Blog Archives

Clay’s Corner for June 2012

June 24, 2012

By Clay Freinwald SBE Seattle Chapter 16Featuring News, Rumors and Views From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources

Is your station ready for the big EAS Deadline of June 30th?     I’ve been communicating with one of the major suppliers of EAS hardware and they too have been surprised by the last-minute requests for purchase.   I suspect that many stations have been holding off until the last minute to buy the new EAS equipment hoping that the FCC would – again- delay the due date.   Well, no delays this time!  If you don’t have the new, CAP Capable, EAS equipment by June 30th….You may find yourself dealing with the FCC in ways you will not appreciate.

To further help you all in understanding this big change…FEMA, NAB and NASBA: The following diagram should help explain how some of these new pieces fit together –

A word about Monitoring Assignments – All stations will – continue – to monitor the same sources as before – additionally ALL STATIONS will be required to monitor the new FEMA/IPAWS server.   For those of you in Washington State that are already connected to the Washington State CAP Server (WaCAP) this will simply mean configuring your EAS equipment to receive messages from an additional source.   For those that are presently not connected to any CAP Server, your Washington State EAS Committee (SECC) would like to have you monitor BOTH CAP Servers.

One more thing about EAS – Your help is needed.   The State EAS Committee (SECC) as well as the various Local EAS Committees (LECC’s) needs your help with our EAS Systems.  Remember, EAS is a COOPERATIVE effort.   How good, or bad, our EAS is depends directly on those who volunteer to volunteer to help.   Please give this some thought.  Thanks !

One of my best friends, Nick Winter, had what he calls a ‘wake-up-call’ this past month as he awoke about 230 AM feeling numb on his left side.  Upon arrival at the hospital it was quickly determined that he had suffered a stroke and had extremely high blood pressure.  Nick, age 60, said that it had been years since he went to a doctor and had put off having routine checkups.   Closer examination revealed that he had also suffered a pervious minor stroke earlier (on the other side) and was not aware of it.  Thankfully the prognosis is good and he should make a full recovery.   A lot of changes in a short period of time and, now, a routine of taking medication for hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol along with a big change in diet….and, yes, routine checkups.   If all goes well, he hopes to return to work at Pacific Lutheran’s KPLU in about a month.    Yes, I have a motive for all of this…I hope that none of you elect to skip routine visits to the Doc.   Just like the equipment we maintain, we require periodic performance evaluations and, as require, maintenance.   Preventative maintenance (and medicine) is often necessary if we are going to keep us ‘on the air’.

More recently we are saddened to learn of the passing of Janel Schmidt wife of Robert Rogers.    Robert is very active in the Portland, Oregon area and has, in the past, attended Chapter 16 events.    The following picture is of their daughter, Robert and Janel on the right.

Samsung has, in recent years, become a huge name in appliances, electronics from TV’s to stereo to cellphones.   I have to admit I was a bit taken back by a recent add for their home theatre products…..

Vacuum Tube and Digital Sound

Enjoy a more lifelike experience with Vacuum Tube and Digital Sound. Hear your favorite music for the first time with the innovation of analog and digital sound combined. It creates a truer, more immersive sound that digital alone cannot replicate. Samsung has brought wonder to your eyes, now it’s time for your ears.

Question – Would Radio and TV audio sound better if we returned to using vacuum tubes?

 A number of media stories recently devoted to the passing of Eugene Polley who is credited for inventing the TV remote control.  A former engineer with Zenith, he was 96.   I suppose there are those that would accuse him of aiding the obesity problem in our country.  The technique he used was very primitive by today’s standards and consisted of PE cells mounted in the corners of the screen.  Pointing a beam of light at each one performed a remote function.

This month marks the 120th anniversary of a profound moment in science.  It was in 1892 that Hendrick Lorentz hypothesized the role of the electron.     Where would ‘electronics’ be without this discovery?

Google finalized their purchase of a portion of Motorola this past month putting the firm in the hardware business. The portion they purchased, called Motorola Mobility, makes Cable TV boxes and a number of personal communication devices.  It will be interesting to see where this takes Google going forward.   Likely some of the 20,000+ that work for Motorola will be out of a job.    The traditional part of the firm that still makes 2-way radios etc. (called Motorola Solutions) will continue.

Speaking of big changes with electronic manufacturing.   It was recently announced that HP was going to lay off some 27,000 in California….Ouch!

