The Federal Communications Commission is questioning whether a licensee of a station in Pennsylvania is qualified to retain his license — or if it should be revoked after he pled guilty to felony use of a communication facility and several related misdemeanors.
The chief of the Media Bureau has begun a hearing proceeding to determine whether 70-year-old Roger Wahl, licensee of WQZS(FM) in Meyersdale, Pa., should be allowed to keep his broadcasting license.
In July 2020, Wahl pleaded guilty to criminal use of a communications facility (the station is located in his home) and four related misdemeanors after he admitted to recklessly endangering another person, unlawfully disseminating intimate images and tampering with evidence.
At the time of his sentencing in November 2020, the judge decided against jail time for Wahl due to his age and underlying health conditions that put him at risk for the coronavirus, according a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Wahl, the station owner as well as a disc jockey, pled guilty to secretly taking nude photographs of a woman inside her home using a concealed camera that had been installed in her bathroom. According to court documents, he also impersonated the woman on an online dating site, sent nude photos of the woman to at least one man whom he connected with through that site and solicited that man to have sexual relations with the woman without her consent. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one man from the dating site came to the woman’s address and was met by Wahl who solicited the man to rape the woman, according to authorities quoted by the Post-Gazette.
Once he learned an investigation was underway by the Pennsylvania State Police, Wahl was accused of tampering with evidence by deleting the nude photos from his mobile device and erasing the communications he made at the online dating site.
Initially, Wahl also pleaded guilty to invasion of privacy; after learning that that charge would require him to register as a sex offender, however, he withdrew that guilty plea and instead pled guilty to identity theft. He was sentenced to three years of probation, four months of electronic monitoring, and was required to pay $600 in fines as well as the costs of his prosecution and supervision.
Local sources also reported that Wahl was prohibited from hosting his morning show on WQZS for the duration of the electronic monitoring but has since returned to the airwaves.
Charges of this type — which in Wahl’s case include a third-degree felony, first-degree misdemeanor and several second-degree misdemeanors — raise the question of whether the holder of a broadcast license possesses the character qualities to remain a licensee. Following guidelines under the FCC’s Character Qualifications Policy Statement, the Media Bureau instigated a hearing proceeding in which an administrative law judge will serve as a presiding officer.
The commission has the authority to revoke a license when the character of an applicant is called into question, according to language within Section 312(a)(2) of the Communications Act. The Media Bureau started a hearing proceeding in this case because it considers any felony to be a serious crime. In some cases, certain misdemeanors may also be relevant when it comes to determining the character of a licensee. In this case, the bureau said it was necessary to evaluate Wahl’s character in light of the felony and multiple misdemeanor convictions.
“Furthermore, the fundamental purpose of the commission’s character inquiry is to make predictive judgments about an applicant’s truthfulness and propensity to comply with the [Communications] Act and [FCC] Rules,” wrote Media Bureau Chief Michelle M. Carey. “For this reason, we find that Wahl’s misdemeanor convictions directly implicate his character qualifications.”
If he chooses, Wahl has the opportunity to be heard by the administrative judge as part of the hearing proceedings. To do so, a written request must be filed within 20 days of the Notice of Opportunity for Hearing he received.
A hearing will commence from there to determine if Wahl has the qualifications to be a commission licensee and whether or not the license for station WQZS should be revoked.
The post Felony Conviction Leads FCC to Consider Revoking Station License appeared first on Radio World.
Nautel has introduced an online Factory Acceptance Testing program for new transmitters.
“A FAT is a set of predefined tests that many customers must witness being completed in real-time as part of project specifications,” the company stated in an announcement.
Test Supervisor Charles Andrews said restrictions on travel because of the pandemic have made it harder for clients to come to the factory.
Nautel said the test team can use online meeting platforms paired with virtual communications interfaces such as Teams or Team Viewer, to allow customers to witness transmitter testing in real time as part of their acceptance process.
“The Nautel AUI and multiple pieces of measurement equipment are employed along with a suite of cameras, wireless microphones and personnel to conduct the tests. Customers are able to communicate with their transmitter(s) via the AUI and view performance measurements throughout the final testing process,” it stated.
The company posted the video below to explain the process.
Gordon Smith, president/CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, is one of nine people being honored as “giants of broadcasting” by the Library of American Broadcasting Foundation.
Its list of giants was begun in 2003 and now consists of more than 200 broadcasters. The foundation will salute the new additions in an online ceremony on Nov. 9. (The nine additions are shown at bottom.)
“The Giants of Broadcasting celebration was created by LABF, a charity dedicated to preserving the past, reflecting the present, and informing the future,” the organization stated. “It was created to honor the remarkable creators, innovators, leaders, performers and journalists who have brought the electronics arts to the prominence they occupy today.”
Gordon Smith has led the NAB for the past 12 years. He will step down at the end of this year.
Proceeds from the November online luncheon support the work of the LABF, including the Library of American Broadcasting, which is housed at the University of Maryland. It will also support student training and diversity initiatives of the International Radio and Television Society Foundation.
For event information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2021 Giants of Broadcasting & Electronic Arts honorees:
President and CEO
Graham Media Group
President & CEO
Frank Boyle & Co.
Hall of Fame sports broadcaster
Founder & President
Perry Publishing & Broadcasting Co.
Co-anchor, “Good Morning America”
President, Rock’n Robin Productions
Emmy, Golden Globe nominated Film and TV Actress
Cast member Marion Cunningham. “Happy Days”
President & CEO
The WNET Group
Sen. Gordon H. Smith
President & CEO
National Association of Broadcasters
Senior vice president, Hearst Communications
President, Hearst Television
The post Gordon Smith Is Among the New Broadcasting “Giants” appeared first on Radio World.
The author is director, RF engineering at Shively Labs.
We all want to get the most value out of money spent.
RF system repair can be costly. However, a well-implemented maintenance program can greatly reduce the need for repairs — and when there is damage or degradation to a system, that program can detect and address the issue early, when repair costs are low.
One very useful tool in RF system maintenance is baseline measurements.
Taken at the time of acquisition or system commissioning, these provide a snapshot of the condition of the RF system. They can then be compared to later measurements and reveal trends in performance.
