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Clay’s Corner for August 2018

August 2, 2018
By

Clay’s Corner

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

 

Have you been enjoying summer?  Hot enough for yah?  From what I hear, this July has been the 2nd hottest on record.  Perhaps all part of global warming….Heard someone say recently that the Pacific Northwest is the only place in the country where Climate Change is making things better.  Perhaps, frankly I’d trade some of these 90 degree days for some 70’s in October.

Well the big news has certainly got to be the action of the FCC regarding the Sinclair/Tribune deal.  Media watchers were all saying that the deal was about to be approved by the FCC when – BOOM!  The FCC honcho, Ajit Pai announced that he is recommending that the merger be reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  As a result, those same outlets did a ‘180’ saying that this move could kill the deal.  Sinclair has been scrambling to make modifications in the hope that the FCC would back down.  Thus far this does not seem to be happening.  Some have been so bold as to suggest that Sinclair has shot themselves in the foot due to the way they were handling the matter of divesting of some stations.  In other situations, sending a merger to an ALJ can mean a ‘dead-deal’.  If you recall, AT&T tried to buy local cell provider, T-Mobile – In that case the FCC just threatened to send the matter to an ALJ for review causing AT&T to give up.

Then there is the political side of this….Sinclair is known for having a very conservative position on things.  As such, many figured the FCC Chairman, being a Republican would help…Apparently it did not…Perhaps surprising a lot of media-watchers.

So what’s going to take place in the Emerald City with the two Tribune Stations?  Not sure anyone is bold enough to be making bets.

Right after this bombshell – Cox, owner of KIRO-TV, announced that they are putting their 14 TV stations up for sale!  In an interesting reversal, where we have seen Radio/TV groups shed their Radio stations (CBS for example), Cox owns 61 Radio stations.

My heart goes out to all of those that work for the Tribune and Cox stations as they deal with a special kind of ‘Limbo’.  In my career I endured several ownership changes…In the end, most of them ended up being positive….However, getting there can be very unsettling.  In all of these it was pretty cut and dried…The old owners announced they were selling and identified the new ones…Then you waited for the FCC to approve the sale followed by the introduction of new management and, with fingers crossed, the announcement came that you had a job with the new firm.  In this case, things are far from clear, which is a breeding ground for anxiety.

On a much more cheerful note….I took my camera to the transmitter site recently and captured some scenes to share.  This first one is looking north at the ridge that is West Tiger Mountain with a foreground of wild flowers.  This is not a setup…There is a ton of nature’s color up there this year.

On the left is what we call West Tiger #1 or WTM-1.  It was the first broadcast site developed on the mountain back in 1988.  On the right, the two towers are at WTM-2, a site developed some years later by American Tower.  Although it does not look like it from this angle, the tops of all three towers are at the same elevation, 3148 feet above sea-level.

In recent columns I’ve written about Smart Speakers.  New reports are the sales of these devices will reach 100 million by the end of this year….and there will be 225 million of them by 2020.  Of special interest locally is the news that the Amazon Echo will account for more than 50% of sales.  Pretty impressive.  This is another classic case of a lot of people asking the question ….’Why didn’t I think of that?’

One of our area’s Non-Comms…KUOW is making use of these devices.  They’ve been chosen as a test station to receive donations from listeners who stream the station via the Alexa.  Amazon teamed up with NPR and KUOW on the project.

Time to look at the Seattle Radio (6+) Ratings in what Nielsen calls ‘Market #12’ –

  • Hubbard is at #1with their CHR formatted KQMV (92.5)
  • Close behind is KIRO-FM with News/Talk
  • Non-Comm, KUOW has dropped to a tie for 4th place with KISW
  • The top-rated AM station is KIRO/710.  Perhaps the hot Mariners having a role here?
  • The other highly rated Non-Comm, KNKX comes in at #10
  • The two Country Music stations, KKWF and KNUC (The Wolf and Bull) are tied
  • The next highest rated AM is KOMO at #16
  • Of the bottom 10 stations – 4 are AM’s with 3 of them 50 Kilowatts.

More examples of wildflowers along the road to West Tiger.  There are still some that think I’m crazy for preferring to drive up this ‘rustic’ road than drive on a freeway.

 

 

Road and Track magazine recently had a headline that read:

The 100 Worst American Cities for Driving – Adding – “You don’t want to be in the driver’s seat when visiting these cities.”

Sure, you knew where I was going with this one …Ranking #96 is Seattle…They added –

“Downtown Seattle is surrounded by a collection of lakes and peninsulas, meaning a lot of choke points for drivers trying to get places.”

We are joined at the bottom of the list of desirable places to drive by Oakland and San Francisco, Detroit and Philadelphia.  So what about Portland, Oregon?  Not much to brag about.  They came in at #60.

