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BR Verkehr Puts Focus on Traffic

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 02:00

MUNICH — Traffic is a key content in many stations’ schedules. Some stations are renowned for their timely, detailed traffic breaks. Others specifically target motorists driving along a given motorway or within a region. Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Broadcasting), instead, went a step further with BR Verkehr.

Dominik Einzel, traffic journalist at BR and anchor for Bayern1, in one of BR studios. CREDIT: Dominik Einzel

BR is a public-service radio and television broadcaster, based in Munich, and is a member organization of the ARD consortium of public broadcasters in Germany. They air five radio stations in both FM and DAB, plus five digital-only stations.

FULLY AUTOMATED

As a pioneer of digital radio broadcasts, in 2005 BR began broadcasting a digital-only station — BR Verkehr [BR Traffic] to air traffic information only.

BR Verkehr is a fully automated station. A speech synthesizer “reads” the various traffic news and composes a traffic newscast that lasts a few minutes, depending on the actual number of alerts. The process then restarts from the beginning.

“We have a traffic newsroom where one journalist is on duty 24 hours a day,” said Daniela Rembold, BR Traffic coordinator, “and a second one from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.. In this newsroom we manage all the traffic information for each of our radio stations, for our website and for our videotext services.”

Daniela Rembold is traffic coordinator at BR. CREDIT: BR / Lisa Hinder/Max Hofstetter

BR receives traffic information and alerts from many sources, including the police, the ADAC [the German automobile club] and the TomTom Traffic service.

One of the two journalists on duty has the task to gather and merge the various pieces of information that arrives from available sources. After having received the information, the journalist identifies the locality of a reported event and double checks the affected area on Google Maps to verify the situation and expected time delays.

The first journalist then composes a traffic alert message, while the second journalist, in the studio, is ready to break-into the current program feed of BR’s station Bayern1 to broadcast severe alerts, like a ghost driver (someone driving in the wrong direction) or animals on the road, as they arrive.

TIMELINESS

“We do not have an approval process on traffic news,” Rembold explains “timeliness is key to us, so we rely on each of our journalists.”

BR’s editors do not forward the received traffic news or alerts as they are. Instead, they optimize the wording in order to ensure that each sentence sounds clear and can be properly understood by listeners.

“Their job is turning the received information into clear, effective and easily understood messages that can successfully reach our audience, as well as our website’s readers,” Rembold added.

Firstly the journalists tailor the message that’ll be broadcast on air, then they prepare a specific version of the same message for BR’s website and for the speech synthesizer process.

The workflow of BR’s traffic newsroom is based on the continuous, automated ingestion of data feeds from trusted sources in the form of TPEG and TMC metadata, while TomTom Traffic has its own proprietary format. A specific software suite turns the received feeds into understandable information.

No manual action is usually required to receive the information. If a reporter finds out about a major accident, they call the police or an involved authority and run a remote interview in order to provide a complete, ongoing picture to their listeners.

Unlike traditional stations, BR Verkehr focuses only on the continuous update of “fresh,” brief and effective news — there is no space for interviews and side information.

EARLY TRIGGER

The user interface of the latest release of the Xebris Flow traffic suite.

In order to check the present conditions of traffic impairments and delays, BR journalists rely on TomTom information and the Floating Car Data service (FCD) from the ADAC. If required, they can also access Google Maps to double check as many details as they can, especially the impact the given event can have on travel times.

Google Maps does not feature a “trigger event,” which can activate a sort of flag to tell reporters that something is happening, like TPEG and TMC metadata do. Since Google Maps can’t prompt editors with pushed alerts or events, reporters need to manually check the Google Maps website for what’s happening at the involved location.

BR’s traffic newsroom relies on the Xebris Flow software suite from Xebris Solutions (an Austria-based IT traffic data management company) to ingest and manage incoming traffic and news reports, as well as to prepare their traffic bulletins.

Anton Fitzthum is business development partner at Xebris Solutions.

Anton Fitzthum, Xebris Solutions business development partner, believes that radio stations can’t rely just on information coming from police departments as an initial trigger for traffic alerts.

“In Germany,” he said “the average delay between the time a police patrol on the road notices an accident and broadcast editors receive the relevant message is between 15 to 20 minutes,” he explained. “So, when the editors get the alert it could be that there is no congestion anymore. Or that maybe the situation has degraded.”

Fitzthum believes the integration of traffic information from TomTom Traffic, Google Maps or other third-party real-time level of service data provider within a broadcasters’ traffic newsroom systems is crucial for consistent early triggers of traffic events.

“Otherwise, even the best designed traffic information newsroom could produce bulletins that are timely with respect to the information received, but dramatically late on real events.”

The post BR Verkehr Puts Focus on Traffic appeared first on Radio World.

Radio Gains in Diversity in Most of Africa

Sat, 02/22/2020 - 02:30

The author is the executive director of Radio VOP in Zimbabwe and a fellow at the Center Media Data and Society at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Ensuring diversity in radio broadcasting is crucial for democracy in Africa, as radio remains one of the most popular forms of media. The picture is still patchy. Many African countries have improved significantly. But there are still nations where promoters of radio diversity face an uphill battle.

John Masuku

Marked on the day of 13 February following UNESCO’s designation nine years ago, World Radio Day is “a celebration of the first electronic medium that has, over the decades, remained a powerful medium for connecting people and possessing the potential to reinforce critical governance concerns such as access to information, media diversity and pluralism,” Mirta Lourenço, chief of UNESCO’s Media Development and Society, Communication and Information section said in an interview with Radio World International.

That is especially true in Africa where radio has remained the most popular mass-medium thanks to its adaptability to rapidly changing living conditions on the continent, Zimbabwean academic Winston Mano wrote in a book published in 2011. He attributes radio’s growth to its simplicity, flexibility and easy access.

The sector has been thriving in Africa in recent years, significantly diversifying in terms of ownership, content and access platforms.

DEEPENING DEMOCRACY

Having a diverse radio framework helps deepen democracy, said Lumko Mtimde, former head of the Media Diversity and Development Agency (MDDA) in South Africa.

“The policy, legislative and regulatory framework in South Africa provides a diverse radio industry with three tiers, namely public, private commercial and community radio. This framework defines ownership and control, governance and licensing,” said Mtimde, who also worked for the media regulator in South Africa as well as various community radio associations both national and international including the Canada-headquartered World Association of Community Radio Stations (AMARC). The diversity in the industry also facilitates a more diverse programming structure, he said.

The situation is similar in some other countries, for example Kenya where the market has more than 100 radio stations. Media freedom and civil society activist Grace Githaiga says that “most of them play music, but they have freedom to broadcast any content so long as it does not offend the senses. Some do go overboard especially with content that may be of sexual nature but the regulator has now come up with a code of conduct that outlines the watershed period. Otherwise, stations continue to be licensed without any hindrance.”

“In Africa radio has remained the most popular mass-medium thanks to its adaptability to rapidly changing living conditions on the continent.”

Radio in Ghana is also diverse in terms of output, ownership and even language, according to Atiewin Mbillah-Lawson, a senior broadcast journalist with the privately owned Starr FM. “While some stations aim at attracting youths with good music, witty banter and interviews with trendy celebrities, others focus on news and current affairs programs aimed at promoting good governance, democracy and accountability.”

These radio stations broadcast in English, but also in many local languages like Twi, Ga and Kusaal. Broadcasting in different languages helps include minorities in radio programs, which is a very important aspect of diversity. In South Africa, the public broadcaster SABC broadcasts in 11 languages, says Shepi Mati, journalism lecturer at Rhodes University.

CHALLENGES AHEAD

Wits Radio Academy and community media trainer Jacob Ntshangase says that community radio in particular helped boost the diversity of sector. “People in remote rural communities are now able to listen to news and content that is about them. Radio space is open for anyone to venture into commercial entities at regional level,” he says.

Credit: Lameck Masina

Nevertheless, community radio stations face several challenges. They “sometimes seem to struggle to maintain the initial language conditions of their license due to social mobility and migration,” Mati says. Furthermore, Ntshangase says, some of the founders of various community radio stations “want to turn them into private properties,” which is the perfect diversity-killer recipe.

Dangers remain in other African nations, too. Sam Phiri, a former journalist and media studies lecturer at the University of Zambia, said that in Zambia broadcast diversity “is constrained by its self-proclaimed status of being a Christian nation. For years Muslims have applied for radio broadcast licenses but have never been allowed to broadcast even on the state-owned Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).” At the same time, Christian stations, run by both the Catholic and Pentecostal churches, strengthened their control over an increasing share of the nation’s airwaves, Phiri added.

LONG WAY TO GO

Still, in some African countries community radio stations are the only media that can offer diverse programming. In eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, Radio Lubombo, the first community radio station in the country, has spent 19 years lobbying heavily to be allowed to register; and still has to apply for a broadcast license to be able to launch broadcasting. Nearly all broadcast media in eSwatini are state-controlled propaganda arms in the service of the King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), an NGO in Zimbabwe, for many years has expressed concerns about the state ownership in most of the country’s radio stations. Zimpapers, a pro-government newspaper company also offers radio and television services. But that is hardly an example of media diversity. The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), the country’s media regulator, has not licensed any community radio station to date.

