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Random Radio Thoughts – July 2012

July 8, 2012
By

Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD, DRB Crawford Broadcasting Company

The FCC EAS CAP deadline is now in the rearview mirror.

It’s amazing to me as I read the trade press how many stations waited until the last minute to order CAP-compliant EAS equipment. Of course they are finding out that there is a backlog of orders and it may be several weeks until those units are shipped. I’ve read on various list servers advice on how to deal with FCC inspectors should they happen to come by before the CAP-compliant equipment arrives and is installed, measures such as keeping documentation of the equipment order at the control point. And not surprisingly I have read other reports that say the FCC won’t be giving any breaks in such cases, documentation or no. And who can blame them? We have had almost two full years to deal with this! My company had everything installed and working before the first deadline, and I know a lot of others took care of this months ago.

It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the Enforcement Bureau didn’t make an inspection sweep of stations this month or next to check for EAS CAP compliance. I remember past deadlines and the sweeps that followed those. In the summer of 1990, when the NRSC-2 standard became law, the FCC made a sweep looking for the required NRSC audio filters. I think it was 1996 when the Part 17 Antenna Structure Registration rules became law, and the FCC subsequently made a sweep of tower sites looking for the proper posting of ASR signage. And then again in 1997, when the EAS system replaced the EBS system, the FCC made a sweep looking for EAS equipment in stations. Since this seems to be a pattern, forewarned is forearmed; we should probably expect a visit in the coming months.

Despite having CAP-capable equipment installed since December of 2011, it was still a bit of a last-minute scramble for the stations in our company to get firmware updates installed and the units properly polling the IPAWS server. But it did work and we immediately began receiving daily weekly tests from that server (FEMA was sending “weekly” tests on a daily basis through the first week in July so that stations could confirm proper operation as they installed, updated and configured their equipment). It will be interesting to see what the routine is in terms of CAP tests going forward.

Wildfires

June was a very challenging month as we all, to one degree or another, dealt with record heat, wildfires and smoke/ash. Buckhorn Mountain was perhaps the broadcast site that was most affected. While the site itself was mostly untouched by fire, power to the site was lost early on in the High Park fire, and the generator either didn’t start or ran out of fuel, taking several stations, including KUNC, KJAC, KYEN, KGCO, KXGR and a couple of translators, off the air for the duration. Some stations scrambled to temporarily relocate to other sites, but others remained off the air until either power was restored or the generator came back on line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But just because the fire did not burn the building doesn’t mean there wasn’t fire damage at the site. There was evidently tremendous heat coming up the slope behind the building (west). That heat melted the KGCO Andrew Ku-band dish, melted the jackets on the L-band and control cables and melted the deicer control. Even the “Andrew Flash” decal was melted off the face of the dish. The EMF Broadcasting folks had to replace the dish and all to restore the satellite feed to the station.

Air conditioners were strained pretty hard from the 105-degree heat along the Front Range. Two of the units in our stations failed at various times and had to be serviced. The one unit that seemed to weather the heat the best was the new (last summer) BreezeAir high-tech evaporative cooler at KLZ. That unit was pumping ice-cold air into the building even on the hottest afternoons, and it’s no wonder… I saw the dew point on a couple of those days down in negative territory, -27 degrees F in one instance! There’s a lot to be said for evaporative cooling in our usually arid climate, but since most transmitter sites do not have water, it’s probably not an option except in a very few cases.

As things wind down with the big fires of June along the Front Range, we all need to recognize that the danger is far from over. The “dog days of summer” have yet to arrive, and once the monsoonal flow is gone, I suspect we’ll be back in the same situation – maybe worse if we get good rains in July and early August and the grass/brush grows up.

As I have visited our various sites in recent weeks, I have thought about how easy it would be for a fire to start and sweep through those sites. A passing train, for example, might easily spark a grass fire along the right of way out by Barr Lake and the westerly winds would drive that fire right through the KLTT antenna site. The fences and exposed parts of the electrical, control, transmission and sample lines to the towers would be vulnerable to fire/heat damage. I suspect the same is true at many other sites, AM and FM, in the area.

All of that points to the need to take extraordinary brush clearance measures this summer. Keep the grass and weeds cut all the way to the ground with a good-sized buffer zone around tower base fences, doghouses, ATUs, transmitter buildings, generators and generator fuel tanks. Think about what would happen if a fire were to come through. If there is very little standing fuel available, your chances of escaping damage are good.

During the Catalina Island fire of 2007, the blaze swept through our transmitter site but didn’t damage anything at all with the exception of a single fence post. The fire went through the site in about five minutes but found no standing fuels because our chief engineer had maintained his clearances around the towers and any flammable structures or improvements. The one fence post that we did lose was the victim of an airborne ember that landed on top of the post many hours after the fire passed the site. It smoldered for a couple of days without anyone noticing before it finally burst into flame.

Let’s all hope that the second half of the summer (and the second half of the Rockies’ season!!) is better than the first!

If you have news to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, drop me an email at crisa@crawfordbroadcasting.com.

The KE0VH Hamshack for July 2012

July 8, 2012
By
Jack Roland KEØVH@q.com

Jack Roland KEØVH@q.com

The latter part of May and all of June have been very busy months for me, so that is why I didn’t post an article last month.  As of this writing I will be on the NEW job as the Denver based Colorado Engineer for the KLOVE facilities here.  I am very sorry to be leaving my wonderful boss and crew in Colorado Springs at the Salem Communications facilities there, but God has called me on to new things in a very amazing and I still can’t quite believe it way.  I will now be covering all of Colorado and some of Nebraska, Wyoming, and New Mexico looking after the EMF/Klove transmitters and facilities.  I am very excited and looking forward to many new explorations and adventures!  And I will have the Icom 706MK2G installed in the new company truck totally ready for some hamming on the road too!

The KLOVE NOC in Rocklin California, looking after 700 or so sites across the entire country!

Many have contacted me over the first part of July of course about the Waldo Canyon fire in the Colorado Springs area and have been concerned for the many who have lost homes on the NW side of the city, plus asking about how my Salem facilities were effected.  There was no problem for our stations there, as we are located just to the EAST of I-25, on the north side of Woodmen Drive there.  BUT, the evacuations all happened just on the west side of I-25.  Here is a map of the main fire boundaries during the evening of Tuesday, June 26th when it was just obliterating neighborhoods on the west side.

                                                 

I took this picture of KMGH-7 off our TV during this evening.   Also, a video was put together from a vantage point NE of Colorado Springs showing a time lapse over several days of the fire.  It is absolutely fascinating but really frightening at the same time.  Fortunately as of this writing the fire is contained and no one else is in danger, but as the news has pointed out, “Colorado is burning”, with many fires statewide.  We are most definitely praying for rain!

See the video at : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBA7eHY022k

The High Park fire west of Fort Collins was still burning at the same time.  One of the Klove facilities are located on top in the old ATT bunker building meant to survive even a bomb blast if needed back in the Cold War days.  But the fire burnt up and over the mountain, with many of the facilities there off air for several days until it cooled down enough for people to get up safely.  My co-worker Butch, Alan from EMF/Klove in Rocklin, and the new Denver area tech Patrick went up to check the Klove transmitter there, and while there was no trouble with the transmitter, the satellite dish behind the building indeed suffered some heat damage, take a look at what the heat did to the coax feeding the LNB there.

You can see how the outer jacket of the coax melted down in a curve off the cable.  Amazing picture!

Don’t forget our SBE hamnet is happening still the 1st Saturday of the month as always.  Details on how to join us are at www.qsl.net/ke0vh/SBEhamnet.

More to come next month!

73’ de KE0VH

Clay’s Corner for July 2012

July 8, 2012
By

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

Met Park Sells    The Metropolitan Park buildings have sold (again) for $210 Megabucks to Brookfield Office Properties of New York.    Met Park West houses Entercom’s radio operations.   The Seattle times called the buildings ‘Twin Toasters’….hmmm sounds like a name change to me, I always called them, especially the West Tower, the ‘Spam Can’.   Then there is the Amazon where they are going to build some 3.3 million square feet of office space in a series of new 38 story buildings not far away.   At least they are thinking of a good name …..Rufus 2.0.  Reportedly the name of a Corgi that used to come to work with an employee..  Gotta love Seattle.

Not often I write about any programming….However, I must mention how much I am going to miss Car-Talk.   The news that the ‘brothers’ are going to hang it up is a bit hard to take.   C.T. is heard locally on KUOW, KPLU and the stations of NWPR.     They plan on airing re-runs, so at least we will still be able to get our dose of weekend yucks.