Meanwhile – Back to the tranquil road to West Tiger Mountain…and Foxgloves

The battle over what we call ‘C-Band’ continues to rage (3.7 to 4.2 GHz).  As time goes by, it appears that indeed wireless will end up with a portion of the band.  The question remains, where and how much.  Clearly the message that this spectrum is being used has been heard, with the FCC acknowledging that the existing users of this spectrum need to be accommodated.  I have contended that we will be looking at another ‘repack’ on this band.  That position is being echoed by others now as well.  One segment that has been very vocal has been Non-Commercial users.  Even Chairman Pai is on record that no action should be taken that threatens Public Radio.  Driving all this is the desire by the Wireless industry for spectrum for their 5G systems.  So now we wait for announcements to come from the east.

An interesting story out of NPR this past month.  They are reporting a spike in donations for Non-Comm Radio and TV Stations.  Interesting to note that this is the first time in decades that these facilities have seen increases in donors and revenue.  I wonder how much that is a result of the current battle between elected officials and news organizations?

So now that IHeart Media is Bankrupt – What’s next?  Sensing there is ‘blood in the water’, some organizations with money to spend are circling.  Already some of them have trotted out offers sparking comments of a coming bidding war.  Will the media giant be parted out…or what is the question?  Like all of these issues, only time will tell.

Just when we are getting used to the term ‘Fake News’ comes word on how ‘Fake Video’ could mess with our heads in the future.  Think of it a photo-shop for video.  I recall the term – You can’t fool a camera – Well, sorry Grandpa….Today you can using facial mapping and AI.

Received news that Kelly Alford is moving back home.  He recently wrote –

We’re in the process of packing and putting our Virginia house on the market to move back to the PNW in the coming months.  I don’t want to disclose where yet, but I start in my new position August 1st.  I’m sure there will be announcements accordingly.  Suffice it to say it will be nice to get back to my roots, with no more endless overseas work-related travel.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed getting to know the various cultures and customs in my prior gig, but at my age, 14 to 16 hour flights through numerous time zones, including dangerous places for American’s like Baghdad, was taking a toll.

Not everyday that the retirement of a local Radio General Manager makes the news.  However, a lot of attention is being given to the retirement announcement that Hubbard’s Marc Kaye is going to hang it up.  Marc’s been in the business 45 years.  He was the Cluster Manager for the Sandusky group in Bellevue and continued in that role with Hubbard.

Whereas I am one of those ‘older people’ that has elected to keep working beyond conventional retirement age (whatever that is) I found this item interesting –

The headline read – A record number of folks age 85 and older are working.

70 may be the new 60 and 80 may be the new 70…but 85 is still pretty old to work in the U.S.  Interestingly 255,000 people 85 and older are working, the highest number on record.  So what are they doing?  All kinds of things…crossing guards, farmers and ranchers and even truckers.  The number has doubled since the last depression.  There are a number of supporting reasons for all of this.  Longer life expectancies, lack of retirement plans, less physically demanding work.

What is not mentioned is doing what you like.  This is the situation in my case.  Frankly, I like what I do, perhaps because of its relationship to my hobby.  For the last eight plus years I have been working for a number of different firms…pretty much doing what I’ve done for the last 55 plus years.  The best part is I don’t have to deal with any politics and my hours are pretty flexible.  The best part is knowing that I could quit any one, or all, of these jobs any time I want and live comfortably thanks to doing some good financial planning.

Does the name Randy McCune ring a bell?  I first met Randy over eight years ago as he was leaving WSU after 15 years, in Pullman as I was coming in.  He moved on to KIRO-TV here in Seattle.  Where is he now?  Director of Engineering at Sinclair in Memphis.

A name that is very familiar with Radio Broadcast Engineers is Nautel.  There have more more new Nautel radio transmitters installed in the Seattle area made by the Canadian company than any other in recent years.  What you may not know is that Nautel has been awarded the prestigious, “Canada’s Best Managed Companies” designation.

For those of you that are members of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, SBE, you know that elections have taken place.  I have not heard any results.  One of the members of the Seattle Chapter is running for the board, Tom McGinley.  If he is elected he will be the 3rd member of our Chapter to serve at the national level.  The others were John Schnider and myself.

We lost Mike Scott, who passed away July 5th.  In recent years, you would see Mike’s picture in the Seattle SBE Chapter newletter – The Waveguide.  Mike had retired from teaching broadcast technology at Bates Technical College in Tacoma.  Prior to that, he was on the Engineering Staff at Channel 11.  Those that knew Mike, will long remember that twinkle in his eye and his wonderful sense of humor.

I recall traveling to various SBE Functions with Mike and his wife.  In fact, one of the pictures that showed him with his hair blowing in the wind was taken on one of those jaunts.  When I posted the news of his passing on the Chapter Remailer, the rapid response and volume of comments underscored how much Mike was thought of, and his incredible value to our industry.  Many of his students work in broadcasting in this area.

WSU’s Northwest Public Broadcasting deploys technical support people in various locations in the State.  One of those locations is Wenatchee.  Replacing the recently retired Don Eckis is Brady Aldrich.  I recently had the opportunity to spend a couple of days with Brady visiting some of the Western Washington sites I look after.  Brady is a familiar name in these parts, having worked for KOMO in years past, having roots on Vashon Island.  Most recently he had been working in Mississippi and was (as you might guess) anxious to return to the PNW.  I found it interesting that he happened to have relatives in Wenatchee.  I got this picture of Brady will visiting KVTI in Lakewood recently.

