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Clay’s Corner for July 2021

July 20, 2021
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 Clay’s Corner for July 2021

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

 

For the past year, or more, the top thing in everyone’s mind has been COVID-19….Sure we still have those that feel it’s all a hoax or those that refuse to get vaccinated and the spread of variants that are certain to take their toll…But, in large part, we appear to be ‘over the hump’ as we are getting closer to getting back to where we were.

There is another area where there are many also feel it’s a hoax…The subject – ‘Climate Change’.   The ‘lets poo poo this idea too’ crowd is getting a reality check in the form of record-breaking temperatures.    Not just a little bit warmer, but 30 to 40 degrees (F) warmer than normal. 

In the PNW we have always been dealing with ‘It rains all the time’ Summer never starts until after July 4th etc.   This year, in the event you did not catch it, summer is early and this year, it’s on-time.   And this year, it came with a heat-wave!

Another way to look at this is – Think back, how many times something takes place in our area that gets national attention because of hot weather?

Here are just a couple of headlines I snagged –

The Washington Post

Weather Service warns of ‘dangerous’ and ‘historic’ heat wave in Pacific Northwest

Newsweek –

Excessive Heat Warnings Issued in Northwest, 13 Million Face ‘Dangerous’ Temperatures

Soo Kim  5 hrs ago

And the graphics were impressive too !

 

The text writers were searching for seldom used terms to describe our weather….like –

  • Epic
  • Historic
  • Dangerous
  • Record breaking
  • Shattering
  • Life threatening
  • Heat-Wave

 

Likely the folks who live in the desert southwest in places like Phoenix, Las Vegas and Tucson were laughing at us as they watched TV sitting in their air-conditioned houses.

All of this was caused by several factors –

  • A northward bulge in the Jet-Stream
  • A Therma Trough
  • Winds blowing typically hot east of the Cascades Air to the West
  • Compression heating as the winds blew down the west slopes of the mountains.

The I-5 Corridor was all getting baked with this one with temps, everywhere you looked, over 100.   I remember, from when I was a kid – If it got hot, head to the coast.   In this case this did not work.   Example – On Sunday, the 27th, it was over 100 all along the coast.   It was even in Forks!  Perhaps hot enough to chase away the vampires?
Looking ahead, summer will continue with above normal temps –

 

  • There is, indeed, a broadcast side to all of this. Many transmitter sites are not designed for this much heat, they rely on outside air for cooling.   When those temps are 30-40 deg above normal….Equipment can get ‘grumpy’ and failures increase.

 

I know of several facilities that have reduced transmitter power in anticipation.

The other big, longer term and wider spread issue is drought.   You have likely been seeing pictures of the lakes behind major dams in California that have little water behind them.   The day has come that residents and leaders in the Southwest U.S. have hoped would never happen.   Dealing with the issue is going to be extremely painful and expensive.

Nearly 98% of land across 11 Western states is abnormally dry, and more than 90% is covered by some category of drought—

  • Here’s a look at Washington State. Tri-Cities to Spokane are in for the worst of it.   With 2/3 of the State in some category of drought.

Environment Canada, Canada’s governmental source for weather information, issued heat warnings for most of British Columbia and Alberta that extend all the way to the Arctic Circle.     Vancouver is forecast to 106. Meanwhile Victoria, with proximity to the water was projected to hit a nice and comparatively cool 93 deg (F)

Looking at B.C. – Who would have ever guessed that Vancouver Island would be in this category?

High temperatures and no precipitation bring with it the threat of wildfires.  As we well know the last couple of summers have been filled with choking, eye burning, smoke from fire.   Some of which have been very close to home.   Remember the Sumner Grade Fire?.

I can’t help but think of all of the people I know that have retired and moved to the desert and wonder, in light of what’s happening, how many will be thinking about moving back.  Or how many that have lived there for a long time will be looking north.    Sure, we are having our hot-spell, but…!    We do have Water and Hydro-Power.   Western BC, Washington and Oregon are not re-claimed deserts.

Oh yes, we still have the ‘Big-One’ supposed to happen (Earthquake) meanwhile, the big-one is Climate Change and heat.

Power Companies are using ‘Smart Meters’ in Texas to remotely raise temperatures during periods of high-power demand via a program called ‘Smart Savers Texas”.   It should be noted that customers ‘opt-in’ to the program.  In some cases, power companies are offering a discount in exchange for the flexibility.   One must wonder when, or if, this technology will become wide-spread?

Shifting gears to broadcast news……

Perhaps like the forecasted earthquake – Sinclair announced that they were selling their Seattle Market Radio Stations.  Yes, we should have seen this coming as this was the only place where Sinclair was doing Radio.

The new owner, Lotus, will be the new owners of – “News Radio” KOMO – AM & FM (1000, 97.7), hot AC “Star 101.5” KPLZ and “Talk Radio 570” KVI.

Seattle is a new market for Lotus, which focuses on the Western U.S  with stations in California, Nevada, Arizona and Idaho. Seattle becomes it second largest market, trailing only Los Angeles where it is based and owns 3 AM stations.  Lotus Communications says it is one of the nation’s largest privately-owned broadcasting companies. Founded in 1962 with the acquisition of Spanish station KWKW by current Chairman Howard Kalmenson, Lotus owns 44 radio stations as well as a digital marketing entity and ecommerce sites.  They were founded in 1962 by Howard A. Kalmenson, with the purchase of KWKW, one of Los Angeles’ original Spanish language radio stations.  Unlike many radio station groups these days, Lotus is privately owned by the family that started it.

Here are some of the interesting that are flying about…. The percentage of them that are actually true will be determined ….

  • They will not get to use the call letters KOMO for either 1000 AM or 97.7 FM.
  • Whereas Lotus is known for operating Spanish language stations, one of their stations here will flip to a Latino format.
  • KOMO-AM may (or may not) continue as a news operation.
  • They may, or may have not, purchased the KOMO-AM property on Vashon.
  • KPLZ will be adding HD (They were one of a few in this market to not do it)
  • They will be leaving Fisher Plaza and are looking at a new location near the Stadiums in Sodo.
  • Lotus paid $18 Million for the stations plus ‘other consideration’ (perhaps we will learn what that means)
  • 7 is a bit of a wild-card in that it’s transmitter is on South Mountain, West of Shelton on the Olympics, 50 miles from Seattle with a directional antenna protecting a co-channel station in B.C.
  • To be determined if they will get the translators in Redmond, Tukwila, Chehalis and

Auburn.

 

We can all certain remember when –

KVI – Was owned by Gene Autry and was home of Bob Hardwick, Ray Court etc.

KOMO-  Was playing music and identified as a Fisher station.

KPLZ – Was owned by Bill Boeing as KETO

What we do know is that this is a big change for some historic stations.   What Lotus does will have an impact on other stations in the market for a long time to come.
The agenda and logistics for the first Radio Show to be co-located with the NAB Show are taking shape. The compact two-day Radio Show conference will take place October 13-14 at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, which is a short walk to the adjacent Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) where the NAB Show will convene from Oct. 9-13.

Among the recurring themes of the first Radio Show in two years are how the pandemic has changed the way programming originates and business is conducted, diversity and inclusion, and infusing spots and promotions with creativity.

While the Radio Show sessions are taking place at the Westgate, the official hotel is the Sahara Las Vegas. The NAB Show radio exhibits are located in the North Hall of the convention center, which is open Sunday, Oct. 10 through Wednesday, Oct 13. Radio Show exhibitors will also have tabletop exhibits in the Westgate. The conference agenda has built in blocks of time to visit Radio Show exhibitors on both days.

 

More changes coming to EAS –

As you have heard me say for years, EAS is a continuously evolving system.   This, on-going, process recently took some additional steps related to their FNPRM ‘FCC 21-77’ .   I’m not going to deal with the details as most of the changes involved the relationship between the FCC and the SECC’s.

On the local scene –

The next SECC Meeting will be on July 13th at 930 AM.   Like all of these meetings since Covid changed the world, it will be held via Zoom.   Sign-in/Participation details will be on the EAS- WA Remailer.   You are certainly welcome to attend and participate.

The process of upgrading our ‘Plan’ continues with frequent meetings taking place, typically                       2 weeks apart, on Monday evenings at 630 PM.   These all take place via Google Groups. Like all of our EAS Meetings, these too are open to all.   The goal of this group is launch our WA-PAWS (Washington Public Alert and Warning Systems) plan on September 1 of this year.   This new plan will – replace – the existing Washington State EAS Plan completely.   It will be available on a Web Site (URL, TBA) hosted by WEMD.

As you know, I have been chairing the SECC since the start of EAS back in 1996.   I will have an announcement regarding my future involvement in this activity at the July 13th SECC Meeting.

Back in the days, if you wanted to hear Mexican Music on the radio, you had to wait until after dark in hopes of receiving one of those high-powered stations just south of the Border.   Since then, a lot has changed.   Today you can hear Latino programming in just about every market in the country, in the larger ones (Like the Puget Sound area) you have multiple choices.    The reason for this is obvious, we have been joined by an ever increasing number of Latinos living with us.

I thought it would be interesting to look at the percentage of listeners Hispanics represent these days.   This data comes from Nielsen.     The format is – Market – Percentage of Latinos in that market.

 

 

New York – 25.47%

Los Angeles – 43.56%

Chicago – 21.48%

San Francisco – 22.27%

Dallas-Ft. Worth – 27.70%

Houston-Galveston – 36.16%

Atlanta – 10.40%

Philadelphia – 9.53%

Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island) – 18.61%

Riverside-San Bernardino – 55.42%

San Jose – 23.71%

Middlesex-Somerset-Union – 24.18%

Washington, DC – 16.54%

Boston – 11.95%

Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood – 55.72%

Detroit – 4.27

Phoenix – 29.41%

Minneapolis-St. Paul – 5.52%

San Diego – 32.66%

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater – 20.16%

Denver-Boulder – 21.00%

Baltimore – 6.09%

Portland – 12.99%

Seattle-Tacoma – 9.29%

 

Obviously, a high percentage of Latinos represents a broadcaster with a business opportunity.

 

Audacy recently installed a new Gates Air FAX-30 transmitter for their 107.7-KNDD at West Tiger Mountain.   The project was supervised by their Chief, Phil Van Liew.   Their trusty old Continental is being moved back to Cougar where it will replace a ‘historic’ Collins unit as an Auxiliary for KSWD.  Allow me to clarify as why I said it would be moving back.    About 20 years ago, when the West Tiger facility was enlarged, KNDD moved their Continental transmitter from Cougar and moved it to West Tiger…Now, that same rig is moving back to Cougar, albeit in a different building.

The Seattle-Tacoma numbers are out.   Here are my observations –

  • KIRO-FM is back in the #1 slot.
  • #2 is Audacy’s KISW.
  • #3 is KUOW who continues to prove that a Non-Comm can be successful.
  • #4 is KEXP who continues to prove the success of the little station is not a fluke.
  • #8 Is KOMO-AM proving that AM is not dead and how an all-news format can succeed.
  • #10 is another Non-Comm, KNKX with Jazz, News and NPR
  • #12 is KCMS with Contemporary Christian
  • The #2 AM Station is KIRO/710 with Sports which is re-starting in a big way.
  • Audacy’s ‘The Wolf’ is ahead of ‘The Bull’ in the Country Race.
  • IHM’s two AM’s (850 and 1090) continue to languish near the bottom.

Perhaps the most interesting is this time we have THREE stations with HD-2’s showing. KNKX, KING and KSWD.  This is the first time I recall have 3 HD channels making a showing.   It should be noted that these HD signals are being listened to with HD Radios.   They are not, as is the case in many markets, being used to feed FM translators which end up be the signals that listeners are tuned to.

Back to KEXP- Based on conventional metrics, this station should not be rated #4.

For openers -Let’s compare their transmitting facility –

KEXP is located on Capital Hill in Seattle.   They operate with 4.7 Kw at an elevation of 211 Meters above average terrain using a directional antenna.   They don’t cover Tacoma and barely get into Everett.

Compare this to – KPLZ – Cougar Mt, 100Kw at 372 Meters and KING-FM West Tiger, 68kw at 707 Meters.  Both of whom cover the entire Puget Sound Basin.

KEXP does not have a powerful corporate ownership with upper layers of programming consultants etc.

KEXP operates what’s termed a AAA format.  Not known for huge ratings numbers, anywhere.

Another area where KEXP is in contrast to stations operated by major owners.   They are not operated with announcers that are located elsewhere using music selected by computers etc.    They are doing radio the way radio used to be done.   Here is how they put it –

KEXP’s commitment to, and interaction with, its audience has been key to its success since the pandemic. “People need music, connection and community more than ever right now,”  “One of the things that differentiates us from others is that KEXP DJs have the freedom and responsibility to curate their own shows, [which] strengthens our emotional connection to listeners and has been key during the pandemic. DJs being able to connect with listeners through all this turmoil and uncertainty, in a very real and authentic way, has helped listeners feel less isolated, less alone, knowing we’re all experiencing this strange time together.”

I say Kudo’s to KEXP….A great story about how a little station did not forget what made Radio great and is winning because of it.

If you maintained the legacy PR&E mixing consoles at a radio station, you perhaps know the name Bob Moore.   He was well known for refurbishing these workhorses for many years.

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Just learned that Bob passed recently following a long term illness after a motorcycle accident back in 2017.

 The time is rapidly approaching for LPTV Stations to switch from Analog to Digital.  July 13th is the hard deadline set by the FCC.

Did you happen to see this picture recently?   Happened during a press briefing in Iran.  You know, they build devices for this kind of an event that would cut down this forest of mics to – one!    As Lowell Kiesow mentioned, some of them may have been props?

 

Here’s an example of one from Whirlwind – Plug a microphone into one of the jacks at the top, with everyone at the conference plugs into one at the bottom.

The first time I encountered one of these was back in the 60’s when President Kennedy spoke at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.

Nothing like a wood-fire on a cold night.   However, in this case, the wood is the transmitter building for IHM’s WOOD-FM in central western Michigan.

The ‘flash-point’ for this disaster was indeed a flash – Lightning reported got the whole thing going.

Periodically,  my work for WSU’s NWPB takes me to the other side of the Cascades.  In this case, a bit of Tail-Gate repair in Cle Elum.  I’m the really old guy on the right.   On the left is John McDaniel who is retiring September first.    If you are interested in joining this team – Time is short, contact Jeff Snell at NWPB’s facility at WSU in Pullman.

Earlier I wrote about my concern that the drought in the Southwest could drive people of move to this area.   Not saying that this is what’s taking place, however, it was recently announced the Washington is experiencing the 6th highest population growth in the U.S.   The report found that between 2015 and 2020, Washington’s population grew by 7.3% — an increase of an estimated 526,325 people for a total population of 7,693,612.

Oregon reported a healthy 10.6% increase, while Idaho, considered one of the fastest growing states in the nation, reported a 17.3% increase. Between 2010 and 2020, California posted a 6.1% increase. However, for the first time in more than a century, the state reported a population drop of 0.46% — an estimated 182,083 people — during 2020.

Power Companies are using ‘Smart Meters’ in Texas to remotely raise temperatures during periods of high power demand via a program called ‘Smart Savers Texas”.   It should be noted that customers ‘opt-in’ to the program.  In some cases, power companies are offering a discount in exchange for the flexibility.   One must wonder when, or if, this technology will become wide-spread?

There was a time that just about everyone owned a typewriter.    Now days just about everyone has a computer, or, at least, a smart phone with a keyboard.  They all have something in common, the layout of the keys.   Did you know that it was 1868 the Sholes and Glidden typewriter was patented using the QWERTY keyboard?     Have to believe they would be shocked to find the typewriter is gone but their configuration of keys remains the world standard.

Radio Broadcasters have come to appreciate the revenue potential of Pod-Casting.   Now there is a new kid on the block….Legalized Sports Gambling whose revenue is projected to grow to 10 to 30 $Billion this decade.  Broadcasters are eager to tap-in to this new source of cash….The race is on !   I’ve not heard who will be involved in this area.  Sports Radio is likely.

This past month it was announced that NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ would be inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.  ATC made its debut 50 years ago on May 3, 1971.

