Clay’s Corner for July 2013
Welcome to Summer….. For those of you –not- in the PNW you are likely enjoying typical summer weather – For those of us here in the Seattle area, we are still enjoying rain showers and lots of clouds. Now don’t get me wrong, this area does have a summer, however, unlike other places on the planet, it usually waits until after the 4th of July. We just keep our fingers crossed that rain does not wash out the fireworks.
Speaking of fair weather activities – Statistically the driest time of the year here is the last week in July and that’s one of the reasons why SBE Chapter 16 holds its annual picnic on the last Saturday of this month. Our annual outdoor gathering will be on July 27th at the KOMO Transmitter site on Vashon Island. I sincerely hope you can join us – There will be a lot of detail on the SBE-16 Web Site.
You know that the year is slipping by at an alarming rate when you read that the NAB has put out their call for papers for the spring event in Las Vegas. This coming years NAB Show will run April 5th thru the 10th.
The last weekend in June, yours truly along with fellow broadcaster Nick Winter and members of the South Hill Contest Club and the Western Washington DC Club operated Field Day on what used to be the Pacific Lutheran University Golf Course in Parkland. A good time was had by all. This was the 80th year that Amateur Radio Operations, aka, Hams – participated in this event. Despite the dropping of Morse Code requirements to obtain a Ham-License – the use of the original ‘Digital Mode’ was very evident at this year’s event. What was perhaps about this outing is that we had 6 stations operating at the same time, 3 using Single Sideband (SSB) and 3 using Morse Code (CW). All of the transceivers were Elecraft K3’s (Made in California). All our logging was done by computers that were all networked together…Truly a state of the art collaboration. Amateur Radio has come a long way since the days of black-crackle steel equipment mounted in racks in grandpa’s basement.
Here’s a great picture taken Sunday morning by Jim Hadlock, K7WA, of one of our antennas
For more information – check out this link – http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Field-Day/2013/2013%20FD%20Flier.pdf
Probably the biggest stories in a while are the sale of the groups that own some of our major stations in the area. First it was the sale of Fishers stations (Locally – KOMO-TV, KUNS, KOMO-AM/FM, KPLZ and KVI) to Sinclair. Then, shortly after, the sale of Belo to Gannett (Locally – KING & KONG-TV). If you work at one of these stations your head was suddenly filled with a thousand versions of what ________. In many ways the purchase of these groups is to be expected, after all, Seattle is no longer that logging camp up near Alaska somewhere…But Rather the 12th largest market in the country. (Market size does matter). Big outfits like to have major markets in their portfolio.
Not everyone is pleased with these changes, particularly the Seattle Times. They expressed concern that Sinclair might cause the Fisher stations to make a ‘right-turn’ in their TV news presentations. They came out against the sale of KING/KONG to Gannett saying it was a threat to quality journalism. Perhaps the newspaper is forgetting a couple of things …Broadcasting is a very competitive business and in order to survive you must do the things that create ratings because this leads to revenue which is the prime reason why these firms made this investment. Being biased in one direction or the other is not likely to increase the bottom line. Unlike the situation with the Times, there are multiple stations all vying for the viewer and ad dollars….. The Times contends that the Gannett deal is a direct assault on local, independent voices. I maintain that if the former Fisher and Belo stations wish to continue to enjoy good ratings that they will continue to do what they are doing to maintain them. I find it interesting that a single newspaper town owner would be arguing against media consolidation….You’d think that Gannet was going to bring back the P-I.
The word is that the FCC continues to be active with broadcast stations inspections….Here is a quick look at some recent actions in our area –
KHTR in Pullman was visited and the following was noted as part of their NOV
Ø Missing items in the Public File
Ø No posted designation of a Chief Operator
KXXO in Olympia and received an NOV for missing items from their Public File
Regarding public files – The FCC is looking for input regarding on-line public files. Logically, we will see the migration of all public files away from paper copies to electronic files, either within a station or on-line. If you have thoughts on this topic – The FCC would like to hear them. Comments are due 8/26/13 and reply comments are due 9/23/13. The proceeding is under MM Docket No. 00-168.