In previous columns I have written about how the Seattle area ranks in various categories…Tyrone Beason wrote in the June 3rd issue of The Seattle Times magazine how one way to look at things is the number of patents issued to people and companies in a region.   Interestingly, Seattle ranks #2, second only to the Bay Area in this category…Pretty impressive when you consider the population in that region of California is twice that of Seattle.  Adding to that stat. is the growth rate of new patents by area.   Between 2006 and 2010 the number of patents issues in the Bay Area increased by 26% while that category grew by 79% here.    What does all that prove?  Perhaps it has something to do with our climate?…Plenty of indoor time to think and create? ….Or perhaps the per capita consumption of coffee?  Or (long shot here) the quality of our local Radio and TV programming?    Nice thought – now go out and invent something and patent it!

Quoting Richard Johnson –  Sometimes I don’t get it right because I have been taught wrong.

We all understand the competitive situation between commercial broadcasters, however not much is written about how this situation is alive and well in the non-commercial world…

On the TV side,  KBTC, operating out of the former KSTW facility in Tacoma, not only operates KBTC from the former KCPQ (KTVW) Site in the north end of Tacoma (RF Channel 28) but they also operate from the KZJO Tower on Capitol Hill, which just happens to be across the street from KCTS.   Bates Technical College, in addition to KBTC, operates KCKA

Some of our areas NCE Radio Stations often carry similar programming, for example –KUOW from the KCTS tower on Capitol Hill, KVTI from Lakewood (SW of Tacoma) and KPLU from West Tiger Mt

‘Oddio’  – A term used to describe the electrical characteristics of strange and unusual sounds.

One of the two major cable companies in lower BC have stopped carrying FM Radio stations.    In this case, a few Seattle stations are no longer available, via cable, in these areas.  This usually generates complaints from listeners to these stations asking that they do something.   Likely the reason that Cable has, over the years, been dropping carriage of radio stations is that there is little incentive for them to do so.  Radio stations don’t pay cable systems for carriage, and cable companies don’t charge their subscribers for doing so.   Radio stations on cable will likely be another item added to the dust pile of history.

Fisher has been granted a minor change for their KPLZ-FM (101.5).  From the looks of the FCC data, they are going to move their operation back to their own tower on Cougar and away from the Ratelco combiner and master antenna.  Rumor also has it that Fisher is about the pull the trigger on their option to purchase what is known as KOMO-FM operating from South Mountain on 97.7.   In a related move, the Tukwila/South Center area is now served with an on-channel booster on 97.7.   How it gets there is interesting.  97.7 is received in Auburn and re-transmitted on 93.7 to the booster in Tukwila.    Interesting to put your radio in scan and have it stop on 93.7 and the RDS display KOMO-FM.   A good deal of the work to make this happen can be credited to Jim Dalke.

Tim Schall recently posted this comment on the SBE-16 Remailer –

Got a kick out the piece of junk mail from ‘Spotify’ (An internet provider of music programming….) today that said, “Have you heard?  Free mobile radio has arrived!”  I thought, “Wow, really?  I’m supposed to be paying someone for that AM/FM thing in my dash?”

This is right in there with those that are amazed to find out that milk comes from a cow or that you can get – free- TV through the use of an ancient device known as an antenna.

The FCC has been sent back to the drawing board when it comes to Indecency by a recent Supreme Court ruling.    Apparently the airing of visual or verbal ‘malfunctions’ are now OK.   Just don’t stage them.   How this will turn out will be anyone’s guess.

I have to admit that after 25, or so, years of writing the column I have become increasingly interested in our language and, occasionally, will be compelled to write about it.   A few years ago I wrote about the ‘F’ and ‘PH’ situation.    Recently I have been pondering the L – As in what the L.     Let me explain.

Who in the world determined that we should have the letter L in a world and not pronounce it?  Here are some examples

Why is it HALF and not HAFF?

Why is it SALVE and not SAVVE (As in Savvy)

Why is it HALVES and not HAVZ?

Or CALVES and not CAVZ

Of course there is SALMON…Pronounced SAMON (Unless you are from the South)

HD Radio continues to gain with HD Radio coming standard on 14 new models from nine different makes of vehicles and optional on many more.  The totals are more impressive with now 28 car-makers offering HD in 140 models.    This should take the wind out of the sails of those broadcasters that have been holding back awaiting the day when there receivers out there.   Granted, it will take some time for these new vehicles to take the place of the millions that are stuck with analog equipment.   To be honest, I am somewhat caught in the middle with an HD radio in my Truck and an analog in my car.   When driving the truck I sure don’t miss the multipath and distortion.

Another positive move for the digital radio system is the announcement this past month that HD Radio is on the air in the Dominican Republic.  Interesting that some stations are going on the air, immediately, with HD2 and HD3 programming.

