The KE0VH Hamshack for November

November 2019

Starting out this month I want to let you know about the new SkyhubLink website at: http://skyhublink.com/.  You can get all the information now about the linking system, real time monitors and control, net schedules and more including interactive coverage maps of the main repeaters.  Thanks to Skyler for setting it up and getting it active.  Look for more additions and editing coming up.  Check it often and pass it around!

Many of us are using hotspots to fill in for when we are out of communication with repeaters with our portable and mobile radio’s.  One of the functions of the Pi-Star dashboard screen shows a bit error rate display.  This is where a lot of folks have a difficult time tuning the hotspot especially with a DMR handheld.  I haven’t seen it so much be out of tolerance with the Fusion radios.  The pictures below show the dashboard in transmit and then the bit error rate after you let go of the PTT.

After I transmitted above using my C4FM Fusion FT 3027 radio, I see my bit error rate in green below.

A BER of .5%!  That’s GREAT.  When it starts to be >1% the hotspot will have trouble receiving the transmission from your radio.  A VERY EASY tuning procedure can be found at this website:

 

http://www.k9npx.com/2019/02/hotspot-offset-calibration.html?m=1

K9NPX does a great job showing how to do this procedure on your Pi-Star software with your hotspot.  This always seems to be one of the more difficult area’s of operating a hotspot that people have difficulties with.  When I was starting I was really glad when some of these descriptions became available via the amateur digital community.  Of course, someone figured it out.  So I hope this information will be helpful!

One other note on the SkyHubLink system, we have thru the help and equipment provided by the DWARC now have a local server computer that Skyler is configuring for deployment at the 449.625 KEØVH Repeater site. This is a totally new system with the “HBLink” protocol. (see https://www.chrishoodblog.com/make-your-own-dmr-server/ for more information and description.) This will allows connections for DMR bridging without having to be dependant on Brandmeister links.  AU Wireless of Golden is providing our internet fiber connection and Mark NØXRX and Scott KDØSIY from DWARC have of course provided the Fusion repeater there.  The node radio is my FTM-100 DR fusion mobile that links the repeater to the HRI-200 and the network providing links to the Fusion Wires-X network.  I wanted to thank everyone for the help, loaning and/or donations made to the SkyHubLink system, and invite any and all interested amateurs to use the system.  There are some general operating guidelines though we ask that you follow.  This will include ALL repeaters linked to the system, including 449.450 analog.  I wanted to publish these here in the newsletter as well on our webpage so they could be seen as well.  It is very important in today’s digital communications “age” that we modify our operating practices just a bit so that everyone can join in and have FUN, which is what it is all about anyway!

SKYHUB GENERAL GOOD OPERATING PRACTICES

We ask that as you are using the system on one of the associated repeaters that due to digital linking, (see whats linked normally at: http://skyhublink.com/repeaters/ and in real time at: http://skyhublink.com/status/ please leave spaces between transmissions to allow someone on another mode repeater to be able to break in.  Ask frequently if there is anyone else who would like to break in or join the conversation.  Being too tight with the PTT can exclude someone trying to get in from another mode.  Don’t be quick on the trigger as it were or others may not be able to join in.  While we encourage rag chews on the system, please observe this operating practice to allow others to join in or in case of any urgent or emergency traffic.  Thank you.

ALSO, it is very important that you do not “KERCHUNK” the repeaters on the system.  This causes issues with the BRANDMEISTER DMR links and will lock out the DMR system which is bridged into the AllStar system.  Please DO a full call and ask for a radio check.  The DMR and Fusion repeaters have virtually no squelch tail to hear.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.  It’s good amateur operating practice and very helpful!

By the way, on the 449.625 KEØVH Lookout Mountain Fusion repeater above Golden most Saturday nights you can hear the The International Wires X Fusion NET in Room —America-Link- (21080)*** reminder
When: Saturday, 09:00 PM to 12:00 AM
(GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)  Either myself or Bernie N3ZF will link up “625” if it isn’t already connected.  This “Wires-X “Room” has many operators from all over the world on frequently.  If you are in range of the repeater you can use it to make contacts all over the world and have a lot of fun doing so.  ALSO, “625” is our “play” around with Fusion repeater able to access any Wires-X room you can find, so get on and have fun if you can get into it!  See the America Link facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/302566576932533/

 

Back in the early 90’s I had the great honor and opportunity to be able to be in contact with Joe WB2JKJ and his “crew” of kids a the NYC PS 22 amateur radio club.  Joe has now for 39 years been using amateur radio in the classroom to bring “Education thru Communication” to inner city school kids.  I had a great time talking to his kids and Joe about different happenings of the day and what I was doing as a radio DJ (the kids loved that!) and in my ham radio hobby.  This was such a great way to reach out to kids and help teach them science and the radio art, and today it is still going strong!  They are a 501 c3 charity and could always use donations of radio’s, and can turn any excess radio’s or related gear into a tax credit for you .  GREAT JOB JOE AND KIDS!  Check out their website at http://www.wb2jkj.org/!

THE RADIO CLUB OF JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL 22

                               P.O. BOX 1052                                                         

NEW YORK, NY 10002

Bringing Communications to Education Since 1980

So I dug back to the August 2018 edition of “The Hamshack” and wanted to put this information in again to the ariticle.  Another way to connect into the AllStar system is thru your cell phone! It is a portal that will connect into whatever AllStar node/repeater you want to dial into. Just think of it as a remote audio link to your radio, repeater, or connection into the AllStar system. I have used this thru my motorcycle helmet blue tooth communicator into my iPhone to connect into the local Denver repeaters thru  the Skyhub. Jeremy, N5JER showed me how to set up an automated dialer contact in my phone to one button dial like a regular phone number. When you dial into the phone portal you must tell it what node you wish to connect to, your personal PIN number (given to you when you register with AllStar) and whether or not you want to use VOX or a command to “PTT”. You can program this into your cell phone contacts.

My cellphone dialed into the AllStar SkyHub (Node 46079). You can see part of the automated dialing process, (my pin blocked out) easily done on a cell phone. Once again, just think of it as a “long mic cord” to a radio system!  To use the phone portal, you must register with AllStar and have a PIN number.  You don’t have to setup a node or do anything other than register if you want. Then even where there is no coverage by radio, repeater, or AllStar repeater you can get into whatever node you wish. I can help you with the script when you get registered with AllStar at https://web-tpa.allstarlink.org/   This makes operating into whatever AllStar link node you want simple and easy.  Plus I would recommend this over EchoLink for ease of use.  You don’t have to have a laptop or computer available.  VERY COOL SYSTEM!  When I was on my 3006 mile journey this past summer on the motorcycle I used this linkup to keep in touch back home and to talk to Kenny K4KR as I was coming into Chattanooga Tennessee.  Again if you need help setting this up for your phone, this is the script to enter into your dialer:

1 (763) 230-0000,,,,,,,46079#,,1,,,1234567890,,1

The phone number, commas are pauses, the Skyhub Node Number, more pause, 1 for node access, pause, your ten digit Pin number, pause then another 1 for VOX operation.  You will edit in your pin number in place of 1 thru 0.  Call me if you need help!

BTW, the 2 architects of the SkyHubLink System!

Jeremy WØJRL, and Skyler WØSKY seen here with the 900 Mhz repeater and the Fusion Wires-X 449.625 repeater and system in the Lookout Mountain Rack and the repeaters yagi antenna.

 

 

And say hello to Clark MM7CEH from Bathgate W. Lothian Scottland!  Clark is an almost daily regular on the SkyHub Link system.  He’s a great guy and lots of fun to chat with.  Listen for Clark and say hello!

And here is Paul MM6ZHC and Clark MM7CEH at the shack of the mid-Lanark Amateur Radio Society meeting near his home in Scotland.  Hey Clark, get Paul and more friends to check in with us on the SkyHubLink system!

MORE PROJECTS.  The KEØVH Office node utilizing an empty Linksys box as a case for a Raspberry Pi3 and MMDVM modem board running the Pi-Star software.  The shiny box in the middle is a small Tekk data radio on 442.700 Mhz.  So if you talk to me while I am in Lakewood, this is the setup being used to link into the SkyHubLink system.

Another project!  A duplex MMDVM Modem board awaiting another RPi-3.  This will be a possible linking radio to the YSF Reflector on the SkyHubLink.  Stand by for more on this!

And the latest addition to the Hamshack “toolbox”!

This is the NanoVna Network Analyzer for HF VHF UHV UV VNA for 50Khz to 900Mhz measuring S-Parameter, Voltage, SWR, Phase delay, and Smith Chart functions.  $60 on Amazon! 

As of this writing I just ordered it after reading reviews and seeing that there are many YouTube videos on it already.  Looks like fun to try out, and I will let you know in the December “Hamshack” what I think!  Free software too for interfacing.  Will let you know!

 

OMG!  A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR DUE OUT IN 2020!
Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOPIjzzH1G8

You WON’T BELIEVE IT!

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Hamshack Archives

4 Years AGO: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/08/

5 Years AGO:  http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/08/

6 Years AGO: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2013/08/

Click HERE TO CHECK OUT the latest BDR.net articles at: https://www.thebdr.net/articles/thisweek.html

 

 

 

SBE VHF/UHF Chapter 73’ of the Air DENVERSKYHUBLINK HAMnet

 

 

The SBE Chapter 73 of the air DENVERSKYHUMLINK Hamnet is every Monday at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT) worldwide via Echolink KG0SKY-L, node 985839 (available via computer and radio), Allstar node 46079, DMR Talkgroup 310847, AND try it with your hotspot on YSFtoDMR then TalkGroup 310847.  The SBE UHF/VHF Hamnet is based in Denver on 449.450, pl 103.5, KDØSSP-RPT 448.350, Fusion/Wires-X and the 449.625 Fusion repeater, linked to WiresX room “DenverSkyhubLink” node 46361

You can listen on the LIVE STREAM thru Broadcastify at:

https://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/25448/web

or https://hose.brandmeister.network/group/310847/  

We hope you’ll join us. 

See the latest edition of “The KE0VH Hamshack” for more information at www.ke0vh.com.

 

 

The Society of Broadcast Engineers

9102 North Meridian St, Suite 150
Indianapolis, IN 46260
317-846-9000 ■ Fax 317-846-9120

 

 

 

 

 

Clay’s Corner for November 2019

Clay’s Corner for November  2019

Clay’s Corner

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

Here we are, at this writing the end of October,  and the stores are full of things for Christmas. The weather was wonderful as the month started. Then, like a brick wall, we experienced the ‘October-Shift’ and the rains began. Lots of it too, complete with your first taste of flooding. Then it was back to nice fall weather. By the end of the month most of the trees had lost their leaves and the colors will be gone, awaiting April when the cycle starts again.
Meanwhile in California, things are not so good.

Here is the FEMA Daily Operations Briefing for Sunday October 27, 2019:

Significant Incidents or Threats:

  • California wildfires
  • Extreme to critical fire weather – CA and AZ
  • Red Flag Warnings – CA, AZ, NM and UT
  • High Wind Warnings – northern and southern CA

 

The FCC has a reporting system called DIRS. Here is a recent look at the highlights coming out of the Golden State for October 26th:

  • PG&E is expected to shut-off power to 940,000 customers
  • 4 FM stations reported out of service (K238AF, KKLJ, KNOB, KSXY), and 2 FM stations out of service with programming on another station (KRSH, KXTS), most stations not reporting (17 FM stations reported operational)
  • No AM stations reported out of service, most stations not reporting (3 AM stations reported operational)
  • No TV stations reported out of service, most stations not reporting (10 TV stations reported operational)
  • 1,427 cable and wireline subscribers out of service
  • 32 cell sites out of 9,498 out of service (approximately 0.3%). Same caveats as yesterday.

 

In the event you think our weather is bad and need a little ‘comparison cheering’, you can check this out:

https://www.fcc.gov/document/ca-power-shutoff-communications-status-report-oct-26-2019

 

Stop and think about what these power outages mean to the average home-owner that has become totally dependent on electric power (unless, of course, you have a generator and a good source of fuel).

  • No Lights
  • No radio or TV
  • No Internet
  • No Clocks (Unless you kept that windup model)
  • If you have an Internet based telephone, it’s dead too
  • No way to charge your cell phone (unless you do so in your car using precious fuel)
  • Garage doors that must be manually operated
  • Your local gas stations are closed
  • Typical public warning systems (EAS, WEA, Reverse 911 etc.) all useless to you

 

If you are like me, and have spent many years here in the PNW (or PSW if you are in Canada), all you have to do it look at the news to help you become convinced that we are really blessed.

 

The fear I have is that the 40 some million that live in California will be soon looking for a better place to live and will come to understand that here is better than there!

 

If you want another comparison, how about Texas? On Oct 20th a tornado cut a swath through the north side of Dallas. In its path was the studios for KNON, which was so bad they were looking for a new home. Not only did this ruin the day for many, but for those not in the path that were watching the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles play a football game, many were upset because the station elected to delay the airing of the tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service. Stations are put on the spot. Do they interrupt a popular sporting event, knowing it could save lives, or do they not. The fact is, some people do not wish to be warned.

Before I forget it, Nov. 3rd will again be time to set our clocks back one-hour to PST. Now that all the Western States, and BC, have agree to stay on Daylight time, that decision is on hold pending decisions to be made by government types on the Right-Coast that will allow us to, perhaps in the Spring, change to PDT and stay there. With no pun intended, time will tell.

I was recently thinking back to when we shifted from NTSC analog TV to ATSC digital. It was then that TV stations starting shifting channels and the true RF channel they were on no longer on, had any meaning. The legacy stations in Seattle, KOMO-4, KING-5 and KIRO-7 must continue was the cry. So along came the concept of virtual channels. Everyone bought in. With a bit of teaching, the new digital TV’s could be educated so that regardless of the RF channel the station was transmitting on, they could have the same channel number. Viewers only need to re-scan their TV’s and all would be good again, proving that the product name is more important.

Then along came Re-Pack and, once again, many (but not all) stations were again changing channels and stations were again asking their viewers to re-scan their TV’s so life would go on. I recently note the following posted by Lowell Kiesow (KNKX) and thought it provided an interesting perspective on the more recent shuffle.

As a radio guy, I found it interesting to see what happened after the Seattle TV repack took effect last night.  There must be a story behind the fact that the stations cooperated to make the shift together, on the first day of the test period.  Their deadline was 1/17/20.

 

The following seven stations moved channels:  KTBW, KZJO, KOMO, KIRO, KFFV, KING and KUNS.

 

Daystar’s KWDK is off the air. I met their itinerant transmitter crew at Tiger last week, so they are probably still swapping equipment at this time. They had a 24′ box truck for hauling a lot of stuff.

 

My TV found two signals for KIRO TV. They have 715 kW from Queen Anne on ch 23, and 3.8 kW on ch 18 from West Tiger 2. The latter signal is stronger in Parkland (just south of Tacoma), despite the low power and being off the side of the antenna.

 

In Parkland, with a big, consumer grade, high gain, all-band antenna on my roof, I get 12 stations with 50 channels, not counting KIRO twice. Not bad for free.

 

The big winner is KFFV since they went from 169 kW on ch 44 to 260 kW on ch 16. I receive KFFV for the first time.

 

Before the repack, I would occasionally receive KZJO, but now it works. They moved from ch 25 to ch 36, both at 1 MW from Capitol Hill. Either my antenna is slightly better on the new channel or theirs is. It is just good enough because only one of my TVs receives it.

 

Just curious. Have any of you noted changes in the signals of our local TV Stations after this shuffle? If so, drop me a note and let me know so I can share.

The next shuffle in TV has a new Logo:

The CTIA has approved the new name and logo for what’s called ATSC 3.0. Apparently this new logo will be used to help consumers identify compatible ATSC 3.0 devices. This is not just a simple channel/ frequency change but, if it develops, as some have planned, will be a major change in many respects. Time will tell just how much this will catch on and how consumers will respond to it.
While in Gig Harbor recently, I spotted this service van:

Why you ask? Because these 4 letters are also used by the SBE, so I did a search and came up with this:

Certified Broadcast Radio Engineer (CBRE) is a title granted to an individual in the United States who successfully meets the experience and test requirements of the certification, regulated by the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE). The CBRE title is protected by copyright laws. Individuals who use this title without consent from the Society of Broadcast Engineers could face legal action.

The SBE certifications were created to recognize individuals who practice in career fields which are not regulated by state licensing or Professional Engineering programs. Broadcast Engineering is regulated at the national level and not by individual states.

The following picture was taken by Entercom’s Alex Brewster of the –Site Access Key-Pad- at Cougar Mountain. Just getting in the Halloween spirit said the spider.

 

Over on the east side of the Cascades they are changing TV channels as well. The following pictures were taken by NWPB’s Jason Royals of a recent project to change the channel of one of WSU’s translators in the Lewiston-Clarkson area. Here you can see the location of the equipment on the little peak just right of center. Perhaps the thing most noticeable is the lack of trees. In locations west of the Cascades that whole area would be heavily forested.

Perhaps you should note that these pictures were taken near the end of October.  Shortly afterward, this site was ‘white’ with our first, early season, snowfall.
Here is a view of the tower with all the antennas, one of which is for K34QC-D, the Lewiston translator
For KWSU-TV (second one down on the left side). The work here moved the system from RF Ch 27 to Ch 34. Viewers in that area needed to tell their TV sets to see this signal as virtual Ch 10. This type of
‘Channel Shuffling’ is taking place in the Seattle area as well, all part of what’s called Re-Packing to make room for more wireless services.

The number of FM Translators and boosters continues to grow in the U.S. The new totals reflect a 4% increase over last year. Nearly 250 more than the start of the year.

No one is shocked with the total number of AM’s as the mode continues to struggle. Nine more have shut down in the last three months and 25 have gone silent in the last year. I suspect this trend will continue until the supply equals the demand. Despite the losses, there are still over 4600 AM’s on the air. No surprise that about 37% of the remaining AM’s have an FM Translator leading one to wonder just how many more AM’s would be silent if the ability of having a translator had not come along.

Here are how things stack up:

The FCC reports the total number of full-power television stations was relatively steady with 1,760 licensed at the end of September. The latest FCC data shows the total number of low-power TV stations was 1,897. Overall, there were a total of 33,492 radio and television licenses issued by the FCC at the end of the third quarter.

In the U.S. we have, albeit slowly, become accustomed to HD Radio. Just about all new cars and trucks come with it standard and listeners are responding with a number of HD-2 channels showing up in radio ratings. We need to understand that not everyone around the world is on board with HD Radio, with several digital radio systems in use. One that has been around for a long time is DRM or Digital Radio Mondial. For some time DRM has been rolling out on the Medium Wave or AM broadcast bands. More recently, DRM has been demonstrated for use on the FM Band, which like HD-R will permit multiple channels to be carried along with the parent FM Signal. I have to wonder when the day will come that makers of receivers will incorporate all of these systems to help level the playing field. Then there is a matter of the regulators, and what they will permit.
Just as Harrington Tower was about to take down the four towers that was the KMIA night transmitter site, the operator, Bustos Media, and property owner, Dennis Garre, were approached by the present owners of the Pacific 1550/KZIZ who needed to vacate their present site just south of Auburn. Their timing was pretty good. The towers were spared. On October 2nd I handed the keys to the former 1210/KMIA night transmitter site east of Auburn to the new owners who propose to move the station to that location. Their application calls for using all 4 of the former 1210 towers operating with 3 kW day and 430 watts at night.  This is less than the present operation of 5 kW day and 900 watts at night. The former 1210 array dates back some 30 years. The original plant was constructed by myself with help from Arne Skoog who was my assistant at the time.
I recently ran across this item from Readers Digest.  Did you know that most Canadians live SOUTH of Seattle? Here is what they said:

Canada and the United States are both large countries which can make understanding the relative geography difficult. But the contiguous United States goes farther north than you think and the majority of Canadians live near the southern border. The result? At 45 degrees latitude, Seattle is further north than Toronto or Montreal, meaning 64 per cent of Canadians live south of Seattle.

I recall a few years ago while visiting the Nautel factory in Nova Scotia, telling the folks there that I had to go south to get there. They too found it hard to believe.

Understand that Mike Dosch, a person long associated with producers of broadcast audio equipment will now be focusing his full time to his recently launched company called Angry Audio. This is good timing as Radio Systems recently announced they were dropping production of their popular Studio-Hub products and they were going to be produced by Angry Audio.

For those of you not familiar with how broadcast audio items are interconnected these days, a quick look. In the past, broadcast audio used shielded two conductor cable (example, Belden 9451 or equal) or two pair (example, Belden 8723) or dual-pair Belden 1504 etc). Along the way came UTP cable which had 4 twisted pairs, which quickly found use with telephone and computer circuits. Meanwhile, connectors were changing. This time we were all following the telephone industry as they had adopted the RJ45 connector. Soon the computer equipment makers were all using RJ45’s. Broadcast audio was on the same train and soon UTP cable was being used in broadcast plants with many, but not all, connectors becoming RJ45’s. Audio over IP, or AoIP had become the new way of doing things. You could go out and find computer network cable (Cat5, 6 etc) just about everywhere, all made up in different lengths. The issue was that there was still a lot of equipment out there that used various kinds of connectors, XLR, ¼ Inch phone plugs, 1/8 inch phone plugs, RCA phono connectors, etc. The folks at Radio Systems saw an opportunity to provide adaptors to permit connecting these devices to standard UTP cables. They called their products ‘Studio Hub’. Broadcasters jumped all over this, as this made putting things together a snap with no soldering required. Plug and Play had become the norm. Back to the decision of Radio Systems to stop making these handy devices. There was some fear in the minds of many of having to build their own. However, Mike Dosch to the rescue and the news that his Angry Audio would pick up where Radio Systems left off. As an example, we used a considerable number of these wonderful gadgets in the recent installation at KVTI. If you want to find out more about these things, you can go here: https://angryaudio.com/  (read on)

The week of the 27th had me deep in the midst of a studio upgrade at KVTI, replacing their legacy Auditronics Consoles in two studios to new AoIP models made by Wheatstone. I have a bit of history with one of the old Auditonics. I installed it, way back when KBSG moved to Seattle’s Metropolitan Park East-Tower. Later, after the purchase of the station by Entercom, that facility was abandoned and the console was gifted to Clover Park Technical College, where it served well while CPTC was training DJ’s. Some years ago that program closed and the station became part of WSU’s operation, where several announcers continued to produce programs for NWPB to this day. The following are some before and after shots of one of the studios in this project –

BEFORE –


AFTER –

The new mixer looks small in comparison.  Due to the way these new systems are designed, the smaller device is actually more powerful than the bigger old one. Many of the controls on the old unit were used to start and stop magnetic tape equipment – all of which had already made it to the dumpster.

I’ve estimated that 70% of my time was spent removing the old wiring (much of it installed by people whose names you would recognize). Multiple pieces of two conductor/shielded cable, connectors, punch blocks etc. that took weeks to install, all gone. Today these studio devices are all constructed using standard computer/ network cables and pre-made adaptors, reducing the installation time to a small fraction of before. As time goes by, all the radio stations in this area have already or are about to switch over to the same technology. Next up, KING-FM, who are moving around the corner from 10 Harrison to Mercer. There again, loads of legacy analog equipment will be put out to pasture.

The question remains. Will T-Mobile (based in the Seattle area) really merge with Sprint? The FCC has said yes, however there are those that don’t like that answer, including 17 states that have sued to stop it. Again we wait.

Yet another survey to report on….This time – The Best Large Cities to live in.

#1 – Virginia Beach, VA

#2 – Austin, TX

#3 – Seattle, WA

#4 – San Diego, CA

#5 –  Las Vegas, NV

#6 – San Francisco

#7 – NYC

#8 – San Jose, CA

#9-  Honolulu, HI

#10- Portland, OR

 

Once again contributor Mike Brooks of KING-FM came up with a gem. In this case a fanciful schematic diagram. You have to study this carefully to get full appreciation. Obviously constructed by someone having too much spare time.

 

A friend of mine sent me this interesting picture of lightning. Looks like a highly charged man walking with a cane in his left hand.

That’s about it for this month, my friends.

Thanks for the read.

Lord willing, I will be back to most of these same locations next month at this time.

Until then –
Clay, K7CR, CPBE
SBE Member for over 50 years, #714

Clay’s Corner for October 2019

Clay’s Corner for October  2019

Clay’s Corner

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

CONGRATULATIONS TO WASHINGTON’S MARCONI RADIO AWARD WINNERS – KIRO-FM AND KRWM-FM (WARM 106.9)!

Two Seattle radio stations have received the prestigious NAB Marconi Radio Awards – Bonneville’s KIRO-FM was named News/Talk Station of the Year and Hubbard’s KRWM-FM (WARM 106.9) was named Adult Contemporary Station of the Year.

Winners of the 2019 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Marconi Radio Awards were announced at the 30th annual NAB Marconi Radio Awards Dinner in Dallas, TX.

 

September, in the Puget Sound area, started off with a BANG….in fact many of them. On the 7th of the month we were treated with a very rare storm that hit this area with heavy rain, hail and some 2,200 lightning strikes. For one that moved here from elsewhere, this was no biggie…however, statistically, this was VERY unusual. The storm shut down the game at Husky Stadium and caused fans to scramble for cover. (Unfortunately they lost too). A couple of days later, the Portland-Vancouver area experienced a tornado.

Thankfully, things have settled down and are, pretty much, back to normal for this time of year. The hours of daylight are now less than the hours of darkness as we head into fall. Like you knew they would, the cloudy & rainy skies have returned, the talk of drought has faded and snow levels are coming down. In fact, the higher passes will be getting their first snow of the season before the end of the month. One of the things I do, being involved with things at West Tiger Mt., is to watch the Weather Forecast from NWS. Thanks to their ability to target an area it’s a lot easier.  Here is what I have saved for quick viewing –

https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/forecast/wxtables/index.php?lat=47.5039906&lon=-121.9756727&clrindex=0&table=custom&duration=7&interval=6

When I see the snow levels getting below 3000 feet, I quickly look at the other columns to determine whether or not it will be ‘winter time’ at the transmitter site.

