This article was originally published in the June 8, 2016 issue of Radio World and posted to the Radio World website on June 10, 2016.
Radio World reported the passing of Paul Schafer earlier. This article is a more detailed story about his life.
Paul Schafer, who is called a father of radio programming automation technology, died this winter in Bonita, Calif., following complications from a fall. He was 90.
Schafer spent virtually his entire life in broadcasting, receiving his first FCC license as a teenager in 1942 and being hired to do on-air work the same year by WJOB in his hometown of Hammond, Ind. The following year he moved on to Fort Wayne’s WOWO where he had a chance to ply his engineering skills. After time out for World War II military service in the U.S. Army’s Signal Corp. division, he joined WANE in Fort Wayne, dividing his time between equipment maintenance, selling time and pulling air shifts. He eventually left Indiana for Virginia, where he was employed as chief engineer and assistant manager at Norfolk’s WNOR.
Schafer’s big career break came in 1951 with a move to California and employment at the network level as a summer relief engineer with NBC’s Hollywood broadcast operation. He worked with some of the biggest movie and radio talent of the day at NBC and later remarked that he had had a chance to be involved in “the last of the golden years in radio.”Schafer poses with one of his transmitter remote control units in a 1950’s photo. Photo: Rob Schafer
Pioneered Transmitter Remote Control
It was during his stint at NBC that the FCC began to relax rules on transmitter operation, allowing certain classes of stations to operate without an operator at the transmitter site, as long as a licensed engineer could control and monitor operations from the station’s studio location. With the assistance of another NBC engineer, Bill Amidon, Schafer soon devised a remote control system that met commission requirements, and installed the first such unit at Oakland, Calif.’s KROW in 1953.
The introduction of this product marked the beginning of the Schafer Custom Engineering business. (Later the name was changed to Schafer Electronics.)
A few years after the launch of the remote control system, the National Association of Broadcasters used it in an extensive field testing program to test the viability of remote control for additional classes of radio stations. The NAB ultimately convinced the FCC to further relax rules governing operation of broadcast transmitters.
First Radio Program Automation
In 1956, Schafer was approached by the owner of KGEE in Bakersfield, Calif., to see if he could devise a system to provide overnight programming content without the involvement of a human operator on duty, thus allowing the station to further economize on operational expenses, as transmitter control and logging had already been remoted by Schafer.
The delivery of a package built around Seeburg jukebox 45 rpm record changer mechanisms and some Ampex reel-to-reel tape decks for playback of commercials and station IDs marked Schafer Electronics’ entry into the program automation business. This first system would be considered crude in comparison to later automation packages delivered by Schafer, but it marked the launch of a completely new technology in the broadcasting industry.One of the Schafer Custom Engineering mobile automation system showcases used to demonstrate the product outside of trade shows. Photo: Rob Schafer
Schafer and his engineering staff went on to develop increasingly more versatile and sophisticated program automation systems, including the Model 903 that appeared in the 1970s and became an industry standard. His name became synonymous with radio automation and his client base eventually grew to more than 1,000, with systems installed at radio operations all over the world.
Schafer’s automation systems were marketed by Collins Radio, Gates (later Harris and now GatesAir), RCA and others, as they had no similar products of their own. Schafer Electronics’ latest creations were a big part of the NAB Show for many years. However, Schafer was aware that not all broadcasters were able to attend such trade shows and outfitted several busses and motor homes with his systems and went “on the road” to demonstrate the value of program automation to management and engineering staff at smaller stations across the United States.
Schafer sold Schafer Electronics in 1968, but launched a new business the following year, Schafer International. In the mid-’80s he founded a third business, Schafer Digital, which was involved in the development of PC-based program automation and traffic systems.
Stereo FM Validation
Schafer was tapped by the FCC in the 1960s — when AM radio was still king — to assist the commission in proving the worthiness of FM to broadcasters through some intensive field testing of the newly-adopted U.S. FM stereo broadcasting standard. (Part of the testing involved transmission of a stereo audio pair by satellite.)
According to Schafer, the NAB also had a hand in the testing and demonstrations, as that organization believed that the U.S. FM stereo standard should be adopted worldwide.
He was honored with the NAB’s 2002 Engineering Achievement Award and authored a chapter on remote control for one of that organization’s Engineering Handbooks. Schafer was also the owner of a number of radio stations. His family included five children
A private ceremony to celebrate Schafer’s life is planned for June 18.