 

In recent years I have been receiving emails from readers of this column.  Many reach out to me, perhaps concluding that I have become a historian in this market.  One such email was from Charles Reinsch.  To be honest, the name was not familiar.  Chuck wrote –

It would be highly unlikely, but thought I would ask anyway: Could one of those old Collins on Cougar Mtn be KRAB’s?  It was a 737A that Lorenzo claimed was SN 1.  I would very much like to find some photographs.  All I have right now is a Collins sales brochure, and a pretty awful scan of a student newspaper photo of the front panels of the exciter and final.

Chuck Reinsch

I did not have the answer to his question, so I reached out to Dwight Small who worked at 107.7 with Sunbelt back on the air in 1984.  Dwight reported that the old Collins was gone by that time.

Chuck and I had several email exchanges and from this I received the following information about the type of transmitter that was used by KRAB.  Take a look –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things have changed a great deal since that old transmitter was made – For openers, there are no longer Vacuum Tubes in modern 5Kw FM Transmitters.

 

Here is a comparison of the old, circa 1948,  Collins 737A with a modern Nautel GV5

 

 

Collins 737A Nautel GV5
Width 93 ¼ inches 23 inches
Height 79 inches 72 ½ inches
Depth 37 1/3 inches 33 inches
Weight 4700 Pounds 333 Pounds

 

 

As I mentioned earlier – I receive some interesting emails – Here is one I recently received.

Hello Clay, I enjoyed your recent article about the improvements to AM….it
was mostly spot on!

However, you said “The old “Clear Channels” are not there anymore, folks.
Just turn on your AM radio at night and try and find them”

Here in Massachusetts I can get WFAN(660), WABC(770), WCBS(880),WBAL(1090),
WQEW(1560), WFED(1500), WTAM (1100), CFZM(740), WBT(1110), WPHT(1210), WWVA
(1170).

These listed above come in at night regularly….and reliably.  So, from my
standpoint…they are “still there”.

Now, is there any programming on them that anyone would be interested in?
That’s another story!  😉

He signed his email with a simple ‘D’ However his address included his Amateur Radio Call Sign, so I looked him up.  He is David Boucher, KB1USP from Methuen, Ma.

A question for you, my readers here in the Pacific Northwest – How many Clear Channel AM Stations can you receive?  David sent along this link to a fascinating site that shows all the AM Nighttime patterns:

http://www.nf8m.com/patternmaps_night.html

I’m always happy to hear from you – feel free to drop me a note – if you work in the industry.  Let me know what’s going on, and send a picture while you are at it.

Speaking of pictures – Thanks to Kent Randles of Entercom Portland for this picture of one of the big FM Station Combiners in that city.  A lot of plumbing for sure!

Before I forget it – Congratulations to Kent on his promotion.  He is now overseeing the technical operation of Entercom’s cluster of Stations in Seattle as well as Portland.  He was up here recently spending a day with me while I showed him the transmitters and systems used in Seattle.  The following is Kent taking a picture of me. J

Well that’s about it for this month.  Not a lot of news, but certainly some interesting happenings non-the-less.  We have a month or so of Summer left – make the most of it.

Lord willing I will catch you next month with more.

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

Clay’s Corner for July 2018

August 1, 2018
By

Clay’s Corner

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

The headline read –

Broadcasters Raise Red Flag Over FCC’s C-Band Plans.

Sitting just a few feet from FCC Chairman Pai at NAB recently I came away thinking that he is not anti-broadcast…Then I learned his position regarding C-Band (3.7-4.2 Gig) Called Mid-Band by the wireless industry.  Once again we are in a defensive position in terms of spectrum.  The wireless industry is not dumb – They want additional spectrum and they consider any of that is not heavily used fair-game…On the surface, apparently, our C-Band qualified.

Remember the battle over the 2 Gig spectrum when the wireless industry set its sights on that band?  Broadcasters were scrambling to show the FCC that we did indeed use the spectrum a lot more than they thought.  The issue was the lack of information regarding the number and location of receivers.  Frankly, we were caught short on this one…As a result we experienced our first dose of ‘repacking’…(even if it was not called that).  In the end, we lost spectrum.

Then it was deemed that Broadcasters were never going to use all the TV spectrum they were allocated….and, on top of that, the FCC had done a poor job of spectrum management with the switch from analog to digital and the case was made to ‘re-pack’ TV….One more time, we lost ground.

Now the wireless ‘cross-hairs’ are on C-Band.  This spectrum has been used for a very long time for program/network distribution and, in the minds of many, is un-utilized…..”Wireless Speak’ for ‘We want it’.  Much like the 2-Gig issue, broadcasters have laid back thinking that the FCC was never going to let anyone else use this band…Nothing to fear.  All it took is for the Wireless crowd to assert that the band was under-utilized and contend that, at least, it could be shared by them.  IMHO, much of the blame here rests with Broadcasters, in particular Radio Stations, that have sprinkled satellite receiving antennas all over the land and not bothered to have any formal data documenting all this use.  This ‘under-counting’ is proving to be dangerous.  Now, all of a sudden there is this scramble to try and make a case that this is not a suitable location for shared use.  Whether or not we will be successful at beating back this threat remains to be seen.