If you are a broadcaster, and have a tower that’s required to be marked, you know how important it is to keep it painted.    FCC inspectors used to carry paint samples they used to check to see if your tower was too faded etc.    Now with that being said, next time you are in the area of Auburn….Head East on Auburn Way, toward Enumclaw.   As you pass the big Muckleshoot complex on your left, look to the right at the FAA’s regional Flight Control Center.   Take a close look at that big self-supporting tower and note the condition of the paint……Just sayin’   😊

Back in 2018, Sale Media did a swap with a group (Intelli) involving Salem’s KKOL and their KPAM in Portland.   Not sure what happened, but Salem announced they are paying 500 Grand to get it back.    KKOL has had an interesting history.  For years, it was KOL and was operating from Seattle’s Harbor Island with 5,000 watts on 1300.   Then it moved to the Port of Tacoma and increased power until it ran into safety concerns.   Then it was off to Bainbridge Island where it’s tri-plexed.  There too, there have been technical and/or political issues.

Another deal has recently been announced, Busto’s Media has close on their purchase deal for KZGI in Sedro Woolley.

 

Every once in a while, you read something and do a ‘double-take’    Here’s an example –

Appears their editor, or proof-reader, is not a technical person 😊

It seems that we are receiving a constant stream of stories about how one company or another have been the victim of a Malware Attack.   The Colonial Pipeline incident was certainly major news.   The perps that do this are targeting government and industry systems all the time.

Broadcasters have certainly been hit.   Not long ago, Entercom (Now Audacy) and Salem Media Group were hit.  More recently Cox Media was hit with a ransomware attack.  Cox operates KIRO-TV in Seattle.

 

On June 2, the White House published an open letter to U.S. corporate executives and business leaders urging them to take steps to protect their systems against ransomware attacks. The memo from Anne Neuberger, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, contained five best practices to minimize the effect of such attacks.

  1. Backup your data, system images, and configurations, regularly test them, and keep the backups offline.
  2. Update and patch systems promptly.
  3. Test your incident response plan.
  4. Check Your Security Team’s Work.


Certainly a sign of the times – Convenience store chain – 7-Eleven has announced they will be dramatically increasing the number of EV Chargers.

 

The question is, what will it cost you to ‘top-off’ your electric tank?    Certainly 7-Eleven see a profit in this expansion.

Ever note how we hang-on to terms from the past, despite them being out-dated?

Here are some examples –

  • Film at 11 (Film has been gone a long time)
  • We have it ‘On-Tape’ (So have tape-recorders)
  • Roll-up the windows (Do you really have window ‘cranks’ in your vehicle?)
  • Typing (Even using a touch-screen on your phone?)

New to this category – I found writers referring to an Electric Vehicle having a ‘Gas-Pedal’

While I’m in the looking-back mode……

How many of you remember when radios were marked AC/DC?.   How about the ‘All American 5’ referring to the fact that these old radios often had 5 vacuum tubes.  At the outset they used ‘Octal base tubes’….Later on, when so-called ‘miniature’ tubes came along they used them. These old sets were dangerous by today’s standards as the chassis could be connected to 120 volts if the plug happened to be inserted the wrong way.   This was easy as this was before polarized power plugs.   Yes, we have come a long way.

If you ever wondered just how much tower space is occupied by Cellular these days….                                                                          Take a look at the following picture.    This is just T-Mobiles equipment on the KVTI Tower in Lakewood.  In the ‘Good old days’ the electronic equipment (Transmitters and Receivers) were in a shelter (Small building) at the base of the tower with a coaxial cable connected to the antennas.  Now all that equipment is located behind the antenna.  In other words – Fewer/smaller cables going up the tower and a lot more equipment – On the tower.

 

One of my favorite pictures.   This of the West Tiger #1 Tower  at Sunset.  If I recall, taken by Alex Brewster using his drone.

Unless you drive a vehicle with a Manual Transmission – You won’t understand this.

For those of you that did not – This is a visual that some put on their back window to remind those following that the vehicle ahead has a Manual Transmission.  Commonly called a ‘3-Pedal Vehicle’.   I should put one of those on the back of my pickup.    I have to admit, I enjoy a manual, frankly,  giving little thought to the process of changing gears all these years.

My first car was a ’49 Ford, from there a number of VW’s etc.   Only a couple of years ago did we purchase our first Automatic (a 2018 4-Runner)

According to a recent report, today – Only about 1% of vehicles sold are Manuals.   This has had the impact of turning these vehicles into collectors-items which has, in effect, increased their demand and prices.

There is another aspect that is occasionally mentioned.  The fact that only about 18% of drivers know how to drive one!     To me, this equates to a form of ‘Theft protection device’.   With that percentage going down all the time holding on to my manual only seems to make sense.   Now if I could talk my insurance company into giving me a deduction for my ‘Theft protection system’.

Another reason I love this part of the country and my job with WSU’s NWPB is that I get to travel to work locations …And bring my camera.    Attached pictures taken on the job.

The following looking at Tongue Point located on the South Shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

It was taken from the window of my truck as I was coming down from Striped Peak

Location of NWPB’s KNWP  (as well as KVIX)

Here are some links for more info  –

Salt Creek Recreation Area – Wikipedia

Salt Creek Recreation Area (clallam.net)

As part of an impending transmitter change,  I went over to the other side of the mountains.  My first stop was Wenatchee where I had a nice dinner with Jerry Olson and Charlie Osgood.    I asked the girl at the front-desk of the hotel for something facing east as I like morning-sun.   To my delight she put me on the 4th floor where this was the view out the window of my room.  In the event you don’t recognize these towers, this is the array for legendary KPQ.

The next morning, Brady Aldrich and I were headed to Aeneas Mountain, site of WSU’S KQWS.   In addition to the radio transmitter, there is a lot of 2-way radio communications equipment as well as a lookout that was manned until fairly recently when they installed a camera to replace the person that lived on the mountain during the summer months.    The cool thing about this site is that you can look around from your computer by going to – www.alertwildfire.org/oregon/?camera=Axis-Aeneas.   As the camera stops, in various directions, you will be able to see the tower with the KQWS antenna (3 back gizmo’s) as well as the roof of the transmitter building.    Note in one of the shots of the roof the hatch for winter access (There is a ladder on  the inside)

For some history, and more pictures – Go here –

Lemanasky Lookout on Aeneas Mountain (willhiteweb.com)

One of the pictures at this site shows the top of the mountain pretty much the way I found it.

In this picture, you can see the tower with the KQWS 3-bay antenna.  In the foreground is the relatively small transmitter building that is crammed with electronic communications equipment.

Here we are looking generally South, down the Okanagan River Valley

The views from here are extensive.   Looking East, and down, you can see the little town of Tonasket on US-97 with SR-21 winding its was eastward toward Republic.

Here you can see the formerly manned lookout tower, to the left is the solar powered weather station.

 

The elevation of Aeneas is 5167 feet.  (That’s 2219 feet higher than West Tiger). There is a lot of history here.   For a deeper-dive -go here –

Lemanasky Lookout on Aeneas Mountain (willhiteweb.com)

To get there you head west from US97 between Omak and Tonasket.   As you drive along, there are some charming homes along with stands of various varieties of evergreens and Aspens.   Past a locked gate,  the road becomes increasingly primitive and a couple of switch-backs that required Brady to back up and try it again in his big F-250.

I took a lot of pictures of things that you can’t see at the web-sites for these locations……Here are a couple –

Looking at the bottom of the Weather Station.   No poured concrete in this foundation.  Just some wire-fencing and a lot of rocks gathered from the summit.    These anchors are called Gabion cages or baskets.    Not only are these used for anchors like this but retaining walls.

You can find our more by going here –

Gabion – Wikipedia

You can purchase the cages from a number of sources, including Amazon.

Amazon.com : gabion cages

You need to supply your own rocks.

In the case of this mountain – The entire top is covered with pieces of broken rock.

A closer view of the gabion foundation construction.  Not sure what was in this little fenced area.  To the right was likely a foundation (This time using concrete) for a site used to spot fires.

This is looking pretty much south from the Summit. Here I have zoomed in on Lemansky Lake. This was man-made many years ago with a small-earthen dam.   You can look up Lemansky Dam for more information.   There are a couple of houses on this charming body of water.

Here we see the KQWS tower with it’s transmitting Antenna.  The Satellite Antenna is used to receive programming from Pullman.  The dish has a large heating system to keep it operating during winters that are known to be fierce at this location.

Perhaps one of the most unique features are these two structures – On the left is the ‘Shower’.

Apparently,  water was pumped up into the barrel on the stand (using the red colored hose).  Inside is a valve and shower head complete with a rack for your soap and shampoo.  I submit that this was only used in during warmer months.    On the right is a functioning outhouse.   Interestingly both have ‘WOMEN’ over their doors.

Here we are looking, generally North.    The Canadian Border is not far north.   The stations has a number of listeners up that way.

Here is another view of the Satellite Antenna, Transmitter Building and the other tower used for communications antennas.  Note the roof hatch on the left side of the roof.   There is a ladder inside.   During the winter, access is via snow-cat as the snow can get very deep.

The Satellite Antenna is used to deliver programming from Pullman.   The ‘Black-Hoses’ below the dish are used to pump heat into the antenna to melt the snow and ice during the winter.

And finally, a picture showing the outhouse with the shower water tank on the right.   To the left is the lookout tower.    Here we are looking West toward the North Cascades.

 

I plan on being back up here in a couple of weeks to work on the transmitter change.   This time I will be busy inside that little building along with others on our team.   Hopefully it will not be overcast and warmer.   Of course, this will mean more bugs.

No, I did not take this one!….However, it is a classic shot of a broadcast tower (with 3 FM Antennas) and a full moon.

Any of my readers old enough to remember when Dumont was a big name in television?

 

Knife-Set for a Mechanic

 

IT Humor

No…..Not NEC Approved !!!

That’s about it for this month, my friends. Lord willing, I will be back next month at most of the usual locations.

Until then, get your shots and stay safe.

Do try and be nice to those that refused to get vaccinated.

 

 

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

A SBE Fellow

SBE Member # 714

Since March 1968

 

Clay’s Corner for June 2021

June 5, 2021
By

 

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

Well, here we are at the mid-point of the year. Looking back, this first half has been anything but normal. Here’s a look at some of the events of this past month that caught my attention.

Mike Gilbert advised me that KEYG-AM has suffered major structural damage to its tower. Unfortunately, in light of the state of AM Radio, they have determined that this will be the end of KEYG. For those of you not familiar with this station, its licensed to Grand Coulee, WA and has been operating on 1490 since 1980. Their other station in the market, KEYG-FM will continue with programming coming from their KCSY studio in Wenatchee. Therefore, scratch another AM off the list.

Crego Hill (Southwest of Chehalis) is the home of several towers and broadcast operations. If you recall, I wrote about this site recently, citing it’s history as an old Air Force Radar Site. It’s a very unique structure. A self-supporting tower with a guyed tower on top. The time had come to replace the guy wires. That work was accomplished by Joe Harrington and crew on May 5th and 6th. This tower supports KCKA (TV) as well as KSWS operated by NWPB.

Steve Newsom reported that Jim Belsvig has joined KBTC in Tacoma as Assistant Chief Engineer. Previously Jim had been with KCPQ-TV in Seattle.

Here’s a trivia question for you –

What was the nickname for the engineers who created IBM’s first PC?

Answer – Dirty Dozen

The back story: IBM chose 12 of their best and brightest to create their first PC (personal computer) in 1980. The 12 engineers (dubbed the “Dirty Dozen”) worked on the project for two years, revolutionizing the PC with a smaller, less expensive, and easier-to-use model. The device was simply called the “IBM PC,” with an initial price point of $1,565.

Despite a term that is someone misleading if not inaccurate…the term ‘Digital AM’ appears to have stuck. This past month another AM has announced they will be making the switch…WFAS (Near NYC) will become ‘Digital AM 1230 HD: New Talk for New York’.  They’ve set the date of May 24th to make the flip.

This is what they are telling those that may wish to know –
“Broadcasting in digital will eliminate annoying static and interference, improve the sound quality to equal FM radio and streaming, and extend the range for clear reception.”

What is perhaps notable about this change is the fact that the station is owned by one of the biggest companies in Radio – Cumulus.

For those who have been hoping that we would be able to hear an HD only AM here in the PNW, you may not have to wait too long, as KXPD has advised the FCC this is what they want to do.

The station is licensed to Tigard, OR, a suburb of Portland. It operates with 2.2 kW Day and 200 watts at night, Non-Directional on 1040. According to the FCC’s records, the station does not have an FM Translator. I state this because smaller AM’s may well be operating an FM Translator that has decent coverage that listeners can, or perhaps have already, migrated to.

The Big Shoe to fall will be when a 50,000 Watt AM jumps into this arena. Time will tell.

Speaking of which – Andy Skotdal emailed me recently on this topic. As you may know, he is involved with KRKO and KKXA in Everett and has some unique experiences in this area. Here’s what he wrote:

The last time I spoke with Joe D’Angelo was six months ago and the in car digital penetration in Seattle was still about the same as a couple years ago ~22%.  Most big markets are similar. And, still no portable AM digital radios, and there may never be portable AM digital radios.

So, with that as a backdrop, I’m very grateful to those who are starting to make the all-digital lift. Taking under performing signals and making one of them an all digital music format will be the only way to improve in-dash penetration over time.

I’d prefer to be running MA-1 again for now, and if we can see receiver penetration increase to 40+% then with the stream and the translators (even though they aren’t great), I could see us going to MA-3. Alternately, we talk about going to one format, and then simulcasting AMs with a waiver, if needed, one in MA-3, the other analog, and trying to push everyone to the MA-3 until we can transition the other signal.

It may be too little, too late.  We won’t know for many more years.

Has it really been 50 years? I received this from Joey Cohn, GM at KNKX on May 3rd:

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the very first National Public Radio broadcast. All Things Considered debuted on Monday, May 3, 1971. Among other things, the fledgling news program covered Vietnam War protests that were happening in Washington D.C. that same day.

With the reopening of the economy, we are seeing a lot of interest in deal making. For instance, in the world of Broadcasting – Gray Television announced a $2.7 billion deal to buy 17 stations in 12 markets from Meredith. Yeah – 2.7 with a ‘B’. Not small change. Understand that two stations in PDX will be involved – KPTV and KPDX.

The local housing market is an example of this pent-up demand. According to Zillow the value of my house has increased by 70K in the past 60 days. A house down the street from me sold in a matter of days from being listed for 70K more than the listing price. I found it interesting in chatting with them recently. They told me (with a roll of the eyes) they moved to Auburn – from – Seattle.

There have been a lot of rumors flying about regarding the impact of the Pandemic and/or Social issues on Seattle. Some have people running for the exits, while others paint a different picture. Gene Balk, writing in the Seattle Times, dug into the matter. Here are some of his findings:

> New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020, Seattle’s population increased by about 16,400, hitting a total of 769,700. That pencils out to a growth rate of 2.2% last year.

> And that means that among the 50 biggest U.S. cities, Seattle is  No. 1 for growth in 2020.

> Last year’s 2.2% actually beat out the rate of growth between 2018 and 2019, which was 1.4%.

> Only one place in Washington, among those with at least 60,000 people, grew faster than Seattle last year. Kirkland had a 2.6% growth rate in 2020, and its population is now 95,400.

> The Census Bureau data doesn’t include any of the components of population change. In other words, we can’t see how much of Seattle’s growth was due to in-migration vs. out-migration, and we don’t know how many moved to the city from within Washington, from other states, or from other countries. The data also doesn’t show “natural growth” numbers — births vs. deaths.

One thing that’s impacting all of us is the shortage of housing and the cost of building materials. Helping fuel some of this is the fact that the Pandemic caused a number of lumber mills to close. The result is that the price of wood building materials have skyrocketed. I heard a story recently of a party that had agreed to a purchase price for a new home, who was told by the builder that he would need an additional $100,000 to build it! Here’s an interesting piece from the Wall Street Journal that explains a lot of this –

The Housing Market Is Crazier Than It’s Been Since 2006 – WSJ

Meanwhile, Zillow reports that over half of the homes sold in Seattle recently sold for over their asking price.