One of the major advantages to eliminating the classic paper pub-files is the risk that someone walks out with something that is supposed to be there followed by a visit from the FCC that finds the item missing. Some stations have already put all their files on a server and provide a viewing terminal and printer for those that wish to come in to look at the file. In one recent case an employee of a station, that left under not the best of circumstances, reportedly took some critical files and later tried to sell them back to the station for a big price. IMHO Public Files are like remote transmitter sites – both need solid means of security.
In nearby Woodburn Oregon the FCC noted that signals were coming from a residence on 96.7 MHz and whereas the FCC’s records did not show that any license had been issued for this address…Further they determined that the RF level from the station was just over 200,000 uV/m at 183 meters and the FCC’s limit is 250 uV/m at 3 meters. The operator of the station was told to discontinue the operation immediately.
It is interesting that the FCC inspected a Cable TV system in Tacoma recently and noted they did not have a current copy of the EAS Handbook. Another good time to remind everyone that the Washington State EAS Plan has been revised in two very important ways –
1- Tab 29 is now reserved for a copy of the FCC’s EAS Handbook. Remember there are several of these; be sure your station has the one applicable to your operation –IN TAB 29 of your copy of the Washington State EAS Plan.
2- Tab 30 is now reserved for a copy of the FCC’s Part 11 Rules covering EAS.
These changes are designed to help stations have – Everything EAS – in ONE location and help keep stations (and Cable Systems) in compliance with the FCC’s rules on EAS – Which they LOVE to enforce.
Another reminder – All of this information is distributed via the Washington State EAS Remailer. If you are not a subscriber to this system, you are missing out on information that could keep you off of the FCC’s list of stations receiving NOV’s or NAL’s. If you are not a subscriber I have two suggestions –
1- Get connected by subscribing today –
2- Consider subscribing to the Digest Version to keep the number of individual emails to one per day.
3- Here’s how to sign up – http://sea.sbe16.org/mailman/listinfo/eas-wa
Before I forget it – A huge thank you to the fine folks at Hatfield and Dawson for hosting this valuable system!!!
More city-ratings – According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek – Seattle is in their top 10 places to live. They did call Seattle the ‘Rain City’…but noted 2307 Restaurants, 8 Colleges, 16.8% have advanced degrees with a $90,303 Median Income…and we have ‘Standout clean air’. (Albeit moist). Here’s the list of some selected places – #6 – Denver, #5 – Portland, #2 Seattle – Oh yes, #1 is San Francisco.
Here’s another statistic I found interesting – In the U.S. there are 14 counties with over 2 million residents – guess what?….King County (Seattle is therein) is one of them coming in at #13 just ahead of #14 Clark County (Las Vegas) Nevada.
Was over at KIRO Radio the other day and noted a rather large pile of formally installed equipment as they continue their path toward becoming an all Axia/AOIP facility. Have to admit it gave me pause to see the recently removed PR&E consoles sitting on the floor. Welcome to the world of ‘everything’ over IP.
NPR recently moved into new digs in WDC that are, by some reports, a bit over the top. Not many broadcast operations have a 24 hour health clinic, gourmet café or employee gym. When you consider the calls for eliminating government support for the operation….This may come back to bite.
Time to fasten your seat-belt again with news that the FCC is again visiting the matter of RF emission guidelines. Apparently a good deal of this will involve non-broadcast operations, but some might impact what we do. The Commish is asking for public comments now. From what I read, we could well be looking at new requirements for warning signs and more clarification of the occupational/controlled areas
Comments are due to dockets ET 13-84 and 03-137 by Sept. 3 and replies due Nov. 1.