Mano says: “We have a monolithic radio space which is pro-ruling party. Minorities of languages and other interests are still poorly served. Rural audiences have poor signal and new players are crowded in urban centers.”

The need for diversity in the media is not a new concept in Africa. Media Monitoring South Africa’s Radio News Diversity Project highlighted the importance of media diversity already in 1998. After more than 20 years, diversity of media still has a long way to go in some of Africa’s nations.

John Masuku is a media trainer/writer and has been a radio broadcaster since 1974. He is the Executive Director of Radio VOP in Zimbabwe and a fellow at the Center Media Data and Society at Central European University (CEU), Budapest, Hungary.

This article was first published on Center for Media, Data and Society website.

The post Radio Gains in Diversity in Most of Africa appeared first on Radio World.

Samson Q9U Broadcast Microphone Debuts

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 16:08

Equipment manufacturer Samson is venturing into the broadcast market with the Q9U, a dynamic XLR/USB microphone.

Featuring analog and digital connectivity with an XLR output and USB C connection with 24-bit/96 kHz audio resolution, the new microphone is intended for broadcasting, podcasting and streaming.

The Q9U features a humbucking neodymium capsule that is isolated from mechanical noise by an internal air-pneumatic shockmount. The capsule has a cardioid pickup pattern to provide off-axis rejection. The design includes a dual-layer windscreen to help minimize popping and plosives, while low-cut and mid-presence boost controls offer further onboard sound tailoring.

The microphone features a USB C connection for instant plug and play connectivity to a computer without any driver downloads required. Along with the onboard 24-bit/96 kHz A/D converter, the microphone body includes a zero-latency headphone output that allows users to monitor their voice directly from the source or from the computer, and offers an onboard mute switch.

The Samson Q9U will ship in Q2, 2020 for $199.

Info: www.samsontech.com

The post Samson Q9U Broadcast Microphone Debuts appeared first on Radio World.

Have Layoffs Done Collateral Damage to Radio?

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 15:51
A quick Google search shows iHeart’s news is currently dominating the narrative, but it’s far from the only broadcaster making these types of decisions.

This article was originally posted on the JacoBlog from Jacobs Media Strategies.

Politics and radio are strange bedfellows, indeed.

We start with a senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown and an odd mashup with radio. Aside from considering a run for president this year (he wisely decided against it), Brown made some headlines of his own in January. 

It seems that in the middle of only the third impeachment hearing in the history of this 240 year-old republic, the senator from the Buckeye State felt it was important enough to write a letter to Bob Pittman.

Many of you no doubt saw his missive in the industry trades. Pointing directly to the mass layoffs in radio, Brown asked iHeartMedia’s CEO to explain the downsizing of so many stations — especially in his home state.

Among other concerns — including executive compensation and bonuses — Brown asked Pittman to respond to these questions by Feb. 14. I’ve abbreviated them below:

  1. How many workers were fired (and how many from Ohio)?
  2. What type of severance and health care benefits did they receive and for how long?
  3. Will these employees be given priority for open positioning in the future?
  4. Will these terminated employees receive training to help them qualify for new jobs?

Good questions all.

But the strange part is why a U.S. senator embroiled in one of the most controversial events in American history is even bothering to swoop in and ask questions about what is going on in broadcast radio.

Sherrod Brown is not the only one, nor is iHeartMedia the only company involved in layoffs these past few months. For an industry that has trouble agreeing on what belongs in the dashboard and how Nielsen should conduct the ratings, the radio industry has sadly come together on the issue of downsizing, terminations, layoffs, reductions in force, “dislocations” and whatever else you call them.

And the world is taking notice.

It’s an understatement, of course, but this is a challenging time for radio, perhaps the most trying since the medium became part of the American culture. Capitalism isn’t always pretty, and we’re watching its scary side at work here, as companies duke it out to survive in this roiling, highly charged environment.

Every industry — including tech — has been on the hot seat, balancing growth and sustainability, trying to figure out how to carve out a meaningful future, while maintaining quarter by quarter performance that sates investors and stakeholders.

In the commercial radio world, the pain is coursing through the hallways, conference rooms, cubicles and jock lounges. There are well more than 1,000 people and their families impacted by this latest round of cuts.

MAKING THE NEWS

There have been tough times in broadcast radio here in the U.S. before, but now it’s experiencing all sorts of blowback — just the type of bad PR it doesn’t need.

Especially now.

For an industry that rightfully prides itself on its good deeds during times of disaster — national and otherwise — as well as year-round fundraising and charitable pursuits, this negative coverage of broadcast radio at the beginning of a tenuous new year isn’t just unfortunate; it’s disturbing and troublesome.

If you search “radio layoffs” under Google News, you can now see the torrent of results that pop up — all 150,000+ of them.

This top group of search results all involve iHeart, but the more you scroll, the more stories you see — from Rolling Stone, the Washington Post and Robert Feder’s well-read blog, “Robservations,” to stories in smaller town publications like the Arkansas Business Journal, the Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.) and the Daily Voice (White Plains, N.Y).

Then there was this blaring headline from Syracuse.com, an online news site published by the Post-Standard: “Does iHeartMedia have more radio stations than local DJs in Syracuse now?”

Ouch.

And the main message of these stories has been consistent, despite the widely varying markets and communities: Most lament the loss of air personalities, many of whom have commented or whose social media feeds have been clogged with outraged, aghast fans. 

Interestingly, most of these DJs, shows and hosts haven’t expressed anger toward their former employers. In fact, many feel bad their voice is no longer being heard, often addressing the outpouring of emotion from fans.

Many also are partial commentaries on the state of the commercial radio business in the U.S. — or in their communities. Some wonder why some of the industry’s biggest companies are in the forefront of these layoffs. Others question the validity of claims like “live & local” in the face of these cutbacks.

Even the story of those six Des Moines DJs who got their jobs back after a pressure campaign from advertisers and listeners got coverage — by Rolling Stone no less — was no salve on the wounds. In fact, it only served to reinforce perceptions that big, bad companies are inexplicably and arbitrarily firing some of their most popular people.

RADIO’S PR BATTLE

P.T. Barnum, one of the greatest showmen of all time, once observed, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” But that’s a myth. These days, bad news travels faster than ever before, thanks to the power, efficiency and economy of the internet in general and social media specifically.

There’s no question radio — and all traditional media — have been under the gun financially. All the hyperbole in the world from the industry’s captains doesn’t mitigate the damage caused by the bad press that has accompanied this newest round of firings. Radio wasn’t exactly being treated as a media darling before this newest wave of axings went into effect, and newspapers have historically enjoyed dancing on radio’s grave — a key competitor for local revenue.

And while the companies in the forefront of these layoffs were all hoping to achieve economic savings, pay down debt and transition their efforts, you have to wonder if the collateral damage inflicted by these policies might not backfire on many fronts — sales, listenership and even the attractiveness of broadcast radio to younger generations.

We have often discussed the need for the radio industry to tell its story, but its story is now being told by media outlets with no qualms about throwing broadcasters under the bus. Radio can ill afford a wave of negative PR, questioning its efficacy as as local medium, as the coverage spins out of control.

Getty Images/geopaul

Yes, these cuts are painful. But most radio companies have a strategic purpose behind these moves. Investment in digital personnel and services is part of the narrative. This may not make legacy workers feel any more comfortable, but it’s a reality of what the radio broadcasting industry is enduring. These new hires may not offset the losses, but they show that companies are not standing pat while they face competitive headwinds.

There’s a term in business — customer-facing. It refers to businesses that deal directly with consumers. And there are customer-facing employees — the barista who prepares your latte every morning, the receptionist at your dentist’s office who helps you set appointments, the knowledgeable geek at the electronics store who helps you make the best decisions.

And in the case of radio stations, the people on the air who cheerily wake us up every morning, who deliver the news and traffic information, who turn us on to new music and local concerts, who energize and anger us with their controversial views, who send us off to bed each night are the “listener-facing employees.”

When they disappear from the airwaves, the audience knows. They’re the people who are often the faces of their stations.

The role of on-air talent shouldn’t be underestimated, even for companies that have run their analyses, their reports and their forecasts about who’s expendable, who’s making too much money, who isn’t pulling their weight. While Wall Street may (temporarily) applaud these efforts, the audience doesn’t care about these factors nor should they be expected to.

Think about it — what’s the first thing people say to you once they find out you’re in the radio business? “Oh, are you on the air? Have I heard you on the radio?”

Paul Jacobs spends an amazing amount of time with local radio sales teams. And he reports that stations without a viable morning show often feel they have a distinct disadvantage, preventing them from garnering premium rates.

Far be it for me to offer advice to radio broadcasters about whether to slash and who should get pink-slipped. As you might expect, these cutbacks have impacted our business as well.

But the effects of radio’s staff reductions are more apparent when they’re focused on denizens of the air studio. Few actually notice if a sales manager, a production director, an office assistant or a consultant gets the ax. (And that’s not to say people in those job categories don’t contribute, because, of course, they do. But the noise is always louder when an on-air radio companion is given her walking papers.)