After our experience with winter weather, many are wondering if it could happen again this year. The Farmer’s Almanac says yes. Meanwhile the NWS is, apparently, being more cautious with wet and warmer. As we found out last year, no one can accurately predict the weather, especially in this neck of the woods.

The big story this month has been the Ransomware attack on Entercom early in September. This was no local happening, but rather something that, apparently, involved all of their stations and many of their computer systems. The perps were asking $500,000, which Entercom announced they would not pay. As time went by, the company was digging out of the mess created.

This is not the first time a broadcaster has been hit with Ransomware. Perhaps most notable was the hacking of KQED in San Francisco. According to reports on that event, it cost the station $1 million in lost revenue and expenses. This, however, is the first time that a major, multiple station owner was a victim.

Today’s broadcast operations are highly dependent on computers performing various tasks. Out of necessity, many of these computer systems are accessible from the outside. Incoming e-mails, off premise production companies and talent, advertising agencies etc. This is like giving keys to those that you work without knowing when those keys will end up in the wrong hands.

This all gave me cause to look back at my long history in this business. Back when I started (at a small radio station in Tacoma) it is likely the term ‘computer’ was not even used. This was in the days of the typewriter (yes, we had a couple of electric ones) and vacuum tubes. We had a teletype machine spitting out news on long sheets of paper and anything recorded used tape recorders. Agency commercials often arrived via the USPS in the form of a recorded reel-to-reel tape. Radio stations played music from phonograph records what were delivered the same way. There was nothing, in house, that could even make a copy of a printed page. Certainly, a younger person today would view such an operation as primitive, at best.

Along the way, computers started to make their way into stations. I recall the first one was a huge IBM device the size of a large office desk, used to generate what were called ‘program logs’. Internal sales people would write up orders (with pen and ink) and hand them to the person doing the data entry. Advertising agencies would send their orders in via a FAX machine. Eventually the ‘beast’ was replaced with a relatively small PC sitting on a desk. The next to get computers were administrative assistants. In those days, computers were stand-alone devices connected to their own printers (oh yes, the display was all text in white, green or amber….Windows had not yet arrived). Eventually we saw the introduction of devices to share a common printer. Eventually internal networks were created permitting users to share files. Anyone remember Twinax? Eventually I saw the introduction of not only internal but nation-wide private networking using Windows 3.1 as introduced by my, then employer, Viacom.

Fast forward to today. Just about everyone has a computer that is connected to a network that spans the world. In our homes we use it for communicating with everyone using e-mail. Just look at what Amazon has done to change the way we do retailing in a short period of time.

Even a small radio station today is totally dependent on computers connected to the outside for everything that used to be ‘hand-carried’. Today we find radio stations that only have an small office or sales staff. All of the equipment that generates programming may well be located out-of-state…all connected by networked computers.

All this interconnectedness has been great, however, it has become a huge temptation for those that have nothing better to do that cause someone grief. A person’s computer, whether it be a PC on a desk at home or something they carry, is a target for someone bent on seeing what they can get away with. For businesses and governments the whole process is just scaled up. Countries are hacking into each other’s systems. State and local governments are being hacked with regularity, and so are businesses, large and small.

The challenge is how to keep all this data flowing between parties that have become dependent on it, all the while keeping the bad guys out. Can you imagine what Amazon must do to keep from being a victim of Ransomware?

I have to believe that, out there somewhere, there are a lot of computer engineers working to come up with a new contraption to remain one-step ahead of those that seek to put another notch in their belt for overcoming and/or invading some system. In many ways, the ‘Wild-Wild-West’ continues.

Here is a link to some interesting and related items:

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

https://www.thebdr.net/articles/IT/adm/index.html

In a somewhat related matter, the FCC is proposing a $15,000 fine for a small Virginia AM Station for public file violations. A couple things about this one are interesting.

  • The owner of the station is a 92 year old gentlemen who is, apparently, not computer literate and did not know how to perform the task (yes, there are some that are in that mode…some even younger).
  • In the past the FCC required things to be simply placed in the station’s Public File. That was a ‘physical file’, usually a file cabinet that the station kept for the benefit of the public (they could come in and view the contents) as well as the occasional FCC inspector that would drop by (un-announced, of course) to see to it that you were keeping your files up to date per the Rules. Not too long ago the FCC changed things so that these files are now kept by the FCC…for public viewing (and FCC enforcement). This change requires that licensees up-load the required material. Of course, that requires the use of a computer. The FCC does not require that you have a computer, but being compliant requires that you use a computer to upload the information. In the case of this little station, it appears the owner could have had someone perform the task even if they were not familiar with computers.

The bottom line is, in today’s world, you just about have to have one.

Just owning a computer and connecting it to the outside world requires that you keep it up today to keep out the perps. Recently, Microsoft warned users of one of their older browsers, Internet Explorer, of a security flaw that required an emergency patch. From what I read, there are still a lot of computers out there using Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, 10 and 11. All this underscores the need to understand a good deal about the computer you are operating.

Automakers have been facing a similar situation and have responded with dashboard indicators that tell the user – – Check Engine or Maintenance Required. Perhaps one day computers will do something similar that will reduce what is likely overwhelming to many, to something that will tell them – in simple terms – what they need to do?

The C-Band issue continues to percolate. Related print media sources are full of articles about it, while broadcasters wonder what this is all going to mean. In simple terms – the wireless industry is extremely spectrum hungry. This is why many of the TV stations are being force to change channels to accommodate the needs of wireless. In this case, it’s called ‘Re-Packing’. On the bright side of this activity is the fact that many TV Broadcasters are getting new transmitters and antennas, all paid for with funds coming from the Wireless Industry.

Perhaps feeling that broadcasters have been historic spectrum hogs (having spectrum allocated to their use that they were not using) led them to look at what’s called ‘C-Band’ or spectrum around 4 GHz (3.7 – 4.2). In many ways they were right. One of the major uses for this spectrum by cable system and broadcasters is for communicating with Satellites for wide-area distribution. The systems use systems called ‘up-links’ to send their signals to the satellite, whose function it is to relay that signal to a large number of receivers scattered over a wide area. When wireless first looked at this spectrum they found what appeared to be a lot of spectrum they could use. Unfortunately, it was not a real-world picture of how, and where, this spectrum was being used for the simple fact that no one really kept track of where all those satellite receive installation were located. (Only some bothered with letting the FCC know.) I guess you could say that many of these users ‘assumed’ that their system was safe. The news that Wireless wanted this spectrum for other things was a wakeup call for those folks. Meanwhile the systems that rely on all of this, the broadcast networks, where watching the store and were letting the FCC know, early on, that they intended to protect their interests.

Today we have a much better picture of who is using C-Band and how much spectrum is actually being used and where. The FCC, in the middle of it again, is wrestling with how to give Wireless something while protecting existing users. My guess is that we will be looking at some sort of compromise. As with all things like this, the devil is in the details. Obviously the TV re-pack process will likely be used as a model. Will the FCC require all the existing C-Band users to do as they did with Broadcast-TV and require them to ‘snuggle-up’ to open up ‘dedicated’ spectrum for Wireless? Would Wireless pay for the relocations? Or will the Commish come up with some plan that will call for the differing user to ‘intermingle’? From what is being said by the FCC, we may well see a decision coming before the end of the year.

So guess what radio station is celebrating 100 years?

Here are some hints:

  • It’s west of the Mississippi
  • It’s transmitter is in Fort Collins, Colorado
  • It has ‘W’ Call letters
  • You may have a receiver tuned to this station but have never heard it.
  • It is one of the world’s oldest continuously operating radio stations.

If you guessed WWV – you are correct. The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) station celebrates their 100th on October 1.

 

Want to know more, here are some links that you may find interesting:

 

https://www.nist.gov/pml/time-and-frequency-division/time-services/history-radio-station-wwv

 

https://www.nist.gov/pml/time-and-frequency-division/nist-radio-broadcasts-frequently-asked-questions-faq

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWV_(radio_station)#Transmission_system

 

Here’s a picture of the facility at Ft Collins.   If you have ever driven in the vicinity of Ft Collins (North of Denver) you can spot the WWV Towers.

KQED, the major public radio station in San Francisco has announced a $91 million facelift and expansion for their facility in the Bay City. That’s a – lot – of money for a non-commercial radio station. Here in our area, KNKX recently moved into new digs in Downtown Tacoma. Certainly a lot smaller than the 165,000 square feet of KQED. To put this into perspective, the average Costco is 144,500 Sq. Ft. The average Home Depot or Lowes is even smaller. Hard to believe a radio operation that big.

Xperi, the organization behind HD Radio, has announced HD Radio trials in India. Leads me to wonder why they need ‘trials’. With all the HD Radio operations in this country, one would think that the days of ‘trials’ are over. Perhaps what they mean is they are going to compare the various digital radio systems? Oh yes, they will only be testing the FM version. One thing driving this is the ability of the system to multicast various channels. In a country, like India, this is attractive.

Here’s one you don’t hear often, the FCC revoking a license and the owner appealing to the President for help with the IRS. It’s apparently happening with WGEA in Geneva, Alabama. From what I read, the station’s license was revoked because they did not pay their fees to the FCC, and the owner says he can’t pay until he receives a refund from the IRS going back 32 years.

One of the changes the FCC made a while back was to authorize clustering of station ownerships. For example – in Seattle one firm can own 2 TV Stations. On the Radio side, one firm can own 8 Radio stations (up to 5 of one kind, AM or FM). Certainly the temptation to cluster stations and operate them for profit has not been ignored by Low Power FM’s in Charlottesville, VA. Saga Communications has pointed this out to the FCC, demanding action.

Major amounts of money continue to be spent in the tower business. American Tower Company, a big player in the Seattle market, is on the way to adding 6,000 more sites to their portfolio by the end of 2019. ATC already operates 41,000 Sites in the U.S. and about 170,000 world-wide. A look at their Market Cap tells much. It’s over $100 billion. If you want to get a better idea of just how big $100 billion in Market Cap really is, it’s over 10 times iHeartMedia.

If you are like me, you receive a number of Robo-Calls. In my case, I can count on about 3-4 a day. A couple of recent ones come to mind (you probably get these too).

THE VIRUS PROTECTION SCAM

The recorded voice announces that my virus protection is being renewed (citing an organization I’ve never heard of) and that my account is being charged etc. Of course, they want you to call a number or hang on to talk with someone.

MICROSOFT PRETENDERS

The recorded voice announces they are from the Microsoft support team and my computer is causing problems etc. etc. A couple of times I have hung on and talked to someone (obviously in a boiler-room from all the chatter in the background) explaining that I don’t own a computer and there must be a big mistake. <GRIN>

YOU MUST BE IN PAIN SCAM

It’s quite easy to find out these days how old a person is and be put on a ‘list’ for those that are trying to peddle a quick cure. In this case the person (live this time) asks me if I am having pains etc. etc. After listening to their pitch, I response that they must have a mistake as I’m only 23 years old. <GRIN>

HELLO GRANDPA SCAM

Another pitch for mature people from the ‘we know how old you are list’. In this case the pitch man is assuming that the person answering the phone has become mentally challenged and can’t recall his grandchildren. You answer the call to hear a, plaintive ’Hello Grandpa’. Just for drill, I played along to see how it works. If the caller is crafty, he will get you to tell him the name of a grandchild (setting the hook), then will go on to explain that he is having a hard time and needs money etc. etc.

The sad things about these pitches is the knowledge that people must be, routinely, falling for them to the extent that they stay in business.

One thing interesting is that I rarely, if ever, receive any Robo-Calls to my home/land-line phone any more.

Here’s something that you don’t hear often – a company cutting the number of board members to reduce costs. It’s happening to Salem Media Group. Yes, they own several stations in the Seattle Area.

The battle over 5G is heating up – worldwide. News from Switzerland, one of the first countries to roll out the new system, is of a nationwide revolt over radiation fears, with demands that the technology rollout be put to a vote of the people. Those that oppose 5G are warning of health risks. Shades of the battles in Seattle from years ago faced by broadcasters. There are those that state they have  ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’ and these new systems will be devastating.

The situation in the U.S. is there are pockets of opposition to the roll-out of the technology.

https://www.wcpo.com/money/consumer/dont-waste-your-money/mystery-towers-going-up-all-over-cincinnati-area

Meanwhile, the industries that will benefit from all of this are racing to get it up and running and the FCC, thus far, is on their side.

So if you are fearful about getting ‘nuked’ by 5G radiation, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Take a look at this site:

 

https://speroprotectionclothing.com/

 

I’m not sure how viable your wireless device will be zipped up in a RF-Proof bag.

Meanwhile, there are studies that contend that RF Energy may have some benefits.

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/QST/This%20Month%20in%20QST/March2018/Lindquist%2003.pdf

https://www.nhs.uk/news/neurology/electromagnetic-bathing-cap-shows-promise-early-alzheimers-disease-trial/

I recall, many years ago, going to a doctor regarding sore muscles, whereby he used a Diathermy device. Frankly, I thought it worked very well. Interestingly, after the scare about harmful effects of RF, these devices are hard to find in use anymore.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diathermy     https://www.healthline.com/health/diathermy#types

I am reminded of the Coffee Cups that were given out by the RF Specialties Group (suppliers of equipment for broadcasters). RF, or course, meaning Radio Frequencies. That’s the one on the right from my personal collection.

 

Advertisers are having to deal with some un-expected issues these days.

  • Programs that are being pre-empted by the latest Trump-mess
  • The apparent health hazards from Vaping has caused many to pull the plug on these as they want to distance themselves from the product as some states enact laws regarding it
  • Whether or not to advertise CBD related products.

The question is – just how big is Broadcasting in the U.S.? According to a new Woods and Poole Economics study,  Broadcasting contributes $1.17 trillion to the annual U.S. GDP.

Those of you that have been in Broadcasting for a long time certainly remember the name ITC. ITC was one of the major makers of tape-recording equipment for broadcasters, perhaps more so for their Cartridge Tape equipment. What is little known is that ITC considered making Cassette Tape equipment. Here’s a picture, courtesy of contributor Mike Brooks of KING-FM of a prototype that never made it to production.

As well all know, Magnetic Tape equipment (Cartridge, Cassette and Reel-to-Reel) all were replaced with computers….and with it ITC.

Southeastern U.S. broadcasters had a challenge recently with Hurricane Dorian. Usually stations cover these approaching and quickly departing storms. In this case, Mother Nature pulled a ‘slow-one’ with a storm that not only was hard to predict where it was going, it just sat over the Bahamas for 36 hours. There was plenty of humor along the way with the President telling all that it was heading to Alabama. I guess you can tell that such events are a challenge to the Whitehouse.

Looking for a job in broadcasting in this area?

Saga Communications, operator of a cluster of Radio Stations in Bellingham are looking for a General Manager.

How about a technical position, out of this area?

Perhaps you are tired of endless traffic congestion and ever increasing prices and a dislike for rainfall? This may be just what you have been looking for – a director of Engineering job with a Radio group based in Cody, WY. Here is what they have posted:

Director of Engineering

Sep 6, 2019

Legend Communications is searching for an Engineer to maintain our 23-radio station group.

Candidates must be strong on RF, studio gear, STL’s and audio processing. Our past Director passed away unexpectedly and was with us for 21 years.

Based in Cody, Wyoming and supervising one other full-time IT engineer. Competitive salary and benefits. Company truck for use. Great lifestyle and no state income taxes. EOE.

Send letter and resume to Larry Patrick at larry@patcomm.com for consideration. All replies confidential.

Compare this to the Seattle Area

Cody is a town in northwest Wyoming. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West has 5 museums. These include the Buffalo Bill Museum, tracing William F. Cody’s life with multimedia displays, and the Draper Natural History Museum, with wildlife exhibits. Nearby, Old Trail Town is a re-created frontier town with 1800’s log cabins and a saloon. Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway winds past craggy cliffs to Yellowstone National Park.

Elevation: 4,997′ (Seattle is between Sea-level and 1400 ft.)

Population: 9,885 (2017). (Seattle Metro is close to 4,000,000)

The climate is VERY different

Cody experiences a semi-arid climate with highly variable conditions. Relative humidity is usually a fairly dry 30% or less. Precipitation averages 10.5 inches annually, including 42.5 inches of snow per season. Cody enjoys about 300 days of sunshine per year. The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 25.9 °F in December to 69.9 °F in July. The wettest calendar year has been 1991 with 16.04 inches (407.4 mm) and the driest 1956 with 3.58 inches (90.9 mm).

Oh Yes…..

There are no Freeways (probably never will be) so you can, perhaps, predict when you are going to arrive at a destination. Go ahead, try that in the Seattle area.

While I’m at it, MSN Money recently ran a piece called:

The 15 worst places to buy a home — and where to invest instead

Don’t Buy a Home in Seattle

 

  • 1-year home value change: -5%
  • 5-year home value change: 59%

Seattle may boast incredible natural attractions but its real estate values are being outpaced by smaller nearby cities. It’s still quite pricey to buy a home here, too, at $525.87 per square foot, and to make matters worse, home values sank by 5% over the past year. The average five-year home value change was a more heartening 59%, but that’s not the best value in the area.

Instead, Choose Tacoma

 

  • 1-year home value change: 8.4%
  • 5-year home value change: 72.9%

The port city of Tacoma, situated on Puget Sound, still has affordable real estate at $239.26 per square foot. And homeowners will see value in as little as a year. The one-year home value change was 8.4%, and the five-year home value change was a robust 72.9%.

As you may have heard, the Tacoma area is one of the nation’s hottest real estate markets. Perhaps being fueled by the raging fire to the north?

Recently Readers Digest ran a piece titled:

15 Most Expensive States to Live in the United States.

Here is what they said about this area:

 

Blame Seattle and its behemoth companies (we’re talking Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks, just to name a few) for jacking up the cost of living in Washington. It’s currently the fourth most expensive state in the United States for housing.

While I’m at it …..Here are 3 of the fastest growing housing markets in the U.S. located  in the PNW:

#18 – Spokane
#14 – Tri-Cities
#3 –   Boise

If you have not been to the Boise area recently (my kids are there), the growth is amazing, especially the area just west of Boise, Meridian.

More ownership shuffles for the TV industry.

The FCC has recently approved the Nexstar-Tribune Merger.

An Order detailing the Commission’s reasoning can be found here:

https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-19-89A1.pdf

View the Nexstar-Tribune transaction page here: www.fcc.gov/transaction/nexstar-tribune

 

Tribune operates two Stations in the Seattle area, KCPQ Ch. 13 and KSJO Ch. 25. If I recall, KSJO is slated to move to Ch. 36, but uses Virtual Ch. 22.

I love pictures of locations where Radio & TV signals begin. In this case, it’s of the Mt. Sutro Tower near San Francisco. Here, thanks to a blanket of fog, you can’t see the tower, making the structure at the top look like a ship in a sea. Interesting that this is a big self-supporting tower with three guyed towers sitting on top. We have a smaller version of this on Crego Hill near Chehalis, where a guyed tower sits on top of an old radar tower.

Here’s a switch – East Arkansas Broadcasters are purchasing a recently closed newspaper. The Stuttgart Daily Leader.

Often a name is changed to ‘freshen’ the image. Example – NPR is no longer National Public Radio…now just NPR. Let’s face it, the word RADIO is very old (almost 100 years). For some reason it’s a term that continues to be used. However, a newer, more contemporary term could be well received in some circles. I can imagine a lot of younger types think of Radio as something old and dated. Now comes news that ABC Radio has been having the same thoughts and recently dropped the word Radio from their name, henceforth to be called ABC Audio. Perhaps this makes sense as many listen on-line. You can hardly say listening that way would be called ‘listening to the radio’. Could we see the beginning of the end of the word Radio? It will be interesting to see how many follow suit.

Is there anyone alive that has not heard of Amazon these days? Not the river, but the giant in Seattle. So how big has Amazon become? Here are a couple of tidbits that underscore their size:

  • Locally (in the Seattle area) they employ in excess of 53,000. This now makes them the second largest employer in this area, behind Boeing (they employ about 70,000) bumping Microsoft to 3rd place.
  • They are presently occupying about 13,000,000 square feet of space.
  • Nationally, their employment is something like 300,000.

Remember the antenna that caught on fire at West Tiger Mountain a while back?

Well…here it is:

The stations at this site are still using a temporary antenna system and will be doing so until a permanent replacement is installed. Rumors are the replacement will be shipped in November (just in time for winter). My guess, perhaps this coming Spring this project will be completed.

Here is a picture of an operating FM Transmitting Antenna at West Tiger Mountain.

In this case, it was taken with an Infrared Camera to show the relative temperature of various portions of the device.

OK…here’s one for you Technical Types. I recently spotted this tag on what appears to be an operational piece of equipment:

Facebook

Twitter

Anyone know what it is?

I found that the company is still in business making a number of items.

As we all know the Picture Tube, or CRT, that was used for many years in TV Sets and computers is long gone in favor of what’s called a flat-panel display. Along the way we have seen a number of variations, Plasma, LCD etc. LG, the big Korean maker of many things, has a new production plan up and running where they expect to produce 10,000,000 large OLED Panels by 2022. These will be 55, 65 and 77 inch panels. I’m old enough to recall my first TV set used a 7 inch round picture tube!

One of the tools used by those that generate ‘Click-Bait’ is to show a picture of something completely un-related to their pitch. I am often amused at how many times I see this picture with the statement that this device is going to revolutionize the world. Here is the typical text:

Better Than Solar Panels? Revolutionary New Invention Takes Country By Storm

What’s pictured here is what’s known in Ham Radio circles as a “Halo Antenna’. This one is, rather obviously, home-made using copper tubing and PVC Pipe. Just about everything here can be purchased at a big-box hardware store.

 

These antennas are easy to build and are used by Amateur Radio operators, world-wide.  If you wish – Click on this site – https://qrznow.com/2-meter-halo-antenna-by-mike-fedler-n6tww/

And see the very antenna. Perhaps sadly, this is not some new invention that’s better than a solar panel, just an effort by someone to make you click on the site.

If you are interested in constructing a Halo Antenna, check out this site for pictures of many home-made versions of the Halo.

 

https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ACYBGNSaPShYMKxs3WDooBb7z4uviedB2w:1569208910270&q=halo+antenna&tbm=isch&source=hp&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj36LLd_uXkAhULpJ4KHcgaCxoQiR56BAgJEA4&biw=1562&bih=832#spf=1569211642084

 

If you wish, you can make one of these for the FM Band where it will function as an omni-directional receiving antenna.

The FCC is looking at making changes to the rules governing low-power FM’s. First round of comments have to be submitted by Oct. 31 with replies due by November 4th. So what changes are being considered?

  • Use of directional antennas
  • Use of boosters
  • Increased power levels

All right, enough of the serious stuff. Time for some smile making.

“Lexophile” describes those that have a love for words, such as “You can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish” or “To write with a broken pencil is pointless.”

An annual competition is held by the New York Times to see who can create the best original lexophile. Perhaps I should issue a ‘Groaner Warning”.

This year’s submissions:

I changed my iPod’s name to Titanic. It’s syncing now.

England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

Haunted French pancakes give me the crepes.

I know a guy who’s addicted to drinking brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.

I got some batteries that were given out free of charge.

A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.

A will is a dead giveaway.

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

Police were summoned to a daycare center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

Did you hear about the fellow whose entire left side was cut off? He’s all right now.

A bicycle can’t stand alone: it’s just two tired.

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine last week is now fully recovered.

He had a photographic memory but it was never fully developed.

When she saw her first strands of gray hair she thought she’d dye.

Acupuncture is a jab well done. That’s the point of it.

I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

Did you hear about the crossed-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?

When chemists die, they barium.

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.

That’s about it for this month, my friends.

Thanks for the read…….

Lord willing, I will be back to most of the same locations next month at this time.

Until then –

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

SBE Member for over 50 years, #714.

Clay’s Corner for September 2019

Clay’s Corner for September  2019

Clay’s Corner

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

 

Enjoying summer? At least this one has been relatively free of the choking smoke of last year. We’ve had some rainy days that have kept the fire danger under control and temps have been fairly mild. Fall is not far away as the leaves are starting to turn and fall.

TV broadcasting has been undergoing major changes to accommodate what’s called repacking, which is basically cramming all the TV stations together to create open spectrum for wireless devices, among them, the much-touted, 5G or 5th Generation systems. Perhaps we should have known, but the pushback for those new systems is ramping up, perhaps thanks to stories on the Internet and social media that have fueled fears that the emissions from these new facilities are actually evil.

Look no farther than Northern California where cities and towns are issuing ordinances that would prohibit new 5G facilities from locating in residential areas. Areas as close as Portland, Oregon have residents clamoring for restrictions. Many are asking for more studies on the health aspects. Fear is a powerful tool…and fear of the unknown is even more powerful. This is an issue that is bound to become highly political.

Local politicians’ jobs are not to protect the wireless carriers, but rather to protect the interests of the residents who fear these new systems will negatively impact their health, not to mention their property values.

The telecoms, who have invested huge sums of money for more spectrum (some of which is being spent on moving TV station frequencies) are not likely to fade away into the sunset. They will be fighting back and asking the government to help.

It’s estimated that there may be a half a million new cell sites. Due to the short range of some of these frequencies, many new antennas will be mounted on existing utility poles, buildings etc. which only fuels the debate. I can just see ‘Oscar Objector’ watching very carefully on what the guys in the ‘bucket truck’ are installing on his street.

The telecoms are heavily invested in 5G, and they have a lot of legal horsepower. There are consumers that are anxious for higher speeds and new gizmos. Friends, this could get ugly despite the rules the FCC has passed an effort to speed up 5G’s roll-out.

Many years ago the late Chuck Morris (of KIRO) used to keep track of station call letters in the Seattle area. Sure, there are those that have never changed….KVI, KJR Radio. Channels 11 and 13 and a number of UHF’s have made the switch. Perhaps some should have. Many still think that KIRO Radio and TV are the same company. Ditto for KING-TV and KING-FM.