History has shown that, when confronted with this kind of a situation, that we may well be looking for a loss of spectrum in exchange for a smaller piece of the pie with some protection.  Several organizations are involved in this battle – NAB, NPR, iHeartMedia, program distributors, networks etc.

Has this has put the FCC in a position that, perhaps, they did not see coming?

On the Wireless side – they are making it clear that they need the spectrum, and this particular piece is ideal for their new 5G systems.  Seems to me that this pits the desire of new ‘Gee-Whiz’ wireless toys up against old fashioned systems that are frequency hogs anyway.  Let’s face it – 5G is being pre-sold as the do-all, end-all, wireless system that’s likely exciting to the policy makers while Broadcasting is being pushed to the rear of the bus as old technology.

We were being told that the FCC would be voting in July on the proposal….Then we got word that the filing deadline had been extended to October 17.  As a lot of media coverage has pointed out.  Our C-Band systems impact a huge amount of Radio and TV operations.  A lot of fingers are crossed – My Guess – Standby for more re-packing.  See GN Docket Nos. 18-122.

Remember the 103.3 Oak Harbor Station?  It was on the air playing a Country format using the old call letters imported to the Seattle area from Hood River, KMCQ.  The station is now KZNW and part of the Bustos family of stations airing their Le Zeta format.  The Transmitter, operating with 1400 watts, is SE of Mt Vernon.  Le Zeta is the same format they run at their 1210 AM  Auburn Station.  I’ve found there are a number of locations in the Everett area that you can hear both quite well.  Now the question is who will be next to pick up the KMCQ call-letters?  As of early June the only station on the air with it is KMCQ-LP in Salem,  Oregon.

Congratulations to Sue Qualls who is retiring from KUOW in Seattle after 32 years.  Now she can have time to come to the SBE Chapter Meetings and make all the working-stiffs feel bad Sue recently posted this on Pubtech –

After 32 years at KUOW it is time to retire.  This list has been oh so helpful (and entertaining!).  I will miss my fellow public radio engineers but who knows I might show up for the PREC some year!  Hard to let go some times.  I leave KUOW in the capable hands of Sam Roffe and Tim Meinig.  There is a lot on their plate but with the help of Dane Johnson and crew nothing they can’t handle.

All the best,
~Sue

Apparently the Retirement Bug is ‘catchy’.  I was at Daniels on South Lake Union recently to attend the Tom Pierson Retirement Gathering.  Tom has changed his email signature to read –

Paul Carvalho is the new Chief Engineer for Bonneville Seattle
You can contact him at Pcarvalho@bonneville.com

The very best to both of you.  To be very honest, I too would like to retire…Unlike these folks, I will likely begin to do this in phases by cutting back on the amount of work I do.  The problem is how to start the process.  I figured by now that it would be ‘others’ that make the first move.

I attended the 35th annual gathering of Amateur Radio operators in Seaside the first weekend in June.  The weather was spectacular.  Here’s a picture taken from the balcony of our hotel looking east at the Coast Range.  I actually bought a new radio too!

Unfortunately, on May 31st, another broadcast tower fell.  This time the cause was not related to re-packing but rather a pilot of a crop-duster clipping a guy wire.  The pilot died and the 1040 foot tower for KTUZ-FM in Okarche, Oklahoma (NW of Oklahoma City) went crashing to the ground.  I am reminded of the time an aircraft clipped a guy wire on the Channel 13 tower on Gold Mountain.  In that case the tower survived, the plane and pilot did not.

There is a lot of buzz these days about SFN’s (Translation: Single Frequency Networks) for TV.  Locally Buzz Anderson has been working on a radio version of this with the addition of a number of on-frequency boosters for the Bustos Media’s KDDS on 99.3, to my knowledge the first of its kind in this area.  Perhaps he could come tell us about it at a future SBE-16 Chapter Meeting?

A number of years ago this column started appearing on the Northwest Broadcasters website.  This provided access to my musings to an additional number of readers.  This change meant that I would be receiving incoming mail from many of them.  Often, very interesting.  One of those new readers was named John Ashbridge.  John never wrote about what he did, but would rather make comments about something I had written.  I was saddened recently to receive an email from Gord Lansdell, the NW Broadcasters webmaster,  informing me that John had recently passed.  He passed on his Obit where I learned that he was the longtime PA Announcer for the Canuck’s in addition to being a newsman at CKNW.  It’s always great to have new readers, but always hard to lose an old one.  He was 71.

On the 13th of June we learned of the Passing of Dick Harris.   Thanks to John Price for coming up with this picture of Dick standing next to some fellow (on left) who was an obvious shutterbug (A young Dwight Small)  I recall hearing Dicks great voice on KIRO and the Crista Stations.

