Clay’s Corner for July 2012

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

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

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

May 2012 Random Radio Thoughts

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 crisa@crawfordbroadcasting.com.

 

The KEØVH Hamshack for May 2012

Jack Roland KEØVH@q.com

Jack Roland KEØVH@q.com

My son Doran passes and gets his Technician Class License!

He took the test with the CCYARC group here in Denver and passed on Saturday March 24th!  Needless to say I am a proud Dad!  He is now KDØRNO, and hopefully will be heard on the 145.34 and 449.450 machines here in Denver!  It is our intention to start a net for kids his age discussing video games and computer subjects, which as just about with any teen-ager these days, is a big interest.

My son Doran passes and gets his Technician Class License!

Stay tuned for more information on that!  Doran is now the 3rd out of 8 of our kids to obtain a ham license!  William is KCØYPJ, and Emily is KCØYYG!  He has a brand new Wouxon handheld for everyday use, and next home school year will probably go for his General.

The Yaesu FT757GX2 is back in the shack, and better, stronger, faster than ever before.  It actually is working even better than before I messed it up L trying to do a re-alignment and shorted out a 2 transistors on the RF board.  My friend Ray, AAØL went thru it and during the course of the repair, I was doing research on certain issues it was having with shifting IF frequencies and audio on the mic.  I found a webpage describing issues inherent to the 757GX2 with capacitors in the oscillators.  Ray went ahead and replaced those, replaced the shorted transistors (these were voltage positive on the cans and essentially shorted to ground, causing the RF output problem).   The radio is now as sensitive as my “new to me” Icom 706 MK2G that I just obtained. The 706 will be my 6 meter rig of course, and I will be able to try some satellite modes and 2m/432 SSB I have always wanted to try!  Plus it will backup and augment the 757GX2 on HF, and will be run by Ham Radio Deluxe.

The NEW KEØVH QSL card is finalized and by the time you read this ready to go out to contacts around the world!

The New KEØVH QSL

 

For years I have wanted to really design my own card and use for contact confirmations.  The “Spirit of Colorado” was a TV show produced locally at KRMA TV by a good friend of mine, and one day when visiting him I saw a stack of post cards on his desk and thought, man these would make great QSL’s.  Since my family and I watched the show, he gave me a stack and for years I would write my call sign with a Sharpie pen on them and send them out.  And then, looking for someone to print my QSL’s with my picture and call sign, I ran across the KB3IFH QSL website of Randy, KB3IFH.  Check out his site (http://kb3ifh.homestead.com/index.html) Randy does outstanding work and the prices are not only competitive but even better than the others I was looking at. There are quite a few pages of excellent reviews for his service at: http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/7757?page=1.   He does custom backs as well, was able to include the SBE logo for me, and gives his cell phone number, was great about answering all of my questions, provides a proof for you to approve, and a number of other services that really make his service stand out.

 

I have also finally become a user of the LOTW, Logbook of the World from the ARRL.  Kenny, K4KR, was instrumental in helping me set this up, so if I can be of any service in helping someone, I would be glad too.  The initial setup can be cumbersome and confusing, certainly was for me.

 

And speaking (typing) of Kenny, he also was able to make contact with GB100WSL, one of the special event stations commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic back in April!  And, he actually managed to get it on YouTube video with the help of a photographer friend, during the contact.  Since I didn’t even hear the station from Britain at all, I am slightly envious!  GREAT JOB K4KR!

K4KR contacting GB100WSL

See the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3QUBzfLhog&feature=youtube_gdata_player

The QSL Card Kenny will be getting.

The QSL Card Kenny will be getting.

 

Did you know that the Apollo 11 TV camera on the moon was a SSTV camera, with a resolution of 10 frames per second with 320 lines?  Sound familiar?  Check out the article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11_missing_tapes.  It is my intention to devote a major part of an upcoming monthly article to “The Voice of Apollo” soon.  And YES, there were hams involved in the creation and building of the communications systems used by NASA during the Apollo era.  Fascinating stuff!

