Not long ago, two very well known broadcast engineers left us, both part of the U.S. radio technical community. Their lives were intertwined; and they died within days of each other.
Radio World gathered memories from friends and colleagues of Warren Shulz and Jeff Nordstrom. \“TOUGH, BUT FAIR”
Warren Shulz, chief engineer of WLS(AM/FM) and WFYR and WKFM(FM) in Chicago, passed away at the end of 2018 at age 72, following a long battle with prostate cancer. He was a 1964 graduate of the Chicago Vocational High School. Shulz later earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology from Purdue University. He retired in 2012 after 50 years as chief engineer of WKFM, WYFR and WLS(AM/FM).
Shulz was a lifetime member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Society of Broadcast Engineers, a member of the National Association for Radio and Telecommunications Engineers and the Audio Engineering Society. He was also a past board member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (radio division) and ham radio operator WA9GXZ. He enjoyed camping and riding his homemade electric bicycle.
Linda Baun, vice president of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, recalled Shulz as a regular at their annual Broadcasters Clinic.
“Warren would travel from his home to attend the clinic in his RV. I always received his posts after the conference, commenting on the caliber of the educational sessions — he was tough, but fair.”Warren Shulz was rarely without his plastic pocket protector, with at least one screwdriver inside. Family members sent it to friend Mark Heller, president and owner of WGBW and WLAK in Green Bay, Wis.
Colleagues remembered Shulz acting as a mentor to those less experienced, always willing to share his time and expertise.
Art Reis of RadioArt Enterprises said, “Warren was a mentor to any who needed assistance. He famously helped out the CE at KFI Los Angeles, who was having problems with his Continental 317C, by sending him all his notes and documentation on the 317C he had here at WLS. The knowledge he got helped him greatly in solving his problems.[Read one Shulz commentary on the state of FEMA, from 2013]
“Warren always had or took the time to help others, and he could go on for an hour or more on the phone helping out. I know because I was the beneficiary of quite a number of those phone calls. His knowledge was beyond that of almost anyone else I knew in the business back in the day. One of our compatriots in the business once told me, ‘If you’re going to get help from Warren over the phone, my advice is to pack a lunch.’ That was true, but we loved it. Sitting and learning at Warren’s proverbial feet was a true treat and a gift.”
Shulz was also known for the sound quality and competitiveness of his stations.
Bob Gorjance, a former Harris sales rep, recalls a story involving Shulz and Gary Shrader, then the CE of WCLR(FM).
“Gary bought a solid-state FM exciter and audio processor from me. Several days later, Warren calls and said he wanted to see me ASAP. When I stopped by his office, he asked me if I’d seen Gary lately. I nodded silently, yes. He then asked me if he had bought something from me. Again I silently nodded ‘yes.’ He said, ‘I want the same thing.’ I filled out the order form and silently pushed it over to him and he signed it.Jeff Nordstrom
Courtesy Eric M. Wiler
“Warren had heard a big difference in the sound of WCLR, and wanted to stay competitive with Gary. A few days later, Gary called, asking if I had visited Warren.”RICH CAREERS
Jeff Nordstrom got to know a great number of engineers through his work as manager of the satellite equipment sales division of Harris/Allied. He suffered a heart attack last December at age 67, just a few days before Shulz passed away.
The two were close friends, first becoming acquainted through Nordstrom’s work for Harris/Allied.
Nordstrom started his radio career at Racine Park High School, and was an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. He was a member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers since 1973. He did a variety of jobs in radio, from disc jockey to chief engineer. Nordstrom worked at stations in Washington, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. In 1983, he joined Allied/Harris Broadcast in Indiana. He started working for Clear Channel Colorado in 2000, and later Westwood One, from which he retired in 2018.
Like Shulz, he was a frequent attendee at the Broadcasters Clinic and made regular presentations.
Nordstrom also loved gardening and a bit of farming. He enjoyed the Denver Botanical Gardens and looking at antique radio equipment, and was an active member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter American Theatre Organ Society. He also enjoyed riding his motorcycle.