Copper theft continues to plague everyone from public utilities to broadcast stations. Recently the bad-guys took this to a new level at WEMM in Huntington WVA. Not only did they steal all the copper but took all the components in their antenna tuning unit and, to top it off, stole the transmitter….a 25Kw Nautel NX25. This causes me to again call for broadcasters to re-visit their transmitter site security situation. It’s just a matter of time before someone in this area gets hit very hard…and expensively. Come to think of it – This would be an excellent SBE Chapter program – How to protect stations assets at an un-manned remote location. Hint!
Locally the idiots that stole copper wire from the SeaTac-Seattle light rail system were recently in the news…Apparently the wheels of justice are in no hurry.
I have been writing for years about the impact of RF on humans. Until recently not much has been written about the impact of digital gizmo’s….In fact, until recently, the condition did not have a name ….It does now. Doctors in South Korea have reported a surge in what they call ‘Digital Dementia’ among young people. Here’s what happens….Some people become so reliant on electronic devices that they can no longer remember everyday details like their phone numbers. Being a bit more technical…These people have a deterioration in cognitive abilities that is more commonly seen in people who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness. According to a Dr Gryun Giwon – “”Over-use of smartphones and game devices hampers the balanced development of the brain,” Adding – “Over-use of smartphones and game devices hampers the balanced development of the brain,” Heavy users are likely to develop the left side of their brains, leaving the right side untapped or underdeveloped,” he said. The right side of the brain is linked with concentration and its failure to develop will affect attention and memory span, which could in as many as 15 per cent of cases lead to the early onset of dementia.
Wow! … Now how do you pry that device out of the hands of a young person and explain the long term impact? Looking back we were told the excessive TV watching and listening to Rock and Roll would do the same thing…Hmmm?
Headline – The Radio Wayne Nominations Open
The 21st Radio Wayne awards, honoring radio superstars whose dedication and enthusiasm for radio separate them from the pack, will be presented at the 2013 Radio Show in Orlando, at the Advertiser Luncheon on Wednesday, September 18. Guess what the trophy is?
A beautiful 833 Triode mounted on a crafted wooden base. Hold the phone a minute –
Do you really think that these radio superstars will recognize what the trophy is made of…Will anyone tell them that it’s a vacuum tube from a really old piece of equipment (like the kind grandpa used to have in the basement)? Why can’t they come up with a trophy constructed from something modern, like a big computer CPU chip etc? Geeeesh!
Here’s an item that caught my attention recently – Why do those that stream audio call it Radio?
How can you have an Internet Radio Station when you don’t have any radio components and where radio (meaning electro-magnetic transmission) is not employed? Apparently a major radio group is fighting back and I want to go on record as being 100% in agreement. It’s NOT internet radio…its internet AUDIO. How about Television? There has been minimal attempt to differentiate TV that comes out of a transmitter by using the letters OTA…Unfortunately I fear that this term is lost with the masses. We used to call anything that was not OTA – CCTV. Perhaps if it were, at one time, OTA, you could use the world Television if it came out of a cable. What about Satellite TV, I guess you could say it was ‘broadcast’ by the bird. But then, thinking back to radio for a moment, perhaps Sirius/XM could be called Radio because it is indeed broadcast – What do you think?
Technical advice from Milton Holladay Jr – Anything really good will be discontinued.
A fairly new issue has been added to the list of things to be concerned about for FM Broadcasters….Interference with cellular systems. A recent situation involving WKZE-FM in Salisbury, Ct has a lot of folks buzzing – Apparently the stations 8th Harmonic is landing on 784.8 MHz and is causing interference to a Verizon operation 500 feet away. They are effectively saying, correct the problem or turn off the station! What’s new is the rapid expansion of LTE data systems and the fact that they are working with signal levels that are typically down in the noise level of the instruments doing the measurements. Apparently some of the problems have come from cabinet radiation coming from the broadcast stations equipment rather than 700+ MHz signals coming out of their antenna. This is a problem that is not likely to go away anytime soon due to the heavy demand for more services from this new service of cell providers. I was recently in Bellingham at a site that has 3 FM broadcast Stations as well as being a Verizon Site. A tech was there chasing interference – I did not offer any suggestions. But did see signals on his S.A. that were quite high – Hopefully they were being caused by something or someone else. One of the sites I look after has a pretty high power FM station and a co-located Cellular operation. So far, so good. Perhaps a bit of good news in our area is that most of our FM stations are located on high hills or mountains and are significantly above any cellular operations.