Like many of us in Broadcast Engineering, Dick was a Ham with the Call of K7VCD.   The following is a picture of Dick that he had posted to QRZ-

He also posted these comments –

 

Back in the 50’s while working at the RCA plant in Camden, NJ, and being surrounded at work by a lot of Hams, I succeeded in getting my first license, KN2MBT and plunged in as a Novice. Not being satisfied with Novice limitations I worked hard and earned my general in 1955. In 1962 we moved out to Washington State and became K7VCD. For the next 43years I was satisfied with my General class privileges, until March 23rd, 2005. After much persuasion, encouragement from a friend, N6TZ, and hours of studying practice exams, I earned my Extra Class privilege and decided to keep my call, K7VCD, because it has been me since 1962. My current station includes a Kenwood TS570, Ameritron AL-811 linear amp, working into an inverted V fed with ladder-line, a Hy-gain DX-88 all-band vertical. My Hy-gain 20-10 Triband beam was completely restored again on Memorial Day weekend 2005, with a lot of help from family and friends. It’s now working better than ever, and is my window to the world of Ham radio once again. I’ve been in radio broadcasting since 1949, starting as a board announcer/disc jockey gravitating over to the engineering side. Finally retired as fulltime Corporate Project Engineer with Salem Communications in the Spring of 2003 after 19 years.

 

Dick was a warm and wonderful person, loved and appreciated by all that knew him…and a reader of my column…I know this for he too would occasionally drop me a note about something I had written.  To say the least, another great loss.

John Price located a prior business card from when Dick was in NYC –

A spy in our midst?  That’s what a lot of people were wondering on learning that the Amazon Echo smart speaker could be listening in to our conversations….or that someone, somewhere, could be.  Many news organizations jumped all over this one.

In the years that I’ve been around I’ve seen many things come and go.  When I started in broadcasting, back in the last century, AM was king and FM was something that some experimented with.  Now that has completely reversed.  Not long ago, Medium Wave (or so it’s called in other lands), was also the predominant audio delivery.  Now with AM’s popularity fading all over the world, some are suggesting that moving from Amplitude Modulation to Digital might give the medium a new lease on life.  In this country our experiences with HD Radio have been less than stellar….Those that are advocating Digital Radio Mondiale are viewing things a bit differently.  Regardless of what music lovers will tell you, there is still an audience for non-music programming – News, Talk, Sports etc.  The latest ratings surge of KIRO-AM-710 is a great example.  The problem with AM is not so much the lack of stereo or fidelity, but rather the ever increasing noise level that effectively, progressively, reduces the coverage of AM Stations.  Operating with a different modulation scheme, one that is less subject to noise would certainly be a move in the right direction.  The potential is likely great.   However…There are a couple of minor problems with DRM….1) No one has a receiver for it,  2) Owners of broadcast stations are not going to invest money in transmitting equipment to broadcast to no-one (much less invest in new AM equipment) and 3) You can’t buy a receiver at Best Buy, Costco, Walmart etc.  However, you can buy one from Amazon… https://www.amazon.in/Avion-DRM-Digital-Radio-DRM-AM-FM-M/dp/B012GIDF1O

The problem here is the classic – Should we do it just because we can?  Can anyone tell me just how we could make a transition from today’s AM to a DRM system in the US or Canada?  In other countries they have it easy….Just sunset AM and mandate that everyone do DRM.

Oh oh….I forgot – 5G is going to eliminate all broadcasting anyway….What was I thinking?

Appears that KZQM in Sequim has been granted a license by the FCC.  The little station had to deal with the objections of the neighbors on Dungeness Heights.  KZQM is on 104.9 operating with 6 kW ERP with a directional antenna, providing a broad null to the NNW.

They are not the only station facing objections.  Apparently there are those on Bainbridge Island that don’t like the idea of a 3rd station at the Salem transmitter site. in this case KKOL/1300.  The City of Bainbridge Island is one of the objectors.

Nice to know that it’s not just broadcasting that’s causing objections…So is the roll out of 5G.  With about 300,000 new antennas sprouting from all kinds of structures across the land, it’s not the visual impact that is raising concerns, it’s the old fear that this new service will cause cancer and this cancer causing emitter could be on a light pole in your front yard.  This is going to be interesting to watch.  New broadcast station transmitters rarely have a lot of support ….However, with all the hype about 5G there is likely going to be a lot of pressure to overlook objections.  The old fear that having a transmitter in your backyard will lower property values may not hold true this time.  The fact is that a property that does not have 5G coverage may well suffer because of it.

July 10th at 9:30 a.m. is the date and time of the next SECC Meeting at Clover Park Technical College.
The SECC is in the process of re-structuring some of its procedures as our To-Do-List continues to grow and our mission expands.  One of our biggest assignments will be to re-write our EAS Plan.  If you have an interest in working with this group – please do make plans to attend, either in person, or via telephone conference bridge.  To help facilitate participation we will be adding other methods of joining the meeting very soon.

On the subject of EAS – This fall we will likely, once-again, have a National Test.  At this time it’s not known whether this will come via the Internet and the FEMA/IPAWS CAP system or if it will be via the legacy EAS (Analog) system we’ve had for years.  There are some suggesting that FEMA may ‘stress-test’ the system by surprising us.