There are just so many call letters in the U.S. Generally, west of the Mississippi all start with the letter K. Therefore call letters tend to migrate from station to station as owners and formats change. A couple of them come to mind, both of which I worked for in this area. KNBQ and KBSG have been associated with various stations since they left town.

Lowell Kiesow recently sent me a note stating that KPLU is now used by a Spanish religious FM Station in Palacios, TX.

The first letter of a call indicates where in the world the station is located, however, not all those first letters are used by broadcasters. For example, in the U.S. we have K, W, N and A with only K and W being used for broadcast stations. Canada has C and V…with only C’s currently being issued.

Who owns what in broadcasting requires an up-to-date program. For example:

  • Apollo purchased Cox (owner of KIRO-TV in Seattle)
  • Now Apollo is eyeing the purchase of Tegna (owners of KING and KONG-TV)
  • Don’t think a given company can own three TVs in this market, meaning, that if this deal comes true, one of these stations would have a new owner.
  • Then again, perhaps nothing will happen.

Whatever happens, Apollo could become one of the biggest owners in the U.S.

Didja hear….Seattle’s traffic is #7 on the list of the worst places to drive. The good news is that drivers in this area have plenty of time to tune into radio. Ever wonder why so many stations offer traffic reports? I still wonder why someone has not done as they do just to Seattle’s north and have a radio station dedicated to traffic reports? (Tune into 730 AM sometime). Seems to me that a struggling AM station in the Seattle area could do this. Take a look at the big-signal AMs near the bottom of the ratings list for good candidates.

Dealing with the traffic situation in the Seattle area is becoming increasingly obvious. Make drivers pay to get there sooner. 405, 167, 520 & the Tacoma Narrows Bridge were made bigger, coupled with a larger dent in your wallet. The Alaska Way Viaduct is now gone, replaced with a tunnel…and tolls. Welcome to the new world.

The FCC routinely cracks down on a pirate/ unlicensed radio stations. Generally these are in major cities on the east coast. This month someone was perhaps caught by surprise when the Commish nailed a pirate radio operation in Arkansas and fined them $10,000. Was on 103.1 in Alma, AR. This one was interesting, as the operator reportedly told the FCC that the Communications Act did not apply to him. My question is this – Will the Feds ever collect the fine? Odds are the operator will claim financial distress etc. and get off with a much lower amount or a hand slap. A version of the old saying about ‘blood and a turnip’.

It appears we are getting closer to the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. This is of local interest as T-Mobile has local roots. The past month saw the FCC Chairman recommending approval. One of the drivers behind this is the push to get 5G up and operating, and approval will help with that process. Of course there are road-blocks. Like all matters of this nature…time will tell.

EAS continues to be in the news with the recent NPT (National Periodic Test). From the sounds of things, things in Washington State went well. Thanks to all of you that participated. Our State SECC will be meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 10th at CPTC in Lakewood. Hope you can participate with that as well. We are working on changes that will impact everyone.

If you own Sage EAS Equipment, you likely have heard that you are going to have to update your equipment. NO – This is not an option! To gain more insight into this matter I dropped a note to Harold Price of Sage Alerting. Here is his response:

Clay,

The September Update will be called rev 95, as in 95-0.

The update will need to be installed by Nov 7, 2019.

The list price, per ENDEC, is $349, though we’re selling via distributors, and they set their own price.

No group or quantity discounts.

Each update file is tied to the serial number of the ENDEC.  You get a .x file for each ENDEC.  The distributor will give you a download URL.  The installation process is otherwise the same.

Updates are free to ENDECs purchased new from our distributors after March 1 2018, which are serial numbers in this range:
Free: B417611 – B429999

These serial numbers must purchase the update:
Pay: All serial numbers less than B417611.
Pay: Serial numbers B430000 to B439999.

Regards,
Harold

At long last CBS and Viacom have merged. Like a lot of mergers, this one featured some rough spots in the road. Certainly there are some lawyers that can now likely retire. At the helm will be Bob Bakish of what’s now known as Viacom/CBS. This is of interest me to for a couple of reasons: 1) I worked for Viacom for 10 years, and 2) I still have a chuck of their stock.

In the event you are wondering, this is only CBS Television. CBS Radio disappeared into Entercom. Speaking of which, Entercom recently cut their dividends and saw their stock take a big hit. They too are faced with a mountain of debt, whose service is deemed more important than paying stockholders a few cents a share.

Earlier this past month another merger was in the news. This the merger of Nexstar and Tribune. Tribune owns a couple of TV Stations in the Seattle market. No word on any impact to these stations from this change.

Looking for a job in broadcasting in the PNW? How about Chief Engineer at a TV Station in Eugene? Read on:

EMPLOYMENT ANNOUNCEMENT

https://www.oregonsfox.com/uploads/8/2/8/6/82867196
/chief_broadcast_engineer.pdf

KLSR/KEVU

2940 Chad Drive, Eugene, Oregon  97408 * Phone (541)683-3434 * Fax (541)683-8016

POSITION TITLE:    Chief Broadcasting Engineer

STATUS:                 Full Time

LOCATION:            Eugene, OR  KLSR/KEVU_

DATE OPEN:          Immediately

SALARY RANGE:   DOE

RESPONSIBLE TO: General Manager

DESCRIPTION/DUTIES: KLSR-TV/KEVU-TV has an opening for a full time Chief Engineer.

This position is responsible for overseeing technical aspects of a digital broadcast studio and multiple transmitter sites, which includes equipment procurement, installation, and maintenance. In addition, manage and maintain all ancillary systems responsible for supporting the on-air operation, such as HVAC, networking, electrical and mechanical.

The ideal candidate will also support our staff with all computer-related hardware and software needs; manage local computer networks and local phone systems.

Works closely with General Manager, Production Manager, Corporate Engineering, and pertinent cable systems.

EXPERIENCE: Two-year technical school or equivalent college courses. 3-5 years’ experience as a broadcast technician. Must have working knowledge of desktop computers and IT networks, microwave transmission systems, television  transmitters, test  equipment, vehicle  maintenance, and construction  tools.  The  ideal candidate will be successful in working well with staff, thinking clearly under pressure, and applying creative solutions in a timely manner.

REQUIREMENTS: A valid driver’s license and good driving record are required.  Drug  testing is a pre-employment requirement.

SBE Certifications preferred.

Please send resumes to :

Fox Television
Chief Engineer Position
2940 Chad Drive
Eugene OR 97408

The C-Band mess continues. Bottom line – wireless wants a big chunk of the band while broadcasters (Radio and TV) are heavy users and are fighting back. As I predicted some time ago, there seems to be growing belief that some sort of ‘repacking’ may take place. The FCC dealt with a similar situation with TV Broadcast where Wireless wanted more spectrum. The Commish, essentially, devised a plan whereby all the TV stations would ‘snuggle up’. Likely this will be the case with C-Band. There have been some of the more technically challenged that are suggesting that all the broadcasters can just switch to fiber. The extent that C-Band has and is being used is greatly misunderstood. Part of the blame belongs to users of the band for failing to register all their receiving equipment. Broadcasters are fighting back (a mode that is very common these days). If we were to have another ‘repack’ would wireless pay for the shuffle with the FCC playing banker again?

Just how this will be implemented is anyone’s guess. Again, we hide and watch this one end up in court.

The following is a map showing just how extensively C-Band is used by just one facet of broadcasting, in this case, Public Radio.

Bottom of Form

 

Sadly another life has been lost involving someone trying to steel copper wire at a broadcast facility. In this case, it was at KRMG AM in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The station’s manager released this report:

“Early this morning two individuals broke into the KRMG-AM transmitter site. It appears they attempted to access a building through a conduit and were electrocuted. One of the individuals is deceased and one was transported to the hospital. From the tools and materials found at the site, it appears that they were attempting to steal copper. The safety of our community is of utmost importance – please do not enter any transmitter site, for any reason, as the area is extremely dangerous.”

Apparently, when law enforcement arrived at the scene they found one man dead, another severely injured. Later a third party was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

Good food and conversation was the scene at the recent Portland SBE summer gathering.

 

Here’s a picture of a cake I found on the table. Kudos for a great design.

Now here is a story you don’t see very often. The Headline Reads:

Pullman airport closing temporarily to bring new runway online

There are some issues at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport that need corrected. One of them is huge, requiring the moving of a lot of dirt. Unlike Sea-Tac where a lot of dirt had to be moved in for the third runway, Pullman must move dirt out of the way as the runway sits in a narrow valley. This change will permit larger aircraft to use the facility, as will be the addition of an instrument landing system (ILS) and other improvements.

To make all this possible they are shutting down the airport for a month starting Sept 11th (can you imagine this taking place elsewhere?). Reportedly 5,600 people a year use this facility.

So what are your options? Drive about 75 miles north to Spokane or about 30 miles south to Lewiston.

Once again, time to look at the radio numbers in Seattle from this past month. Here are my takeaways:

  • We have a new #1 Station – KZOK-FM
  • KUOW-FM is still a powerhouse at #2
  • Hubbard’s KNUC (the Bull) has overtaken Entercom’s KKWF (The Wolf)
  • Top rated AM is still KIRO/710 – However they slid, perhaps due to the Mariners performance?
  • The #2 AM is still KOMO/1000 whose numbers are holding steady
  • The #3 AM is KTTH/770
  • For the first time – 3 of the Bustos Media stations are listed
  • KRWM-HD2 is also shown.

Perhaps it should be noted that Bonneville Seattle’s cluster consists of 1-FM and 2-AMs

All of which are doing well. To underscore their belief in AM, last year KIRO-AM installed a new Nautel NX50 Transmitter. Now it’s time for KTTH to do the same with that project just getting underway. In this day of people engraving tombstones for AM stations, it’s interesting to see one company bucking the trend. One thing about Bonneville that I fail to understand is why they don’t promote the fact that KIRO-AM Is simulcast on 97.3 HD2 and KTTH-AM is simulcast on 97.3 HD3. Both of which have extensive coverage. Perhaps another reason why I am not in programming?

Another market where AM’s are getting a shot of FM to help out is San Francisco where Cumulus recently announced they were dropping their long-running KFOG music station to begin simulcasting KNBR, their local sports station.

Meanwhile, early in August it was announced that the FCC was hitting Cumulus with a $233,000 fine for Sponsorship ID Rule Violations.

Just for fun – I decided to look at another PNW Market to see how their radio listening habits compare to Seattle. In this case – Boise, Idaho. I’m going to leave out the call letters and frequencies as that information is meaningless to most, and just list the format and market rank. Very Similar.

 

Market Rank Format Seattle Station
1 News/Talk KIRO-FM
2 Variety Hits KJAQ
3 Country KBUC- KKWF
4 Classic Rock KZOK
5 Rhythmic KHTP

 

What is different?

  • A highly rated Non-Commercial Station like KUOW
  • More Country stations
  • Sports Talk stations at the bottom of the list

There was something missing in last month’s Column, a picture from Dwight Small – Not this time – A fantastic sunset over lake Cavanaugh.

And….If you look east from the West Side of the Lake — You have this!

 

Nothing like a great quote:

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled”.

Mark Twain

Changes in Bellingham….Long time Engineer Will Vos is out at the Cascade Radio Group.

It’s not only Seattle and Bellevue that have a forest of Tower Cranes. I recently counted four of them at work in Totem Lake. Even Auburn has one putting up a new apartment building across the street from the Sounder Station. Spotted another at the ever-growing area of Port Ruston near Tacoma.

Another group with stations in the Seattle area continues to prune their holdings. In this case, Salem Media Group is selling six stations in Florida to Immaculate Heart Media. All is a part of a reduction in the number of stations held by the group.

With all the hype about ‘fake-news’ etc., a recent study determined that Local News is still the most trusted source for U.S. Adults. Not surprising, Local TV news is the most trusted, followed by broadcast network news, then cable network news. Which is the lowest rated? Social Media.

Of course, this past month has seen news stories about Ransomware. This is where an entity finds their computer system infected with someone asking to be paid to unlock their system.

Interestingly, several municipalities have been hit with this, reportedly, some actually paying to perpetrators. Most recently a little radio station, KNEO, in Joplin, MO found its audio files corrupted and a demand to pay $100,000. Reportedly the station did not pay up, instead hired IT techs to work the problem. It was believed the hackers were in Russia due to the methods used. Not long ago, a station in Florida was hit, costing them about a million dollars in expenses and lost revenue. KQED in San Francisco was attacked in June of 2017. That one took them months to recover. It’s amazing how much we pay in terms of hardware and labor just to protect ourselves in these times.

Congrats to Charlie Wooten on being named this year’s Robert W. Flanders SBE Engineer of the year. I can tell you, as a previous winner, this is a fantastic honor. Speaking of awards, former Seattle Chief,  Doug Irwin, has been honored for his writing skills. I had breakfast with Doug this past month. He is the technical ‘honcho’ of the IHM cluster in Los Angeles.

The FCC recently underscored their rules regarding misuse of EAS Tones with the handing out of some pretty sizable fines.

Jimmy Kimmel show – $395,000 fine for using a simulated WEA tone three times during a sketch last year.

The Walking Dead – $104,000 fine for using the EAS tone during the “Omega” episode.

Lone Star Law – $68,000 because they aired an actual WEA signal that was caught on crewmembers’ phones as they were filming.

KDAY and KDEY-FM parent Meruelo Radio Holdings – $67,000 for a simulated EAS attention signal in a promotion for the morning show on these LA area stations.

I am amazed at how many fail to grasp the fact that this is a no-no.

If you are not convinced that FM Translators, especially those in large metropolitan areas, have very high values, consider the recent announcement of a sale of two FM Translators in the Chicago market for $3.5 million!

And the headline read:

SiriusXM Pays $25M To Settle Class Action Suit Over Robocalls.

Apparently the Satellite Radio Broadcaster violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Impacted parties are eligible for either $12 in compensation or three months of free service if they file a claim by Oct. 8th.

For a short time, Seattle rental costs went down. Apparently this was short lived as they are on their way up again. According to recently published data, Seattle is now the fourth most expensive city for rent. The top 3 are all in California. As suspected – San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego. (Is it not interesting that the three most expensive places all have ‘San’ in their names?)

On the personal side:

Once in a while, not often enough, I get to build something for myself. In this case it was time to replace my mailbox. The mailbox I have been using was brought here by the first owner of this place, when the house was built in the late 70s and it was getting pretty rusty. I’ve replaced the wooden 4×4 post a couple of times over the past 30 years I’ve lived here.

The time had come to come up with something new and more durable.

Mail boxes in this country have to be approved by the USPS, so building one was pretty much out of the question. Provided you mount your mail-box in keeping with USPS specs, you are pretty much free to do what you want. Those of you that know me well, know that I collect cast-off stuff awaiting the day that it can be put back to work to resolve an issue. This is called ‘repurposing’. So l looked at my collection of things that were used elsewhere and came up with:

  •     A short piece of Rohn 55G tower (previously used at West Tiger Mt.)
  •     An ERI FM transmitting antenna bracket (previously used at Cougar Mt.)

The hard part was digging a triangular hole 30 inches deep in native glacial deposits (aka lots of rocks) and mixing 18 – 60 pound bags of concrete mix in a wheelbarrow. But the results have been gratifying. I’ll admit my neighbors have not said much, perhaps in an effort to be polite?

 

Once again Seattle got in the national news. This time, not good news. Paige Thompson was arrested and charged in federal court for stealing millions of Capital One credit card applications that included names, birthdates, social security and bank account numbers.

Congrats to Nick Winter, K7MO (Ex KNKX Eng.) on his winning a $1000 gift certificate from Elecraft at the recent Amateur Radio DX convention in Everett.

Another wonderful quote:

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

Carl Sagan

Another congratulations to KNKX on their recent move to new studios in the theatre district of Tacoma in the historic Gardner building at 930 Broadway. For those of you that have not followed this event, several years ago Pacific Lutheran University decided to sell their long-owned radio station KPLU. The station had its studios and offices in a relatively new building adjacent to the campus in Parkland, named for its former Manager Martin Neeb. In the end, the station was purchase by its listeners and renamed KNKX. Moving out of a University Owned building was part of the transition.

Long ago, in the last Century, when I started in this business in Tacoma, the city had a number of radio and TV stations, all with studios in Tacoma.

  • KMO had moved from its historic studios in the Keys Building (very near where KNKX is located now) to their transmitter location in Fife.
  • KTAC (850 AM) used to have their studios in the Winthrop Hotel (also very near the new KNKX digs). They later purchased Tom Read’s FM Station (KTWR) renaming it KBRD and moving operations to the Tacoma Mall Office Building.
  • KTNT (1400 AM & 97.3 FM) were at the same location as KTNT-TV at 11th & Grant.
  • KLAY (106.1 FM) was operating from the Park Towers apartment building near downtown Tacoma.
  • KTVW (Ch. 13) was located at their transmitter site at North 35th and Shirley, also their transmitter location.

Over the years, Tacoma and Seattle have grown together in many ways and the FCC relaxed the rule that your studio had to be in your city of license. In this process the stations scattered and headed to the big city to the north.

  • KMO is now KKMO. Its studios were bulldozed last year. Their transmitter is still at Browns Point, but that’s all.
  • KTAC is now KHHO and is owned by iHeart Media with studios in Seattle, along with the other iHM stations.
  • KBRD became KMTT and is now KHTP. The station has been owned by Entercom all that time and is part of their cluster of five stations operating with downtown Seattle studios.
  • KBRD is now KHPT and still owned by Entercom with transmitter at West Tiger and studios in downtown Seattle.
  • KTNT-AM is now KITZ, located in Bremerton.
  • KTNT-FM is now KIRO-FM with transmitter at West Tiger and studios on Eastlake Ave. in Seattle.
  • KTNT-TV is now KSTW with transmitter and studios in Seattle.
  • KLAY-FM is now KBKS and is part of IHM, with transmitter at West Tiger and studios at the IHM facility in Seattle.
  • KTVW-TV is now KCPQ with studios on Westlake Ave. in Seattle.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because KNKX is now the only major broadcast station to buck the trend and have their studios within their City of License. Granted they also have studios in Seattle, however, their primary operation is in downtown Tacoma, not far from where many others used to be. One more fact, there was another station that used to be in Tacoma that had moved to Seattle when I started my career – KVI. But that’s another story.

Being a – really old – guy….I love to look back.

For my ‘older readers’….You are welcome.

For my ‘younger readers’ …Think of this as a history lesson.

HOW’S THIS FOR NOSTALGIA?

                                                   

It took three minutes for the TV to warm up.

Nobody owned a purebred dog. 
  
When a quarter was a decent allowance, and made with real Silver!   

You got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped, without asking, all for free, every time. And you didn’t pay for air? And, you got trading stamps to boot.

Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box. Not to mention Cracker Jacks!

It was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at a real restaurant with your parents.

No one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car, in the ignition, and the doors were never locked.

Stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger.

Chances are your home had a front porch and a swing.

Summers filled with bike rides, hula hoops, and visits to the pool, and eating Kool-Aid powder with sugar.

Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside.

Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles.

Coffee shops with table side Jukeboxes.

Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers.

Newsreels before the movie.

Telephone numbers with a word prefix…(Yukon 2-601). Anyone in Seattle remember Sunset 3-24-04?

Or, some of us remember when there were just 4 numbers with no word prefix at all. And, nearly everyone had a party line.

Hi-Fi’s & 45 RPM records.

S&H Green Stamps.

Mimeograph paper. (Remember the purple ink?)

‘Race issue’ meant arguing about who ran the fastest.

Catching fireflies could happily occupy an entire evening.

Having a weapon in school meant being caught with a slingshot.

Saturday morning cartoons weren’t 30-minute commercials for action figures.

‘Olly-oly-oxen-free’ made perfect sense.

That’s about it for this month, my friends.

Thanks for the read…….

Lord willing, I will be back to most of the same locations next month at this time.

Until then, may you have a wonderful, what’s left of it, Summer!!….

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

SBE Member for over 50 years, #714

 

 

 

The KE0VH Hamshack for May

May 2019

Welcome to almost SUMMER!

As of the beginning to write this article we get a couple of days of warmer weather and then 3 or 4 days of wet cold and some snow.  Cannot wait for summer to come and STAY!  PLEASE!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We have been experimenting with several ways to link into the Skyhub AllStar/DMR/Fusion system we have operating here out of the Denver area.  I put together a MMDVM audio board along with a RPI3, and the radio was a digital data TEKK Model KS-960.  I have had this radio in a junk box for years with no real use for it until now and cannot remember where it came from.  So, it made a great experiment! It will run off 12 volts thru its DB9 connector with the inputs and outputs to and from the Pi3 running Pi-Star software.  Much better ops and easier than last months experiment with the Motorola GM-300. The system works very well, but the main problem in this case is the radio is crystal frequency controlled, and the crystals in the radio are reverse of a repeater pair here in Denver.  However, if you can find the crystals made anymore it would be relatively easy to change the frequency ops.  I am having fun learning and working with this system and how it all interconnects.  Plus, it allows different modes of and portable operation to stay in touch no matter how or where you go!

The MMDVM board, Raspberry Pi3 and TEKK KS-960 data radio

And with that, here is the almost all FUSION Hamshack article this time around!

And I would like to introduce you to the latest edition to the KEØVH fleet of radios!  The Yaesu FT-3207 UHF only mobile joins the handheld FT-70D and the FTM-100 used for the Fusion WiresX link from my home as seen in the March 2019 article   (http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201903Mar.pdf )

and the mobile FTM-400 XDR rig in the truck.  This is a 50 watt C4FM/Analog Yaesu mobile that was on sale for only $149 at Ham Radio Outlet.  So, since I wanted a good radio to take over for the FTM-100

doing duty as the WiresX link for my office/backup/travel mobile rig, I found out about this one and had to try to pick one up.  Its operation is the same as the dual band FT-7250 that my friend and across street neighbor Bernie N3ZF has, and the FT-70D handheld that we both have now.  These radios operate on both analog and Yaesu’s CF4M System Fusion digital and WiresX internet connectivity for worldwide linking of communications.  It seems that HRO and other ham radio retailers are having frequent sales on these radios.  They are selling like hotcakes and HRO is having trouble keeping them in stock.  According to Eric KCØWOT at HRO Denver, the mobile FTM-400 is backordered for a month or so now.  Eric says to get on the phone NOW and order as this sale price is the lowest he has seen and probably will ever be.  It is in effect as a “Hamvention Special” until May 31.  I am glad I got mine last November before the rush.  Eric also said the monoband 3207DR (UHF only) and 3200DR (2 meters only) are in stock a little bit more.  Yaesu really hit a home run with these radio’s as popularity has REALLY INCREASED and demand is VERY high.  HRO Denver as of this writing has 50 of the FT-70D handheld so if you are thinking about it now is the time!  In my opinion, I really like the ease of use of the Yaesu radio’s as you can program them easily from the front panel (ADMS programming software is available on the Yaesu website and was free for the FT-70D handheld) without having to use a DMR codeplug, plus the digital audio to me anyway is more robust and sounds less “digital” than the DMR systems.  Connecting the radios to the different Fusion “Rooms” (as compared to DMR “Talkgroups”) is also easy from the front panel.  All in all I am really sold on the Yaesu radios, can you tell?  😊

The Yaesu FT-3207DR and Power Supply

Another cool experiment this month was the sending of messages via APRS that Skyler KGØSKY wanted to try.  Using his RPi3 APRS rig (that he homebrewed by the way) and his cell phone to SSH into his APRS mobile system, he and I were able to send messages back and forth to and from my FTM-400.  APRS was originally designed not just to transmit and display location beacons, but to be able to message back and forth too.  Another reason to contemplate a ‘400 as your next mobile rig.  True dual band/mode capabilities at the same time.  I use one side of mine to beacon my location via APRS, (https://aprs.fi/#!mt=roadmap&z=11&call=a%2FKE0VH-2&timerange=3600&tail=3600) and the other to communicate voice.  But you can also transmit data (with the camera microphone) and messaging via APRS.

Skyler KGØSKY sending an APRS message thru his mobile/cell system

And his message coming thru to the FTM-400

And me sending back to him thru the FTM-400

And him receiving my message back!  SO COOL!

As you may have seen in my previous emails via the SBE Monday Night Net announcements, soon we will have the 449.625 repeater on Lookout Mountain again as it is having to move from its current site (it is dark at this writing, but hopefully will be back in operation soon) to the site above the Clear Channel complex and below Buffalo Bills grave & museum above Golden CO.  When it is back on the air it will be doing double duty for both analog as always, plus now it will be on Fusion digital too.  The Denver Water Amateur radio club is upgrading its current Fusion repeater seen in last months Hamshack article to the latest greatest DR-2X system.  The current DR-1X will be assigned over to me for deployment on Lookout Mountain, will be WiresX capable, act as a backup in emergencies for DWARC, and will of course resume its duties as an analog machine that has served for many many years in the Denver area.  Stand by for an update next month.

My FTM-400 monitoring the DWARC KDØSSP Fusion repeater in WiresX mode on “SBENETCOM”

Hey!  A Trifecta of Engineer/Ham Vehicles! KC8GPD, KGØSKY, and KEØVH mobile antenna farms.

KC8GPD wins!

So here is what a handie-talkie antenna looks like when the cover comes off due to glue failure.

Fortunately, some super glue and slipping it back on fixed this issue.  Never seen this one before!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

By the way, Amateur Radio Newsline reported a week or so ago that Special Event station K2M will be operating beginning July 16th, the anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 thru the 24th.  The special event will celebrate the flight and lunar landing.  A special certificate will be available.  And they are looking for any hams who had anything to do with the building of the Grumman company Lunar Module and any information on what and how they may have participated in the building of the LM.  IF you know of anyone or could help in any way you can contact NO2C@arrl.net.  Look for more information on the ARRL website.  I am sure going to try to work these guys for sure.