I’ve blogged about the often intangible value of air personalities here before — a lot. And that’s because in the big scheme of things, it’s the people on the radio that move the needle, that make us laugh, tick us off, and move us to visit a phone store or a car dealership. There’s more to planning cuts on a spreadsheet than simply looking at the hard numbers.

In fact, the ROI cliche might be better expressed on ROR — or return on reductions. How much money was truly saved this time around? And what is the collateral damage that’s been inflicted on radio as a result?

It remains to be seen whether Bob Pittman will respond to Sen. Brown. And if so, how will he frame his answers to those questions?

We’re only two months into 2020, so it’s too early to know what — if any — impact the industry might experience from this event.

The affect on how stations sound, and their appearance to audiences and advertisers may not be known or felt for a long time. But there is a cost to savings, and radio is more than a spreadsheet.

For another insight, let’s turn to another P.T. Barnum quote: “Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public.”

We will see. We will see.

The post Have Layoffs Done Collateral Damage to Radio? appeared first on Radio World.

Community Broadcaster: Looking Up

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 14:58

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

Some time ago, I wrote about the need for community radio to take pay and inclusion seriously. I was greeted with a variety of responses. One of the strangest? Stations could not afford to be fair to labor, because they didn’t have the money.

I understand. Stations do wonderful things with the few resources they have. And it is surely a pleasure and a privilege to work in community radio. However, not taking a long-term sustainability mindset can after serious effects later.

Why should you think about your staffing and equity? I assume you appreciate the importance of attracting the right people and agree with labor fairness. I also believe there is a strategic reason for your station to think about equity today.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: D.O.A.?]

To the outside observer coming to a nonprofit or a local business, then hearing from the proprietor that she or he is broke and can’t afford any number of items says troubling things. It communicates instability, possibly poor products and a lack of support. Do troubled businesses feel like places that you want to put your money into, even when you like the business or nonprofit?

If you have an internal station culture where the chorus is one of negativity. Ask yourself if you’d want to put $50, $100 or more in a local nonprofit whose leaders openly talked about their inability to fundraise for even simple items. While it is good to be transparent, a perennial forecast of gloom benefits nobody.

The notion of scarcity is poisonous, because the message only spreads and colors the viewpoint of potential partners, underwriters, communities with no connection to the station and everyone else. These presentations do not convey trustworthiness, viability or a broad base of support.

More than a few stations claim to value inclusion, but fail at the most basic part of that: to create opportunities and futures for diverse voices in our space. Early-career staffers, diverse voices, and people of color are not here to make radio veterans feel good about their community radio stations. We do not show up to fulfill claims of representing the community. We too have families and dreams. Talking about diversity and wanting diverse leaders without creating a real and sustained pathway to emerge into leadership is purely virtue signaling, words that mean something to a few, but contain no action to show you mean it.

This is stated not to shame anyone. Instead it is an intervention about our language, our relevance and our need to imagine differently.

Being in a perpetual state of struggle is a missed opportunity to tap into your potential and growth prospects within our communities. The people on the fence about your station want proof their dollars are going to an organization that is not stagnant. Your detractors will use your own language against you in showing others you can’t be trusted with money, so what else can’t you be trusted with? It is crucial that your organization flips the narrative into one where your station is taking forward steps that create confidence in your vision. Otherwise, simply being there in your community just isn’t enough to help you flourish in the long term.

In leaders people most look for qualities like compassion, trustworthiness, a sense of stability and hopefulness. Success as a community media manager means conveying a vision for the future, tapping in to all these areas. Moreover, it is about avoiding one of the biggest traps in community radio: zero as a reference point.

The post Community Broadcaster: Looking Up appeared first on Radio World.

Collocating AM Transmitter Facilities With Cellular Monopole Towers

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 13:40

The author is former managing partner of Hatfield & Dawson Consulting Engineers and is a senior consultant to the firm.

While cell site towers and monopole masts have long been potential nuisances and sometimes severe impairments to the operation of nearby AM antennas, they can actually be useful as AM radiators in some situations.

The relaxation of the AM antenna efficiency requirements in the AM Improvement rulemaking has provided flexibility by revising the rules which previously made use of electrically fairly short towers and restricted ground system areas difficult (see reference [1] found later in this paper). Cell site antenna support structures vary widely in height, but many are tall enough to be suitable for use as antennas at AM frequencies.

We at Hatfield & Dawson began to investigate the possibility of using a cell site monopole for an STA antenna for an AM station in about 2004, well before the time when the FCC promulgated its efficiency rule changes. We discussed the possibility with the tower owner, and obtained assurance that they would entertain the idea of use for a low power AM operation. The idea didn’t go further at that time because the then-licensee was not sure they would relocate and rebuild.

RON RACKLEY’S WSRQ CP APPLICATION AND LICENSE

Ron Rackley’s client, WSRQ, had been operating with a temporary antenna under STA, but evidently was unable to continue at the STA site, or to construct previously approved directional facilities. When Ron was given the problem in 2016, he knew of our previous cell tower analysis, was aware of a cell site/communications tower of substantial height in an acceptable location, and advised his client to investigate its possible use. When the result was favorable, hFM te prepared an application for construction permit to use the site.

Two technical matters regarding use of this antenna tower required resolution. The first was the feed system arrangement, and the second was the ground system and resulting antenna system efficiency analysis.

The cell/communications tower is 185 feet (56.3 meters) in height, which represents an electrical height of 82.5 degrees, and therefore is tall enough to be an acceptable AM radiator. However, like nearly all cell and communications masts, monopoles and towers, it’s grounded. While detuning of grounded antenna support structures is generally accomplished with a skirt of three or more vertical wires, this was not a practical feed system method because of the multiplicity of antennas mounted on the tower.

A detuning skirt generally exhibits low RF burn hazard and can easily be temporarily disabled by “grounding” to the support structure in the vicinity of any necessary work. A driven skirt, however, has higher RF burn potential, and would require an off-air period while work is performed on the tower.

Skirts also add non-trivial amounts of wind loading, deadweight and leg stress, reducing the total capacity of a tower for additional load. The solution was to feed the tower with a slant wire feed. See Fig. 1.

Precedent for use of a slant wire feed had been obtained by our office in the application for license of station KFIO in April 2017. Ron used that precedent and showed a NEC-4 analysis of the essential circularity of the proposed WSRQ radiation pattern at horizontal and vertical angles, within 1.5 dB up to elevation 70 degrees. This result is consistent with the KFIO situation, and most all other slant wire feeds for towers of about 135 degrees or shorter, as is shown in our previous work [2]. Since many cell and communications towers are relatively short, slant wire feeds for AM use can often be a very desirable feed solution.

A NEC-4 analysis was also performed to determine the radiation efficiency of the proposed antenna, since the property parcel was very limited in size, as is typical of cell and communications installations. See Fig. 2.

Geometry showed that the site allowed a radial ground system equivalent in size to a 21.7-meter radius circle, or about 32 electrical degrees. This is well below the variables allowed by the FCC’s “Figure 8” table and computer program, which are of dubious provenance in any event. Although the construction permit was granted without a requirement for any efficiency measurements, a single radial was measured, and confirmed the calculated value. See Fig. 3.

The WSRQ construction permit was granted in November 2018, and the station is now licensed.

THE PENDING APPLICATION FOR CONSTRUCTION PERMIT FOR KARR

Our original analysis of possible cell site use for an AM station in 2004 was for KARR, a station that had lost its original transmitter site to development. The station licensee was unable to find any other possible permanent location except for, as in the WSRQ instance, a fairly tall cell tower on a small property parcel. See Fig. 4 for an idea of the constraints of the ground system.

The cell monopole itself is 150 feet in height (45.7 meters), 80.1 electrical degrees, and its antenna platform adds a bit of top-loading. The site size allows a 120 radial ground system of average length 0.134 wavelength. This radial system, like the WSRQ example, is well below the correction range of the FCC Figure 8 graph and computer algorithm.

The detailed model of the proposed slant wire fed, grounded-base, monopole tower is shown in Fig. 5.

The ground radials are modeled as #10 AWG wires buried to a depth of 0.15 meters (approximately 6 inches) in soil having a conductivity of 4 mS/m, and a relative dielectric permittivity constant (epsilon) of 15. This is the same dielectric constant used by the FCC in developing the Ground Wave Field Strength Versus Distance Curves in Section 73.184 of the Commission’s Rules and Regulations.

The NEC-4 files are over 90 pages and impractical to put in this report, but can be accessed on the FCC CDBS website at: https://tinyurl.com/karr-report.

Fig. 6 shows the model-predicted current distribution on the monopole.

Based on the results of the NEC-4 modeling, the predicted vertically-polarized RMS attenuated electric field at one kilometer is 197.1 mV/m, assuming a soil conductivity of 4 mS/m and a dielectric constant of 15.

From this attenuated value the predicted unattenuated field (antenna efficiency) was determined from the Ground Wave Field Strength Versus Distance graph (1430–1510 kHz) of Section 73.184. From the graph, for a referenced radiated field of 100 mV/m at one kilometer, the attenuated field at one kilometer for a soil conductivity of 4 mS/m is 76.7 mV/m. Stated differently, the 4 mS/m soil is predicted to attenuate the field by a factor of 0.767 when compared to the 100 mV/m unattenuated field at one kilometer. Therefore, the model derived attenuated RMS of 197.0 mV/m at one kilometer can simply be divided by 0.767 to yield the predicted unattenuated RMS field of 256.8 mV/m/kW at one kilometer.