If you attend the NAB Convention in Las Vegas, and deal with broadcast transmitters, you have probably looked at the giant Stratosphere Tower and wondered how it would work as a broadcast transmitter site.  The wondering is over as Beasley now has a 250 watt translator there (translator for their 720 AM).  Reports are that it works very well, nearly the same as the higher powered stations on Black Mountain.

Here’s a view that you don’t often get of a tower.  In this case, we are looking down on the top of the original broadcast tower at West Tiger Mountain, all thanks to Martin Gibbs and his UAV.  The elevation of the top of this tower is 3148 ft (or about 960 Meters) above sea-level which helps explain why FM stations located here cover such a large area.

  • The Black items at the top of frame is the transmit antenna for KIRO-FM-97.3.  97.3 was the first station at this site, some 30 years ago.  Below the KIRO-FM Antenna, and not visible in this view, is the Master FM Antenna used by 7 other stations at the site.
  • The white ‘round thing’ in the middle of the tower is one of the 3 TV ENG receive antennas.
  • The transmitter building is the rectangular item below the tower.
  • The red item on the right is my pickup truck.

 

More from CNBC

The Headline read –

What salary do you need to afford a Seattle-area home?

This was followed with this question –

How much do you reasonably need to be earning to afford a median-priced home in the Seattle-area compared to the rest of the U.S.?

The following information comes from Lending Tree, who made the following assumptions about the borrowers –

  • Secured a mortgage with a 4.5% interest rate
  • Had a 10% down payment
  • Paid a private mortgage insurance premium of 0.25%
  • Had a debt-to-income ratio of 28%

Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue, Wash. – Median home price: $410,000 – Monthly mortgage payment: $1,870 – Salary required: $97,554

Portland/Hillsboro, Ore., Vancouver, Wash. – Median home price: $348,050 –  Monthly mortgage payment: $1,587 – Salary required: $83,311

Denver/Aurora/Lakewood, Colo. – Median home price: $360,000 – Monthly mortgage payment: $1,642 – Salary required: $81,157.

If you think that buying a home in Seattle is expensive….We are far below San Francisco…But that is another story.

On a personal note – I just received my Official Property Value Notice from King County…My 2018 to 2019 change is $50,000.   A friend of mine in Seattle had his valuation increase just under $100,000.  We can only guess the impact this will have on the property taxes we will be paying next year.  Is it any wonder why retiree’s look to move out of the area?

XL Media has announced they are buying KZIZ/1560 and KKDZ/1250 for $850,000.  For those old-timers in the area, KKDZ/1250 started back in the 1920’s as KTW.

Local, Seattle area, station KNKX uplinks it’s program streams to a Satellite.  Recently that system went down on June 9th sending Lowell Kiesow on a mission to discover what happened.  The cause was quite unique.  Apparently a local high school was holding their graduation nearby and let loose a number of balloons.  A bouquet of metalized, Mylar balloons stuck in front of the uplink feed horn which is 14 feet off the ground.

Look closely at the feed on the antenna – As Lowell said…’It’s a first for me’.

Perhaps a new term – ‘Balloon Fade’??

I’ve written, in past columns, about ‘parking of call letters’.  This is a common practice by big companies who feel the need to change call letters in a market but don’t wish to give up letters that they feel have value.  iHeartMedia recently did this with KUBE, likely knowing that a lot of other broadcasters would love to have them (pronounceable call letters are very hard to come by) so they changed the call of a co-owned AM in California to KUBE.  Now, after some format shuffling, KUBE is back in Seattle on 93.3.  I recently spotted a billboard reading ‘KUBE 93.3 is Back’.

Apparently AM stations that are operating FM Translators, in some cases, have discovered HD Radio.  Whereas many of these translators are operating with very low power or highly directional arrays.  It’s not likely that a station owner will make the investment in the equipment required.  However, some of them, with 250 Watts and a decent location have.  Could it be that some of these operations might even devote some time and energy to their HD and HD2’s?

HD Radio certainly has grown, with some 2200 Stations now broadcasting with HD.  Radio’s version of  Multicasting is growing also, with almost 1500 stations operating HD2 (a second program channel) and close to 500 operating HD3  (a third program channel).

Installing HD Radio systems for a station is a matter of receiver penetration.  According to Xperi – 51% of all cars sold in 2018 came with HD Radio.  Breaking this down further…There are 40 brands with 253 different models that come with the mode.  Penetration bottom line – over 16% of all cars on the road have HD Radios or a total of 45 million vehicles, a figure that is growing at the rate of about 10 million vehicles per year.  That’s a pretty compelling reason for broadcasters to get on the band-wagon.  The owners of 107.7 in Vancouver are the latest in SW B.C. to jump on the bandwagon.

I recall when HD multicasting was just being talked about.  Back then broadcasters were excited to have a multicast channel, as they considered it to be ‘another radio station’ they could make money with.  Then the reality of the matter sunk in.  They were fearful of putting on compelling programming or cross promoting the new system for fear it would mean moving listeners away from their FM station that was paying the bills.  Many made it clear – If it can’t make money on day-one…they were not interested.