Here’s another one from one of those sites. This one from GOBankingRates. The question was ‘How much to you have to earn to be in the top 5% in each state? Those in the top 5% are considered to be ‘rich’. In Washington State you would have to earn $457,171 per year. Consider the fact that the ‘average’ income for the entire state is $105,775, you would need over a four times the income. I wonder if anyone in broadcasting in this area makes over $450,000?

In the event you think the Seattle area is an expensive place to live…you are right. According to a recent survey this is the sixth most expensive place to live in the U.S. Housing prices are now, reportedly, 113% higher than the national average. Makes you wonder when a person is offered a job here if they do check out these costs and adjust their salary demands accordingly.

If you are wondering where those who are leaving this area are going, checkout:

Where people in Seattle are moving to most | Stacker

Here are some interesting  facts associated with area names:

What former great retailers, past and present, have their products carrying the name of local communities, both starting with the letter ‘K’?

Answer – Sears with Kenmore and Costco with Kirkland.

What former automobile maker shared the name with the King County community that used to be called Slaughter?

Answer – Auburn.

And, if you did not get either of these, an easy one:

What is the name of the best selling mid-sized pickup truck that shares it’s name with the 3rd largest city in Washington State?

Answer – Toyota Tacoma

In the event you are thinking the Toyota Pickup truck was named after the Puget Sound area city, well, perhaps not, considering there are a number of places named Tacoma. In addition to the Tacoma in Washington (the biggest one of the bunch), there are Tacomas in Virginia, Ohio, New York, Maine, Florida and Colorado, and even one in Bolivia (South America).

The only other Tacoma I’ve been in, is in Colorado. It’s located North of Durango in the beautiful Animas Valley, at an elevation of 7,296 feet near Electra Lake. The whole area from Ouray to Durango is incredible. It should be a ‘must’ on  your bucket list! And it’s only a short 19 hour drive from Seattle 😊

We have a new Chief in town. Josh Harstad is the new Chief at Bonneville Radio’s KIRO AM & FM and KTTH. Here’s a picture I shot of him in front of the KIRO-FM Transmitter at West Tiger Mt.

On the Covid Front there is a lot of news.

> The BAD NEWS – On May 26, it was reported that we have had over 432,000 Coronavirus cases in Washington State, so far.

> The GOOD NEWS – Just over 41% of our residents are fully vaccinated.

> The BAD NEWS – We need to get to at least 70%.

Most of it good, as it appears the Vaccines are doing what they are supposed to do with the pandemic in retreat. As a result, the restrictions are being eliminated and things are edging toward what we call the ‘new normal’. This is, of course, all conditional. Should the number of cases and hospitalizations increase, we could find ourselves in reverse.

The understanding is that 70% of us need to be vaccinated. The problem with that goal is there remain a number of people (including my next-door neighbor) that will not get their shots. It was announced on May 24th that 40.75% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated…and we are not there yet. The question is how to deal with those that are against getting their shots. Unfortunately, what should be a clear – medical message – has been clouded by the political aspects of this pandemic. I guess I would never let a politician replace my Doctor…but…it’s happening!

According to a recent survey, 80% of those who say they won’t get vaccinated also say that there is nothing that can change their minds. So how do we get 30% more to get their shots? Apparently the old ‘Dangle the Carrot’ is being tried.

As I predicted in this column many months ago, we may reach the point where there will need to be incentives for those who are on the ‘vaccination fence’. To get there, we are hearing a variety of techniques being employed.

> Oregon has a $1 million drawing as an incentive for those residents over 18, in addition to 36 $10,000 prizes, with a winner in each county. Those ages 12-17 will have a chance to win one of five $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan scholarships.
> New York is giving a lottery scratch ticket.
> Maryland has announced an incentive lottery too.
> New Jersey has a lower cost incentive. Those who get vaccinated will get a free beer.
> Ohio is using a $1,000,000 lottery.
> And the list goes on.

The question is – do these incentives work? The answer appears to be yes.  In Ohio, their lottery, cleverly called ‘Vax-a-Million’ has, reportedly, resulted in a 28% increase in vaccinations. Time will tell if this method works. In addition to state governments offering incentives, many employers are doing it too. Perhaps I should ask my anti-vax neighbor how much money would it take for them to change their mind?

Another way to get the percentages up – vaccinate younger people. That’s happening too. U-Dub and WSU have announced that if you want to attend, you need your shots.

In the meantime, the Mask Rules are changing rapidly. On the 24th of the month, I visited a Costco and a Fred Meyer store. Everyone was still wearing them. Many are saying that until we reach that 70% mark, wearing masks inside and in public spaces is required.

As pointed out, we had very little flu this past winter. The reason cited was the precautions taken by people to avoid the Coronavirus also worked very well in keeping them from catching that ‘bug’. It’s been suggested that, come flu season, not only should you obtain a vaccination, but consider social distancing, washing your hands, and…wearing a mask.

On the personal side – One aspect of this Pandemic that has really got to me is the politicization. I fully understand there have always been some that object to getting vaccinations of any kind for any number of reasons. In the case of the vaccinations for COVID-19, I would expect some of the legacy reasons for not getting vaccinated to prevail. However, we now have a relatively new element injected into the mix – Politics. Recent surveys have concluded that those who are ‘Antivaxers’ (Perhaps a new word for the dictionaries?) also align themselves with a particular political party. On Page 81 of Scientific American there is a piece written by Naomi Oreskes titled ‘Do Republicans Mistrust Science’. Her piece is not a typical letter to the editor. She is a Professor at Harvard and author of a book titled ‘Why Trust Science’. Allow me to quote her last paragraph entirely.

Everyone deserves accurate information to be presented in an apolitical way and to be addressed with respect and not condescension. But the reality is that most of the science that matters most comes from government or from scientists funded by the government. Until Republican leaders stop telling voters not to trust the government, many of them won’t trust science.

A good piece, I encourage you to read it.

In some other countries, things are much worse. The big question, with Broadcasting related issues, will there be Olympic Games in Tokyo this year? A lot of advertising revenue is hanging in the balance.

Did you ever dream that the little On-Line book seller with the funky name (Amazon) would have grown into what it is today? Did you ever dream Amazon would purchase MGM for 8.45 Billion to become even a bigger player in producing TV programming? This list goes on.

I recently received word that long-time broadcast engineer Dave Hebert passed on June 17th. I got to know Dave back in, about, 1970, when he was chief at KXRO in Aberdeen. (I was at KMO at the time) Dave moved on to Tri-Cities where he worked at (if I recall correctly) KONA and perhaps other stations in that area. I understand that, in recent years, he was in poor health. Dave was also a ham with the call sign WA7YKV. Looking up his call in QRZ I found:

> Originally licensed as WN7YKV in February, 1974, while living in Aberdeen, Washington. In July, 1974, upgraded to Advanced Class. Moved to Tri-Cities, Washington, in February, 1976. Upgraded to Amateur Extra Class in March, 1979.
> Past president of the Grays Harbor Amateur Radio Club, and the Tri-Cities Amateur Radio Club.
> Taught classes in Amateur Radio theory at Columbia Basin Jr. College from 1977 to 1978.
> Life member of the ARRL since 1979. Member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers since 1976.
> Became involved in Broadcast Engineering in 1966. In 1997 moved to Dallas, Texas, to work in AM transmitter test at Continental Electronics.
> Married Judy Turner in 1989, who’s callsign is now N7PGJ.

Thanks to Michael Gilbert for passing on the information.

We all know about ‘Climate Change’. A recent story ran about how the National Weather Service has reviewed the last 10 years in our area and has concluded that our climate has indeed changed in a couple of ways.
1 – It’s getting Warmer
2 – It’s getting Wetter.

In local Translator News:

> 92.1 in Tacoma that used to be affiliated with the long/dark 1480 AM in Lakewood is now running the same programming as KMIA/1210 in Auburn. Check out (20+) Radio Amor | Facebook.

In what might be termed a unique-twist:

> The 102.1 Translator (antenna located on the KMIA AM Tower in Auburn) is back on the air re-broadcasting KOMO-FM 97.7.

OK – I fall for it all the time – if for no other reason that I want to know what others think of the area that I call home. In this case, the headline read:

The Most Beautiful Places in All 50 States

 

 

The picture was taken from one of my favorite locations – Chinook Pass looking over Tipsoo Lake at Mt. Rainier. They went on to recommend the hike around Natches Peak. Boy it did score points with me on this one. This is a hike I’ve taken many times over the years. Let me add some recommendations.

Park your vehicle along SR-410 on the west side of the pass. Your hike will begin along the side of the lake and over the log bridge at the summit of the pass. (You want to be sure and go this way). The Trail will take you around Natches Peak in a ‘clockwise’ direction. As you get to the south side of the peak, suddenly you are looking straight at Mt. Rainier for the rest of the way. To your left, looking south, you will be able to see Dewey Lake along the PCT. At the high point, to your right, is a wonderful little tarn that makes a perfect place to break out that picnic lunch. The trail continues around the peak to SR-410 to your car. This is a perfect place to bring friends from out of state that have never been to the PNW. They will be hooked!

You may wish to do this on a weekday, as the place is very populated on weekends. Be sure to put this one on your bucket list.

Here are some links with additional pictures:

Naches Peak Loop Trail – Washington | AllTrails

Naches Peak Loop — Washington Trails Association (wta.org)

Obviously you want to visit the Chinook Pass during daylight hours. However, coming up on August 11th is a significant reason to visit the Pass after dark to view the Perseid meteor showers. (Yes, I’ve done this several times.)

You want to arrange to get there just before dark so you can see to pick out your viewing location. It will likely be warm, however a jacket is recommended along with a thermos of your favorite keep-warm liquid. A late picnic dinner works too.  You will want to bring along an old fashioned lawn-chair (The kind you can almost lay down in) or perhaps a cot. I’ve usually found a nice place on the North side of the Log Bridge, on the hill above Tipsoo Lake. Bring some friends as they will enjoy it too. Children over 10 or 12 will remember it for sure.

Lay back just as it really gets dark and enjoy the show. You will likely be able to see over 50 meteors an hour. You will also be able to spot what appears to be a steady stream of satellites in polar orbit scooting across the shy. The Milky Way will be clearly visible as it rotates overhead. The Moon is projected to be at about 13% so it should not be an issue, perhaps providing just enough light to illuminate Mt. Rainier.

In years past, I’ve been amazed by the number of people who travel to this wonderful location from Seattle and Yakima for the same reasons. If you go, do let me know how you enjoyed it.

The world has been waiting to see who, or what, was going to occupy the time slot once occupied by Rush Limbaugh (9 a.m. to noon in Seattle). The answer came down the last week in May, with Premiere Networks announcing that Rush, and those who have been filling in since his passing, would be replaced with, not one, but two hosts, Clay Travis and Buck Sexton. Apparently, the local outlet for Rush, 770AM/KTTH, elected to go a different route, putting Dan Bongino in that time slot. It will be interesting to see how this works out and who might pick up Clay and Buck in this area.

I find this interesting because Mr. Travis and I share the name ‘Clay’…not the most common name out there.

Acronyms are always interesting. Government’s love them, and so do engineers!

Jerry Olson in Spokane recently joked about TLA’s (Three-Letter Acronyms) submitting there was a shortage of letters so we were moving to ETLA’s (Enhanced Three Letter Acronyms) . I recently used one of my favorites – SPOF (Single Point of Failures). From that came the suggestion there should be MPOF’s (Multiple Points of Failure).

A recent thread on a national remailer popular with Radio Broadcast Engineers drifted to how our telephone system was not as reliable as it used to be. One of the lists frequent contributors contributed the following:

One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingy, three…TELCO was once required to provide 911 service and to this end the “telephone” needed to be immune from power outages. It isn’t anymore. No power, no phone.

The old phone company–yeah there were pros and cons. The downsides were the stuff of jokes. I remember an episode of Get Smart when Max Smart confronted a Kaos agent who had just cut a phone cord, “You have a much bigger problem now than Control; now you have to deal with AT&T.”

I remember being at a party around 1992 and an AT&T executive was there and the conversation turned into the DoJ breakup of the Bell System. I remember him saying, “Yes it was a monopoly, but it was a benevolent monopoly.” We’ll never know how we’d be communicating today had the Carter Administration left Ma Bell alone 40 years ago, but back then I never heard anyone complain about telephone cost or service. I came to regard Bell Tel Co as a sort of national communications utility, similar to the way I see McDonald’s as the U.S. Dept. of Hamburgers.

The Bell System operating units, AT&T, Western Electric and Bell Labs, all produced a telephone system that was second to none. I remember being in S. Korea in the 1970s and trying to place in-country phone calls. It would take hours. Here, you could direct dial from N.Y. to Hawaii. The reason for the reliability was that the phone company owned everything right up to the handset at your head. Everything was made to be bomb proof, literally in the case of the concrete microwave relay towers, which had walls two feet thick. The breakup ended Bell Labs eventually, which was a Nobel Prize factory, and Western Electric, which manufactured some of the best audio gear in the last century.

PICTURE TIME !!!!! Once again, the Earth’s wobble means that Dwight Small is able to enjoy sunsets at the west end of his ‘backyard’. The poor guy, for the past few years, has been subjected to clear air, no traffic jams, riots, and a view like this.  😊

Suddenly we have job openings in Radio.

OPB is hiring two positions for our Bend shop – a Chief Engineer and a Maintenance Engineer.

For those of you who know Max Culbertson, our current Chief, he’s announced that he’s ready to retire by next summer. We are hiring his successor now to give plenty of time for knowledge transfer about the 34 sites he maintains in Central and Eastern Oregon.

The Engineer position will report to the Chief and will help round out that team. As I’m sure many of you are aware, there aren’t a ton of Broadcast Engineers out there, so we are considering candidates with experience in fields that have parallel technologies. If you know someone who enjoys working on mountaintops and has done microwave, two-way, cell, radar, or military weapons systems, please encourage them to apply.

You can read more about both jobs at the link below.

https://workforcenow.adp.com/mascsr/default/mdf/recruitment/recruitment.html?cid=57277703-45c0-4e1a-8db6-3bfa4b30f628&ccId=9200063795075_2&lang=en_US

Jonathan Newsome | Director of Engineering

Please note updated address:

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

Meanwhile, John McDaniel has announced that he is going to retire around the first of September. This creates a job opening with WSU’s NWPB which I have worked with for the past 11 years. The job will be based in Tri-Cities. If you are interested, or know someone who might be, give me a call or shoot me an email. The job opening will be officially posted soon.

I guess it’s official – NAB has announced that registration is open for the Oct. 9 to 13th show in Las Vegas. This is even hard to write after all these years writing about the ‘Spring Show’.

The FCC recently put out a notice with this headline:

FCC DEMANDS TWO MORE COMPANIES IMMEDIATELY STOP FACILITATING ILLEGAL ROBOCALL CAMPAIGNS

You can read it yourself here. DOC-372543A1.pdf (fcc.gov)

Frankly, I have a wait and see attitude about this. For some reason I wonder if this is all bluster and no action, similar to the FCC’s efforts to stop Pirate Radio?

Nielsen reports that 10% of radio audiences use digital streaming to listen, double the rate that did so a year ago. “Share of Ear” data indicates that streaming audiences account for 13% of radio listeners between 18 and 34 and 11% of those between 35 and 64.

Looking at the latest Radio Ratings for Seattle-Tacoma:

> KISW has claimed the #1 spot
> KIRO-FM is right behind at #2
> For reasons that are hard to explain, little KEXP is holding on to the #3 position.
> News Talk, KUOW is #4

Just for fun – I decided to look at how Seattle and Portland might differ in terms of ratings and format. Here’s a table, looking at the top 15 stations, that does a comparison. I used the top 15 ranked stations in Seattle and compared the rank of the same listed format to Portland.

Can you draw conclusions from this? Perhaps….Maybe not.

Certainly there are many stations rated below #15. Likely every format can be heard in both cities. It’s just that some of them are more popular in one place than the other.

One more thing – the population, according to Nielsen, for those over six looks like this:

Seattle Tacoma (Market #12) – 4,042,000
Portland  (Market # 22) – 2,428,000

More on how various magazines rate things in our State –

Woman’s Day ranked the most beautiful small town in every state. For Washington, Friday Harbor got #1 here. Interesting choice considering you have to take a ferry to get there.

