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Podcast #194: Build Your Own Tiny Radio Station

Radio Survivor - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 21:57

First conceived in the 1930s, there is a type of tiny radio station that anyone can operate legally, without a license. Bill DeFelice of HobbyBroadcaster.net joins the show to tell us about how you can get on the air today, to broadcast around your house, or even your neighborhood with a so-called ‘Part 15’ radio […]

The post Podcast #194: Build Your Own Tiny Radio Station appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Petition for Declaratory Ruling Filed by Cumulus Media Inc.

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 20:00
Cumulus Media Inc. Seeks Foreign Ownership Ruling Pursuant to Section 310(b)(4) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended

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FCC Media Bureau News Items - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 20:00
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FCC Poised to OK T-Mobile-Sprint Merger

Radio World - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 15:00

The reconfigured T-Mobile-Sprint deal appears to have the three votes needed to secure approval by the five-member FCC.

That came after the companies volunteered a revised list of conditions that included divesting Boost Mobile, the low-cost prepaid wireless subsidiary; building out high-speed 5G wireless service to most of the nation, including rural areas, on a timetable acceptable to the FCC; and maintaining the same or better prices for three years.

The buildout requirements and other commitments are subject to up to $2.4 billion in fines if the companies to not do as promised.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced his support Monday: “In light of the significant commitments made by T-Mobile and Sprint as well as the facts in the record to date, I believe that this transaction is in the public interest and intend to recommend to my colleagues that the FCC approve it. This is a unique opportunity to speed up the deployment of 5G throughout the United States and bring much faster mobile broadband to rural Americans. We should seize this opportunity.”

Those are both key priorities both for the FCC and the Trump administration.

Republican commissioner Brendan Carr also agreed the restructured deal, submitted to the FCC Monday (May 20), was in the public interest and had his vote as well. Third Republican commissioner Michael O’Rielly said late Monday that he was “inclined” to approve it, providing the votes needed to pass.

O’Rielly’s less-than-full-throated support appeared to stem from the number and type of conditions, so his reservation was likely by way of making the point that the deal did not need them to be in the public interest rather than signaling he might incline the other way before the item was voted.

The chairman said he would be circulating an order approving the deal to the other commissioners “in the coming weeks.” The review began in June of last year.

On the Democratic side of the agency, commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel told NPR she had issues with the deal.

The Justice Department still has to resolve its antitrust review of the deal, but the Boost divestiture may signal it will be OK with it as well given antitrust chief Makan Delrahim’s avowed preference for divestitures to resolve outstanding competition issues.

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The post FCC Poised to OK T-Mobile-Sprint Merger appeared first on Radio World.

Hubbard Radio Consolidates Three Chicago FMs

Radio World - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 14:41
Front lobby of the newly combined WDRV, WTMX and WSHE facility of Hubbard Broadcasting in Chicago

Those of us who have participated in one know that a station move can produce the most stressful times in our careers, regardless of market size. Recently, Hubbard Radio took on such a project for its Chicago radio stations, consolidating FM stations WTMX “The Mix,” WSHE and WDRV “The Drive.” The project was directed by Kent Lewin, chief engineer of the cluster, and facilitated by integrator RadioDNA, headed by Rob Goldberg.  

PHYSICAL AND TIME CONSTRAINTS

As with so many projects of this sort, the end of a lease precipitated the move. In this case, WDRV was coming to the end of its lease at the John Hancock Center building, while WTMX and WSHE were already located about a mile away at the Prudential Building.

Hubbard Director of Engineering Dave Garner said, “The Drive  was on a very short fuse as far as its existing lease, and it had to be out by the end of last April [2018] so it was a real tight schedule. That was the moving force, and the timing was such that we had to work all the other renovations around moving the Drive into Prudential.”  

One of three dubbing studios, built using Wheatstone ScreenBuilder, with the UI on a Microsoft Surface Touch Pad, and equipped with VoxPro, Genelec powered monitors, and Yellowtec mic and speaker mounts.

The company decided to completely revamp the Prudential facility. Before WDRV moved over, a series of temporary moves needed to be accomplished.

“It was really like musical chairs,” said Garner. “They took a large office and moved The Mix into that area; and after that, the rebuild project was kind of like dominoes. We got The Drive in there, and it was just moving things around — moving studios from one station to another — in order to accommodate them. We actually created production rooms in some new offices. In other words, somebody’s office — like a programming office, for example — became a production studio, and that happened numerous times during the reconfiguration.”

All the pieces came together. Through careful planning and timely execution, the team completed the project on time, with just a few days left on the calendar to spare.  

“It was, to say the least, quite a project,” Garner said.