Here is something else to do some deep reading about – The EPA reportedly looking into new, more restrictive, regulations involving generators. There was one story that was passed on a broadcast remailer about a PEP Station that was cited by the EPA for Aux Generator fuel tank issues. The station did the right thing – They told them to go talk to FEMA that owns the equipment. Most of us will not be that lucky. Not saying who will be impacted…but it would be good to find out if your station will have to make any changes to remain in compliance.
Here’s something that Seattle should not be bragging about ….Traffic. According to Inrix, an outfit that tracks these things, Seattle’s rush hour traffic congestion increased 21 in May of 13 compared to a year ago. The reason appears to be the fact that the economy is getting much better. Other factors in our area are the tolling of the 520 bridge…No mention of the huge improvement in the Mercer Mess (yah-sure)
Was in Gig Harbor recently and spotted this sign – This should certainly be on the wall in the Engineering Department of your station.
This past month we all learned that one of the major suppliers of Antennas and related RF gear was closing down. Dielectric citing a poor business climate as the reason. Just as we were wondering how this would impact our stations, we learned that Sinclair was going to be taking them over to continue operations. I don’t know exactly how many TV station antennas in our area are Dielectric/RCA or Harris – But I suspect quite a few. On the FM side, ERI and Shively appear to have the biggest share these days. A bit hard to get your head around the idea that Sinclair is not only buying KOMO etc, but Dielectric. I suspect the reason for this is that they have a lot of this hardware in use and the thought of no support was a bit sobering. Not many broadcast owners also own hardware suppliers as most feel that this is not their core business.
If you have ever read a review in Consumer Reports about a new Ford product you know that they had very little good to say about the operation of their electronic control panel that also controls the radio. Apparently Ford got the message with the announcement that they are going to restore the old fashioned tuning and volume knobs. Ford is not the only firm that, for reasons that I don’t fully understand, take away simple controls in favor of some exotic touch screen system. Just look at the reception to Windows 8. I was talking with a friend the other day about radio’s RDS encoders. An older model would have a ‘pot’ into which you would insert your ‘Greenie’ (screwdriver) to adjust injection levels. Well those days are gone. Now you have to connect a computer to the device just to adjust output levels. You need to understand that people that design things today don’t understand the use of Pots and other antique components…Therefore simple systems become complex. Unfortunately the term KISS or Keep it Simple Stupid is lost to all too many. On that note I recall telling a fellow recently about a transmitter that I maintain that has a final amplifier ‘device’ that takes 400 watts and turns it into 24,000 watts. This fellow was blown away by this concept and was clearly having trouble getting his head around the concept that a single device could do that…Finally (after a bit of bating) he asked what kind of a ‘device’ it was….I told him it was called a – Vacuum Tube – …..He was clearly crushed.
In my travels I get to see a lot of wild life, especially at Cougar and West Tiger – This one of Bambi and her fawn were caught very near the KVTI Transmitter in Lakewood.
It’s been interesting watching the travels of 102.9. The station went on the air, many years ago, in Centralia being put on the air by the late Chuck Ellsworth as KGME. It was sold to the owners of KELA who moved it to Crego Hill where it later became KMNT with more power. Clear Channel moved it to Capital Peak and re-named it KNBQ. Those call letters were used by the Tribune when they owned 97.3 while I was there… More recently KNBQ has been simulcasting KJR-AM …sort of sounding like a KJR-FM even though those letters belong to 95.7. Now comes word that 102.9 will be dropping its simulcast of KJR as well as changing call letters to KYNW and again playing music. As they say….Ya needa program.