These measurements might include transmission line sweeps, transmitter operating parameters, forward and reflected power samples, thermal readings of filters, transmission line and connections, current and resistance measurements of deicer systems, RF spectrum measurements, pressurization and signal coverage.
The hardware between the transmitter output and the antenna radiator is the final stage of the FM transmission system. This part of the transmission system can contain RF switches; directional couplers; elbow complexes; band-pass, band-stop and notch filters; long transmission line runs; power splitters; “T”s; matching networks; feeder cables, etc.
It’s crucial to the delivery of signal to your coverage area to take the time to get this section right and then keep it right.
During antenna installation, the tower crew and site manager rely on manufacturers to show clearly the antenna position and orientation on the tower.
I’ve seen this exchange break down, resulting in antenna parasitic elements mounted in the wrong position, causing both high VSWR and poor coverage. Fortunately, it was a quick fix to correct the VSWR and signal coverage. Unfortunately, it required a tower crew and two engineers to visit the site.
If care is taken with the details during installation and the system is optimized, it’s at its best and should provide years of service.
(I left the “trouble free” part out intentionally. RF system maintenance … what can break? It’s just bent pieces of metal, right?)Proactive mindset
Just about anything can happen to cause failure in an RF system.Installing coax hangers.
Antenna damage from wind, falling ice, lightning, tower work, vandalism, loose connections and aging components are just a few. When an engineer has multiple systems to take care of, something always seems to be in need of attention.
One way we have some control over such failures is regular system maintenance.
Have you ever checked site parameters after a significant weather event and found that some parameter had changed — not to the point of failure, but enough to prompt an investigation? Then upon a closer look you found damage that needed repair?
Or perhaps on a routine site visit, you discovered excessive heat on one or more components, and upon further investigation found an elbow that was nearly kaput — it would have failed catastrophically within weeks or days.
This is proactive maintenance and repair. If these near-misses haven’t happened to you, they likely will.
Had you been unable to check those readings after that storm and thus could not notice increasing VSWR, or had you not visited that site and noticed the hot elbow, the condition would have persisted, worsened and eventually failed, taking your station off the air.
That call usually comes at midnight on Super Bowl weekend.Burns are visible where wire had been used to secure a flexible 3-inch line.
Checking sites that have suffered through extreme weather events is a prudent practice. So are regular visits, even to sites that may be considered trouble-free. The periodicity will vary — more frequent for trouble sites, perhaps quarterly or even semiannually for more reliable sites.
Annual tower climbs are great if it’s in the budget, but when they are not possible, we come back to intimate knowledge of system performance and those baselines, and running history logs that allow us to review for any indication that a problem has started and at what rate it is changing.
This can be useful information when determining if you need to scramble to make a maintenance visit immediately or can schedule for a later date.Sample issues
Some things to look for when inspecting for damage in the antenna:
- Loss of dry air pressure, whether entirely or through a slow leak.
- Missing or damaged radiators. Pay close attention to the ends of the radiator and the feed points.
- Kinked, compressed or burned cables.
- Broken or unsealed radomes and/or plugged drains that cause water to collect.
- Parasitic elements in place and undamaged.
In more complex systems, the power dividers and coaxial lines should be installed without undue mechanical stress on the components.
The coax should have the appropriate hangers and fasteners where they cross tower members or other antenna feed components. Consult the manufacturer for specific recommendations and best practices.
Antennas that have deicers systems usually have an external wiring harness to distribute AC power to each heating element within each radiator. The manufacturer will have the resistive values for each element and current draw to expect.
An ammeter measurement of each leg of the circuit, including the neutral, will give the first clues to the condition of the deicer system.
If the wiring harness was not installed correctly or fasteners have fallen away over time, the harness can hang in the high RF environment. This can cause reflected power issues at the transmitter and changes in coverage; it can cause currents to be induced into the wiring harness, and voltages large enough to cause arcing between the conductors of the wiring harness and tower members or other cables that pass in close proximity.Visual documentation
Finally, take lots of photos, photos, photos.
This is a great way to document how the antenna was installed and its current state. When you share photographs with the antenna manufacturer, they have very useful information to inform their recommendations.
With a single-radiator antenna it will be obvious when something is not quite right. On panel antennas, the multiple bays, multiple radiators per bay and numerous feeder cables can really mask a problem.This article is from a Radio World ebook. Click image to read more on this subject.
This brings to mind a recent incident where a station engineer noticed a slight increase in VSWR from 1.05 to 1.15. This occurred right after a tower crew had been working above the antenna, removing old TV equipment.
The engineer noticed the change and hired a crew to climb and inspect the antenna. They found that a cable had been caught at some point during the rigging and pulled sideways until it caused a severe kink at the point where it attached to the radiator input.
If the indications had not been heeded and the cable replaced, the next indication would have been loss of pressure, resulting from a coax burn. And we know what happens when we let the magic smoke out.
Ultimately, having an intimate knowledge of your system’s performance, both within the RF system and in the coverage area, will serve you well. This knowledge will allow you to prioritize your maintenance schedule by need, effecting maintenance to correct small problems before they become big expensive ones.
Audacy Inc. said it has acquired “an exclusive, perpetual license” to WideOrbit’s digital audio streaming technology and the related assets and operations of WO Streaming.
It will operate the business under the name Amperwave.
“This acquisition gives Audacy control of its product roadmap to deliver enhanced consumer-facing streaming features for its 170 million monthly listeners,” the media company stated in the announcement, which was made by Chairman/President/CEO David Field.
WO Streaming is a cloud-based distribution and monetization platform for live and on-demand audio streams. Field said the acquisition is a complement to Audacy’s existing investments in digital audio.
In this deal, Audacy is purchasing technology and the assets and operations of WO Streaming, which is a separate business unit within WideOrbit. WO has other products including radio automation, traffic, business intelligence and sales services that are not involved in this transaction.
Audacy will operate WO Streaming under the name AmperWave.
“The entire WO Streaming team, led by John Morris, SVP Streaming, has joined Audacy,” it stated. A spokesperson declined to say how many people that entails.
Broadcast Electronics introduced its first AudioVAULT automation system in 1989. The company is now part of the Elenos Group.
Bob Demuth is business development manager, studio systems.