NEW CONSOLES AND ROUTER SYSTEM The newly completed WDRV air studio.

As part of the entire revamping of the Chicago facility, the three stations were re-equipped using the Wheatstone AoIP system WheatNet. For this project, radioDNA built out 13 studios: on-air studios for WSHE, WDRV and WTMX plus a back-up on-air studio that can be used by any of the stations; three large-scale production rooms; three dubbing studios (i.e., less-capable production rooms); and three call-screen/producer booths.  

The four on-air studios have Wheatstone’s 37-channel LXE frame, with motorized faders. “It’s just a monster,” said radioDNA’s Goldberg about the console. “It was pretty cool unboxing that huge coffin, as you can imagine.”

The air studios for WSHE, WDRV and back-up on-air are fixed-position, stand-up designs. However, according to Goldberg, the console in the WTMX on-air studio has a unique setup, designed and built by Studio Technology.

“It actually is a motorized countertop, so the whole thing can go from basically sit-down to higher than stand-up. A lot of extra engineering went into that — as you can imagine, the huge countertop for a multi-person morning show and a 37-channel console. The countertop is big and heavy. It has eight motorized legs to lift and stabilize the thing, which is pretty cool.”

One of the three call screener/producer studios, each with direct line-of-sight into its associated air studio. [Hubbard Radio Testing All-Digital AM on Maryland’s WWFD]

The big production studios use Wheatstone L-12s. Goldberg said, “Each of the large production studios has Pro Tools and Wheatstone’s VoxPro — actually every studio in the new facility has VoxPro, so there are 13, all told. We also included near-field monitoring using Genelec speakers.”

The call-screen/producer studios use Wheatstone L-8s, and each studio has direct line of sight to its associated on-air studio.

“We just didn’t have the room (in the group of the three smallest studios) or the countertop space to put a control surface. There just wouldn’t have been any work room; they’re very small. So we built the control surfaces on a Microsoft Surface Touch Pad, using Wheatstone ScreenBuilder.” ScreenBuilder is a software tool that lets the end-user build control, routing and monitoring interfaces on a PC or touchscreen tablet to create virtual surfaces.

“There’s a boom arm that holds some monitors, a mic boom and mic status [by way of a visual indicator], and they have a VoxPro, BE AudioVault and an Adobe editor machine in this small studio. We had to do things efficiently. ScreenBuilder works great.”  

CUSTOM FEATURES

As with any studio build, this one includes custom features.

WSHE’s new air studio, complete with custom furniture with motorized countertop by Studio Technology. Also shown are the 37-fader Wheatstone LXE, VoxPro, BE AudioVAULT, Genelec powered speakers, and Yellowtec mic and monitor supports. The backup on-air studio is outfitted identically to the three main air studios and can be used by any of the three stations.

“For WTMX, we have two screener/producer studios and both have talkback in to the main studio, and they can talk to each other as well,” Goldberg said. “We added logic to indicate if a studio’s live or not — and there’s a lot of talking back and forth, with five people in all, including the screeners and the co-hosts for WTMX. We also have another one of the little booth studios, which can also function as a screener studio, that has talkback capability as well, for phone screening and whatnot.”

The screener/producer studios also have separate indications for when local mics are live on-air, or just live in the room. “We did little things like that, to just make it nice and easy for the operator so they can know when they’re live and when they’re not,” said Goldberg.  

He added that Hubbard’s Market Chief Kent Lewin had a stringent set of requirements with respect to system redundancy.

[Who’s Buying What: WTOP Uses EV Mics at Big New Facility]

“As radio engineers, we all are into backup systems and redundancy. Kent really takes that to the next level with everything. With the AudioVault, every audio output coming into a control surface comes from a different audio server — so you could actually completely lose one server, and all that would happen is that one channel would be missing.

“In addition to that, he actually breaks it out so the music comes from one control machine and the stop sets come from another. This created unique challenges in how we were going to control those machines. Previously they used custom relay boxes that did some neat things from their old boards and talked to the automation system. We did it all through programming directly from the surface to the AudioVault for all four music decks and all four spot decks. We programmed the cue button so that when you press it, it starts the first 30 seconds of the song; when we turn the cue off it stops the deck and cues it back up.”

THE RACK ROOM Former WTMX host Chris Reese working in one of the new air studios.

Due to time constraints, a rebuild of the stations’ rack room will be revisited later.

“Time was a little bit tight with all the moves, so we didn’t finish the rack room,” said Goldberg. “We’re actually going to come back and revamp it with all new equipment racks, and we’ll be taking out old gear to make room for the new.”  

The blade count, as it stands now, is in the upper 70s, according to Rob.