Industry veteran Chuck Kelly recalled that Nordstrom had a great sense of humor, which sometimes extended to practical jokes. “I was always in awe of the technical operations at the Chicago stations. I on the other hand was employed by a poor AM-FM combo where nothing worked right, including the directional AM antenna system. I constantly lived in fear of an FCC inspection.[Check out more great articles from the Nov. 20 issue]
“One morning, the receptionist buzzed my office, letting me know that the FCC was waiting to speak with me up front,” Kelly continued. “I briefly thought of running out the back door, but finally decided to head up to reception and face the music. I was surprised to see Jeff Nordstrom in his motorcycle jacket, laughing in the lobby, when I came out. I don’t think he ever knew how petrified I really was.”A “Minions” moment with the Dial Global team in 2012. Jeff Nordstrom is third from left at rear.
Courtesy Eric M. Wiler
In this industry, paths tend to cross many times, Kelly said.
“So it was with Warren and Jeff. They both continued to impress me not only with their technical knowledge and skill, but with uncommon humility and warmth in careers lasting nearly 40 years. Losing these two friends leaves a void not easily filled.”
Mark Burg, assistant engineer, recalls Nordstrom for his attention to detail.
“My very first contact with Jeff was a phone call I initiated to him following a highly detailed parameter chart I made up to track legal and out-of-parameter readings of a three-tower AM directional near Oshkosh that Jeff had been engineer-in-charge of in the 1970s and early ’80s. It was during that discussion that he informed me that I had made a mistake and had made the chart too broad in the parameters. He highly suggested that I needed to trash that chart and start over.
“Ever since that moment, I have every effort to double-check my math, the facts and spellings. Jeff’s point has always stuck in my mind: Double check what you’re doing, even if it looks correct and great on paper. It’s the ‘practice’ and the implementation of that information that really matters.”
WBA’s Baun reflected, “Success has many meanings. In my opinion, success is measured in your willingness to give of yourself. Growing, caring and sharing with others that need your time and expertise is never a waste. The rich careers of Jeff and Warren made a difference to many in this ever- evolving industry.”Read several past commentaries by Warren Shulz at www.radioworld.com/author/warrenshulz. Comment on this or any article to email@example.com.
As if the day before Thanksgiving isn’t stressful enough, the engineering team at Kentucky’s WAKY(FM) had a nasty surprise when a strong storm snapped a small tower nearly in half, knocking the station off air.
Morning host Bobby Jack Murphy announced at 11:15 a.m. on Facebook: “WAKY Tower a victim of the high winds!” He also posted a photo of the damage, which he could see from inside the studio. It appears to be the station’s STL send dish.
103.5 FM was offline for nearly 12 hours; the station’s Facebook page announced its return to the air at 10:35 p.m. the same day.
During the interim, the station used its social media presence to alert listeners of alternate ways to tune in, reminding locals of WAKY’s simulcasts on 100.1 FM, 106.3 FM and 620 AM, as well as streaming versions available at wakyradio.com and the WAKY app and TuneIn.
The post Kentucky FM Bounces Back From Wednesday Tower Break appeared first on Radio World.
The CBI National Student Production Awards recognize the best in student electronic media. CBI President John Morris congratulates the 2019 winners.
College Broadcasters Inc. said it hosted more than 350 student and faculty attendees at the three-day 2019 National Student Electronic Media Convention in St. Louis last month.
The event centered on radio and television, but also featured workshops and sessions on podcasting and mobile multimedia storytelling. CBI said these were led by industry professionals, faculty advisers and students; some of the professionals were prior student NSEMC attendees themselves.
In a press release, CBI President John Morris said, “It impressed me to see nearly a hundred workshops presented covering a wide range of topics, including programming, leadership, news, sports, podcasting, promotion and more.”
According to CBI’s Morris, the Midwestern city was selected to host the event because St. Louis “is a top 25 media market, has incredible delicacies and includes a depth of history and entertainment options.” Next year’s host city, Baltimore, is ranked as the 26th media market, and has a similarly long history and plenty of its own fantastic food (crab cakes, anyone?). The 2020 event is scheduled for Oct. 21-24.
The post Student Broadcasters Convene at The Gateway to the West 2019 appeared first on Radio World.
John Lyons has died. He suffered cardiac arrest at home Friday, according to his family. He was 71.
Lyons was assistant vice president and director of Broadcast Communications at The Durst Organization.