Town & Country rated the 60 most scenic drives in America. Here we claimed two of the 60.

> The first one is the 440 mile “Cascade-Loop”. From Everett you would go north on I-5, east on SR20, then south to Wenatchee and west on US-2 (of course you can travel the loop in the other direction).

> The second is the 330 Mile ‘Olympic Peninsula Loop’. Good Starting Point would be Olympia following US-101

As the economy shakes off the pandemic, we will be seeing more deal-making in Radio. Certainly not as large as recent TV deals, however. Here in our state, a deal was recently announced that will see the sale of two stations and a translator in Spokane. In this case, 104.5/KHNK and 1300/KYOZ and its translator on 95.7 are going to the owners of stations in Walla Walla. $395,000 was the announced price.

Since 2010 I have been driving a Barcelona Red Toyota Tacoma Pickup. Nick Winter and I both purchased 2018 models. Later the Chief Engineer at Bonneville Seattle got one. Recently the ‘club’ was enlarged once again with Jeff White joining in. What are the odds we’d all be driving the same make and color vehicle? If you don’t know what Barcelona Red looks like, here’s a picture of my ‘Taco’:

During our weekly WSU/NWPB Engineering Zoom Meeting I used a word to describe an upcoming planning trip to a mountain top in Eastern Washington, where I will be installing a different transmitter. I chose to use the word – Reconnoiter. I immediately saw a number of funny expressions. Much to my surprise no one on the call knew the word.

In the event this word is new to you too…here is what I could find online:

Reconnoiter is to conduct a military mission to observe something or someone or to find something out. (intransitive, military) To perform a reconnaissance (of an area; an enemy position); to scout with the aim of gaining information. Our scout will reconnoiter the path ahead of our troops. To examine or survey (a region, area, etc.) for engineering, geological, or other purposes.

OTHER WORDS FOR RECONNOITER

inspect
The definition of inspect is to carefully look over someone or something, especially to determine if minimum criteria or standards are met.

survey
To conduct a statistical survey on.

examine (related)
To test by carefully questioning in order to find out the knowledge, skill, qualifications, etc. of (a student, witness, job applicant, etc.)

explore
Explore is defined as to search, investigate or travel in.

inquire
To seek information about

look

For a bit of fun….Use Reconnoiter in a memo or email and then hide and watch for a reaction.

Electric Vehicles are certainly becoming increasingly popular. The changeover is not always a smooth one as the following pictures will show:

A generator, using fossil fuel, powering an electric vehicle charging station.

This one speaks for itself.

 

 

Who do you call when you are out of electrons? AAA perhaps?

That’s about it for this month, my friends. Lord willing, I will be back next month at most of the usual locations.

Until then, get your shots and stay safe.

Do try and be nice to those who refuse to get vaccinated.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
A SBE Fellow
SBE Member # 714
Since March 1968

 

May 2021 – Clay’s Corner

May 2, 2021
By

 

 

May 2021 – Clay’s Corner

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

 

The middle of April we received what I often call our ‘April Teaser’, a long period of warm and wonderful weather. In this case, featuring temperatures that were 20 degrees above normal. Just enough wonderful weather to make many feel that summer has indeed arrived. Just to re-enforce the notion, there was a wildfire near Black Diamond, east of Auburn. This is just a ‘sampler’ to help us forget the days of overcast and wet. This time around we did set some records for the two-week long April dry-spell. Remember, in this area, summer often will begin after the heavy rain on the 4th of July.

Make it three AM’s that are making their move to all digital broadcasting. The latest to make the change will be WFAS located in White Plains, north of NYC which has announced that starting on May 24 their AM will become Digital.

“Once WFAS has switched to an all-digital operation, only radios equipped with HD radio technology will be able to receive and play the station programming.“ WFAS explains to listeners in a posting on its website, “WFAS will no longer be available on analog-only AM radios. Broadcasting in digital will eliminate annoying static and interference, improve the sound quality to equal FM radio and streaming and extends the range for clear reception.”

What makes this situation a bit unique is that WFAS does not have a companion FM Translator so that listeners with ‘conventional’ AM/FM radios can continue to listen. Their on-line stream will continue as usual.

Prior to this change, WMGG in Tampa-St. Petersburg made the switch, back in January of this year. Here, the former AM station is simulcast on an FM frequency in addition to having a translator on the former AM. Word is now that another AM in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market is about to switch also.

Prior to these changes, the only Digital-only signal on the AM Band has been Hubbard Radio’s WWFD in Frederick, MD.

I have to admit that I’m a bit frustrated by those who insist on calling this – ‘Digital AM’. I have a couple of gripes:

#1 – We need to come up with a universally agreed label for these AM stations that switch to all-digital to avoid further confusing listeners. Whereas many new HD receivers can receive them, perhaps a station making the switch would change from KRUD-AM to KRUD-HD? Perhaps a more correct term would be Digital Medium Wave or DMW, but that violates the ‘2-letter’ designation rule (AM, FM, HD, XM, TV etc.)

#2 – There are those who refer to the process of changing from AM to Digital as a ‘chicken and egg problem’, saying that you must have demand before it would be worth building.

If you have been in this business as long as I have (60 years on August 1 of this year) you will recall the VERY SAME argument used for FM.

I was the engineer of a station back in 1966 and tried and tried to convince the owner of the station to get an FM frequency (back when you could). He had the same argument. As years went by, he – FINALLY – came to understand after it was too late for him to afford to buy one. He ended up selling his AM station for a fraction of what FM’s were going for.

History is full of examples of this argument. We have one of them operating here in this area. Major retailers were convinced that selling things on-line was fine for that little book store in Seattle but not for them. It appears that Amazon was right and they were very very wrong!

Those who are willing to chart new territory (with their money) should be applauded for their courage and foresight. Where would we be if every new product had to wait for ‘demand’ before investing in the future?

From Kent Randles in Portland, we recently learned that 1330 KKPZ, Portland has filed for Silent Special Temporary Authority – looking for a buyer. Perhaps another indication of the health of AM Radio? KKPZ operates with 5,000 watts full-time and has good coverage of the entire Portland/ Vancouver area. Yes, the station also has an FM translator.

On the personal side, I remember listening to 1330 when I was a kid in PDX. In those days the call letters were KPOJ, which stood for the Portland Oregon Journal, a daily newspaper back then. The station has a rich history going back to when it signed on in September of 1925. One of its early call letters was KALE which you will find on old radios from that era. The call letters, KALE, later showed up in Tri-Cities.

Perhaps someone will purchase this historic station and put it back on the air running Digital?

https://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101825618&formid=910&fac_num=4113

The U.S. Supreme Court backed the FCC allowing relaxed rules regarding media ownership limits. Now we will have to wait and see what this means in terms of acquisitions, mergers etc. This change also impacts long standing rules regarding common ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations. Considering the present state of print media these days, I don’t see this as having a big impact.

If you are old enough, you remember when Color TV came along. Back in those days, about the only way to receive TV was via an antenna. Yes, there was TV before Cable and Satellite!

The makers of antennas jumped all over this opportunity to sell the masses new antennas implying that you needed a new antenna to get proper Color TV.

Well….Guess what? It’s happening again, this time with HD Radio. Winegard, perhaps sensing that this HD Radio thing might be something they should incorporate in their marketing, are doing so with a new model. I copied this from the Amazon site recently. Technically, it’s a pair of crossed dipoles. You can have one for about 30 Bucks.

Winegard HD-6010 HD FM Radio Antenna

No….You don’t need a special antenna to receive HD Radio…😊

Look closely and you will notice that the connection appears to be balanced. Perhaps they expect you to use ‘Twin-Lead’ …or perhaps a balun and coaxial cable?

 

SAY GOODBYE TO ENTERCOM

 

 

AND HELLO TO AUDACY

If this news item had been released a day later, I would have suspected it was a spoof. However, on March 30th it was announced that Entercom is rebranding itself as ‘Audacy’. If nothing else, such a change will attract some media attention. The firms that supply business cards and letterhead will be pleased. David Field, the President and CEO of the firm said this about the change:

“We have transformed into a fundamentally different and dramatically enhanced organization and so it is time to embrace a new name and brand identity which better reflects who we have become and our vision for the future.”

For a long time we have referred to the company by its ‘Ticker Symbol’ – ETM. That too will be changing to ‘AUD’. I’m sure that many will feel this is an ‘odd’ move. (Sorry, could not resist.)

Others have commented that they had the ‘audacity’ to make the change.

While on the topic – Entercom….uh…Audacy, has an opening for a Staff Engineer in San Francisco where they have a seven station cluster. For more info:

https://entercom.avature.net/careers/JobDetail/Staff-Engineer/15650

I sent a note to the local Chief, Phil VanLiew asking if this changed his email address as well…
Yup ! – That is correct: phil.vanliew@audacy.com

At least for awhile, there is more than one Audacy. If you Google it, you will come back with:

> Audacy Wireless Controls – Intelligent Lighting – Products (creelighting.com)
> Audacy – Crunchbase Company Profile & Funding
> Audacy – Spaceflight
> Working at Audacy | Glassdoor

Apparently having several different users of the same name is not an issue. Betcha that would not be the case with names like – Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft etc.

If you just Google Audacy to see what it means you get – Audacity.

There are a lot of things these days that share names. For instance: If you went into a pet store and asked for a KONG, they would know exactly what you wanted. Perhaps never giving a thought that KONG are call letters for a Seattle TV Station.

 

In last month’s column I wrote about how the ubiquitous XLR connector was introduced before Pin 1 had become the standard for Ground. This quickly generated interest in the form of the following email:

I was just reading your column. Did you know that, on XLR’s, pin 1 is longer on the female, so it mates first? It’s why you don’t get a buzz when you plug an XLR into something.  Someone at Cannon was pretty smart.

Taking this line a step farther, an RCA ribbon is the one type of mic that you’d better not plug in with phantom power turned on. Some of them have a grounded center tap on the output transformer, which is a rare thing. If pins 2 and 3 don’t mate at exactly the same time, which they are unlikely to do, DC current flows for that instant, causing the fragile ribbon to experience magnetic force with an unhappy result.

Lowell Kiesow
Chief Engineer
88.5 FM KNKX ● Jazz24.org

Perhaps you never thought about Airbus having an airplane with that name? (Look closely.)

 

Do you remember? The first operational transistor was declared 70 some years ago, on December 23, 1947! The transistor is probably one of the most revolutionary components ever invented. I started experimenting with them in the late 50’s. I still have a Raytheon CK722 in it’s original container! It was a germanium PNP. My first NPN was a 2N35. I recall building a transistor radio in a small plastic box while in high school in 1956. I used it to listen to the World Series, creating quite a stir back then. (Yup, getting old!)

If you recall, Congress adopted some new ways to deal with pirate radio. They increased the fines to as much as $2 million while the Commish said it would be going after landlords, advertisers and any other business that does business with pirates. All this was to go into effect on April 26th. Now we will see if there are any new enforcement actions. The methods of the FCC will likely involve what are called ‘sweeps’ in major cities were the practice is more common. It’s been a while since I’ve run across a pirate operating in the Seattle area. Targeting landlords may prove to be more successful, as many of the pirates cite the lack of ability to pay and are let off the hook.

Every so often you run across a comment made by someone that brings a chuckle….*If you only have two ducks, they will always all be in a row.*

Bonneville-Seattle (KIRO AM/FM and KTTH) has announced that Josh Harstad is their new Chief Engineer. Previously Josh worked for Hubbard and CBS in Seattle. More recently he has been working in Denver. Whereas this area is home, I’m sure he’s happy to be back

On the Covid-19 front: Despite having a number of vaccines for this terrible pandemic, we still have a lot of bad news. Here are a few snippets:

> On the 18th of April the world-wide death toll surpassed three million.

> Total global infections are over 140 Million.

> The U.S., Brazil and Mexico lead the world in Covid-19 deaths.

> A very large percentage of people say they are not going to get the vaccine, citing their lack of trust in the process. Perhaps fall-out from the fact that the issue became politicized?

> The blood clot issue with the J & J vaccine only re-enforced the never-vacciners.

> Voluntary compliance measures have apparently failed to stop the spread of variants.

> Now, younger people, who perhaps thought Covid-19 was an old-folks disease, are getting hit hard.

> We are being warned that we are losing the race between vaccinations and infections to the point that health officials will have no choice but recommend that we, again, tighten restrictions.

> The term ‘4th Wave’ is based on solid evidence. Unfortunately, this is not going down well. It’s easy to blame government and hard to blame our own behavior.

> There is a lot of debate, and push-back, for the idea of having some sort of vaccination verification system. Meanwhile major segments are doing just that with their vaccination requirements.

> Several major schools have announced a policy requiring vaccination for admission.

> Perhaps the most sobering is this fact – “It’s a mistake to think that we’re going to get to COVID-zero. This is not an eradicable disease.” Read more here – U.S. COVID-19 cases will dip in summer, rise in winter, experts say | Science News

> Number of reported Washington coronavirus cases is now over 400,000. Thus far 5,474 have died and 22,111 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus. 28.86% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated.

> Washington State University will require proof that students and staff are vaccinated against COVID-19 before they return to live or work on campus. WSU is the state’s first public university to announce vaccine requirements. Two private universities have made similar announcements, and other higher education institutes may follow suit. The big question, will this requirement spread to private industry, i.e., broadcast stations?

The Pandemic has caused many of us to increase our vocabulary via the introduction of new words and phrases, for example ‘Mask Up’ or ‘Social Distance’. One of the down sides to all of this has been our ability to understand others…especially when they are wearing a mask and behind a large sheet of plexiglass. Another problem is reading a person’s reactions and/or expressions when they are wearing facial covering. This brings me to a new word for your vocabulary, ‘smizing’ which means smiling in a way that’s visible in your eyes.

Another look back (and ahead): Remember when phone numbers had less digits and they had a ‘prefix’ that was a word. I recall my phone number when I was a kid in Portland to this day, Webster-1265. How about this one …..SUnset 3-2404? Then along came Area Codes and direct long-distance dialing. To start with, just about everything in the Seattle area was area code 206, Oregon was 503 etc. As the area codes ran out of numbers they added more area codes. Outside of Seattle became 253 or 360. Back in those days you could tell where a call was coming from by the first 3-digits, or numeric prefix. That worked for awhile, then it was determined that they needed to shuffle the deck and do what they called an ‘overlay’ that would permit the phone companies to use any Area Code, anywhere in the area. This was the end of 7-digit dialing. Going forward, you would have to dial 10 digits to call the person across the street.

You’d think that with the reduction in the number of ‘Land-Lines’ that there would be plenty of excess phone numbers these days. Guess again! Apparently the 360 area code is running out of numbers and, once again, it’s time for another area code. This time, it will be 564. Like the others, this will be an overlay. We are told that eventually 564 will be used in the Seattle metro as well. So don’t be shocked if your new neighbor calls you and your caller-ID shows a 564. It’s just a sign of progress. By the way, this is our state’s 6th area code. The following map shows how this will work:

This map certainly underscores the population distribution in the state.  Look at the percentage of Washington that still has only one area code.

Here’s a great word that we don’t use very much in common-speak – KERFUFFLE – a word beginning with a ‘K’ that makes sense.

Here are some definitions I scrounged:

> A kerfuffle is some kind of commotion, controversy, or fuss. If you read about a scandal in a newspaper, it could be described as a kerfuffle. Kerfuffle is a humorous-sounding word for a mostly non-humorous situation: some kind of disturbance, scandal or mess.

> A commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views.

The root of “kerfuffle” is the very old Scots’ verb “fuffle”, which first appeared in print in the early 16th century and means “to throw into disorder.” The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that the “ker” part of “kerfuffle” may hare come from the Gaelic word “car,” meaning “to twist, bend or turn around.

Yes, I do maek mistrakes.

I recently ran a picture that was sent to me by a friend in Arizona in response to my mentioning to him that Snoqualmie Pass was getting a lot of snow this year.

‘Eagle-Eye’ Tim Schall (Transmitter Engineer at KING/ KONG-TV)  Sent me this note:

Clay:
Greetings from TV land.
I am currently enjoying your April 2021 ‘Clays Corner.’  However, the picture your friend living in Arizona shared with you is not, in fact, Snoqualmie Pass. It had been, and it seems still is, circulating on various social media sites as several different mountain passes. It is, in fact, “…just North of Manitou Springs, going towards Ute pass, Colorado, along what’s now US 24.”