“There’s plenty of growth — we didn’t use every I/O from each blade. We like to put blades where gear is. For example, Studio Technology builds these nice roll-around racks that come out from underneath the furniture. We have minimal cable going to these roll-out racks and we like to keep all of the audio interconnects within that rack if at all possible, not having to go out of a rack and then back.

“Our goal is to keep things organized and neat, so when you pull out the rack you have everything that was installed, or anything that needs troubleshooting, right in front of you.”

Though big studio projects like the one Hubbard has accomplished in Chicago can produce the most stressful times in your career, the upside is that, afterwards, you’ll likely have had some of the proudest moments of your life. Projects such as this offer a rare — perhaps once-in-a-career — chance to make a real difference in an operation or in a company.

Hubbard Chicago equipment list
  • 25-Seven Systems PDM
  • Avid Pro Tools
  • Benchmark SPM-2 program meters
  • Broadcast Electronics AudioVAULT automation software
  • Denon DN-700R SD/USB networkable SD/USB recorder
  • Fostex RM-3 powered rackmount audio monitors
  • Genelec powered monitor speakers
  • Studio Technology custom furniture
  • Tascam 500B CD players
  • Wheatstone WheatNet AoIP system
  • Wheatstone LS-8, LS-12, LXE-37 consoles
  • Wheatstone VoxPro audio software
  • Yellowtec m!ka mic booms, monitor arms

Doug Irwin is the VP of engineering for the Los Angeles Region of iHeartMedia.

The post Hubbard Radio Consolidates Three Chicago FMs appeared first on Radio World.

Samson Introduces CL7a, CL8a Condenser Mics

Radio World - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 13:16

Samson is unveiling the CL7a and CL8a Large Diaphragm Studio Condenser Microphones at NAB 2019.

The CL7a is a large diaphragm condenser mic with a capsule sporting a 1.1-inch 3-micron thick, gold-sputtered diaphragm that intended to provide a balanced sound built around a smooth midrange and slight high-frequency lift around 15 kHz, ideally imparting a sense of air around the sound source.

The mic features a cardioid pickup pattern, along with a selectable two-pole high-pass filter at 100 Hz to remove unwanted low frequency content like stage rumble and wind noise. Additionally, the CL7a can handle SPLs of up to 147 dB, and includes a 10 dB attenuation pad, which is used to prevent overloading the onboard preamplifier by lowering the input sensitivity of the microphone preamp circuit. Inside the durable die-cast body, an internal shock-mount provides both protection for capsule and isolation from vibration noise.

Meanwhile, the Samson CL8a multipattern large-diaphragm condenser mic has a custom-tuned capsule with a dual 1.1″ gold-sputtered, 4-micron thick diaphragm. This design provides a range of selectable pickup patterns (cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional). Similar to the CL7a, the CL8a has a selectable, two-pole high-pass filter at 100 Hz; can handle SPLs up to 147 dB; and a 10 dB attenuation pad.

Expected to hit retail in June, the Resound CL7a and CL8a will be available for $129.99 and $149.99, respectively.

The post Samson Introduces CL7a, CL8a Condenser Mics appeared first on Radio World.

Broadcasters Clinic Wants Your Cutting-Edge Ideas

Radio World - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:54

It may be hard to believe, but the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and Wisconsin-based chapters of the Society of Broadcast Engineers are once again seeking suggestions for the annual Broadcasters Clinic.

In an announcement, WBA is soliciting “fresh, innovative, cutting-edge ideas, case studies and best practices that will motivate the ‘best of the best’ in station technical staff!”

The clinic and the Upper Midwest Chapter Meeting of the Society of Broadcast Engineers is scheduled for Oct. 15–17 at the Madison Marriott West Hotel in Middleton, Wis. But you must share your ideas no later than June 7 in order for WBA to consider them.

Email Linda Baun or call 608-729-1480 with any questions.

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The post Broadcasters Clinic Wants Your Cutting-Edge Ideas appeared first on Radio World.

COMMENT filed in 19-3 : Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Stations and Low Power FM Stations

MB Docket 19-3 - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:00

Proceeding(s): 19-3 : Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Stations and Low Power FM Stations

Filers(s): Prometheus, Common Frequency, et. al.

