a good way to power it from my truck in a mobile environment without introducing electrical noise. At some point in the future I will look at ways to permanently integrate a node into my truck.

Item 2: Super simple APRS tracker using a Raspberry Pi, GPS “hat”, and Baofeng handheld. This project is a fun one and requires minimal work—no special TNC and radio cable or modifications required! The Baofeng is set with both VFOs tuned to 144.390 and VOX enabled. A simple 3.5mm audio cable is connected from the headphone jack on the Pi to the microphone connector on the Baofeng. Once the GPS is locked, the Pi begins playing properly formatted APRS beacon packets from its headphone jack, which triggers VOX on the Baofeng for transmission! Is it perfect? No—but it works surprisingly well! I used the “Ultimate GPS Pi HAT” from Adafruit, but any GPS (USB or serial) which will output NMEA compatible data should work just fine. This makes for a very compact all-in-one solution (just add radio). Since this particular GPS uses the Pi’s onboard serial port (which is initially configured for terminal access) it required a few small tweaks to disable that feature, but I’ve found it to be rock solid. An onboard battery maintains the last known position and real-time clock to avoid the full 30 minute “cold start” acquisition. There is a connector for an external antenna, but I have found the internal “patch” antenna to be more than sufficient in most cases. That said, you may want to attach an external antenna or place the unit outdoors in a clear area to obtain the initial fix. A bright red LED on the board clearly indicates the status of position fix. As a bonus, breadboard space is provided for additional modifications and experimentation. While there isn’t a pre-built “image” for this setup (yet) most of my information was drawn from here:

http://midnightcheese.com/2015/12/super-simple-aprs-position-beacon/

Information on the Adafruit “Ultimate GPS Pi HAT” can be found here:

https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-ultimate-gps-hat-for-raspberry-pi/

Ultimate GPS Pi HAT

Lately Kenny K4KR and I have been talking a lot on the DMR Brandmeister link from the Chattanooga Tennessee area to the WØTX Brandmeister DMR repeater locally here in the Denver area.  It is a great system when you are in good range of the repeater, but digitally glitches or is not there at all if you don’t have a good signal into it.  The digital audio when the signal is strong though is really amazing.

From Harold, W6IWI who lives just a little north of me, he and I both experience high levels of noise making 40 meters and 75/80 very hard if not impossible to hear stations on HF.  I encourage you to check out his information and links on his website: http://www.hallikainen.org/org/w6iwi/   And here is a direct link to the form from the ARRL on reporting noise and getting it mitigated.  https://fs26.formsite.com/mbdHCx/form2/index.html?

Setting up my 3.5 inch screen on my Pi3

Another project for the month was setting up a display for the Raspberry Pi 3, which in the next evolution I will use on my portable AllStar Node instead of having to use a program called Terminus on my IPad to communicate and control the node.  There is a great video on YouTube that I used to install the program on the Pi and get it running.  I will work on the next version soon.  In the instructions in the video I had to change one line from his instructions and you will see where this is if you go thru the setup.  That line is: “sudo bash LCD35-show”.  You will see where this is and if you have any questions let me know.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVK9MpPzK44

Here is the Pi 3 Display showing APRS.fi tracking KØSDT-1 (Shane) in Montana

 

Here is my latest find!  Partially due again to Shane

KØSDT

The Pira CZ P275  FM Modulation analyzer

 

This portable Modulation analyzer does a great many things including RDS monitoring and that is very handy to have in such a small package.  In analyzes all aspects of the modulation of a FM radio signal.  Read about its capabilities here at: http://pira.cz/shop/  This company also manufactures RDS Encoders.  There is free software such as our guy in Rocklin, Dave is looking at in the picture below that’s really extends the versatility of these units.  I actually own an older model and use it to look at our signals when I am at one of my sites.  These are re-motable as well via serial USB, and can be set with alarms to let you know when an issue crops up if you leave one setup at a site.  The price is really reasonable as well, and the only drawback though is you have to order them from Czechoslovakia and it takes about 3 months to get here, and so if would follow that any tech support would be an issue.   I certainly hope that maybe they become more available to the US market thru local distribution.

My buddy David Leishman back in the EMF Shop in Rocklin l looking at the Pira CZ software interface

Cris Alexander W4WCA Flight Simulator setup

As I included in last month’s article I have been “flying” a lot and learning how to navigate and use ILS to land aircraft in Flight Simulator X.  With getting into flying drones and getting my part 107 certificate to commercially fly them I really want to learn all I can about piloting AND have fun.  I even had the chance to go flying with Cris Alexander W5WCA in a Piper Cherokee Arrow III one day as he took us on a flight from Centennial airport in south Denver out to the south east to the little town of Limon’s airport, did a touch and go, then flew back to Centennial.  It was great to see Cris in action (a video will be coming soon) and fly with him.  I have been flying from (in FSX) all over the country with a 737-800 as seen in my previous video’s (see them on YouTube at KE0VHJackTV) landing so far in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Nashville as of this writing.  Flight dynamics, weather, air traffic control, all are very realistic and you can download scenery that really looks great and like the area you are interested in.

Cris with the Piper Arrow III we flew in at Centennial Airport

Cris and I talk just about every weekday on the 449.450 repeater locally here in Denver and just about all we talk about anymore is flying.

Using FSX Software, watch what a Southwest pilot would do during pre-flight and pushback from the gate then a whole flight from San Diego to Phoenix.  This is really interesting!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8j09rUsQzk

One of the cool things about the Microsoft Flight Simulators is the ability to get online and fly with other people, both those that fly and those that want to be air traffic controllers and the whole bit.  So one night Jeremy N6JER, (“norcalengineer” Flight Sim screen name) and I joined up on the FSX servers and “flew” together over southern California.  In the picture below Jeremy is flying his Beech Baron over the LA area on the way to KSNA (John Wayne) airport & I am flying the aircraft of his right wing at 2 o’clock labeled “KE0VH” of course!