RW: What trends in automation stand out for you?
Demuth: Automation suppliers have two kinds of clients: larger enterprise clients and smaller, more mom-and-pop clients. Both want the ability to do more with fewer people, to empower the staff they have to do as much as they can and from anywhere.
Even mom-and-pops might have a station in Keokuk, Iowa, and a station in Moline, Ill. They aren’t iHeart or Beasley but they still have multisite operations, and they’re looking to maximize their efficiency and labor force.
Our development is geared as much as possible to provide remote voicetrack capability, remote production capability, remote scheduling capability, which might be from home or another location.
RW: When you’re sitting down with somebody who’s considering a system and they say “Well, I hear I need to be thinking about the cloud,” how does that conversation go?
Demuth: I’m in development and I also run international sales for BE, so I get both sides of this.
Nobody wants all their eggs in a cloud basket. That’s the overwhelming response that I get.
They’re happy to have the cloud as a backup, as a storage or transfer point for audio, but nobody wants their final playout audio coming from the cloud at this point.
This is a personal opinion, but the next war is not going to be bombs and missiles, it’s going to be an attack on infrastructure. And the major infrastructure that we all use every minute of every day is the internet.
Playout from the cloud is only as good as that connectivity. If that goes away, what do you do?
So most of my customers look at the cloud as more of a backup and a transfer medium rather than a primary playout source.
I’m an old-school radio engineer, I would rather invest my time and money with a playout system at my transmitter site that’s fully linked. If I lose my connectivity, whether it’s IP connectivity or traditional microwave, at least I have something that’s still running on its own.
We’re working now on one of the largest AudioVAULT projects BE has ever done, a major customer that runs a couple of dozen networks. They’re uplinked, streamed and delivered via set-top boxes around the world.
One of their design criteria was that we did not depend on their corporate VPN for the distribution of the audio. This is a large company with a lot of resources and some of the best connectivity, but they are not prepared to make their primary, or even backup, broadcast functions dependent on that connectivity.This article is excerpted from the ebook “Automation: The Next Phase.” Click the cover to read it.
I know National Radio Systems Committee working groups are looking for a cloud-based solution for HD Radio, a solution that takes the hardware out of it and puts the software on the cloud for encoding of HD1, HD2 etc., and centralizing it. But it seems to be driven by the larger corporate broadcaster companies more than the average broadcaster.
Currently our cloud offering is about transferring assets via the cloud, with automatic or on-demand uploading, storing and transferring, making those assets available across an organization’ s locations. We will be coming out with a cloud-based playout system for backup use later this year. There is no technical reason this couldn’t be used for on-air if there is enough internet bandwidth available for the desired audio quality. But I do not see many people looking for that as their primary cloud source.
RW: Do you see more joint projects happening, for instance between automation and the AoIP network?
Demuth: Absolutely. We need to be doing more than just pumping out automation over AoIP, meaning playing audio over a WheatNet, Livewire or Dante audio driver. We need more of an integrated functionality with console providers.
Why don’t we see more joint development? Some of us try to cooperate, but if a company like Telos Alliance decides to do joint development with BE, how do they deal with RCS or with WideOrbit? Will Wheatstone continue to cooperate and develop with BE?
Pick one and you alienate the other. That’s the biggest block to all working together is our natural, competitive nature. That, and how do we deal with proprietary information and “trade secrets.”
Yet there is more going on than some engineers might realize. For instance, we offer complete remote control capability with both Axia Livewire and WheatNet, we’re doing more than just sending AoIP out of our playout system and plugging it into an Ethernet switch. We’re also able to send control commands to control surfaces, whether they’re virtual or hardware consoles, whether it’s Axia or Wheatstone or Lawo.
RW: Engineers need to know about a supplier’s tech support.
Demuth: We have a team of experienced customer service people, some who’ve worked there since the beginning of AudioVAULT. As a customer I bought my first AudioVAULT around 1995. We have had some people working since 1990. There’s experience, accessibility, knowledge, also IT skills.
We all depend on the operating system, and if the operating system has issues, or if the local installation has issues, we have to be able to identify those and point the engineer in the right direction and not just kiss it off and say, “Hey, that’s your network switch, you’ve got too much traffic.” We have to be able to help them troubleshoot it without fixing their IT issues for them.
We are fully manned in Quincy, Ill., 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time. Outside of those hours, we have a callback system and try to respond to any emergency call after-hours within 15 minutes. Our average callback is between 15 and 30 minutes.
I used to run engineering for Beasley Broadcast Group from 1990 to 2007. I chose AudioVAULT back in 1990 and I never regretted it.
RW: What other factors should buyers be considering?
Demuth: If I take my sales and development hats off and go back to my engineering hat, the question is reliability and redundancy.
Is your audio stored in multiple places? What happens if you lose one of those places? Can you get seamless continuity of broadcast operations from this system?
There will always be hardware failures; how does the automation system deal with those failures and provide the broadcaster with rock-solid, reliable playout no matter what happens?
Obviously we can’t control power, e can’t control connectivity; that’s the customer’s responsibility. But assuming they can provide continuous power and provide continuous connectivity, how do we keep continuous audio play?
AudioVAULT offers the ability to store audio on separate servers. So if Server A dies, Server B is reading ahead on that same, or the cloud engine is reading ahead on that Server B. And you can reboot Server A and there’s not even a pop or a click, when Server B picks up.
That’s the kind of system you want. If your main playout engine fails, you want not to have to use a silence sensor to switch over to a backup playout engine that’s playing within a half a song of your main one. Ideally you want to go seamlessly to the backup playout system, without any interruption in programming, so that your listener wouldn’t even notice; that’s what AudioVAULT provides.
You want tools to maintain and operate your system from anywhere. To do production, to do scheduling, to do cloud control, automation control and maintenance from anywhere.
This would be the same if I’m a mom-and-pop or if I’m iHeart.
I’m a very small part-owner of two little radio stations in Aspen, Colo., and I chose AudioVAULT back in in 2005. We have a main system in the studio room, a backup system in the studio room and a tertiary system at the transmitter site, which is at a 10,000-foot elevation.