Comment Type: COMMENT

Date Received: 5/20/2019

Date Posted: 5/21/2019

Address: 402 Canniff Rd Freehold, NY, 12431

COMMENT filed in 19-3 : Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Stations and Low Power FM Stations

MB Docket 19-3 - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:00

Proceeding(s): 19-3 : Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Stations and Low Power FM Stations

Filers(s): Jeff Sibert

Comment Type: COMMENT

Date Received: 5/20/2019

Date Posted: 5/21/2019

Address: 3340 Utah Ave S St Louis Park, MN, 55426

COMMENT filed in 19-3 : Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Stations and Low Power FM Stations

MB Docket 19-3 - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:00

Proceeding(s): 19-3 : Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Stations and Low Power FM Stations

Filers(s): Discount Legal

Lawfirm(s): Michael Couzens Law Office

Comment Type: COMMENT

Date Received: 5/20/2019

Date Posted: 5/21/2019

Address: 6536 Telegraph Avenue, Suite B201 oakland, CA, 94609

COMMENT filed in 19-3 : Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Stations and Low Power FM Stations

MB Docket 19-3 - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:00

Proceeding(s): 19-3 : Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Stations and Low Power FM Stations

Filers(s): Low Power FM Advocacy Group (LPFM-AG)

Comment Type: COMMENT

Date Received: 5/20/2019

Date Posted: 5/21/2019

Address: 508 BAP ASBLY RD WATERLOO, SC, 29384

NRJ België Goes Full AoIP

Radio World - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 03:22

ANTWERP, Belgium — NRJ België launched in Belgium’s Flemish region last September with a national frequency “package” for six commercial areas. The bundle consists of a license for each of the five provinces and one for digital (DAB+, digital TV, streaming).

DJ Xander Peeters broadcasts from the new on-air studio. Credit mmpress

SBS Belgium and the Mediahuis publishing company, proprietor of the Flemish Nostalgie Vlaanderen brand, own NRJ België. The station’s studios are located in the Mediahuis building in Antwerp together with Nostalgie’s studios, which, according to station staff, created some challenges during the installation of the new NRJ on-air studios.

With Nostalgie’s on-air studio’s being installed nearly a decade ago, and today’s fresh approach of studio building, investing in completely new studio gear was a logical step. “But throughout the design and research for the new facilities, we had to bear in mind that we wanted to achieve maximum compatibility with Nostalgie’s DHD-based on-air studios and the future NRJ studio,” said Luk De Groote, technical manager for both radio stations.

De Groote decided to team up with RadioStudio.be, a company specializing in integration and rental of broadcast equipment. “RadioStudio.be provided outside broadcast services for Nostalgie,” continued De Groote. “And that’s how I started talking with Tom Callebaut, the manager of the company.”

IP AND COMPATIBILITY

“The message was clear,” said Callebaut. “NRJ België wanted a futureproof on-air solution with full AoIP and compatibility. I suggested we use Lawo’s Ravenna-compatible technology for the two new studios. The keyword was scalability. In the past, you had a specific console or audio matrix and a fixed number of in/out’s. Today, we’re talking IP — the only limit being the bandwidth of your network.”

The assignment included the building, installation, acoustic design and technical integration of two studios for NRJ, with the option to use one for Nostalgie in a DHD setup. All content sources had to be interchangeable between the twin facilities and both radio products, requiring seamless, swift switching between both, without the audience noticing. In addition, the creation of a completely new on-air path for NRJ was part of the mission.

Both studios were equipped with Lawo Ruby AoIP mixing surfaces connected with a Lawo Power Core. “The majority of all input signals are via AoIP sources, widely available over the whole network,” explained Callebaut.

“The Ruby consoles are used as mixing engines but also for DSP, audio routing and conversion. The modular Power Core, with standard two AES67 and four MADI connections, offers exactly the scalability NRJ België required: To be able to expand the number of simultaneous channels to 10 or 35 with no need for extra devices. That was a major advantage in building these studios.

Luk De Groote, technical manager for NRJ België and Nostalgie stands in the new on-air studio. Credit NRJ.

“The only analog inputs are microphones and studio monitors connected to the Power Core. All other sources like playout, telephone hybrid, codecs are AES67 AoIP streams to the Power Core audio routers in the main control room (MCR), with double compatibility — MADI for Nostalgie’s DHD platform and AoIP for future use. Everything is IP now, the days of discrete audio are almost completely gone.”

Mark Tito, sales director Lawo Benelux, said the project, in terms of equipment, was definitely on the edge of technology. “NRJ België is the first radio solution in Belgium adapting Ruby — and Power Core, which was actually just released when they decided for the product.”

KVM CONNECTIVITY

“We started from the basic idea not to have one single computer in the on-air studio,” underlined De Groote. “Software and systems that are running in the studio are connected over IP via KVM to the master control room.

Intronics supplied the KVM system. “The big advantages of implementing KVM are security, with all sources in a climate-controlled and dust-free environment, ergonomics (one module in the on-air room instead of computers), and multitasking, allowing multiple users to work simultaneously on the system, from any location,” explained Yves Van Hullebusch, account and project manager KVM at Intronics Belgium.