Don’t forget the SBE IRLP/ECHOLINK Hamnet, the 1st Saturday of the month.  (We have dropped the Tuesday night net)  Details on how to join us are at http://www.qsl.net/ke0vh/sbehamnet.  Also, one of our friends of the net, Bruce, WA2ZST, runs the Hams in broadcasting net on the 9615 IRLP reflector also available via Echolink.  Bruce hosts the net live from CBS Television central in Manhattan every Sunday night at 9pm Eastern, 6p Pacific.

73’
KE0VH
www.qsl.net/ke0vh

Clay’s Corner for May 2012

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

Well the FCC came out with their latest rules for EAS, including a prohibition on what we have been doing here in Washington State since October of 2010….That is using a technique called Text to Speech, often called TTS.   Needless to say this did not sit well with many that have been involved with our EAS program on the SECC and various LECC’s around the State.    The good news is that there were others around the country that were in agreement and whom asked the FCC to re-consider their decision.….including FEMA that pointed out that TTS was a major component of upgrades to the EAS.    This resulted in something that I don’t recall seeing in my 50 years in this business, the FCC reversed themselves and suddenly TTS was (again) OK to use.

For those of you that have not followed this matter…Here’s a bit of history.   The Washington State EAS system, has relied on a system whereby the State EOC, or various county and city EOC’s or 911 centers could initiate an EAS message for the entire state or one of the local EAS areas by using the same type of equipment that’s required to be installed in broadcast stations.  This process would include having emergency personnel record the voice portion of the message.   This message (voiced message along with digital ‘Header Codes’) were transmitted to broadcast and cables systems using various analog distribution systems.   The result was often audio quality that was significantly below broadcast standards.   The solution to this problem became apparent with testing of a new system called the Common Alerting Protocol whereby emergency messages were typed into a computer and that message was ‘read’ by a text-reader at the broadcast or cable system. (A similar system has been in use for several years at the National Weather Service)  This completely eliminated the noisy, off mic, voice messages.   In October of 2010 the State of Washington deployed a number of EAS endecs around the state all connected to a central server hosted by MyStateUSA. (Often called a CAP Server)  The new system, dubbed – WaCAP was well received by the emergency management community as well as broadcast and cable systems.   As time went by, an ever increasing number of CAP-capable endecs were installed to the point that, as of this writing, about half of the stations in the State are now connected.    The bump in the road was the FCC announcing that TTS would not be permitted.   Now, thankfully, that bump has been removed and the State of Washington can continue to move forward with the on-going process of improving its EAS system.

The end of June another milestone will be the requirement that all broadcast and cable systems have installed a CAP capable EAS device.    With this will come a 2nd CAP-server that everyone will be monitoring, this one, hosted by the ‘Feds’.   When this process is completed, all broadcast stations and cable systems will be capable of receiving digital CAP messages and forwarding them to the public.    For Radio, and the aural portion of TV, this will mean a much improved audio message.   For TV and Cable this will mean that the EAS Crawl will, for the first time, contain the same text as in the aural message.   A huge improvement from where we started 15 years ago.

The EAS is far from stagnant, in fact, it’s an evolving system whose participation is required by the FCC and one that is that is largely administrated by those that volunteer to participate in the State EAS steering committee (SECC) as well as local committees called LECC’s.   As you know I have been involved with this since the start of EAS back in 1996.   This task is quite rewarding.   To be quite candid, we could use your help.   If you would like to ‘Give-Back’ by helping with the EAS here in our State, please let us know.   The more that participate, the less work there is for any one person to do and it gives you an opportunity to have direct involvement on what happens next.

Now that the snow has finally melted away from the West Tiger road, several projects are underway.    1> Replacing a number of culverts.    Doing this requires shutting down the access road to all the radio and TV operations on the site.    This has caused everyone to schedule all equipment failures to take place at times when the road is passible.  (Like that’s going to work).  2> Installing a new, and much larger, diesel tank at the ‘Summit Site’ (formally the Entercom Site).   This will provide two and one-half times more diesel on site and much longer run times before re-fueling.   3> The power line supplying power to the Summit Site, installed back in 1987 is being replaced with an intertie to the PSE system installed for the ATC site when that was built.   This is just in time as the old line has become a liability due to it being exposed due to erosion.

Sign at the entrance to the West Tiger Mountain access road –

Welcome back to the area Dave Ratener.    Dave has been hired to be the new CE at the Sandusky Radio cluster based in Bellevue.    For the past several years Dave was has been working in Spokane.