I am still learning how to take pictures in the Steam version of FSX, so the below are just with my IPhone camera pointed at the monitor.

I am flying the plane in the foreground in this shot, Jeremy at 4 o’clock off my right wing.

This one is out my right passenger window, seeing Jeremy’s plane!  OK, I am HOOKED on this. 

As far as being a real pilot like Cris, this is as close as I will probably ever get, unless when flying sometime the pilot becomes incapacitated, and they yell “is there anyone who can fly the plane”?  Well, even then I am not so sure, but at least I will understand it.  LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Hey I can regularly routinely land my FSX 737-800 so…..

Speaking of flying though, at least I AM a FCC Certified UAS Pilot!  So I can call myself one anyway!  Here are some pics from flying the Phantom 3 at one of our sites last month!  It was a very windy day, so it was good practice as well as getting some pictures I needed.  The tower was about 330 feet or so AGL, and it allowed me to really test my current skills and learn how the drone behaved.  My handheld anemometer said that the wind was in the 20-25 MPH range, the drones top speed is in the 35 MPH range, so it was able to hold its own in the wind, but the tilt at which it was operating was pronounced but these DJI machines are really able to hold position well in the wind.  They are satellite and GPS navigated so they are really very smart and stable camera platforms to be able to take the look at our towers and antenna’s without having to risk a tower crew.  Below is a drone “selfie”!

 

The view of the whole site looking NE from the Phantom at about 250 feet!

And at 350 feet, the top of the tower.  Notice the drone arm upper right.  The Phantom here was tilted into the wind holding position.  It wasn’t moving in this picture!

BTW, my buddy Lee NØVRD sent this picture to me of a lamp created out of tower side lamps.  Great idea, wonder if wives would think it matches a room……… Well great idea anyway!

As a top 40 jock from way back, (glad I got that out of my system!) I LOVED using Cart machines.  See this great article in RadioWorld about how the cart machine made the Top 40 format possible at:

https://www.radioworld.com/tech-and-gear/be-cart-machines-the-first-and-the-last

AND YES, something HAM RADIO!  Have you tried using the WebSDR yet?  This on web HF receiver can really help you to hear some stations that you might just have in the noise at home.  Really awesome tech!  Check it out and listen in maybe even to your own signal at: http://websdr.org/

Here are the links to my article archives

 

 

                                                                 TWO YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/03/

THREE YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/03/

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

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

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at 

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

 I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits! 

The KE0VH Hamshack for February 2018

 

 

 

Greetings, Happy February

Lots of pictures to show you this month. So let’s get started!  BE SURE to see the last story though!  It is a real kicker!

 

OK!  I did it!  Last of January I passed the Part 107 Remote UAG Pilots Exam!  I am really excited at this accomplishment and look forward to operating both my and the company’s DJI Phantom 3’s for fun and for work.  Thanks to Sam and Jeremy for the help and encouragement in getting this certificate.  There are a great many study materials available on Amazon.com and the apps on the I-stuff.

There are a lot of rules pertaining to flying drones both as a recreational hobbyist and for commercial use such as inspecting towers and other tall structures, real estate, etc.  A lot of people for instance on YouTube are posting videos that are just downright dangerous and even reckless without understanding and adhering to the FAA rules about airspace and safe operation.  And of course in todays world there are apps that you can have on your phone to assist you in know where you are in the National Airspace, altitudes to safely (and legally fly up to) operate your drone.  See the FAA’s “B4UFLY”.  For instance there is a drone ceiling rule of no higher than 400 feet above ground level, unless flying within a 400 foot radius of a structure, then NO higher than 400 feet above the highest point of that structure.  You must notify airports and heliports of your flight if within 5 miles of said facilitiy.  NO flying over people unless they are inside a structure or automobile unless they are part of “your crew”.  VLOS, which means “Visual Line of Site”.  You must be able to see your drone with the naked eye, no binoculars for primary visual tracking, etc.  So on an so forth.  Even with a lightweight drone.  So before you fly, do know what you are doing!  I recommend 2 study guides that I used, check this link to amazon:

https://smile.amazon.com/Remote-Pilot-Test-Prep-2018/dp/1619545594/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517499493&sr=8-1&keywords=remote+pilot+study+guide

“TestPrep” is only around $14, and INCLUDES 5 online (very accurate) practice tests.  The other app on my Ipad I used is called “FlighReady”. It costs around $24.  But with these I was ready to go.

After passing the test at an FAA facility here in Denver at Centennial Airport (registration is fairly simple but can be confusing), you must then apply for the license via the IACRA FAA website.  That again took a little understanding from the FAA “helpdesk”.  I have the official directions on what to do so email me if you would like a copy.

!  Check out this video of a 737 flight simulator that a guy in Britain built in his outside garage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FV8PMwbGh08

And this inside a garage!  Pretty amazing!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5BmA3ejyHY

 

Near Denver, a 1000 foot tower demolition:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9mE0Z9_G3U&feature=youtu.be

 

I made a ham radio shack video a few years back, you can see an old version of “The KEØVH Hamshack” in this video on YouTube from 2008!  See it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHhLYk7BiSU at about the 3:05 point in the video.  Everything there is long changed out except the D-104, the code key and headphones, and the Heil mic!

Here is the KEØVH AllStar Node 46020 in the Lakewood office.  Keeping in touch with hams across the country directly via the simplex repeater here.  Holler at me sometime via the node.  Shane KØSDT has a node up and operating soon.  We continue to grow this system and as you can see here it is connected to the Sky System hub node 46079 which in turn is connected to several other nodes, including the N6JER system in Rocklin CA.  If you have any questions or need some help setting up your own node let us know.  You can use an older computer or a Raspberry Pi and downloadable images to get started on your node.

And here is Skyler Fennell KDØWHB , our AllStar guru and EMF Contractor talking to the NOC and calibrating one of our stations in Colorado.  Skyler is a great help for all things AllStar, and runs several nodes including the KC5ORO Socorro New Mexico node where he is a student at the university there.

I found a buyer for the 1954 Admiral TV that I have had for a few years that came from Glenn, WNØEHE for myself and Greg WB7AHO to restore.  Greg did a great job in replacing tubes, capacitors, and doing alignment procedures to get the set operating and fully functional again.  The TV now has a home outside of Phoenix in a home that is dedicated to all things 50’s!  No kidding.  The new owners were so excited to find this set and I am really glad that it will actually be used (I sent an HD converter box with it) at its new home.  Will post pictures of it in its new home when they send them.

Greg doing some final tune-up and adjustments on the Admiral

During our 2018 Engineering Summit at K-LOVE HQ in Rocklin, we had the opportunity to go to classes for various pieces of equipment we use and great follow up information and updates for our technical resources.  Steve Wilde, who is our transmitter and antenna expert, and who is in great demand around the country for high power transmission operations was on hand to teach a class or two on using the Field Fox Cable/Network/Spectrum analyzer.  Very informative and educational from essentially the ground up on the extremely useful and portable tool.  Thanks Steve!

Basic Field Fox Op’s

High power transmitter operations, tuning, and troubleshooting the PA circuits

I love watching some the shows on Netflix especially when you spot radio gear in the scenes.  Here are some more great pictures of gear used in the programs.  These are from the show “The Crown”.  Note the microphone the Queen, played by actress Claire Foy is using at an address being given in one of the scenes:

You know this one, an Astatic D-104 in a suspension mount.

From the series “Stanger Things” on Netflix, a Heathkit (I believe a DX-60 Phone & CW transmitter)

A Heathkit speaker/PS, the DX-60, an HG-10 VFO for the transmitter, an HW-16 CW Transceiver,  and a GE Desk mic

Unsure of course why they teamed up a transmitter and transceiver, other than to just look cool!  J

By the way here are some more pictures from our engineering summit.  Here is my portable AllStar link that using my hotspot in my cell phone, I was connecting to the WØGV repeater in Denver where I talked to Jim KCØRPS, Gerry WØGV, Matt KEØLNU, and connecting into the KC5ORO AllStar repeater in Socorro NM had a nice chat with Skyler KDØWHB.  The system worked well, and Shane KØSDT had his portable link in his hotel room across the hallway checking it out, and of course I had to help him test it!

The Baofeng UV-5R handheld that is my general carry around HT, and the portable AllStar Raspberry Pi3 and Yaesu FT-170 that is my 2 meter “node” radio.

 

By the way, here is “professor” Shane KØSDT, teaching a class on our remote control system at HQ during our engineering summit!

And also from HQ, a Pano picture of the engineering “museum” of old network equipment:

Split into two pictures, note the Sparta Mixer on the right and the tower section top picture.  YES, it LIGHTS UP!

 

I just HAD to share this with you.  EMF Engineer Mike McGregor had to come up with an absolutely outstanding solution to come up with an answer to a perplexing problem experienced recently with the installation of a used transmitter building enclosure at a site in his area.  The building was bought used and had no tubular framework or supports on the lower side of the building for the crane lines to go thru after the building was lowered into place.  The lines from the crane supporting the building are very expensive, and the crane operator didn’t want them damaged or destroyed as the cost would have been enormous.  But when they lifted the building over the foundation to set it down, there was NO WAY to remove the lines.  This presented quite the dilemma!  What to do about this?

The building being lifted off the transport.  Note the lines on the flat building bottom!

Uh OH! There’s the problem!

Well, you can remove one cable, but not the second one.  2×4 isn’t the answer, hmmmm…..

So Mike and his crew came up with an ingenious answer, apparently hearing that ICE would be usable in bags and when it melts would of course since the building was in place on one side, would then lower the building into place.  SO, Mike and his crew went and bought bags of ice, and here you go!

A couple of hours later:

Cable is removable now!

Going DOWN!

LOOK AT THAT!  PERFECT!

 

SUPER KUDO’s to Mike and his crew!  What do you bet that could be used again?

The FINAL setup, in place perfectly and ready for equipment!

 

A new service from our favorite airline? J

 

 

 

 

ONE YEAR AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/02/

TWO YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/02/

THREE YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/02/

I will be adding more to my website archives here soon.

AND

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

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

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to

Join are at http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html. I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits!  73’ es God Be With You!

The KE0VH Hamshack for January 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

FROM Colorado Public Radio

http://www.cpr.org/news/story/this-radio-station-helps-colorado-seniors-dial-back-the-years

Thanks to Jim, KCØRPS for this link.  A senior living radio station at a facility here in Denver!  What an absolutely wonderful idea!

 

Well I am getting on studying for the FAA Part 107 Drone Pilots license.  Back in December I ordered the “2018 Remote Pilot Test Prep 2018: Study & Prepare: Pass your test and know what is essential to safely operate an unmanned aircraft” from Amazon.  At only $13 it is quite a buy and easily available.  To fly a drone commercially you must have a FAA Part 107 certificate.  At EMF several of us field engineers are prepping for this so that we can fly aerial missions around towers and sites to help find problems with towers and antenna’s, and to survey sites and the like.  This is really fun and to that end I am even buying my own DJI Phantom drone.  More on that next month!  I can’t wait to post some of my own video and pictures here in “The Hamshack”.  If you want to take a look at the book with all supplements supplied Plus 5 FREE online practice tests you can go to:   https://smile.amazon.com/Remote-Pilot-Test-Prep-2018/dp/1619545594/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1514918117&sr=8-2&keywords=2018+pilot

 

Yours truly (under the direction of Remote Pilot in Command) Jeremy, N6JER near Roseville CA, getting the DJI Phantom 3 ready for flight and just after takeoff in a hover