In the winter, the only way to get there was with a Sno-Cat. I wanted a system that could give me that main, give me that backup and give me that tertiary system, and a transmitter in case I lose all connectivity and can’t get up there for 72 hours or whatever. As long as I can send my logs out 72 hours in advance or I could send them out seven days in advance and I’m still on the air. That’s what I want.
RW: One engineer said about automation, “If I can’t install it or fix it, maybe I shouldn’t have it.”
Demuth: That’s just guys who don’t understand their own limitations and the difference between hardware and IT, software-based, solutions. Hardware is easy to self-install, but software requires specific configuration and integration with IT infrastructure. There is too much risk that an engineer will miss something that will compromise the reliability of the system.
You want the automation supplier to install the system and configure it and teach you how to do it properly. You don’t want someone who’s not familiar with the software to be doing this on their own.
You want them to be integrally involved with the installation, whether it’s done remotely or on-site; there’s no substitute for the on-site engineer and production people. But all of this stuff is too complex for someone to take a piece of software, run “install” and expect to use it and get the best results.
Demuth: Virtualization is really important to larger customers because it allows them to reduce their hardware profile. For the larger systems that I’m putting in — I’m not going to say they’re exclusively virtual, but virtualization is the future of computing.
It raises some challenges, because if you’ve got four virtual servers on one piece of hardware, you only have one video output. How do you deal with some of interface challenges? Your software has to work a little differently. But I believe it is not only the wave of the future, it is the current best practice for larger operations.
RW: Another engineer told me, “I don’t like it when suppliers go back to the well all the time with upsells.”
Demuth: AudioVAULT is all-inclusive software. You buy a license and you get all of our tools.
There are some options that are add-ons, but we are upfront about them. An example is our remote access stuff. It requires a separate gateway server, because if you’re going to open up your automation system to the internet, which is what you have to do to remote voice track and remotely operate, you need an interface sitting on a firewall.
So the internet traffic talks to the gateway server, and then the gateway server talks to the automation system, so the outside world can’t get to your automation system.
Another example are our cloud-based tools. They are extras, because not everybody wants those functions, but that’s not an upsell. We’re straight about that from day one, we don’t hide anything.
But we don’t sell the production screen separate from the import screen, separate from the automation screen, etc. It’s a single, all-inclusive, license for all normal station functions.
RW: And what about low-cost or free software that’s out there?
Demuth: What is your tolerance for being off the air? That’s the answer to these cheap automation systems.
The post BE’s Demuth: Reliability and Redundancy Are Crucial appeared first on Radio World.
A young chief engineer who knew a lot more about computers than transmitters and analog audio systems recently asked me for help in tracking down on-air distortion that had affected his mom-and-pop station for some time.
The station did have on-air distortion. It was not terrible, just bad enough to notice, though the longer you listened, the more it irritated — a real turnoff for Time Spent Listening.
It sounded to me a bit like the audio was going through an amp with bad power supply filters, and it had a raspy edge on voice. But identifying the source of the problem by ear was difficult.
This was an AM station that had an FM translator mounted on the hot tower, a situation that can present its own set of challenges. The distortion was evident on the FM. But a critical listen revealed that it was present on AM as well!
This pretty much ruled out my thought that high RF at the tower was being rectified on the audio input to the translator and showing up as audio distortion. So it was time to take a look at the audio chain.Clamp!
Pretty straightforward: Program was being delivered from the studio miles away, with digital uncompressed audio sent over fiber. It sounded good going in, and it sounded good coming out. Yet the on-air product definitely was distorted.
The audio was fed to the FM via a buried 1,000-foot cable to the tower. That line was driven by a pair of old super-quality Western Electric 111C repeat coils set up for 600 ohms in and 600 ohm line out with center tap grounded — the perfect way to send audio in an RF field. This arrangement no doubt had been set up by a previous chief who knew the magic of repeat coils for long lines.
Audio from the codec was connected to a Broadcast Tools switcher, then to the program line that fed the AM processors and the FM line to the tower.
I grabbed a handheld oscilloscope — something the young chief had never seen — and pulled the output connector from the switcher. I gave it a look on the scope with a 600-ohm load, and it showed nice clean peaks at about +8 dBm — looked good, sounded good.
I plugged it back in and bridged the line with the scope. Aha! The scope showed clipping with the peak levels closer to +3 dBm and a definite ceiling.
There was trouble here, but why?
Audio level on the coils was well under the +30 dBm (1 watt) design limit for the rugged four-pound 111Cs.
Still searching for the problem, I spotted a couple of black boxes where the cable leaves the building. These were Grommes~Precision TLS lightning suppressors.
When I looked up their data sheet, things started to make sense.
The TLS contains multiple stages of lightning protection. This unit is designed for protection of audio paging circuits with an RMS audio level of 1 volt. On a 600-ohm line, 0 dBm (1 milliwatt) is .774 volts, so with a level of +8 dBm (1.94 volts) the line level was crossing the clamp point for the TLS.
While the spec sheet shows a switching to ground level of 25 volts, the unit starts clamping just over one volt.Us old guys
While finding this problem was a bit of a challenge, fixing it was a snap. With the drive to the line reduced to –3 dBm (.5 volts) on the PPM meter, things sounded great.
Another solution would have been replacing the TLS units with LLS models that have a pass rating of 6 volts (17 dBm), which is better suited for broadcast levels. But we work with what we have.
Now you might ask, why did the AM sound bad if the problem was on the FM stereo pair?
The Broadcast Tools switcher derives its mono output (used by the AM) by passive combining of L+R internally from the stereo output. So if the stereo line gets clamped, so does the mono line!
I suggested and installed a set of 1000-ohm buildout resisters on the output of the switcher, the better to isolate the FM feed, just as a precaution. With the 111C coils set up for center tap ground, the TLS might not have been needed at all; but better too much protection than not enough.
With the elimination of the distortion, the station was able to process a bit harder, increasing the loudness while improving the sound quality — a win-win for sure.
While I was there I couldn’t resist teaching my young friend to reduce the AM modulation peaks from 130 percent positive (yikes!) 100 percent negative, to about 90 percent symmetrical. He heard the difference and agreed to keep it that way.
The takeaway here is simple: Read spec sheets, and know how adding devices will affect your overall sound.
My assist call also underlined a growing problem in broadcasting. “Us old guys” know analog audio and issues peculiar to AM. The new “engineers” are not getting that knowledge, learning only about digital and computer networks. I hate to say it, but institutional knowledge is dying as more of us become silent keys.
Solution? Us old guys need to take every opportunity to reach one, teach one.
The author is chief engineer and owner of WGTO Cassopolis, Mich., and W246DV South Bend, Ind. Read more of his past articles.
Share your own tech tips or stories about how you solved a problem. Write to email@example.com.
The post Distortion Detective: The Case of the Irritating Audio appeared first on Radio World.
The FCC recently adopted new rules regarding RF human exposure limits. Lockwood, president of Hatfield & Dawson Consulting Engineers, discusses what radio engineers should know about them.
Keith of Wheatstone writes that there are many tools available to help quantify the performance on your air chain. Good Engineering Practice doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
Alexander reminds us not to overlook the possible simple solution when we’re confronted with a problem. And Jeff Welton explains the beauties of ferrite toroids.
The post Inside the Oct. 20, 2021 Issue of RW Engineering Extra appeared first on Radio World.
From our People News page: Katz Media Group promoted Scott Porretti to president of Katz Digital Audio, a newly created position. He had been executive vice president.
“Porretti, a veteran of Katz, who is uniquely qualified for his expanded role, will continue to oversee all Katz Digital Audio offerings, manage relationships with an expansive roster of publishing and technology partners, and further the growth of podcasting and programmatic digital audio on behalf of current and new partners,” the organization announced.
Porretti has held several management positions there including senior vice president of Katz Radio Group and vice president manager of the Katz New York office. In 2014, he was named senior vice president of Katz Digital and in 2018 was promoted to executive vice president of Katz Digital.
It said he led its digital team in making “substantial strides” to strengthen its internal technology and systems, and that he is spearheading the rollout of Katz Intelligence Manager, a proprietary audience system for the digital audio marketplace.
He will continue to report to Mark Gray, CEO of Katz Media Group.
Gray highlighted Porretti’s audio industry knowledge, team leadership style and “extraordinary vision in this marketplace.”
Spotify said its Megaphone podcasting platform is now up and running in Germany, Spain, Italy and France.
The company said podcast listening in Europe now reaches 20 to 30% of internet users in those markets. It cited a report from eMarketer. Further, it said Euro podcast ad spending is expected to grow more than 50% by 2023, according to IAB Europe.
[Related: “Spotify Expands Audience Network”]
Megaphone launched six years ago and was acquired by Spotify less than a year ago.
Spotify said about 30% of the top 200 shows on Spotify and on Apple are hosted on Megaphone.
The platform provides tools for creating, measuring and monetizing podcasts.
There are several new social media accounts at the Federal Communications Commission. This is not in itself unusual, but these accounts have been set up by the FCC Office of Inspector General.
Its goal: “to aid in our mission of detecting and preventing fraud, waste and abuse, and promoting economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the operations of the FCC.”
In a statement, the FCC OIG noted that it is a small office with fewer than 50 full-time employees that “nonetheless is responsible for the oversight of FCC operations and billions of dollars in funds administered through various FCC programs.”
It said recent Covid-19 relief legislation provided additional billions of dollars in funding to the FCC.
“With the expectation that some of these emergency appropriations may become permanent, our need for assistance from the public to help us ensure this money is appropriately disbursed, is at an all-time high.”
The office said it hopes to increase its visibility of our office through social media, expecting that people or entities with helpful information “will come forward to assist us in furthering our mission.”
The OIG encourages people to call 888-863-2244 or 202-418-0473 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if they suspect FCC-related fraud, waste or abuse.
Turkeys famously may not be able to fly. But pumpkins certainly can’t, and that means there will be a big SPLAT on Wednesday morning in Indianapolis.
Actually three big splats. The “Smiley Morning Show” on Cumulus station 99.5 WZPL(FM) will observe its 19th Smiley Pumpkin Drop by dropping three pumpkins of varying weights from hundreds of feet onto concrete.
One of the pumpkins weights 1,459 pounds; the station will also drop a 250-pounder and a 400-pounder.
“The smallest pumpkin will be painted with ‘Smiley Morning Show’ host Dave Smiley’s face on it,” the station announced.
“The largest pumpkin will be painted live onsite by artist Gavin Goode. Listeners will determine what will be painted on the pumpkin. So far, listeners have been suggesting a COVID-19 molecule.”
The event is free, and the station is inviting anyone, particularly families, to attend in or out of costume.
The show airs 6 to 10 a.m. on Wednesday at The Shops at Perry Crossing in Plainfield, Ind., with the three drops taking place between 8 and 8:35 a.m.
Comrex has introduced a service that delivers conferenced audio from multiple contributors to the company’s hardware codecs in high quality.
Called Gagl, the service is cloud-based and allows one to five users to send and receive audio from computers and smartphones.
“Participants can connect and send audio by simply clicking a link using any common web browser,” the company announced. “Their audio is conferenced (if there’s more than one user), and delivered to a Comrex hardware codec such as ACCESS or BRIC-Link II. All participants can hear other participants, and the codec can send audio back to them.”A promotional diagram from Comrex for the new Gagl service.
Comrex says Gagl could be used as the hub for a round-robin reporting program or for a “morning zoo” radio show to support multiple simultaneous connections at once.
“Because it offers low latency, it’s appropriate for call-in talk radio. Gagl could also be used to allow a single contributor to connect back to the studio from a computer or smartphone.”
The service will be available by the end of the year.
Comrex said the system is easy for users of any level of technical expertise to use and that the service provides stable connections with limited bandwidth.
“Gagl uses the Opus audio encoder, with a bit rate that delivers both voice and music in excellent quality. Gagl also delivers audio directly to a Comrex codec with all the stability enhancements, pro-grade audio connections, and features that hardware codecs provide.”
“Complementing SGplayer’s existing embeddable configuration, version 3.2 offers a new full-page layout mode that provides additional ways for radio broadcasters and content producers to connect with their audiences and monetize their live streams and podcasts,” the company stated.
SGplayer is based on HTML-5 and is hosted by StreamGuys. The company says content providers can incorporate it into their websites to present live streams and on-demand content.