Lunch host Louise Ailliet takes over from Xander Peeters. Credit: mmpress

“For NRJ, we used the Adderlink XDIP PoE models: Six pairs of compact KVM receiver modules per studio, running completely over IP with a minimal latency of less than 25 ms. The system is extremely flexible as you don’t need any management servers — it can be expanded by means of Layer 2 switches. Every module is a standalone power-over-Ethernet unit, functioning either as transmitter or receiver. NRJ België’s on-air studio is among the first in Belgium implementing the XDIP solution, as it is a new platform.”

In the NRJ studios, 30 Adderlink XDIP units are used to display full HD images from the computers located in the MCR, on six screens. Two are configured for DJs or co-hosts and two have Zenon playout software, an editing screen for recordings, and a multipurpose screen to select a common source like the MultiCAM Radio system or a clone of the Zenon playout screen.

AIR CHAIN

The broadcaster stripped both studio rooms and added new acoustic materials from iDealAcoustics, which also designed and supplied the presenter desks. Each studio has room for four (self-op DJ, co-host and guests) seats, equipped with Neumann TLM 102 microphones on Yellowtec m!ka microphone arms.

“We decided to continue with Zenon Media radio software, an upgraded version of what our neighbors at Nostalgie are already using,” explained De Groote “The Zenon playout’s audio is routed via the Lawo R3LAY VSC drivers on the network to the Ruby desk core in the active studio where the signal is channeled to the Power Core in the MCR.”

[Read: Belgium’s RTBF Mix Crosses the Language Border]

“For the regional commercial breaks we use a blank/silence from the active studio program mixed with one of the six available commercial-players playing audio output on the AoIP network in the MCR. Each region has its own commercials but they are fully balanced,” said Callebaut. “The built-in silence detection in the Lawo Power Core monitors possible silence gaps and automatically switches on a slave playout computer or an SSD player, the silence detection is installed after the mix with active studio and one commercial regional output.”

The complete system was created in a redundant configuration for full backup, with switching almost inaudibly between both. A telephone hybrid from The Telos Alliance completed the setup. Callebaut added that the company is “excellent in delivering telephone systems. We are converting the Livewire signal to Ravenna, by means of an Axia xNode interface, making it AES67 compatible.”

The Power Core’s final signal is then channeled via six Orban Optimod 8600-S broadcast processors and six 2wcom MM01 codecs (one for each province, DAB+, streaming and DTV) to the transmitter sites using an IP connection.

“We put in place a completely new FM transmitter network and it had to be built up from scratch in less than two months,” said Christiaan Pladdet, business development manager with Broadcast Partners. “We attached a lot of importance to the design of the network ensuring maximum coverage within the license’s criteria. Each of the 16 transmitter sites is equipped with Elenos Indium transmitters and Lambda Technologies antennas. The 2wcom codecs serve multiple transmitter sites — in the past we had to install one codec for each transmitter — now we save in both rack space and energy.”

VISUAL RADIO

Arnaud Anchelergue, sales manager with MultiCAM in the master control room. Credit: mmpress

With one of NRJ’s owners being SBS Belgium, operating three TV channels in Flanders, the introduction of visual radio was evident. “NRJ’s morning show, hosted by Kim and Michaël, runs on the ZES TV channel between 6–9 a.m. using a MultiCAM Radio visual radio system,” said De Groote. “We are already using the system for Nostalgie using an AES soundcard. We moved three Panasonic AW-HE130 HD SDI cameras to NRJ’s on-air studio and installed the Lawo R3LAY VSC, capturing the audio feed for AoIP.”

“MultiCAM Radio receives GPIO and audio levels from the Lawo Ruby console via Ember Plus protocol. So it detects which microphone is open, and automatically controls the change of camera position, over IP,” explained Arnaud Anchelergue, MultiCAM director of sales. MultiCAM’s recording allows use of live streaming on different social media platforms and the station’s website. The audio-embedded SDI output of the system allows the splitting of audio (for transmission on Telenet’s radio Channel 943) and visual radio (for broadcast on ZES).”

All parties involved in the building of the on-air studios agreed that timing of the deployment was the most critical challenge. “We started brainstorming in May last year and one month later we embarked upon the endeavor. We subsequently began broadcasting in September. Meanwhile, we started refurbishing Nostalgie’s former back-up studio, took out the DHD and had new acoustics brought in to become our main on-air studio today.”

“It’s been 10 years since a new radio station in Flanders was launched and it’s amazing we managed to get NRJ on the air in such a short time span,” commented Tom Klerkx, managing director for NRJ and Nostalgie, “I’m proud of our tech team, who did the job. The basic product is now on track and we’ll continue refining the details in the coming months.”