The Colorado State EAS plan has long been in need of an update, and with so many stations changing call signs, frequencies, new stations coming on there are a lot of discrepancies in monitoring assignment and is quite confusing these days.  According to CBA president Justin Sasso, “In 2018, the CBA will call on broadcast engineers, in each region, to submit changes and edits to their Local Area Plan.  The CBA will start by addressing one plan at a time and edits will be made based on the input we receive from broadcasters within that area plan.  Once the edits are complete they will be submitted to the FCC for approval.  Upon FCC approval, we will update that plan online.  Unfortunately, parts of the State Plan are made up of older documents that may require hand transcription, so we can edit the plan moving forward.  While we’re calling on broadcasters to update their area plans, the CBA will begin the process of converting each plan into an editable document, so future changes can be made with greater ease.  While the State Plan outlines other emergency contacts and information, the CBA’s initial goal will be to update the broadcast portions of the Local Area Plans first.  Other areas can be addressed at a later date, once this initial clean up attempt is complete.  We look forward to getting this task underway and appreciate the cooperation of Colorado’s broadcast community in advance.”

We will be having a local Denver SBE Chapter meeting on this, probably in February, I will announce that via an email to our SBE NET email list, and you can watch for it at: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/ Please, if you can attend this in Colorado “about EAS” meeting we would really appreciate it. 

 

More information on EAS requirements and information can be found at:

https://www.fcc.gov/public-safety-and-homeland-security/policy-and-licensing-division/alerting/general/state-eas-plans

Check this out when you can!  ME landing a 737-800 at Portland Oregon International airport!  (In Flight Simulator X!)  The only way I will ever get to fly one of these!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUhUjWo1ipI&feature=em-share_video_user

The “Hamshack” in Flight Sim mode.  Note the GPS on the small right hand screen and the airport info on the left screen

The table below (Thanks Jim KCØRPS) was produced by a free web site: www.tvfool.com , a very powerful web site that uses the FCC and USGS databases and the Longley Rice algorithm to predict all television stations that can be received at a specific address and the quality of that signal based on the appropriate VHF/UHF antenna at the viewer’s home.  The nature of digital is it is perfect or it is not so let me help explain the numbers for your home:

  • The real channel column is the physical channel our signal is transmitted on.
  • Virt is the virtual channel you select by remote and displayed on your screen. Channel 4.1 is actually transmitted on channel 35.  The significant issue is that channels 2-6 do not work in digital and those channels were relocated to the UHF spectrum; channels 7 & 9 returned to their original high VHF assignments; therefore you must have a VHF/UHF antenna to receive all local signals.
  • Looking at the table below the NM column is the power in decibels over noise; this is a logarithmic function where an increase of 3 dB equates to double the power delivered to the TV.  For your TV to decode a digital signal you must have an NM number higher than 14 dB; we are at 0.8 dB; not a receivable signal.
  • The next column Path where having LOS (line of sight) is optimum for receiving our signal.  1 Edge is relating to single edge diffraction and 2 Edge is a multiple edge diffraction both causing significant obstacles to receiving an adequate signal.  (see graphs further below)
  • You can look at your data for your location at: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3d513442bbba0129

 

Take a look at this, really COOL!  Live Weather: www.ventusky.com/ this site shows so much more than a standard weather map.  All kinds of weather data, including clouds, wind speeds, air pressure, snow cover, etc.  REALLY USEFUL!

From our VP of Engineering Sam KG6BZU during this winter season:

Be careful out there… take and use layering to keep your core temp up

 

https://insidetowers.com/cell-tower-news-cold-stress-winters-big-safety-issue/

 

And check this out:

 

From “In Radio Tech” of the October 2017 AES meeting at the World Trade Center in New York City.  Details of the TV transmission line and master VHF and UHF antenna installation at WTC.  Although this is not FM this is still well worth seeing.  Note there is some fluff to fast forward through.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPD0b5BMemA

Did you hear about this?  Elenos has bought out B.E!

http://www.radiomagonline.com/industry/0003/elenos-buys-be/39463

The SUPREME Engineering vehicle (thanks Shane KØSDT): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTJUMOzx_zE&sns=em

Protecting Aircraft from Lasers: https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/protecting-aircraft-from-lasers there is a couple of very compelling video clips on this page.  Pass it along so we can educate folks!

 

Here is a video tutorial on how to set up your own AllStar node at home.  Here is a great video how to from Skyler, KDØWHB on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJa0Rsj3ZyY

 

I also have a node template I can send you if you want an example with just a few changes.  I would be glad to help in this in any way I could.  And in the last August “The KEØVH Hamshack” article you can find details on my hardware and setup for a portable AllStar node.  See it at http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201708Aug.pdf

 

AND, to have a backup generator on site, good idea or not?  Read about it here:  http://www.radioworld.com/article/standby-power-basic-equipment-or-boondoggle/222769/  Now, I think that having these available are a CAPITOL idea!  LOL!  (Funds for sure!) But we need to stay on the air, so when you can, it is definitely the way to go!  Interesting reading at the above site.

 

 

 

ONE YEAR AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/01/

TWO YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/01/

THREE YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/01/

I will be adding more to my website archives here soon.

 

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

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

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to

Join are at http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html. I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits!  73’ es God Be With You!

Clay’s Corner for January 2018

Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

 

Can you believe it!…..Seattle actually had a White Christmas.  For those of you in other parts of the world, you may think what’s special about that?  Consider –

  • The National Weather service places the odds of having one at 7 percent.
  • The last White Christmas Seattle had was 9 years ago.
  • Before that it occurred in 1926.
  • It’s the 7th time in recorded history.
  • 3 times in 100 Years!….Those are long odds.