Apollo 11 “The Eagle” Wish I could have “worked” these guys! 😊

So in the February 2019 edition of the Hamshack article (http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201902Feb.pdf)  I wrote about the rig shown in the movie about the Italians who in 1954 were the first to climb K2, second highest mountain on Earth and more dangerous than Everest.  back in 1954.  It was shown at K2 base camp being used to communicate with the team on the mountain.  I asked if anyone recognized it in anyway.

Well Shane KØSDT found information on it and sent it to me.  Great Job DUDE!

 

If you are interested in seeing and reading more check this out:

https://www.google.com/search?q=Signal+Generator+ZD+03813&rlz=1C1GCEA_enUS833US833&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=mLFeqYHSKJ1uVM%253A%252CjKelJgwm4onGLM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kSfGtjnDIJWYG8x0uq_xc3oNOfR0w&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjL_-apiI_iAhXlsFQKHRRUBkoQ9QEwBHoECAkQBA#imgrc=mLFeqYHSKJ1uVM:

 

AND FINALLY, nothing to do with Fusion or Ham Radio in general, scroll down to the next page to see my favorite picture from this month with warm skies in Denver and my other favorite pastime!

 

 70+ degree day in Colorado, downtown Denver in the distance on Lookout Mountain above Golden CO!

 The Hamshack Archive Links

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

                                                  5 Years AGO:  http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/05/

                                                  6 Years AGO: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2013/05/

 

 

 

SBE VHF/UHF Chapter 73 of the Air HAMnet

 

 

The SBE Chapter 73 of the air UHF/VHF Hamnet is today (Monday) at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT) worldwide via Echolink KG0SKY-L, node 985839 (available via computer and radio), Allstar node 46079, DMR Talkgroup 310847, AND try it with your hotspot.  The SBE UHF/VHF Hamnet is based in Denver on 449.450, pl 103.5, and the 448.350 Fusion repeater, linked to WiresX room “SBENETCOM” node 46361

And Soon BACK: WØKU 449.625, Fusion/Analog pl 141.3

 

You can listen on the LIVE STREAM thru Broadcastify at:

https://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/25448/web

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 73’ from the “Shack”

 

 

 

Clay’s Corner for June 2019

Clay’s Corner

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

 

And the Headline read –

Washington earned the No. 1 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s Best States rankings.

So you say – How come?

  • Booming economy…The nation’s fastest growing
  • Tech-sector powerhouse
  • Many big name companies are here (Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, Costco, Starbucks, T-Mobile etc.)
  • Cheap, climate-friendly electricity…or as they call it north of here, ‘Hydro’ and lots of wind-power generation (The writer of the story still calls them ‘wind-mills’)
  • Other rankings –

º  #3 for economy
º  #2 for Infrastructure
º  #4 for Health Care
º  #4 for Education

Other states in the region did not fare as well –
#16 – Idaho
#27 – Oregon
#29 – Montana

That’s all well and fine – – Now for the no-so-good news –

The Headline read – Seattle gas prices spike 42 cents over the last month.

Not sure I can feel great about knowing that I’m paying some of the highest prices in the country to be able to sit in a traffic jam!

Meanwhile, Seattle’s neighbor to the south recently learned that, according to Redfin, Tacoma is the hottest housing market in the nation right now.  There are a number of reasons they were able to make that call.  Speed of sale is one of them with just over half of the homes being sold just 2 weeks after being listed.  Typically the number is 8 days.  That’s faster than any other market in the country.  Another indicator of a hot-market is when homes go for more than the asking price.  Right now, about half of them in Tacoma are doing just that.  Price is a big factor that may be causing home buyers to look south of Seattle where the median price is $698,000.  In Tacoma-Pierce County that figure is $335,000.  But those prices are going up at a faster rate than those in Seattle.  In short, Tacoma is Hot.

Seattle’s success has some byproducts – Increased homeless problems as low-earners are priced out and comparison shopping where would-be homeowners are forced to look elsewhere.

I have personal experience with this issue going back about 30 years ago, when the station I worked for moved from Tacoma to Seattle.  At the time, I was living in Lakewood (southwest of Tacoma) and found I could not afford Seattle home prices, so I moved to Auburn…a move I have never regretted.

Are you ready for the next EASNT (Emergency Alert System National Test)?  FEMA has announced that it will be August 7th at 2:20 p.m. (ET) this year.  Rather than test all of the various warning systems at one time, FEMA selects certain ones to test their viability.  If you recall, last year they concentrated on WEA.  This year it will be the original, analog, EAS system, commonly called ‘Legacy EAS’ with the test message being distributed via the nation’s PEP (Primary Entry Point Stations).  In Washington State, this means KIRO-AM 710 in Seattle.

The Washington State SECC is charged with the responsibility of creating a means for all EAS participants (AM & FM radio, TV and cable systems) to receive these messages if they cannot receive KIRO-AM off-air.  In our case, we use the State Relay Network (SRN) operating on 155.475 for that chore.  Additionally, the SECC requires that participants monitor one or both of these frequencies.  There are other sources that are also monitored.  In the Seattle area NOAA Weather Radio acts as a relay station.

When the test is completed, the FCC will require that stations report how their portion of the system worked.  This is done via what’s called the ETRS or Electronic Test Reporting System.

You may be wondering why, in light of newer alerting methods (FEMA/IPAWS, WEA etc.) they are testing this rather ‘mature’ system.  Al Kenyon of FEMA put it this way –

“The intent of conducting the test in this fashion is to determine the capability of the EAS to deliver messages to the public in event that dissemination via Internet is not available.”

The bottom line is that the Internet is amazing in what it can do.  At the same time, it is fragile, with much of it based on what’s termed – ‘Wire lines’.  The Legacy system is primarily a wireless system.  FEMA knows that you cannot always depend on Internet-based communications systems.

Interestingly, FEMA is has been involved in a multimillion dollar upgrade to their 77 PEP facilities, including upgrades to KIRO-AM.

The bottom line for all EAS participants is –

  • Make sure these systems are working well.
  • Perhaps plan on having someone be there on August 7th at test time.

Here is a look at the coverage of the various PEP’s.  KIRO-AM is that the one in the far NW corner of the map.

My readers are used to me writing about the demise of AM Radio.  Here is another one for the list of AM’s that are now silent.

The FCC recently cancelled the license for the only AM station in Forks and in Western Clallam County.   For many years the 1490 AM operation was the only US station you could hear there.  At first the station was known as KVAC.   I have a lot of memories of driving up there to help the station’s owner/operator Gordon Otis with technical issues, and perform the, then required, annual performance measurements.  In later years, the station’s owner built an FM which I assume continues to operate.  Something to do with the lease on the AM transmitter site I understand.

Bottom line – Another AM bites the dust….Trust me, there will be more.

Looking at ‘Radio Locator’ today this is what you see – (No Local AM’s)

KBDB was, last time I checked, was operated by the same party that owned the, now dark, 1490 AM, the only commercial station in the area.

If you live in Forks, you could do very well without an AM Radio, except at night when many signals from far away locations are available.

There has been a lot of press recently about the demise of AM radio.  To the surprise of many an unlikely organization (Politico) picked up the story and ran with it.

The Headline Read – ‘The Low-Fi Voices That Speak For America.’

In their piece, Politico uses 6 AM stations across the country.  To be honest, I never thought that I’d be reading about AM Radio here!

They point out there are many AM stations out there that are thriving because they are providing a service that has a demand that perhaps other stations do not.  I found it interesting that they mentioned the long-reach of some of these stations.  In some cases, a 50 kW station in an area of great ground conductivity can indeed cover several large states.  KRVN in Nebraska is an example.  They also explain how unique formats have their place.

Want to read more?  Go here:

https://www.politico.com/interactives/2019/magazine-am-radio-still-matters/

Here in the Seattle area we have some AM’s that are doing much the same thing, providing a programming source that is not found on FM.  All-news, foreign languages, specific areas of talk, etc.  In some cases, AM Stations that used to run mass-appeal formats, have been sold to entities that target specific groups.  Example is 1240 and 1180 that now target Catholics.  Tune to 1250, 1450, 1560 etc. and you will see what I mean.  In some cases the prices of AM stations have dropped to the point that these groups can afford to purchase a station to target a specific audience…and that is a good thing.  Is AM dead or dying?  I say no…It is evolving into something different.  It’s a classic example of ‘supply and demand’.  The number of stations should be equal to the demand for what they can produce.  When you have an over-supply, you have stations going off the air.  Perhaps this is the way it should be?

The FCC has altered the supply and demand equation with their move to enable AM’s to use FM translators.  Perhaps the day will come that the Commish will permit these operators to turn off their AM’s that will enable those that wish to continue on the AM band an opportunity to improve their facilities?  Only time will tell.

Meanwhile there are some AM operators, figuring they have nothing to lose, experimenting with running all digital.  There are a number of technical advantages to this idea, mainly shifting to a modulation mode that better deals with an ever increasing noise level.  The question is, will the advantages of digital overcome the fact that zillions of AM-only radios exist that cannot decode those transmissions?  There have been many that have been critical of this move.  The only problem is, those that poo-poo the idea, don’t have an ‘economic horse’ in this race.  I contend that if an owner of an AM station wished to go all digital, let them do it.  It’s  their money!

Interestingly, the NAB has filed comments with the FCC, stating that it’s time for the Commish to formally look into permitting AM stations that wish to go digital only to do so.  Certainly the support of NAB is welcomed by those that are seeking to make this change.

Meanwhile another proposal is being circulated that would create a new radio band in the area historically called Land-Mobile ‘Low Band’.

FINALLY A SOLUTION TO THE AM “PROBLEM” THAT IS IF “THEY” ARE REALLY LOOKING FOR A SOLUTION!

WRNJ, Hackettstown, NJ will be filing a Petition with the FCC requesting they explore moving AM band stations to the near-vacant 45 to 50 MHz VHF band.  The AM band is no longer capable of providing a quality service to its communities for several reasons.  Noise, skip, overly expensive antenna systems, varying hours of operation, and directional patterns to name just a few immediate issues.  And, lack of listeners!

WRNJ suggests the FCC consider the digital transmission DRM+ system along with a simple vertical only, non-gain antenna.  The VHF 1 band is ideal for local / regional coverage.  Exactly the local service that was expected during the early days of AM would return.  The two-way radio licensees of the 45 / 50 MHz band have all but fled the band for either trunked or cell service.  This ended the expense and maintenance of low band FM mobile radios for the many users.  Too, Motorola and Kenwood, it is reported, no longer manufacture low band equipment.  A scanner covering 45 to 50 MHz at a tower with reception from New York City to Philadelphia can go days before hearing a single carrier.

International regulations for ITU regions 2 and 3 already call for broadcasting between 47 and 50 MHz as previously mentioned, the band is ideal for local / regional coverage and can provide Americans with the latest technology from their local stations.  It would be wise for broadcasters to familiarize themselves with all the abilities of the DRM+ modulation scheme…it’s far from just an audio transport.  Many (ITU 2 and 3) countries are already embracing the DRM+ which is so far superior to anything we’re presently using the USA.  Why would we wait any longer?

July 2008, the BROADCAST MAXIMIZATION COMMITTEE   published the results of their study on AM and proffered the concept of converting the Channels 5 and 6 to digital AM’s, LPFM, NCE’s et.al.  See   http://www.broadmax.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/proposal.pdf

That was 12 years ago and nothing has been done about it.

With this proposal, we would avoid AM noise, nighttime interference, adjacent channel issues and eliminate the awful fidelity issues.  There is occasional skip on the proposed band.  Adjacent TV channel 2 survived it for 50 plus years.  Skip is infrequent and probably won’t have the deleterious effects experienced with analog.  There is skip on the AM band every night!

DRM+ channel efficiency is more compact than present channel spacing. Spectrum efficiency vastly exceeds anything we’re using today. The implications of that efficiency are evident.  Far more information can be packed into the DRM+ in much less space.  A short basic explanation of DRM+ can be found here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGa8X5hr5Vw  A more technical explanation of DRM+ can be found at this location: https://www.drm.org/what-is-drm-digital-radio/summary/  Note in the video that 1KW ERP of DRM+ equals the same coverage as a 5KW conventional installation.  An efficient system lowers the electric bill.  The proposed vertical antenna of unity gain reduces tower loading and or rent.

There are no receivers!  Right. We propose a transition period of years to come to fruition. American broadcasting has spent tens of millions on moving TV facilities and the market responded to the shifts in frequency and modulation schemes.  The AM band too, was extended and radio manufacturers responded.  Simply stated, if not now, when?

The AM band is beyond practical (include economical) use anymore.  The transmission systems are onerous to say the least.  We have to live within the bounds of physics and that, simply put, eliminates todays AM band as it is structured.  We know Japan will soon be amongst other nations that terminated AM radio…at the request of AM operators!! Italy too is converting to DRM+.

We propose that any AM operator simulcast the new and old band until the market dictates the AM shutdown of dual facilities.  We propose the system be local and that any who might wish to stay with AM be free to stay there.  With the migration, we expect, the AM band may again have a chance for wide area service from those who can increase power and coverage upon spectrum availability resulting from the migration to DRM+ VHF.  The FM band would be relieved of the congestion it’s now experiencing from translators.  We would hope that the ownership remain local and avoid the dereliction of local community service that came with ownership-consolidation.

Is there any better time to start this than now?  I can’t think of one negative, can you?  We look forward to your input if and when the FCC moves with the Petition for Rule Making.

Larry Todd
WRNJ Radio
Hackettstown, NJ
larryradio@wrnj.com

Locally, the 1210 Auburn station has been having some interesting twists and turns.  First the station’s owner, Bustos Media, elected to abandon their 10 kW night operation using 4 towers on the east side of Auburn, opting for low power night operation at their day site on the west side of Auburn.

The next phase of this project was to completely take apart the former ‘night-site’.  This process went smoothly to the point of taking down the towers.  As it turned out, the City of Auburn required a demolition permit to take the towers down…and getting that permit required even more hoops.  Then, just as the permit was granted, came the news that KZIZ/1560 was seeking a new transmitter site.  (The 1560 site is just south of Auburn)  Apparently the owners of the station asked Hatfield and Dawson if the former 1210 night site would work for 1560 and the answer came back yes.  With that the owners entered into a tentative agreement to purchase the property, transmitter building and antenna system from the Garre family.  Mr. Bustos sent out an email stating that the towers did not need to come down after all.

(The Garre’s were the original owners of the Auburn AM station going back to 1958 when it was KASY).   Someone is going to have a lot of work to do to make this operational.  Perhaps I’ll have more on this one in my next column.

Perhaps one of your pet-peeves is – dumb people with smart phones?  Since the introduction of these devices, we have become better connected with tools in our hands that would have been ‘Sci-Fi’ only a few years earlier.  With all the good they provide there are certainly some down-sides.  Perhaps distracted drivers is the worse.  People believing they can drive and text at the same time etc.  How about distracted walkers?  Perhaps you have seen one of these recently…a person walking and running into something etc.  This too is a serious problem.  Think about the person walking and texting and walking into the path of a moving vehicle.

Apparently a New York state Senator has introduced a bill to make texting, while walking, illegal with fines ranging from $50 to $150.  The bill would make it illegal to cross streets while their eyes are glued to their phone.  Sadly, you cannot depend on common sense to prevail.  I understand that similar laws have passed in other cities, but this would mean the entire state.

And the Headline read –

An estimated 3.7 million Washington residents living in drought areas

If you are like me and travel on non-paved roads reaching broadcast facilities and have, perhaps, noticed, a cloud of dust following you?  I was working over in Forks in early May, talking with the fellow that mows the grass at the ONRC.  He noted that his machine was doing something unusual for this time of year, kicking up a cloud of dust.  Remember, this is Forks where they get 100 inches of rain a year!  What does all this mean?  We could well be headed into a season of bad wildfires.  Remember last summer and all the smoke?

Want to read more about this topic – KING5 explains it well.

https://www.king5.com/article/weather/an-estimated-37-million-washington-residents-living-in-drought-areas/281-593e8a18-bd67-4118-a912-b6b60c65e655

Then this announcement: Inslee expands drought emergency for nearly half of the State

So what’s going on?

  • Now half of the State is officially in a drought emergency declaration area because of worsening forecasts calling for warmer and drier conditions through the summer.
  • Our Snow-Pack is currently less than 50% of average for this time of year, meaning less water for all this summer.

If you recall, we had a similar situation in 2015.

The following two maps help make this situation more clear.

Yes, the Seattle-Tacoma area is surrounded by Red…with 3 counties being recently added..

 

 

The FCC is out with new rules to deal with the issue of resolving translator interference complaints.  Much of this driven by the FCC’s allowing AM’s to have FM Translators in appeals by AM broadcasters for help.  Up to this point there have been a number of issues raised that drove the FCC to re-think how they were handling these matters.

Under the new rules, the FCC will use a station’s outer 45 dBu contour limit.  That includes establishing a minimum number of additional listener complaints that must be included in any waiver seeking to establish a claim of interference outside the complaining station’s 45 dBu contour.  While the FCC received proposals calling for a 60 dBU or 54 dBU contour limit instead, it says there is “extensive evidence” from markets nationwide to support the idea that full-service stations have substantial listenership outside the 54 dBu contour, and that listenership would be at risk if interference complaints outside this limit were not considered actionable.

Here’s some of what else is changing:

  • The order adds more “flexibility” to its rules by allowing FM translator stations to change frequency to any available same-band channel – as a minor change in response to interference issues.  It notes channel changes are “a relatively low cost way to resolve interference with little or no reduction in service area.”
  • The FCC also established a minimum number of listener complaints ranging from a low of six to a high of 25, proportionate to the population the complaining station serves, that a station would need to submit with any claim of interference.
  • Interference complaints often devolve into questions about the veracity of the allegations.  In an effort to reduce those fights, the FCC approved guidelines for specific things a listener must say in their complaint.  That includes sharing complete contact information; a clear, concise and accurate description of the location where the interference is alleged to occur; a statement that they listen to the station over-the-air at least twice a month to demonstrate the complainant is a regular listener; and a statement that the complainant has no legal, employment, financial or familial affiliation or relationship with the station.
  • In a series of steps designed to help resolve disputes, the FCC okayed several moves that translator owners must take to keep their signals on the air.  They include working with the listener to help resolve the problem.  But the order eliminates the requirement that listener complainants must cooperate with the translator operator.  Instead, it would be up to the listener if they wanted to help.
  • The Commission also concluded that 90 days “should be sufficient” to resolve most claims of interference.  If it goes beyond that, the Media Bureau must offer an explanation as to why.

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly had pushed the FCC to firm up that 90-day remediation deadline process.  He said it would bring “an even higher level of predictability to the process.”

The new guidelines largely follow suggestions handed to the agency by the National Association of Broadcasters in 2017.  “The FCC deserves credit for endorsing a common-sense compromise for reviewing FM radio listener complaints alleging interference from FM translators,” NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said.  “FM translators have been enormously helpful extending the reach of AM radio stations.  We’re pleased the FCC continues to embrace ideas that foster the revitalization of AM radio.”

The Headline read – Revenues Climb 8% At American Tower.

The piece explains that the tower business is ‘red-hot’, explaining ATC’s overall, global revenue rose 4.1% to $1.8 Billion (Yes, with a B).  The company that owns many of the major transmission sites in the Seattle area has nearly 25,000 towers.

If you are like me…you wondered why a broadcaster would sell their tower assets to American Tower and then lease space on them.  Broadcasters would often cite that towers were not their core business and they did not know how to adequately market them.  My response to that was, find out how it’s done and keep the profits for yourself.  Obviously I was viewed as a voice from the basement.  Besides, they were in business not to make money but put smiles on the faces of stockholders.

The wireless industry is what’s fueling growth in the tower industry…not broadcasting.  ATC has reportedly constructed more than 700 new sites thus far this year.  Back to the broadcast side, a lot of their attention has been due to re-packing related to ARSC 3.0.

Talk about poor timing.  In last month’s column I ran a picture of Amador Bustos…This this month it was announced that his firm ‘Bustos Media’ was buying a number of additional radio stations.

The one attracting the most attention in the Seattle area is 102.9/KFNY-FM, that was one of the stations that iHM had to shed as part of the CBS/Entercom deal where iHM picked up some of the former CBS stations.  A bit about his new station –

The transmitter is on Capital Peak, Southwest of Olympia.  (The same site is used by 88.1 and 96.1)  Providing coverage south through Lewis County, west to Grays Harbor and northeast into Olympia and the Seattle/Tacoma area.

Technically the station operates with 70,000 watts ERP at 668 Meters Above Average Terrain or 867 Meters Above Mean Sea-Level.  Compare that to the station down the dial at 102.5/KZOK which operates from West Tiger Mt. with 68,000 watts ERP at 698 Meters HAAT or 932 Meters AMSL.  As you can see the power and elevation is similar.  The big difference is the proximity to population.

102.9 has had a large number of call letters in its history.  Here are a few – KELA (1980), KMNT, KNBQ, KYNW, KZLS, KOAG, KFXY, KMMZ, KMKZ, KBFQ to name a few.  If you dig a bit deeper….or are an old duffer like me, you know that the station began operation on Cook Hill (NW of Centralia) as KGME.  (The FCC shows the station first licensed on Feb 23rd, 1966)  The owner was the legendary Chuck Ellsworth who was an on-air talent during the glory days of Seattle rock stations.  Later Chuck taught broadcasting at Bates in Tacoma while still working part-time, on the air, in Seattle.  The G and M stations call letters were named for family members the E was, of course for Ellsworth.

Chuck was a great guy, one that your writer turned to back in 1966 when I was faced with a decision whether to accept a job as a DJ at a major Seattle AM…or Chief Engineer at a major Seattle AM.  I recall Chuck telling me that with my technical abilities I’d be much better off doing Engineering.  I took his advice and was about to take that Seattle Engineering job  when I learned that old friend Peter Policani was leaving KMO.  Whereas I was living in Tacoma, I opted for that job instead.

Shortly after this, Chuck passed and his wife sold the station to the owners of KELA in Centralia in 1968.  They moved the transmitter to Crego Hill where it operated at much higher power.  It then used the call letters KELA-FM.  Later when that combination was sold, the transmitter was moved to Capital Peak.

For Bustos, the first station in the Seattle market was the 1210 AM in Auburn which he purchased from Entercom.  He later purchased 99.3 from Greg Smith.  More recently he purchased the 103.3 in Skagit County (near Mt. Vernon).  The addition of 102.9 will mean he will have 3 FM’s and an AM in this market.

Amador was not done, with the announcement that he was purchasing KRCW licensed to Royal City, north of Tri-Cities.  That station operates with 19.5Kw at 241 Meters and covers the area between Moses Lake and Tri-Cities.  This will make his 5th Station in that market.

One more mention of Amador Bustos – He was recently appointed to a two-year term to the Radio Board of Directors of NAB.

If you recall, in a past column, I mentioned that Kent Randles, who has headed up the engineering department at Entercom Portland with oversight responsibility in Seattle, was retiring the end of June.  The announcement was recently made who will be replacing him, Jeff McGinley, son of now retired Tom McGinley.  Not often you find a situation where a son opts for the same business.  (The name Hubert comes to mind.)  Congratulations to Jeff!

Washington State has joined its neighbor to the south with the signing of a bill giving certain broadcasters ‘First Informer’ status.  Congratulations to all those that worked to make this come to pass.

Here is how the WSAB, prime sponsor of the bill, put it –

GOVERNOR INSLEE SIGNS FIRST INFORMER BROADCASTER BILL!

HB 1147 – the First Informer Broadcaster Bill – was signed by Governor Inslee on April 30, 2019, culminating three years of efforts by broadcasters to ensure access to transmitter and studio facilities during time of a declared emergency.

The WSAB worked with the State’s Emergency Management Division to move the bill forward, which was sponsored in the 2019 legislative session by Rep. Mike Chapman (D-24), Rep. Brad Klippert (R-8), Rep. Roger Goodman (D-45) and Sen. Sam Hunt (D-22).  The bill passed through both chambers of the Washington State Legislature unanimously (House 97-0 and Senate 44-0) before reaching the Governor’s desk for signature.

“This legislation is really impactful for broadcasters,” said Janene Drafs, Chairwoman of the Board of the Washington State Association of Broadcasters. “Access to our transmitter sites and studio facilities during time of emergency allows us to broadcast important safety and recovery information to the communities we serve across the state of Washington.”

“On behalf of the 260 commercial and non-commercial radio and television stations across the state, we appreciate the support of our state legislators and the Governor in passing HB 1147,” said Keith Shipman, President & CEO of the Washington State Association of Broadcasters. “We’re pleased to become the 11th state in America to pass such legislation. We also wish to acknowledge the great work of Mark Allen of Mark Allen Government Relations for navigating the legislative process and broadcast engineers Keith Nealey of KIRO-TV and Marty Hadfield (retired) for offering testimony during public hearings on this issue.”

The First Informer Broadcaster bill was designed to allow broadcast technicians who have registered with the Washington Business Re-Entry System (https://mil.wa.gov/emergency-management-division/business-re-entry-registration) access to their studio and transmitter facilities in order to restore broadcast operations and disseminate safety and recovery information to listeners and viewers.

A First Informer Broadcaster is defined as “an individual who is employed by, or acting pursuant to a contract under the direction of a broadcaster; and maintains, including repairing and resupplying, transmitters, generators, or other essential equipment at a broadcast station or facility or provides technical support services to broadcasters needed during a period of proclaimed emergency.”

Broadcasters must still follow the direction of incident commanders as it relates to safety issues in declared emergency zones. Key language in the bill prohibits authorities from confiscating resources – fuel, food, water and other essential materials – brought to the site by a First Informer Broadcaster.

Broadcast engineers and technicians are encouraged to register through the aforementioned link to become a First Informer Broadcaster. Once registered, the engineer/technician will receive a registration card via email.