The launch of NRJ on DAB+, mandatory in accordance with NRJ België’s broadcast license, took place in mid-April is backed by a marketing campaign.

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The post NRJ België Goes Full AoIP appeared first on Radio World.

Broadcast Actions

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 20:00
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Community Broadcaster: How Giving Changed

Radio World - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 19:58

The author is membership program director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. NFCB commentaries are featured regularly at www.radioworld.com.

During my time as a program director, there were few puzzles as challenging as audience giving and community radio. What vision and values does a station convey organically that excites a listener enough to donate? Independence and even contrarianism can shore up gifts from the most ardent, but what is the secret to long-term support from the greatest number of people and especially the casual listener? For volunteer-dependent and sometimes self-referential community media organizations, the most correct answers were at points elusive.

A new study conducted by Carl Bloom Associates may present information that could help your community radio station.

The consulting firm just issued its 2019 Public Media Member Motivation Survey. With nearly 16,000 responses from noncommercial radio donors, it is one of the most comprehensive looks today of public media giving. And, while the numbers may not apply in terms of scale, the truth is that people who like noncommercial radio are not all that different. The casual listener and donor may know a particular brand or station by its sound, but the things they appreciate in our medium as a whole — the spirit of inquiry and cultural curiosity, for example — are nearly universal.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Does Youth Radio Matter?]

What researchers discovered may help your station fine tune its approach to fundraising.

According to the study, and consistent with the National Federation of Community Broadcasters’ Circle of Engagement model, good programming drives engagement and revenue. Sixty-four percent of those polled say ensuring quality program production and supporting the acquisition of new programs are their biggest motivations to pledge as well as to increase their gifts. However, 61% of respondents said they contribute because they feel obligated to pay for what they consume. “A quid-pro-quo mentality more evident among older members compared to the more community-oriented and altruistic attitudes observed among younger members,” notes the survey.

In addition, the presence of a mix of national and local programs tended to drive contributions (55%) rather than the nationally syndicated programs stations aired (though cited by 40% as key) or by local programs (named by only 5% as the main reason for donations). Of course, different stations have different schedules, but this data may help you understand audiences as you craft your message.

For a lot of community radio loyalists, giving out the phone number to the pledge line during on-air fundraising is a time-honored tradition. Thus, you might be shocked to know people are not recalling phone calls as a way to give like they once may have. It’s a method whose awareness, in fact, has been on the decline since 2016. Now, 49% of people recall web giving, likely as a consequence of so many nonprofits pushing for online donation via Giving Tuesday and other affairs; and 30% remember mail. Phone calls are remembered as a way to give by only 32% of respondents.

Such findings may prompt your station to look at how your asks define your online donation presence. Even if web giving is not as big for you now, the winds are shifting online in a huge way. When it comes to preferred methods for giving, online (46%) obliterates everything, including mail (22%) and phone (18%) and social media giving, like the Facebook donate feature (2%).

Also, counter to what many community radio stations have always assumed, more people say giving smaller monthly amounts is preferable to making a larger annual contribution. In general, older audiences prefer annual renewal by mail or phone, while millennials and Generation X like to autopay monthly. Those surveyed said the smaller monthly gifts felt easier to manage. Donors also believed their support, spread monthly, was more consistent and present. Your station may want to consider speaking to monthly gifts more, using such logic.

And lastly, why people stop giving may help shatter assumptions. The number of folks who stop giving because they no longer like the programming (8%) or pledge drives (4%) are outpaced by financial issues (18%). That financial number is up from 2016 (14%), but the pledge drive annoyance is down from the 2016 peak of 12%. Perhaps indicative of our polarized times, programming dissatisfaction for withheld contributions has spiked since 2016, when that figure sat at 4%.

The internet has helped nonprofits globally reimagine fundraising, so it should come as no surprise how it has altered your audience’s habits when it comes to charitable giving. May those insights, and many more, help make your community radio station’s 2019 its most successful year yet.

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The post Community Broadcaster: How Giving Changed appeared first on Radio World.

COMMENT filed in 19-3 : Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Stations and Low Power FM Stations

MB Docket 19-3 - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 17:00

Proceeding(s): 19-3 : Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Stations and Low Power FM Stations

Filers(s): America's Public Television Stations,Corporation for Public Broadcasting,National Public Radio, Inc.,Public Broadcasting Service

Lawfirm(s): Gray Miller Persh LLP

Comment Type: COMMENT

Date Received: 5/20/2019

Date Posted: 5/20/2019

Address: 2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW Suite 226, Washington, DC, 20007

FCC’s Pai Plugs Broadcast Rule Forbearance Authority

Radio World - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 12:24

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai put in a plug last Wednesday (May 15) for giving the FCC some fast-track broadcast deregulatory authority.