With winter behind us, time to get some work done at site on the summit of West Tiger.    Since this site was developed back in the late 80’s there have been many power outages with the generator run total approaching 1000 hours of operation.   Power failures at this site seem to be accompanied with poor access causing a lot of concern over would the power be restored before the diesel ran out.   This problem has been addressed with the installation of a new and much larger fuel tank for the site.   Getting this big tank up the road was interesting, to say the least.  Here are a couple of pictures of this project –

The many short-radius turns proved to be quite a challenge to the long trailers.

Setting the new Diesel Tank


Whereas probably 95% of all towers now are for cellular communications. I could not help but be amused at the fact that all tower sites are now Cell Sites.    I had an interesting time explaining to the contractors that this was – not – a cell site and why.

This address for the site was developed prior to the highway being named Highway 18.


With some are wondering if AM Radio will be around much longer….Meanwhile engineers are working on schemes that will reduce their cost of operation.  MDCL, or Modulation Dependent Carrier Level is one of those schemes that is being implemented on the higher powered AM stations running 50 Kw.   WOR in NYC recently made the modification and reports a power saving of 25 to 30%..  Apparently there have been no negative effects of making the change.    To our north, a couple of stations in Vancouver have also made the change.    With a rather large number of 50Kw stations in the Seattle area, it’s likely that we will see this system get installed at a station here also.  Oh yes, you do have to obtain a waiver from the FCC.

Seattle based Fisher Broadcasting is going to pay the FCC $7000 involving a contest issue at KVI and a former employee who, at the time, was a promotions coordinator.

A cluster of Clear Channel owned stations in Wisconsin were recently taken off the air due to a wind-storm that took down the clusters STL tower at their studio.  Smaller markets are not likely to have completely redundant STL systems.  Events like this are good reason for all engineers to look for that single point of failures.   Here is a picture of the tower after the storm.


From time to time I note the fact that the owner of a couple of Seattle’s TV stations owned by Tribune continues deal with bankruptcy.  Now there is word that Hubbard is interested in buying the firms broadcast assets, including flag-ship WGN in Chicago.  Tribune owns 24 stations in 19markets.   Hubbard was in the news last year when they purchase 17 radio stations from Bonneville.  So….maybe, perhaps, possibly….We could see new owners of the video factory on West Lake.

As a sign of how newspapers are doing these days…The Times- Picayune, the daily newspaper in New Orleans just announced that it would cut publication to 3 days per week.   Hard to believe that a 175 year old paper would reach this day.   So far, the Tacoma News Tribune and Seattle Times (both having substantial common ownership) are still with us.   ..

I received an email from Charley Shaffer, K7NW, recently explaining how the original  studio and transmitter site for KJR was recently demolished to make room for a structure.   Charley explained – “As I’m sure you know, Vincent Kraft, amateur radio call sign 7AC, got an experimental license, 7XC, and started broadcasting music in 1919 from the garage behind his home at 6838 19th Ave. N.E. in Seattle.  I have driven by it several times over the years, knowing that it was a historical broadcast site.

 Of course, Kraft’s KJR was the RF ancestor of today’s KOMO 1000, and only the call sign ancestor of today’s KJR 950, due to the frequency swap Fisher did in 1944.

 Thanks Charlie – Betcha there are very few that would know about this – Thanks for sharing.

The 2012 NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference Proceedings are now available as a 500 + Page Book with a CD ROM or as a CD ROM only.    Find out more by going to  –

The FCC has issued an NAL against Pacific Empire Radio in Oregon with stations in La Grande, Baker City and Elgin.   According to the FCC each of the stations was missing issues and program lists from July 2008 to August 2011.    That will cost them 25 Grand. It could have been higher with 5 stations involved and the ‘going rate’ for public file violations running about 10K.    I found it interesting how few stations were actually represented at a recent Seattle SBE Meeting where we address Public Files.   Apparently everyone In our area is doing it right.

Mt Rushmore Broadcasting in Hot Springs S.D. has their own NAL to deal with.   $21,500 for not maintaining a management or staff presence at the stations main studio, failing to maintain a local phone number in its COL and failing to make the station available for inspection.

From time to time we hear stories about the Seattle area where the city, or area, is ranked nationally…Here are a couple of recent rankings –

Ø      Seattle drivers spent an average of 33 hours in slow traffic in 2011.   This is an improvement from the 44 hours we spent in 2010.   However….Seattle ranked #7 on the top 10 list of worst cities for driving.  The worst is a bit of a surprise – Honolulu. # 2 is as you would suspect – Los Angeles.