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND — One of the leading privately held radio and outdoor media companies in the Pacific Rim has licensed Veritone, Inc.‘s AI-driven application that brings real-time insights into data-driven advertising performance.
In mid-August, RBR+TVBR first reported on the purchase of construction permits for low-power television stations located in the Southernmost City in the United States and in the heart of the Coachella Valley, respectively, by The E.W. Scripps Co.
That deal, brokered by Bob Heymann of the Chicago office of Media Services Group, has just closed.
There are several ways to employ “cultural insights” to help brands gain the right amount of intelligence to solve the larger questions surrounding the consumer — and the marketing campaign surrounding a brand.
With the right insights, marketers can create solutions for today, and also shape how their media buy looks. In this column, brand strategist Whitney Dunlap-Fowler offers her expert analysis of how the right cultural insights can be best used for one’s branding needs.
He was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2004, thanks to his time at a Top 40 giant in the Twin Cities and, later, at Nationwide Communications. Upon his 2002 retirement, he ran Saga Communications’ Champaign and Springfield, Ill., properties.
Now, the life of Dale Weber is being recalled by the radio industry, as the former executive has died.
A group of Capitol Hill Democrats in both the House and Senate made it clear this week that they want legislation adopted that would force WWOR-9 in Secaucus, N.J., owned by FOX, to turn its attention away from the Big Apple and focus instead on the Garden State.
Interestingly, little was mentioned about the “New Jersey News Network,” operating on co-channel signals covering Northern New Jersey and the five boroughs of the City of New York.
Perhaps they knew about its sale, as that’s just been consummated. Who’s the buyer?
Add Saga Communications to the growing calendar of media companies that will be releasing their third quarter financial results during the first week of November.
Travel to the north of Stillwater, Okla., via U.S. Highway 177, and you’ll reach Ponca City. It’s home to the Pioneer Woman Museum, and a museum devoted to regional gasoline brand Conoco.
It’s also home to the broadcasting, news, sports, and media entertainment platform operating under the Ponca Post brand. Until now, two radio brands have been under Ponca Post’s operations. Soon, two more will be added to the mix.
Here’s another warning to MVPDs from a global market intelligence organization regarding the continued wave of “cord cutting” inflicting harm on the cable and DBS service provider’s growth prospects in the near-term.
“Video cord cutting is expected to strip nearly $33.6 billion in annual revenue from traditional U.S. multichannel services” by the end of 2025.
That’s according to a report released this week by Kagan.
What’s the Deal? That’s a question we ask in the just-released RBR+TVBR Fall 2021 Special Report. The broadcast deal flow sank to a decade-long low in 2020, although TV M&A activity is strong. The trend seems to be cemented for 2021, unless a surprise mega-transaction for Radio emerges in Q4.
Is deregulation the deal ignitor needed for radio? Are over-leveraged, revenue-challenged media properties particularly vulnerable, and acquisition targets from cash-rich enterprises? The conversation is poised to continue at a Forecast 2022 session that’s worthy of every broadcast leader’s presence — and perhaps a financier or broker, too.
An esteemed panel of investment specialists will take a hard look at the status of 2021 and the future of 2022 for broadcast investments in this “fact-based, tire kicking” session.
With Guggenheim Securities Senior Advisor Drew Marcus as the session moderator, the transactions outlook will take center stage as Wells Fargo Securities Managing Director and Senior Equity Media/Cable Analyst Steven Cahall participates in a discussion alongside Noble Capital Markets Managing Director/TMT Christopher Ensley and veteran media broker Richard A. Foreman.
The morning session on November 16 at Forecast 2022 could see Foreman elaborate on commentary shared to readers in the Fall 2021 RBR+TVBR Special Report.Richard A. Foreman, appearing at Forecast 2022 on Nov. 16, 2021 in New York.
Looking at the deal landscape, Foreman believes the radio industry has really been in a funk when it comes to transactions. “That’s created by a few buried issues,” he said. “You’re dealing with a technology today that is over 100 years of age that has withstood the hands of time greatly, but it is wearing. And, there are tremendous competitive products out there that really compete against it.”
Thanks to these new digitally delivered audio options, combined with the pandemic, radio has had what Foreman called “tremendous sluggishness in revenue.”
When Foreman looks at the television deal-making landscape, he expresses confidence in the fact that there are buyers — including the mega groups and Byron Allen-led Allen Media Group. The key problem? “There is no inventory,” he said. “That’s it. Period. And the prices being paid for television are eight to nine times trailing cash flow. But, you can’t find anything.”For more, be sure to be present November 16 at Forecast 22 in New York.