“SGplayer 3.2’s newly-redesigned, responsive user interface delivers attractive, customizable listening experiences on desktop and mobile devices while making it even easier for consumers to find and access relevant content. Tight integration with StreamGuys’ SGrewind time-shifting technology allows listeners to pause, resume, and rewind live streams or jump back to the beginning of a recently-streamed show through a scrollable and searchable program guide.”
Features include new engagement buttons and podcast subscription signups through RSS feeds or third-party platforms such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts. A Share button lets listeners share player links for favoritecontent.
The company says the search functionality has been enhanced and that new monetization features enhance its support for dynamic advertising insertion.
As the autumn of 2021 began, the FCC has been drawing closer to concluding its 2018 quadrennial review of media ownership rules.
The commission, now headed by Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, recently collected fresh comments from broadcasters and other interested parties.
Observers are watching to see if the FCC — under a Democratic president, but still lacking a full-time chairperson or a Democratic majority — will relax radio’s local common ownership rules. Those limit how many radio stations a company can own in a given market and how many of those can be in one service (meaning AM or FM, though raising limits on FM is the focus for most companies).
Broadcasters are not speaking with one voice on this question.
The largest radio broadcast group thinks lifting FM subcaps could devastate the AM band. Numerous other ownership groups say the FCC should ditch all ownership caps altogether except perhaps in the biggest markets.
Meanwhile some members of Congress have been pushing the FCC to do more to encourage minority ownership, a consideration that may influence its decision on ownership limits.Drop the “fiction”
At the center of debate is a proposal from the National Association of Broadcasters to raise the FM limits and base the system on market size.
At present, in a market with 45+ radio stations, an entity may own eight, and no more than five in one service (AM or FM). In a market with 30–44 stations, an entity may own seven, and no more than four per service. In a market with 15–29, an entity may own six, no more than four in a service. And in a market with 14 or fewer, an entity may own five, and no more than three in a service, as long as it does not own more than half of the stations in the market.
But NAB has put forward the following proposal:
In Nielsen markets No. 1 through 75, it suggests that one entity be allowed to own as many as eight commercial FM stations — or 10 if the broadcaster is involved in the FCC’s incubator program to promote new and diverse owner entrants.
In markets 76 and smaller as well as in unrated markets, the NAB continues, there should be no cap on FM ownership at all; so one company could own all the FMs there.
And on the AM band, it says, companies also should face no cap in a given market.
The NAB made these recommendations in 2019 as part of the FCC’s 2018 pending quadrennial review process.
“These outdated media ownership rules, which no longer enable broadcasters to viably operate in a competitive market or effectively serve the public interest, are in more urgent need of reform than ever,” NAB said in its most recent filing.
In assessing competition, the NAB commented, the FCC can no longer maintain the “fiction” that broadcast stations compete only against other broadcast stations.
“The record compiled in 2019 showed that broadcasters compete against myriad traditional and digital platforms for both audiences and ad revenue,” NAB argues.
It cited data that shows consumers are acquiring more smart devices, from phones to watches to speakers, and that record numbers are streaming audio, paying for subscription music services and listening to podcasts. Those trends continue to fragment what once was a mass audience for AM/FM terrestrial radio.
A group of 10 broadcasters filing jointly, including Townsquare Media, Connoisseur Media and Midwest Communications, believe the decades-old rules hamper local radio broadcasters in competing for audience and advertisers against growing competitive threats from global tech companies. They asked the FCC to do away completely with all caps in all but the largest markets.
“As shown in earlier filings in this proceeding by the Joint Commenters and the NAB, particularly outside the top markets, there simply is no reason to retain ownership caps given the inconsequential share of the media market that these stations enjoy,” they wrote.
The joint filers continued: “To think that a radio company owning a sixth or seventh FM station in a big market, or even all the radio stations in a smaller market, will damage competition or harm the public interest is to ignore reality.”
Regulations adopted in a pre-digital world prior to 1996, they said, are outdated and “make no sense in today’s competitive media environment.” Therefore, “there simply is no reason to retain ownership caps given the inconsequential share of the media market that these stations enjoy.”“Moderate” approach
However, industry biggie iHeartMedia is asking for a “targeted, moderate approach” to changing the rules. Notably, it thinks the NAB proposal could cause “potentially catastrophic harm” to owners of AM stations.
iHeartMedia has said on several occasions that relaxing current limits on FM ownership could lead to further devaluation of AM stations and hurt those owners, including women and minorities, by destroying the financial value of AM assets.
In its most recent comments, iHeartMedia wrote: “The commission should adopt a targeted, moderate approach to reforming the local radio ownership rules by eliminating only the limits on AM stations while retaining the current limits on FM stations. Doing so will avoid the potentially catastrophic harm that could befall AM stations were the commission to adopt the NAB proposal to deregulate substantially the FM band.
“Moreover, by maintaining the current FM subcap limits, the commission will ensure that the financial incentives essential to the success of the Incubator Program remain in place. The commission should be guided by the overarching principle of doing no harm.”
Salem Media Group, which owns and operates approximately 100 stations, has made similar arguments: “If the AM band ceases to be the destination for popular programming, AM traffic will greatly diminish and the value of AM radio will collapse,” it wrote.
The FCC “has spent considerable time and energy to revive AM radio, but doing away with subcaps cannot possibly further that end. Using great care and restraint on subcaps is critical,” Salem told the commission.
Some advocacy groups have been critical of the FCC’s handling of the issue and say arguments for relaxing the limits are not supported by facts.
The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) believes any move by the FCC to relax the limits on local radio ownership would increase consolidation and have a significant negative impact on African Americans and other minority station owners and entrepreneurs.
President Jim Winston said in a statement: “The reasons given for eliminating or radically relaxing the commission’s local radio ownership rule are not adequate to justify increased consolidation of ownership in local radio markets. The AM radio industry would be greatly injured by the proposals that have been put forth.”
The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) says the FCC should keep the status quo for now and said relaxing the limits “would disadvantage more minority broadcasters” in the United States.
“Increased consolidation is not a fix for low minority ownership in broadcast,” MMTC wrote. “And adopting the NAB proposal would in essence deregulate the FM band.”