This announcement drew comments from many:

This from Andy Skotdal –

Keith Shipman deserves twice the thanks since he was integral in getting it done in Oregon, first, with Bill Johnstone.  This is an effort that has been discussed among all of you and at the WSAB board level since Katrina (over 11 years ago!), and it was the dogged handful like Arthur, Clay, Mark, Keith, Bill and others who prioritized it and got it done.  The WSAB board and OAB boards also deserve credit along with the SBE for prioritizing this initiative in order to give their leaders the authority to march.  Law enforcement types were initially resistant, and this was truly a broad group effort.  Congratulations!

And this from Marty Hadfield –

Andy, I will second that recommendation to applause the undying efforts of Mark Allen and Keith Shipman.  Their focused guidance made all the difference in the world.

It was nearly a year and a half year ago that I sat with Mark and Keith, and provided passionate verbal testimony to Senator Sam Hunt, Sponsor of SB 6056, giving a technical “boots on the ground” perspective of my Katrina/Rita Hurricane and other disaster incident response experiences.  This was provided on behalf of all Radio Broadcast Engineers in Washington State – describing the basis for needing unfettered access to the studios and various transmission sites that are critical to providing broadcast information to the general public in the confusing times surrounding a disaster and recovery effort.  No other industry has proven to provide better reach to those directly impacted citizens than Broadcasting. Period.

Subsequent to that meeting, I’m happy to say that my colleague, Keith Nealey, provided his supporting testimony on behalf of the Television Engineers across Washington State.

It was a great team effort and I know we are all proud of the results and positive implications for maintaining a strong on-air broadcast presence whenever disasters may strike in Washington.

Looks like the FCC may have more tools to fight pirate radio.  A bill is making its way through congress called the ‘Pirate Act’.  If the President signs it, the FCC will have the authority to fine a pirate station operator up to $100,000 per day, per violation up to a max of 2 mega-bucks.

As I have stated many times, all of this is meaningless until they come up with a method of collecting the fine.  In many cases these operators don’t have the funds to pay the fines and are let off with a ‘hand-slap’.  There are many that feel they have a right to do what they have been doing.  Perhaps this could be compared to when a person is stripped of their drivers license and continues to drive a vehicle?

In another FCC action – back in 2016 Cumulus Media agreed to pay a $540,000 fine in response to a violation of sponsorship identification rules.  However, they never paid it (something about their bankruptcy getting in the way).  Looks like they are still ‘on the hook’ for this one.  This time the FCC, with the support of the Justice Department, are asking a judge to force the company to pay what is now a $792,344 bill.  Just like when you don’t pay your taxes, the amount goes up.

Don’t forget  – The next NAB event in Las Vegas will see things shifted forward a day from a Monday thru Thursday event to a Sunday thru Wednesday one.  Attendance at the most recent show was 91,921 – about the same as 2018 – but under the 103,000 that attended in 2017, a major factor in driving the change.

Looking for a job in the technical side of broadcasting?

OPB is looking for an individual passionate about technology to join our Bend-based team supporting OPB’s RF distribution technology at our remote sites in the Central and Eastern parts of Oregon.  This non-exempt regular status represented position is full-time and includes benefits.  Apply at http://www.opb.org/about/jobs/

Broadcast Engineers don’t all sit around soldering things together at a work-bench or click keys on a computer all day….OK, some do…and some don’t.  Some actually get dirt under their nails

Occasionally things go wrong at Mountain Top transmitter sites – presenting some interesting challenges.  The following pictures come from the NWPB crew that was recently dealing with a power failure at a site near Wenatchee called Naneum.  This is the location of NWPB’s KNWR that found itself off the air due to failure of a PUD power line and an empty auxiliary generator fuel tank for the State DNR Generator.

So what do you do in a case like this?  They knew the power line came across the ridge from KPQ’s transmitter site on Mission Ridge, and they had power.  A call to the PUD apparently revealed that they had no vehicle to deal with the power line.  To get the station back on the air meant one thing, time to haul diesel to the site.

Here you see the NWPB Snow-Cat loaded on its trailer about to get a work-out.

 

Three Drums of diesel on the back and time to head up the mountain.

Looking from the Naneum site across the ridge at the KPQ facility.  Elevation about 7000 feet.

 

A bit of scenery from Naneum, looking to the Southwest at Mt. Rainier.  The shape of our famous landmark looks odd when viewed from this side.

Over the years I have found it ‘interesting’ how few inside and outside the industry are curious, or perhaps remotely interested in knowing anything about the facility that creates the signal that people receive to make sounds and pictures…the places where I have been interested in since the get-go.  I recall, early on, when I was a young sprout learning about the industry that I would, one-day, be employed in…asking if I could see the transmitter.  Perhaps these people feel that transmitters are mystery machines full of techno hocus-pokus that they would not comprehend?

The FCC has issued its final report on the impact of Hurricane Michael on broadcasting and on other services some seven months ago.  Here are some of the major take-aways:

  • A number of radio stations remain off the air in Panama City.
  • All of the stations were off the air due to damaged transmitter sites.
  • Some stations, particularly in hard-hit Bay and Gulf Counties, the damage was long-lasting or even permanent.

The Commission was not pleased with some aspects of the wireless industry –

  • The investigation found that three key factors, including insufficiently resilient backhaul connectivity, inadequate reciprocal roaming arrangements and lack of coordination between wireless service providers, power crews and municipalities as the predominant causes of what the FCC says was the “unacceptably slow” restoration of wireless service.
  • FCC Chair Ajit Pai, who visited the region following the storm, “I appreciate the efforts of the FCC’s public safety staff and call on wireless phone companies, other communications providers and power companies to quickly implement the recommendations contained in this report.”  Pai has directed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to conduct a comprehensive re-examination of the FCC’s Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework.  That work remains ongoing.

Looking briefly at the business side of Radio:

  • Saga reported revenues were down a bit, some of this as the result of purchasing additional stations in Florida.  Saga operates a cluster of stations in Bellingham.
  • Salem Media reported a 61% decrease in net income along with other negative results.  Salem operates a number of AM stations in the Seattle area.
  • iHeart Media is officially out of bankruptcy.  With the company now controlled by a number of hedge and mutual fund companies, other changes may be on the horizon.

One of the national remailers aimed at technical workers in broadcasting recently had a thread going about pagers, commonly called beepers.  These were little gizmos that attached to your belt that were your only wireless means of being reached in those days.

At first there was what was termed a ‘tone only pager’ that ‘beeped’ when its associated phone number was called.  This told the wearer to head to the nearest phone and call a pre-arranged phone number.  The telephone company also offered this:  They called them ‘Bellboys’.

Next came the ‘Tone and Voice Pager’.  With this one, a caller would dial the pager’s phone number and when they heard a beep, could speak to the user.  Usually the caller would speak the number they wanted the person to call.

Then came the Digital Pager.  Not only would this device beep when called, but the person on the phone could ‘input’ a specific phone number for the wearer to call back.

In all these cases, you had to have a pocket of change ready to go to use with those pay-phones that seemed to be everywhere.

In some cases, the RCC’s (Radio Common Carriers) offered Mobile Telephones.  These were sold by private owners and the telephone company.  They worked pretty well, provided you were within range of the provider’s equipment.  Generally they were installed in a vehicle and were not portable.

Of course this all changed with the introduction of cellular telephone systems.  A 2-way communications device was certainly better than what we had been dealing with.  Cellular has evolved in many ways as we all know, with more bells and whistles than anyone back then could have dreamed.

Back to the remailer thread.  The question was posed, ‘Is anyone still using a pager?’  Much surprise to many, the answer was yes, there are still pagers being used.  Here are a couple of links with more information on the continued use of these little critters:

https://www.americanmessaging.net/coverage/coverage.php

http://www.sound-tele.com/answering-services/pager-services/states/WA/Seattle

https://www.amazon.com/Motorola-LS350-Annual-Service-Beeper/dp/B00914ZZ0Q

My column would not be complete without a picture of an amazing sunset from the deck of Dwight Small’s new home in Skagit County.

There is a lot going on in the world of EAS these days.

  • The Washington SECC formed a Plan Revision Committee whose job it was to overhaul our existing Plan with the following goals:

1 – Make it better organized
2 – Bring it into conformance with recent FCC changes, specifically ARS

  • During this process we have come to learn –

1 – The term ‘State EAS Plan’ will be used by the FCC
2 – The FCC will be ‘housing’ State EAS Plans on their computer system
3 – The SECC will be inputting a good deal of the data into it
4 – Our new ‘Plan’ will contain a ‘Tab’ or ‘Link’ to the FCC’s State EAS Plan
5 – A name change for our (Washington State Plan) is likely because –
a. Our plan contains a lot of material that is not required by the FCC and will not be in the FCC’s data
b. It’s not a good idea to have two different books with different information.
6 – The Plan Rev Committee will be dealing with the Name Change matter in their next meeting on June 17th.   Should they reach a decision, it will be forwarded to the SECC for formal action at their July 9th Meeting at CPTC in Lakewood.

  • As always, all of our EAS Meetings are open to all and your input is always welcome.
  • It looks like our new Plan (with the new name) will be rolled out early this fall.

I like to leave you with something that will bring a smile.  This month some funnies that were contributed by my readers….the ages of whom are perhaps revealed by the nature of the following.

 

That’s about it for this month, my friends.  Thanks for the read.

Lord willing, I will be back to most of the same locations next month at this time.

Until then – May you have a wonderful Spring!!

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
SBE Member for over 50 years, #714

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clay’s Corner for May 2019

Clay’s Corner

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

For reasons I cannot explain…I often start out my column talking about the weather.  Perhaps it’s because of the fact that we have so much of it in this area.  I would be bored out of my mind in a place where the weather changes little.  Thus far this year we have had a full course of varied weather.  A record cold February, dry March and wet April…whew!  This year was one of those that shut down conventional access to the transmitter facilities on West Tiger for about two months.  In my 30+ years of dealing with that place…this has happened only a few times.

Looking ahead, many fingers are crossed as we remember all too well how the main feature of last summer in this area was smoke!  Let’s hope that this is not the case this year.

We have had a number of notable passings:

Jim Tharp, WA7KYI, longtime resident of Vashon and Maury Island.  I got to know Jim a lot better when we found ourselves both working for Entercom back when they owned 710 and 770.  Jim had been with KING for many years before.  When Jim was not working on the Island, he and I were working together installing equipment at Cougar and West Tiger.  Jim leaves a son (Adam) and his family living on the island.

From the local Island Ham Radio Club newsletter:

Hello Everyone.

I learned some bad news today.  Jim Tharp, WA7KYI, passed away.  Jim was an integral member of the Vashon Maury Island Radio club going back 40 years or so.  Jim had some medical issues a few years ago that prevented his full participation in club events lately.  Before that Jim helped install and maintain the W7VMI repeater, he was often the “beachmaster” for field day in June as well as a key Morse code operator for multiple club contests and events.  Jim was a great source of knowledge of the ins and outs of amateur radio and was always monitoring the repeater and ready to reply if anyone came on the air.

Jim Tharp, along with Phil Zook, W7PDZ, started the first Saturday breakfasts at Sporty’s many years ago as a small gathering that has grown to an ongoing tradition.

Vashon and Maury islands have lost a good person who did so much for the club and community.

Art Blum, historic broadcaster in Tri-Cities passed unexpectedly on Tuesday March 26th.

Anyone in Broadcasting in Tri-Cities knew Art, who spent some 42 years with KONA, serving in many roles, announcer, salesperson and finally, as the station’s engineer.  To say that Art was a fixture and legend in that area’s broadcast industry is an understatement.

Our paths crossed many times over the years.  I recall, back in the late 90’s when we were launching our EAS efforts in this state looking for someone in that area that could serve as local-leader.  Art was quickly on-board.  Our paths crossed again when I hired on at WSU.  Art too had made the jump to public broadcasting.

One of his areas of interest was photographer, where he assisted law enforcement by providing images of crime scenes and accidents as well as coverage of the area’s beauty pageant.

Art was an SBE Member and past chairman of Chapter 51.  He was 76.

 

Ron Rackley, WE4RR

Ron passed shortly after returning home from his annual trek to NAB in Las Vegas.  He was an internationally well-known and respected engineer.  The media that covers people like Ron were quick to provide coverage.  Simply Googling his name will provide you with a lot of background.  Unfortunately I never had a chance to work with Ron on a project (it was high on my bucket list).  He left a number of footprints in this area with his collaborative work with Ben Dawson as well as call letters you would recognize.  I last visited with Ron at NAB a year ago, a wonderfully warm engaging person that always had a story to tell.  I only wish that someone could compile them into a book!

Ron loved Radio and in particular the RF side of AM.

He received a number of awards, one of which was the co-honoree (with Ben Dawson) of the NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award in 2006 where I had the privilege of being in attendance.

I would be remiss if I I did not mention that Ron also enjoyed Ham Radio.  As you can imagine, a man with his talents deployed many of them in his solution to antenna issues at his home.

You can look up Ron on QRZ, using his call letters WE4RR and read a lot more.  From QRZ, here’s a great picture at home.  By the way, Ron loved Morse Code!  He was a young 66.

Another passing, with no known PNW connections, was Glen Clark, who gained a lot of attention many years ago with his development of an audio processor known as the Texar Audio Prism.  It was quite a light show!  Glen was a prolific designer.  He reportedly passed just weeks after being diagnosed with liver cancer at age 67.

The headline read:  Washington  Legislature Approves Daylight Time Bill

Before you make alternative plans for the twice a year ritual of changing the clocks, be aware of a couple of things: 1) This is not just a Washington State thing.  It’s part of a movement for the entire (US) West Coast to be locked on PDT (Pacific Daylight Time).  Guess they need to get Federal approval to make it official.  So what would happen if this takes place?

  • Would Pacific Daylight Time then become Pacific Standard Time?
  • What about B.C.?  B.C. Premier John Horgan indicates that the province will stay in sync and do whatever the western states do.
  • For Power/Pattern Switching the FCC requires AM stations in the US to switch according to a Table based on Standard Time.  (Frankly, I leave the stations I attend to in that mode and let the local clocks change.)  Could the FCC issue some sort of statement?
  • For those that objected to switching back and forth, I have, for years, submitted a compromise:  Change the clocks 1/2 hour one time.  It caused a lot of raised eyebrows and little support.
  • It’s really time to end all this foolishness and switch to METRIC TIME! and dispense with this ‘Base-12’ time stuff (after all don’t we divide Seconds into ‘Tenths’).

Base Time is simple:

  • Each Day is divided into 10 hours
  • Each Hour is divided into 100 minutes
  • Each Minute is divided into 100 seconds
  • Etc.

Hey….If you are going to go Metric (which we all should) why stop at Time?

Country Music Radio is about to get a whole lot more interesting in Seattle!

First, some history.  When Entercom gobbled CBS, they dropped the long standing Country Music outlet on 94.1 (KMPS), switching format to AC to become ‘The Sound’.  Sensing that this might happen, Hubbard was ready and immediately dropped their previous format on 98.9 in favor of Country.  Makes sense, as Seattle has supported two Country Music stations for some time.  The success of the Hubbard effort on 98.9 (Called The Bull) up against Entercom’s (The Wolf) has been limited.  Hubbard is obviously willing to put more into The Bull’s challenge of The Wolf by hiring Entercom’s former programmer, Scott Mahalick, who recently exited Alpha in Portland, and picked up the former Wolf morning guy, Fitz.  For those of us that have been watching Seattle Radio for many years….This is exciting.  Watching these two powerful organizations ‘duke it out’ for the Country listener is where the listeners will win.  Now to hide and watch the ratings battle between the two.  Fasten your seat-belts.

Portland, Oregon is doing some things in Radio that are unique with LPFM’s:

First there is KQRZ-LP.  Looking up the Station in Wikipedia, we find:

KQRZ-LP (100.7 FM) is a low-power radio station licensed to Hillsboro, Oregon, United States.  The station is owned by the Oregon Amateur Radio Club, Inc.  KQRZ-LP signed on the air July 22, 2012, on an initial frequency of 101.5 MHz[1]  On July 11, 2013, at 8:00 PM, KQRZ-LP changed the transmit frequency to 100.7 MHz, although the license to cover that frequency was not issued by the Federal Communications Commission until September 4, 2013.

On July 22, 2012, KQRZ undertook an affiliation with the WORC Oldies Network, which syndicates broadcast material to other low-power radio stations interested in amateur radio.  Programming includes amateur (ham) radio news, educational material, comedy, oldies, and adult standards music.

Did you catch the portions I underlined in bold?  The station is being operated by an Amateur Radio Club!  Wow.

Then there is KISN-LP.  Looking this one up in Wikipedia we find:

KISN was an AM radio station licensed for Vancouver, Washington but based in Portland.  On May 1, 2015, at 9:51 a.m. KISNLP commenced broadcasting 24 hours a day, 56 years later to the day when the original KISN launched in 1959.  For more information, check out http://www.goodguyradio.com/kisn-radio-coverage.html

I was living in Portland back in those days and remember listening to ‘Kissin’ on 910 AM.  It was, back then, what KJR was to Seattle.  I think what they are doing is very cool.  Can you imagine being able to listen to a radio station in the Seattle area that sounds very much like KJR 50+ years ago?

Kudos to these two Low Power FM’s for doing something unique and non-offensive.  Keeping memories alive is very much appreciated.

Speaking of Portland (my home-town prior to 1957), I recently learned that Kent Randles is going to be retiring on July 5th of this year.  Should not be a shock to anyone in this business, as it seems that retirement is coming in waves these days.  Congratulations to Kent (and Patti) on the news.

Remember the days before Smart Phones?  No one called them dumb or stupid phones.  Probably because the term ‘Smart Phone‘ had not yet been coined.

Just as with speakers, using today’s terms, all the speakers in my house are both dumb and stupid (the way I like them).  Speaking of which, Radio is apparently awakening to the idea that today’s Smart Speaker is the closest to a ‘Kitchen Radio’ as we will ever see again.  Ever try and go out and purchase a radio for your kitchen counter?  Sales dude will think you are from another world.  New surveys support the notion that these counter top gizmos are indeed being used to listen to Radio.

Then there are light bulbs.  Just like the previous examples, all the light bulbs, by today’s standards, are dumb and stupid, especially in light (no pun) of the fact that you can now go out and buy Smart Light Bulbs.

In the event you missed it, these new creations come in various power ratings (light output) and can be adjusted for brilliance and color with your ‘Smart Speaker’…or anywhere you have an on-line connection.  What will they think of next?

One thing we don’t have any of in the Seattle area is very tall towers to hold our Television Antennas.  Thankfully we have hills and mountains to do a lot of the elevation work for us.

An old friend from Wisconsin, Nels Harvey, recently sent me the following video showing how they changed a TV antenna in Florida on a very tall tower.  In this case, using a huge helicopter called a ‘Sky-Crane’.  After viewing this you will better understand why they say this is the most dangerous type of work there is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pitEq8gjNj8

It was not a heavy one.  The weight was a little over 10,000 pounds.

And the Headline read RTDNA Announces Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

The Radio Television Digital News Association has announced recipients of its 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.  The prestigious kudos recognize more than 309 radio, television and digital news organizations in the U.S. and around the world, from more than 4,600 entries.

All regional winners will compete for National Edward R. Murrow Awards, which will be announced in June and presented at Gotham Hall in New York Oct. 14.

Here’s how Radio stations in the Seattle area faired:

  • Overall Excellence – KOMO-AM
  • Breaking News Coverage – KOMO-AM
  • Continuing Coverage – KIRO-FM
  • Excellence in Innovation – KUOW-FM
  • Excellence in Social Media – KIRO-FM
  • Excellence in Sound – KIRO-FM
  • Excellence in Video – KUOW-FM
  • News Documentary – KNKX-FM
  • Feature Reporting – KNKX-FM

On the Television side, these Stations were honored:

  • Overall Excellence – KING-TV
  • Continuing Coverage – KING-TV
  • Excellence in Innovation – KING-TV
  • Excellence in South – KING-TV
  • Excellence in Video – KING-TV
  • Excellence in Writing – KING-TV
  • Feature Reporting – KING-TV
  • Hard News – KOMO-TV
  • Investigative Reporting – KOMO-TV
  • News Documentary – KOMO-TV
  • News Series – KING-TV
  • Newscast (11PM) KING-TV

According to John Poray, Executive Director of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, this is the first case of broadcast engineers being killed on the job as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Their deaths are a reminder that we face more dangers on the job than an overload of electrons.

Adrienne Abbott, who announced the news added, Engineers here in Nevada are adding CO detectors to their transmitter buildings and purchasing personal CO monitors.

And the Headline read – Green River College adult alternative KGRG-FM Seattle (89.9) marks its 30th anniversary with a month-long on-air and online celebration.

Wow….This is news to me.  According to the FCC, KGRG is licensed to Green River College in Auburn.  “KGRG-FM WA AUBURN    USA”

Gee – Even Wikipedia got this one right.

Unfortunately this is typical for many news reports.  The writer of the story sees the actual location and uses the name of the nearest major city,  in this case, Seattle.  Not long ago there was an incident in Mt. Vernon.  Yup! the national press called it Seattle.  Perhaps geographic accuracy is not as important as it once was, or this is more of what some refer to as ‘Fake News’?

I am very reluctant to endorse a particular vendor’s processes.  However, in this case, Kudos to Ben Barber of Inovonics.  For those of you that are not familiar with this firm, they are a relatively small manufacture of problem solving items for, primarily, radio broadcasters.

Recently Ben posted a question on four different email groups asking for input on how they should handle the matter of technical documentation for equipment they manufacture.  (I don’t recall this ever being done.)  According to Ben, they received over 125 responses.

Here are the numbers:

37% prefer a paper manual.
52% prefer a QSG with link to downloadable PDF.  (QSG is a Quick Start Guide)
4% prefer a CD ROM.
7% thought that data on a USB / SD card was a good idea.

Here is what Ben posted:

Here’s what Inovonics is going to do:

Inovonics will continue to supply paper manuals with all of our products.  This seems the best idea for those who are at a transmitter site without internet connection, or if you’re trying to read the manual on your phone.

Inovonics will supply more QSG with our gear so you can get into it more quickly.  For instance, our Site Streamers are hooked to the network and then best operated and adjusted via their web interface.  To aid in this, a QSG will tell you how to hook up the Ins/Outs and how to enter the IP address.  Once into the device, most things should be easy to find.

Inovonics will NEVER require you to make an account and log into it, just to download a manual, datasheet or the latest firmware!

I have a two word summary – VERY COOL!

Perhaps the one place where radio has a huge edge is in the motor vehicle, aka, car and trucks.  There are several reasons for this:

  • Most vehicles come with car radios standard (yes, I am old enough to recall when that was an option).
  • Radio has been an ‘Audio Only’ source of information.  Historically these radios had two knobs and a few push-buttons.
  • Later came tape players for those that wanted ‘their tunes’.

Then along came the Cellphone:

  • Early versions were adaptations of earlier ‘mobile-telephones’ with a handset, cradle, outside antenna, etc.

Then came the much smaller cellphone that you carried with you –

  •  First the ‘Brick’, then the flip phone etc.
  • And the first ‘Pairing’ with the vehicle.
  • And the first sharing portions of the vehicle radio to permit ‘speakerphone’ operation.

Intro the Smart Phone:

  • Now we have a phone with a display that shows more than just a phone number.
  • This has evolved into a hand-held device that will display a lot of distracting information for the driver.  Most notable is the feature called ‘Texting’.

Automakers have responded:

  • Now the ‘Car Radio’ is a connected piece of the cellphone.
  • And now, distracted driving is taking lives and laws have been created to roll back the clock.

The problems are:

  • If you don’t own a fairly new vehicle, suggest you stop by a dealer show room and ask the salesperson about the stuff in the ‘Center Stack’ that used to be called ‘The Radio’.  You will be amazed how anyone can navigate all that and drive at the same time.
  • As has been said, today’s car buyers are choosing their new wheels based on style and acceleration specification.  They are buying them based on what’s called the “in car entertainment experience’.
  • That experience is not just audio….but visual as well.  Title and Artist and Album Art of what’s playing.
  • Today’s Car-Radio and Cellphone are being integrated in ways that, not long ago, seemed not possible.
  • Despite all the new technology being deployed with new vehicles to keep you safe, demand is increasing for things, inside the cabin, that create more distractions and the death rate statistics are a grim reminder of what’s taking place.
  • The Genie is ‘out of the bottle’.  Users want it all and STILL safely drive the vehicle.
  • We have ‘Trouble in River City’ because of consumer demand for yet a more connected vehicle that is running headlong into an ever-increasing number of laws and regulations regarding distracted driving.
  • This puts the automakers in an interesting and perplexing position.
  • Are people going to stop using their cellphones in their vehicles and go back to just listening to the radio?  Unfortunately,  Probably not!
  • Perhaps one bright spot is in the area of voice recognition (think smart speaker).

Maybe this technology will keep more eyes on the road?

  • The bottom line is that not much of this is good for Radio as the choices for the driver are increasing all the time.  Radio is fighting back with the automakers to make sure that they are not squeezed out.  In some cases, AM Radio already has been.
  • I still see radio stations that are not on the visual band-wagon…not even displaying their call letters or logo etc.  In some cases radio is its own worst enemy and continues to go through life with ‘Blinders’ on.

Another place where the status quo is on the chopping block is in Television.  I’m sure you recall the days when having a TV set also meant having a TV Antenna on the roof, unless you were close enough to the transmitters where having ‘Rabbit Ears’ was a status symbol.

Then along came Cable TV.  Replace your old ugly antenna and get a better picture and more channels…bla-bla-bla.

So many jumped on the band wagon and subscribed to cable.  Later Satellite TV joined the list of providers.

Then something happened.  It’s called the Internet.  The Cable Companies woke up one day with a chunk of coaxial cable into millions of homes that could be used for two-way communications.  The telephone companies made a similar discovery with their physical plant and developed DSL (albeit at a slower rate).

With ever higher speed Internet connections and cable video steaming, suddenly the cable outfits discovered that their coaxial cables (and fiber) were in demand for something other than watching TV.  As their prices went up, consumers became frustrated with their cost of getting television via cable and cord-cutting started, along with the re-discovery of Free OTA TV via an antenna.