In a House Communications Subcommittee FCC oversight hearing Wednesday (May 15), he was asked by deregulatory minded Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) to comment on the state of the media marketplace and whether the FCC’s regulations matched it.

Pai signaled no. The chairman said that the disconnect between a moving marketplace and the “stasis” of FCC rules was the fundamental issue the FCC had with its media ownership rules.

He reiterated a suggestion he had made for the FCC to be able to respond as rapidly to competitive marketplace changes in the broadcast space as it can in the telecom and cable space, where it has forbearance authority.

That means that rather than having to launch a proceeding to remove a regulation, the FCC can effectively eliminate it by forbearing from enforcing it so long as it can be demonstrated that competition renders the reg no longer in the public interest to retain.

Pai said that if Congress granted it that same authority over broadcasting regulations that it had over telecom regulations, as he suggested six years ago he pointed out, it would “enable the FCC to work with much greater dispatch, would allow us to align our rules with the realities of the marketplace, and would allow you to see the benefits of the innovation and investment that could take place if we didn’t have rules on the books that were holding it back,” he said.

The chairman has been using the regular proposal, notice, comment and vote process to deregulate broadcast rules, including eliminating cross-ownership prohibitions and loosening restrictions on ownership of two of the top four stations in a market. But local market duopoly restrictions, a national ownership cap, dual network ownership prohibitions, and other restrictions remain to be addressed through that regular order.

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The post FCC’s Pai Plugs Broadcast Rule Forbearance Authority appeared first on Radio World.

COMMENT filed in 19-3 : Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Stations and Low Power FM Stations

MB Docket 19-3 - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 11:00

Proceeding(s): 19-3 : Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Stations and Low Power FM Stations

Filers(s): REC Networks

Comment Type: COMMENT

Date Received: 5/20/2019

Date Posted: 5/20/2019

Address: 11541 Riverton Wharf Rd. Mardela Springs, MD, 21837

Rackley Was Revered in Engineering Community

Radio World - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 09:20
The late Ron Rackley.
Credit: Jim Peck

SARASOTA, Fla. — Ron Rackley was a lifelong supporter of AM radio, and perhaps no broadcast engineer ever had a deeper understanding of AM antenna system design, according to his industry friends. That’s why his loss is deeply felt by the broadcast engineering community.

Rackley died unexpectedly at his home on April 12. He was 66.

The veteran consulting engineer was a champion of AM radio and its revitalization efforts. He worked on high-power medium-wave antenna systems around the world and served as a consultant to USA Digital Radio during the early stages of in-band, on-channel digital testing.  

AM broadcast system design and optimization was Rackley’s passion, according to colleagues.

He graduated from Clemson University with an electrical engineering degree and worked as a radio station chief engineer and as an antenna designer for Kintronic Labs Inc. In 1983, he co-founded du Treil-Rackley Consulting Engineers, with Bob du Treil, which later merged with A.D. Ring & Associates to form du Treil, Lundin and Rackley.

“Ron was one of the true giants of broadcast industry. Before computer technology became widely implemented, there was real art to the design and tuning of directional AM antennas,” said Bob du Treil Jr., principal at du Treil, Lundin and Rackley. “Once computers became more widespread and powerful, Ron was instrumental in developing technology that would allow for numerically calculating the actual drive point impedances. This was a huge leap in capability.”

Rackley had announced his semi-retirement from the firm earlier this year.

He grew up in Greenville, S.C., and worked as a duty operator for several local AM radio stations while still in high school. His first job was in 1968 at WHYZ(AM), a 50 kW daytime station in Greenville.

[Rackley on Synchronous AM Boosters]

“I had plenty of time to read various engineering reports and study contour maps while on duty,” Rackley told Radio World during an interview in 2006 about his receipt of the NAB Engineering Achievement Award, shared with his friend Ben Dawson. “Radio always seemed like magic to me. It seemed less like magic after I took mathematics in college. … I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t interested in radio.”

Speaking with Radio World in April of this year, Rackley said he recalled taking apart his family’s “big wooden” RCA radio at the age of three.

“Fortunately, an uncle who knew about radio was able to put it back together and get it working. It was probably good that we hadn’t gotten our first TV set yet,” he said.

Ron Rackley and John Warner, VP for AM engineering at iHeartMedia, stand in front of the transmitter building for WTAG in Worcester, Mass., in 2002.
Courtesy John Warner

Rackley was a pioneer in developing computer modeling methods to improve the performance of AM antennas for stereo and digital transmission and to optimize filtering system designs for diplexing stations to share transmitter sites, according to industry observers.