The FCC is going after a couple of broadcasters for tower light infractions….

WNLA, an AM in Miss. is on the hook for about 14 Grand.   Apparently last November they were inspected and, among other issues, the tower lights were not functioning.   The folks at the studio were very helpful and explained to the inspector that they knew about the outage.  Then there is the case of 3 towers in San Souci, S.C.  In this case the station said they knew their tower lights were not working and submitted the reason was ‘negligible gross revenues’ , i.e., they claimed they could not afford the repairs.  Reportedly they will be paying $1000 on top of the cost of getting those lights back on.

The FCC has proposed a 15 Grand fine for the operator of a pirate radio station in Miami.   Like a lot of these un-licensed stations they don’t try and hide their operation and operate Web Sites to promote their stations.   89.1 is now silent.

It’s congratulations time as the winners of the 2012 National Edward R Murrow awards were announced…

On the national level/networks –

Overall Excellence, TV – NBC News ….Radio – CBS Radio News

Here’s a look at how local facilities performed –

Video Continuing Coverage – KING-TV – Seattle

Video News Documentary –   KING-TV – Seattle

Website – mynorthwest.com – KIRO- Radio- Seattle

The FCC has announced the end of analog milestone with the announcement that cable systems no longer have to carry stations in digital and analog, however, if this could be revisited if there is a public outcry.   The impact of this decision will be interesting to watch as many subscribers have a mixture of types of cable boxes.

The effort by the FCC to put their public files on-line is being supported by many broadcast groups, including some that operate stations in Seattle like Cox and Belo.  If you recall we had a Chapter 16 program last year on this topic.    It appears likely that radio will follow in the future.

I spoke with Nick Winter recently and am happy to report that he is doing well recovering from his recent stroke and hopes to be back to work at KPLU in the next couple of weeks.

Copper theft continues to plague many.   Occasionally the thief appears to playing with less than a full-deck as demonstrated by the following picture.   In this case a County deputy thought this was slightly out of the ordinary.  When the deputy attempted to find out more, the occupants drove into a golf course and ran off.   They found two smaller spools inside.   The value of the wire was $4700.   Somehow they used a forklift to put the pallet and spool on top of the car causing it to be very dented in.     Reminds me of a theft a few years ago from a facility where I worked.    In this case the thieves managed to make off with a large spool of large Heliax.   In this instance, they used a power saw, cutting into the spooled cable cutting it into about 8 foot lengths.   They then tossed the chunks of cable thru a broken window into the back of a van and drove off.    They were caught.

 

Looks like the car was ‘Top-Loaded’

On the subject of copper, and such….

ERI, Electronics Research, has announced a new line of un-flanged transmission line components featuring aluminum outer conductors and coppery inners.   They claim lower cost and lighter weight.  Certainly a side benefit will be less attractive to copper thieves.

Warehousing spectrum???   I’m shocked that anyone would think this would happen.  Apparently AT&T is not to secret with their feelings on the subject with the release of a recommendation to the FCC that spectrum holders should make use of the spectrum they have, within a specific time period and if they don’t team up with a partner to use it or sell it.

Yah, I know we have been hearing it for a long time ….Word continues to circulate that Tribune is about to exit bankruptcy.    WGN in Chicago has been in this mode for 3.5 years.    Tribune owns KCPQ and KZJO here in Seattle.

Broadcasters continue to find ways to save money via staff reductions.   So was the case recently in Yakima where TownSquare Media eliminated the position held by Chris Duncan who has been the clusters Chief Engineer.   Chis told me he was going to be heading back home to Arkansas.

The FCC has granted a construction permit to BBC Broadcasting to change their city of license to Pt. Roberts and operate on 1550 with 50Kw full-time.    For those of you that are not familiar with Pt. Roberts, take a look at a map of the US/Canadian border just south of Vancouver.    This little chunk of US real estate is not connected to the US mainland.  To get there you have to drive in and out of Canada.  This may become the first US licensed station to get its power from another country.

This gem comes from Entercom Chief, Dwight Small –

“Don’t you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There’s one marked ‘Brightness,’ but it doesn’t work.” – Gallagher

Ludwig Enterprises has secured a patent and has chosen LG to building a satellite receiver for a planned network that is reported to be used to target ethnic and senior groups that the firm feels are presently being underserved.    If this is the case, wonder why we don’t have an HD Format targeting these groups?

Finally, I will leave you with the following –

I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

I’ve also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I’m not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.

I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older.

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!