Using the same NEC-4 model, the attenuated field strength in the horizontal plane varies from 196.1 mV/m to 200.8 mV/m, providing a circularity of 0.2 dB.

The application for construction permit is pending as of the time of this writing [3].

THE “FM TOWER” SPECIAL TEMPORARY AUTHORITY

Another site loss case resulted in an STA for use of an unusual wire antenna supported by the grounded guyed tower of a commonly-owned FM station. The tower guys were uninsulated and grounded at their outer ends as well, as is the usual case for towers not designed for AM use.

The grounded 300-foot guyed uniform cross-section antenna tower of was fed with an “umbrella spoke” wire, mounted and configured as shown in Fig. 7.

The base of this wire was terminated on the existing equipment building, and the matching network and transmitter were installed inside the building. Figs. 8, 9 and 10 show the details of the installation.

This installation also had a very cursory limited ground system. Six radial “ground” wires, extending to a distance of about 200 feet from the antenna tower (about 70 degrees) were installed. The radials were barbed wire laid in the snow (it was December). Barbed wire makes excellent radials for use in some specialized situations, and is far cheaper and less susceptible to theft than copper or even copperweld.

The efficiency for this antenna installation, based on reasonable ground conductivity assumptions and a moment method model, is about 200 mV/m/kW/km. The radiation pattern is modestly directional. Connection of the “umbrella spoke” at its upper end to the tower would result in a less directional pattern, but also a higher drive impedance.

USE OF MOMENT METHOD ANALYSIS FOR SHORT OR ODDLY-SHAPED GROUND SYSTEMS

Dave Pinion, Steve Lockwood and Joe Overacker in our office have just completed an extensive NEC-4 study showing that considerable modification of the ground system in a complex diplexed DA has essentially NO effect on the system efficiency. This situation will be an increase in total ground system area, but with an irregular configuration.

Similar studies have been performed on situations with extensive reduction of outer ground system area, and the results confirm that the “normal” 120-radial 90-degree ground system is overly conservative [4].

Fig. 11 shows the situation in the “before” and “after” ground system configurations.

The conclusion is that the lack of scaling for frequency in the Brown and Epstein experiment analysis, the source of the original 120 ninety degree radial requirement, has cost hundreds of miles of copper wire to be unnecessarily wasted.

SYSTEMS WITH NO GROUND RADIALS

A system using a relatively tall tower that does not have a base insulator but is grounded only with a few driven rods and has no radial ground system has been employed in two or three implementations which were licensed by FCC, originally at WNTF.

This arrangement uses slanted wires from close to mid-height on the tower, slanting in an umbrella arrangement to locations a short distance from the tower base. The wires are fed against the grounded tower [5]. See Fig. 12.

The complete lack of a radial ground system isn’t damaging to the efficiency, since the lower portion of the skirts or the “umbrella” together with the tower itself create a quasi-dipole, and, there is a path for the displacement current return, thus satisfying Kirchoff’s law. This result is similar to the use of elevated radial systems, with as few as four or six radials.

A quasi-dipole can also be created by a pair of skirt-wire assemblies on a grounded tower of sufficient length. A NEC-4 model using a pair of 50-degree skirts shows this configuration in Fig. 13.

This example falls slightly short of the FCC’s minimum efficiency requirement, but would be valuable for an STA. It could be easily modified to meet the FCC minimum value if a slightly taller grounded tower were available.

CONCLUSION

The conventional wisdom about the necessity of “ground radials” of substantial number and length is simply far too conservative. Innumerable examples of antennas with restricted or convoluted ground systems have been in operation for many years, based on simplistic analysis or field measurement confirmation. But modern analysis methods clearly show that the efficiency of unusual restricted area and unusual geometry ground systems — or in some cases no radial ground system at all — can meet the current minimum efficiency requirements of the FCC.

Benjamin F. Dawson III, P.E. has over 60 years of experience with broadcast antenna systems and other applied radio physics matters.

REFERENCES:

[1] 1st R&O, FNPRM, NOI;  MM Docket 13-249, at paragraphs 41–48 (October 23, 2015)

[2] Dawson, B., “The Slant Wire Fed Monopole, a Neglected but Invaluable Technique,” paper presented at the 60th Annual Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Broadcast Symposium, October 2010.

[3] Other examples of the use of moment method analysis to determine effective field of unusual antennas or antennas in unusual situations include: WRGC BP-20190130ABH, KSSK BP-20180921AAW, KIKI BP-20180921AAS and KHVH BP-20180921AAV.

[4] Dawson, B and S. Lockwood, “Revisiting Medium-Wave Ground System Requirements,” IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine, August 2008. Trainotti, V and L. Dorado, “Accurate Evaluation of Magnetic- and Electric-Field Losses in Ground Systems.” IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine, January 2008.

[5] Christman, A and C. Beverage, “The AM Umbrella Antenna,”  IEEE Transactions on Broadcasting, June 1999.

The post Collocating AM Transmitter Facilities With Cellular Monopole Towers appeared first on Radio World.

Radio Public Affairs: How Far We’ve Come

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 11:53
Reed Pence

The author is vice president of MediaTracks Communications and executive producer of “Radio Health Journal.

Public affairs programming on radio is vastly different than it was a few decades ago. 

For one thing, there’s a lot less of it. Prior to the first round of radio deregulation in 1981, AM stations were required to air “non-entertainment” programming for 8% of their weekly broadcast hours; for FMs it was 6%. 

The stringent rules resulted in stronger news commitments on most stations than are present today. However, most music stations didn’t want to break the format during prime hours, so the edict meant lots of overnight newscasts and public affairs blocks starting at 4 a.m. on Sunday, when a lonely board op would drag a big stack of reel-to-reel tapes into the studio. There was often a requirement to send the tape back to the local organization or syndicator so it could be used again. 

“Non-entertainment” also didn’t always mean “news and public affairs,” as regulators probably intended. For example, back in the 1970s, the half-hour religious “Powerline” program aired seemingly everywhere on Sunday mornings. “Church programming,” as some used to refer to it, was easy to acquire, cost stations nothing and was accepted as public affairs. It was well produced and helped clock the needed hours.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS TODAY

The quota requirements are long gone, and today stations can concentrate on what they do best full-time. There’s much less public affairs on radio, but it’s usually still aired on Sunday mornings. 

However, without having to scramble for programs simply to fill the time, today stations have no need to run anything less than the best, most informative and entertaining public affairs shows. Weaker national shows have been winnowed out. Highly produced programs featuring nationally prominent guests with in-depth coverage of the issues have taken their place. 

A segment of “Radio Health Journal” focused on concussions. Other recent topics have included medical debt, hoarding, melanoma and the increase in medical emergencies around the holidays.

But while there’s less public affairs on air, the FCC still takes it seriously, and expects stations to be good public trustees in return for the privilege of holding a license and absence of strict regulations. 

The main requirement today is a quarterly report, uploaded in a timely manner to the FCC’s online database, listing local problems and issues, and describing the station’s programming (usually public affairs) that has addressed these issues. 

Each station’s quarterly report is available for public view at any time as part of their Online Public Inspection File. Previously, stations were required to maintain a public file on paper at the studio, and they were typically unread by the public. So now, public affairs is much more visible — if a station is derelict in its issues-based programming or filings, it’s readily apparent. Instead of having to send an FCC inspector on an unannounced visit, now the agency can simply look online, and while it’s exceptionally rare to lose the license, some stations have been fined tens of thousands of dollars for deficiencies in the public file. 

Over the last few years, there have been a couple of trends in radio public affairs that run in opposite directions. 

One is toward running exclusively local public affairs — programs produced by a station or cluster for its own air, utilizing local guests. Many clusters admit it’s not a job they relish, especially when staffing is already tight. But when multiple dayparts are voice tracked from out of town, some local content may be perceived as necessary. Stations may also be concerned that since the issues they’re addressing are local, the response must also be. 

However, as far as the FCC is concerned, there is no requirement that public affairs programs be locally sourced, only that they address the issues important to their community in the quarterly report. The vast majority of problems and issues listed by stations are universal, such as “education” and “unemployment.” 

[C-SPAN Radio Marks 20 Years of Covering Public Affairs]

This has led to the second trend: the use of syndicated public affairs programs by thousands of stations nationally. Syndicated public affairs shows address these issues, and since they can secure the best guests and, often cover them more thoroughly than a local show ever could. Many stations use syndicated programs exclusively to satisfy compliancy issues, while others combine them with locally produced programs. 

Syndicated public affairs programs, such as our programs “Viewpoints Radio” and “Radio Health Journal,” offer stations an online quarterly report on the problems and issues they’ve covered. Affiliates are able to simply drag-and-drop this report into their FCC filing. With FTP delivery of these shows, station automation can also be programmed to download for air every week automatically, creating truly hands off public affairs that still serve the public interest and satisfy the requirements of the FCC. 

FCC rules have always driven public affairs programming. The rules are less onerous now, but still a serious consideration. Stations have found a variety of ways to meet them, even at a time when many station staffs are stretched to the max.