So what’s going on now?  A recent survey provides some insight.

  • 4.56 million TV households will cut the cord this year.
  • For the first time, the number of households that are watching TV via streaming will surpass those that are watching conventional Pay TV.

For the cable outfits, this is not all bad news as the ‘American Couch Potato’ will continue to send them money.

Frankly, In my opinion, broadcasters have been asleep at the switch in this race.  It appears that they have thrown in the towel in terms of promoting over-the-air (OTA) viewing.  Perhaps they would be just as happy to see that expensive transmitter plant be replaced with a simple feed to their local cable outfits?

To help underscore the fact that Radio continues to be a big factor in broadcasting, consider:

  • Cumulus recently sold KLOS in Los Angeles for $43 Million.
  • Billing numbers are impressive
  • WTOP-FM in Washington DC – $69 Million
  • KIIS-FM in Las Angeles – $61 Million
  • KBIG in L.A. – $46 Million
  • WLTW in NYC – $44 Million
  • Looking at the top 10 Billing Radio Stations we find
  • IHeart has 5, Entercom 4 and Hubbard 1.

I’ve written a lot over the years about the demise of AM Radio.  A lot of this is simply due to the reduction in consumer demand.  Like what I wrote earlier about the Car Radio, there is a lot more going on vying for the consumers ear these days.  AM has a lot of negatives in the first place – Reduced Audio Bandwidth (Poor audio quality) No Stereo, ever increasing amount of noise, etc.  AM Station owners, watching their audience head to FM, sought relief from the FCC in the form of FM Translators.  (Any doubt as to the value of those signals to an AM will be erased when you look at the prices being paid for them).

The problem is that adding translators may be a Band-Aid to the station’s business model, but it does nothing to resolve the three core issues I just mentioned.  This has caused some AM station owners to look beyond having economic relief come from law-makers to something that could, in the long run, change the equation in their favor — changing modulation mode from AM to Digital.  Granted most AM stations could have opted for the HD Radio system that’s been pretty successful on FM, however that system has a number of technical and economic issues.

Now a Texas broadcaster has joined others and would like the FCC to consider allowing Digital-ONLY AM’s.  This action has, perhaps predictably, given voice to a number that are very critical of the idea that our original modulation mode might be scrapped in favor of something else.  What about the fact that few, if any, have a radio that will receive something like DRM?

I find myself on the side of the broadcaster.  After all – ‘It’s their money’!!

The fact is that AM is a dying mode all over the world, perhaps the only reason it remains viable in this country is because:

  • There are still some successful AM Stations left.
  • There are a zillion radio receivers out there.

I say – let them do it – if they want to experiment with this new mode and find it has all the advantages they feel it has.  Let them be pioneers.  Who knows, we might just learn something.

If you have been an Amateur Radio Operator for a long time, this will sound familiar, as they went through the pain of walking away from AM and, over time, embraced Single Side Band (SSB) as their chosen mode for a host of technical reasons.  Maybe this will happen here?

Oh yes, if you think that traffic is bad where you live, sit back and enjoy this video….

https://www.youtube.com/embed/UEIn8GJIg0E?rel=0

Over the years you have read comments I’ve written about Bustos Media.  I ran across this picture recently of the man behind the company, Amador Bustos.  Amador operates the 1210 AM KMIA as well as 99.3 FM, the first FM in this area deploying a Single Frequency Network (SFN) of co-channel boosters.

 

Each month I look for something to bring a smile to conclude my column.  Thanks to my readers that share my love of this stuff, I never suffer from a lack of contributions.

This month – IDIOSYNCRASY AND AMBIGUITY

  • DON’T SWEAT THE PETTY THINGS AND DON’T PET THE SWEATY THINGS.
  • ONE TEQUILA, TWO TEQUILA, THREE  TEQUILA, FLOOR.
  • ATHEISM IS A NON-PROPHET ORGANIZATION.
  • I WENT TO A BOOKSTORE AND ASKED THE SALESWOMAN, “WHERE’S THE SELF-HELP                              SECTION?”.  SHE SAID IF SHE TOLD ME, IT WOULD  DEFEAT THE PURPOSE.
  • WHAT IF THERE WERE NO HYPOTHETICAL QUESTIONS?
  • IF SOMEONE WITH MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES THREATENS TO KILL HIMSELF, IS IT CONSIDERED A HOSTAGE SITUATION?
  • IS THERE ANOTHER WORD FOR SYNONYM?
  • WHERE DO FOREST RANGERS GO TO “GET AWAY FROM IT ALL”?
  • WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU SEE AN  ENDANGERED ANIMAL EATING AN ENDANGERED PLANT?
  • IF A PARSLEY FARMER IS SUED, CAN THEY GARNISH HIS WAGES?
  • WOULD A FLY WITHOUT WINGS BE CALLED A WALK?
  • WHY DO THEY LOCK GAS STATION BATHROOMS?  ARE THEY AFRAID SOMEONE WILL CLEAN THEM?
  • IF A TURTLE DOESN’T HAVE A SHELL, IS HE HOMELESS OR NAKED?
  • CAN VEGETARIANS EAT ANIMAL CRACKERS?
  • IF THE POLICE ARREST A MIME, DO THEY TELL HIM HE HAS THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT?
  • WHY DO THEY PUT BRAILLE ON THE  DRIVE-THROUGH BANK MACHINES?
  • HOW DO THEY GET DEER TO CROSS THE  ROAD ONLY AT THOSE ROAD SIGNS?
  • WHAT WAS THE BEST THING BEFORE SLICED  BREAD?
  • ONE NICE THING ABOUT EGOTISTS: THEY DON’T TALK ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE.
  • DOES THE LITTLE MERMAID WEAR AN ALGEBRA?
  • HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE A CIVIL WAR?
  • IF YOU ATE BOTH PASTA AND ANTIPASTO, WOULD YOU STILL BE HUNGRY?
  • IF YOU TRY TO FAIL, AND SUCCEED, WHICH HAVE YOU DONE?

That’s about it for this month, my friends –

Thanks for the read…….

Lord willing, I will be back to most of the same locations next month at this time.

Until then, may you have a wonderful Spring!!

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

SBE Member for over 50 years, #714

 

The KE0VH Hamshack for April 2019

April 2019     

I dedicate this edition of the Hamshack to Barry Thomas, our good friend and engineer supreme who we lost last year to cancer here in Denver.

A memorial fund has been set up in Barry’s memory, accessible here – https://www.gofundme.com/6jman3c

 

This will help his children’s mother take care of the kids needs as he wasn’t able to obtain life insurance because of his condition.  We will miss Barry tremendously.  You can see Barry’s obituary here at this site:

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestate/obituary.aspx?n=barry-thomas&pid=191007639&

 

Last month I wrote also wrote about the GOES satellite going away and my buddy Lee, NØVRD in Denver conducted some experiments and says:

“Speaking of the GOES birds, I took down the 2m/440 whip in order to put up a 137 quadrafiliar helix; it’s basically a 2l nested loop with a 90′ twist for polarization, and just recorded the attached pictures  from NOAA -19”.  Lee did some very fine work in getting this to work and the pictures as seen below are really awesome.

From friend K-LOVE engineer Scott, NØBST:

“Saw an ingenious little device today.  It’s a sniffer to find cabinet radiation in cases of suspected LTE interference.  Take an empty can, about the size of a short sweet potato can and install an N connector on the end with a little 50 ohm resistor soldered across it.  Hook it up to your spectrum analyzer and point it at the cracks in your transmitter and you’ll find where the radiation (if any) is leaking out.  The guy who showed it to me had to put a bunch of conductive tape on his Nautel transmitter up in Duluth MN.  He got the design from a consulting firm in MI.  The idea is the small can keeps the resonance well above the FM band.”

Wish we had a picture of the device.  Will have to work on that for a future issue!

One of our repeaters here in Denver that I mentioned before is the Denver Water Amateur Radio Club 448.350 repeater located on the water treatment property in Lakewood CO.  Mark NØXRX contacted me about the repeater after hearing that the Monday Night Net was going to try to set up a Fusion repeater and offered to allow us to be on that repeater.  To that end I set up a WiresX Fusion node with my FTM-100 and WiresX box and the “SBENETCOM” Fusion room for the NET and to be able to access the WiresX digital network.  I actually really like it better than DMR because is is easier to access networks from the front panel of the Fusion radios.  Yaesu makes quite a lineup of radios for analog/digital operations and its repeaters are capable of automatic mode switching between analog and digital modes.  The radios are capable of that as well.

This is the KDØSSP 448.350 Fusion/Analog Repeater owned by the Denver Water Amateur Radio Club (https://sites.google.com/fotoair.com/dwarc)  in Lakewood.  It operates both analog and digital modes based on Yaesu’s AMS (Automatic Mode Select) system that will repeat whatever signal it hears analog or digital.  This is the repeater that my WiresX node I am operating works thru to tie into the Yaesu WiresX Network.  We operate it primarily on the “SBENETCOM Fusion Room 46361.  This is the first generation repeater that will be replaced soon with the latest model.  I will be reporting on that soon.  This repeater is located just a couple of air miles from me at one of the water treatment plants for the city of Lakewood.  This is one of the nicest and well setup sites I have ever visited.  They did a first class job in building this site as seen in the pictures below.  I am going to be helping the folks at DWARC by looking after the repeater and WiresX operations here soon.  The repeater and SBENETCOM is connected into the KGØSKY Skyhub system and thru DMR Talkgroup 310847 during most days and for the Monday night SBE Chapter 73’ of the Air Hamnet.  The fun thing about the node is that you can command it from your radio to go to other rooms in the Fusion network.  America Link, Colorado Link, the MinWis (Minnesota/Wisconsin) and TexasNexus and others are very popular and feature a lot of traffic to different parts of the world too.  I had a fun QSO with a ham in Japan one night with my mobile Fusion rig.  My across the street neighbor Bernie N3ZF has had a great time using the Fusion node and repeater making contacts literally all over the world.  And at todays time of low sunspot activity on the HF bands this mode is really gathering many new hams and old timers to keep in touch and make new friends, of course the essence of ham radio.

The DWARC 448.350 Repeater site & antenna at the very top of the 150 ft tower

Mark NØXRX of DWARC with the 448.350 Fusion repeater

And DWARC also operates a Fusion repeater on 2 meters here in the Lakewood CO area.  Its on 147.210 and will detect analog or digital as well, analog with a 100.0 hz tone.

 

Another project that Skyler KGØSKY and I have been working on is the use of the Raspberry Pi3 computer and the MMDVM audio interface board to make a hotspot for DMR, Fusion, P25 and other modes with the use of a Motorola GM 300 radio as the node radio.  So, far we haven’t been very successful although there are many internet sources that show successful implementation of the system.  So far though no go for us as we have wired and tuned the system for proper operations, and the spectrum analyzer shows proper waveforms, but we are still not getting any better than sporadic audio blips being transmitted.  We had my system at one time operating at least in Fusion mode but it quit and so far we haven’t been very successful at making it work again.  Fusion audio comes out garbled and I haven’t been able to get DMR mode to work at all.  This is the waveform you are after and with the center frequency you are using in your radio and the span set to 15 khz.  We are able to achieve this using the tuning pots and setup in the SSH from the software, but so far no go to passing the audio.  Wonder what kind of magic that the folks on the internet are making that we can’t seem to do here.

And if it stumps KGØSKY, well then…..  For now will use the store boughten Zumspot

Tuning a MMDVM board using the Pi-Star SSH capability

https://www.f5uii.net/en/installation-calibration-adjustment-tunning-mmdvm-mmdvmhost-raspberry-motorola-gm360/5/

The MMDVM, RaspberryPi3, and the Motorola GM300 experiment

Speaking of KGØSKY earlier, using parts he bought and put together in the proven method, he was able to make quite a nice profit selling hotspots at a local hamfest recently.  He even programmed up (on the “SPOT”) 😊 the sold units with the customers callsign and WiFi connection so they would work when they got the unit home.  He also had an external monitor setup to demonstrate the system, 3 different radio’s to test each unit sold, and managed to sell all his units! Great job and VERY ENTREPENUER-ish Skyler!  Need one or want one?  Let KGØSKY know!

The setup!

THE SALE!

  BY THE WAY, the TIP OF THE YEAR, SO FAR

One of my co-workers in California in our absolutely EXPERT AMAZING second to NONE IT Department (can you tell I like these folks?) turned me on to this website for scanning files before install and webpages for nastiness!

https://www.virustotal.com/#/home/upload

Bookmark this one friends!  Really does the trick for taking care of the stuff that you DON’T want to step in of the computer/internet canine (worst kind I can think of) variety.  Like the way I didn’t type what I really think?  CHECK IT OUT!

 

Once again, watching a series on Netflix I saw what I think is an Alinco rig they were using for coms on Mt. Everest talking to the people on the mountain.  VERY COOL!

The Hamshack Archive Links

 

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

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

                                                  6 Years AGO: http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2013/04/

 

 

 

SBE VHF/UHF Chapter 73 of the Air HAMnet

 

 

The SBE Chapter 73 of the air UHF/VHF Hamnet is today (Monday) at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT) worldwide via Echolink KG0SKY-L, node 985839 (available via computer and radio), Allstar node 46079, DMR Talkgroup 310847, AND you can join us via Yaesu FUSION SYSTEM “YSF55411 “Skyhub SBE LINK – SBE Linkup”.  Try it with your hotspot.  The SBE UHF/VHF Hamnet is based in Denver on 449.450, pl 103.5, and the 448.350 Fusion repeater, linked to WiresX room “SBENETCOM” node 46361

And NOW BACK: WØKU 449.625, pl 141.3 ALLSTAR NODE 40368

 

You can listen on the LIVE STREAM thru Broadcastify at:

https://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/25448/web

or https://hose.brandmeister.network/group/310847/  

We hope you’ll join us. 

See the latest edition of “The KE0VH Hamshack” for more information at www.ke0vh.com.

 

 

The Society of Broadcast Engineers

9102 North Meridian St, Suite 150
Indianapolis, IN 46260
317-846-9000 ■ Fax 317-846-9120

 

 

 

 73’ from the “Shack”

 

Clay’s Corner for April 2019

Clay’s Corner

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

 

Finally!!  I get to say welcome to SPRING!  Since we last met here amount a month ago, I’ve had a lot to write about in the Weather Department….and some pictures to share too.

February 2019 has gone in the record books as one of the coldest this area has seen in the last 30 years.  Seattle just had its coldest February in 30 years.

The average temperature at Sea-Tac Airport in February was 36.6 degrees, making it Sea-Tac’s third coldest February on record.  It came within 0.3 degrees of the second coldest February on record, which was back in 1989.  The coldest February was in 1956 when average temperatures at Sea-Tac hit 35.6 degrees.

It was not just colder than normal in the Seattle area, but all over the Northwest, as the following map makes clear.  As you can see, Seattle was 6.8 degrees below normal.  But look at Great Falls.  They were almost 28 degrees below normal.  I have a friend that’s lived in Anaconda for many years.  He said he’s never seen it like this.

What made this so unusual was the fact that we had some snow….and then some more snow on top of that.  This is very unusual for normally mild Western Washington.

Many experienced having to shovel their driveway.  Perhaps not to the extent that Dwight Small, K7KG, had to deal with.  He assures us that he did this by hand.  Yes, that’s the same Toyota 4×4 that I used to drive.

During weather like this, we expect that travel to the broadcast facilities at West Tiger to be difficult…and they were.  Travel was restricted to ‘over the snow’ machines.  Cougar Mt., about half as high as West Tiger, got at least a foot of the white-stuff, limiting access significantly.  Tim Moore, transmitter Poohbah for Sinclair, discovered just how icy it was trying to reach the gate access code box on Cougar…the hard way.  He’s OK.

The bad weather, snow and ice, caught up with me as I was just leaving a restaurant in Auburn on Feb. 6th with Mike Gilbert and Ben Dawson.  My feet went up, and I went down (hard), landing on my back and head.  The result was 13 stitches, a very bad concussion and nearly two months of dealing with vertigo.

Here are a couple of winter pictures.  First, the Accelnet Tower Cam on March 10th on West Tiger at sunrise.  The tracks are from snow machines.

And this one, from my Camera, taken of a sunset from Cougar Mt.  If you look between the trees on the left you can see the buildings of downtown Seattle.

On March 6th, someone plowed part of the road up West Tiger.  Terry and Caleb checked it out.  Unfortunately they had to walk the rest of the way, about 2.5 miles.  Terry said it had been a month since he was able to reach his transmitter at West Tiger-2.  Unfortunately, no one plows the road to the top of the mountain for us.

We are not the only place in the country where winter weather demonstrated who’s boss.  In this case, wind had its way with a tower on Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine.

To give some perspective, here is what it looked like before:

Sugarloaf Mountain’s elevation is 4,259.  That’s 1300 feet higher than West Tiger.  Can you imagine if this happened to one of those big towers that adorn the hills of Seattle?  Not likely, as at that elevation the tower had collected a large load of Rime Ice  and then was hit with winds of over 100 mph.

After this failure, Wayne Davidson posted some interesting comments.  So who is he?  Wayne did a lot of design work for Magnum Tower Company.  It was through them that I worked with him back in the late 1980’s, on the first broadcast tower on West Tiger.  Thankfully it is still standing!  After reading his comments, I reached out to him and asked permission to re-print what he posted.  This provides a very interesting perspective to these towers that are vital to the role of broadcasters everywhere.

For those who think towers are forever…

Just want to add my two cents worth regarding tower longevity.

Nothing that man designs or builds lasts forever – not even the Egyptian Pyramids.  Having said that, man has managed to build some structures (towers) that will last a very, very long time.

All towers are not created equal.  I have designed somewhere on the order of 3500 towers and poles during my career.  Many towers were designed to withstand environmental conditions (wind and ice combinations) which are never expected to occur – not ever.  I have designed numerous towers of that type – mostly for state agencies, local municipalities, and large corporations that have very deep pockets and for which the failure of the tower is known to have extremely dire consequences.

Those structures are designed as major communication trunks which must remain operational following catastrophic natural disasters such as earthquakes and extreme wind storms (so extreme that they are quite unimaginable given the site at which they are constructed).  My expectation is that those towers will survive until their usefulness has expired and they are finally dismantled.

Many private broadcast tower owners have also taken the potential failure of their towers very seriously.  Extreme design criteria was used that by far exceeds the minimum requirements to obtain a building permit.  Several examples come to mind:

1)  KSL’s tower near Salt Lake City,

2) a 180-foot self-support tower at Shasta Bally, CA (designed for 3 inches of radial ice concurrent with 12 inches of rime ice at full design wind),

3) an AM multi-tower array at Vashon Island in Puget Sound (150 MPH EIA C winds),

4) a self-supporting tower in Slide Mountain near Lake Tahoe.  Those towers should last indefinitely with proper maintenance.

Probably the most famous example of a tower that has a very long life expectancy is the Eiffel Tower.  It was designed using the math-graphical method in which the shape of the tower was determined by the geometry required to keep its composite legs in compression (no tension allowed).  It was also designed for a wind force shape factor of 2 at a time when most structures utilized a force factor of 1.5.  Bear in mind that the Eiffel Tower was only supposed to remain for 20 years after which time the tower was to be demolished.  There was great opposition to its original construction.  Today, it is recognized worldwide as a tremendous leap forward in man’s engineering capabilities and is considered a great thing of beauty.

By the way, the Shasta Bally tower was subjected to an ice and wind condition that by far exceeded its extreme design criteria.  I have a couple of photos showing the tower completely filled solid with ice and with about 15 feet of rime ice projecting off of one face.  That condition alone would be enough to collapse most towers in existence.  Some very high winds came along during that ice event to really ‘test its mettle’.  The tower is still standing.

The interesting thing is that the cost of building some very serious longevity into a tower is not proportional to its life expectancy.  That is to say, a 50 percent increase in structural capacity is purchased at far less than 50 percent increase in cost.  One can generally make substantial strength and capacity gains with very little additional capital investment.  Moreover, stochastic probabilities of extreme wind and ice events are non-linear.  For wind, it only takes a 7-percent increase in basic wind speed to move from a 50-year to a 100-year mean recurrence interval.  That is primarily why our building codes and standards are becoming more and more demanding in terms of design criteria.  There is minimal cost associated with providing an ever-wider margin of safety.  If that cost was substantial, then we would not tolerate it and we would “throw the bums out” (meaning those individuals responsible for making construction economically infeasible).

One of my clients coined the phrase:  “Where there’s a will, there’s a Wayne.”  I like to think that we humans can do almost anything – if we put our minds and enough resources to it.  We managed to land several men on the moon, and miraculously brought them home safely.  Eventually, my guess is that building codes and standards will become sufficiently demanding that tower failures will become an extremely rare occurrence.  We are almost at that point now.

Warm regards,

Wayne Davidson,  PE CE SE

 

Then, what seemed like a couple of days…everything changed completely and we had a dose of summer.  On March 11th we were all basking in the 70’s (with so rapidly melting snow sitting in large parking lots).  By Tuesday the 12th we’d broken another record with a 79.  Records were set again – the warmest winter day and the earliest day to hit 74 – ever!  The 79 was the hottest November to March day since they’ve been keeping records in 1894.  The previous record was a 63 from 1951.  Those few days of summer were soon replaced with normals in the 50’s and rain drops.  Likely summer will return, right after the thunderstorm on the 4th of July.

As we moved later into March, warmer weather in other parts of the country has been melting all their snow, creating massive flooding.  Here in our area, we can, and have had, flooding from rapid warming and snow melt too, thankfully, not yet.  What we have been having, of late, is wildfires here in Western Washington.  This due to our abnormally cold and dry weather.  Fingers are crossed as our fire season approaches.

We get a lot of razzing about our weather in these parts.  The following story is one that got my attention.  Carefully note that this one comes from a Washington DC TV Station!  Feel free to use this one on your friends.  (Fact is, there are a lot of places in the U.S. that get more rain than we do, proving that ‘urban legends’ don’t have to be based on fact.)

It’s a contest we don’t want to win, but Washington, D.C. is actually wetter than Seattle, Wash!

Of course, Seattle is the city many think of when it rains – locals consider it a badge of honor to not carry an umbrella, for example – but when it comes to actual inches of rain falling, DC has them beat.

On average, Seattle measures 37.49 inches of rainfall a year, while D.C. measures 39.74.

 

© Getty Images/WUSA Seattle vs Washington Rain Games

 

We had a record setting 66.28 inches of rain in 2018, while Seattle had 35.73.  In 2018, Seattle saw 157 days with measurable precipitation (0.01 inches or more), while D.C. saw only 131.

The real difference here was the number of days with at least 1 inch of rain.

Seattle only did that five days in 2018, while D.C. managed that feat on 24 days…almost five times what Seattle saw.

The colder Pacific Ocean and associated atmosphere in the Pacific Northwest just doesn’t hold as much moisture as the warmer, sometimes tropical atmosphere that D.C. sees helped by The Gulf Of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.

Well…enough of weather…on to other stuff –

There was a recent story aired by a Russian broadcaster where a number of locations were spelled out for attack should our two countries get into a nuclear war.  To the surprise of many, one of them named was the Jim Creek radio transmitter near Arlington.  Reportedly that facility is used to communicate with US Naval Submarines.  This news caught a number off-guard.

I recall, many years ago, getting a tour of Jim Creek.  It was part of the old ‘Skagit’ Hamfest (now I am dating myself).  The site is impressive, covering almost 5000 acres.  Towers holding antennas between two ridgetops…and a big transmitter.  The place has been in operation since the 1950’s.  If you go looking for it on a map, it’s a few miles south of Oso, location of the huge land-slide of a few years ago.

Despite many calling it foolish, unneeded, wasteful, etc., HD Radio continues to grow with now some 2600 radio stations operating the mode all over North America.  Mexico, is apparently, rapidly embracing HD Radio.

By now you are likely used to PDT (Pacific DAYLIGHT Time).  Once again there are calls for stopping the twice a year clock shifting.  A UW professor has come up with a number of reasons why we should switch to Daylight Time year around.  In fact the State legislature is considering it.

Once again, the Radio Numbers are out for Seattle-Tacoma market #12.  Here are the highlights from my perspective:

  • KUOW again has proved that a non-commercial station that does not play music can be a huge factor.  This time around they did it with an 8.0 besting the #2 rated station KQMV, who had a 6.8 (they do play music).
  • Right behind, in #3 is KIRO-FM (Hard to believe that I worked there when it was in Tacoma and the call letters were KTNT-FM).
  • In #4 is KSWD (The Sound) which, not long ago was long running country station KMPS.  Appears that Entercom figured they already had a country property (The Wolf).  They looked at the long running success of ‘Warm 106.9’ programming AC and decided that’s where they wanted to be.  With their 5.1 and KRWM at a 4.0, they should be happy.
  • In the battle for the country music listener, Hubbard jumped into the fray with their 98.9, now re-branded as ‘The Bull’.    Appears that here too that KKWF is winning this one with a 5th place finish 4.5 compared to KNUC’s 2.8.
  • Sinclair Radio’s KOMO is the clear winner on the AM dial, even if you have to look at 15th place to find them.  Actually their numbers are improving.  The same cannot be said for the next ranked AM, KIRO, whose numbers are descending.  Perhaps a factor of the end of football season.  Now if the M’s do well this year.  Interesting that KIRO and KTTH are tied.
  • In the Non-Commercial world, KNKX and KING are holding steady, however still way behind KUOW.
  • Appears that streaming is increasingly catching on with both KISW and KSWD showing some results.

One of my favorite topics to write about in this column has been HD Radio.  This is perhaps because I was involved with the first on-air test of this mode many years ago when the NAB Radio Show was in Seattle.  After this I was involved with the installation of this new technology at several stations.  The following was recently brought to my attention:

https://www.pugetsound.media/2019/03/23/hd-radio-hidden-secret-programming/

The writer is spot-on with his comments.