I refer you to the Facebook page of the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum: https://www.facebook.com/SnoqualmieValleyMuseum/photos/a.225637984131655/4272448902783856/

Be sure and take some time browsing this site, a lot of fascinating pictures of days gone by.

Looking at the picture again, shouldn’t Snoqualmie Pass have a lot of big fir trees in the shot? Appears that I fell for it. I apologize for not spotting the error. Thanks Tim. Good catch.

Here’s a word to add to your broadcast term dictionary, Trimucast. We all know what to call a common program aired on two stations in a market, Simulcast. Trimucast is the term for when it’s aired on three stations. (At least according to one source.)

I recently chatted with Terry Spring who informed me that he is going to retire effective June 1st. Terry has been the Chief Engineer at the local Ion Media (now Scripps) TV station for many years. The writing is on the wall – I’m going to have to knuckle under and join that club, sooner or later. The fact is I am winding down. It’s just very hard to say goodbye to those who you have been associated with for many years.

Another retirement to mention this month. Tom Saylor is retiring from the Engineering Department at WSU’s NWPB in Pullman. I’ve had the great privilege of working with Tom for over 11 years and that we’ve shared the same employers. He is leaving some extremely large shoes to fill and will be missed by many.

For many years, when it comes to building radio or cellular towers, the term NIMBY, which means Not In My Back Yard.    When it comes to things that are underground there is NUMBY…Not Under My Back Yard. Then there is BANANA …Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.  😊

For the second time in the last year, Seattle has been eclipsed as the crane capital of the United States. But who beat us this time around might surprise you.

 

Construction consultant firm Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) released a glimpse of their biannual Crane Index rankings of all North American cities for the first quarter of 2021 yesterday, and found that Washington, D.C. now leads the nation for the most cranes at 45.

But Seattle wasn’t far behind, tying for second with Los Angeles with 43 cranes each. Los Angeles had previously inched forward to beat the Emerald City in the count last year at the beginning of the pandemic, and the new findings show that the two West Coast cities are still neck and neck.

But look at Toronto – WOW!!

Seattle didn’t add any cranes since the last report issued in September 2020. Residential construction projects still amount for a majority of the cranes in Seattle followed by transit work, according to the Daily Journal of Commerce. Seattle has also slipped in the rankings of hot housing markets from #1 to #2. The new leader is Phoenix with San Diego at  #2.

Travel Trivia will occasionally send me something that I am compelled to follow, like this one: “Rainiest States in the U.S.” If you have lived in this area any length of time you have likely run across someone that wonders how you could live in a place like this with all the rain, etc.

So how does Washington stack up compared to other states? Georgia (50.22 inches) – Hawaii (50.33 inches) – Tennessee (51.85 inches) –  Florida (54.73 inches) – Alabama (56 inches) – Mississippi (56.48 inches) – Louisiana (59.15 inches).

Washington State was not even close. Of course, thanks to the Cascade Mountains, a good portion of the Evergreen State is ‘Everbrown’.

So what’s the rainiest city in the U.S.? Mobile, Alabama with an average rainfall of 67 inches and 59 rainy days per year.

Now about Seattle: On average, we get 38 inches of rain per year. Interestingly, the U.S. – AVERAGE – is 38 inches. Our reputation comes from the fact that we have – more days – with rain, or, more-frequent rain…but less total amount of the stuff.

Now with that behind us, how about our neighbor to the North?  What’s the rainiest city in Canada?  Here’s what I found:

Location                            Annual Inches     Annual mm

Abbotsford, British Columbia        60.5                  1538

St. John’s, Newfoundland             60.4                  1534

Halifax, Nova Scotia                     57.8                   1468

Vancouver, British Columbia         57.3                   1457

So why does it rain more in Vancouver than in Seattle? Just like the Cascades make Eastern Washington dryer, the Olympic Mountains to the West of Seattle provide a shadow on their east-side. This is demonstrated by the fact that Olympia receives 53 inches per year and Aberdeen gets 76 inches. The Olympic rain-shadow is well demonstrated in Sequim where their annual rainfall is only 16 inches, about the same as Los Angeles, California.

Ever wonder about the, perhaps, over-use of the word ‘Mount’ in a city name? Example:

Mt Pleasant, Texas – Elevation 404 ft
Mt Vernon, WA – Elevation 180 ft

The FCC periodically publishes a list of station totals. This time around, surprisingly, the FM Station total is down…and, as expected, the number of AM’s is down as well with that total approaching 10% less than there were in 1990. As you might expect, the number of FM translators and boosters is up 30% from five years ago.

For those of us living in the Seattle area, we are very close to the best country in the world!

For my readers in Canada, you are living in it!

This all according to a Best Countries report in U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings recently released. Canada ranked #1 in Quality of Life and Social Purpose and is seen as a stable and safe society in which individuals can develop and prosper and is open, fair and equitable.

Here are the rankings from their survey:

The Top 10 Countries in the World:

  1. Canada
    2. Japan
    3. Germany
    4. Switzerland
    5. Australia
    6. United States
    7. New Zealand
    8. United Kingdom
    9. Sweden
    10. Netherlands

 

The 10 Lowest-Ranked Countries in the World:

  1. Iraq
    77. El Salvador
    76. Serbia
    75. Belarus
    74. Lebanon
    73. Uzbekistan
    72. Kazakhstan
    71. Ukraine
    70. Oman
    69. Guatemala

You’d think that with all the political news and a pandemic that indecency would not be a big issue, but it was. In fact in 2020 the FCC had more than 1,000 indecency complaints filed. Interestingly many of them were related to pirate radio broadcasters. Apparently, some of these folk’s broadcasts are offensive. Overall, the FCC had some 4,768 complaints about Radio last year.

Here’s a chart showing what people had a beef about Radio:

Time to, once again, take a look at the 6+ Radio Ratings for Seattle-Tacoma.

> Hanging on to the #1 spot is KIRO-FM, with KISW close behind.
> At #3 is KUOW.
> Surprisingly little KEXP is now #4. Perhaps proving that you don’t need a big signal to be popular?
> KOMO-AM is hanging in there at #5. Granted they do have an FM that may well be helping.
> HD-2 signals from KING-FM and KNKX are both listed this month.

In a past Column I mentioned the total audience share of the top Radio stations in the News/Talk segment. San Francisco (Market #4 with 6.7+ Million) has a couple of interesting market leaders. At the top is a Non-Commercial station (KQED-FM) with a 10.6 share. #2 is KCBS-AM with a 7.5. That’s an 18.1 share between them. Yes, you read that right…the #2 station is an AM!

In past years, for my April Column, I would talk about our ‘annual trek to the desert’ for the NAB Convention. Obviously the Pandemic got in the way last year, and will again this year. In it’s place NAB will, however, be hosting a bit on-line/ virtual event April 12-23 for a number of award presentations and new product launches. This will include a deep-dive into HD Radio. For those of you who long for an in-person show, that will be Oct. 9-13 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Radio Show will be at the same venue, Oct. 13-14.

Perhaps you can explain the connection? Since the start of the pandemic, UFO sightings are up 50% in the U.S. and Canada. When local TV Stations show images of UFO’s – That will be big news.

Here’s one of those interesting questions you see pop up on-line. What salary do you need to live in Seattle? The answer is $72,092.

If you rephrase it and ask, what is considered a good salary in Seattle you get – A person working in Seattle typically earns around 100,000 USD per year.
How about – What is the average annual pay in Seattle? You get this:

Top Earners – $97,704
75th Percentile – $80,334
Average – $66.834

Not sure what to make of all of this, but it is interesting. What we do know is Seattle is an expensive place to live and if you want to live there, your income is a big factor.

One economic indicator that’s doing well is home sales, with some areas showing around 30% increases over last year.  I recently received a note from Zillow that showed my house value increasing over 32% in the last month!

Back in the early 90’s, engineers from the various FM stations at West Tiger would routinely have a lunch meeting at a place in Kent. They had a conference room that we could use, good food and coffee and it was not too far out of the way. Over the years, and especially after consolidation, the routine was discontinued. In later years, I would meet friends there for lunch etc. Apparently they are one of those places where the Pandemic and its shut-downs was the last-straw. Mitzels in Kent is no more. Even the signs were removed from the building.

Old guys love looking at pictures of things that are not as old as they are. For example:

 

And a classic groaner from Dwight Small…Yep, Spring is right around the corner.

 

 

Guess who?

None other than Allen Hartle.   Nice to see others with beards that color. 😊

Anyone old enough reading this column remember when Allen was the Chief at KZOK?

So what do automakers and computer makers have in common? They both use computer chips. Was not that long ago that car makers did not have any computers. Now, most have several. The fact is everything today employs ‘chips’, vehicles, computers, TV’s, household appliances…and the list goes on. So what happens when the demand for the little critters exceeds supply? Makers of these products have to slow down producing them to match the supply.

Recently Apple announced the chip shortage would (are you ready for this?) take a bite out of Apple and make It harder for you to get that new device. Likewise, some automakers are being forced to shut down production lines awaiting delivery of these little critters. Likely you would not purchase a vehicle these days that did not have them, as in days of old!

The FCC recently released an NPRM that will make a number of changes to the EAS. Some of this is designed to institute changes whose need was brought to light in the fall missile attack on Hawaii a few years ago. The Washington SECC responded to this action. If are wondering what we had to say, you can find our filing on the FCC’s Web Site. We will likely also discuss this in the next SECC meeting on May 11th at 9:30 a.m. These bi-monthly meetings are open to all and are held via Zoom. Invitation and agenda are posted on the EAS-WA Remailer.

That’s about it for this month, my friends. Lord willing, I will be back next month at most of the usual locations.

Until then, get vaccinated, stay safe and continue to wear your mask…and that means cover your nose too. The ‘All-Clear’ is getting closer.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
A SBE Fellow
SBE Member # 714
Since March 1968

 

April 2021 – Clay’s Corner

April 5, 2021
By

 

April 2021 – Clay’s Corner

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

 

Just after my previous column was shipped out, I received this picture of one of the West Tiger Broadcast Towers with a nice load of ice from Jeff White of iHeart Media. Here you can see how the tower is pretty much filled with ice while the antenna (those black things) are not. The Antenna is fitted with black covers called radomes. Not only are they slippery, but solar energy will warm it because of its dark color helping to melt the snow and ice.

The following is a nice closeup of what ice does to a tower and antenna at West Tiger.

It all begins with a piece of ice that sticks to the ‘leading edge’ (the side toward the prevailing wind) and it just keeps adding on. The Yellow Square thing is called an ‘Ice Shield’. In the case of the one here, it’s job is to prevent falling ice from damaging some of the horizontal items in the system below. When the temperature rises, the ice looses it’s grip and falls. You don’t want to be around when that’s happening!

Speaking of Jeff White – I should mention that he has moved up at iHeart and is now the ‘Regional Engineering Lead’.

 

iHeartMedia, commonly called IHM is moving, company-wide, to regionalization. Roughly translated, this means less people spread over a larger area. This is impacting their Engineering department as well. It was not long ago that the Seattle IHM cluster saw a significant reduction in its engineering department. This latest change saw cuts to 39 nation-wide, according to reports in Radio World. Reportedly, some of the work performed by full-time employees will go to part-timers or contractors. This, all part of a company wide effort to reduce their overall ‘head-count’. Sure, the COVID economic situation is a factor, so is making the company more attractive to investors. Meanwhile, Bob Pittman, CEO of IHM was recently stating that he is positive about the pandemic recovery, citing vaccine rollouts and the lifting of restrictions.

Meanwhile, Sinclair announced company-wide staff reductions. Recently KOMO laid off more than a dozen employees in Seattle. In this case, the cuts came to various departments, including one in Engineering. According to the Sinclair CEO, Seattle was not alone in seeing staff reductions, as they were looking and reducing their workforce by about 5% or 460 positions nation-wide. A February earnings report showed revenue was down 7% over a year ago.

If you are like me, perhaps you are wondering about the timing of these reductions just when the news about the Pandemic is getting better.

Speaking of getting better, KMIA (AM-1210) is no longer ‘MIA’ but back on the air. This time it’s running non-Bustos Latino programming, apparently under some sort of an LMA relationship.

On March 11th,  NAB announced the 2021 Crystal Radio Award Finalists. Quickly scanning the list for stations in the area, I could not help but notice KIRO-FM in Seattle was named. Perhaps it should be noted that they are the only major market station named in the Pacific Northwest.

These days it’s hard to find a market where the #1 rated Radio Station is an AM. Interesting to note that you don’t have to look any further than Spokane, where KQNT appears to be doing quite well. The station is owned by iHeartMedia and has a News/Talk format. A bit of history: This station went on the air back in 1922 and was known for years as KHQ. It’s one of a few stations in Washington State that operate with 5,000 watts, non-directional day and night. Others in that ‘club’ are KVI in Seattle and KKMO (formally KMO) in Tacoma. Most AM Stations either reduce power or change antenna patterns, or (in the case of a daytimer) sign off at night to protect others on the same or adjacent frequencies.

Here’s another wonderful picture from the Seattle Times. This time looking east from Seattle at Downtown Bellevue. The associated story was of how Amazon is going to lease a new 25 story building on the East Side.

Interesting how we often see pictures of Denver with the Rockies in the background, but rarely see this view of cities in our area, where the Cascades are just as impressive.

Looking a COVID News:

It’s Hard to believe that it’s been a year since the world was turned upside down with this virus. At last…things are looking up in many areas.

> As of Mid-Month about 12% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated.
> Restrictions are starting to be relaxed with schools re-opening.
> Watching sports is coming back.
> And the list goes on.

What we hope is that we don’t over-mingle and have another spike. With so much pent-up demand for a return to normal, in many cases our guard may be down.

Now that my wife and I are fully vaccinated, we can now mingle, mask free, with others in the same boat. Perhaps we need to wear some form of visual communication? If we are in a group with unknowns, mask wearing will continue. As people get back to their places of employment, this may become an issue.

The impact of increased vaccinations and relaxed restrictions means that many who have been working from home will be returning to their offices and studios. Those local news programs will begin to look like they used to. For many, I suspect, those returning will be having to adjust to a new reality. Some things are never going to be the way they were. Certainly, now that it’s been proven a company can function without being under the watchful eye of a supervisor, space requirements will be reduced. Add to this, the staff reductions that the Pandemic has been experienced by many.

There is one downside to the economic recovery. Unless you are driving an electric vehicle, you are going to be paying a lot more for petrol in the near future. With gas prices this past year in the sub-$3 range, they’ve already increased substantially. Warnings have been posted for $4 gas soon. Nice to know that lawmakers have electric vehicle owners in their sights.

From the looking back dept:

I am old enough to recall the days when the XLR connector came out, before pin one became the standard for ground and how a certain major manufacturer (beginning with the letter G) produced products using pin 3 as ground, which we followed in building a new TV studio, just to later have to change them all. (Anyone else remember this?)

The old saying – I remember … “From the highest high, to the lowest low”

Thus Pin 1 = +
Pin 2 = –
Pin 3 = ground/shield
It was easier to remember.

For a wonderful look back at yesteryear, check this out!

https://mailchi.mp/65527e30cd4f/chrs-radio-clinic-swap
-meet-saturday-spring-journal-mailed-warehouse-sale-around-radio-central-675238

Did you know Einstein was born on Pi Day back in 1879?   (3.14.79)

A topic discussed on one of the popular list-servers broadcast@radiolists.net this past month was the historic Vanport Flood in Portland, Oregon in 1948. The story of this event is a great read with plenty of details of the Hams and Broadcasters who dealt with the event.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/x8jnyd8wzqi07u5
/AABz_sG0qvrTBN7reWRr77c-a?dl=0&
preview=Voices+of+Vanport.pdf

Some interesting history of some of the historic AM stations in PDX…Like the “KEX Toothpick”.

On the Ham Radio side, a couple who were very active in our area for many years, Harry and Mary Lewis were mentioned, including a picture of a very young Mary at their home in Seattle.

I was a wee lad living in the Rose City at the time of the great flood, but remember it well.