MediaTracks Communications produces and syndicates weekly, half-hour public affairs/ascertainment-based programs that satisfy FCC compliance requirements. 

Comment on this or any story to radioworld@futurenet.com with “Letter to the Editor” in the subject field.

The post Radio Public Affairs: How Far We’ve Come appeared first on Radio World.

Radio World Presents: NAB Show 2019 15 Things You Don’t Want to Miss

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 16:37

Would you like to get an early start on our industry’s biggest annual trade show? Come along for a free webinar from Radio World, hosted by Editor in Chief Paul McLane, on March 26 at noon Eastern time.

Paul will provide a peek at new products that he expects to create buzz; explore the newest, most promising radio sessions for radio technologists and managers; and share what he’s hearing from our industry’s leaders about important tech developments and standards.

The NAB Show is a huge and fabulous event, but it can also be daunting. With more than 90,000 attendees expected and more than 1,700 exhibits covering a million square feet, the job of getting the most out of the NAB Show requires a lot of planning. Radio World will help you learn about key pieces and products at the show, chosen with the radio reader in mind.

Sponsored by Broadcast Bionics, Comrex, ENCO, GatesAir, Inovonics, Logitek, NPRSS, RCS, Streamguys, MusicMaster and Wheatstone

Speakers

Paul McLane
Content Director
Radio World

 

Paul is a veteran industry technology journalist and former broadcast news anchor.

Click here to Watch.

 

The post Radio World Presents: NAB Show 2019 15 Things You Don’t Want to Miss appeared first on Radio World.

2019 NAB Show Product Report

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 16:01

What was exciting on the NAB Show floor? Which new products and technologies got the top buzz? Maybe you couldn’t get to the show or didn’t have time to see it all.

Radio World did the walking for you to prepare our 2019 NAB Show Product Report, featuring:

  • Dozens of new products
  • Features, prices, and availability dates
  • Cloud technologies for radio, hybrid radio platforms, MPX, digital radio monitoring, remote site management, new processors and much more
  • Observations by Radio World’s veteran editors and engineering contributors
Speakers

Paul McLane
Content Director
Radio World

 

Paul is a veteran industry technology journalist and former broadcast news anchor.

Dan Slentz
Chief Video Engineer
New World Symphony

 

Dan Slentz,Chief Video Engineer for New World Symphony on Miami Beach, has over 40 years of radio & TV broadcast operations and engineering experience.

Marguerite Clark
Content Director
Radio World International

 

Born in the U.S. and based in Paris, Marguerite is a veteran industry technology journalist who has been covering issues impacting the global media sector for more than 20 years from both Italy and France.

Click here to Watch.

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Top 25 Podcasts People Actually Listen to in 2020

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 15:23

Network and local monitoring company Media Monitors is adding “regular podcasting metrics” this year. To highlight its latest offering, the company has released information about the “Top 25 Podcasts” as determined by a recall survey in January. 

In a press release announcing the information, Media Monitors President and CEO Philippe Generali addresses a question that has long plagued podcasters: Are downloads or subscriptions truly equivalent to listening? 

Why does this matter? Advertisers are used to metrics like views, impressions, etc., and they want to know that an ad will actually be heard by a consumer, not just stored on their iPhone.

“Opt-in redirects or server-based download measurements services …. might be an indication of who subscribes to a show, but here, this survey asked respondents to name the shows they actually listen to,” Generali said. 

Take “The Joe Rogan Experience,” for example. It’s consistently listed on top downloads lists, and it also dominated the recall survey, ranking “number one among men and women, in every income bracket, among listeners of any education level and in every region.” However, it is only second in the the 35-44 age bracket, perhaps its one area to improve outreach. 

Media Monitors said its survey, conducted by Macromill Group company Precision Sample, also confirmed the conventional wisdom that women are true crime obsessives. Two advice programs also made the cut.  

Their top five were:

  1. “The Joe Rogan Experience” 
  2. “Phil in the Blanks” 
  3. “Crime Junkie” 
  4. “My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark”
  5. “The Dave Ramsey Show” 

Men’s podcast listening habits also play to type, with representation from sports, news and comedy programming in their top five:

  1. “The Joe Rogan Experience” 
  2. “ESPN” 
  3. “The Daily” 
  4. “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend”
  5. “Rush Limbaugh Morning Update”

It’s interesting to note that the overall Top 25 Podcasts list is dominated by programming favored by women. The number one show overall (Joe Rogan) is a favorite among both men and women, but the remaining four are those named by listeners who identified as female. Check out the chart (above) to see the full list.

There has also been significant debate about how advertisers should take advantage of this medium. Many listeners of what Media Monitors classified as “niche podcasts” were unable to independently recall brands advertising on their favorite shows. With an assisted recall, respondents listed Geico, Squarespace, ZipRecruiter and Quip as podcast advertisers they remembered. Media Monitors suggests this means many podcasts still do not have advertisers/sponsors, which they say represents an “untapped opportunity.”

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Entercom’s J.D. Crowley Honored With NAB Digital Leadership Award

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 15:04

The National Association of Broadcasters will recognize Entercom Chief Digital Officer J.D. Crowley with its  Digital Leadership Award at this year’s NAB Show.

NAB says its Digital Leadership Award honors an individual “who has had a significant role in transforming a traditional broadcast business to succeed on digital media platforms.” The award was created in 2015.

At Entercom, Crowley heads the strategy and operations for the broadcaster’s digital portfolio and oversees its brand modernization efforts, emphasizing “premiere content, next-gen storytelling and digital distribution,” according to the announcement. For example, he has expanded Entercom’s podcasting efforts by acquiring podcast publishers  Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios. Crowley also focuses on “content-driven listening” via Entercom’s streaming service Radio.com.

Crowley’s previous digital and content leadership positions include stints as executive vice president of digital for CBS Radio, senior vice president of CBS Brand Studio, and senior vice president and general manager of digital for CBS Television Distribution.

Crowley will receive the award at the the Achievement in Broadcasting Dinner, scheduled for Monday, April 20, at the Encore in Las Vegas. NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductees will be recognized at the same dinner.

Prior NAB Digital Leadership Award recipients include Wendy McMahon, Roger Keating and Catherine Badalamente.

The post Entercom’s J.D. Crowley Honored With NAB Digital Leadership Award appeared first on Radio World.

NRB Show Seeks 2020 Vision

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 07:23

The National Religious Broadcasters will convene this month in Nashville for NRB 2020, the annual Christian media convention and exhibition.

This year’s theme is “Look Forward.” According to the event website, NRB 2020 offers networking opportunities, workshops, keynotes, panels and an exhibit hall. 

The schedule emphasizes practical skills for the digital age, tailored to religious communicators. Advice and insights will be offered by industry speakers such as Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth partner Karyn Ablin, Borrell Associates CEO Gordon Borrell, Moody Radio Director of Digital Strategy and UX Yvonne Carlson, Edison Research VP of Music & Research Sean Ross, Finney Media President Chuck Finney, Salem Media Group Senior Vice President Russell R. Hauth and others.

Additionally, several NRB 2020 policy sessions will be headlined by names familiar to news junkies and politicos. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Bill Barr are slated to speak at the event, as are Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and TBN host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who have each addressed prior NRB conventions. 

IF YOU GO

Who: Christian media and ministry professionals

When: Feb. 25–28

Where: Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Nashville, Tenn.

How: https://nrbconvention.org/ 

How much: Full convention pass — $750 or $550 for NRB members; Expo Plus pass — $600 or $350; Expo only pass — $50

SAMPLE SESSIONS

Find the full schedule online at https://tinyurl.com/nrb2020schedule. It’s searchable by registration type and includes information on session locations. 

Feb. 25

7– 9 p.m. Opening Session 

Feb. 26

7–8:30 a.m. NRB Breakfast to Honor Israel 

9:30–10:45 a.m. Morning Forum — Policy featuring U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and American Center for Law and Justice Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow

12–12:30 p.m. NRB Talks — Music Licensing: Keeping Up with Key Developments in the Ever-Changing World 

12–12:30 p.m.  Workshop — Demystifying Facebook Audiences 

12:45–1:15 p.m. NRB Talks — Podcasting

1:30–2 p.m. NRB Talks — Emerging Trends for Digital Fundraising Growth 

1:30–2 p.m. Workshop — Music Royalties — Broadcast and Digital 

3–3:30 p.m. NRB Talks — Five Fresh Digital Fundraising Approaches 

4–5:30 p.m. Afternoon Forum featuring U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr

Feb. 27

12–12:30 p.m. NRB Talks — Creating the Right Content for the Right Audience 

12–12:30 pm Workshop — From College to Career: Breaking into Christian Media 

1–3 p.m. iNRB Student Feedback & Standing Committee Meeting 

3–3:30 p.m. NRB Talks — Bringing Young Talent into the Industry 

4–4:30 p.m. Afternoon Forum — Public Policy Update from NRB General Counsel Craig Parshall

5:30–7 p.m. Digital Media Advisory & Standing Committee Meetings 

7–8:30 p.m. Radio Advisory & Standing Committee Meetings 

Feb. 28

9:30–10:45 a.m. Morning Forum featuring Mike Huckabee and Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee

11:15–11:45 a.m.
NRB Talks — A 2020 Vision For Christian Radio 

12–12:30 p.m. NRB Talks — Video Did Not Kill the Radio Star: Moving Forward in a Digital World 

6–9 p.m. Closing Gala Dinner with Special Service Awards (ticket required) 

Feb. 25

7– 9 p.m. Opening Session 

Feb. 26

7–8:30 a.m. NRB Breakfast to Honor Israel 

9:30–10:45 a.m. Morning Forum — Policy featuring U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and American Center for Law and Justice Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow

11:15–11:45 a.m. Workshop — How to Make an Internal/External Digital Media Communication Plan

12–12:30 p.m. NRB Talks — Music Licensing: Keeping Up with Key Developments in the Ever-Changing World 

12–12:30 p.m. Workshop — Demystifying Facebook Audiences 

12:45–1:15 p.m. NRB Talks — Podcasting

12:45– 1:15 p.m. Workshop — Subject Lines: 5 Mental Levers that Anyone Can Use to Get More Opens and Donations 

1:30–2 p.m. NRB Talks — Emerging Trends for Digital Fundraising Growth 

1:30–2 p.m. Workshop — Music Royalties — Broadcast and Digital 

3–3:30 pm NRB Talks — Five Fresh Digital Fundraising Approaches 

3–3:30 p.m. Workshop — The Importance of Knowing Your Audience 

4–5:30 p.m. Afternoon Forum featuring U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr

Feb. 27

11:15–11:45 a.m. Workshop — Taking Control of your Distribution Strategy in a World of Digital Disruption and VOD Streaming Wars 

12–12:30 p.m. NRB Talks — Creating the Right Content for the Right Audience 

12–12:30 pm Workshop — From College to Career: Breaking into Christian Media 

1–3 p.m. iNRB Student Feedback & Standing Committee Meeting 

1:30–2 p.m. Workshop — On Air Fundraising Done Internally 

3–3:30 p.m. NRB Talks — Bringing Young Talent into the Industry 

4–4:30 p.m. Afternoon Forum — Public Policy Update from NRB General Counsel Craig Parshall

5:30–7 p.m. Digital Media Advisory & Standing Committee Meetings 

7–8:30 p.m. Radio Advisory & Standing Committee Meetings 

Feb. 28

9:30–10:45 a.m. Morning Forum featuring Mike Huckabee and Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee

11:15–11:45 a.m. NRB Talks — A 2020 Vision For Christian Radio 

12–12:30 p.m. NRB Talks — Video Did Not Kill the Radio Star: Moving Forward in a Digital World 

12:45–1:15 p.m. Workshop — Next Gen TV / ATSC 3.0 — How the New Emerging Broadcast Standard Impacts Christian TV 

6–9 p.m. Closing Gala Dinner with Special Service Awards (ticket required) 

EXHIBITORS

A sampling of companies that will be represented on the show floor. The full list can be found at https://tinyurl.com/nrb2020exhibitors

[twelve:thirty] media

Aberdeen Broadcast Services

American Amplifier Technologies, LLC

AMS Agency

B&H B2B

Broadcast Concepts

Broadcast Depot

Broadcast Software International

Broadcasters General Store

Buoyancy Public Relations

Cars Inc.

CASTUS

CDR Communications

Christian Television Network

CNLTV

COICOM

Comrex

ComunicadoresUS

CrossMedia/Lightcast

CSN International

DJB Software Inc dba DJBRadio (Digital JukeBox)

DonorDirect

Encompass Digital Media

ENCO Systems

Faith Radio – WLBF/WSTF/WDYF

Galcom International

Grace And Truth Radio

Haivision

LBG Marketing Inc.

Libsyn Pro

LinkUp Communications

Live365

LUMO Project

MegaVoice

Nimble Connect

NRBTV

PTZOptics

Quad Tape Transfer

RCS

SCMS Inc.

Shively Labs

Soliton Systems, Inc.

Stream Station

SuperChannel WACX-TV

Teradek

Trinet Internet Solutions, Inc.

Tulix Systems, Inc.

WATC-TV

WAVSTAR

WBNA TV 21

Wedel Software

WGGS-TV / KMCT-TV

Wheatstone Corp.

World News Group

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Telenet Closes Analog Radio Transmission Service

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 02:00

BRUSSELS — Telenet is shutting down its analog cable radio transmission service. Under the slogan “De Signaal Switch” (“The signal switch”) it began phasing out the service on Feb. 11.

The transmission provider, which serves 1.8 Million households in Flanders and Brussels, says the operation will be complete by the end of April. It also plans to end the transmission of analog television in 2021, leaving some 360,000 households to switch to alternatives.

MORE BANDWIDTH

“Our objective is to use the 88–108 FM MHz bandwidth for new projects like extra internet capacity — we simply need more room to speedup internet transmission and therefore we decided to stop our analog radio and television services,” said Bruno Bilic, entertainment product manager with Telenet Group.

“The fact is that we don’t have an idea how many people use analog cable radio,” admitted Bilic. “It has been part of our cable offer package since day one, and offers good analog audio quality, with excellent signal to noise ratio and 24/7 output. And although the service has existed for 30 years, many clients are not aware they use it — radio has always been there…”

After having tested a corporate communication campaign in two urban areas, Telenet launched a info-message on the 105.3 FM MHz. “We direct our customers to that specific frequency — when they hear a message saying they are connected to our analog cable network, they must take action,” explained Bilic.

[Belgium Holds National Digital Radio Week]

Telenet put in place various solutions, including a complimentary indoor radio antenna. “Replacing the coax-cable by the antenna allows the reception of some 30 FM stations but the signal is not always optimal,” Bilic said.

SIMPLIFY THE DIGITAL TRANSITION

“With most of our clients using the Telenet-Digicorder-device, the simplest and free access to radio, with 50 digital channels and 10 no-speech Stingray channels, is to connect the Digicorder’s output to the AUX-input of an amplifier. No need to switch on the TV set.”

In addition, Telenet’s web shop offers alternatives like a Vistron DVB-C VDR 210 radio -tuner, a Pure Elan BT3 DAB+ radio set or an LG WK7 smart speaker.

“The last thing we wanted was to leave our clients in the cold,” underlined Bilic. “The various solutions boost the number of stations from about 30 on the current analog dial to 40 with the cable tuner, and 60 with the Digicorder.”

Insiders are convinced the shutdown of analog cable radio will benefit listening overall and further facilitate the transition to digital radio.

In the South of Belgium, cable company VOO, serving some 800,000 households in Wallonia and Brussels, continues its analog signal transmission. “At this point, we have no plans or timetable to shut down our analog radio services,” commented VOO spokesman Patrick Blocry.

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The Great Outdoors for Fun and Profit 

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 16:33
Duluth, Minn., rock station KQDS(FM) hosts a Great Outdoors blog at https://95kqds.com/. It features “experiences, tips and discussion.”

I love to hike, bike and walk, especially on trails through the woods. Judging from the quantity of people I encounter on my excursions, I am not alone in my passion for the great outdoors. It’s one of the few remaining places in America where people actually openly smile and say hello to one another. I suppose we are all in a better mood when carefree and breathing fresh air. 

Radio stations are always searching for ways to project fun, tap into good feelings and show support for public institutions. By appointing one of your on-air personalities as your “outdoors person” — or hiring a freelancer — you can capture this feel-good attitude. And yes, there’s even a way to generate revenue by doing so.

A clever name or title for this al-fresco role will help you to build affection for the person presenting information on-air, online and via your social platforms. You are creating a subject matter expert — an influencer, in today’s parlance — who has the street cred to guide your audience into the great outdoors. 

No doubt, part of the appeal of communing with nature is that many outside activities are either inexpensive or even free. It’s important to communicate the financial facts and other details when talking about park entry fees, activities and events. 

Here’s an example of how this could play out on your station and then across your brand’s platforms: 

  1. On-air pre-recorded piece: “Hey, it’s Smokey O, the Outdoors Guy. During this amazing spell of mild winter weather, have you considered hiking in the nearby George Washington National Forest? Parts of the forest are less than two hours from DC. One trail I particularly recommend is the Woodstock Tower Trail, a moderate 45-minute gradual climb. When you get to the top, you can climb the ranger tower where you can see for miles over the Shenandoah Valley. Entrance to the park is free. Get more details about how to plan your day at [station’s website], Facebook page or see pics at #SmokeyO.” 
  2. Tag: “Smokey O, the Outdoors Guy, is brought to you by Smoot’s Outfitters, where all your climbing gear is now 20% off.” 
  3. On Instagram, you’d post pics of the hike. 
  4. Your host, Smokey O, could do a weekly five-minute podcast about his forays. 
  5. Some of these clips could be recorded while Smoky O is actually hiking, a great way to inspire listeners to get up and go.
Ozarks Public Radio capitalized on June as Great Outdoors month at www.ksmu.org, branching out from its regular coverage of Missouri news and politics.

After you’ve established your Outdoors Person as an authentic, reliable personality and he or she has gained a following, you’re really ready to run. They can begin making appearances at nonprofit events and activities to strengthen your station’s community relations, then also serve as a personality doing live cut-ins from retail establishments and commercial exhibitions related to anything outdoors.