What he fails to mention is the fear that many stations have, that by promoting their own HD Channels it will syphon listeners away from their parent FM, and this will reduce their ‘numbers’ and from that – income, bonuses etc.  There are many broadcasters that feel HD Radio is a total waste of time and money, for the simple reason that installation of the equipment does not mean instant return on their investment.  Some are even willing to call HD ‘Self-Destruction’.  Perhaps this explains why you don’t hear much promotion, or self-promotion of HD Radio?

I recall when we were introducing HD.  Managers were salivating over the thought that they were getting another radio station to add to their stable without having to go out and buy one.  Slowly times are changing.  What many don’t understand is that the progress of HD Radio is often hindered by the very companies that own them, ie, an ‘internal-problem’.  Being an ‘old-guy’ I recall hearing the same arguments, many years ago.  The comments then were being made by owners and managers of AM stations talking about that mode called FM!  Looking back, Radio feared TV, owners of the livery stable feared the automobile…and so it goes.

With Pirate/unlicensed radio broadcasting continuing to be an issue – Congress has passed a bill that would increase the fines to $2 mega-bucks.  It would raise fines to $10,000 per violation and to $100,000 per day per violation up to $2,000,000.  Adding to this, the FCC would be required to sweeps in the major cities where this has been a problem.  My thinking is that this is all well and good.  However, it’s been shown that a lot of these guys have very little assets and manage to get out of paying.  Not sure how a huge fine is going to do the trick.  Think of repeat offenders for speeding.  Police can take away their license…but they still drive.  Take away their equipment and they go out and find another Junker and speed some more.  Sure, I’m on the side of curbing the problem, but remain unconvinced that huge fines are the answer.  Time will tell.

Over the years, readers of this column often read about broadcast operations on mountain-tops.  I related this information for a couple of reasons.  1) This is primarily what I do, and 2) It’s an aspect of Broadcasting that is often never seen or understood.  The fact is, the majority of those who work in Radio or TV have never been to the stations transmitter location!

Generally the work of a Broadcast Engineer at these sites, contrary to popular opinion, does not involve climbing towers, but rather the maintaining of the various electronic systems that are housed in the building nearby.  There can be some aspects of this work that are dangerous, as you are occasionally, called upon to deal with high voltages, climb ladders (inside), deal with sharp objects etc.  Very seldom do you hear of someone being killed in this work.

That changed on March 1st this year when I received the following email from Adrienne Abbott who lives and works in the Reno Nevada area:

It is with a great, personal sense of sadness that I report the deaths of two of Northern Nevada’s best broadcast engineers. The Nevada Broadcasters Association website released their names Friday (3/1/2019) evening:

“Nevada’s Broadcasting industry is with heavy heart as we mourn the loss of two iconic figures, Herb Primosch and John Finkbohner.  Our thoughts and prayers are with their immediate and broadcast families and friends.  May you find strength through this very difficult time.  Herb and John, you will forever be remembered.”

These two gentlemen represented the best and highest commitment of a broadcaster, serving their community.  At the time of their deaths, they were working at a translator/transmitter site called Peavine Mountain, for the Verdi TV District, attempting to restore over-the-air service to the Verdi, Nevada community.  At this time, it appears that they died sometime Thursday (2/28/2019).  They were discovered by Deputies when they did not return as expected.  The exact cause of their deaths has not yet been determined.

On March 23rd, while writing portions of this column, I received an email from Steven Allen informing me that Jim Tharp had passed away.  All I know, at this point, is that he was in Vashon Community Care after a fall a couple of months ago.  Obviously the news of the passing of a fellow co-worker hits hard.  Just as I have made the original broadcast site on West Tiger ‘my baby’, Jim was long attached to the (KING-AM)1090 facility on Vashon.  It was ‘his baby’ for many years.  Jim and I worked together on many projects during the years that Entercom owned 710 and 770 AM on Vashon, including the moving of 100.7 to West Tiger and the construction of the, then Entercom, facility on Cougar.  He lost his wife several years ago, and to the best my knowledge lived alone on the Island.

Having spent my entire life in a vocation where science was a foundation, I found this quote from a very famous person to be ‘spot-on’:

 

“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

– Carl Sagan

 

Another place where I have spent a great deal of my life in the area of broadcast station participation is Public Warnings.  For the last several years I have been working with Greg Cooke at the FCC.  On Feb. 27 – I received this announcement:
Subject: [EAS] FCC EAS Office changes

To: “The EAS Forum” <eas@radiolists.net>

Date: Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 10:54 AM

EAS Participants,

After 15+ years in the PSHSB FCC EAS office, Greg Cooke is moving to a different position within FCC on April 1, 2019.

He is being promoted to Division Chief of the Intergovernmental Affairs Office.

Our new main EAS POC until a replacement for Greg is named is:

Elizabeth Cuttner, Attorney Advisor, PSHSB  Elizabeth.Cuttner@fcc.gov, 202-418-2145

Elizabeth says a secondary contact for EAS matters is:

Linda Pintro, Attorney Advisor, PSHSB

Linda.Pintro@fcc.gov, 202-418-7490

 
Unrelated to Greg’s move, Austin Randazzo who was formerly in the FCC EAS office, has now also received a promotion.

Austin is Division Chief of Cybersecurity Communications Reliability.

Although no longer a primary EAS contact, he will continue to work on databases like DIRS, ETRS, and the forthcoming ARS.

 

Many of our friends and co-workers will be heading to the Big Show in the Desert in early April.  I gave the matter some serious thought, but concluded after my recent head-injury, the Oregon Coast was a better choice.

NAB just put out the word that they are going to alter the long standing Monday through Thursday schedule for the ‘big-show’ starting in 2020.  Apparently responding to the fact that the show floor is pretty quiet on Thursday.  The new schedule will be moved up a day to become Sunday through Wednesday, with exhibits opening at Noon on Sunday.  This should not cause a huge problem for historic Sunday events.  The SBE Board Meeting and the popular Nautel NUG event have been on Sunday Morning.  The Public Radio Conference runs up against the traditional opening too.

Occasionally people come up with some clever/unique names for their company that’s licensee of a broadcast station.  Case in point, KMEH-LP in Helena, MT is owned by ‘Montana Ethical Hackers’.

A term that used to be confined to a ‘delivery room’ is now common place, as related to Pay TV subscribers.  People today are ‘cutting the cord’ (meaning the coax cable) in record numbers.  Many are doing (horrors) without Pay TV altogether in favor of services like Hulu, Netflix or services provided by Amazon.  Satellite TV providers Direct TV and Dish Network suffered the bulk of the losses.  Recently I was in a Costco store where they have someone stationed to promote Satellite TV.  I overhead the person they were pitching try to explain that he has all the free TV he wanted or needed by using an Antenna.  I’m not sure the person doing the pitching understood.

Every once in a while someone I have worked with over the years many times, is honored.  In this case, The Association of Public Radio Engineers is honoring Jeff Welton from Nautel.  The ceremony will take place at the Public Radio Engineering Conference (just prior to NAB) in Las Vegas on April 5th.

I don’t mind stating that this award is ‘spot-on’.  Jeff is exceedingly knowledgeable and helpful.  Way to go Jeff!!  For those that have not had the pleasure of working with him, here is his Bio:

 

Jeff Welton has been with Nautel for over 28 years, the first 17 of which were spent in field service and technical support positions, as well as assisting Engineering with design review of new products and improvement of existing systems.  Since moving to Sales in 2007, Jeff keeps finding ways to get his hands dirty and can frequently be found assisting in the install of a transmitter he’s sold, as well as performing several site inspections every year, along with the occasional repair.

Recipient of the SBE’s James C. Wulliman Educator of the Year Award for 2018, Jeff writes articles and performs presentations every year on the topics of lightning protection, grounding, transmitter site safety and various other subjects of interest in the broadcast engineering field, as well as being a contributor to the 11th edition, NAB Engineering Handbook, authoring the chapter on Facility Grounding Practice and Lightning Protection, among others.

If you have been involved with Emergency Communications, perhaps via Amateur Radio, be advised that Communications Academy 2019, will be held at the South Seattle College campus, Seattle, WA, on April 13 and 14, 2019 this year.  The event is two days of training and information on various aspects of emergency communications.  Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES©), Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), EOC Support Teams, Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), Civil Air Patrol, Coast Guard Auxiliary, REACT, CERT and anyone interested in emergency communications should attend. Learn, network, and share your experiences with others.  Further information regarding the event can be found here:

http://commacademy.org/

There are certainly job opportunities for Radio Broadcast Engineers from time to time.  Perhaps you don’t have a clear picture of what’s involved.  The following will give you a good idea of what’s expected to work in this field:

Alpha Media – Alaska is seeking an experienced Staff Engineer for our radio facilities in Anchorage and Wasilla.  Reporting to the Market Manager will be responsible for the maintenance of equipment, maintaining broadcast systems and technologies, build out projects, and ensure FCC compliance.  The successful candidate will be familiar with radio related technologies including, but not limited to, networking and IT, PC/software maintenance and repair, AM and FM transmitter repair and installation, VHF and UHF radio technology, digital and analog audio, EAS equipment and studio equipment maintenance.

Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Alpha Media operates 207 radio stations within 45 markets across the United States covering all formats.

Responsibilities for this position may include:

· Maintain and repair all technical and electronic equipment at the studios and transmitter sites with a proactive approach to problem solving.
· Install, monitor and perform maintenance on control consoles, audio routers, recording equipment, microphones, digital audio systems, transmitters, antenna systems, meters, control systems, and remote equipment, including accurate record keeping.
· Maintain, troubleshoot, and repair local computer infrastructure to include local area network, on-air automation system, and office workstations.
· Assist with, as necessary, the technical needs at remote broadcasts and live performances.
· Interact with management and staff at all levels in a personable, professional manner.
· Other duties as assigned by the Market Manager.

Requirements of this position include the following:
· Knowledge of all applicable FCC rules and regulations.
· Experience in computer based broadcast automation.
· Experience with cluster-wide studio equipment and operations, audio routing and distribution of analog, digital and audio-over-IP protocols, EAS, satellite receivers, studio telephones and broadcast IT systems.
· Proficiency in basic electronics theory and principles including Ohms law and the ability to read schematics.
· Ability to use test equipment, i.e. Multi-meters, Oscilloscopes, Spectrum Analyzers, and field strength meters in troubleshooting.
· Ability to work independently to troubleshoot and repair high-power AM and FM transmitting facilities including troubleshooting down to the component level when practical.
· Knowledge of telephone systems and protocols including POTS, ISDN, T1, DSL, VoIP and PRI circuits.

· Knowledge of building systems, HVAC, electrical, UPS, and standby generators.
· Possess IT skills including PC/server troubleshooting and repair as well as knowledge of TCP/IP, UDP and local area networking.
· Proven ability to communicate technical information and interact easily with all levels of staff.
· Current SBE membership.
· Able to be on-call after hours for emergencies or routine maintenance as needed.
· Must possess a valid driver’s license and current vehicle insurance.
· Must be 21 years of age or older.

Preference may be given to candidates who have the above experience plus the following:

· Experience with NexGen Automation for Radio.
· Experience with Directional AM Systems.
· Knowledge of telephone systems and cellular.
· SBE, Microsoft, and CompTIA Certifications.
· Associates or Technical Degree in Broadcast Engineering Technology or related field or an equivalent combination of education and work experience.

Physical requirements:

· Ability to lift and/or move loads up to 50 lbs.
· Ability to climb ladders and work on elevated surfaces.

If you feel you are a qualified candidate and want to join a fast moving, growing entity submit your cover letter and resume ASAP by clicking the Apply button at

https://recruiting2.ultipro.com/ALP1009ALMD/JobBoard/8a5ecde6-7408-45f9-8d5d-1bf4e35b089c/OpportunityDetail?opportunityId=37404dcd-752f-4f2a-81c2-2c0e814c0615

 

If a warmer climate is more your cup of tea, Entercom has an opening for their 6 station cluster in Sacramento.  Check out

https://entercom.avature.net/careers/JobDetail/Chief-Engineer/14055

I recently overheard a person use the term, “Pick up the phone”.  Got to thinking how many are among us that, upon hearing that, would have a different response than older generations would expect.  Here are some other ‘telephone terms’ from the past that today find little, if any, use:

  • Hang up the phone.  Hang up your smart phone might be understood to put the phone in something in your car so you can use it while driving?
  • Off Hook – What in the world is a ‘Hook’ for a phone?
  • Dial Tone – Huh?
  • Extension – Of what?
  • Princess Phone – I an only imagine
  • Wall Phone – More confusion
  • Phone Booth – Are there any these days?
  • Pay Phone – Something you do with a credit card
  • Dial a number – As in Rotary Dial?
  • Operator – As I asking a real/live person for assistance?
  • Reverse the Charges or Calling Collect
  • Party Line
  • Phones available only in Black
  • Flashing the Switch Hook

 

Part of getting old is being able to look back at all the things that ‘newbies’ never heard of and can’t understand.  Yes, there are advantages of getting older!

Here’s another example of something old becoming new again…Podcasts.  It’s presently the rage in Radio.  iHeartMedia has just debuted the ‘iHeart Podcast Channel’, an AM Radio Station that will be running hour long shows (oops, Podcasts).  I have to wonder if one of the AM’s in the Seattle area that are presently in the cellar in terms of ratings will jump on this bandwagon?  Imagine listening to a radio PROGRAM on the radio?  For those of us that grew up listening to radio programs, yes, before TV.  This is wonderful.  Wonder what Jim French would say?

Content designed for kids are hitting the Podcast Market.  I can just hear the Cisco Kid, Lone Ranger, Sky King, The Shadow, etc. reaching the ears of kids, enabling them to enjoy creating their own pictures as I did when I was young.

The FCC has issued their budget request for 2020…and its 1% less than 2019.  The President is sure to frustrate Broadcasters and Wireless Carriers as he is asking for Spectrum Fees on top of the regulatory fees they already collect.  This will be interesting.

Some time ago, readers of my Column may recall that I mentioned how hard it would be for a person to learn our language, because certain words have so many meanings and uses.  In that case, I used an example of the word ‘UP’.  I’ll admit I had great fun in doing so and received a number of comments.

Well, another word has crept into my head.  This time the word “LINE”.  Here are some examples that come to mind where we use this word:

  • Air LINES
  • Bus LINES
  • Shipping LINES
  • Railroad LINES
  • Short LINES
  • Clothes LINES
  • Power LINES
  • LINES of Credit
  • Fishing LINES
  • Property LINES
  • Red LINES (Used by political leaders)
  • Pipe LINES
  • Main LINES
  • Branch LINES
  • Side LINES
  • Telephone LINES
  • Party LINES
  • Blank LINES
  • LINES in Music (ala Bass Lines)
  • LINES of code (as in computers)
  • LINE as in falsehood – (Don’t feed me that Line)
  • LINES in performing arts
  • Off LINE – (as in not being on the Internet or in proximity to a computer)
  • On LINE – (As in being on the Internet)
  • Transmission LINES – (Use in Power and Radio Frequencies)
  • LINES (as wrinkles)
  • Growth LINES (as in trees)
  • LINE drive (as in Baseball)
  • Blue LINE (as in Hockey)
  • Yard LINES (as in football)
  • LINE of scrimmage
  • Foul LINES (as in many sports)
  • In LINE (as in compliance or conformance)
  • Out of LINE (as in non-compliance or non-conformance)
  • Scan LINES (as in Television)
  • Front LINES (as in warfare)
  • Family LINES (as in lineage)
  • Noble LINE
  • LINE of a drug (a method of consumption)
  • LINES of Authority
  • Production/Assembly LINE
  • LINES of Authority
  • LINES of latitude or longitude
  • Contour LINES (used in topographic maps)
  • Straight LINES (as opposed to those that curve or arc)
  • LINES (as in a class of merchandise or services
  • To LINE ones pocket (as in money)

Wonder how many you can think of that I did not mention?

Any wonder why English is so confusing ?

The following was sent to me by an old friend.  Nothing like some good, old fashioned, advice….

  • MAKE SURE YOUR FENCES ARE KEPT HORSE-HIGH, PIG-TIGHT, AND BULL-STRONG.
  • KEEP SKUNKS, BANKERS, LAWYERS, AND CAR SALESMEN AT A HEALTHY DISTANCE.
  • LIFE IS MUCH SIMPLER WHEN YOU PLOW AROUND THE STUMPS.
  • BUMBLE BEES, WASPS, AND YELLOW JACKETS ARE MUCH FASTER THAN YOUR JOHN DEERE TRACTOR.
  • THE WORDS THAT SOAK INTO YOUR EARS ARE USUALLY WHISPERED, NOT YELLED.
  • FORGIVE YOUR ENEMIES; IT REALLY MESSES UP THEIR HEADS.
  • WHEN YOU WALLOW WITH PIGS, YOU CAN EXPECT TO GET DIRTY.
  • THE BEST SERMONS ARE LIVED, NOT PREACHED.
  • MOST OF THE STUFF FOLKS WORRY ABOUT AIN’T EVER GOIN’ TO HAPPEN ANYWAY.
  • IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A HOLE, THE FIRST THING TO DO IS STOP DIGGIN’.

That’s about it for this month, my friends.  Thanks for the read.

Lord willing, I will be back to most of the same locations next month at this time.

Until then, may you have a wonderful Spring!!

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

SBE Member for over 50 years, #714

Clay’s Corner for March 2019

Clay’s Corner

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

 

So what happened?  We had wrapped up January with some record breaking warm days.  My lawn was growing to the point that I vowed that the next dry day it was going to get mowed.  The cracks in the sidewalk in front of my place were getting a good crop of bright green weeds.  We all just knew that we were in for an early spring.  Then it happened….We started hearing how it was going to get colder and maybe even have some snow.

Part of what I do is keep an eye on weather at Cougar and West Tiger.  The following graph showed that, indeed, colder conditions were about to set in – Note the top line, freezing level.  A Zero means Sea-Level…Oh Oh!

At this point, little did we know that records were going to be broken.

Those of us that have lived in this area a long time were used to having a dose of snow in the winter.  A few inches that last a couple of days and then are washed away by warm rains.  Not this time.  At first I got about 4 inches. Then, before it could melt, another foot on top of that.  Weeks later there are still pieces of white-stuff in my yard.

Record setting indeed.

  • Sea-Tac Airport set a record for the largest snowfall total for the month of February of 14.1 inches.  This beat the former record set back in 1949 of 13.1 inches.
  • South and higher that Snoqualmie Pass, Crystal Mountain received 7 feet of snow in 7 days.
  • If you really want snow…Then head north to Bellingham (or South for our readers in BC) and go east to Mt. Baker where they have had over 36 feet of the white-stuff.  This is nothing compared to the winter of 98/99 where they received about 95 feet.  If you keep track of ski areas totals, you know that Mt. Baker is near the top in total snow.

If you are as old as I, you remember the winter of 49/50.  We had the snow fall total this time but, thankfully, did not have the temperatures.  I’m sure you can find a lot of information about that winter on-line.  Here are some links to get you started.

https://komonews.com/weather/scotts-weather-blog/just-how-bad-was-the-winter-of-1949-1950

https://q13fox.com/2019/02/11/record-shattered-this-is-the-snowiest-february-since-at-least-1949/

On the personal side, I was a wee lad living in Portland and have many memories.  The high point was that the Columbia River froze over.

And….we got attention elsewhere:

DENVER (CBS4) – When you think of the weather in Seattle you probably picture either fog or rain instead of snow.  But an unusual weather pattern has allowed back-to-back storms to drop record snow across the Pacific Northwest this month.

Since Feb. 3 the airport in Seattle has recorded 20.2 inches of snow, making it the snowiest month in 50 years for Seattle’s official weather station.  Two days (Feb. 8 and 11) have produced more than 6 inches of snow in the city.

Denver has recorded 17.5 inches of snow so far this season at Denver International Airport. Denver’s old weather station in Stapleton has measured 19.1 inches of snow to date.

If we get above average snow in the Seattle area, chances are the same thing happened 50 miles to the East in the Cascades.  And boy did they.  According to NWS, Feb. 12th broke the 24 hour snowfall total at Snoqualmie Pass with 31.5 inches set back in 1975.  Over the period of 3 days, Feb. 10-12  Snoqualmie got over 5 feet of snow – 68 inches to be exact.  The result was the pass was closed for several days.

The weather had a major impact on me as well.  As I was leaving a restaurant on the 6th of the month, I slipped on ice on the sidewalk landing on my back and head.  Bottom line – I was taken to the local hospital where I received 13 stitches in the back of my head and a nasty concussion that still has me experiencing periods of vertigo.  Thanks to the suggestion of friends, I now have ice cleats for my feet and the restaurant has since learned that it is their responsibility to clear the sidewalk in front of their place.

The major broadcast  transmitter sites were certainly impacted:

  • Doug Fisher reported that he was unable to get to South Mountain (home of 3 FM’s) due to 8 foot drifts.
  • Cougar Mountain got a good 2 feet of snow.  Some remarked they had never seen it that deep there.
  • Due to long duration power outages in the vicinity of Cougar, many of the Century Link circuits used by broadcasters went down, as the batteries supporting the telephone equipment expired.
  • West Tiger (twice as high as Cougar) got 3 feet of snow.  Maintenance on a Generator Fuel System meant that Doug Fisher was called in to transport repair workers to the site in his ‘over the snow’ machine.

I’m sure there are other stories of snow-related incidents involving broadcasting that I’ve not heard.  These are the winters that set records and make memories.  According to the record keepers, this may go down in history as the coldest February!

Here is the view out my bedroom window the morning of the 13th:

Here is a picture from the Accelnet Tower Camera at West Tiger on the 13th.  In later pictures, you can see Doug’s tracks in the snow.  Since then, more snow has all but covered them.  It will be some time before anyone ‘drives’ up there with a rubber-tire vehicle (even with chains).

The yellow item to the right is a Track Hoe that is working on a new tower project, part of the First Net system being installed across the country.   Note how you can’t see the tracks on the machine.  On the lower right is a Porta-Potty…half buried.

Winter in this area is not consistent.  There have been winters that we’ve been able to drive to the transmitter sites at West Tiger without having to put on chains.  Then there are those winters that conventional vehicles are useless.  A couple of times the road to West Tiger has been plowed, usually due to on-going construction, etc.

Unfortunately, none of the broadcasters have invested in over-the-snow equipment.  In the past I tried to interest the first stations at WTM-1 to jointly purchase the required equipment, but was not successful.  West Tiger presents some unique challenges that make it not suitable for snowmobiles.  The road goes up, then down, then back up on the way to the summit.  Often the low place in the middle is a gravel road.  In the past, over the snow machines, have been what are called snow-cats.  Larger and much more expensive than what is in use today.  Today we have what are called ATV’s, small 4-wheel drive machines, that can be outfitted with ‘Tracks’ that enable them to tackle the job at a fraction of the cost.  One of our local Broadcast Engineers, Doug Fisher purchased one of these a few years ago and has put it to good use at locations like West Tiger, South Mountain, Capital Peak and other locations where the ‘white stuff’ can really pile up.

This picture comes from Ralph Sims of Accelnet, taken as they were making their way up to West Tiger.  Accelnet owns the webcams that have provided us all with a (warm) ring-side seat of what’s happening at West Tiger.  Obviously chain saws are a requirement!

Here’s a picture I got, through the windshield, of one of the more dicey places going up to Cougar.  This was after the first ‘little’ snowfall.  The problem here is the grade and the fact that it’s paved, making for a very slippery situation.

The recent heavy snow took down a couple of stations (KVIX and KNWP) both on Striped Peak west of Port Angeles.  Both of these stations are satellite-fed and employ a C-band dish that was, in this case, overwhelmed by over 2 feet of snow that fell in northern Clallam County.

This was an example of our ‘Lake Effect Snow’ (something that Buffalo, N.Y. often experiences).  In this case, the ‘Lake’ was Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan De Fuca and the wind source was a strong Fraser River ‘outflow’.

Interesting to read/see stories about heavy snow in Sequim (just east of Port Angeles).  Sequim is known for being in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains that tend to keep the area much drier than anywhere else in Western Washington.  In this case the winds were from the northeast and the mountains were of no help.

On the other side of Washington State, winter conditions are much different that here on the ‘wet-side’.  Many of their transmitter locations are higher and more remote.  Example is Mission Ridge (6820ft) and Naneum (6623ft) over twice as high as West Tiger.

My co-workers over there often put to use their snow cat to reach their transmitters and then snowshoe the rest of the way.  The following are some pictures forwarded by John McDaniel showing engineers accessing the KQWS transmitter site.  The station serves the Okanogan area and is licensed to WSU.

Shown here are Kenny Gibson and Brady Aldrich.  John McDaniel is holding the camera.  Brady is from this area, having spent early years on Vashon at KOMO.  He’s been a frequently visitor to the Seattle Chapter SBE Meetings.

Can’t help but think of the poor fellows that have to access the TV Transmitters on Seattle’s Queen Ann and Capitol Hill.  Having to put up with the traffic, etc.

I received an email from now retired Tom Pierson (retired from KIRO Radio) who is residing in Arizona.  He wanted to be sure and tell me that it was time to clean his sunglasses.  This may be short-lived as the winter storm that produced snow in Las Angeles and Las Vegas was expected to send temps into the 20’s in the Phoenix area.  To the north, Flagstaff received a major dump of snow…35.9 inches in one day!

The following picture shows the transmitter tower with its ‘2-Bay’ antenna mounted on the top, left side, of the tower.

To put all of this into perspective, other parts of the U.S. have been dealing with what’s known as a Polar Vortex, where they have been having winter that would bring the Seattle area to a complete stop.  (Thanks to a couple of mountain ranges and prevailing winds we will never have to deal with this level of winter.)

Here is a comment posted on a national broadcast engineers’ remailer from a fellow in a location where it really gets cold:

Minus 44F this morning!  Transmitter building at 38F with a 25 kW transmitter huffing away inside.  It’s just crazy to think of a 115 degree temp differential between outside my house and inside.  Propane furnaces are shutting down because propane vaporizes at -44F.