Recently I was communicating with an old friend, now retired and living in Arizona, about all the snow we’ve had this year at Snoqualmie Pass. In response, he sent me the following picture.  Looks like the late 1800’s. Look closely, those are animals pulling covered wagons.

 

Today, with a 6-lane freeway crossing this pass, it’s hard to imagine how much of a barrier the Cascades once was. When I moved here, this corridor was known as US-10. Today, of course, it’s now I-90. With very few exceptions, it’s open for travel year around at freeway speeds. When winter weather forces a closure, it’s a magnet for TV crews to do stories about those who are forced to ‘wait it out’.

I did a bit of poking around and came up with this picture taken at similar location.  Here showing US-10 as a 2-lane road.

 

I Received an email from Terry Spring with a snazzy new logo — Out with ION and in with Scripps!  Terry.Spring@scripps.com

Nick Winter is resting at home after undergoing bypass surgery. I understand things went well.

Long time member of WSU’s NWPB Engineering  Department, Tom Saylor has announced his retirement. Tom has been working with this team since 1999. I can personally say that he will be thoroughly missed. In my 11 years working with NWPB, Tom and I have been involved in many projects.

As the sun moves to the north, retired Seattle broadcast engineer, Dwight Small will now start getting sunsets. This one from the 15th of March:

 

It’s still amazing what we are able to do with our landers on Mars. Each time, the game is ‘upped’ to a new level.

A couple things about the parachute that was used by the latest Mars lander:
> Did you wonder why they used such a funny pattern of red and white? The answer. It’s a binary code that reads ‘Dare Mighty Things’, a phrase made famous by former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

The following picture decodes the message (betcha you didn’t get it on your own).

> We keep hearing of how thin the atmosphere is on Mars and yet they used a parachute to help with the landing. If this seemed like a contradiction, you need to know that this ‘chute’ was 70 feet in diameter. For those of you north of the 49th, that’s 21 meters. In other words, Really Big!

From the Department of Misinformation:

It’s nice to see others write about this topic as well. Here are the comments of others who say it went very well.

The publication ‘The Hill’ carried the following story on March 6th.

It was 40 years ago on March 6 that news anchor Walter Cronkite signed off “The CBS Evening News” for the final time, stating his tag line, “That’s the way it is.” The phrase was more than just a signature ending of his nightly newscast. It was a statement that his newscast was designed to, as he put it, “hold up the mirror — to tell and show the public what has happened.”

Holding up the mirror meant focusing on actual news, steering away from advocacy, and nailing down facts. There was a reason that polls of the era listed Cronkite as the most trusted man in America. He projected a fatherly personality and professional image. He spoke in a slow, deliberate manner. He imposed strict standards for accuracy and objectivity into his broadcasts. Every writer and producer on his team knew the perfectionist’s expectations and knew not to stray into personal bias or activism.
The journalism world could use more of the Cronkite method today.

The following item I received by WSU News. Here the writer explains much of what is behind those who are mislead by some of the contents of social media:

Blind trust in social media cements conspiracy beliefs

March 5, 2021

Creative Comments by https://www.staceymacnaught.co.uk/

By Sara Zaske, WSU News

PULLMAN, Wash. – The ability to identify misinformation only benefits people who have some skepticism toward social media, according to a new study from Washington State University. Researchers found that people with a strong trust in information found on social media sites were more likely to believe conspiracies, which falsely explain significant events as part of a secret evil plot, even if they could identify other types of misinformation. The study, published in the journal Public Understanding of Science on March 5, showed this held true for beliefs in older conspiracy theories as well as newer ones around COVID-19.

“There was some good and bad news in this study,” said Porismita Borah, an associate professor in WSU’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and a corresponding author on the study. “The good news is that you are less susceptible to conspiracy theories if you have some media literacy skills, one of which is being able to identify misinformation. But if you blindly trust the information you find on social media, those skills might not be able to help.”

Porismita Borah, Identifying misinformation is just one part of media literacy, Borah pointed out, and people may need a deeper education around social media to avoid falling for conspiracy theories.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 760 people recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing website. The participants were roughly split between male and female as well as Democrat and Republican. The majority, 63.1%, used Facebook and 47.3% used Twitter daily. They answered a range of questions related to the level of their social media news use and trust as well as ability to identify misinformation.

The participants were also asked to rate the truth of several COVID-19 conspiracy theories, such as the belief that the virus was a weapon of biological warfare developed by foreign countries. They also were presented with older conspiracies to rate, such as that the moon landing was a hoax and that Princess Diana was killed by a British intelligence agency.

The researchers found that a greater ability to identify misinformation lowered beliefs in all conspiracy theories—except for those who had high levels of trust in social media information. This is particularly problematic because other research has shown that once a conspiracy belief takes hold, it is very hard to convince the believer that it is false.

“The patterns around trust is one of the most important findings from our study,” said Borah. “We need to go deeper into what this trust means.” Borah and her co-authors, recent WSU Ph.D. Xizhu Xiao and current doctoral student Yan Su, suggest that political ideology may play a role in this trust—that people want to believe the words of political figures they admire, whether what they say is actually true or not. Borah said more research is needed to understand why conspiracy theories appeal to people and how best to combat them as there can be serious consequences.

“There are different levels of danger with these theories, but one of the prominent conspiracy beliefs about COVID-19 is that it isn’t true, that the virus is a hoax and that can be really dangerous: you’re putting yourself, your family members and your community at risk,” said Borah.

Istarting it well before college. They argue that such education should include a better understanding of how information can be manipulated as well as social media environments, news production and dissemination.

“There’s a long list of tasks to do to keep ourselves well informed,” Borah said. “I think there is hope with media literacy and a better understanding of the information environment, but it is a complicated process.”

The misinformation problem is not confined to the U.S. and Canada. Take a look at the source of this study:

GLASGOW, Scotland — Misinformation and fake news continue to be a major problem across social media platforms. Now, a new study reports people with high emotional intelligence are much less likely to fall for deceptive and untrue news items.

Conducted at the University of Strathclyde, the study asked a group of volunteers to take a look at various social media news stories, some true and some false. The group then tried to determine which were real and which were fictitious. Each participant also gave a short explanation as to their fact-checking thought process and filled out a test to gauge their emotional intelligence.

The news stories presented to participants covered a variety of topics, including health, the environment, crime, and wealth inequality. The fake headlines in particular featured a lack of trusted sources, not a lot of information in general, and emotive language.

What do different people say about fake news?

Ultimately, participants scoring high on the emotional intelligence test were most likely to accurately pick out fake news items. Study authors also noted a similar relationship between education level and fake news detecting ability. In other words, participants with more education appear to have a better eye for spotting fake news.

The Headline read:

Washington once again ranked best state in the US in national report

Washington state has once again been ranked the best state in the country, according to a new report from the U.S. News and World Report. Washington has held the top spot since 2019.

The publication annually ranks all 50 states based on several factors including health care, education, the economy and infrastructure, among others.

Other top ranked states were Idaho (the only other PNW State), Utah (the only other western state), Minnesota and New Hampshire.

In terms of rankings:

  • We ranked #8 in health care
  • Education – #4
  • Broadband access – #1
  • Opportunity – #25
  • Affordability – #44

Over the years, in past columns, I have written about the impact of Climate Change driving increases in Sea Level and how high tides will make matters even worse. The following link should be studied carefully to see what lies in our future. Be sure and zero in on the impacts in our area.

U.S. High Tide Flooding Probability Scenarios through
2100 (esri.com)

Extreme High Tides, often called King Tides, will become higher and more frequent as the data explains. In our area, this year, we can expect eight of them. By 2031 we will experience 25. 20 years from now, in 2041, the number increases to 99. By 2066, we will have one of these Extremely High Tides – EVERY DAY!

The impacts of these will becoming increasingly real, especially in low-lying areas. The ports will have some serious issues, requiring some serious money be spent to stay above it all, as most of them are now barely above existing sea level.

There are residential areas that will be feeling this as well. Along the coast, the Long Beach and Ocean Shores areas will be losing a lot of land. Around the sound, the Nisqually Wildlife area will be under water more of the time and Tacoma’s Day Island may need to be evacuated, along with many of the waterfront homes around the Sound.

Combinations of events – Extremely high tides and strong winds will be a recipe for a lot of damage, as will flooding rivers during heavy runoffs. The impact of high tides will be felt a lot further upstream.

This issue is sure to impact some of AM station’s antennas. One of them I installed many years ago at Browns Point for KMO.

The following pictures from Sinclair’s RF Guy, Tim Moore, show the impact of a King Tide on the antenna system at KVI at Point Heyer on the eastern side of Vashon Island.

There is something quite unique about the KVI Site. The beach is officially named ‘KVI Beach’. Where else is there a beach with call letters in its name?

In Tim’s pictures you can see how KVI Beach all but disappears with these Tides.

In the future, broadcast stations like KVI will likely need to make changes to the equipment at the base of their tower to keep it out of the salt water.

For more information about KVI Beach – check out these links:

KVI is a special place, let’s take care of it – Vashon Nature Center

Point Heyer (KVI Beach) and Point Robinson | Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber (vashonbeachcomber.com)

Heart This Place – Tramp Harbor and KVI Beach – Historic SeattleHistoric Seattle

The following contributed by Dwight Small:

Lou Ottens, Dutch Inventor Of The Audio Cassette Tape, Dead At 94

It’s likely you never heard of Lou Ottens, however, it’s highly likely that you are familiar with the Audio Cassette that he developed. He wanted to come up with something that would make tapes and the machines that recorded and played them more portable and easy to use. For those of us who have been around a very long time, we recall very small reel-to-reel machines that used reels about 3 inches in diameter and played at very slow speeds. For them the Cassette was a dream come true. The format was widely adopted when introduced in 1962. I’m sure you recall the Sony Walkman. It was a hit, to say the least.

 

The format permitted a person to carry with them their favorite tunes, or talking books. Vehicle manufacturers jumped on board with players coming standard in their radios.

Despite the audio quality lacking in many areas, the portability of the format made it a hit.

Retailers carried commercially produced cassettes along side vinyl recordings. Suddenly there was a standard that permitted a person to listen to their favorites no matter where they were.

Several broadcast versions of recorders and reproducers were made as well.

Lou Ottens recently passed at the age of 94.

As I mentioned, audio quality was just not possible with tape tracks that small, running at those speeds. However, it had a good run until the development of the Compact Disc.

Another beautiful picture of our part of the country. This one of a fabulous sunrise taken from the window of KRKO/KXA in Everett by Ted Buehner.

In addition to Robocalls that continue to increase, have you seen the Amazon Scam? The email reads something to the effect that Amazon needs to update your credit card information, otherwise you will lose your Prime membership. These lowlifes must lay awake at night trying to figure out a new way to gain your credit card information.

From time to time, someone will erect a tower near an AM broadcast station and give little thought to the impact this will have on the station, nor their obligation to deal with it. All of this happened recently on Vashon Island with a new communications tower constructed very near the diplexed KGNW/820 and KJR/950, three-tower, directional array. The following picture shows the relationship between the towers.

Notice at the top center of this picture ‘PSERN Tower’. This is the new tower that was added to the area, in very close proximity to the existing AM Towers. (Those are labeled – Northwest Tower, Center Tower and Southeast Tower)

The issue here is that both of these AM stations employ directional patterns, the three towers being shared by the two broadcasters. The introduction of the new tower caused both of the stations to have to employ consulting engineers to make certain modifications to the PSERN Tower so as to preclude it from being a part of the stations directional antenna systems.   Then, they had to perform an analysis of the stations directional antenna array to prove that any interaction was addressed.

This, perhaps, could have been avoided had PSERN located the new tower some distance away from the AM Antennas.

It should be noted that Cellular Antenna poles can also be of concern, with many of them having to go through the same process.

PSERN, as you can see from their logo above is a new radio network for Emergency Responders. They are erecting these new towers in many locations in the area. For example, here’s a view of the PSERN tower on West Tiger as taken from one of the AccelNet Tower Cams at sunrise. You can see the bottom of it on the right.

For additional information, go here: Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network (psern.org)

An interesting story about a small college station in La Grande Oregon that is losing its funding.

Eastern Oregon University radio station may go silent | Local News | eastoregonian.com

The portion of the article that got my attention was, “…KEOL, based in the Hoke Union Building, was defunded in part because studies indicate radio is a fading industry with a dim future. “Radio may be obsolete in 10 years.”

The latest Radio Ratings are out. Here are my highlights:

> 97.3 – KIRO-FM continues to lead the pack with their commercial News/Talk followed by 94.9 KUOW with their non-commercial News/Talk. Together they have a 14 share!
> KOMO-AM continues to be the best performing AM in the #5 slot.
> If you add KOMO ratings to those with News/Talk that total is over a 19 share.
> KEXP, another non-commercial station is doing VERY well in the #6 spot.
> Two of Bonneville’s AMs are just about tied with Conservative Talk KTTH.
> Two stations HD-2’s are in the numbers, KING and KNKX. Many have suggested that this is because they are feeding translators with those HD Channels – Surprise! Neither one of them are. These are ratings generated by people listening to HD Radio.
> In the Country-Race – The Wolf (KKWF) is ahead this go-around.
> Poor KFNQ continues to share the cellar with those with just enough of a showing to make the list.

Meanwhile, in the Rose City (PDX), like Seattle, the top two rated stations are news/talk. The difference is the non-commercial station (KOPB) is number 1 with a huge lead over the commercial outlet (KXL-FM). Together they have over a 17 share.

As you might expect, Washington DC has a lot of news/talk listeners. Three of the top four stations are running that format, and combined they have over a 26 share.

Some other markets are the opposite with music stations on top and news/talk way down the list.

Travel Trivia posted an item recently that got my attention. Typically, folks like these will have the states in alphabetical order. So I sit here and page-down until I get to Washington to see how we fared in some category or another. This time the headline read:

Hilarious and Bizarre Town Names in All 50 States

I just knew they would pick – Humptulips, Sequim, Physt or Puyallup. For some reason they picked Vader.  Huh! How is that funny or bizarre? For reasons I can’t explain they picked the little town sound of Olympia because it made them think of Darth Vader?? Truth is the town was named after Martin Vader, a German immigrant and Civil War veteran.

Looking for work in Broadcasting?How about a job in Kansas? For more info check-out:

https://www.hutchcc.edu/jobs/1159/101994 or start at http://www.radiokansas.net/employment.cfm

Received this item from Ben Dawson on March 22nd:

Somebody broke into the storage locker in our apartment yesterday morning, and stole, among a few other things, all of my hand tools, and the office’s HP 8753 (?) network analyzer, which was in a Pelican case.

If you could put out the word in case anybody spots the analyzer or my tools, some of which were in a black telco-issue fiber case, some in a turquoise bag labeled “France Telecom,” and some of which were in a military ammo box. It’s all insured, but the tools included a lot of
irreplaceable items, like my grandfather’s machinists’ square and a few other items no longer made in the US.

If you can help with the recovery, contact Ben at  – dawson@hatdaw.com

OK, time for some humor.

 

That’s about it for this month, my friends. Lord willing, I will be back next month at most of the usual locations.

Until then, get vaccinated, stay safe and continue to wear your mask…and that means cover your nose too. The ‘All-Clear’ is getting closer.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
A SBE Fellow
SBE Member # 714
Since March 1968

 

 

 

March  2021 – Clay’s Corner

March 20, 2021
By

March  2021 – Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers

perspective since September 1986

 

Some liked him, some did not….but all can likely agree that Rush Limbaugh was one of the most influential broadcasters of our time. Just about a year after he announced that he had cancer, and it was terminal, Rush passed away on February 17th. For over 32 years, since August 1, 1988, Rush was on the air, daily, on some 600 stations and an audience in the millions.

Here, locally, his show was carried by Bonneville’s KTTH from 9 to noon. If you traveled much around the country, regardless of where you were during this time slot, you could find Rush on the air, usually on AM.

Many did not know that he got his start on the Radio as a DJ while still in high school and worked at various stations across the country. Give a listen to the following link. In it you will be certain to recognize his voice and the type of patter he continued to use in his show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=FPgO9NLy-7A&fbclid=IwAR3cGmuexJhybKJQ3RBIKpgUrS7xZ6Q0ZL3flLmDE5gudbgGaScEz1plYlo

Many are saying he got his real break in 1984 at KFBK in Sacramento.