He was responsible for the communications infrastructure of Durst’s multimillion-square-foot commercial portfolio and played a major role in helping broadcasters return to the air in New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack on the World Trade Center. Among his many accomplishments was leading the design and implementation of the redesigned master antenna at 4 Times Square and the new broadcast transmission facility at One World Trade Center.
In 2006 Lyons received the Radio World Excellence in Engineering Award; in 2017 he was honored with the NAB Television Engineering Achievement Award.
Earlier in his career he held engineering positions with several New York-based broadcast organizations and served two stints as chairman of the Master FM Broadcasters Committee at the Empire State Building. “He was a walking history of New York broadcasting,” said fellow New York engineer David Bialik. “In addition he changed the RF landscape of New York.”
Lyons is survived by his wife Natasha Lyons and sons Matthew, 26, and Constantine, 7.
He was former president and most recently treasurer of the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers; he was elected Fellow of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, and was active in the National Association of Radio and Telecommunications Engineers, the NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference Committee and the Veterans’ Hospital Radio and Television Guild.John Lyons, center, with David Antoine, left, and Tom Silliman at a recent NAB Show. Photo by Jim Peck
He was a devoted family man, and he made learning a lifelong pursuit. Among other things he was a licensed New York State Real Estate Broker and a member of the Real Estate Board of New York and the Building Owners and Management Association, and held a Certificate in Property Management from New York University.
Radio World described him in 2006 as “funny, brash, no-nonsense, unpretentious, sentimental … all characteristics we love in native New Yorkers.” He also enjoyed golf and competitive dancing; Lyons had met his wife in Siberia, while photographing a ballroom dance competition.
According to a biographical summary published earlier by Radio World, Lyons attended Brooklyn Technical High School and was a transmitter operator and studio engineer for radio station WRFM (later WWPR). He spent nine years as chief studio technical operator at WWRL and while there also worked as director of engineering at ZDK Radio in St. John’s, Antigua, a station he built and put on the air. He worked for WOR Radio as assistant chief engineer, then was moved by the company to WXLO (later WRKS) to be chief engineer, where he served for a decade.
During most of that time he was chairman of the Master FM Broadcasters Committee at the Empire State Building, coordinating the operations of 13 city FM stations with the broadcasters at Empire and the World Trade Center.
In 1990, he left WRKS to join DSI Communications (later DSI RF Systems), where he was senior project manager, responsible for communications facility build-outs, including TV and radio station transmitter facilities, two-way communications, point-to-point microwave and satellite communications systems. In 1994 he took a consulting position at the new Sony Worldwide Radio Networks, where he worked to establish and set standards for a nationwide satellite-programming network, built the studios and developed its operations system. With that established, Lyons moved on to WLTW with Viacom Radio (later Clear Channel Communications) as assistant chief engineer, and was promoted to become chief of the recently acquired WAXQ. He resumed his position as chairman of the Master FM Broadcasters Committee at Empire for four more years and was design engineer for many of the Clear Channel New York operations including the pioneer backup FM transmitting site at 4 Times Square for the five Clear Channel NYC stations.
After the catastrophic losses of Sept. 11, 2001, Lyons worked with the Empire State Building, 4 Times Square, broadcasters and contractors to restore broadcasting operations for all of the orphaned WTC stations. He designed transmission line runs, laid out transmitter plants and assisted the stations to return to the air as soon as possible.
In 2002 he was named manager of communications and broadcast operations at 4 Times Square for The Durst Organization and was responsible for removal of a 132-foot master FM antenna tower and its replacement with a 385-foot master TV and FM antenna tower, capable of accommodating all the TV and FM stations licensed to the New York metropolitan area. This facility also was capable of point-to-point microwave, spread spectrum, broadband, two-way, STL/TSL, RPU and ENG services.
In 2005 he became responsible for the communications needs of the entire Durst portfolio.
He also helped establish a state-of-the-art communications system for first responders in Durst skyscrapers in the wake of 9/11.
“His thumbprint is all over New York radio,” Radio World wrote in 2006, even before the new One World Trade Center and its showcase transmission facility were built.
Funeral arrangements were not finalized as of Saturday evening.
Radio World is gathering reader comments about the passing of John Lyons. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The post John Lyons Dies; Helped Shape New York’s RF Skyline appeared first on Radio World.
The Federal Communications Commission is ready to move on a new Report and Order that would make changes to the rules and processes surrounding licensing for LPFMs and noncom stations.