In one of our past Chapter Meetings we discussed the, all important, Public File.  In that meeting the move to have TV station put their Public Files on-line was discussed.   Well, it’s happening…The FCC just approved rules that will require TV’s to provide info on line about political ads they carry.  This new method will be phased in, starting with the Top 50 markets.  Whereas Seattle is #13 – here we go.   Word is, in time, the Commish will require more Pub-File info be placed on-line at not only TV but radio stations as well.  As is the case with other FCC required changes, the broadcaster will be asked to foot the bill.  Look for some broadcasters to fight back on this one as they feel singled out.

At the recent Broadcast Engineer Conference at NAB, SBE President John Poray gave a presentation highlighting the shortage of broadcast engineers.  In his presentation, John mentioned several causes.   1) Retirement, 2) The economy, 3) Shifting importance to computers and related technologies.

In the 50 years I have been working in this market I’ve seen a number of additions to John’s list-

1>     Consolidation – It’s no longer one set of call letters per company.  Radio and TV stations now often have more than one ‘station’ under one roof, with that comes economy of scale (translation, we don’t need as many engineers anymore)

2>     Equipment reliability – Back when, everything was full of vacuum tubes and reliability of equipment was a fraction of what it is now.

3>     Money – Many of my former co-workers left this industry moving to other fields that paid better, in some cases, much better.’

4>     Working conditions – In all too many cases, broadcast engineers are expected to do more with less, work longer hours, work on dangerous equipment alone etc. and do so for, in some cases, less money.

5>     Respect – In some instances, Engineers are thought of as an ‘expense’, i.e., they don’t create revenue etc. Remarkable how other employers don’t require their technical employees to change light bulbs or do plumbing!

6>     Contracting – In days past, all stations….Even small radio operations, had a full-time engineer.   For reasons already stated, stations have been quick to get rid of their full time engineer in favor of a contractor that they can call when needed, just as they do with their copy or coffee machine.

7>     IT – With computer based equipment taking over the conventional analog chores, stations have hired ‘IT personnel’ and have, in many cases, not fully integrated these people into the engineering department, resulting in less engineers, perhaps not less people.  (Shame on us)

These are my thoughts, what are yours?

Will July 9th be ‘Internet Doomsday’?   Some are saying that the DNSChanger Malware may impact many.   I don’t know if this is all true or not…Apparently the FBI is involved.

The SBE is again pushing the FCC to get more technical minds on board at the Commish.   This time the Society is asking for letters be written to Members U.S. Representatives to support HR 2102.  The goal is to reduce time-consuming and sometimes costly FCC errors.   I’m shocked, how could a political appointee make a mistake dealing with a technical issue?

Do you feel the peace?    You should, The Institute for Economics and Peace recently ranked the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area #3 …Tacoma came in #4.   Most peaceful place?   Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Mass.   Washington State is ranked the 7th most peaceful state.

Received the sad news that Steve Mendelsohn has entered hospice for pancreatic cancer.   You may not know Steve, so some background would be helpful.   He has been involved with ABC in New York for many years where he also served a Game Day Coordinator for the NFL.  Steve was very active with Amateur Radio and the ARRL where he served in various positions with that organization.   My path crossed his when we were both on the VHF Repeater Advisory Committee back in the 70’s….and several times at NAB.    A giant in our industry.   Our prayers are with you my friend.

Nick Winter and Lowell Kiesow, recently completed the upgrade of the KPLU computer based delivery system.   Lowell pointed out that they went from a 1996 Win 98 system to one running Win7.

Understand that attendance at this years NAB show in Las Vegas was just a bit over 92,000.  At the show, Radio World presents it’s ‘Cool Stuff’ awards.   Could not help but notice that the Broadcast Tools Audio Sentinel was named.    Broadcast Tools products are made in Sedro Woolley under the leadership of former Seattle Chief Engineer, Don Winget.

The world of copper theft continues.   One of the most egregious acts impacted KIMT-TV where reportedly damage ran half a million dollars.  In this case the thieves made off with 700 feet of transmission line. The good news is that they were caught.    I can’t help but wonder when the time will come that we will hear of a broadcaster getting hit by someone wanting to cash-in on the copper from a station in this area.