He was also deeply involved in the FCC rulemaking that established Method of Moments computer modeling as the standard way to prove that AM directional antenna systems work correctly, greatly simplifying the requirements for licensing them.

TOWERS INDUSTRIAL PARK PROJECT

One of many career highlights was his work on a complex AM antenna design in Los Angeles called the Towers Industrial Park project.

“It involved constructing two industrial park buildings totaling something like 500,000 square feet under the five towers of the old KTNQ directional antenna system,” he said in the April interview. It required that the buildings be constructed with shielding to protect the areas inside from excessive radio frequency exposure levels and interference to electronic systems while at the same time providing a ground plane for the AM antenna system without disturbing of the KTNQ day and night directional antenna patterns.

“A few years later, I designed a way for the station that is now known as KEIB to move to the site and share the same five towers. The two 50,000 watt stations are now diplexed there,” Rackley said.

“HE DESERVED EVERY WORD OF APPRECIATION”

Touching tributes appeared quickly following his death. His daughter Elizabeth posted to her father’s Facebook account: “My dad was definitely the most intelligent person I have ever known. He did work in his field of electrical engineering that only a handful of people in the world were capable of, and was renowned for it. I will remember my father as an incredibly wise and loving father, who always knew what was best and who loved and appreciated his family. I have annoyed so many people bragging about my dad, and I have no shame for it. He deserved every word of appreciation,” she wrote.

Ben Dawson, president of Hatfield & Dawson Consulting Engineers, wrote to Radio World: “Ron was simply one of the finest people I have ever known. He was kind, thoughtful, generous, honest and self-effacing. And of course he was a brilliant engineer. Because we worked together on projects for many years all over the world, taught classes together, collaborated on comments to FCC rulemakings, and traded ideas and thoughts about all sorts of things besides our engineering work, I can say that I’ve never had a better friend.”

Ron Rackley, right, conversed with Geoff Mendenhall at a recent NAB Show.
Credit: Jim Peck

Colleagues said Rackley attended the NAB Show in Las Vegas in April, visiting vendor booths and participating in meetings. He’d been a regular at broadcast engineering conferences, friends said. Even though he was a “self-professed introvert uncomfortable speaking in front of crowds,” Rackley delivered countless speeches to radio engineers on how to troubleshoot and maintain AM antenna systems through the years.

[Remembering Ron Rackley]

“I’ll do it if I can help other engineers understand what AM is all about. Professionals are supposed to share information and to share knowledge,” he told Radio World at one point.

David Layer, NAB’s VP of advanced engineering, said, “It was devastating news that Ron Rackley had passed. I am so glad I was able to see him [in April] at the NAB Show and of course now wish I had spent more time with him. Ron was one of the gentlest souls I’ve ever encountered, a true gentleman and scholar, his brilliance as an AM broadcast engineer was world-renowned. He will be greatly missed by me and I expect everyone who knew him.”

Tributes have come from many across the broadcast engineering community.

“Superb engineer, raconteur par excellence, exemplary Christian,” said Karl Lahm, a consulting engineer with Broadcast Transmission Services. “That was Ron Rackley. And to say he was a character would be an understatement.” Ron “always had a good story, many involving less-than-optimal technical situations he had encountered over the years.”

Dave Stewart, consulting engineer with Moving Target Consulting Works, worked with Rackley on AM projects while at Univision Radio. He said, “Ron was great as an expert and great as a human being. He was easy to work with and generous with his expertise. He was decent and principled. There are tips and tricks I use every day that Ron showed us.”

[Ron Rackley on All-Digital AM Radio]

Rackley was known for his wit and was often able to infuse complex topics with humor.

Ron Rackley with grandson Atticus circa 2013-14.

Fred Greaves, former DOE for Susquehanna Radio, recalled working on the new directional system at WQBA(AM) in Miami. “We would get back to the hotel early in the morning and the ice machine was always empty. Ron took out a 3×5 card and neatly wrote, ‘Please do not urinate in the ice machine’ and taped it to the machine. He quietly said to me, ‘We’ll have ice tomorrow night.’ When we got back to the hotel the following night, the ice machine was completely full.”

In April, Rackley told Radio World he was beginning to appreciate his semi-retirement. “It feels good being off what I call the billable hour’s treadmill that comes along with professional practice that I’d been running on for decades. I’m going to keep enjoying life.”

David Elehalt of Telco Communications best summed up the industry’s sense of loss when he wrote: “What will AM radio do without him?”

Rackley is survived by his wife Dorothy and four children. Rackley’s funeral service was planned for mid-May in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. According to his obituary, a celebration of Rackley’s life, which will be open to the broadcast engineering community, would be planned for a later date.

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