FINDING YOUR SMOKEY O

I’ve left the most challenging part of this plan for last. You’re likely wondering how in the world you are going to find the right person for this role. 

Aside from the normal job sites, like LinkedIn and Indeed, and getting recommendations from locals connected to the outdoor scene, have some fun! 

Run a contest and do “tryouts” for a month. You could feature contestants on your morning show, have them guest-post photos on your Instagram, and then let your audience vote. 

You could also check to see if there are any local influencers with an active lifestyle who are already big on YouTube or Instagram. Likely, they’d love to reach a new audience via radio and your social channels. 

Sowegalive.com features its own “The Great Outdoors Radio Show” and a podcast for Georgia outdoor enthusiasts.

Remember that this concept is not limited to hiking. Depending on your location, you can cover fishing, hunting, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, sailing… virtually any outside activity that your audience enjoys in your area. 

More than 150 years ago, Massachusetts native Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal, “What is Nature unless there is an eventful human life passing within her?” Encourage your listeners to experience the world outside, and who knows what they may discover.

Mark Lapidus is a multi-platform media, content and marketing executive and longtime Radio World contributor. Email mark.lapidus1@gmail.com.

The post The Great Outdoors for Fun and Profit  appeared first on Radio World.

Big Tech, Broadcast Battle Over 6 GHz

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 12:42

The FCC is getting pressure to free up the entire 1,200 megahertz of the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi, as broadcasters wave caution flags over potential interference to their signals should a sharing regime be instituted.

A continued call for all of the spectrum that stations now use for electronic newsgathering (ENG) came in a letter to the FCC from some of the biggest in Big Tech — Apple, Facebook, Google — as well as from consumer and free-market advocacy groups.

That was followed closely by a letter from a bipartisan pair of legislators calling for the same approach, including one whose Northern California district skirts Silicon Valley.

Broadcasters use the band for broadcast auxiliary services (BAS) operations such as sporting events, breaking news and special events. They said the FCC’s proposed interference protections — limited to lower-power, indoor operations — miss the mark, particularly as some camera transmitters used to relay footage to stations also operate indoors and at low power, so they would be in the interference line of fire even with those limitations on unlicensed devices.

Broadcasters have had to fight for ENG before as the FCC trolled for spectrum. They don’t want the agency to allow full use of the band without assurances — and not simply from the computer companies or cable operators hungrily eyeing the spectrum — that new uses won’t interfere with existing operations.

Cable operators, who are looking for more Wi-Fi spectrum, agree with the computer companies that there is a way to share and share alike.

The FCC on a mission to free up as much spectrum for 5G as possible (a Trump administration priority), including allowing shared use wherever it is feasible.

While some have argued for moving incumbents to a different band entirely, Apple and others have said that process could take a decade. Besides, sharing will work without jeopardizing incumbent service, tech companies told the FCC: “If the commission wants to bring more midband spectrum into use for next-generation wireless in the near term, while preventing disruption and interference to incumbents, the clear answer is to make 6 GHz available for shared unlicensed use.”

Lawmakers Join Push

In their letter, Reps. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) and H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) asked the FCC to free up the entire band ASAP. “We believe the 6 GHz band’s greatest potential would be realized by unlocking all 1,200 MHz of the band for unlicensed use,” they wrote. “This would foster innovation and greatly benefit American consumers and our nation’s economy.”

The legislators said they agree that protecting incumbents is crucial, but also argue that Wi-Fi has a track record of successful sharing and this should be no different, given the FCC’s expertise in protecting licensed users from interference.

The FCC voted unanimously back in October 2018 to propose opening up the band to unlicensed devices — everything from laptops to Fitbits to offloading wireless traffic — using automatic frequency control (AFC) devices to prevent interference with licensed users.

All the commissioners pointed to the need to relieve congestion in the wireless band, including under the direction of Congress in the MOBILE NOW Act, which charged the FCC with finding more spectrum for 5G.

The FCC is expected soon to vote on making that proposal a reality. But not if broadcasters have anything to do with it.

The National Association of Broadcasters argues the proponents of sharing in the band “assume away” the challenges of protecting those BAS operations. The trade group told the FCC earlier this month that hundreds of MHz can be opened for Wi-Fi and broadcasters are willing to work with the government and stakeholders on a solution to sharing. But nothing the computer companies have so far come up with fills the bill.

“[T]he Wi-Fi uses under consideration in this proceeding are simply incompatible with mobile broadcast operations used for electronic newsgathering — and no proposal advanced by any party to date will protect those mobile operations,” NAB says.

If those do ever materialize, the NAB said, the FCC can consider them then, and in a separate proceeding.

 

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Introduction to the Six Basic Audio Measurements

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 12:14
David Mathew

The author is technical publications manager and a senior technical writer at Audio Precision in Beaverton, Ore.

When reduced to its basics, the process of audio test and measurement is concerned with a small number of performance benchmarks. At my company, we call these “the Big Six,” and they are as follows:

  • Level
  • Frequency Response
  • THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise)
  • Phase
  • Crosstalk
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)

Fig. 1 shows a typical test setup for the Big Six audio measurements.

Fig. 1: Test setup for the Big Six audio measurements of a device under test. LEVEL

Any Device Under Test (or DUT, as often referenced in the world of test and measurement) may have a number of level measurements that are of interest. You must choose which level you are seeking. Target levels include:

  • an input level that produces a given output level, such as 1 volt, or 1 watt, or unity gain (see below for a discussion of DUT gain);
  • an input level that produces a certain output distortion, such as 1% THD+N;
  • a level that provides good noise performance with comfortable headroom, often called the operating level;
  • an input or output level specified in a testing document.

Any of these levels may be used as a reference level on which we can base further measurements. Frequency response measurements, for example, are expressed relative to the level of a mid-band frequency; THD+N measurements are made at specified levels, which should be reported in the results.

The ratio of a DUT’s output voltage level to its input voltage level is the voltage gain of the DUT. For example, in a DUT with a gain of 2, an applied input of 2 volts will produce an output of 4 volts. A gain of 1, where the output voltage equals the input voltage, is called unity gain. Some DUTs offer no gain adjustments, and are said to have fixed gain. The gain may be fixed at unity, or at some other value.

A DUT with a volume control or other setting that affects gain is a variable gain device. When setting and measuring level, it is essential to consider whether or not the DUT gain is variable (not only volume controls, but tone controls and other settings can change gain), and, if it is, how to set the DUT controls for the desired test results.

FREQUENCY RESPONSE

A frequency response measurement reports the output levels of a DUT when stimulated with different frequencies of known level. The simplest of all frequency response measurements consists of only two or three tones, the first near the middle of a DUT’s usable frequency range, and followed by a tone near the higher extreme of the range and sometimes a tone near the lower extreme. Assuming the tones are all generated at the same level, the DUT’s output levels describe its response to these different frequencies.

Fig. 2: An example of a frequency response sweep of a device.

Full-range frequency response measurements can be made by a number of different methods, the classic being a sweep of a sine wave from the lowest frequency in the range to the highest, with the results plotted on a graph. A “flat” response describes the shape of a graph where the DUT responds equally at all frequencies, producing a trace with a slope of 0 and with minimal variations. Fig. 2 shows a typical result.

THD+N

THD+N stands for Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise. Harmonic distortion is the unwanted addition of new tones to the audio signal. These tones are harmonically related tones to the original signal: when the signal is one sine wave of frequency f1, harmonic tones are f2, f3 and so on, at integral multiples of the original tone. Total harmonic distortion is the sum of all of the harmonics measured in the DUT’s bandwidth.

Why THD+N? Why not just measure THD (the distortion) and N (the noise) individually? Well, in the pre-FFT days of audio measurement, it was difficult to measure the THD by itself, without the noise, but it was relatively simple to measure the THD and the N together. So the accepted techniques handed down from years past specify THD+N, because that’s what was practical. In addition, THD+N is a convenient and telling single-number mark of performance, widely understood and accepted.

The measured THD+N of a device will vary with the measurement bandwidth. You will almost always want to restrict the measurement bandwidth using high-pass and low-pass filters, and you must include the bandwidth used when you state the result. THD+N is typically measured and reported in a 20 Hz–20 kHz bandwidth.

Fig. 3: Screenshot of a THD+N measurement of a device at maximum operating level.

The measured THD+N of a device will also vary with level and the frequency of the applied signal. Audio THD+N is typically measured and reported at a mid-range frequency (1 kHz or so) at either the device’s nominal operating level or at its maximum output level (MOL). Fig. 3 shows a typical THD+N measurement result at MOL.

PHASE

In audio engineering, phase measurements are used to describe the positive or negative time offset in a cycle of a periodic waveform (such as a sine wave), measured from a reference waveform. The reference is usually the same signal at a different point in the system, or a related signal in a different channel in the system. This choice of references defines the two most common phase measurements: device input/output phase, and interchannel phase.

Phase shift varies with frequency, and it is not uncommon to make phase measurements at several frequencies or to plot the phase response of a frequency sweep. Phase is expressed in degrees.