This is what it looked like looking out my back window on Christmas Morning:

For those that love snow – It was great to see it on Christmas.
For those that hate snow – We only got a few inches.
For those that need a comparison to put things into perspective – Erie, PA got 34 inches..all on Christmas Day.
Our neighbor to the South, Portland, Oregon received a white one too – It was the 6th time they’ve had a White Christmas since 1884.

At West Tiger, 3000 feet above Seattle, your chances of a White Christmas are significantly better.  I took this on December 4th, standing on the porch of the transmitter building.

If any of you wonder why I prefer to travel to West Tiger mountain, the beauty in the above picture will help explain things.  Yes, I know, most of you would rather be stuck in traffic on a freeway with a great view of the back of a big smelly truck.

Speaking of being stuck in traffic, the major rail accident near DuPont certainly created a mess in this area.  I-5 in this location, is what engineers call a SPOF – or single point of failure.  Lose that piece of highway and you have a mess.  Could not help but notice how four of the local TV operations were all over this one with great coverage.  Several radio operations did a great job also.  What was really obvious is the fact that many (apparently) don’t pay attention to broadcast outlets providing traffic information as underscored by the fact that there were often 5 mile backup’s on SB I-5.  What were these folks doing that would cause them to sit in a 5 mile backup just to be turned around?  My guess is that their car radios were either turned off, or they were listening to radio stations that could care less about broadcasting traffic information. (That could include Satellite Radio)   Wonder if anyone will study this aspect?…..Probably not.

A recent survey showed that 73% of Americans subscribe to Netflix…and that’s the same percentage that subscribe to Pay TV.  Guess that explains a lot!  No wonder Comcast is pushing their broadband business.  I presume that that segment is more than making up for the lack of TV customers?

Well Entercom made their first move by switching Country KMPS to Christmas Music…Then on the morning of December 4th they made their 2nd format move switching 94.1 to a new soft AC format and re-branding the station ‘The Sound’.  Now sporting the call letters KSWD.  Meanwhile, over in Bellevue….Moments after 94.1 switched from Christmas to AC, Hubbard switched their 98.9 to Country.  Its pretty obvious what took place there – 1) Hubbard gambled that Entercom would not keep 2 country format stations in the same market and, in the couple of weeks that 94.1 played Christmas, readied their country format – just in case.  Or  2) Some at Hubbard knew what Entercom was going to do ahead of time.  Normally format changes are closely held secrets, perhaps not this time?

The part that few thought would happen was Entercom throwing away 94.1’s many years of being the country place in Seattle and keeping their own country station (100.7) that was behind in the numbers race.  History shows that something similar took place years ago when the owners of KMPS purchased another station in town that was playing country music.  In that case, the new owners made their former competitor go away.  Now 100.7 will be the senior country station (they’ve been at it a while) and 98.9 will have to play catchup.  Certainly the next ratings numbers will be interesting.   On the technical side, the transmitters for 94.1 and 98.9 are a few feet away from each other and they both transmit thru the same antenna.

It was interesting looking at my radio the Monday morning when all this was going on.  As in most of these cases, engineers are kept ‘out of the know’.  As a result, some of the textual information was a bit behind the changes.  Entercom was calling themselves ‘The Sound’ but the art-work (for a while) still showed the red and blue KMPS Guitar.  98.9 suffered the same problem – as you can see from this shot of my radio – (excuse the lint on my radio’s display).  Here we see that 98.9 is ‘Everything that Rocks’ and ‘New Country’…hmmm?

           R I P

There’s a whole lot of movement going on in the Seattle-Tacoma area, but we’re not talking about earthquakes…It’s radio programming…Going to take a while for all of the dust to settle.

Another ownership change is in the works, this time to 103.3/KMCQ, the FM licensed to Oak Harbor.   The new owner will be Busto’s Media who operates 99.3/KDDS and 1210/KMIA.   This will likely mean that Country Music fans will have to deal with another change as the station is certain to be changing to a Latino format of some kind…No word on the fate of the call letters.   Interesting that the call KMCQ came to the Seattle area with the move of the station from Oregon that later became KLSW.  Bustos has been busy of late with CP’s recently being granted for new FM operations in Portland, San Jose, Houston and Ephrata.

Another new FM in the area will be in Puyallup on 94.5 Licensed to Jean Suh who operates the Korean language operation on 1450 AM there as well as 1230 in Everett.  This will be the second FM in the area on that frequency that used to be pretty much exclusively KRXY a Class A operation in Shelton.  The other is the KTTH(AM) translator on Cougar Mt near Bellevue.

A whole lot of press being given the recent FCC decision to repeal the 2015 rules commonly called Net Neutrality.   Here, Washington State, is apparently going to take the matter to court once again proving that the real winners will be the lawyers.

Question for you  – What Pacific Northwest City has more breweries than any other city in the world?     If you guessed Portland, Oregon you’d be right!

From the ‘Quoting someone else department’

“My dad used to say that every time history repeats itself, the price goes up….”

 

Gil Gillivan

For those of you that don’t get to visit Tiger Mountain, I should explain that there are 6 summits in the Tiger Mountain State Forest.  Three of them have electronic equipment on them.  In this view we are traveling from West to East looking at East Tiger Mountain, the highest of them all.  There are no broadcast stations on this Tiger…just lots of Microwave and other electronic communications equipment.  The big tower on the top also belongs to ATC.

Apparently the temptation to operate a radio station with too much power is not limited to commercial operations.  I’ve been reading about a number of instances where an LPFM is operating with excessive power.  Pretty easy to buy a transmitter for any power level your budget will permit and just – turn ‘er up.  Perhaps the lack of routine/surprise inspections by the FCC contributes to this problem?  Licensed full power stations that could be impacted by this practice would be wise to keep an eye on these kinds of issues to protect themselves.