Before all of this there were some real concerns about what’s called our ‘Winter Snowpack’.  This fallen snow provides irrigation and drinking water and water for Hydro projects for a large portion of the state.  We’ve made up for much of the shortfall this month.  According to the National Climate Prediction Center, we have a 50/50 chance of a warmer than normal summer and a 70/30 chance it will be drier.

Ok, enough about our winter weather – and on to other happenings.

Looks like Seattle’s Channel 7, KIRO-TV, will be getting new owners.  Cox Media has let it be known this was in the works.  Interesting that this is not an outright sale, but rather a type of merger.  Apollo Management, an investor group, will be buying a majority interest in Cox Enterprises which involves Radio, TV and Newspaper properties around the country.  The new company, like Cox, will be headquartered in Atlanta.  Too soon to know how this will impact the operation of their TV Station in Seattle.  Apollo has stated that it plans on keeping the existing management in place.  Of course, this is a standard announcement with any sale.  Time will tell.

Yes, you have heard about Apollo before.  The name has surfaced with previous attempts by them to purchase Nexstar and Tribune Media.  Obviously Apollo has been wanting to become a major player in broadcast television.  Purchasing a big piece of Cox and Northwest Broadcasting which owns stations in Spokane, Yakima and Tri-Cities will help them fulfill their plans.

The FCC continues to relax requirements (nothing to do with the shut-down), announcing that broadcast licensees no longer have to post paper copies of station licenses at specific locations.

A summary of the Report and Order making the change was published in the Federal Register https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-02-08/pdf/2019-01491.pdf and the change was effective immediately.

You may now remove licenses that you may have previously posted (such as on bulletin boards or in notebooks at your transmitter site or control point) pursuant to the rule.  However, if you are like me, they will still be there.

One term you hear a lot today is the word ‘Podcast’.  So what does it really mean?

Let’s start with Wikipedia (I’ve edited it down a bit):

A podcast is an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download in order to listen to via the user’s own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player.[1]

The word was originally suggested by Ben Hammersley as a portmanteau of “iPod” (a brand of media player) and “broadcast”.[2][3]

The files distributed are in audio format, but may sometimes include other file formats such as PDF or EPUB. Videos which are shared following a podcast model are sometimes called video podcasts or vodcasts.

The generator of a podcast maintains a central list of the files on a server as a web feed that can be accessed through the Internet.  The listener or viewer uses special client application software on a computer or media player, known as a podcatcher, which accesses this web feed, checks it for updates, and downloads any new files in the series.  This process can be automated to download new files automatically, which may seem to users as though new episodes are broadcast or “pushed” to them.  Files are stored locally on the user’s device, ready for offline use.[4] There are many different mobile applications available for people to use to subscribe and to listen to podcasts.  Many of these applications allow users to download podcasts or to stream them on demand as an alternative to downloading.  Many podcast players (apps as well as dedicated devices) allow listeners to skip around the podcast and control the playback speed.

Some have labeled podcasting as a converged medium bringing together audio, the web, and portable media players, as well as a disruptive technology that has caused some individuals in the radio business to reconsider established practices and preconceptions about audiences, consumption, production, and distribution. Podcasts are usually free of charge to listeners and can often be created for little to no cost, which sets them apart from the traditional model of “gate-kept” media and production tools. Podcast creators can monetize their podcasts by allowing companies to purchase ad time, as well as via sites such as Patreon, which provides special extras and content to listeners for a fee. Podcasting is very much a horizontal media[6] form – producers are consumers, consumers may become producers, and both can engage in conversations with each other.[5]

OK, got all that?

Sounds a lot like what we have been doing with old Radio Shows for a very long time.  There is a long standing fan base for those that want to hear radio shows from the past, Amos and Andy, Lone Ranger etc.  What this does is blend the process with modern technology.  The movement has really caught on with active involvement by many in and out of the broadcast industry.  For example, I read a story recently on how Shari Redstone (yes, the Viacom Redstone) has become a podcast evangelist citing how she sees a big future.  Consumers today are increasingly wanting audio (and video) entertainment to be in their personal time zone.  Stop and think about it – Cable TV has been doing this for a long time with movies etc.  Attention to Podcasting at a high level like this means that lots of money will be following.

Over the years, on several occasions, I’ve mentioned South Mountain in this column.  The mountain, named for being the southern-most mountain in the Olympics, was pioneered as a broadcast transmitter location by Greg Smith when he moved his FM Station, KAYO, to the north end of the South Mountain Ridge (locally known as North Mountain).  Greg later erected a 400 foot tower on the highest location at the South end of the ridge.  Shortly afterward, he sold 99.3 to Bustos Media.  This was my introduction to the site, where Nick Winter and I found ourselves installing the equipment for what’s now known as KDDS.    Shortly afterward 97.7 went on the air (now known at KOMO-FM) then came 93.7/KLSY.  The site is now going to gain a 4th FM with the addition of Jodesha Broadcasting’s KJET/105.7 which will operate as a Class C2 with 1.75 kW…much less than the others at the site.

The view from South Mountain is fantastic.  Standing at the base of the tower looking North, you are looking at the Olympic Mountains.  Turn Northeast and you see the buildings in downtown Seattle.  East is Tacoma, South is Olympia, Southwest (on a clear day) you can see Williapa Bay and the Long Beach Peninsula.  Looking  West is Grays Harbor and the Pacific Ocean.  No wonder the place is popular.  Capital Peak, to the South offers similar views, however it’s not as high nor as close to Seattle.

The fact is, broadcasters all want coverage of Seattle for that’s where more people are!  South Mountain, as well as Capital Peak, are ideal locations for radio broadcasters who have stations licensed to smaller communities, but whose target is the greater population of the Seattle area.  These stations are typically call ‘Rim Shots’.  To help put this into perspective – KDDS (The highest one on the tower) operates with 64,000 watts ERP from an elevation of 1033 Meters/3388 feet above sea level and is approximately 50 miles from Downtown Seattle.  In much of the east coast, FM Stations are Class B’s meaning their maximum power can only be 50,000 watts at 500 feet.  You mention these power levels and elevations to a broadcaster from other parts of the country, they look at you with amazement.

The downside to a site like South Mountain is that the population near the transmitter is very low (not counting Bambi and Boo Boo), therefore a lot of radio signals do very little.

A huge radio deal was announced in the middle of the month.  Cumulus Media (who was recently involved with bankruptcy) is going to sell 6 of their FM stations to EMF.  What makes this interesting is that EMF, a large Christian broadcaster, is buying two of them for 103.5 million CASH!  One is the famous KPLJ in New York City, the other is WYAY in Atlanta.  The other part of the announcement is they are trading WHSN in New York and two stations in Springfield, Mass to Entercom for 3 stations in Indy.  This will enhance Entercom’s cluster in the bigger East-Coast markets while enhancing the Cumulus cluster in Indy.  I recall visiting the Indy stations when I worked for Entercom.  The unique part was they were across the parking lot from the SBE headquarters.  This swap is much like what you see in professional sports.  Players, like stations, being sold and traded, to (hopefully) make for a strong team.  Interesting that EMF will also take ownership of some broadcast/tower sites that are reportedly generating  $5-7 Million annually.  I just love how these executives phrase things.

“These transactions are consistent with our portfolio optimization strategy and both deals are accretive,” Cumulus CEO Mary Berner said in a news release.”

The mega-buck deal is supposed to close in the 2nd Quarter of this year.

Yes, EMF operates stations in the Seattle area, 104.5 from Cougar Mt. and 88.1 from Capital Peak.

We’re saying good bye to the towers that were used for almost 30 years by the 1210 AM Station in Auburn.  What is not widely known is that this site was largely built with the able assistance of non-other than the late Arne Skoog who was my assistant during those days at KBSG.

Did you all happen to catch the story about the guy that re-discovered an old Apple IIe and was shocked to find out that it still worked?  That brought back a flood of memories for me as I had one of those that I used to prepare this column many years ago.  I would send it to the Waveguide Editor at the blazing speed of 300 baud.  Apparently many are shocked that it still worked.  This underscores the mindset that today’s electronic devices are mostly short-live devices and that failure after a short time is ‘normal’.  This all boils down to how the equipment was designed, quality of parts used in their construction and how well they were assembled.

A good case in point, in the picture above, when operation of the site ended, the circa 1980-something Nautel transmitter was faithfully creating the kilowatts.  When the West Tiger Mountain Master FM Antenna burned up, several of the stations pressed into service Collins transmitters that were built in the 1970’s, and, to the best of my knowledge, they worked when turned on.

There are a lot of devices that are just plain better designed and built than others.  This goes for computers, transmitters or cars.  A great example of this is a picture of Edward R. Murrow standing in Pullman next to a Kelvinator refer.  That same machine is used daily to this day.

Probably the biggest issue is there is little demand for something that will run a long time today.  Reliability and projected length of service (or mean time between failures) is a secondary consideration in this fast paced world of creating new and more exciting features.

There are many positive attributes to the KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) principle.  Unfortunately today’s mindset is to sacrifice reliability for ‘Bling’.

This column would not be complete without a couple of pictures from the new home of Dwight Small.

 

 

In the past couple of months we have been visited by Jim Leifer in his official role as Senior Manager for Broadcast Operations for American Tower.  In both cases, he was here due to the failure of the FM Master Antenna on West Tiger.

 

Here’s Jim taking the oath of office from Chris Imlay.  Jim is also the President of SBE.

Guess it’s that time of year again:

  • People standing on street corners hawking tax preparation services (US Only).
  • The Mike and Key Club annual Electronics Show and Swap Meet is just around the corner on March 9th.
  • Plans being made to attend the NAB show in Las Vegas, April 6-11 this year.
  • Just received my invitation to attend the Seaside, Oregon SEA-PAC Ham Convention, May 31, June 1 & 2.

Often a measure of an area, SeaTac Airport is a very busy place.  In fact, it’s the 9th busiest airport in the country with 49.8 million flyers gracing its concourses last year.  All that and it’s been recently named the third most relaxing airport.  Not sure how the earned both.

Once again, a significant contribution to this column from Michael Brooks of KING-FM.  I’ll let you come up with your own caption.

Once again it’s time for me to take a look at the latest Nielsen Radio ratings for the Seattle area and list, what I feel, are the high-points.

  • The area continues to grow.  According to Nielsen, there are 3.863 Million of us over 12 in Market #12.
  • KUOW continues to prove you can be non-commercial and do very well.  They topped the list with a 7.4.
  • Hubbard’s Movin came in #2 with a 7.0.
  • KIRO-FM is #3 (Wonder what the lack of Ron and Don will do in the future?).
  • Not a lot of ‘daylight’ between stations in the top-10 with 3 ties.
  • Of the big owners, Entercom has 4 of theirs in the Top 10.
  • Surprisingly KNDD is the top Entercom Station, beating KISW.
  • Sports-Talk KIRO-AM continues to be the top AM in 14th place.
  • Not far behind is all news KOMO.
  • When Entercom pulled the plug on long standing KMPS, Hubbard quickly rolled out their own country formatted station to take on Entercom’s The Wolf.  Looks like Entercom is able to hold off the challenge with KKWF Tied with KISW at # 7…Far ahead of KNUC.
  • I recently wrote about the entry of an HD-2 in the list of popular choice.  KNKX’s Jazz-24/HD-2 is still there, however they have been joined by two stations Streaming on-line, KSWD and KISW.  Perhaps proving that the completion for OTA (Over the Air) audience is indeed real.
  • Looking at the bottom part this long list are found a number of Non-Commercial stations as well as those that are not exactly within the market signals.

Just for fun, here is a look at our neighbor to the south, Market #22, Portland, Oregon.

  • Population is shown as 2.354 million (about 1.5 Megapeople less than Seattle).
  • Much like Seattle the #1 Station is News/Talk KOPB operated by Oregon Public Broadcasting.
  • Also like Seattle, you have to go down the list to #19 before you find an AM station.  In this case, historic KEX with a Talk format.
  • Unlike Seattle, Portland has 3 stations with HD Channels.  One of them, IHearts KFBW-HD3 doing quite well with a Classic Country format.
  • One station’s ‘Stream’ is in the race.
  • If you wondered where the call letters KMTT, long associated with Entercom’s 103.7 ‘The Mountain’ in Seattle are now, they are being used by Entercom in Portland.

On the sad-side, this past fall, legendary Wenatchee broadcast engineer George Frese passed.  The following was recently distributed via AFCCE and was posted on the Seattle SBE-16 Remailer from which followed a number of comments by those that have fond memories of George.  Read on:

George Melvin Frese, Wenatchee, WA

Condensing 97 years of a full life for an amazing man into a few paragraphs, is nearly an impossible task, for he is more than the sum of the milestones of his life. But, in an attempt to honor George Melvin Frese, we will do so.

George was born in Spokane, WA, on June 5, 1921, to Fred and Sadie (Penner) Frese. George’s father was a City of Spokane police officer. George told stories of an adventurous childhood growing up in Spokane in the 1920’s.

His most told stories included his early experiences of listening to the radio with his mother on a crystal set, tuning into programs from around the country. George developed a fascination with the technology that enabled you to hear a person speaking hundreds of miles away. In his own words, “My number one ambition became to learn how this worked.” At the age of four, George began making crystal sets by dismantling old radios and using spare parts given to him. As his curiosity grew, so did his radios. In junior high and high school, he developed short-wave radio receivers, transceivers, and transmitters with increasing power and sophistication. As a junior in high school, he discovered that VHF radio waves reflected off of airplanes, allowing him to calculate how far away an airplane was, how fast it was traveling, and in what direction, naming his system “The Airplane Detector.” Eager to share this incredible technology, he naively wrote to the U.S. government and was disappointed when they did not respond. He then decided to share his “invention” with the government of England instead, believing it could be useful in their defense against the German Luftwaffe. This letter resulted in a visit from the FBI and the eventual military testing of his “Airplane Detector”.

George’s expertise in broadcast engineering led him to Washington State University to continue his education, graduating with a degree in Engineering. He was a proud Coug, able to belt out the Cougar fight song on command.

George met his first wife, Mollie, while in Pullman, WA. In May of 1944, George entered the Army, attended Basic Training and then Officers Candidate School. While stationed at Fort Monmouth, their first child, Joan, was born in November of 1944. His second daughter, Suzette, arrived in April of 1946. George’s military career was filled with unusual experiences and circumstances. Many are explained in his autobiography “Lost History and a Bizarre Mystery.” Following his military service, their son, Glen, and daughter, Lorene, were born.

George worked for KPQ as a radio engineer early in his career. George ventured out on his own, becoming a sought after engineering consultant of radio and television stations around the country. He is regarded as the father of modern broadcast audio processing for his invention of the Frese Audio Pilot, which was a pioneering breakthrough and improved the sound of a radio station’s broadcast signals. He obtained his first Amateur Radio “C” License in junior high. He was a proud and active Ham radio operator all of his life, with an Amateur Extra license, call sign AA7H.

In 1961, George married Rosemary Crimmins. Rosemary’s children: Richard, Linda, and Laurel Jacobsen joined the family. They were happily married for over 56 years. They were members of Central Christian (Cornerstone) Church most of their married life. George was an avid student of the Bible, having read it many times.

All of these milestones were the framework of a life well lived. But what made George special were the moments in between. He was goofy. He told us some of the dumbest “George and Joe” jokes, over and over, making us laugh. He truly cared about his family and friends. He worried about them and he prayed for them. He had more uses for duct tape than you can possibly imagine. He once gave Rosemary 100 numbered greeting cards, placed around the house as an apology. He was amazingly intelligent and could hold his own on just about any subject. He loved to exercise, playing organized softball and badminton into his 80’s. He was a master popcorn maker, enjoyed playing the violin, and playing classic music very loudly. He could “engineer” almost any device he needed. He was a good man, father, grandfather, and friend. He will be missed.

George died on November 23, 2018. He is survived by his son, Glen Frese (Sue); daughters: Joan Frese Lazarus (Jonathan), Suzette Frese Harkin (John), Lorene Frese Woody (Mike); step-son, Richard Jacobsen; step-daughters: Laurel Jacobsen Fife (Jim), and Linda Jacobsen Stuart; and his first grandchild, Tami Jacobsen Gurnard (Joe), whom he raised as his own. He also is survived by numerous grandchildren; great-grandchildren; and treasured friends. George was preceded in death by his father, Frederick; mother, Sadie; sister, Shirley Frese Woods; and his beloved wife, Rosemary.

A Service will be held on May 4, 2019 at Jones & Jones-Betts Funeral Home, Wenatchee, WA. Please express your thoughts and memories on our online guestbook at jonesjonesbetts.com. Arrangements are by Jones & Jones–Betts Funeral Home, Wenatchee, WA.

 

The posting of this announcement brought forth a number of comments that were also posted:

 

I never met George, but I was familiar with his work.  He built the old KUTI 980 studio in Yakima.  Beautiful wiring.  And the documentation was excellent, clear, hand-drawn diagrams.

Several years ago I happened to be listening to KPQ when I was driving over the pass when they interviewed him about the history of the station.  Very entertaining.  Something about cutting the engineering shop loose in a flood to save the transmitter building.

 

Terry Spring

Chief Engineer

KWPX TV

 

I worked with George frese for a little bit on a project at a radio station in Tri-Cities when I first got into the business some 35 years ago.  It was on his audiopilot audio processor.   we had one at the station and it didn’t work very well so I called him up to talked to him about it,  we probably spent a good hour on the phone talking about it and other things,, he was a really smart sharp audio and RF engineer, rest in peace George.

 Dave Ratener.

Bill Wolfenbarger wrote:

Was that the class IV on 1340?  Part of the problem with that station was that the transmitter didn’t have the headroom.  The transmitter used tetrodes, I think it may have been a Wilkinson.

 

George came to Seattle with an Audio Pilot, installed it at KOL.  The deal was always that it was a trial and if you didn’t like it, he’d take it out.  So when George hooked it up, our GM (Dick Curtis) reported “it sounds like a 10 dB increase!”.  The purchase (as expensive as it was at $1,500) was not questioned.  Aside from the fact that it used lot of tubes and relays, the Audio Pilot really was ahead of its time.  George had thought of every little thing that would make things louder, including absolute control of negative peaks, float clipping, 100:1 compression ratio, polarity switching so that asymmetrical voices were louder, etc.

 

One problem that came up was new FCC rules on positive peaks.  Clay will remember this, we made changes in the Collins 21E transmitters to give them more headroom.  And as someone else reported, “Frese and Kaping” were meticulous with their wiring.  Because the Statute of Limitations has run out, I can now say that I felt a certain amount of pride when KOL received a letter from the local FCC office.  In part it said that KOL “positive peaks regularly exceeded 125%, and “not infrequently exceeding 200%”.  It later turned out that the commish was tipped off by the Program Director at KING.

  

Rest in peace, George…

 Wolf 

 

Andrew Skotdal wrote:

Clay, you may choose to mention that the pre-cursor to the Kinstar was created by George and is on the air at KAPS 660 right next to the freeway.  Lockwood knows the name of the particular AM antenna, but there are only two in America, the other is in Hawaii, and I’m not sure if it is still on the air.

 George put KRKO on the air from the Larimer Road location in Everett in 1958/59.  We have photos of him with his FIM, and he helped us for several years after I became GM in the 90’s. 

 George was recruited by opponents to the KRKO/KKXA antenna system on Short School Road and he actually testified against us in hearings.  He ultimately turned out to be OUR greatest opposition asset.  Sadly, the opposing council recruited George by splitting language and saying that our argument was we needed our AM antenna system to “be near water on a shoreline.” 

 

After we won, I flew to Wenatchee to meet with George and find out why he worked for the opponents.  He brought a friend to the meeting because he initially had a concern that I was going to “throw a pie in his face or something.”  Instead, I was actually there to tell him it was all ok.  What the opposing council never explained to George was the County designated the entire floodplain as “shoreline” for jurisdictional reasons.  Opposing council let him believe we were trying to be too close to the river because we wanted to have the antenna system in the water.  When he finally learned the meaning behind the language of “shoreline” he apologized and said he was led to believe the “shoreline” was different than the farming soil which was so important to AM transmission.  He conceded AM had to be in the Snohomish River Valley afterward and that was why he put KRKO in the valley back in 1958…also in the “shoreline.”

 He took me to his workshop that afternoon.  His QSL collection was massive and historically meaningful.  I hope they didn’t get tossed.  There were some treasures in his boxes.  And, his workshop was its own sort of museum to broadcasting.  George and his former engineering partner, Dwayne, were terrific people who cared a great deal about broadcasting.  He was saddened to see KGA-A downgraded from 50kW to 10kW to give an incremental boost to 2.5 kW for a Bay Area station.  I think he may have helped put that one on the air, but I know he helped reign it in from time to time, and I think he helped to move it.

 

Marty Hadfield added:

 

The KAPS ND short antenna system is a “PARAN”.

Rest In Peace, George.

Sincerely,

Marty Hadfield

Stephan Lockwood added a link for addition information on the PARAN Antenna.

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/158669

Dwight Small posted this –

Somewhere I have a copy of an article from the late 40’s that came from the Western Electric magazine. It’s the story of how George floated the KPQ transmitter building when the Columbia river flooded. He used surplus Army rafts and placed them under the building, disconnected what was necessary and floated the building when the water rose. I believe he used

a longwire to keep the station on the air. Very creative engineer.   RIP

 

DS

 

And from Tom McGinley-

There are few NW engineers who didn’t know about George Frese and his remarkable achievements and contributions to our craft. The lucky ones got to work with him on a project or 2. I recall working with George and Dwayne back in 1982 when I was hired to implement a DA-2 5 kW power increase for KGEZ 600 Kalispell, MT. George did the 301 app and the GM at the time there and I did the tune up and proof with George’s sage assistance on the phone providing background info. KGEZ was still running their Frese Audio Pilot at the time and was making 150% positive peaks with their new 5 kW McMartian tx running at 1 kW.

 

Arne Skoog removed an Audio Pilot used at KKOL 1300 back in the 80s and stuck it in the SEA CBS Radio basement bone yard. I always wanted to fire it up again and watch it play before I left in 2016 but the box went out to the KIRO-AM Radio Museum on Vashon under the superb curatorship of Steve Allen.

 

From John Price:

 

I first met George in 1977 when he came to KGY 1240 in Olympia to do the annual audio proof of performance. He pulled up late the night of the ‘Proof’ in a Jeep Wagoneer full of ammo boxes he used to cart around his test gear. He set his gear up, had a few questions and away we went. George came back again in 1978 to do the proof that year too. I had replaced the on-air console since his last visit; he found a couple of bugs that time, but they got cleared up. I was the KGY afternoon jock and ‘punk’ Chief Engineer from February 1977 until the first week of January 1979, and never had the opportunity to see, talk to or work with George again.

 

KGY had an Audio Pilot that was not operational when I got there. The previous CE Don Jones wanted to get it running when we put the MW1 on the air in early 1977. I fed some audio to it and had it running in standby mode. What I remember is the clicking of the Audio Pilot’s relays. It was in a half rack sitting in the small room behind the two transmitters and equipment racks, and you could hear the relays when you were in the adjacent on-air studio. I think we put it on the air once to test it, but in the end decided not to use it instead of the existing CBS Audimax and Volumax.    

 

Looking back at all of George’s experiences and accomplishments, I wish now I had taken the opportunity to sit down and talk to him. I’m sure I would have learned a lot. May you rest in peace sir.

 

JP          

 

 

And from Walt Jamison:

 

I am sorry for Georges poor health and death.  I first heard of George in the early 1960″s when he built an intermodulation filter for a friend at a station in Yakima.  My first contact with him was at a SBE meeting when he described his Audio Pilot.  Several discussions with him at SBE Equipment Shows.  Bob Holcomb and I showed him through the KOMO Vashon plant, I think during the 1990’s.  He was interested in the RCA BC 50F Transmitter.  My favorite story of his was the description of building that station in Kellog Idaho.  Because of the narrow steep valley the two towers were on opposite sides of the highway.  Convincing the FCC that it was not possible to make the usual close in field intensity measurements on the cliffs was a major problem.  Apparently the ‘flat landers’ there did not understand the Kellog geology.

 

   walt, W7PRB

 

 

 

I was sadden to learn of George’s passing last fall. Both Wil Voss now in Bellingham at Cascade Radio group and I worked with George for many years in the early 70’s.  Wil officially took over as the chief engineer for Duane Lee since George had left KPQ-AM & FM a few years before. I left the Wenatchee area in 73, and George shared with me a master copy of both the AM-FM version of the audio pilot. I also have a master copy of the Parin antenna that he designed for KAPS-AM 660 due to a very limited ground plane issue. KAPS still uses this antenna today in part to Steve Lockwood after it was damaged in a wind & lighting storm several years ago since George’s health would not allow him to travel and perform a major repair. I first meet George after I returned to the Wenatchee area after my father took ill in Alaska. The call AA7I and AA7H were George and Duane. That is where I got started  before high school when George helped me get ready for the novice exam that I later passed and earned the call: WN7EUE. This later changed over time to WB7EUE. George was a great teacher and he inspired me to continue my studies into the engineering field. George had many stories but the one I enjoyed the most was when the Columbia River flooded the antenna site and George floated the transmitter building and placed several small boats in line to suspend the RF cable to a long wire to the South Tower.

Rest in peace my friend.

Michael Gilbert

 

Allow me to add an item.  One encounter with George took place by telephone.  Out of the blue one day he called me on the phone.  I was CE of KMO in Tacoma at the time and he knew it.  He wanted to inform me that he had been hired to do an application for a new station in Hermiston, Oregon that would also be on 1360 and wanted to be the first to inform me that this would in no-way interfere with KMO.  His attitude could best be described as being ‘hat in hand’.  George was a ‘Class Act’.

I always like to try and end this column with a bit of humor.  This time, Cartoon type comments about winter weather seem appropriate.

Oh yes, one more thing –
THINK SPRING !!!!

As they say in Amateur Radio, 73

Clay Freinwald, CPBE, K7CR
SBE Member # 714  (2-5-68)

 

 

 

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