Ø      On the good side – Seattle is ranked #3 on the list of most peaceful cities.  #1 is Cambridge Mass. #10 is Portland, Oregon.

For more about how Seattle ranks – take a look at –

Mark Persons, writing in a recent issue of Radio World, asked the question – Where have all the Engineers gone?   I often wonder the same thing.   Looking around a chapter meeting there is a LOT of gray hair!   Knowing well that I’m on the short end of this life, I often wonder why no-one has inquired about taking my job when my time is done.   Has the lack of jobs scared away the younger folks that might consider broadcasting?   Let’s face it; the job market is very tight.   If you wanted a broadcast job in Seattle, you had better take a number and wait.  Perhaps it’s the level of pay, or the number of hours?   Perhaps it’s the fact that all the new guys are into IT?   Who wants to chain up a 4×4 and head up into the woods to repair something with thousands of volts inside when you can be in a warn, comfortable, office in town?  Who wants to take the time to learn electronics and the math that goes with it and have to read schematics anyway?   Then again, when we hang it up, it’s not our job to find a replacement is it?  That chore will fall on the poor manager that for years thought we did little and were overpaid.    Ahhh to be the fly on the wall.

That’s it for this month – I’m off June 1 thru 3 to the Oregon Coast for the annual Seaside Hamfest.   Nice to get together with another bunch of old folks.

See you at the next Chapter 16 meeting in Federal Way !!!

Clay, K7CR & CPBE

May 2012 Random Radio Thoughts

May 17, 2012

Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD, DRB Crawford Broadcasting Company

Uninintended Consequences

We’ve all been there. We’ve come up with a design, a scheme, a solution to a problem that we were certain would work great (and maybe it did)… but we later found out that some unintended, unforeseen consequence resulted from our actions. (This happens in Congress all the time.)

Back in the early 1980s (yes, I was working for this company way back then), I had given myself lots of grief at our Dallas transmitter site by neglecting to put the remote control in “remote” before leaving, inevitably resulting in a mad dash back to the site from my home 40 miles away at sundown. This happened enough times that I decided there must be a better way. So I came up with a simple, elegant plan: wire the normally-open remote contacts of the remote control unit in series with the burglar alarm door contacts. I would then be unable to set the alarm if the remote control was left in “local,” a sure-fire failsafe.

That worked great until the first thunderstorm came over. Lightning hit the tower, came into the transmitter through the transmission line and enough residual energy got over into the remote control to damage the burglar alarm. I don’t recall that the remote control or anything else was damaged, but I do recall getting the late night call from the alarm company and having to make a 40-mile dash to the site on rain-slick roads to make sure no one had broken in. When I saw what had happened, I realized that my great idea wasn’t so great after all.

Something of the same nature, something with unintended consequences, happened last month at KLTT in Denver.

The new Nautel NX50 transmitter is a wonderful piece of technology, and with its mappable inputs/outputs you can do all sorts of great things with it. To address the issue we have long had at that site with feeding too much power into a 7/8” transmission line during a lightning hit on the high-power tower, Nautel told us how to program the transmitter to select the 10 kW power level on the first VSWR event (usually produced by a guy snap when storms are moving into the area). That worked great. In mid-April, the storms moved in one afternoon and the transmitter switched to 10 kW long before the body of the storm eclipsed the site. Perfect!! Or maybe not.

That very night, another wave of storms came along, and when that first VSWR event occurred… you guessed it. The transmitter switched from 1.5 kW to 10 kW… or at least it tried to! It took about five seconds for the G2 capacitor in the shunt leg of the night common point network to short and take the transmitter off the air! Thankfully it didn’t spray its innards all over the inside of the phasor cabinet, a testament to how quickly the transmitter shut down when the cap shorted.

Amanda got the phasor fixed and the station back on the air right away, but we had to noodle over the situation to figure out how to fix it. As it turns out, there is a mostly-undocumented feature in the transmitter with which you can cap the power of the transmitter at different remotely-selectable levels. We set up two: 53,000 watts for daytime and 1,550 watts for nighttime. Once the night power level is remotely selected, if the VSWR event triggers selection of the 10 kW power level, that 1,550-watt limit stays in place (the nominal night antenna input power is 1,512 watts, so that’s still well below the 105% limit); the power never exceeds that value. Daytime, the power reduction works normally.

This was a good reminder for me that it’s wise to stop and think all the way through a thing before calling it good and walking away. There just might be an unintended consequence waiting to bite.

If you have news to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, drop me an email at


Page 15 of 15
1 13 14 15