From time to time you find a You-Tube link that creates a good deal of attention.   This one is one of the best.    http://youtu.be/neHreW-PNtw     After looking at this tell me you don’t have the temptation to have one of these in your ‘Ham Shack’ or perhaps in the engineering department at the station?

HD Radio took another technical step forward with the announcement of a new low-power, low-cost, HD Chipset.   The proponents say this will help with getting HD Radio into portable devices such as cellphones etc.   To give you an idea of how far we’ve come – check out this item on You Tube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJZi-gYQN4A

WTOP-FM in Washington DC continues to lead in terms of billing.   The station reportedly billed $65 Million in 2011; this is up from $57M in 2010.    That’s $5.416 Million per month.   A pretty cool number for a radio station I’d say.

In my April column in mentioned the effort of Frank Foti of Telos-Omnia to promote changing the FM stereo subcarrier to SSB.    Jon LeBlanc emailed me with the following item.

http://ham-radio.com/k6sti/ssb.htm    I understand that Mr. Foti did a presentation at NAB this past month.    I expect that we will be hearing more about this item.

Congratulations to the following local stations for being 2012 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award winners in Radio– KOMO-AM, KIRO-FM, KPLU-FM….and in TV – KING-TV,  KIRO-TV,  KOMO-TV/   In Spokane, KREM-TV , KXLY-TV and KHQ-TV were winners as well.

The FCC has issued radio station totals in the U.S. as of March 31 –

Ø      Full power radio stations – 15, 029

Ø      FM Stations – 6,555

Ø      AM Stations – 4,762

Ø      Non-Com FM’s – 3,712

Ø      FM Translators and Boosters – 6,097

Look for big changes in the last category as the FCC starts processing applications for translators that have been frozen since 2003 as well as an expect flood of app’s for new Low Power FM’s.

A Federal Appeals Court has determined that the FCC cannot prohibit political ads on public TV and radio stations.   The question is now….Will we see/hear them on these stations?    NWPR, operated by WSU, has said it will not.   One thing is for sure, we will all be hearing plenty of political ads as we swing into another election cycle..

Sony has been losing money and has determined the route back to profitability will mean concentrating on mobile devices, digital imaging and games and less on making TV sets.

Ken Broeffle, local Seattle broadcast engineer, reminds us that not all ‘broadcasting’ is over the air.    Take a look –

http://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/104741/seattle-s-all-star-crew-launches-jet-city-stream?ref=search

Perhaps a sign of times and the fact that electronic equipment is getting smaller and smaller to the point that Mid-Atlantic and Extron Electronics are proposing a new standard that’s half a rack wide, in other words, 10 5/8 wide instead of the standard 19 inches.  My thoughts flashed back to the days of vacuum tube based equipment that would often require two men to remove from a rack.   Perhaps we will see the day when you will have to specify half or full rack.   This might be a tough sell.   First market will likely be audio-visual type equipment.

Some musicians and audiophiles are hanging on to the sound produced by tube-type equipment I recently ran across this item that gives the movement a cute visual –

One could quote Darwin here –

“It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”-

With permission to share from my boss at WSU, Don Peters –

Peters’ Principles

1.        If it’s not broken don’t fix it.

2.       Don’t attempt major changes on a Friday unless it’s an emergency.

3.       Always inform master control before doing work that could or will take a station off the air.

4.       Always check with master control before you leave the site to insure proper operation.

5.       Take a picture BEFORE you disconnect.  It helps to put it back correctly.

6.       Work from a check list (pre flight) before departing for a work site.

7.       Measure twice, cut once.

8.       Pick up your tools when you are finished.

9.       Report results both good and bad.

10.   Most important—Work safely—fall protection, weather issues, high voltage, etc.

Don’s Corollary:  It’s always the last thing you try that fixes the problem.

That’s it for this month –

Catch you next month in most of this same location

 

Clay Freinwald, K7CR, CPBE

February 2012 Meeting Report

SBE Chapter 48/SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section Annual Banquet

Date: Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Time: 6:00 PM No Host Cash Bar, 7:00 PM Dinner, Reservations RequiredCost is $35 per person
Location: Lakewood Country Club, 6800 West 10th Avenue, Lakewood, CO 80214
Honorees: Denver Office of the Federal Communications Commission

At this year’s award dinner we recognized the staff of the local FCC office for their technical competence and professionalism and their recent collaborations with the Front Range broadcast community during such events as the 2008 DNC and the 2010 analog TV shutdown.  For all their efforts, we thank them.