Then there is the problem of educating consumers.  An owner of a new vehicle may stumble across the fact that their car-radio can receive content that they like, but have never heard about and have little chance of getting additional information.  Most HD program streams do little to explain how it works.  Auto dealers are, generally clueless.  You would think that broadcasters in a given market area would have a printed hand-out that comes with every new vehicle that explains how HD Radio works and promotes the content that is available.  Nope – Not happening.  My ‘technical mind’ obviously operates on a different plane than those that could really do a lot more to make HD Radio into the money maker that we all want.

Again this is so much like the roll-out of FM many years ago.  Then AM Station owners, not realizing the advantages and potential for FM were afraid to promote it for fear it would hurt their AM operations.  Sure it had better fidelity, Stereo, less noise, worked in places that AM would not, etc.  FM finally had to almost make it on its own…and that it did.  In many cases consumers were the leaders and station owners were the followers.

I am beginning to have hope that attitudes are changing with young and more techno-savvy managers taking the reins that HD Radio and other new technologies will be embraced rather than being feared.

Speaking of new things – No, not Smart Speakers …Podcasting.

So what is a Podcast?  According to Wikipedia:

A podcast, or generically netcast, is an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download and listen to.  It is often available for subscription, so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player.  [1] It is very similar to, and may overlap with, Internet radio, though perhaps distinct in revolving around topics personalized exactly to listener preferences, [2] plus podcasts are often able to be streamed or downloaded on demand.

Some broadcasters are very much Involved with Podcasting…Especially those stations that have non-music content.  Some podcasts are, essentially, recordings of previously aired programming.  NPR and their affiliates are naturals for this mode as they do more long-form content that lends itself to becoming a podcast.  In some respects this reminds me of being able to access old-time radio shows.

Meanwhile iHeartMedia is working on its own Podcasts.  These will be scripted episodes targeting teens.  There is nothing like a great story, in audio form.  As a kid I grew up listening to wonderful stories on the Radio.  The mind can paint pictures just as good as you can find on TV or in the movies.  Interestingly there has been a huge gap between the days when Radio was the story teller and today when Podcasting is catching on as something ‘cool and new’.  If you have a story about some locally produced Podcasts – Let me know.

Many were wondering if Cumulus Media would be parted out and sold off as part of their re-organization.  Sounds like they did exit a few properties, but not as many as some suspected.  The major change was to cut their debt load by about a Billion Bucks.

Time to look at the highlights of the latest Seattle Radio – 6+ – numbers…

  • KISW has grabbed the #1 Spot.
  • Apparently KIRO-AM did not get the memo that AM Radio is dead showing up at #8.
  • KIRO-AM’s sport format appears to be dominating the competition with the other 2 AM Sports-Talkers way down the list.
  • The spread between the two FM country stations is getting narrower with KKWF at 3.6 and KNUC at 2.8.
  • Looking at the Christian CHR format, locally owned Crista/KCMS is leading that race with a 2.6 compared to EMF’s KLSW with 1.1.

Did you ever think that someone would develop a device like a UAV or Drone?…Obviously advancements in computers and electronics have made these devices not only possible but common.  The earlier picture of the top of the West Tiger tower would have required a big helicopter with a pilot and camera operator in the past.  Now, with something that can be stored in a small case, you can launch your camera in minutes, for a fraction of the cost.  TV news has certainly discovered the usefulness of these devices, so has spot or commercial generation.  A recent look at one of those real-estate magazines showed aerial views of a lot of properties.  Fire fighters are using them to locate hot-spots in wildfires.  Ranchers are using them to keep track of their cattle.  Farmers are using them to look over their crops.  The list goes on.  With any kind of device like this there are going to be those that fly them where they should not…and there are those that don’t want to be snooped on.

And of course, you will find this sign –

And the Headline read…

WiFi Now Available at Potholes State Park!

I suppose you could ask – Why would someone want a park named after a hole in a road?
Wonder how many others noticed that in Washington State, Pot has another, and popular meaning? (Canada is not that far behind.)

At least there is Wi Fi there!

What’s happening to KUIK in Hillsboro, OR (West of Portland)?  Recently I received a list of equipment that was for sale at the station…Could it be that it was off the air and selling parts and pieces?  Apparently this is the case.  I ran across this on-line:

https://portlandtribune.com/ht/117-hillsboro-tribune-news/390339-281853-updated-radio-station-kuik-to-cease-operation-march-31

The following U-Tube video gives you a look around the station on their last day of broadcasting.  Note how their studios were at the airport.

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

According to the FCC, KUIK was first licensed in November of 1954.  It appears they were operating with 5 kW Non-Directional Day and 5 kW Directional at night with 4 towers.  There are rumors that they lost their lease at their transmitter site.  Others report the station was sold and will be back, in some form.

The bottom line appears to be that yet another AM will become nothing more than history.  Sadly, I suspect the trend will continue.

To wind up my column for this month….Some miscellaneous, off the top, ramblings, all of which will likely confirm what many of you have suspected for a long time…

Have you ever noticed how we have a habit of asking the wrong question ?   Let me give you an example –

You have just arrived at your hotel.  You walk up to the desk and the person there asks you, “What brought you here today?”  My typical response – ‘I drove’ – at which point the clerk is clearly set back.  If they had asked – What is the reason for your visit here today, that would have been a better question.  Why do we do this?