Looks like 3D-TV may be dead before long as ESPN has bailed on the concept. Wonder how much money will have changed hands with this one?
An AM station in Yankton, S.C. recently went off the air when a guy wire was snagged by a crew mowing the transmitter site.
Brings to mind the question – How much insurance does the person have that mows around your stations tower? And what plans do you have should this happen to you?
Here’s something else to think about – According to Alan Alsobrook, a number of tower companies in Florida have received cease and desist orders from the state for doing electrical work on towers. Reportedly this means doing anything other than changing a lamp. This could make life interesting for local tower companies. Not many electrical contractors are likely to have someone that wants to climb your tower. Wonder if this will spread beyond Florida?
Speaking of towers – the old KONP tower in Port Angeles was recent taken down – In this case, on purpose. At one time P.A. had two AM’s. One of them went away to make room for a power increase of a station in another market . KONP moved its transmitters to the other site.
According to Station Manager, Todd Ortloff, the old tower will be salvaged, but the top beacon will rest in the stations lobby. If you are every in PA, stop by KONP as Todd has a great collection of antique radios and other items that are sure to bring back memories.
The Radio Television Digital News Association, RTDNA, has been honoring outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971. Award recipients demonstrate the spirit of excellence that Murrow set as a standard for the profession of electronic journalism. The Murrow College of Communications is located at Washington State University in Pullman. Congrats go to these local winners –
Large Market Radio – News Series
If It’s Legal: Five Ways Legal
Pot Could Affect Your Life
Small Market Television – Feature Reporting
The Eyes of a Hero
Local Online Organizations – Investigative Reporting
Video: Glamour Beasts:
The Dark Side of Elephant
The Seattle Times
Video: Price of Protection
The Seattle Times
In the category of – I can’t believe they are still doing it – Comes this item …..The FCC recently cited an on-line retailer for marketing un-authorized RF devices, aka, power amplifiers for CB Radios. Models for sale ranged in power outputs from 120 to 8200 Watts. Wow ! If you want a real eye opener – Google… ePowerAmps or Texas Star Amplifier and take a look at what’s on the market.
Remember my proposal that TV Channels 5 and 6 be used as a new location for radio broadcasting to replace the present AM Band …According to John Schneider Brazil made do just that. Nice to see great ideas shared by others. The new radio band would be from 76.1 to 108 MHz.
From the mind of NWPR’s Don Eckis comes this item – The difference between an extrovert engineer and an introvert engineer? The Extrovert engineer looks at your shoes when he talks to you.
So what’s going to happen to the AM Array in Kirkand. Reportedly the site, share by two AM stations is going to have to go away. Many years ago when I worked for KTW, their AM site at Pigeon Point was operated as a daytimer. Later owners developed a night array in Kirkland that they shared with another station. With no night-site, will 1250, now Radio Disney, return to being a daytimer? I’m sure that Jim Dalke will have a full report as he does their technical work.
South Mountain, home of transmitters for KDDS/99.3 and KOMO-FM/97.7 is about to be the home for a 3rd FM …KANY on 93.7 with 32 Kw at 677 Meters. South Mountain is the southern most peak in the Olympics, West of Shelton.
Time to close this edition of Clay’s Corner for this month with the following –
As you may know, Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently humorous. Winston Churchill loved them.
> Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.
> Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
> If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
> We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
> War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
> Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
> To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is called “Research”.
> I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
> In filling out an application, where it says, ”In case of emergency Notification”, I put Doctor!
> Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
> You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
> I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure..
> To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
> You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
> I’m supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now
That last one really hits home – But at least I STILL have OLDER friends!!
Till next month, Lord willing
Clay Freinwald, K7CR, CPBE