Rush was an entertainer who became a political figure even though he was not a politician. People in entertainment know how important it is to find their niche. Rush certainly found his, and made millions doing so. Along the way he became the voice of the conservative movement and is given credit for having been very influential in the process. Apparently, much what we heard was ‘Showman Rush’ while in private he was a lower key humble man.

Another area needs to be mentioned…how he influenced AM Radio. I don’t know if he was on an FM Station somewhere…perhaps so…however is show was predominately on AM Stations, both large and small. His popularity was welcomed by owners and operators of AM’s at a time that many of them were falling behind to FM’s. Some have called him the savior of AM.

His passing  has now created a lot of concern at those stations that could well be viewing Rush’s death as an event that may, ultimately, cost them money and audience. Many a station felt that they were lucky to have Rush on their station…and often the ratings proved it.

Not often do we lose a talk show host and have a governor announce that flags will be flown at half staff. That’s what took place in Florida.

What is often not discussed is how he was very generous with his support of charities.

The network that carried his program, a division of iHeart Media, is certainly aware of the issue and is planning on airing re-runs, or ‘The Best of Rush’ for those that will want to hear his voice. He was the kind of a personality that you can’t just go out and hire a replacement for.

Since the onset of his illness, there have been several who have been subbing for Rush, including some from this area. I was thinking that this would be like trying to replace John Wayne or Alex Trebek. These are shoes that may be impossible to fill. Eventually, perhaps someone will be hired that can build on his success. Only time will tell. As I heard someone say, not everyone can sit down and talk three hours without a script! Another said, Jimmy Fallon may host “The Tonight Show,” but he’ll never be Johnny Carson. Another example comes to mind. Remember when Paul Harvey passed? There was an attempt to fill that slot with (if I recall correctly) his son that did not work as hoped for.

For those who need a periodic infusion of hyper-conservative rhetoric, there are no shortage of on Radio and TV willing to fill their tank with questionable substances.

Speaking of Jeopardy, the search goes on for a host for that popular show upon the death of long-time host Alex Trebek. In this case, the producers are going to be using some big names as guest hosts. That may work for a TV game show, but one that requires the host to do what Rush was doing is another matter.

Interesting bit of timing in that we recently lost another in a similar line of work – Larry King. Both of these men have left a very big mark in the world of Broadcasting.

Certainly, worth mentioning is what might be called one of the most difficult ‘remote broadcasts’ that came in the form of the latest landing of a package of equipment on the planet Mars. This one will have many more cameras and – microphones!!

The fact that the time difference makes it impossible for anyone to make a last minute correction, makes this all the more challenging. This is, perhaps, the ultimate automation system. In this case, it had to be smart enough to ‘think on its own’ and make last second corrections if required. This is nothing short of amazing.

One aspect of this mission is demonstrated in the following picture. Think of it. You have this automated landing sequence involving multiple devices that in the end lowers the rover to the surface with a parachute…and, in a case of incredible timing, you have the MRO orbiting the planet and able to capture an image of that portion of the landing sequence and transmit that image back to us millions of miles away. Words cannot adequately express how this one made me feel.

Now the exploration process will be ramping up and our TV screens will be filled with new images that only a few years ago would have been deemed totally impossible.

© JPL-Caltech/NASA HiRISE captured this image of Perseverance on its way to the landing site.

 

As my readers know, this past month I wrote rather extensive comments about truth, misinformation etc. After I had finished writing my column, news items were coming in that were related directly to what I was talking about.

Note this one came from ABC News (I highlighted portions).

 

DHS uses alert system for 1st time in a year to warn of domestic terrorism threat

Using a federal system designed to warn all Americans about terrorist threats to the U.S. homeland, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning that anger “fueled by false narratives”, especially unfounded claims about the 2020 presidential election, could lead some inside the country to launch attacks in the coming weeks.

 

And this from the New York Times –

The Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol has become a catalyst strengthening federal lawmakers’ resolve to enact stronger regulations on technology giants like Google and Facebook, whose platforms were used to spread election misinformation and incite the deadly riots. Members of Congress are already pursuing antitrust regulations to prevent big tech companies from wielding too much power, but action on hate speech, disinformation and data privacy could also come under President Joe Biden’s administration.

I recall hearing warnings, about 70 years ago, about this kind of thing. In those days we were told that this was the work of ‘Communists and Enemies’.

So congress is holding hearings and probes…’Tis what they do! They are also looking into popular social media platforms. Of course we can expect the political parties to get irritated. Frankly, I’m not sure that the U.S. Congress will be able to be objective, as they are likely to spend more time trying to protect their own biased view of the truth.

I wonder if they will also look into YouTube. There you can find people talking about every topic on the planet as if they were an expert…some of it pretty radical. What’s stopping anyone from putting on a white coat and adopting a name with doctor in front and promoting the latest snake oil?

In my opinion (which is worth as much as the ink that this column is printed on) we may well be incapable of having an objected, unbiased, bipartisan view of these issues. What we need to create is ‘Truth Police’. Or perhaps the ability to take the truth stretchers to court to prove what they are saying is true or face mandatory punishment. Many would, of course, call this a form of censorship and claim that their constitutional rights were being trampled. Oh well…I can dream, can’t I?

Former CNN host and now employee of Hearst Television Soledad O’Brien put it this way:

“I think that is nothing that the Congress has to deal with. It’s news organizations themselves who should hold themselves to this standard. It’s a journalistic standard,” O’Brien pushed for news outlets to avoid posing every story as “having two sides,” and to stop booking “liars” that spread false information. “Every perspective does not deserve a platform,” she said. “Media thrives on the open exchange of ideas, but that doesn’t mean you have to book a neo-Nazi every time you book someone who is Jewish.”

If you think that misinformation is something new…well, think again. The following is from ‘Science News’:

 

100 years ago, in 1921, The media magnate E.W. Scripps was contemplating the parallel goals he saw in science and journalism: to discover how the world works, and to explain it truthfully and in a way that people can understand. An informed, educated public, he believed, was essential to a democratic society.  Scripps was appalled by the media’s willingness to promote fake cures and dangerous theories, writing in 1919 that “there is a vast quantity of misinformation being constantly spread abroad by our newspapers.

 

As pointed out by the previous, we have been dealing with misinformation and conspiracy theories for a very long time. Unfortunately some broadcasters and the Internet have provided a vehicle to spread further and faster than ever before.

Fear is a ‘lubricant’ for these items. Remember a few years ago when NIER first was mentioned. Suddenly many who lived near a broadcast transmitter was thinking that they were getting ‘radiated’ and would, as a result, develop cancer. Cougar Mountain in our area became ground zero due to, at that time, the 10 – 100,000 kW FM’s that were there. Broadcasters across the country were suddenly having to deal with a new issue. Cellular has had their battles with neighbors putting up a fight over the thought of having a cell site nearby. Keeping those radiation hazards away from schools is common. More recently, the term 5G has come to mean evil with conspiracy theories linking these new communications systems with the Coronavirus, in some cases, causing people to attempt to destroy these new systems. In the case of the Internet, there is no limit to the amount of misinformation that can be spread. Only recently, after the Capitol Riots, have the social media system that many use to spread false and misleading information come under review of law makers that have come to learn first hand the damage that can be done, all in the name of free speech.

A well known person in this area, Bill Gates, has a conspiracy theory attached to his name as well. There are those who think that the Covid-19 vaccine being administered now also contains microchips that would permit tracking of those that received the shot. This is enough for some to declare they don’t want to be vaccinated.

A firm, based here in Seattle, according to this item from the Seattle Times appears to be also involved in the promotion of misinformation.

By Katherine Khashimova Long

Seattle Times business reporter

As vaccine misinformation has prompted some to say they will refuse to be inoculated against the coronavirus, the world’s largest online retailer remains a hotbed for anti-vaccination conspiracy theories, according to a new study by University of Washington researchers.

Amazon’s search algorithm boosts books promoting false claims about vaccines over those that debunk health misinformation, the researchers found — and as customers engage with products espousing bogus science, Amazon’s recommendation algorithms point them to additional health misinformation.

In the future, the fallout and damage from all of this will, perhaps, lead to regulations where there are licenses involved. Could a licensee of a Radio or TV station be challenged because they aired misinformation?

On the Coronavirus front:

The sad news is that deaths from this terrible virus have now gone past the 500,000 mark and they are predicting another 100,000 may succumb in the next couple of months. Looking at the annual death toll from other diseases, you find that about 730,000 or 29% of all deaths in the U.S. are attributed to heart disease and stroke. 580,000 or 23% are due to cancer. 140,000 die due to chronic respiratory disease and 130,000 die from accidents (including motor vehicle). Looking at it this way, at least over the past year, Covid-19 has become the 3rd largest cause of death.

Perhaps interesting is that Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. have lowered the life expectancy in this country by just over a year (1.13) with a disproportionate impact on Black and Latino populations.

The good news is the curves are (finally) going in the right direction. Vaccinations are increasing and we are all gaining hope.

Olympic Games authorities have yet to decide whether the Tokyo games will go forward this summer, due to rising coronavirus case numbers and vaccine shortages. NBCUniversal had bet on Olympic coverage in 2020 to kick start Peacock, and could lose billions in advertising revenue if the games are cancelled.

Looks like we will indeed have an NAB convention in Las Vegas this year, albeit, in the fall. Already plans are being made for a Spring show in 2022 to get us back on track.

As has been said by many – for the vaccine to work its magic, the majority of the population has to get it. Therein lies a problem. We have way too many who feel that the virus is a hoax or they have a degree of vaccine hesitancy. The sad part is some of these people are not likely to change their mind. This brings us back to the idea I wrote about quite a while back. We are likely to have to resort to some kind of incentive system to help with the issue. Employers can and should be engaged here (already some are). I suspect certain modes of travel may have to impose restrictions. How about if you want to attend a sporting event, you have to have been vaccinated? However, this would likely start up those who would take advantage of the situation by selling bogus Vaccination ID cards.

Perhaps we should look at Israel, a country with a high percentage of its citizens now vaccinated, to see how things are working there. Their parliament just passed a law allowing the government to share the ID’s of those that have not had their shots with other authorities until the pandemic is determined to be over. The big question, do people have a right to not be vaccinated? Which takes me to a couple of questions:

  • Could KRUD Broadcasting ask an applicant, or one that’s been working from home, if they have been vaccinated, or would that violate their rights to privacy?
  • Could KRUD choose to hire a vaccinated person over one that was not?

The pandemic has provided an opportunity for those who seek to profit from the situation. I recently received this item from a provider of internet spam:

According to Google, Gmail users received 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19 during the early months of the pandemic (back in April). Add to that another 240 million COVID-related daily spam messages.

OK enough of that…shifting gear to EAS (one of my favorite topics):

For well over a year the Washington State SECC has had a Committee working on revising the State EAS Plan. One of the major reasons for this activity has been the FCC’s efforts in creating a uniform platform for EAS plans. At this point, state EAS plans have been ‘all over the map’ making it difficult for the FCC to approve them. Additionally, the FCC needed a better way to determine what the SECC’s were doing in the area of providing monitoring assignments for Participants (Radio and TV Stations and Cable). They have developed a system called ARS that will provide a method for SECC’s to report their work to the FCC. In turn, this information will be used to ‘cross-check’ the information the FCC receives from participants via ETRS. Fortunately, the Washington SECC’s Plan Revision Committee has been able to participate in a couple of webinars and beta tests of the system. Frankly, we have been waiting for the FCC to launch this new system. Well, the wait is over. What we did not know is the Commission is launching ARS within a new NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making).

This NPRM has hit the streets and is being reported on by various organizations that provide news etc. to Radio and TV Broadcasters (and I assume Cable operators). Most are labeling this as ‘FCC plans for improving EAS’.

The NPRM certainly does cover the long awaited ARS, but it also deals with some areas of EAS changes that are not part of it. Keep in mind that the FCC, like the Washington SECC, considers WEA as part of Public Alert and Warning. Therefore some of the new NPRM concerns both.

Here are some of the highlights (there are many more):

  • Mobile devices (FCC speak for your smartphone) would not be allowed to opt out of WEA alerts from FEMA
  •  SECC’s would have to meet at least once per year (Washington meet bi-monthly)
  •  Establish a requirement for SECC’s to work with the FCC (ARS)
  •  EAS Plans would not be available on the FCC Web Site (States could, if they wished)
  •  We may have some new Event Codes. For example, one dealing with National Security. Event codes dealing with this issue were dropped some years ago with the winding down of the cold war.
  •  Create a new Originator Code (NCA) that would permit FEMA to issue national level emergencies (presently only provision is for Presidential Messages). With that would come a new Event Code (NSE). Yes, this would likely require all EAS equipment to be upgraded.
  •  Create a mechanism for reporting EAS or WEA false alerts (think Hawaii missile attack)
  •  Propose a rule to require repeating an EAS message (currently these messages are a one time thing)

Part of the FCC release is an NOI (Notice of Inquiry)  that asks questions. These are typically efforts by the FCC to ‘run the matter up the flag-pole’.

  •  They are looking for input on the feasibility of delivering EAS Alerts via the internet and streaming services.
  •   How to augment Radio and TV, Cable and Satellite Radio message delivery via the internet.

I highly recommend that everyone carefully watch this activity as it will – very likely – impact many. I also recommend that you download the entire 52 page document from the FCC for the simple reason that the devil is in the details! Knowing the details has a lot of benefits.

Looking back at my early days in this business, maintenance of a broadcast station was very different than it is today. Sure, we had Vacuum Tubes, but we were required to determine the reason why a piece of equipment failed and then replace it so it would be placed back in service. The term for this is ‘component level trouble-shooting’. We relied on a number of businesses in our area that stocked the necessary parts. Those firms did not rely exclusively on broadcasters to keep them in business, as there were a large number of Radio-TV repair shops that were repairing consumer electronic equipment.

Over the years electronic equipment underwent major changes…becoming significantly more reliable. It also became increasingly more complicated to the point that some equipment could no longer be repaired locally. In many cases, it became more cost effective to replace it rather than repair it.

At the hobby level – electronics have made a major shift.

At the consumer level – you no longer see a Radio-TV repair shop in your area. Today you see consumer electronic equipment awaiting to be picked up with the trash.

So, when the demand dries up, so do the suppliers. Remember it was not that long ago that we lost Radio Shack. Recently it was announced that Fry’s were closing their doors – not just the huge facility in Renton – but all 31 stores, after nearly 36 years in business. Sure the Pandemic played a role, but the demand for a local electronics store has just about totally dried up. Today, there are (maybe) a handful in our area.

Thankfully there is still sufficient demand, so that a firm operating nationally can still supply those resistors and capacitors. And, yes…you can buy them from Amazon.

Now that huge building in Renton will be on the market, joining others that include K-Mart, Sears and others.

So who are the winners in this? As I sit here at home writing this, to my left is a window looking out at my street. Already today I’ve see trucks from Amazon, FedEx and UPS…and I live on a dead-end! Welcome to the new world.

Last month I noted the amount of gray, or missing, hair at the SBE Chapter Meeting. Here’s an item I ran across from NAB that digs into that issue:

Stations struggle to recruit, train new generation of broadcast engineers | Current

Another manufacturer of equipment has called it quits. Ward Beck Systems, maker of audio equipment has ceased operations. The company was founded by in 1967 by Ron Ward and Rodger Beck.

After wondering if we were going to get any lowland snow this winter, the wait was over on the afternoon of the 12th as the flakes began to fall. Our area was turned into a winter wonderland with snowfall over just about all of Western Washington. Officially, SeaTac Airport recorded just over 12 inches of the stuff. Not often you see snowmobiles going down your street!

Like most snow events in this area, warmer air was winning out later on Saturday. Meanwhile, south of us, Northwest Oregon was getting freezing rain that was causing a lot of headaches and power outages. I recall living in Portland, as a kid, and experiencing what my folks called a ‘Silver Thaw’ that did a lot of damage with inches of ice covering everything. Thankfully, we have few of these events in the Seattle/Tacoma area. I do recall one however, around Christmas, when the ice brought down a lot of power lines and trees. SR-18 east of Auburn was closed due to fallen timber.