CROSSTALK

In audio systems of more than one channel, it is undesirable for the signal in one channel to appear at a reduced level in the output of another channel. This signal leakage across channels is called crosstalk, and in practical devices it is very difficult to eliminate. It’s expressed as the ratio of the undesired signal in the unstimulated channel to the signal in the stimulated channel.

Crosstalk is largely the result of capacitive coupling between channel conductors in the device, and usually exhibits a rising characteristic with frequency. It’s often expressed in the form of a single-number result; however, a crosstalk versus frequency sweep will show how a DUT performs across its operating bandwidth.

SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO

How much noise is too much? That depends on how loud your signal is. Signal-to-noise ratio (or SNR) is a measure of this difference, providing (like THD+N) a single-number mark of device performance. The signal is usually set to the nominal operating level or to the maximum operating level (MOL) of the DUT. When SNR is made using the MOL, the result can also be called the dynamic range, since it describes the two extremes of level possible in the DUT. (Dynamic range in digital devices has a somewhat different meaning). SNR is usually stated in decibels, often shown as negative. Fig. 4 shows a typical SNR measurement result.

Fig. 4: A typical SNR measurement result.

Using traditional methods, SNR requires two measurements and a bit of arithmetic. First you measure the signal level, then turn off the generator (and often, terminate the DUT inputs in a low impedance as well, to fully reduce the noise in the device). Then the noise level (often called the noise floor) is measured, using filters to restrict the measurement bandwidth. The ratio between the two is the SNR.

David Mathew has worked as both a mixing engineer and a technical engineer in the recording and filmmaking industries. He was awarded an Emmy for his sound work in 1988.           

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Inside the Feb. 19 Issue of Radio World

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 11:59

Michael LeClair reflects on trends in audio consoles; Fred Jacobs worries about unintended consequences of radio job layoffs; Christian broadcasters convene in Nashville seeking their 2020 vision; and readers react to our ebook “Radio Engineering in Crisis.”

Read it online here.

Prefer to do your reading offline? No problem! Simply click on the Issuu link, go to the left corner and choose the download button to get a PDF version.

WORKBENCH
Infrared? Don’t Just Point & Shoot

Engineers, here are useful tips to avoid getting false hot spot readings as you inspect your facilities.

BUYER’S GUIDE
Sports Reporting & Remote Gear

One of our jobs at RW is to help bring buyers and sellers together. Read from your colleagues about why they chose to buy particular products from companies like Comrex, Tieline, Henry and AEQ.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

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NAB Show and Coronavirus

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 11:18

The National Association of Broadcasters announced it will proceed with the 2020 NAB Show in Las Vegas, but also laid out the steps it is taking in response to concerns about the coronavirus, which it says it is taking “very seriously.”

The show dates are April 18–22 in Las Vegas.

Getty Images/Yaroslav Mikheev

The fact that NAB would issue a statement affirming that the show will go on is a measure of the impact COVID-19 has had on major event planners around the world.

“The association is closely monitoring COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus, and is prepared to devote whatever resources necessary to ensure a safe and productive NAB Show experience,” it said in a statement. “While the NAB stands firm in its commitment to hold the convention as planned, the health and safety of attendees and participants are NAB’s top priority.”

The association explained the steps it is taking.

Its management team created a COVID-19 resource page on the NAB Show website, where updates will be provided.

As of a week ago, as reported by our sister publication TV Technology, NAB had said no exhibitors had pulled out but that NAB was reaching out to companies from China to assess their status.

They said the show is adhering to guidance and recommended safety measures issued by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local health organizations; and that it is working with the Las Vegas Convention Center, airport authority and area hotels and resorts to coordinate safety procedures.

It said it is following CDC recommendations and protocols for “heightened levels of cleanliness” at event facilities, and making accommodations and encouraging attendees to take “common-sense precautions” and follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of illness.

NAB said it will ensure that medical care is readily accessible to address immediate health concerns, and that it is “working with China-based exhibitors and registered attendees to evaluate options for those unable to attend due to travel restrictions.”

It noted that attendance from China, “although growing, represented less than 2 percent of total registered attendees in 2019.”

As of a week ago, as reported by our sister publication TV Technology, NAB had said no exhibitors had pulled out but that organizers were reaching out to companies from China to assess their status.

In the announcement, the organizers said they have experienced “an uptick in exhibit sales, attendee registration and hotel bookings in recent weeks, and conference program speakers are confirmed daily.”

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Barix and Digigram Asia Announce Partnership for APAC

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 02:00

Digigram Asia Pte Ltd and Barix are now working together in the APAC region.

The companies announced their exclusive partnership, which covers several APAC countries.

These include Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Myanmar, and South Korea.

Under the agreement, Digigram Asia will distribute the entire Barix product line, including the new SIP Opus codec.

“Digigram Asia Pte Ltd is taking another step in its expansion strategy by adding Barix to its existing agreements with Auvitran and Streamguys,” explained says Nancy Diaz Curiel, Digigram Asia managing director. “We will be able to provide extended service and additional value to our customers,” she said.

“Digigram’s knowledge of the AoIP market combined with Barix’s cost-effective solutions for radio broadcast, intercom and paging, as well as audio streaming gives Asian customers access to better solutions for their AoIP needs,” added Reto Brader, Barix CEO.

The partnership took effect Feb. 1.

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Report Paints Bleak Diversity Picture in U.S. Broadcast Ownership

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 15:49

The Federal Communications Commission released its most recent report on the ownership of broadcast stations across the U.S. For the first time it also gathered data on the gender, ethnicity and race of those with an attributable interest in noncom educational stations.

The results revealed that women and minorities still hold only a small fraction of majority ownership in U.S. broadcast stations.

[Read: America’s Broadcasters Should Look Like America]

For example, the report revealed that women collectively or individually held a majority interest in 874 commercial broadcast stations, compared to their male colleagues who hold a majority interest in 8,736.

Yet the report also reveals that radio is an industry providing a higher percentage of attributable ownership opportunities for women and minority groups. According to the report, based on information submitted by licensees in response to the FCC 2017 biennial ownership report, women hold a greater percentage of majority voting interest in commercial AM radio (8.9%) when compared to full-power commercial television (5.3%).

The same trends were seen when in tracking ethnic groups across radio. Hispanic and Latino individuals held a held a discernable majority voting interest in 4.2% of all full-power commercial television stations as compared to 6.1% of commercial AM stations.

Radio World will shortly publish second item with more data about radio specifically.

The disparity was similar when comparing the race of commercial station owners. Those who identify as white were reported to hold a majority interest in 10,076 commercial broadcast stations compared with  416 commercial stations owned by those who identify as a racial minority.

Ownership based on racial group was broken down further:

  • Black/African Americans owned 239 commercial broadcast stations;
  • Asians owned 136 commercial broadcast stations;
  • American Indian/Alaska Natives owned 31 commercial broadcast stations;
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders owned seven commercial broadcast stations.

The numbers played out similarly when it came to noncommercial broadcast stations.

Women collectively or individually hold a voting interest in 401 noncommercial broadcast stations. While women have a 9% stake in noncommercial FM radio stations (a total of 314 across the country), not one woman was listed as holding a majority in any noncommercial Class A television stations. Compare that to the noncommercial ownership numbers for men, which collectively or individually hold a majority of the voting interests in 2,564 noncommercial broadcast stations, including 2,086 FM radio stations.

Data gathered from the 2017 biannual report gave details on ownership, such as a breakdown of owners of commercial AM radio stations.

Racial minorities holding a majority of the voting interest at noncommercial stations includes 109 noncommercial broadcast stations, including 12 AM radio stations and 91 FM radio stations.

Ethnicity was also tracked as part of the report. Those who do not identify as Hispanic or Latino hold voting interests in 9,836 commercial broadcast stations, compared to only 668 Hispanic/Latino owners. For noncommercial stations, the numbers were still stark: Non-Hispanic/Latino persons collectively or individually held a majority interest in 3,100 noncommercial broadcast stations, compared to 121 noncommercial broadcast stations.

“It is striking — but not surprising — that no minority group is better off in owning more full-power commercial broadcast stations than they did in 2015,” said FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks in a statement. The year 2015 was the last year that this type of ownership data was collected. Of 1,385 stations, African-Americans owned just 12 stations in 2015 — “an anemic figure to be sure,” he said — and still owned just 12 stations in 2017.

Many minority groups saw their ownership numbers worsen, he said, including American Indian or Alaska Native women. “They lost all eight stations in which they held a majority ownership interest in 2015,” Starks said, which was the last year that the report was produced.

Women lost ground overall, representing only 5.3% of full-power commercial station owners, down from 7.4% in 2015.

“I have said it before: America’s broadcasters must look like America,” said Starks, one of two Democrats currently sitting on the five-member FCC. “We have much work to do — and it starts with us fulfilling our direct order from the Third Circuit to implement a data program that would help understand the impact of our regulatory efforts on the ability of women and people of color to own stations.”

In addition to a breakdown on gender, ethnicity and race, the report includes a comparison of 2017 and 2015 data for full-power commercial television, Class A television, low-power television, commercial AM radio, and commercial FM radio stations; as well as detailed ownership information in a series of tables and spreadsheets.

Reports can be searched via licensee name, call sign, service or  FCC Registration Number here.

 

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