The MMTC points to data from the FCC’s latest ownership report, released in September, which shows only 2% of commercial FM radio stations and 3.3% of AM stations are majority black-owned.
“Minority and women-owned broadcast ownership is embarrassingly low,” MMTC commented. “New voices — not increased consolidation, less new entry and less minority ownership — are the answers to local advertising competition from Facebook and Google.”
Nonpartisan advocacy group Free Press told the FCC the “lack of ownership diversity” is the reason current limits must remain and offered advice to the FCC.
“As it prepares for the next quadrennial review in 2022, the commission should conduct a thorough analysis assessing the policies and market structures that are more likely to foster ownership by women and people of color, and before undertaking any rule changes should first analyze how such decisions will impact broadcast ownership diversity,” Free Press wrote.
In addition, it urges the FCC to close “loopholes” in its rules that allow owners to operate more stations than they’re allowed under dubious operating agreements.
“Consolidation has contributed to an ongoing pattern of big broadcasters transitioning resources away from low-income communities, rural areas and communities of color, and allocating them predominantly to white, wealthy and urban areas,” Free Press stated.
The FCC is facing fresh pressure to investigate how its policies have influenced a shrinking pool of minority media owners. Twenty-five members of Congress signed a letter sent to Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in June requesting that the FCC examine how its decisions and programs have disproportionately harmed African Americans and other minorities.
In September, Rosenworcel, commenting on the ownership report, said: “As has been the case for too long, this data makes clear that women and people of color are underrepresented in license ownership. This requires attention because what we see and hear over the public airwaves says so much about who we are as individuals, as communities, and as a nation. However, changes in the law, technology and court decisions like FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project make addressing this complex.”
(In 2017 the FCC adopted rules to abolish bans on newspaper/broadcast and radio/TV cross ownership and to relax several local TV ownership regulations; but those changes were held up by a legal challenge from Prometheus Radio and other critics. A Supreme Court decision this year reversed a lower court’s ruling and reinstated the 2017 FCC media ownership rules.)
She concluded: “There is much to consider to encourage more diversity in this market, including reinstatement of the Minority Tax Certificate Program.”
Nominations are open ahead of the IBC event in December for suppliers to enter the Best of Show Awards 2021 or, for those not exhibiting at the convention, a new Best of 2021 Awards.
The awards are supported by Future’s media and entertainment technology brands TVBEurope, Radio World and TV Tech. Nominations are due Nov. 23.
Nominations will be reviewed by a panel of independent industry experts.
Information and the registration information can be found on the award program page.
A session of the AES Fall Online Convention this week will explain new recommendations about streaming loudness.
“Internet audio streaming and on-demand file playback have become major sources of media delivery, affecting the ways that audio is recorded, mixed, post-produced and delivered,” the organization noted in a session summary.
“Excessive loudness compromises quality, inconsistent loudness annoys listeners. To resolve these issues, the AES Technical Committee for Broadcast and Online Delivery has created recommended guidelines for establishing and implementing an effective Distribution Loudness for streaming and on-demand audio file playback. This session will have members of the committee discussing the recently released TD1008 Recommendations for Loudness of Internet Audio Streaming and On-Demand Distribution.”This table is taken from the AES recommendations. Click the table to read the document.
The session will take place Thursday Oct. 21 at 3 p.m. Eastern time. It is part of a series of sessions online this month in lieu of an in-person AES show.
Leading the session will be consultant David Bialik and John Kean, senior engineer with Cavell & Mertz.
Others contributing to the recommendations document are Rob Byers, Jim Coursey, Eelco Grimm, Bob Katz, Scott Norcross, Robert Orban, Shawn Singh, Jim Starzynski, Alessandro Travaglini, Ian Shepherd and Greg Ogonowski.
Other sessions of the Broadcast and Online Delivery track are already available on demand including discussions of using SNMP, advantages of using metadata, stream monitoring, spatial audio in podcasting and other topics.
Mississippi-based Boswell Media learned that good can spring from tragedy — even a tragedy that resulted in the downing of a 350-foot tower, the smashing of a studio roof and the loss of radio stations from the air.
After Hurricane Ida tore through Louisiana in early September, it turned toward Kosciusko, a city of nearly 7,500 in central Mississippi and the home of Boswell Media. Winds of 100 mph whipped through the area, deluging the city with hard rain and felling trees all across town.
“The ground had been so wet here after so much rain,” said Johnny Boswell, president of Boswell Media. At about 4:45 pm on Sept. 1, a staffer in the studio heard a thud as a tree from an adjacent property fell and landed on one of the tower’s guy wires. Even as the tree lay overturned on the guy wire, “the tower was doing its best to right itself,” Boswell said. But the combination of wet ground and fallen tree won the battle, bringing the tower down on the station roof.
The good news: the staffer inside the building was not injured even as the studio roof absorbed 100% of the tower weight. The bad news, however, was that the collapse cut off transmission of station WLIN(FM) and the network that feeds two other stations — WCKK(FM) and WKOZ(FM).
Over the next few weeks, the mangled tower was hauled away, a new concrete support structure was installed and dozens trees around the studio were removed. “We took the opportunity to eradicate around the perimeter over 50 trees close to the property line,” Boswell said. For a station that’s been in that same location since 1947, the lesson here is to watch out as nature grows and changes around towers and other buildings. “[Things like that] can creep up on you,” Boswell said.
The stations were brought back on air soon after the accident via a temporary antenna atop a power pole. “We had an STL and we were able to get to our other transmitting tower via our codecs,” Boswell said. “Everything is now up and running.”
After a new tower was located in Virginia, the station contracted with J Crow Tower in Philadelphia, Miss., to install a Rohn 65G, a 350-foot tower with a wind load of 90 to 110 mph. The station is also taking the opportunity to add a new temporary antenna to the tower. “Now we’ll have a good low-power option,” Boswell said.
By mid-October, the tower was in the midst of being painted and prepped for installation. And what’s more, the station found a way to turn tragedy into opportunity.
“There were so many trees that were cut and some logs that came out that were useable,” Boswell said. He coordinated with the team cutting the trees and together they decided to cut the logs to a useable length. The reclaimed wood has been donated to a saw mill rehabilitation program at a local correctional facility.