Here’s a picture of a Ham Radio antenna from the Portland area belonging to former Entercom-Portland Chief Engineer, Kent Randles being bent over by the ice-storm that hit that area.

The Ice winning this battle!

Here Kent is showing how the ice built up on the guy ropes holding his antenna.

 

On the hills to the west of downtown Portland are many very large towers that support antennas for the area’s FM and TV Stations. You have to believe that they collected their share of ice as well. When the temperatures warmed, that ice falls to the ground. You DO NOT want to be near one of them when this is taking place.

Pat Shearer, Broadcast/RF Systems Engineer for KPTV/KPDX Broadcasting, shared the following picture. He wrote:

“The attached pic shows the 4″ ice that was covering the tower at the peak of the storm

There were literally hundreds of pieces of ice laying on the ground at the base of the tower. I took that pic to show the thickness but that piece was by far not the largest one I saw. there was one that was about 16″ x 5″ x 4″ thick and you could see the curve where it came off a tower leg.”

Look at the size of those ‘ice-cubes’ compared to that glove.

 

Pictured here is the second winter site access vehicle owned by AccelNet. They need to access West Tiger too, due to their growing amount of facilities up there. It’s been interesting to observe how Land Mobile/2-Way radios were replaced by Cellular, which significantly reduced the amount of equipment at these mountain top facilities. Now they are being put to use by firms, like AccelNet who are called WISPs or Wireless Internet Service Providers.

 

 

This picture was taken by Doug Fisher of the transmitter building at South Mountain, home of KOMO-FM, KDDS and KLSY. He said there was 4-5 feet of snow on top.

The forecast on Saturday the 13th indicated that by the following weekend, all of this would be just a memory with temperatures to be near 50. Time to be putting away the snow shovels and thinking about getting that lawn mower started for the season to come.

For those of us who still, routinely, travel to higher elevation locations, we can look forward to, perhaps, two more months of winter weather at locations like West Tiger Mt. where snow can, and often does, remain a factor until mid April.

Meanwhile, Snoqualmie Pass (25 miles to the ESE at a similar elevation) is experiencing the most amount of snow they’ve had in 10 years…and winter is not over yet. You can check out the snow totals by going to WSDOT, Mountain Passes, Snoqualmie Pass, Snow Dept. Report. It will ask you to choose which pass and season. Interesting to look back at previous years to see how this year stacks up (no pun).

After the big snow, Alex Brewster and Rob Purdy needed to go up to West Tiger for a Hubbard Issue and found this about two miles up the 6+ miles to the site:

Their Jeep, with chains, was dragging bottom. Next step – call Doug Fisher to come up with his Gator with tracks.

Steven Allen visiting the KIRO-AM Transmitter on Vashon after the snow found that someone had built a snowman…with a big smile!

Meanwhile other parts are dealing with some historic winter conditions. This headline is something you don’t often see.

Blackouts Cascade Beyond Texas in Deepening Power Crisis

Severe winter weather is not something you normally associate with Texas, but not this year, as the mid-February frigid weather spread across the middle of the continent all the way into Mexico. Here are some of the high (or low) points related to this years winter blast.

The record low temperatures are exceeding the capacity of many electrical utilities, which have been forced into having rotating outages all the way into Mexico.

  • At a time where there is political pressure to shift from a fossil fuel generation to one based on renewable energy sources, this is proving to be a huge wake-up call.
  • Many wind power systems have been rendered out of commission due to something they apparently did not plan on – ice on the blades.
  • Oil production has been reduced due to the cold, which is causing gas prices to increase all over.
  • A shortage of natural gas has forced a number of generating plants off line as consumers furnaces are running like never before.
  • Cold is having an effect on the electric grid much as excessive heat did this part year.
  • It was 18 degrees in Houston, matching the temperature in Anchorage. Meanwhile, it was 5 degrees in Dallas.
  • Abilene Texas had 14 inches of snow (we had just over 4).
  • This storm is a big one — stretching all the way from Texas to New England. Unlike most winters, Texas has been hit the hardest.

Here’s a picture of them de-Icing blades on a wind turbine:

I wonder if the operators of all the wind farms in our state are prepared to deal with a situation like this?

Texas broadcasters jumped into action providing citizens with badly needed information. Many scrambled to stay on the air. Certainly those with generators and an adequate supply of fuel learned of the value of planning ahead for the unforeseen. Tragically, the state did very little in the way of public warning via EAS etc. Obviously there are going to be a lot of ‘corrective actions’ taken in the months ahead.

Thinking about this, I wonder what would happen to this area if we were hit with the kind of weather Texas had? There are likely many that feel. ‘That won’t happen here’.

Obviously there will be some serious repercussions from this event. We’ve not heard the last about this one. Far from it. A lot of politicians likely are very apprehensive about the next election cycle.

Interestingly the Chinese are using this event to tout how this would not take place in their country due to their superior system of government.

The following was posted on the EAS Forum: Needless to say, there are a lot of very upset people in the Lone Star State.

Time to add Texas to the list of states needing to learn lessons from other states. All disasters may be local, but the resources and response shouldn’t be just local.

Texas Tribune

As Texans endured days in the dark, the state failed to deliver vital emergency information.

When the lights went out this week and Texans lost access to power and clean drinking water, the Texas Division of Emergency Management failed to provide accessible and life-saving updates on outages and inclement weather.

Texas was not the only place in the country to experience the ravages of winter this year.

What you are looking at here is the top of a tower that used to hold an FM broadcast antenna (the black things in the picture) for KOEZ in Des Moines, Iowa, laying on the ground.

 

In this case the storm toppled the top half of the tower of the 100,000 watt station.

The bottom line – we here in this area have it pretty good in many ways and should be very thankful! At the same time, we should not be smug and complacent!

I often write about West Tiger (the mountain). Lowell Kiesow (Chief Engineer for KNKX) ran across this one. Look closely at the little white building.

According to Lowell, the place pictured is on the BNSF Cherokee sub near Catoosa, Oklahoma.

Just for fun, I Googled West Tiger and found some interesting and unrelated things.

  • How about the Appleton West Tigers Lacrosse Team in Appleton, Wisconsin?
  • Let’s not forget the West Tiger Salamander.

 

Well….The Radio Ratings are out. Here’s how the 12+ top-stations stack up:

#1 KIRO-FM  (News/Talk)
#2 KUOW      (News/Talk)
#3 KISW         Rock (of course)
#4 KOMO       (News)
#5 KZOK
#6 KQMV
#7 KJR-FM
#8 KEXP
#9 KSWD
#10 KRWM

A couple of observations…

  • 3 of the top 4 don’t play music
  • #2 and #8 don’t play commercials
  • #8, compared to the others, has very limited coverage

 

From the department of ‘I recall those call letters’…

KFKF – Once used in Bellevue now resides with an FM station in Kansas City.

Here is truly a great picture from the Seattle Times. You can see the I-90 Floating Bridges crossing Lake Washington. If you look carefully at the upper right corner, you can see the broadcast towers on West Tiger Mt.

 

Coming as no surprise – Boeing announced an $11.9 billion loss in 2020. Their list of issues just keeps growing.

  • The grounding of the 737 Max (thankfully recently lifted)
  • QC issues with their 787
  • Huge write-off on the 777 Max
  • The recent engine failure on a 777 (not their fault)

As a result they are moving all the 787 production to South Carolina and recently announced they are moving out of one of their buildings in the former Longacres site.

Sinclair and KOMO recently made the news with their announcement that they will be delivering their local radio stations via the KOMO-TV ATSC-3.0 signals.

Probably a bit early to ask that auto dealer where you are shopping for new wheels if they can receive it. Time will tell if this will be a competitor to other providers of audio content to vehicles such as SiriusXM. I have to wonder, are we doing this because we can or because of a forecast for demand. Oh yes, it has a name – Nextgen TV Hybrid Service. If you have a NextGen TV let me know how it works.

In the big bad world of spectrum shuffling, a company representing the small user is asking the FCC to reverse a decision. Shure Inc., maker of wireless microphones has filed a petition with the Commish, asking them to reverse its position and guarantee that at least one 6 MHz TV channel in each market be reserved for wireless use. What is perhaps not well understood inside the Beltway is the fact that there are a zillion wireless microphones out there that need a place to operate. I’d bet that most of their owners are not aware of all of the spectrum changes or are just ignoring them, hoping for the best.

To their credit, the FCC did identify spectrum at 900 MHz, 1.4 and 7 GHz as alternatives. Shure has pointed out how this effort falls short. There is more info on the Shure Website.

Congratulations to KISW in Seattle as they celebrate their 50th anniversary. KISW is not just celebrating 50 years on the air, they are celebrating 50 years with the same format. Not many radio stations can make that claim. Feb 14th, 1971. Do you remember those days? Over the years the station has been owned by various firms. For the last several, it has been Entercom. Their transmitter is at West Tiger, where they share a transmit antenna with other Entercom stations KNDD, KKWF and KHTP (as well as several others). They moved to West Tiger from Cougar Mt. Before that, their transmitter was on Roosevelt Hill.

How about a couple of pretty pictures from the AccelNet Cameras. This first one is from their Cougar Mt. camera. The tower on the left is used by 94.1 and 96.5 as an auxiliary. In the distance you can see the entire Olympic Mountain range sporting a wonderful coating of snow.

The following is from one of the several cameras they have on West Tiger. I liked this one as it was looking directly into the Sun. Note the coating of snow on the trees.

Radio employment opportunities in Seattle this month:

  • Daniel Sipe has elected to exit broadcasting and iHeartMedia and is going to work for a gaming company. This means there is a job opening….

https://iheartmedia.wd5.myworkdayjobs.com/en-US/External_iHM/job/Seattle-WA-645-Elliot/Regional-Engineer_Req23058-1

  • Paul Carvalho is no longer with Bonneville-Seattle creating an employment opportunity. Steven Allen is filling in until a permanent replacement is named.

https://deseretmanagement.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/en-US/BonSeattle/job/Seattle/Chief-Engineer_R3162

And, you are looking to get out of town and really love snow…consider this one:

There are two job openings at New Hampshire Public Radio. One is Senior Broadcast Engineer, which is primarily responsible for the studio facilities, and the other, Broadcast Transmission Engineer, which is primarily responsible for the transmitter sites. Both will overlap into the other, but this is their primary focus. If you’re interested, please take a look at  https://nhpr.applicantpro.com/jobs/

Interested? Contact Randy Woods –  RWoods@NHPR.org

The NAB has filed an objection with the FCC to a proposal from Geo Broadcast that would let programs originate on FM Boosters. Much of this is based on Geo’s experience with what are called SFN’s or Single Frequency Networks. This is where an FM Station operates one, or more, boosters using the same frequency. (Bustos Media has been doing this here in this area for some time on 99.3.) The concept would permit these systems to geo-target commercials on those boosters that serve specific areas. There are obviously pros and cons, and now that the FCC has been asked to create rules that would make this a permissible activity. Its time for interested parties to make comments.

The NAB has stated, “permitting program origination on boosters will almost certainly drive both advertising rates and revenues down even further as advertisers push to purchase geo-targeted ads.”

Photographer extraordinaire, Dwight Small, captured this gem with his cellphone camera of a wonderful moonset over his backyard. Can you imagine telling George Eastman that one day you would be able to take pictures like this with a telephone…at night?

 

I asked Dwight what he was doing up at that time of morning. He said he just woke up early…and now we can all benefit.
Permitting foreign ownership of a broadcast station in the U.S. has long been an issue. In recent years rules have changed. It was recently announced that a British radio/ outdoor media firm has purchased an 8.8% stake in iHeartMedia worth 117.6 million U.S. Bucks.

Speaking of money changing hands, three law firms will receive $3.47 million in fees as a part of a Class Action settlement with SiriusXM. Seems the Satcaster used the term ‘Lifetime Subscription’ with some of their customers. When those customers tried to transfer their subscription to another vehicle the company baulked. Apparently they meant for the lifetime of the receiver or vehicle, not the customer (oops). So now, as a result of the settlement, about a million SiriusXM customers will indeed have a ‘lifetime’ subscription. At times it pays to read the fine print.

From the category of ‘Is it just me?’ I have certainly noticed a big increase in the number of Robocalls I’ve been receiving. Some of the more memorable:

  • Hello, this is Kate…From the broken English used, I have to assume a Eastern Europe location. The pitch varies. She is telling you that something you don’t want is about to happen and to press a number to be connected to someone that can help. The one I recently received advised me that my computer virus protection company has gone out of busines and I am to Press- ___ to be connected to the refund department.
  • The Social Security Fear Call (they know my age and that I’m likely collecting it.) The caller advises you that they are from the Social Security Administration and have detected illegal activity and are to press a number.
  • The Car Warranty call. Your vehicle warranty has expired, but they can help.
  • The Expensive Amazon Purchase. You have ordered something expensive (usually an I-Phone) and if you wish to cancel…Press…

Number spoofing only adds to the problem as your Caller ID has been rendered useless. If  you call the number back you often find out it’s a number that’s been disconnected…but not always. I have found that an innocent person will answer and be surprised to learn how their number is being used.

Just about all of them are wanting you to ‘take the bait’. Often using fear as the prime motivator. Once you press that number you get some smooth talker that wants your credit card number so they can get you a refund. Just for fun, a while back, I played along. When they asked if I wanted the refund…I said Sure! When they asked for credit card information, I told them that I did not use a credit card and requested they send a cashiers check. In about two nanoseconds they hung up.

The sad part is that there likely many that take the bait and become a scam victim. If there were not, they would give up and go away.

And, we have been given the opinion that our Government is cracking down on this kind of thing. Perhaps these operators are like those that operate Pirate Radio Stations? They are, apparently, a few steps ahead of the law…or could care less about government efforts to curtail their business?

This has impacted me in one major way. Whereas I am on call for the people I work for, I have always left my cellphone on in my bedroom at night. Regrettably, these yahoos like to make their calls at all hours. My desire to get a full nights sleep is going to mean that if I am wanted during bed-time they are going to have to call my land line. I will simply put my phone on mute.

Remember the old days when a long distance phone call cost a lot of money? And there were no computers to do all the dirty work? Back then these types had to use real money and pay for printing and postage to get this stuff into your mailbox. Here’s a reversal: A Radio broadcaster in Milwaukee is reported to be signing a deal that will have them move their stations to a downtown mall. The new space will have window view of the studios. In the past, locating radio stations within malls or at street level in downtowns was popular. I fondly remember KISN being on a downtown Portland street where you could view the announcers.

Perhaps this is in the category of when old becomes new again?

Guess I should mention that across the street from T-Mobile Park in Seattle are the KING-TV Studios.

With Malls and Radio stations both hurting financially, perhaps this will come back?

Earlier in this column I was lamenting about the demise of the local electronic parts store. One of those ‘components’ that we used to use is becoming increasingly scarce. That being the 3AG fuse. Recently someone wrote about this little critter titling the piece: Goodbye 3AG fuse, we’ll miss you

He lead the piece with a picture of a ‘good fuse’:

And followed with a blown one:

His article was written for someone that likely does not repair electronic equipment.

The bottom line is the good old fuses, like these, are indeed becoming increasingly rare in today’s equipment, as power levels are lower and the demand for something smaller has become essential.

Then there is the old joke –

The story of the newbie who was tasked to check and sort all of the spare fuses. When the boss returned to check, all of the fuses had been discarded. “They were all shorted!”

Over the years I’ve worked with a lot of people in the ‘Radio Biz’. Perhaps because of the fear that your gender will be confused by your listeners, most announcers/ DJ’s etc. have ‘lower’ pitched voices. I’m sure you have heard someone say to a person with a low voice – They have a voice for Radio.

Well,  there are low voices and then there are LOW voices –

Listen To The Guy With The World’s Lowest Voice Sing ‘Lonesome Road’ – Digg

I always like to end this column with a funny or two, usually sent to me by my readers.

The next one is certainly in the ‘Groaner’ category.

A special thanks to all of you that sent me pictures this month. (Keep ‘em coming.)

That’s about it for this month, my friends. Lord willing, I will be back next month at most of the usual locations.

Until then, get vaccinated, stay safe and continue to wear your mask…and that means cover your nose too.

The ‘All-Clear’ Is getting closer.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

A SBE Fellow

SBE Member # 714

Since March 1968

 

 

 

 

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