REGISTER NOW BY CLICKING HERE! The venue is small. Demand is higher than usual. Don’t be left out due to a sellout!
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Here’s a story of interest to those who follow emergency alerting in the United States:
The FCC has now published the list of questions that it asked major wireless companies about the recent national test of the Wireless Emergency Alert system.
Answers from the companies to the questions were already available on the FCC website, but those answers make more sense now that the original questions are also publicly available.
The national WEA test was held in August concurrently with the national EAS test that involved broadcasters. The test would have been seen only by mobile users who had opted in on their devices.
The commission had sent letters to Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T ahead of time asking them to file voluntary comments about the performance of the test on their networks. (Read the letter.)
Among the questions it asked each to answer were: Did the carrier receive the nationwide test message and transmit it to its subscribers in all geographic areas where it offers WEA coverage? At what time, to the closest millisecond, did its gateway receive the alert from FEMA IPAWS, and when did it transmit the alert to subscribers? Were there complications with alert processing or transmission? What differences were noted in WEA performance between 3G, 4G and 5G networks?
The carriers’ responses are public; the links below will open or download their filed replies:
AT&T is confident the alert was transmitted to all geographic areas. The company said alert transmission to subscribers started 40 seconds after it received it from IPAWS. AT&T had employees in 37 cities enabling the test alert on a variety of Android and iOS devices and found a 99% completion rate, though apparently the test alert was received twice by some users. “We believe we understand the reason and are working with the vendor to confirm the cause of this duplication,” it wrote.
Verizon cited a 55-second turnaround time. It said it saw several cell sites restart at various times during the alert, so those sites were late to broadcast the alert, but it said customer impact would be minimal due to coverage redundancy. “The device would ignore the later alert broadcast of the restarted cell site as a duplicated alert because the devices had already received the same alert earlier from other available cell sites.” It also noted that it received anecdotal reports that some consumer handsets didn’t receive the alert, but said some users may have misunderstood how to opt into the relatively new State/Local alert category on their devices.
And T-Mobile said it had more 50 devices monitoring the test and that it had experienced no issues, even though real WEA alerts were issued in some parts of the country during the test. T-Mobile redacted some of the information in the public version of its letter, citing security reasons.
APM Studios, the podcast production division of American Public Media, has named a new Chief Content Officer while also putting a Chief Strategy Officer in place.
Office of FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington has made a pair of personnel announcements.
Marco Peraza will join the office as a wireline advisor and also advice on signal security issues. He previously served as a law clerk to Judge Michael B. Brennan on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Peraza also worked as a software engineer with Microsoft before going to law school. He will replace Carolyn Roddy who is joining the FCC International Bureau.
Erin Boone will take over the chief of staff position along with maintaining her position as a wireless advisor.
Send news of engineering and executive personnel changes to email@example.com.
From our Who’s Buying What page: Inovonics reported that the new FM 90 Radio Unity in India chose the 719N DAVID IV FM Broadcast Processor.
The community radio station is in the tribal Narmada district.
“The station launch is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s long-term vision for India to promote the empowerment of tribal youth,” Inovonics said in its announcement.
“System Integrator and Inovonics’ partner BECIL [Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd.] chose the 719N DAVID IV FM Broadcast Processor to integrate with the installation because of its audio processing capabilities and unique feature set.”Inovonics DAVID IV 719N
BECIL provides radio and TV project consultancy, system integration and turnkey installations.
The station was launched on India´s 75th Independence Day. Inovonics noted that the station is near the 582-foot statue of statesman Sardar Patel, the tallest statue in the world and almost twice the height of the Statue of Liberty.
Inovonics’ Regional Sales Manager is Mukesh Chaudhary.
Suppliers and users are both welcome to send news for Who’s Buying What to firstname.lastname@example.org.
COLMAR, FRANCE — If there every was a fairy tale town in Europe, the city of Colmar in France’s Alsace region may be the best example. Its old town, replete with a “little Venice” canal and numerous architectural treasures, is home to some 69,000 residents.
Here, FM radio reception is very good, with no less than 19 stations beaming from Mulhouse, a 40 minute drive to the south.
Travel another 10 minutes and you’ll reach Basel, Switzerland, a city of more than 171,000. Five Swiss FM stations can be heard, in addition to FMs tied to the large SWR regional broadcaster over the Rhine in Germany.