On the topic of FCC Violations – the Commish has sent a letter to the operator of an AM station in Carthage, Illinois, telling him to turn it off because he does not have a license.  In this case running about 1,000 watts on 990.  This is not your typical pirate that ends up on the air out of the blue, but rather a broadcast station owner that was denied a renewal for failing to pay a debt to the FCC.  Frankly I’m surprised there are not more pirate AMs.  Guess this helps underscore the fact that AM is not all that desirable these days.  Even the pirates don’t want to operate there.

Perhaps the biggest hard-luck story of 2017 for Broadcasting will be the fact that Cumulus filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.  Cumulus is a sizable operation, in fact, in terms of number of stations, they were ranked #2 in the U.S with 446 stations in 90 markets.

It has been reported that some $5 Billion was spent building the company.  Perhaps one could write a book based on the Cumulus story.  Now some will get their money and some will not.  This is all about what’s called – Debt Restructuring – a process of winners and a lot of losers.  For those that lose – you have the option of getting a tax break for a bad-debt.  Will have to see how this all shakes out.  Certainly not a pretty picture, viewed by many as a black mark on the radio industry.  Inside, it’s likely to be a challenge to keep a smile going forward.  ‘Tis not the first time a company has gone Chapter 11, but perhaps the first time a big operation like this has done it.

The FCC’s Daily Releases look like this –

ID BTC-20171201BAC KBOI 51211 RADIO LICENSE HOLDING CBC, LLC Involuntary Transfer of Control E 670 KHZ BOISE, ID From: CUMULUS MEDIA INC. To: CUMULUS MEDIA INC., DEBTOR-IN-POSSESSION Form 316

And in a stroke of bad-timing, several Cumulus stations in South Carolina were informed by the FCC that they are proposing a fine of $20,000 for EEO violations.  Wonder if the FCC can collect?

Cumulus is not a big name here in the PNW because they have no operations in the area’s major markets.  They do operate clusters of radio stations in Eugene, Oregon, Boise, Idaho and Colorado Springs.  In each of those markets they have 4 FMs and 2 AMs.  Perhaps the most famous operation in this neck of the woods is KBOI in Boise, a 50 kW big signal on 670.  Cumulus is based in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, iHeartMedia continues to do ‘the bankruptcy avoidance dance’ with their creditors.  iHeart, compared to Cumulus, has some really serious debt…Like $20 Billion worth.  Would be interesting to be a fly on the wall in some of these discussions.  Like Cumulus, there will be winners and losers.  The $64,000 Question is will the company be forced into bankruptcy or will they, again, be able to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat?  Perhaps in 2018 we will all learn how this chapter of the saga will read.  This far, there appears to be a good supply of rabbits.

Speaking of Saga…in this case a much brighter story as Saga Communications is giving their shareholders a special cash dividend on top of their normal one.  The company has, reportedly, paid out almost $53 million in dividends to their stockholders since 2012 and is saying they plan on continuing to do so.  Saga owns 75 FM and 33 AM stations including a cluster in Bellingham, WA.  Kudos to Saga for proving that it is possible to make money with Radio.

Part of the recent iHeart/Entercom/CBS shuffle involved the old 102.9/KELA-FM on Capital Peak.  Until recently the call letters on the station were KFOO, now changed to KFNY.  One of the trades mentioned this shuffle and called the area served as Centralia/Tacoma.  I have to admit I was a bit taken back by the lumping of those two locations together.  The City of License for 102.9 is Centralia.

This brings up the question, with the Main Studio Rules going away in January, it is not time to do away with the City of License criteria also?  Here in the Seattle area, we have a lot of stations that identify with the Seattle area, whose city of license is a city other than Seattle.

Look at Television – Channel 11 and 13 are licensed to Tacoma.  Granted the FCC allowed dual city IDs a long time ago.

FM Radio is another example – 106.1, 97.3, 103.7 etc. all have a COL of Tacoma.  (This is why when you hear KIRO-FM do their ‘Legal ID’  they always say “ KIRO-FM, Tacoma, Seattle’.

Then there are stations like 97.7/KOMO-FM – whose City of License (COL) is Oakville.  You will hear this once in a while as they do their Legal ID.  Another is 99.3/KDDS.  Their COL is Elma.  How about 106.9/KWRM?  Their COL is Bremerton.

Is the whole City of License thing just as out of date as the Main Studio Rules?  If you don’t have to have a Main Studio in your City of License….Why should a broadcaster be forced to Identify the COL on the air?  Allow me to pick up KOMO for a moment.  Who benefits from having the station say Oakville once an hour?  What purpose does It serve other than to keep the Commish happy?

Whereas broadcast stations (today) are no longer based on a specific location but are based on where their coverage contours fall in respect to co-channel and adjacent channel technical considerations, why not drop the dated COL requirement altogether and permit broadcasters to identify with any city whose boundaries are totally within the coverage of the station?

Another example of the FCC ‘funky thinking’, how is it that a translator can identify with a city that is many miles away?  Where is the logic here?

Oh well – I can dream

It’s always a sad day when we lose someone in our business.  The following was posted to the SBE-16 Remailer on the 20th of December –

Hatfield & Dawson sorrowfully report that a valued member of our
engineering staff, Michael Mehigan, P.E., passed away suddenly and
unexpectedly in the small hours of the morning on December 15, 2017, at
the age of 44.

While not an SBE member himself, and while his work with H&D focused
primarily on public safety and transit two-way radio systems, Mike would
be known to a number of SBE members through his prior employment with
the FCC.  Mike came to work for H&D ten years ago following a stint as a
Field Agent with the FCC Seattle field office.  Before that, Mike worked
for two years as an engineer in the FCC Audio Division in Washington
DC.  Mike held a BS in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic.

Mike is survived by his wife Kristen, and two daughters aged five and
one.  A memorial has not yet been scheduled.

Stephen S. Lockwood, P.E., PMP, President
Hatfield & Dawson Consulting Engineers

Tegna, owner of many major TV Stations, including operations in Seattle, Portland, Spokane, Boise and Denver recently announced they were purchasing KFMB-TV in San Diego.  Included in the purchase is the KFMB AM and FM Radio Stations.

Time for another pretty picture.  Another submission by Dwight Small:

Just what we need – another EAS Event Code that will be ignored.  The FCC has just approved another one, the Blue Alert.  The Washington SECC, filed comments with the Commish on this one, stating a number of reasons why we were opposed.  (I can send you a copy if you are really interested).  Like most of the EAS Event Codes, this one can be ignored by participants.  If you did want to participate, you will have to modify your EAS Decoder to recognize this latest addition, which the FCC is not going to require.  Of course, there is no funding for training on how to use it.  IMHO this is a case of bureaucrats and politicians just trying to put their name on something that sounds good to the voters.  One more time…more news on how radiation from your Cellphone is doing you harm.  This time the State of California’s heath officials have released guidelines about how to avoid the harmful radiation coming from these devices.  Here are some quotes from officials in the Golden State:

Dr. Karen Smith with the California Department Of Public Health said, “We recognize that there are a lot of people in the general public that have some concerns about their cellphones and whether using a cellphone is safe.”  “When you sleep, you keep the cellphone at least arm’s length away from your body.  And also, not carrying your cellphone in your pocket, having it either in your purse or not carrying it with you.”

Dr. Joel Moskowitz at UC Berkeley said, “Currently we’re not doing a good job in regulating radiation from these devices.  In fact, we’re doing an abysmal job.”

They stopped short of saying that Cellphones are dangerous.

Hmmmm.  Can you imagine what would happen if it was proved that cellphones are dangerous?  A couple of things would likely happen:

  • A huge number of law suits from those that would blame everyone because they were not warned.
  • A huge number of people that would continue to be users (think Cigarettes, texting while driving, etc.)

This is a classic case of convenience vs. implied danger, and we all know how well that works.

In my work with WSU’s NWPR (Northwest Public Radio), I frequently drive over to Forks, WA.  For those of you not familiar with Forks, it’s near the NW Corner of Washington State and is more recently known as the setting for the Twilight series.  With just under 4,000 residents, Forks is like other little towns near the Washington Coast that were once thriving along with the lumber industry.  To be honest, the little place is not exactly thriving, with about 20% living with incomes under the poverty line.  It’s beautiful country, green and lush and near the north Washington Coast.  You have to like rain to live there with well over 100 inches of it falling annually and reportedly 212 days a year with measurable precip.  In terms of broadcasting, there are no OTA TV stations, but there are several receivable radio stations, some from Canada.  Locally, there is an AM/FM station as well as two signals from NWPR (why I go there) and a couple low powered FMs.  Recently an application was filed for a new translator on 94.1.  Not sure, at this writing, what it will be repeating.  Seattle broadcasters are not heard, thanks to the blocking of the Olympic Mountains.

Something I write about frequently is statistical information about the booming Seattle area.  Think that housing here is expensive?  Consider:

  • Median home listing price – $675,000, equal to a monthly mortgage payment of over $3000.
  • Median household income – $70,000.
  • According to Zillow, the median home price has gone up $100,000 in the PAST YEAR.
  • The average time a listing in King County is on the market is – 8 Days!
  • A typical home in King County now sells for twice the national average.
  • Two-third of all sales in King County this year have had a “bidding war”.

Writing a column is very different from what I do the rest of the time.  Doing so has increased my interest in our language considerably.  Once in a while something comes along that underscores how unique and, perhaps, frustrating it is. Here are some examples –

  • The bandage was wound around the wound.
  • The farm was used to produce produce.
  • The dump was so full that it had to refuse  more refuse.
  • We must polish the Polish furniture.
  • He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  • The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  • A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  • When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  • I did not object to the object.
  • The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  • There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  • To help with planting, the farmer  taught his sow to sow.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  • Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  • I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  • How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let’s face  it – English is a crazy language.

  • There is no egg in eggplant.
  • No  ham in hamburger.
  • No apple nor pine in pineapple.
  • English  muffins weren’t invented in England.
  • No French fries in France.
  • Sweetmeats are candie.
  • Sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted.  But if we explore its paradoxes, we find –

  • Quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?  If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t  the plural of booth, beeth?  One goose, two geese.  So one moose, two meese?  One index, two indices?  Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?  If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If  teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?  If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?  Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.  In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?  Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?  Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?  You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at  all.  That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

Here’s a name that many of you will recognize – Matt Granard.  Matt and his family were known as owners of Westlake Electronics, who, when they were on Westlake in South Lake Union area, was a place where broadcast engineers would shop for parts to keep their stations going.  (Miss those days.)  Matt is now with Costco.

Thought I’d never hear it.  Charles Osgood has announced that he is retiring at the end of 2017.  CBS Sunday morning and the Osgood File will never be the same and another legend in broadcasting moves on.  The reason was cited as being a health issue, adding that his doctors told him it was time after almost 50 years.  Osgood is 84 and started in the business back in 1967.

It was recently announced that Broadcast Electronics has been acquired by an Italian firm, Elenos.  BE started out in the late ’50s with another name – Spotmaster, a manufacturer of audio cartridge tape equipment utilizing a Viking deck (oh, how I remember).  The firm moved from Silver Spring, MD to Quincy, Ill – then home of Gates Radio.  In the late 70s they started making transmitters.  I recall when 88.5 FM was installing their new BE Transmitters at West Tiger, that some of the items arrived in boxes labeled ‘Spotmaster’.  They did quite well for a number of years with many of the radio signals you hear on the air in the Seattle area coming from BE Transmitters.  Later the firm got into software for Radio with their Audiovault product.  Along the way they purchased Marti Electronics.  Recent years have not been kind to the firm with several ownership changes.  Reportedly, only about 50 people are working at their Quincy facility.  A lot of conjecture as to what Elenos will do as the new owner.  Certainly interesting that an off-shore firm is buying a US broadcast equipment manufacturer.

Looking for a job in this business?

Colorado Public Radio has an open position in the technical operations center (TOC).  Salary range: $47,000 – $66,000.  See link for more details: http://www.cpr.org/employment-opportunity/technical-operations-manager

As you likely know, Europe is leading the way in replacing conventional AM and FM Broadcasting with Digital systems, commonly called DAB.  Norway is one of the leaders in this movement with the announcement that they are the first country in the world to shut down their national broadcasts on the FM Band.  There are still signals on FM however, but nothing like North America.

Sinclair, owner of two TV and three Radio Stations in Seattle, and a major broadcast owner who is seeking to absorb Tribune, was recently slapped with a huge, over 13 Megabuck fine for violations of the FCC’s sponsorship ID rules.  The rule states that you must, in the case of a paid program, identify who is paying for it.  Sinclair claims it was an oversight.  Will see if this gains any traction with the regulators.  Not good timing for a firm asking that the FCC approve a transaction that is being opposed by several.

Not exactly creating a lot of headlines, but the long-running radio program A Prairie Home Companion is getting a new name, apparently as a result of the program’s long time, and recently retired, host being accused of personal wrong doing.  The new name will be ‘Live from Here’.

Another AM is going dark.  This time legendary KQV in Pittsburgh.  Apparently the owners have concluded that they are unable to sustain the rather labor intensive and expensive news operation.  Announcing that the station would be silent at the end of the year makes me suspect that they have tried to sell it and have not yet found a suitable buyer.  No word on what will happen to the 1410 AM operation in the future.  KQV goes back almost 100 years having begun broadcasting in 1919.

You will have to look very closely at this picture.  Perhaps some of you will recognize a very much younger Clay Freinwald.  I know the location…the front desk of KNBQ at 11th and Grant in Tacoma.  The date would be in the 1980s (perhaps).  Gee I had hair – and would you look at the color of that beard!

KAFE 104.1

  • Station: KAFE-FM
  • Dial: 1 FM
  • Format: AC
  • Website:
  • : Listen
  • : View
  • : View
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98.9 K-BAY

  • Station: KBAI-AM
  • Dial: 930 AM / 98.9 FM
  • Format: Classic Hits
  • Website:
  • : Listen
  • : View
  • : View
  • : View

790 KGMI

  • Station: KGMI-AM
  • Dial: 790 AM / 96.5 FM
  • Format: News/Talk
  • Website:
  • : Listen
  • : View
  • : View
  • : View

Classic Rock 92.9

  • Station: KISM-FM
  • Dial: 9FM
  • Format: Classic Rock
  • Website:
  • : Listen
  • : View
  • : View
  • : View

KPUG 1170

  • Station: KPUG-AM
  • Dial: 1170 AM / 97.3 FM
  • Format: Sports
  • Website:
  • : Listen
  • : View
  • : View
  • : View
 

Since I first started writing this Column, way back in 1986, a lot of things have changed.  Initially I wrote it on my computer (Apple II) and sent it to the Seattle SBE Chapter 16 publisher via, very slow, modem.  They would then insert it into a file that became the Chapters Newsletter ‘The Waveguide’ which was mailed with its famous Yellow cover.  Along the way it became clear that the labor of printing, mailing and the expenses involved, were being replaced with the advantages of On-Line distribution.  At this point, The Waveguide, and my Column, was instantly available to anyone that wanted it.  This was when things started getting interesting.  I discovered that the Denver SBE Chapter was running my Column…and others were quoting it.  It became clear that my Column was no longer just a Seattle SBE thing.  I then began emailing it to not just the Seattle SBE Chapter Waveguide Editor, but to other SBE Chapters and, of course, to the publisher of Northwest Broadcasters.

It was interesting to note how, within a few hours of being posted on the NW Broadcasters site, the December issue was being mentioned, and linked, to the Seattle version of radiodiscussons.com.

When you write something today, and it gets posted, you need to be mindful that your writing could end up and be read anywhere.  I am amazed at the geographic distribution of my readers.  Every month I receive comments and pictures from all over.  I want you to all know that I appreciate it.  There is nothing worse than the thought that what you write is not being read by anyone!  I appreciate the feedback (even when I am wrong).  I especially appreciate the submission of pictures and short stories about happenings in other areas.  Hopefully my readers here in the Seattle area do too – so keep ‘em coming.

This, perhaps, brings up the question of how long will I do this?  All I can say is that I do enjoy it, and would like to do so for a while longer.  Age, however,  has a way of creeping up on us all and at some point I will either expire or retire.  If I have the option, I will certainly want to say goodbye.  Having a 30+ year run is certainly an achievement.  With that being said, Thank You for reading my stuff.

Before I end this – Some items that came to me from my brother in law (who is younger).

I am assuming that many of you will relate to some of these:

As I get older, I realize:

  • I talk to myself, because there are times I need expert advice.
  • My people skills are just fine.  It’s my tolerance for idiots that needs work.
  • The biggest lie I tell myself is, “I don’t need to write that down.  I’ll remember it.”
  • I have days when my life is just a tent away from a circus.
  • These days, “on time” is when I get there.
  • Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could put ourselves in the dryer for ten minutes, then come out wrinkle-free and three sizes smaller?
  • Lately, I’ve noticed people my age are so much older than me.
  • “Getting lucky” means walking into  a room and remembering why I’m there.
  • When I was a child, I thought nap time was punishment.  Now it feels like a mini vacation.
  • Some days I have no idea what I’m doing out of bed.
  • I thought growing old would take longer.
  • Aging sure has slowed me down, but it hasn’t shut me up.
  • I still haven’t learned to act my age.

Well, my friends, that’s it for this month.  I hope that 2017 was good to you and yours and that 2018 will be even better.

As they say in Amateur Radio, 73

Clay Freinwald, CPBE, K7CR
SBE Member # 714SBE Member # 714

 

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