The post Tower Misfortune Turns into an Opportunity for Mississippi Radio Station appeared first on Radio World.
This article originally appeared on the Fluke website and is used with permission. The company has posted online courses and other resources at www.fluke.com/en-us/learn.
Anyone who makes their living by working with electricity quickly develops a healthy respect for anything with even a remote chance of being “live.” Yet the pressures of the getting a job done on time or getting a mission-critical piece of equipment back online can result in carelessness and uncharacteristic mistakes by even the most seasoned electrician.
This list was developed as a quick reminder of what not to do when taking electrical measurements. Paying attention to three specific categories when thinking about the most common mistakes made when making electrical measurements, personal protective equipment, tools, and culture of safety.Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Having the right equipment to keep you save comes first.
1: Leave your safety glasses in your shirt pocket.
Take them out. Put them on. It’s important. The same goes for taking the time to put on insulated gloves and flame-resistant clothing. All of these steps fall under wearing proper PPE. Follow the table method to figure out what level of gear you need on, as detailed by NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.
2: Work on a live circuit.
De-energize the circuit whenever possible. If the situation requires you to work on a live circuit, use properly rated tools paired with the correct PPE for the environment. Make sure you wear safety glasses or a face shield and insulated gloves, remove watches or other jewelry, stand on an insulated mat and wear flame-resistant clothing, not regular work clothes.Tools
Once you’re geared up and you’re appropriately protected, it’s just as important to make sure the tool in your hand is the right one for this situation, and the test tool and its accessories are safe to use.
3: Replace the original fuse with a cheaper one.
If your digital multimeter meets today’s safety standards, that fuse is a special safety sand fuse designed to pop before an overload hits your hand. When you change your meter fuse, be sure to replace it with an authorized fuse.
4: Use the wrong test tool for the job.
It’s important to match your digital multimeter to the work ahead. Make sure your test tool holds the correct CAT rating for each job you do, even if it means switching DMMs throughout the day.
5: Grab the cheapest meter on the rack.
You can upgrade later, right? Maybe not, if you end up a victim of a safety accident because that cheap test tool didn’t actually contain the safety features it advertised. Look for independent laboratory testing marks on your test tools to ensure they have been proven to handle what they’re advertised at.
6: Neglect your leads.
Test leads are an important component of digital multimeter safety, they are an extension of your test tool. Make sure your leads match the CAT level of your job as well as the tool. Look for test leads with double insulation, shrouded input connectors, finger guards, and a non-slip surface.
7: Hang onto your old test tool forever.
Today’s test tools contain safety features that were unheard of, even a few years ago. Even if your old test tool is still working, many of the new features, both safety and test features, can be well worth the cost of an equipment upgrade.Culture of Safety
How your company thinks about and learns about safety influences how individuals conduct their work, what the culture of safety around them looks like. Mistakes are made when you’re pushed to work too quickly or new employees aren’t properly trained.
8: Use a bit of wire or metal to get around the fuse all together.
That may seem like a quick fix if you’re caught without an extra fuse, but that fuse could be all that ends up between you and a spike headed your way.
9: Fail to use proper lockout/tagout procedures.
Remember to follow the correct steps to remove power from an electrical circuit or panel, and to lock out and tag the panel or circuit, so that no one can re-energize it while work is in progress. Lockout/tagout procedures are detailed as part of NFPA 70E.
10: Keep both hands on the test.
Saved a big one for last on this list: Do not keep both hands on the test. When working with live circuits, remember the old electrician’s trick to keep one hand in your pocket. That lessens the chance of a closed circuit across your chest and through your heart. Hang or rest the meter if possible. Try to avoid holding it with your hands to minimize personal exposure to the effects of transients.
[Related: Read the ebook “Mission-Critical: Maintaining Your Transmitter Site”]
The post 10 Dumb Things Smart People Do When Testing Electricity appeared first on Radio World.
A high school radio station has been honored with four national awards — including Best High School Radio Station — for their efforts in news reporting, promotion and coverage of key social issues.
KPNG(FM) Pulse Radio is a 5,000-watt public radio station on FM 88.7 that showcases the talents of students enrolled at the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT), a career and college prep school in Mesa, Ariz. The awards are part of the annual John Drury High School Radio Awards — named after TV news anchor John Drury — to recognize excellence in high school radio broadcasting in 17 areas including categories like best newscast, best sports talk program and best website.Pulse Sports crew at a high school game. Left to right – East Valley Institute of Technology alum Jimmy Watters, students Finn Taylor, Braden Lilly and Moriah Paynes, alum Derek Montgomery, student Parker Gurash and staff engineer Amanda Krainski.
As part of the 2020–21 awards, Pulse Radio students within the Radio/Audio Production program at EVIT were honored with Best High School Radio Station, Broadcaster of the Year, Best Public Affairs Program and Best Station Promo.
“Words can’t describe how proud I am of our EVIT Radio students,” said Dave Juday, a radio/audio production instructor at EVIT and faculty advisor at the station. “Regarding the last school year, I’ve said multiple times that not only did our students survive in-person learning during a pandemic, but they also found a way to thrive. These awards are a testament to our students’ hard work and the dedication they have to see our program and radio station succeed.”
One of the newest categories — Broadcaster of the Year — was given to recent graduate Donoven Ong, who was also named Student of the Year by the school’s Radio/Audio Production department. Ong is currently a freshman at Northern Arizona University, where he has already launched his college radio career at KJACK Radio.Radio students Annaliese Stickle (left) and Finn Taylor in one of the production rooms.
Recent graduate Essie Bianco was honored for Best Public Affairs Program for her Public Pulse show about mental health. The program focused on mental health of students and staff as they dealt with off-campus virtual learning and a return to in-person instruction in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Best Station Promo was awarded to senior Justin Brooks for his Halloween promo production.
This is the third year that EVIT students have competed in the John Drury High School Radio Awards and overall received 21 nominations — the most of any high school — in 11 categories. The honors continue a streak for the station: In 2019–2020, EVIT students were recognized for Best Public Affairs Show, Best PSA and Best Radio Drama. The previous year, EVIT earned awards for Best Promo and Best Station Advisor.
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