Speaker:
Our special guest and speaker for this evening was former NBC cameraman Jeff Scarborough who was on duty in New York City on September 11, 2001. He related a very moving story of his participation in the coverage of the horrendous events of that day.  Jeff first described having been on the scene of the earlier bombing in the garage of the World Trade center 8 years previously and having witnessed the damage from that.  Then he went on to tell the story of being one of the first TV Cameramen on the scene after the first plane had struck the tower, the horrors that ensued and how close a call it was getting through the ordeal.  Jeff was brought to us by Rome Chelsi who had noted this extraordinary story in a local Evergreen magazine – you can download the pdf and read the full story in the original article here.

 

An additional announcement was made at this event, the retirement of our long standing colleague Dave Layne.  Dave’s impressive list of accomplishments and long tenure as Channel 4’s chief engineer were noted and he said a few words to the room, mentioning that he will be moving on to participate in his church full time.

 

Dinner:
This year our venue changed to Lakewood Country Club from Green Gables Country Club where we had been holding this annual event for quite some time due to it having been sold for development.  The new location worked as well or better and we were treated to a choice of entrée: Chicken Oscar, Macadamia Salmon or London Broil. All entrées included salad, Chef’s choice of potatoes, pasta or rice, fresh market vegetables, petit pans, rustic bread and butter, and fresh brewed coffee, decaffeinated coffee, or tea.  The dessert of New York Cheesecake with fresh strawberries was highly praised; the comment “as good as Lindy’s” was overheard.

Random Radio Thoughts for March

Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD, DRB Crawford Broadcasting Company

More MDCL in Colorado (and elsewhere)

Now that we’ve had a couple of months to evaluate the Modulation Dependent Carrier Level (MDCL) operation on KLTT, I am prepared to call it an unqualified success.

From last month’s newsletter you may recall that we activated MDCL on the new KLTT Nautel NX50 transmitter in early January, shortly after we installed it. Reviewing our usage, we noted a 21% reduction in the number of kilowatt-hours, mirroring the power savings we noted on our central California station, KCBC. That is encouraging, and that consistency further cements the value of MDCL operation.

Both those stations are running the AMC algorithm, which reduces the carrier during periods of high modulation, restoring it when things get quiet. The sideband power remains unchanged. This reduces the overall peak envelope power of the transmitter, but it very effectively masks the reduced signal-to-noise ratio that any MDCL operation produces.

I have, since we turned MDCL on, made several trips to the edge of the KLTT coverage area and critically listened to the station. I couldn’t tell any difference. Up in Grand County, KLTT is usually listenable with something close to 0.5 mV/m. On my January and February trips to the Grand Lake area, I had good analog and digital coverage. We have made similar observations in the San Francisco area on KCBC.

Just for fun (and to reduce stresses in the transmitter and antenna system), we fired up MDCL on one of our 5 kW stations in Alabama earlier this year. The first electric billing cycle showed only a 5% decrease in power consumption. At first that surprised me, but then I considered that the fixed loads (tower lights, HVAC, rack power, security lighting, etc.) represent a much larger portion of the total site power consumption at a 5 kW station than they do at a 50 kW site, so that 5% is probably about right.

I filed the paperwork with the FCC to operate KLZ using MDCL and expect a grant shortly. I suspect that we’ll find the same kind of power savings there, probably even less since that site is shared at night with another station (KLVZ).

Consulting engineer Ben Dawson made a good point in a letter to Radio World recently: Aside from power savings, the AMC MDCL scheme also reduces stresses in the transmitter and antenna system. The peak RF voltage is the vector sum of the carrier plus the peak sideband power. In a normal (non-AMC) system, that amounts to something in the neighborhood of 150% of the carrier power (100% for the carrier plus 25% for each of the sidebands, more in the sidebands if asymmetrical modulation is used).