I may have been in Continent, but I don’t remember what country that was in. It’s an age thing.

Life is too short for negative drama & petty things. So laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly!
I hope everyone in your head is happy – we’re all doing well in mine!

Enjoy summer – Remember that fall is not very far behind –

Till next month –

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

Random Radio Thoughts for June 2012

June 24, 2012
By

Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD, DRB Crawford Broadcasting Company

Here Comes Summer!

Maybe it’s a product of how busy I have been of late, but wow, summer sure got here fast! It’s amazing how quickly time goes by when there are deadlines to meet and other time pressures.

 With the warm weather months upon us, we also have all the usual site maintenance issues to deal with. Formerly barren ground quickly turns to a jungle of weeds with the least amount of rain. Miller moths multiply at an exponential rate and get through the tiniest openings to lose their lives in high-voltage arcs within our transmitters. And the cooling season also begins, along with all the maintenance and repairs that such calls for (including occasionally unclogging condensate drains of all those dead miller moths!).

As licensee of four local AM stations, we have a lot of Colorado real estate to maintain, and this time of year that means mowing, and lots of it. Several years ago we purchased a 1970s-vintage Massey-Ferguson 180 tractor, brush hog and several other blades and implements to assist us in keeping up with all the work. We had previously contracted out everything, but when you’re talking about over 100 acres to mow several times during the growing season, you’re looking at some serious money. It made financial sense for us to purchase the equipment and have our local engineering crew take care of the mowing chores.

That has worked out pretty well so far. We have had our share of maintenance issues with that old tractor, but all in all we are ahead of the game financially. We have also been able to stay out of dutch with the Weld County authorities. Those folks, with a lot of South Platte River frontage in their county, take an aggressive stance on any Canada thistle growth anywhere near the river or any drainage leading to the river.

So if you’re out and about and see a big red tractor operating in one of our antenna fields, that’s no landscape maintenance contractor driving it… it’s either Amanda or Keith. Honk and wave as you drive by!

What’s That Rule Again?

Over the past few years, I have run into one issue several times with FCC Enforcement Bureau (EB) personnel. This has never occurred in Colorado – our local EB folks are first-rate and they really know their stuff. But that is not the case in every district.

The specific issue that I always seem to run into concerns the posting of antenna structure registration numbers (ASRNs) at tower sites. The rule, 47 C.F.R. §17.4(g), states: “Except as described in paragraph (h) of this section, the Antenna Structure Registration Number must be displayed in a conspicuous place so that it is readily visible near the base of the antenna structure. Materials used to display the Antenna Structure Registration Number must be weather-resistant and of sufficient size to be easily seen at the base of the antenna structure.”

For the umpteenth time, one of our outlying stations got a Notice of Violation (NOV) that stated: “The antenna structures are surrounded by a perimeter property fence. The Antenna Structure Registration numbers were not posted at the gate of the perimeter property fence, and any signs posted at the base of the antenna were not visible from the gate.”

The NOV clearly called this a “violation” and required a response and remedial action. The problem for the EB folks is that posting additional signage at the property gate, or even insuring that the signs at the tower bases are readable from the perimeter gate, is not required by any rule!

While I certainly would not argue that having ASRNs posted at the perimeter fence is a good idea, it is not required and it really amounts to a needless expense for already cash-strapped broadcasters.

In every case where I have had to answer one of these NOVs to date, I have respectfully replied that I completely concur with the agent’s observations, which themselves bear out that the facility is in full compliance with 17.4(g), and in every case to date, I have not heard another word.

So where does this come from, this calling a non-violation a violation? It’s hard to say without some insider knowledge, but I suspect that the requirement for perimeter signage is contained in some policy or guide book that is used by EB personnel in the field. But policy and guidelines are not law.

Interestingly, Denver EB personnel contacted me in recent years about a tower light that was not flashing properly that they had observed on a drive-by of one of our local sites. In that contact, the agent gave me the ASRN of the tower. It wasn’t posted at the gate or anywhere except the tower base as required, and no mention was made of the need to do so. As I mentioned above, the local EB folks really seem to know their stuff.

Whatever the case, I guess we can all consider this a word to the wise. If the budget will stand it, posting your ASRNs at the entry gate to the property as well as at the tower bases is probably a good way to avoid the issue altogether.

If you have news to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, drop me an email at crisa@crawfordbroadcasting.com.

 

Clay’s Corner for June 2012

June 24, 2012
By

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  – www.nabstore.com

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 – http://www.bestplaces.net/rankings/city/washington/seattle

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

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