Another favorite of mine is when in a restaurant many servers will ask  – “Can I grab something else for you?”  What!!  Did they really mean to ask if they could bring me something else?

How about that question on a form at a medical provider’s office – “In case of an emergency who should be called?”  I like to write ‘Ambulance’ .. Just to see if anyone actually reads those things.

Some questions are just an invitation to have a little fun.  For example when at the checkout of the grocery store they will often ask “Did  you find everything OK?”  Responding with something like “I couldn’t locate the Pickup Trucks” will often stop them cold, leaving them with no idea of what to say.

Responding with a totally unexpected answer is also fun – Example – When people see a cat’s litter box they will often ask if you have a cat….Responding with, “No, that’s for company” is certain to generate an interesting expression.

I’m among the few that have no middle name.  Often, when filling out a form, I am asked to complete my name at which time I write NMI.  Occasionally someone will ask me how I pronounce it.  Thinking about this a bit more I have concluded that I am a very lucky follow.  I determined long ago, the only reason people have middle names is so a child will really know they are in trouble when a parent uses it.

I recall, several years ago, I was on my way to, or from, an Amateur Radio event.  I stopped at a grocery store while wearing a little pin on badge that looked like this.

CLAY
K7CR

 

The checker kept looking at me ….and finally she took a deep breath and said, “How do you pronounce your last name?” (She was very serious.)

When you reach my age you have come to the point in life that you have no choice to accept what the passing of time has done.  A lot of people have trouble admitting how old they are and will try and hide it, or will subtract a few years from the actual number.  I have a lot more fun approaching this differently.  I like to ADD about 10 years to the actual number.  The response is amazing….People will often remark about how good you look.  Hard to get compliments at this point!

Well that’s it for this month.  Thanks for permitting me to share these items with you.  If you have a thought – feel free to drop me a note – always happy to know that someone, somewhere is reading it.

Have a wonderful Summer.  Remember, at this latitude, it is our shortest season.

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

 

 

Clay’s Corner for May 2018

May 28, 2018
By

Clay’s Corner for May 2018

Clay’s Corner

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Bottom of Form

 

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

 

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

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

 

Now, apparently,  it’s Amazon’s turn.

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Here’s an eye-catcher –

Shortwave Supports Secure Digital Communications

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

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

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

San Jose, CA 

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 46.1%

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 41.6%

San Francisco, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 40.6%

San Diego, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 34.7%

New York, NY

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 26.3%

Sacramento, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 26%

Riverside, CA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 25.6%

Seattle, WA

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 24.9%

Portland, OR

Share of Income Spent on Mortgage: 23.6%

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

1000/ KOMO – XR60

710/KIRO-   ND50, NX 50

1090/KFNQ –  NX50, Ampfet 50.

 

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

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

(Power levels are in Kilowatts)

FREQUENCY CALL DAY POWER NIGHT POWER ANTENNA

INFO

TRANSMITTER

LOCATION

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

Changes in the Engineering Department at Entercom in Seattle

Out is Matt Green

In is Phil Van Liew

Another big voice is lost –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How about the push-buttons –

KIRO-710 –

KXA -770- Now KTTH

KJR – 950

KOMO- 1000

KRSC – 1090 – Now KFNQ

KOL – 1300 – Now KKOL

 

 

 

Want to buy an AM Transmitter Site ?

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.


Fuel for cars was sold in drug stores only.


Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.


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

 

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


The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.


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


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


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


A dentist $2,500 per year.


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

 

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


More than 95 percent of all births took place at home

 

Ninety percent of all Doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!

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

 

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

 

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

 

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


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


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


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

 

The American flag had 45 stars ..


The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was only 30.


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


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


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

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


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

 

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


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


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

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

Sometimes you are convinced that our educational efforts have failed.

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

 

73,

 

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

SBE Member for over 50 years, #714.

 

 

Clay’s Corner for April 2018

April 23, 2018
By

 

 

Clay’s Corner for February 2018

 

Clay’s Corner

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

…..Like I said – Just an observation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANOTHER FROM  THE  OBSERVATION DEPARTMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How about a couple of TV memories?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Here’s an item for Broadcasters in Washington State –

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

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

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

Here is where you get connected –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clay’s Corner for March 2018

March 8, 2018
By

Clay’s Corner

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARKET        MEDIA MARKET        NIELSEN        TV MARKET     TV STATIONS

St Louis                       21                       21                             21                    10

Seattle                         12                       14                             14                    17

Denver                        17                        17                            18                    30

Portland                       22                        25                            22                    18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom of Form

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

How about we look back a bit with this one –

Reflecting on how things have changed –

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

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

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

 Network Support Technician

 

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

 

 Jonathan Newsome | Director of Engineering

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

What’s wrong with this picture?

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

So why can’t this be done now?

 

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

 

Bill Ruck

Curmudgeon

San Francisco

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

‘Til, Lord willing, next month –

Clay Freinwald, K7CR, CPBE

 

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