Since the carrier power is reduced during modulation in AMC-equipped systems, the peak RF voltage can be cut by 40% or more. In an AMC system, the total peak modulated power, assuming 3 dB of carrier compression, would be 50% for the carrier plus 25% for each of the sidebands. In a 50 kW system, that would result in 50 kW of peak RF power (again, more if asymmetrical modulation is employed).

This reduces the voltages across capacitors, insulators, RF contactors, spark gaps, transmission lines and everything else in the system, which can have a very positive effect on the longevity of those components and even their immunity to lightning damage.

We have for years had an issue at the KLTT transmitter site where when lightning hits one of the high-power towers in the daytime array, the low-power tower (which normally receives about 5 kW) is hit with the full 50 gallons for an RF cycle or two until the transmitter figures out there is a load problem and mutes the output. That has produced burnouts in that low-power tower’s 7/8-inch transmission line on several occasions. With the peak power reduced considerably, our exposure in this kind of situation is also significantly reduced.

 

Wind

No, I’m not talking about all the campaign rhetoric in this election cycle. I’m talking about the high winds that we have sustained around the Front Range for days on end over the last month or so. Usually those kinds of winds wait for March, but not this year. My guess is that you’re as sick of it as I am.

There were a few outages here and there for broadcasters as a result of the sustained high winds. One outage was at the Ruby Hill tower site where the mounting arm hardware on a microwave dish vibrated loose to the point that the dish ended up pointing straight down at the ground! That dish has been up there for years, and it’s never had an issue before in all the previous wind events, so that hardware was tight at one point. The vibration caused by the wind evidently caused those nuts to back off enough to let the dish move. It makes me wonder what else is loose on that and other towers in the area!

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

 

The KEØVH Hamshack for June 2012

Jack Roland KEØVH@q.com

Jack Roland KEØVH@q.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack will return with the KEØVH Hamshack next month!
 

 

73’

KE0VH

www.qsl.net/ke0vh

 

 

Clay’s Corner for March 2012

This month we have seen the passing of 3 people, in broadcasting I knew

 

Wally Nelskog –

Unlike many I know, I did not work for Wally, however if you worked in Radio in the PNW you certainly knew his name.    Wally passed away recently at the age of 92 leaving behind a ton of memories and accomplishments.  Probably the one we all recall was the construction of KIXI on 880.   He worked long and hard to make that happen.   Then there was the warm sound of ..’Beautiful music, in the air, everywhere….’ (How can we forget?)  The first time I met Wally was at a retirement function for one of the local FCC crew.   Wally and I were both asked to speak, I was second.  Wally had a huge voice and following him made me feel like a tenor.   Later I would run across Wally via Ham Radio….One could never forget his phonetics – W7 Foxy Dog Queen.   Several years later I would end up working at 1820 Eastlake and got to chatting with Carol who had a cubical near my office.   We would chat about various things and one day she asked me if I knew her dad (as if I knew the relationship) I said no, I did not think so.   She explained that she was Wally’s daughter.   Every once in a while Wally would come by and we would chat.   I treasure those moments and now wished there had been more.  Ben Dawson added this comment – .  Wally and Jim Gabbert are the only two station owners I’ve ever known who came out with their tool boxes and worked all night with us to get new antenna installations tuned up.

 

Danny Holiday –

I was working at KBSG in Seattle as Chief Engineer when I learned that Danny had been hired to work evenings. I recall hearing him in years previous on KOL (before it became KMPS) Not sure how long Danny worked at the station, but it was several years.   I would work remotes with him and often his wife, Joyce could come along.   Always a gentlemen.

As radio goes, Danny left the station, but we would exchange emails once in a while.   I knew that he moved ‘up north’.  Dwight Small said he saw Dan a while back, he was in town seeing a doctor, Dwight said he did not look well.  Dan’s last name was Thigeson.   He adopted the name of Holiday many years ago for obvious reasons.

 

Lynn Olson –

Lynn worked for several stations in this area and most recently was doing some feature reporting for WSU’s Northwest Public Radio, this is where our paths crossed for the first time. Lynn was a very warm and sweet person.   She said that she had some medical issues, but never stated what was wrong.   Always warm and caring.   I recall installing equipment for her at the KVTI Studios in Lakewood on the campus of CPTC.   Her passing was a shock to us all.