While that may seem small in number, the total number of FMs expected to be on the air in Basel in less than three years is zero.
Welcome to the next station to not only say goodbye to AM, but also to FM.
How has broadcast media revenue recovered from the onset of a pandemic that saw generally steep declines for Radio, and lesser dips for Television?
Is Automotive poised for a rebound, even as supply chain issues make used vehicles more valued than ever?
As the country continues to emerge from the pandemic, a Forecast 2022 session that includes the participation of TVB President/CEO Steve Lanzano is shaping up to be another provocative must-attend event.
Reviewing where the strong pockets of opportunity for broadcast advertising may be, Lanzano will be joined by GroupM Executive Director of Specialty Channels Jen Soch. Moderating the panel is Katz Media Group CEO Mark Gray.
Lanzano, whose organization last week staged the successful virtual TVB Forward Conference, spoke exclusive with RBR+TVBR for a conversation that exclusively appears in our Fall 2021 Special Report.
Of the big topics among TVB members, measurement is likely at the top of everyone’s minds, based on the discussion across the September 30 event. “Measurement is always either the top or top two sessions when we do our post-conference survey,” Lanzano said. “People love them and want more, and that’s why it is really the first major content session.”
With Nielsen seeking to work with the Media Rating Council on an accreditation hiatus, Lanzano hoped the audience measurement company’s issues will soon be somewhat more resolved than they were in late August. “We’ve been going back and forth with
Nielsen regarding accreditation,” Lanzano said. “We want BBO homes in but we want them put in at the right time, so we have good data.”
Cross-platform measurement, with one aggregated audience for content that is
deduped, “seems to be where the industry is going.” GroupM’s Soch likely has a strong view on that topic, setting Forecast 2022 up for a lively discussion.
Salem Media Group executives are gearing up for a presentation scheduled for October 13 at a key investor event of the fall season.
As they finalize what they plan on sharing, investors on Wall Street can’t decide if they should buy Salem, or make a quick profit by selling their stock.
The National Hockey League now has an agreement in place that will help bring audio coverage of select regular season games and the Stanley Cup Finals to radio stations across the U.S.
Sports USA is now the NHL’s exclusive live national radio play-by-play partner, thanks to a three year agreement that ends following the 2024-2025 season.
Sports USA began broadcasting NHL games with the 2020-2021 season. It starts its 2021-2022 regular season coverage with the first-ever game from the newest NHL franchise, the Seattle Kraken. They’ll play the league’s second-newest franchise, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, on Tuesday (10/12).
Other regular season games on Sports USA include the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic, which features the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild at Target Field in Minneapolis on January 1, and the 2022 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series, which includes the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on February 26.
“We look forward to building on the success we had during our coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and are thrilled to expand upon this partnership,” said Larry Kahn, Sports USA’s founder and CEO. “The NHL has a loyal and passionate fan base and we couldn’t be more excited about the next four years.”
In addition to terrestrial radio, the live broadcasts will also be distributed digitally via Tune-In, SiriusXM and other NHL digital partners, as well as SportsUSAMedia.com.
The company’s connection to the NHL began last February with its coverage of the 2021 NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe, featuring two regular-season outdoor games played at Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nev. and continued through the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals and Stanley Cup Final.
For the second consecutive year, the Radio + Television Business Report has partnered with Media Staffing Network for a comprehensive analysis of television industry sales compensation.
With more years of data to glean from, MSN has tracked trends and can offer television station owners and managers valuable insights — information that can empower them to budget accordingly.
The report’s highlights are available in the RBR+TVBR Fall 2021 Special Report, our quarterly magazine. The full report has now been released by Media Staffing Network, in partnership with RBR+TVBR.
“This year brought a new area to investigate,” notes Media Staffing Network CEO Laurie Kahn. “Our survey was conducted over the summer when we were well into the COVID-19 pandemic. Covid triggered many changes in our business and impacted how we employ and compensate people. We added more questions, and as situations arise in the future, we will continue to adjust accordingly by including questions that are relevant to current market conditions. We always probe for information that is critical to decision-making, and we accommodate as many requests for new questions as possible.”
He most recently served as the station manager of a TV station serving Midland-Odessa, Tex., and before that was in Alaska.
Now, The E.W. Scripps Co. has appointed this local leader VP/GM of its CBS affiliate serving Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska.