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Solving the Medium-Wave Problem

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 00:00

The author is chairman of Digital Radio Mondiale.

Is medium wave in decline? Some people think so.

In the 1950s radio was declared mortally wounded by TV. But then FM with its new music rescued it, becoming one of the most successful technologies and platforms ever. Radio survived and thrived but AM should have died at the hands of the nimbler, younger and more attractive FM.

Photo credit: Radu Obreja

Only it did not and the medium reinvented itself by using presenter-led programming, commercial music and sport. In the United States it took until the end of 1990s for the FM and AM audiences to be equal and to this day the big AM stations are going strong, bringing in the ad dollars.

REASONS

Still, it’s undeniable that the whiff of decline has enveloped AM in the past two decades. The reasons are well-known: Analog medium wave doesn’t always deliver the best sound, it can suffer from interference, it can behave annoyingly different by day and night and even by season. Medium wave mainly appeals to a maturing population (a global phenomenon, considered shameful by some!) using aging receivers (this is bad!).

Analog medium-wave broadcasting also needs quite an infrastructure and deep pockets for the electricity bill.

Ruxandra Obreja

On the other hand, medium wave is that middle sister that delivers by giving excellent regional coverage over hundreds or (overnight and if the ionosphere behaves) even thousands of kilometers, whereas FM goes up to roughly 200 kilometers and digital DAB+ to half of that.

Medium wave is not only a regional but also an excellent local coverage solution. In Australia 33% of the public broadcaster ABC’s local transmitters broadcast in AM and 11 50 kW transmitters are serving the mainland capital or big cities. Medium wave covers large areas and reaches small far-flung communities for whom, even in developed countries, medium wave and FM still provide the first source of information.

Besides, medium wave with its reach, availability outdoors and on the go, is a fallback solution in times of emergency or simply a good standby solution when other platforms or services are unavailable (broadband, satellite, 4G or the mythical 5G).

The listeners’ behavior and the demands of the digital world are such that tackling medium wave has elicited different responses from broadcasters and regulators worldwide. In Europe, where the frequency was much used and abused, broadcasters initially energized by the potential of IP have not thought twice about closing down many medium-wave transmitters. Some have survived the cull, for example, in the UK, France, Spain, or in some eastern European countries.

DIFFERENT SCENARIOS

Regulators in other parts of the world have embraced different scenarios. One was to migrate AM to FM, or AM to a digital solution for FM (HD or DAB+). This process has taken a long time and, despite some successes, has shown it’s no replacement for AM or for a full large regional or national coverage.

In other parts of the world, like Brazil, digital was not even part of the mix. The simple migration AM to FM is plodding on there, as this is easier done in smaller places than in bigger, overpopulated ones, like big cities where there is no FM spectrum available and where the original demand for a solution came from.

Another idea is to expand the FM band, downwards, migrate everyone and forget about AM altogether, as FM seems a proven and winning formula. A nice idea but then, on top of the costs of replacing a large area covering transmitter with many, expensive, spectrum and energy hungry FM transmitters, there is the extra challenge of the new receivers to be produced and actually sold.

Certainly, there is also the option of doing nothing. Reading through the most recent submissions to the judicious consultation launched by the Australian regulator on the future delivery of radio services, I was struck by how some contributors claim that there is no current replacement for analog AM. Their scenario is to leave things as they are, for at least the next 10 years.

[Read: Historic Woofferton Boasts a Modern Twist]

Change is though the name of the radio game. While analog AM will subsist, it is worth looking at other options, too. In India where most of the territory and population are covered by the public radio medium-wave transmitter infrastructure, the government and public broadcaster took the bull by the horns and deployed almost 40 digital transmitters covering about half the country population with a digital signal.

THE SOLUTION

Recently cricket fans were able to enjoy an open-air demonstration of three different DRM programs on one frequency ahead of an important match in Bangalore. The fans also received data (stock exchange values) available on radio screens. This demonstrated that digital DRM is a game changer for medium wave.

In DRM the crackling audio disappears as sound is as good of that on FM. The electricity consumption and costs decrease, the spectrum is trebled and reception, even in cars (as available in over 1.5 million cars in India currently) is excellent, too.

If it is so good then why isn’t DRM medium wave conquering the world faster? Maybe it’s about confidence in a new platform. Broadcasters and governments need to market DRM digital radio once signals are on air in their countries.

As for receiver availability and their costs, let us remember how many receivers were on sale in the 1970s when FM was taking over the world. Nowadays, many listeners consume radio in their cars rather than sit in front of a retro looking wooden box. Digital receivers (DRM alone or DRM/DAB+) are a reality and a bigger push for digital would help with volumes sold thus bringing down the prices.

Radio, and therefore medium wave, can and should survive digitally. Digital radio must be an enabler of audio content and information while preserving its ubiquitous and unmatched advantage of providing a service for all.

For that, a bit of imagination, trust and, last but not least, some long-term investment is necessary. Because medium wave is still worth it!

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The post Solving the Medium-Wave Problem appeared first on Radio World.

Deadline Approaches for Reimbursement Requests

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 13:38

Mark your calendars for just before midnight on Oct. 15. That’s the deadline for FM stations looking to file a request for repack reimbursement funds from the Federal Communications Commission.

In August the Media Bureau and the Incentive Auction Task Force released a set of instructions for FM stations, LPTV stations and TV translator stations who are looking to receive reimbursement payments for costs incurred as result of the post-incentive auction repack.

Those instructions clarified which stations are eligible to be reimbursed from the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund and Reimbursement Expansion Act — the latter of which has made it possible for certain FM stations to be reimbursed for repack-related costs. The REA has appropriated an additional $1 billion to the fund for those stations (though the commission determined in a later report and order that payments to Class A stations and MVPD providers would take precedence over FM stations, LPTVs and TV translators).

For FM stations, the deadline is around the corner — stations are required to submit a reimbursement form by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 15, 2019. Keep in mind that the recent extension announced by the Media Bureau is only for low-power and TV translator stations, not FM broadcasters.

A webinar clarifying the reimbursement process was held in August. A replay of that webinar can be found here under the “Education” tab.

 

The post Deadline Approaches for Reimbursement Requests appeared first on Radio World.

Visual Radio: Creating a YouTube Channel

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 12:00

It’s often said that kids keep a person young. I can attest that my three have kept me a bit more in touch with reality than I would have been otherwise from news or focus groups. And whether they belong to you, a friend or a relative, it’s hard to miss that kids are the ultimate harbingers of change.

The YouTube channel of Power 106 Los Angeles, aka KPWR(FM), owned by Meruelo Media. A large subscriber base with low video views equals opportunity to invest in advertising to increase audience, while improving content and frequency of posting.

I first noticed my kids utilizing YouTube for music consumption about six years ago. I recall the jolt at the time; it actually made me feel bad that broadcast radio wasn’t totally meeting their needs.

Like you, I got over that feeling once I accepted the new on-demand enormity of YouTube, then recalled that radio still has a major role to play with its convenience, personalities, information and immediate relevance.

This evolution reminds me of when television first supplanted radio. The industry initially ignored the shift, but over time, adjusted — and when it did, what happened next? We made a U-turn and started advertising our product on TV!

In my previous article, we covered advertising on YouTube; if you haven’t read it, please do (radioworld.com, keyword Lapidus).

Now I’d like to address the importance of having a radio station YouTube channel.

LEARN FROM THE SUCCESSFUL

Wanna hang on to listeners or win over new ones? You gotta go where your audience does.

You execute this all the time when you send DJs to host concerts and events. The issue for many years now is that much of your audience is spending significant time elsewhere — online and with music apps. If you want to go where the fish are, you need a real presence.

The best example I’ve seen of a highly successful radio YouTube channel was created by the BBC’s Radio 1. I’m not alone in loving this channel; it has 6.9 million subscribers. Some videos have millions of views, many have hundreds of thousands of views and yes, they even have pieces in the mere thousands.

“Foul!” you cry. I can hear the haters now, saying in unison: “But the BBC is a fully funded network, propped up by the government. It doesn’t even have to make a profit!”

Can’t deny that. However, everyone needs something to aspire to, admire and emulate. I’m simply suggesting that you click around the channel and notice how they’ve constructed it, what videos are performing, how they promote their broadcast channel, and the amazing outpouring of emotion they get from their audience in the comments section.

If you want to go domestic, take a gander at NPR Music with its nearly 3 million subscribers or the other NPR channels with 206,000, 99,000 and 101,000, respectively. Try looking at your best-in-class format competitors to see what they’ve got brewing and what you’re up against.

It’s interesting to note that Power 106 in L.A. is at nearly a million subscribers but, like Z100 in New York, has a low viewing rate. This could indicate that the stations are not purchasing any YouTube advertising; that their audiences are not diggin’ what they’re posting; or that their frequency of posting (content velocity) is low, so the audience doesn’t actually participate regularly anyway.

CONSIDERATIONS

A few things to debate:

Should a morning show have its own YouTube channel, separate from the main radio station? While there’s no definitive answer to this, my gut tells me that integration is preferable simply because it’s desirous to maintain a steady flow of content velocity. If both the morning show and the station are creating product, the overall posting frequency will increase.

Another advantage is exposing what could be two audiences to one brand. Some morning shows will fight this hard because, from a brand/ownership perspective, they may want their show to fly solo in case at some point they decide to depart the mothership.

What about other streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music? No reason why you shouldn’t offer playlists of your own design or by artists who reside in your format. I’m not convinced it will have the same impact as a YouTube channel, but the effort and barriers to entry are low. Apple Music claims to be streaming 100,000+ radio stations. Is your station available?

Is there money to be made on YouTube? It doesn’t turn into serious change until a station achieves a large number of video views with viewers who will watch full 30-second pre-roll ads. This ad-sense (pre-roll) that you can activate at any time, may be setting up a barrier to entry. It isn’t something that requires serious discussion until you have a substantial audience. Another angle is to integrate sponsors into your content, probably the most appealing, as it could be tied to a station ad-buy.

A highly produced/professional YouTube channel does require an investment in money, time and resources, and I get that not all stations are able or willing to play. It would be very interesting to see if this can be done on a small- or medium-market level — highly localized with raw materials. Would it perform by itself and also help to maintain or grow ratings? Let me know of your own experience.

By the way, this isn’t about being futuristic or obsessing over a passing fancy. YouTube has been growing for years. If we ignore advertising on it, or avoid even the notion of our own channel, it could be at our own detriment.

Mark Lapidus is a longtime Radio World contributor. Comment on this or any story to radioworld@futurenet.com.

The post Visual Radio: Creating a YouTube Channel appeared first on Radio World.

Starks Criticizes FCC Record on Media Diversity

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 14:40

“America’s broadcasters should look like America.”

That was FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, expressing “particular concern [about] the persistent lack of diversity in broadcast media ownership, and among its rank and file.”

The commissioner has been on the job for about nine months and is one of two Democrats on the five-member panel; he spoke Tuesday at the Media Institute Free Speech America Gala. Starks said that the FCC’s controlling statute “demands that we distribute [broadcast] licenses in a way that prevents too many from winding up in the same hands and promotes ownership by women and people of color. This is important. The capacity of broadcast media to empower and inform is indisputable, and it is critical that those exercising this power represent all of us, not a mere privileged or anointed few.”

However, he said, the commission has, “largely and over many decades,” failed in meeting its statutory goals and obligations in this regard. “This isn’t conjecture or political posturing. It isn’t even an opinion. It is a fact borne out by our data.” He noted that of 1,300 full-power TV stations licensed, only 12 were owned by African Americans.

Starks said the FCC currently has an opportunity: “As the Third Circuit Court of Appeals observed in its most recent media ownership decision, Prometheus v. FCC, the commission can and must do better in addressing the impact of its regulatory efforts on the ability of women and people of color to own stations. No longer can it rely on bad data and analysis while ignoring its obligations. The court sent back this FCC’s latest deregulatory efforts and demanded that we get the data and perform the analysis necessary to ensure that we are fully meeting our statutory requirements.”

However, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, head of the Republican majority on the commission, has been harshly critical of the court and of its latest decision. Pai said last month that for 15 years, the Third Circuit has blocked attempts to modernize regulations to “match the obvious realities of the media marketplace.”

Starks on Tuesday also called for the FCC to “redouble” its Equal Employment Opportunity efforts. “For 15 years, the commission has had an open rulemaking proposing to continue a decades-old data collection on the diversity of the broadcast workforce. And for 15 years, while we’ve been stuck in neutral, we’ve elicited zero visibility on whether station management and news teams reflect our communities. We cannot fully engage on this issue when our ability to understand the problem is compromised.”

He said new research, including disparity studies identifying past discrimination in licensing, could be critical to addressing the concerns of the court “and finally making good policy in this space.”

Earlier in his remarks, Starks expressed ardent support for a free press. “The American people have a deeply ingrained urge to seek out and wade through what the Supreme Court has called a ‘multiplicity of information.’ That’s a good thing because it is essential to our democracy that the American people go through the process of hearing from a wide range of sources, ideologies and viewpoints. … What we need, then, is a press that pursues unvarnished facts and, above all else, truth.”

Starks was nominated by President Trump and was confirmed by the Senate in January 2019.

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The post Starks Criticizes FCC Record on Media Diversity appeared first on Radio World.

More on Fire Safety and Prevention

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 13:28

The author is director of engineering for Broadcast Devices.

Your article “Fires, Your Station and You” was a great reminder to take a look around and introduce some common sense into planning for what we hope never happens. As the chief of a volunteer fire department I see lots of foolish and sometimes even borderline criminal things. Our mantra is (unfortunately) “You can’t fix stupid.”

[Read: From the Archives: Fires, Your Station and You]

Here are a couple of quick items to add to the sensible suggestions in that article:

  • All of that wiring and plastic in your station gives off nasty gases when it burns and though the smoke from plenum-rated cable is supposed to be “less toxic” they stop short of calling it “nontoxic.” Even if the smoke is not obscuring your vision there is a good chance you are breathing in stuff that your life insurance carrier would prefer you do not. If you can’t knock down a fire quickly with a single extinguisher consider backing out and make sure you close the door to limit the oxygen supply to the fire. The last part is very important. As you plan your fire escape strategy with staff make sure they understand that exiting the building and leaving every door wide open is a great way to provide all the oxygen that a fire needs to spread.
  • Call the fire department. Not when your station is already on fire but before anything happens. Most fire departments are happy to do a “preplan” walk-through with you and doing so will usually buy you some good will when they point out that you have code violations. Keep in mind that should those code violations be discovered after you have a fire and someone is seriously hurt the consequences will be significantly more unpleasant than the embarrassment of discovering them while you walk-through with the fire department.

A preplan will not only be informative for you and your management but will also give the fire department the opportunity to see the layout of your facility and what hazards might lurk there when they do respond with the building full of smoke and time is of the essence.

  • Fire extinguishers need to be checked and recharged. Since you are going to pay someone to do so, consider having your staff practice with them as part of that ongoing maintenance cycle. The time to learn how to use one correctly is NOT when you actually need to use one.
  • While on the subject of not learning things when you need to use them, also considering bringing in a CPR instructor to do a class for your staff. One of them might save your life and they will certainly be grateful if they save a family member with training you forced them to take.

Radio World invites industry-oriented commentaries and responses. Send to Radio World.

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The post More on Fire Safety and Prevention appeared first on Radio World.

National VOA Museum Asks for Your Support

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 11:58

Her six massive transmitters may be quiet, but she is far from silent.

Amateur radio operators routinely talk to the world from station WC8VOA in West Chester, Ohio, located about 25 miles north of Cincinnati. This former VOA relay station is now a museum with collections from the Gray History of Wireless Radios; Powel Crosley Jr., and Cincinnati radio and TV broadcasting history; and the Voice of America.

The museum celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Bethany Station in September with a fundraiser to make the first floor of the museum accessible for people of all abilities.

SIT AT THE BOARD

The National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting is open every weekend from 1 to 4 p.m. Tours are given continuously on weekend afternoons by knowledgeable docents. It houses the Bethany station’s last control room and one of the remaining 250 kW Collins shortwave transmitters.

You can sit at the massive audio console that controlled the six shortwave transmitters and literally take a tour inside one of the Collins transmitters. You can view the massive switch gear, built during World War II, that changed Bethany’s 24 rhombic antennas to its six transmitters.

At one time, Bethany Station covered a square mile of property on former farmland. Today the museum sits on 14 acres and the antennas are gone; but with surrounding park acreage, you get a sense of the massive scale the site covered with towers and the miles of transmission lines and antenna wire.

The antennas are a memory, but the site’s spirit lives on.

The museum houses a large collection of radios from the early part of the 20th century, including names such as Hallicrafters, National, Drake and Collins. A large collection of Drake Amateur Radio products is always a must-see by visiting radio enthusiasts and ham radio operators.

Drake radios were produced nearby in Miamisburg, Ohio. An area dedicated to the Crosley Corporation shows off many of the Crosley brothers’ radio, TV and household products that were manufactured in Cincinnati. Crosley contributed heavily to the war effort during World War II, with the production of tens of thousands of portable radios for the U.S. Army and millions of proximity fuses for anti-aircraft ordinance.

Not only did Crosley develop radios, but content as well, with its on-air radio station WLW, which still broadcasts today on 700 AM. WLW transmits from its original site and the large Blaw-Knox tower can be seen from the VOA museum. The museum contains the original 50-watt AM transmitter that WLW started with in 1922.

WLW was the only U.S. station allowed to operate at 500,000 watts of power during the 1930s. The collection includes a bright red Crosley Hot Shot sports car, too. Crosley Corporation developed a number of vehicles during the late 1930s and resumed production after World War II until shutting down in 1952.

An additional area of the museum houses artifacts and memorabilia from the early era of Cincinnati radio and TV broadcasting. The Cincinnati Media Heritage section includes many of the celebrities who got their start at WLW and other local broadcasting outlets. These WLW radio stars, many of whom transitioned from radio to TV, include Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame; sisters Rosemary and Betty Clooney; Eddie Albert; Doris Day; The Mills Brothers; and Ruth Lyons.

Housed in three of Bethany’s old transmitter vaults, the history of broadcasting showcases the talent and equipment that made Cincinnati an early nursery for radio and television entertainment. Artifacts include equipment from a 1930s radio station; a 1950s AM station, including disc jockey’s audio console and turntables; and a 1000-watt transmitter. A very early and massive RCA Victor color television camera is on display, along with other television and video equipment.

RADIO LIVES HERE

Our amateur radio station is operated under FCC license WC8VOA and is manned by the West Chester Amateur Radio Association.

The station has seven operating positions equipped with modern and vintage amateur radio gear. Antennas cover the radio spectrum from two meters down to 160 meters. The former VOA receiving satellite dish has been converted to 10 GHz transmit and receive capabilities for EME (Earth Moon Earth) bounce. Signals are sent to the moon and the dish used as a passive satellite to communicate with other amateur radio operators.

The club participates in radio contests, portable operations and local STEM events. It averages some 6,000 contacts per year, covering modes of voice and digital and CW. The club also operates two FM repeaters on two meters and 440 Mhz.

Operators are in the shack every weekend and hold an open house every Wednesday night for radio enthusiasts and those interested in obtaining a ham radio license. Our WC8VOA call sign is recognized by many of our fellow radio amateurs around the world. We have made contacts from all seven continents and hundreds of countries.

Radio is still an important part of our lives. Whether it is listening to AM, FM or satellite services, radio remains a viable source of our news and entertainment.

CINCINNATI LIARS

Voice of America broadcasts were never intended for Americans. They were targeted to people living in oppressed countries where media was censored to change people’s minds by providing sourced and accurate news.

In fact, the VOA Charter (Public Law 94-350), which was passed in 1976 during the Ford administration, states that VOA news will be “accurate, objective and comprehensive.” It will also “represent America, not any single segment of American society, and will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.” Last, the VOA is mandated to “present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies.”

VOA news and feature stories are still broadcast and transmitted today to more than 275 million people weekly in 40-plus languages in nearly 100 countries. VOA programs are delivered on multiple platforms, including radio, television, web and mobile via a network of more than 3,000 media outlets worldwide.

Broadcasts have aired continually for more than 75 years, along with sister stations of Radio Free Europe; Radio Liberty; Radio Free Asia; and Radio Martí.

Here is the crux of the matter for all of us at the VOA museum: Once Bethany Station began operation during mid-World War II, an infuriated Adolf Hitler was quoted as saying on one of his radio broadcasts to never listen to those “Cincinnati Liars.” We’re proud to be part of the VOA heritage we are entrusted with and even more proud to be related to those “liars” from Cincinnati.

But while we’re proud of our heritage, I must be honest: The museum is housed in an aging, uninsulated, 75-year-old building that constantly needs repairs. We receive no federal funding, and this is our big fundraising push for the year.

Joe Molter

Our workforce of docents, conservators and maintenance crews are all unpaid volunteers. And many of our volunteers come from our local radio club, the West Chester Amateur Radio Association.

Please help us out with a donation. For information on the museum and how you can help with donations, visit www.voamuseum.org. Please donate today. If you’re interested in our amateur radio group, additional information is at wc8voa.org.

Joe Molter, WCARA, N8IDA, ARS Operator, is with the National VOA Museum of Broadcasting.

The post National VOA Museum Asks for Your Support appeared first on Radio World.

Ham Radio Operator Handed $17,000 Notice of Forfeiture

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 11:06

A ham radio operator who was repeatedly warned not to deliberately interfere with other amateur radio operators has been slapped with a $17,000 forfeiture.

Commission’s rules are clear on the issue: Amateur radio licensees may not monopolize the ham radio frequency for their exclusive use. Yet the Enforcement Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission said New York resident Harold Guretzky has not followed those rules and is instead an alleged “repeat offender” who has long misused the local amateur radio service by interfering with other operators.

Guretzky, licensee of station K6DPZ in Richmond Hill, N.Y., has been the center of numerous complaints over the last several years over his attempts to prevent other amateur licensees from using the local ham radio repeater.

[Read: Pennsylvania Ham to Pay $7k Fine for Intentional Interference]

Back in June 2017, the bureau issued a warning letter to Guretzky, advising him of the nature of the allegations against him and directing him to refrain from using the repeater going forward. Additional complaints came forward again in August 2017; the bureau said that Guretzky had also begun making threats against other operators.

Agents came twice in 2018 to Richmond Hill to check on Guretzky. The first time, agents advised Guretzky in writing that he was prohibited from using the local repeater. The second visit revealed that Guretzky was again allegedly interfering again with the local repeater and making threatening comments toward other amateur operators. This was followed by a phone call from the Regional Director of the Region One Enforcement Bureau who cautioned Guretzky, again, to not use the repeater.

The commission moved to take action against Guretzky with a formal notice of apparent liability for forfeiture. The bureau said that Guretzky deliberately violated the Communications Act and the FCC Rules — despite receiving multiple notifications that he cease this activity.

As a result, the commission found that Guretzy’s “repeated, intentional and egregious apparent violations” warrant a fine of $17,000, which is an upward adjustment of the $10,000 base forfeiture often assigned in cases like these. Any future violations by Guretzky may result in additional forfeitures, the commission said.

Guretzky has 30 days to pay the forfeiture or to respond to the commission.

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The post Ham Radio Operator Handed $17,000 Notice of Forfeiture appeared first on Radio World.

California LPFM Asked to Explain Alleged Transmission, EAS Violations

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 07:52

A California LPFM station has some compliance steps to consider after agents from the Enforcement Bureau came a calling.

In March 2019, an agent with the Federal Communications Commission observed several alleged violations after visiting low-power station KQEV(LP) in Covina, Calif., including concerns with the station’s antenna, transmitter and its EAS log.

[Read: Arizona LP Licensee Agrees to $1,500 Consent Decree]

Specifically, the agent noted that the station’s transmitting antenna was allegedly 7 meters higher above ground than it should have been and was located at coordinates that were about 40 meters away from its authorized site. The station’s transmitters was also allegedly found to be out of compliance; the model in use is not certified for use at that station, the agent reported.

The agent also noted irregularities with the station’s record keeping logs. Stations are required to keep an entry of each test and activation of the Emergency Alert System and at the time of inspection, the agent noted that no EAS log was available.

The next step for Chinese Sound of Oriental and West Heritage, which is licensee of KQEV, is to provide additional information to the FCC on these alleged violations. That means Chinese Sound must submit a written statement within 20 days explaining each alleged violation and include a timeline for completion of any pending corrective action. The commission plans to use all of that information to determine what, if any, enforcement action will be handed out from there.

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The post California LPFM Asked to Explain Alleged Transmission, EAS Violations appeared first on Radio World.

Something More to SIP

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 02:00

The author is affiliated with Wheatstone, which manufactures the WheatNet-IP audio network.

Anyone who has ever tried to fit a week’s worth of personal items into carry-on luggage understands the problem. It’s impossible to pack audio in the megabits-per-second range into bandwidth in the kbps range without an IP audio codec, and that means losing some bits in the process.

Dee McVicker

The problem isn’t just that audio comes with a lot of baggage, either. It’s that you can’t always be sure what to pack. Opus, G.722, AAC, they are different algorithms and have different ways of packaging bits for transport across an IP link. You might use brand X on your end of a remote, but that’s not going to fly if it’s brand Y on the far end.

ENTER SIP

Up until now, this has been resolved by simply using the same codec at the studio and at your remote truck or STL at the far end. But all that goes out the window once you want to open accessibility, as is often the case for combining studios across a region or establishing a network operation center in the cloud. Then, it’s hard to control which codec unit you’ll be handing off to on the far end, and it’s an impossible task if you’re handing off to more than one endpoint with more than one codec variation, which can be the case for multiple transmitter sites.

Enter SIP, or session initiation protocol, which is often associated with VoIP communications but also makes a pretty darn good interoperability standard for codecs.

SIP is a signaling protocol used for initiating, maintaining and terminating real-time multimedia sessions.

It initiates a session by sending a message to an endpoint SIP address that can be linked to a physical phone or a software application through a SIP service provider. There’s a header component of the SIP message that conveys information about the message and also a description component (called a session description protocol or SDP) that conveys information such as codec formats.

An “invite” is sent to the far end, and once acknowledged, SIP discovers the codecs in common between the two end points and determines which to use.

[Read: Jay Tyler’s Top 5 AoIP Trends]

Codec product manufacturers have been interested in SIP for some. IP audio network manufacturers like Wheatstone are also interested in SIP, in part because it makes it possible to seamlessly transport AoIP from a remote sporting or news event to the studio network without regard to codec brand.

IMPLICATIONS

But the wider applications for SIP go way beyond remotes.

SIP is already playing a central role in the next level of consolidating broadcast operations, where for example, one studio is carrying all the programming for a group of stations in a region. It’s likely that some or all of a group’s programming and operating functions will be hosted by a cloud service provider.

Combined with audio control and codecs as part of the AoIP network, SIP solves that issue of getting IP audio out of the studio network and onto the public network for a number of beneficial purposes that will ultimately lead to more flexibility and cost savings for broadcasters.

The post Something More to SIP appeared first on Radio World.

Massachusetts FM Translator Nixed After Interference Concerns

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 17:34

An FM translator station in Massachusetts won’t be built after the Media Bureau dismissed an appeal because of complaints of interference and a subsequent reconsideration request that fell outside a 30-day window of time.

In 2017, Emmanuel Communications filed an application permit seeking authorization to construct a cross-service FM translator station to rebroadcast station WNEB(AM) in Worcester, Mass.

Soon after, a petition to deny was filed by Plymouth Rock Broadcasting Co. who argued that the proposed translator would cause interference to listeners of one of its stations, WPLM(FM) in Plymouth. Emmanuel responded to say that the anticipated interference was minimal and that displacement relief would be the best remedy for that single listener. After all, argued Emmanuel, authorizing this translator would help further the commission’s long-standing goal of revitalizing the AM radio service.

But 2018, the Media Bureau found that the interference to the listener of WPLM(FM) would be in violation of FCC Rules. The bureau thus dismissed the permit application.

Emmanuel responded with a Petition for Reconsideration saying that the bureau was in error and it proposed two alternatives to dismissal: one, waiving a section of the rules and granting the permit application (with the understanding that Emmanuel would submit a modification application proposing displacement relief if any actual interference should occur); and secondly, allowing the permit application to remain pending while Emmanuel negotiated an agreement with Plymouth Rock.

But the bureau demurred and said that the rules expressly prohibit the filing of contingent applications for new stations and that Emmanuel had not demonstrated that waiver of the rules was justified. The Media Bureau also rejected Emmanuel’s argument that it should reinstate the application to allow it to negotiate an agreement with Plymouth Rock.

The bureau also reminded Emmanuel that it could have amended its permit application while it was pending to correct the interference violation — or even could have filed a corrective amendment after the dismissal of the application. But the licensee did not do so within the specific time period.

Emmanuel filed another application for review saying the bureau was mistaken in its ruling, saying the interference rules violation is “a processing obstacle” but not a true technical defect. The licensee says the amendments proposed by the bureau would not have been successful and it argues that the bureau failed to recognize the “policy ramifications of failing to exercise its waiver authority.”

In this case, Emmanuel said, the bureau’s decision subverts the policy objectives that informed the AM revitalization proceeding. Emmanuel took the next step of filing an amendment to its permit application and proposed to operate the translator at minimal power and said it would seek “displacement relief” upon grant of the application.

But when the commission reviewed the Media Bureau’s actions and Emmanuel’s application for review, it found that Emmanuel’s evolving arguments — including the waiver and the amendment — were untimely. The commission also dismissed Emmanuel’s assertion that one of the listener affidavits from Plymouth was unacceptably ambiguous.

As a result, the commission dismissed both the application and request for review.

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The post Massachusetts FM Translator Nixed After Interference Concerns appeared first on Radio World.

Emmis Succeeds in Efforts to Transfer Austin Stations to STI Telecable

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 16:55

The long-awaited move to sell six Emmis radio stations in the Austin market has gotten the final green light from the Federal Communications Commission.

Earlier this month the FCC granted a waiver request submitted by Emmis Austin Radio Broadcasting Co. to transfer control of its licensed stations in the Austin Nielson Audio Market to Sinclair Telecable. Together, Sinclair and Emmis operated the cluster of stations for the last 16 years. In June 2019, it was announced that Emmis would sell the radio cluster for $39.3 million.

But first, the group had to run the FCC waiver gauntlet.

The waiver was being requested because, under the FCC’s local ownership rules, a licensee in the Austin market can have an attributable interest in up to seven commercial radio stations, with not more than four being in the same AM or FM service. Up until now, Emmis had interest in five FM stations in the Austin market, which is one more FM station than is permitted under the commission’s rules.

Of note: FCC rules allowed for common ownership of those six stations under local ownership rules in effect in 2003; that combination was grandfathered in when the latest local ownership rules were modified. According to the commission,  grandfathered combinations are allowed to continue as long as the station’s licensee does not propose a change that creates a new violation of the ownership rules. If such a change is proposed, however, that grandfathering terminates and the licensee must come into compliance with the new multiple ownership limits.

In this particular instance, Emmis needed a waiver from the commission to grant the application — or the partnership would have to divest one FM station in the market.

In requesting the waiver, Emmis said that the proposed transaction is not a sale of the partnership of its Austin stations but more akin to a corporate restructuring since Emmis and Sinclair Telecable are co-partners. The licensee argued that the continued grandfathering will serve the public interest by allowing the sustained operation of a thriving cluster, one which Emmis said offers market listeners diverse and distinct formats by one of its long-standing owners.

In this case, the FCC agreed.

The commission granted Emmis’ waiver request of the local ownership rules, saying that the move would not compromise viewpoint diversity and competition in the Austin market. The FCC also said that the structure of the Austin market itself favors grant of the waiver: The market is already highly diverse in terms of ownership and programming, the commission said, with at least 21 owners and 28 distinct program formats.

The move now gives Sinclair Telecable 100% ownership of those five stations, including KLBJ(FM), KGSR(FM), KLZT(FM), KROX(FM) and KBPA(FM).

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From the Archives: Fires, Your Station and You

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 12:50

This article originally ran in October of 2012 but it is always relevant, especially in Fire Prevention Week, this year Oct. 7–13. It has been modified and updated.

Photo: iStockphoto/Nick M. Do

A friend of mine for more than 40 years, Rich Walston, spent most of his professional life as a New York City fireman. We met as project engineers in the military. His scope of work was the firing area of the Nike missile system; mine was the integrated fire control which included the radars, computers, etc.

Working in parallel and integrating the two mission areas into functionality, we spent a lot of time together and cemented a lifetime friendship.

In discussing his firefighting work in New York, he tells us that in a populated area that dense, response time is absolutely critical to minimize loss of life and property and to limit the scope of the event. Literally a minute’s delay can mean the difference between a building or a block of conflagration devastation.

From his own experiences and a review of the 200-year history of the FDNY, Rich feels that their emergency response was almost always without exception triggered when someone else failed to follow or meet standards and/or plain common sense.

Building code enforcement was a major contributor. People’s greed in stealing gas service, disabling fire alarm systems, poor grease and cooking hygiene are ready examples. But sometimes a fire was caused by plain stupidity — cooking with a barbeque  grill in a tenement kitchen, using gasoline as a solvent indoors. Sometimes his crew felt there was no limit to the insanity they encountered.

The lunacy is somewhat amusing perhaps because it applies only to someone else in a far distant country called New York City. But does it ?

Let’s go into introspective mode here … When was the last time you checked the charge on all fire extinguishers in your station; the functionality of the fire alarm systems; the operation of all the ground fault interrupters (GFIs); the batteries in the emergency lighting (will they last 20 minutes, do they show the way to an exit); the functionality of the breakaway bars on emergency fire exits; the currency of the exit plans on the walls of every room (did the new studio construction or racks cause a rerouting or close in a fire exit)?

An important aspect to any fire or emergency evacuation plan is the exact location of where one’s work group or the overall station staff is supposed to assemble outside the building … under the floodlight pole, next to the dumpster, by the boss’ reserved parking space, etc.

The fire plan is incomplete without this assembly location and the clear understanding that everyone will gather there following evacuation.

By way of example, a client in a rented office building was supplied HVAC via a rooftop AC unit. One beautiful fall day, the owner’s maintenance people were applying some variety of highly aromatic material on the roof. This noxious vapor was taken into the economizer air intake and spread quickly and heavily throughout the station space.

Folks began to be highly nauseous and (let me be euphemistic) got very ill such that everyone was instructed to get out.

Without a clear directive to go to an assembly point, one of the staff, who was feeling really ill, flagged a cab on the street and went home preferring to be sick in private rather than in front of their co-workers.

Within minutes, staff realized that this one person was missing. The fire department was called and in hazmat gear went through every nook and cranny of the multifloor building assuming that the missing party had been overtaken by the fumes.

Hours later, when a family member finally answered the phone and indicated that the staff member was at home, only then, was the search terminated.

Have an assembly plan and follow it.

FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Fire Administration, along with the National Fire Protection Association, encouraged individuals and families to have a fire escape plan, noting that hundreds of thousands of fires happen in American homes each year.

In 2010, a total of 362,100 residential fires resulted in 2,555 deaths, 13,275 injuries and more than $6.6 billion in property loss, according to an announcement.

FEMA officials called on people to check that all smoke alarms work. (The USFA recommends that residences be equipped with both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual-sensor smoke alarms.) Make sure there are two ways out of every room; create a fire plan for your home; and practice with family members.

While reviewing these exit plans, think about pragmatics. How many cubicles do you need to crawl past to get out? You don’t want to crawl yourself into a corner. Many stations have “Star Trek” doors to limit sound exchange. Do motion sensor doors open on fire alarm or will they lock station personnel in a fire space?

Several times while doing due diligence work, I have discovered that as a cost measure, an alarm service has been terminated. This may be acceptable for theft considerations but it also cut off the fire alarm calls. The station and personnel could be cinders before some passerby would have alerted the fire dispatch.

Check your fire insurance; coverage may actually be predicated on an automatic emergency fire alarm and call system being in place and operational.

Fires and stupidity. My two favorite broadcast stories in that area:

One: On a station inspection for the owners, I came upon a mountain of 50 boxes of copy paper at the end of a hallway, blocking the fire exit at that side of the building tighter than King Tut’s Tomb. I told the GM that these had to go right away; his response was that no one ever used that exit. We had harsh words. I told him I would personally cart the boxes out into the rain if these were not redistributed elsewhere in the building. He bought all these because they were a great price.

Two. On another due diligence trip I found wire ties permanently fixing fire extinguishers to the wall. Why? The staff were afraid the extinguishers would be stolen. My question: Has one ever been stolen without wire ties? The answer, no daaaahhhhhhhh.

At another station I discovered “required extinguishers” on far walls, located behind gear where no one could see them or know they were there. I had to explain to people that to be able to fight your way into a fire, you start at the escape exit. If you had to go to a far wall, you’d be fighting your way out and problematic if you’d make it. These safety devices should be near the doors.

They said they didn’t want to relocate them as it messed up the décor. DUMB.

BURN

In general, two things will burn in your station: physical material (wood, plastics, paper, etc.) and there are gasses released in the heat.

Your first line of response to any fire is the fire extinguishers in the space. These units are usually handheld, dry type and directional in dispersal. They come in ratings that match the four categories of fire types.

Given the flammable material and gasses that might be present in a station fire, the readily available combination Type A, B and C should be viewed as a minimum. A,B,C and E are best.

As critical as the ability to squelch a fire are two other important qualities: distance that the extinguisher can spray/reach, and the duration of discharge.

Engineers are differentiated from other mere mortals because they think better with more clarity and precision, so let’s put that talent to work and reflect on this. Break out of your normal complacency and think about the worst that can happen.

For example, your server room is 15 by 10 feet and has seven loaded racks in the space and a half mile of cable. One of those little boutique extinguishers meant for stovetop grease fires is not going to handle any issue in your server room. A couple of big multi units just outside the door should be the minimum. Also with the investment of seven racks of gear, it really is time to consider automatic fire suppression.

When a fire appears, sound the alarm to all personnel first so they can get out. Next summon the fire professionals. Then consider the fire.

If you must enter a fire environment, fight your way into it to extinguish or slow the spread of the fire. The fundamental idea is always to keep the fire in front of you and escape behind you. If the smoke is so thick you cannot see the flames, back out. Fire is often silent or masked by other mundane noises. The fire could be creeping up your pants legs before you would notice it in the panic of the moment.

I have had only one close encounter with a fire, and that was enough. Most surprising to me was how fast, how incredibly fast, the environment filled with smoke. To breathe and to see anything, you’re immediately crawling on the floor. From my vantage point as an electrical contractor, and given the now minimal costs of LEDs, I firmly believe that public places similar to airplanes should have crawl strips on the floor to take you out safely (a great new business for rug installers). This is more logical than wall-mounted fixtures that are mainly pro forma and often useless in a fire, although helpful in a power failure when they work.

In a station, income may be the dominion of the sales department, ratings start with programming. But safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Get out from behind your desk or bench and walk through your plant. Are you absolutely certain that those pull stations work? Are the batteries in standalone smoke alarms actually functional? Many radio stations are unmanned for large portions of the day and vacant throughout the weekend. No one is around to help the low-battery warning. How about the gel battery in your central system? Push the test button and check. Confirm on the maintenance tag that it actually has been serviced in the last six months. How about those old flickering fluorescent fixtures? Ballasts in these fixtures if ignited usually create acrid black smoke. You don’t need the local fire department axing away into your station because the fire alarm had triggered on smoke. Replace with new.

How about the use of electrics in your station? Have wannabe techies installed cascaded plug adapters with a myriad of cheap gear under their desks just itching to light up your highly flammable rugs?

As your check out your plant touch every heat generator repeating the mantra: Warm is okay, hot is not.

How about that big new neon sign behind reception? Where are the supplies? Are they properly ventilated and are they listed or something the sign shop just threw together?

Finally after you’ve done your review, run your plan through the final filter. Imagine that your loved ones lived in this space. Is there anything left that you would change to reduce fire danger and enhance safety? What would you correct? Then take action.

Send your own safety suggestions to radioworld@futuremedia.com.

Charles “Buc” Fitch, P.E., CPBE, AMD, is a frequent contributor to Radio World.

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The post From the Archives: Fires, Your Station and You appeared first on Radio World.

A Radio Sampler of the WBA Broadcasters Clinic

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 12:45
The cover of the conference brochure.

The 2019 Broadcasters Clinic will be held Oct. 15 to 17 at the Madison Marriott West Hotel in Middleton, Wis. The annual national meeting of the Society of Broadcast Engineers will be held in conjunction.

The “Madison clinic” is an industry tradition, kept vibrant even at a time when many regional events have disappeared. Its success has been thanks to an active leadership team, dedicated volunteers and ongoing association support.

Exhibitors and attendees have rewarded that investment by coming back year after year. Last year’s event won the award for Best Chapter Regional Educational Event from SBE.

This year’s clinic is dedicated to Gary Mach for 35 years of service to the Clinic Committee, from which he is retiring; organizers said his career has spanned nearly six decades “in every level of support from staff engineer to corporate engineer,” working for organizations including Wisconsin Public Broadcasting and PBS.

Last year’s event won the award for Best Chapter Regional Educational Event from SBE.

“The word ‘mentor’ only begins to demonstrate how he carried himself throughout his career,” WBA’s Leonard Charles said of Mach.

Bill Hubbard

Also being saluted is WBA Clinic Committee member Bill Hubbard, recently retired from his own long engineering career. A charter member of Chapter 80, he recently was named the 2019 James C. Wulliman Educator of the Year by the SBE. Among other achievements, since 2013 he has contributed to the Media Technology Institute, a seminar to train new graduates in the basics of broadcast engineering. MTI was founded by Terry Baun who, in 2018, chose Hubbard to head the institute.

Below are sessions of interest to Radio World readers. See the full program, including TV-related presentations, at www.wi-broadcasters.org. For information about the SBE national meeting see sbe.org.

 

TUESDAY Oct. 15

8:30 a.m. — “War Stories: Tales from the Trenches”
Jeff Welton, Nautel

Show organizers remind us: “If you’ve seen any of Jeff’s presentations you will have noticed that he occasionally makes use of a ‘shouldn’t have done it that way’ photo — a picture taken demonstrating something that is done in a less-than-ideal manner.” He’ll share some of those and talk about what could be done to avoid such situations. “Names of stations shown will be withheld to protect the innocent.”

9:15 a.m. — “Possible Applications for Use of AM Broadcast Tower Space”
Tom F. King, President and CEO, Kintronic Labs Inc.

King will address solutions for using AM tower space for cellular telephone sites, broadband provider data services, LPTV antenna co-location for TV repack and other applications.

10:30 a.m. — “Faster, Cheaper, Better: Combining Today’s Lower-Cost Technology for Perfect Audio Now”
Kirk Harnack, Senior Solutions Consultant, The Telos Alliance

“While we’ve witnessed individual broadcast systems turn to networking for lower cost and better utilization, we’re now at the point where everything is connected with the same technology,” Harnack says. He highlights the latest implementations of networked audio and control. “We know something about VoIP and AoIP, but we’ll learn about MoIP and IoIP. Plus we’ll see how the IT industry keeps building upon existing and trusted protocols to bring reliability and cost-savings to broadcasters.”

11:15 a.m. — “Under the Hood, How AM HD Radio Works”
E. Glynn Walden, retired Senior VP of Engineering, CBS Radio

Walden, one of the fathers of IBOC, offers a brief discussion of how it came to be implemented as the U.S. digital radio platform over Eureka-147. He’ll then describe the Xperi AM HD Radio system including basics of OFDM and the elements needed to make AM HD radio work, including interleaving, error correction, reference carriers, the low-latency backup channel and instant tuning. He will also talk about performance in the presence of grounded conductive structures and the presence of interference.

1 p.m. — “Maximizing Your Content ROI with Podcasting”
Craig Bowman, Director R&D and Innovation, Futuri Media

Radio people know how to make great audio, so it follows that they should be able to make great podcasts, no? Well, not automatically. Bowman will discuss how radio can use podcasting and on-demand platforms to improve the ROI on content they are already creating while growing audience with original content.

1:45 p.m. — “Hybrid and Digital Radio: What Every Broadcaster Should Know”
David Layer, Vice President, Advanced Engineering, National Association of Broadcasters

“While the majority of radio listening still takes place on analog radios, broadcasters should be focusing on digital and hybrid (over-the-air plus internet) radio technologies as these represent radio’s future,” the organizers say. Layer will talk about radio technology work at the NAB dealing with digital and hybrid radio — “for the near term, making sure that broadcasters, manufacturers and service providers are all working together, and for the long term, helping to foster advances that will ensure radio’s prominence in autos for decades to come.”

2:45 p.m. — “Troubleshooting Interactive Scenario/Heavy Duty Workbench”
Facilitators: John Bisset, Telos Alliance Radio Products Sales Manager for the Western U.S. and author of Radio World’s Workbench; Greg Dahl, Second Opinion Communications

An interactive presentation will troubleshoot common and uncommon problems at a broadcast facility. “Attendees will participate in small groups, learning and contributing during a condition of equipment failure and the scenario surrounding the failure.”

3:45 p.m. “Taking Your HD Signal to the Next Level Using Generation 4 Exporter and Importer Technology”
Kevin Haider, Product Line Manager, GatesAir

A walkthrough to better understand the differences between Generations 3 and 4 of HD Radio technology. Haider will address features such as the advantages of running a combined importer and exporter, and tools to help time alignment of the FM analog and digital audio.

7 p.m. — “Nuts and Bolts Session: Building the Perfect Pi”
Tim Wright, Cumulus Chicago

What’s cooler than solving a technical need by creating your own solution based on a Raspberry Pi microcomputer? Wright has developed various solutions at the Cumulus Chicago facility. Projects include Environmental monitoring, Axia Livewire routing control, making an older series XDS satellite receiver SNMP compatible, STL/TSL backups and a programmable studio clock/status display. Bring your laptop and your “wish list” projects for brainstorming.

WEDNESDAY Oct. 16

8 a.m. — “Broadcasting: What is Coming Next”
Steve Lampen, Consultant

What will the worlds of audio, video, broadcast and beyond look like in 10 years? In 20 years? “This presentation will depress some and excite others,” Lampen says. “I would love to hear your opinion on my predictions. Will we look back and laugh?”

8:45 a.m. — “Develop a COBO Plan for Your Station”
Manny Centeno, Project Manager, National Public Warning System (NPWS)

Centeno will provide a framework and best practices for developing a solid Continuity of Broadcast Operations Plan for your company or station to be prepared for major disasters.

1:30 p.m. — IT Security
Moderator Jeff Welton, Nautel
Panelists: Alex Hartman, Optimized Media Group; Chris Tarr, Entercom Milwaukee; and Wayne Pecena, Texas A&M University

This is a topic that unfortunately never goes out of fashion; indeed broadcast groups seem to be victimized by attacks ever more frequently.

3 p.m. — SBE Annual Membership Meeting

4 p.m. — Emergency Preparedness: From Tabletop to Action Plan
Tom Kujawa, recently retired Chief of Police for UW-Green Bay

Run a tabletop exercise at your facility to learn where the gaps are, identify solutions and refine your disaster planning in realistic ways. Chief Kujawa leads an interactive session that teaches you how to simulate a real-time, realistic event.

5–8 p.m. — SBE National Awards Reception & Awards Dinner
(requires separate registration)

THURSDAY Oct. 17

The clinic in Madison is a longstanding and popular conference.

8:30 a.m. — “Real Time Monitoring of RF System Performance”
Dan Glavin, Dielectric Broadcast

RF transmission systems are expensive and require annual maintenance to alleviate catastrophic failure, particularly for older systems,” Glavin says. “There are many monitoring systems that effectively measure VSWR and other performance issues in real time; however, fault location is not provided and requires additional resources.” He will discuss an IP-connected system providing broadcasters a way to monitor the RF system in real time, under full power with fault location.

The post A Radio Sampler of the WBA Broadcasters Clinic appeared first on Radio World.

Radio TechCon 2019 Opens Registration 


Sun, 10/06/2019 - 02:00

Tickets are now on sale for Radio TechCon 2019, which will take place Nov. 25 at IET London: Savoy Place. The U.K.-based conference is an opportunity for radio and audio engineers, technologists, managers and producers to get a crash course in the latest and future technologies that will impact the broadcast industry.

Areas of interest at this year’s conference will include the technological future of radio; the technology behind Brexitcast; a UX and UI mini-mastercalss; an inside look at Wireless’ new studios; the science and practicalities of acoustics; and a behind-the-scenes look at BBC’s latest radio technology.

In addition, the conference will offer chances to see presentations from sponsor companies, network with other radio industry colleagues and visit exhibitors at the mini trade fair.

Radio TechCon tickets cost £150 + VAT, which covers entry to all talks, the trade fair, lunch and cake. Discounts are available for members of The Radio Academy, the IET, Community Media Association, Student Radio Association, Audio UK, Sound Women Network, the Institute of Acoustics, AES and delegates from Radio TechCon’s Radio Technology Masterclass 2019.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.radiotechcon.com.

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 appeared first on Radio World.

Cavell, Layer Feted at 2019 IEEE BTS Symposium

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 22:26
Gary Cavell (center) of Cavell, Mertz & Associates was presented the 2019 Jules Cohen for Outstanding Broadcast Engineering. BTS President Ralph Hogan (right) presents the award to Cavell as the society’s Vice President Lanny Nass looks on.

The 2019 edition of the IEEE BTS Symposium wrapped up on Thursday, Oct. 3, but not before handing out a pair of awards to well-known industry veterans Gary Cavell and David Layer.

[Read: BTS Explores Tech’s Role in Content Wars]

Cavell was the recipient of the 2019 Jules Cohen Award for Outstanding Broadcast Engineering. Cavell is the president of Cavell, Mertz & Associates and has spent his 40-year career in the industry working in radio and television engineering management, facility design and construction, program production and system station system development. Earlier this year, Cavell was recognized with the 2019 NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award.

The NAB’s David Layer (left) is presented the 2019 BTS Symposium Matti Siukola Best 2018 Symposium Paper Award by BTS Presidnet Ralph Hogan. The award is presented the year after the paper is delivered.

The organization then honored Layer with the 2019 BTS Symposium Matti Siukola Best 2018 Symposium Paper Award for his paper, “Pilot All-Digital FM Field Test Project.” Layer is the vice president of advanced engineering for the NAB. Layer is a past recipient of Radio World’s Excellence in Engineering Award.

For more information about this year’s IEEE BTS Symposium, click here.

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Community Broadcaster: Changemakers

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 14:58

Friday, Oct. 4, College Radio Day. is a day to recognize college radio stations nationwide. And every day afterward, it is essential to appreciate these community radio organizations and the way in which they serve their respective campuses and communities.

College Radio Day has been celebrated for nearly a decade. It kicked off in 2010 through the coordination of Rob Quicke of William Paterson University’s WPSC(FM) and Peter Kreten of WXAV(FM), Saint Xavier University. It has since evolved into an annual event where hundreds of college stations around the United States and, occasionally, other countries promote the work of college stations to educate and entertain.

In the age of Spotify, there have been a few think pieces that ask if college radio still matters. Certainly college radio matters. Not only do the stations provide valuable broadcasts locally, but they are wonderful institutions that give students opportunities to learn to produce media and, writ large, how to cultivate in themselves leadership and critical thinking skills. Although college radio is facing many challenges, it is incumbent on us to recognize its importance as an educational resource.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Just Give]

College radio is one of the most unique parts of the noncommercial radio system. Unlike a nonprofit specifically formed to operate a radio station, college radio stations have a licensee with a massive number of departments, funding priorities, needs and administrative and educational demands on university finances. Rarely does a campus radio station get a dollar devoted to its support; in many cases, stations may be partially or wholly funded by student fees or other monies divided up among whole divisions of campus life. While those funds are surely appreciated and valued, it should not be too surprising when college radio gets lost in the sauce of a campus soup that includes libraries, athletics, intramural sports, student government and so much more.

In this context, visibility for a college radio station really counts. In August, the University Station Alliance, led today by Virginia Dambach (who replaced now-retired head Craig Beeby), conducted a survey on trends in reporting structure among institutional licensees. A takeaway was that 82% of responding general managers reported that their stations are either “appreciated and respected” or “beloved” by their universities. The remaining 18% was split among, in order, licensees knowing what the station does, generally; distant relations; and ignored.

USA points out that reporting relationships may be a clue to better bonds. In its survey, 60% of respondents indicated they report at or above the associate vice presidential level while 40% report below the vice presidential level. More tellingly, the number of station general managers who report directly to one of the top institutional officers rose from 14% to 20% of respondents between USA’s 2009 survey and the 2019 survey.

How a station relates to campus higher-ups and their regard for the station as a part of the school’s brand is meaningful. University-licensed radio stations are in a curious place of late. While some are flourishing, others are being sold off by their home universities. To hear those in the college radio space relate it, religious broadcasters are most frequently the ones showing up to make offers. Such is not an unreasonable assertion: many of the biggest religious broadcasters have considerable resources, the nonprofit status to acquire said licenses and are noncontroversial to most people. And a cash-strapped university might be willing to consider such an offer. However, it’s up to those who care about stations, especially alumni, to constantly share college radio’s value proposition.

There are no shortage of college radio stations doing solid work. Jim Rand and the team at the University of Maine’s WMPG; Jennifer Kiser and student and staff leaders at the University of California Santa Barbara’s KCSB; and KBCS, Bellevue College’s powerhouse station, which recently appointed Dana Buckingham as manager, all are doing incredible campus/community collaborations and award-winning radio. May we together salute them, and the many college radio stations like them, doing cherished and thought-provoking media.

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User Report: Radio Rubi Migrates to AudioPlus

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 14:03

RUBI, SPAIN — Radio Rubí 99.7FM is the municipal station of the city of Rubí in Spanish Catalonia. Radio Rubí started its activities in November of 1979, with a primary mission of being a public service for the inhabitants of the city, providing an ample variety of content including news, sports and culture while allowing for the active participation of the citizens. In 1996 the station was bestowed with the Rosalia Rovira Award as the best municipal broadcaster in Spanish Catalonia.

From its beginnings, Radio Rubí has counted on equipment and technology from AEQ: mixing consoles, audio codecs or automation systems. A station with the profile of Radio Rubí looks for durable, reliable equipment that is easy to operate and cost efficient.

Radio Rubí is replacing its broadcast production equipment. As part of the renovation, it was decided to migrate its previous AEQ MAR4 automation system to the current AEQ AudioPlus platform in all their studios and news room.

AEQ AudioPlus offers new functionality and performance that adapts to the real needs, technical skills and budget of the majority of different broadcast stations at this day and age. AudioPlus incorporates everything necessary for manual or 100% automated playout, including remote control at a variety of levels. The same is valid for the actual content acquisition and programming — both musical and advertising. These functions can be accomplished completely automatically or manually, including the editing of contents.

The head of the technical department at Radio Rubí, Jordi Alba, explained, “The AEQ AudioPlus automation system is a perfect match for us and is an indispensable tool in our daily operations.”

Unlike other brands of applications that initially may be perceived as less expensive, this tool of the trade is suitable for small- to medium-sized stations. The capacity to produce and the quality of the programming generated are comparable to systems that the large networks are deploying but costing a fraction of what such stations may be investing in their automation.

The application is designed for Windows OS and uses SQL databases. The software comes with an efficient auto-installation wizard and is compatible with low-cost audio boards as well as more sophisticated choices, including Dante AoIP multichannel network connectivity.

The project to transition the AEQ MAR4 platform to the new AEQ AudioPlus system was coordinated by Mr. Xisco Caballero and Mr. Oscar Bastante of Radio Rubí and the AEQ System Services team at its headquarters.

For information, contact Peter Howarth at AEQ Broadcast International in Florida at 1-800-728-0536 or visit www.aeqbroadcast.com.

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Adventures in 1970s AM: Diary of a Mad Talk Show Host

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 13:46

From 1972–1974 I hosted a late-night telephone talk show on WOHO(AM), Toledo, Ohio. I was young, energetic and desperate to be heard over the airwaves. Fortunately I outgrew that compulsion by 1975, but for the time being I’d nap every afternoon and go into the station after dinner and meet with my producer who was responsible for lining up in-studio guests. These included professional wrestlers, comedians, people touting dubious weight loss programs, and conspiracy nuts who were eager to discuss their theories on alien abductions.

What is up with all the anal probes, anyway?

Then there were the occasional celebrities I’d get on the phone like Dionne Warwick, Captain Kangaroo, Moe Howard and Soupy Sales.

This program was called “Rap,” which at the time was slang for “talk,” not as it connotes today, “shouting inane rhymes about bitches and booty while flashing guns and jewelry.”

[Read: Adventures in 1970s AM: Visit to the Big Station]

We held trivia contests every Friday, a highly anticipated event by our callers who represented many walks of life. A lot of them worked the late shift at a hospital or the power company. Waitresses and cooks at diners were big fans too. Also in the group of folks that tuned in were students up studying, cab drivers, housewives with insomnia and so many more.

Our discussion on any given evening might center on an upcoming election or how to discipline teenagers. It might be open to all topics. On one of the latter evenings a woman named Betty called and proceeded to launch into a highly-detailed account of her recent ingrown toenail surgery. Normally I would have cut her off early in this narrative, but the way she told it, complete with sound effects, made for compelling radio. Another listener was a cross-country trucker who described the hallucinations he experienced after taking amphetamines while driving at 60 miles per hour.

Women confessed to affairs they had not yet admitted to their husbands. Men talked about their fantasies, one of which involved Raquel Welch and warm butter. A young man named Paul owned up to several crimes such as breaking into a store and defacing public property. One woman took the opportunity to “come out” as a lesbian, a brave move. That call brought the expected scorn from the religious right, yet also a surprising amount of support from similarly oriented people.

The “R” might be for “Rap.”

There is a phenomenon that many of my brethren in radio have discovered, namely that people listening to you over the air believe they know you and are your friend. I recall one wintry Friday night “Jill” called in and asked, “Hey, why don’t you meet some of your listeners for coffee after you get off the air?” At first the idea seemed absurd. Who would want to do that? As more callers chimed in, I decided I had little to lose because frankly I didn’t think anyone would show up. We, the audience and I, decided on a location, a local Big Boy that was open all night. Because none of the people who wanted to meet me had any idea what I looked like, I made up a ridiculous description: six feet four inches tall, 103 pounds, porkpie hat, and a tattoo on my left arm that said “Spiro Agnew.” I promised to be at the restaurant at a certain time and even promised to buy muffins for anyone who showed up.

I parked my car in the lot of the restaurant and trudged through the snow to the door. I entered the vestibule, stamped my feet and shook the snow off my coat before slipping into to a back booth. The waitress knew me and shortly brought me a cup of hot chocolate. I looked around and while there were a lot of people there I didn’t see anyone looking for me so I just relaxed and enjoyed a warm beverage on a frigid night.

After about 10 minutes a woman carrying a baby came over to me and said “Are you Ken R.?” I nodded and she started laughing. “You were kidding about being six feet tall and having a tattoo!” Then she turned to her friends and said “C’mon over, guys, he’s in the booth!” About 15 other folks came over and crowded in there with me. A couple of guys had to pull up chairs when there was no more room in the booth. I had forgotten about the silly self-description I had broadcast, but we all had a good laugh over it. We introduced ourselves and ended up having a jolly time.

And yes, I did buy muffins for anyone who asked.

Ken Deutsch is a writer who lives in sunny Sarasota, Fla., and has a book of these tales available, Up and Down the Dial

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The post Adventures in 1970s AM: Diary of a Mad Talk Show Host appeared first on Radio World.

Inside the October issue of Radio World International

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 00:00

Discover how at 75, Woofferton, the U.K.’s last public shortwave site is providing essential info to listeners globally via analog and digital broadcasts. Read about this and more in the October issue of Radio World International.

FACILITY
Radio Minerva Enters the Digital Age

Local independent station inaugurates new on-air studio

ONLINE
DJ-Run Internet Radio Station Thriving

BlastTheRadio.com started after John Mielke lost his on-air job

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

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FCC Dismisses Request for FM Translator CP in Alaska

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 15:37

There will be one less FM translator constructed in The Last Frontier state after the Federal Communications Commission moved to dismiss and deny a request by an Alaska licensee to obtain several FM translator construction permits (CP).

In 2013, Alaska Educational Radio System Inc. (AERS) filed four applications proposing new FM translator stations serving Moose Pass, Palmer and Hope, Alaska. Soon after, Turquoise Broadcasting Co. filed petitions to deny those applications, alleging that AERS lacked the financial qualifications necessary to construct and operate those proposed translators.

Among other things, Turquoise pointed to a report that AERS filed in 2010 with the State of Alaska that showed that AERS had real and personal property assets of no monetary value.

[Read: AM Station Hit with $15,000 Forfeiture After Public File Lapse]

Afterward, AERS filed two additional applications — which proposed new FM translator stations serving Seward, Alaska. Turquoise jumped in again, alleging that AERS still lacked the financial qualifications to construct and operate the translators it proposed. Even though AERS responded to the petition to deny, its formal comments did not specifically address the allegations about its financial qualifications.

At this point the Media Bureau stepped in and dismissed the applications because it could not determine that AERS was financially qualified at the time it filed the applications. This is an important consideration. FCC rules state that before a grant of a CP for an FM translator can be made, applicants must have the ability to construct and operate the proposed facility for three months — without revenue — at the time they file.

When AERS filed a petition to review the finding — which the Media Bureau subsequently dismissed — AERS filed a petition again, which is when the commission itself stepped in to issue a ruling.

In a memorandum on Oct. 2, the FCC affirmed the bureau’s decision to dismiss the applications. AERS had two opportunities to provide helpful insights regarding its financial qualifications, but failed to provide any documentation that would have allowed the bureau to assess whether AERS had “reasonable assurance of committed financing sufficient to construct the proposed facility and operate it for three months without revenue at the time [the applications were filed],” the commission said.

Because of AERS’s failure to provide this information, the commission said, it formally dismissed the of applications and denied the licensee’s request for review.

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