 

I can’t help wondering how my passing will be observed and what accomplishment will be attributed to me….Perhaps placing the first broadcast station on West Tiger Mountain in 1987?

As you reach your ‘sunset years’ (that what they call people my age) and you realize you are only passing-through, those thoughts are hard to ignore.

 

Looking now at other things going on –

The little radio stations in Forks have been sold…..Again.  My work with NWPR takes me to this little town in the Twilight every once in a while these days.   The new owner is Mark Lamb of Kirkland.  The announced sale price was $50,000.   Not many signals in that area. 1 AM and 4 FM’s …The rest are Canadian.

Congratulations to the crew at KOMO Radio for being the first AM station in years to make  the top spot in the ratings.   This is exactly what they have done.    I recall, many years ago, writing about the ratio of AM to FM stations in the top 10.  Interestingly KIRO-FM is right behind them at  #2.    Lots of memories for me there too as I went to work for then KNBQ in Tacoma (was KTNT) back in 1982, the very same 97.3 that I moved to West Tiger in 1987.  Some other observations about radio ratings in our area – KUOW is ranked # 4, not too bad for a Non-Commercial station.   KJR-AM should be pleased coming in at #9 making them the 2nd AM in the top 10…Interestingly, further demonstrating the popularity of KUOW, their streaming came in #37.

Not often I get to write about technical advancements for AM Radio.  The interest in what’s known as MDCL is considerable, especially with those stations with higher power levels.  For sure there will be lots of interest in this technique at the NAB show in April.  Harris and Nautel, the dominate makers of 50 kW transmitters are both deeply involved.    I suspect that it won’t be long before we see these systems put to work on one or more of the many 50Kw AM’s in the Seattle area.   Anything that can save on the power bill is likely to be supported by management.

Business is good at American Tower.  They recently reported that 2011 Q 4 their revenue increased 19%.   A lot of that growth was beyond the U.S..   ATC owns 3 Sites on West Tiger and two on Cougar Mt and is the land lord to many radio and TV broadcasters not only in the Seattle market, but nationwide.  Interestingly that increase is likely greater than most broadcast stations that are their tenants.

In the event you have been keeping track – Heinrich Hertz – was 155 on February 22nd.  Still bothers me that we had to change ‘cycles’ to Hertz…To name of a car rental company after him is another mystery.

Remember how Satellite radio was doomed to fail ….uh-huh …They have reportedly now 22 million subscribers and revenue of 3 Billion.

Happy to report that Mark Allen (WSAB) is working on Legislation to stiffen laws regarding copper theft.   The State Senate Judiciary Committee was to hold a hearing on HB 2570 regarding metal theft.  The bill sets up a task force to come up with recommendations to the 2013 Legislature for combatting metal theft.  The bill provides that one of the members of the task force is to be from the AM/FM broadcasting industry.   If any station in the State has been the victim of copper or other metal theft, but sure and let Mark know.  WSAB is supporting this bill.  Thank you Mark !

For those you that still tune into shortwave broadcasts, you likely remember the days when the Russians jammed radio signals from the West.   Now it’s Iran. Five international broadcasters are now complaining about Iran’s jamming of radio and TV signals aimed at that country.  I trust more are concerned about the impact on gas prices.

Gotta love this one…..

The problem with quotes on the Internet is the difficulty of verifying their authenticity”       Abraham Lincoln

 

A while back I wrote about KSTW-TV and how this station has been reduced in size over the years.    Thinking about that, I recall the first time I met Ken Williams, he was CE at KTVW in Tacoma.  Their entire operation was in a Butler Building at the transmitter site.   Now look – They moved to Seattle and have expanded.   Now it’s time for KVOS.  The once proud little station in Bellingham has seen its coverage be reduced from its once regional status on Ch12 from Mt Constitution and undergone a series of ownership changes.   The most recent one has he station being combined with another in Seattle (KFFV).   Reports are now that the new owners are making considerable staff shuffles. The local newspaper in Bellingham ran a story about the stations history and how the station has struggled over the years.

The annual NAB show in Las Vegas is just around the corner.  The BWWG is working on having some EAS related events there.  If they do, I will likely make the trek to the desert this year.  Last year I did not go, after many years attending this event, it felt a bit funny.

The Mike and Key Club annual Electronic Flea Market will be held this year at the Puyallup Fair Grounds on Saturday March 10th from 9AM to 3 PM.   A huge event that is traditionally very well attended.    Hope to see you there.

Every once in a while a neighborhood finds something causing problems with radio controlled garage doors.  This time it’s in St Charles, Mo.  The source has not been found, but suddenly, after Christmas, garage doors on 5 homes stopped working.  The home owners complained to the FCC.  The makers of the equipment blamed ‘frequency pollution.   Wonder what Johnny got for Christmas?

This one has been around for a long time – In the event you have not seen it – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmYDgncMhXw

Will we see FM radios in cellphones?   The push for this was started by NAB a few years ago and seems to be gaining some supporters.  Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus have asked the FCC for a hearing on the topic.

Speaking of Cellphones….I –finally – retired my very reliable and small flip-phone for what is called a ‘smart phone’  Now I get to carry a much bigger device on my belt and pay a whole lot more for service.  Price of progress I guess.   Not sure that I will ever use everything the critter is capable of.

The Commish has granted a CP to Tribune for a DTV translator for Ch13 that will operate on Ch. 22 in Seattle.   Interesting how, after all the dust settles on the big shuffle that Tribune lights up RF channel 22 again.

A bit of a milestone – HD Radio stations are starting to show up in Arbitron’s diary ratings.   It’s take a while.    I wonder, if Arbitron had been around when FM Radio came along, how long it would have taken for those stations to show up?   Many who are critical of HD Radio were not around to see how FM struggled to be accepted.    History is a great teacher, as any person my age will testify.

Here’s an interesting story about an FCC fine – The Commission has fined an AM station in Puerto Rico.  The station was, apparently, sold, however they were not, formally, informed of the change of ownership of the stations tower as the tower was not listed in the sale agreement.  Ooops – The rules state that the FCC must be informed as to tower ownership.   The FCC is asking for $4500.

Then there is the Florida AM Station that has been asked to pay 4 Grand.   What the station did not know was that the FCC was monitoring the stations field strength and noted that on several occasions they did not reduce power at night, as they were supposed to do.  In FCC lingo, this is willful and repeated.

The FCC is, apparently, pleased with their decision to auction broadcast spectrum for use by mobile systems to the point that the Chairman suggested, in a speech in Italy, the FCC’s methods could be used globally.

The FCC has been checking speeds….Really, check out –  http://tinyurl.com/SpeedTestTwo

$44,000 is a big fine…This is what the FCC is asking a legendary station in Chicago radio station, WLS, to pay.   The problem was an apparent spot that did not include sponsor ID information.

Another recent FCC action concerns LightSquared.  This is the outfit that proposed to use spectrum adjacent to the frequencies used by GPS.   A lot of money was likely spent on this idea.   Check out –  http://tinyurl.com/FCC-and-LS-Break-Up  and      http://tinyurl.com/LSquaredNixed      for more info.

I passed on reporting on the FCC’s efforts at fighting Pirate Radio, even though they did nab several this past month.  What is interesting is that the FCC is, as part of their 2013 budget request, asking for $3.6 million to purchase new DF equipment and vehicles specifically to help them track down more pirate operators.   This move certainly signals the amount of concern they have about the problem.

This past month a naked man climbed a tower in L.A. and agreed to come down after receiving McDonald’s hamburgers.    Perhaps with our weather we don’t have to worry about this problem. However, also in California, a woman climbed a tower and jumped to her death, apparently a suicide.   All this reminds me of how important it is to make sure that un-invited types cannot gain access to your tower.   A few years ago a person climbed the Boeing tower at West Tiger 2 and jumped to end their life.

Last month I passed on some pictures taken during my travels…Due to positive response…I will try and continue.

Here are a couple of pictures taken on the West Tiger Road.    For those of you whose trip to the transmitter consists of negotiating city streets….I still feel I have it better.

 

To end this edition  – I leave you with a definition that I found to be somehow appropriate in this election year –

Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc’-Ra-cy) – a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to  sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers

 

Hope to see you at the next Seattle SBE Meeting –

Clay, CPBE, K7CR

 

 

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