At its December meeting, the commission plans to consider an R&O that would tweak the licensing process for low-power FMs and noncommercial educational stations and build upon lessons learned from the most recent NCE and LPFM filing windows, said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a recent blog.
“[The changes] are designed to improve our comparative selection and licensing procedures, expedite the initiation of new service to the public, eliminate unnecessary applicant burdens, and reduce the number of appeals of our NCE comparative licensing decisions,” Pai said.
The media item, part of Media Bureau Docket Number 19-3, is the next step in the commission’s ongoing efforts to reexamine licensing procedures for noncommercial education and low-power FM stations. The commission most recently tackled the issue in February 2019 when it adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the same issue in an effort to improve the rules and procedures to select and license competing applications for new noncommercial educational broadcast stations and LPFM stations.
At that time, many commenters called for changes that would streamline improvements to FCC’s point award criteria, mandatory time sharing rules and tie breaking criteria.
The Report & Order is up for discussion at the FCC’s December Open Meeting on Dec. 12.
The post FCC to Consider New Licensing Rules for LPFM/Noncom Stations appeared first on Radio World.
There have long been strong opinions on whether or not the Federal Communications Commission should modify — or maybe outright eliminate — the radio duplication rule.
Now, the FCC is looking for comment on that proposal, which currently prohibits any commonly owned commercial AM or FM station from duplicating more than 25% of its weekly broadcast hours a week if the community contours of the stations overlap to a specific degree.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was released by the commission on Nov. 25. Now the commission is asking whether the rule remains necessary to service the public interest goals of competition, programming diversity and spectrum efficiency.
It was back in 1964 that the commission first limited radio programming duplication by prohibiting FM stations in cities with populations over 100,000 from duplicating the programming of a co-owned AM station in the same local area for more than 50% of the FM stations broadcast day. The current version of the rule was adopted in 1992 and since there have been considerable changes in the industry since then, the NPRM is looking for comment on what modifications should be made.
Specifically, the notice will:
- Ask whether the radio duplication rule remains necessary to foster competition and program diversity in light of significant changes to the radio broadcast industry since the current rule was adopted in 1992.
- Seek comment on whether the radio duplication rule remains necessary to promote spectrum efficiency, or whether current demands for spectrum now push radio broadcasters to maximize efficiency and supply varied programming to the local market.
- Seek comment on whether the rule should be modified or eliminated based on the changes that have occurred since adoption of the rule.
- Seek comment on whether and how the rule should be modified to reflect the current radio market if the commission determines that the radio duplication rule should be retained.
- Ask whether the rule should only apply to the FM band.
- Ask whether the 25% of total programming hours threshold should be raised or lowered.
- Ask whether the 50% overlap requirement should be raised or lowered.
“There are clearly circumstances in which some measure of program duplication in the same market is beneficial, such as rebroadcasting locally oriented programming that is often expensive to produce but is of particular interest to local listeners,” said FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr when the NPRM was released. “At the same time, there aren’t always going to be compelling reasons to rebroadcast 100% of another station’s programming. But those decisions should be determined in the market by the listening public and not in the pages of the Code of Federal Regulations.”
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel concurred with the NPRM as well, but said that she hopes “any changes made do not lead listeners to find fewer voices and sources of local news the next time they tune in.”
Comments can be made via the FCC’s ECFS database using Media Bureau Docket 19-122.
MISHAWAKA, Ind. — In the summer of 2016, we launched our podcasting network to augment our growing linear and live streaming businesses. As our network grew, we had several opportunities to monetize our podcasting content with deeper sponsorships and requests to target ads across episodes and devices. While our existing podcasting solution was sufficient for basic functionality such as hosting multiple podcasts, organizing content by station, and uploading feeds to podcast directories, it lacked the advanced functionality to keep up with the growing popularity of podcasts and the associated demand from advertisers. Furthermore, our staff felt the existing monetization software was not intuitive or user-friendly and required complicated, manual ad insertion.
In 2019, after testing multiple alternate podcasting solutions, we decided to expand our relationship with our long-time media operations partner, WideOrbit. Their WO On Demand product could provide Federated Media the necessary advanced monetization functionality to scale our podcasting business immediately. Transitioning over to WO On Demand was simple because WO Streaming had been our live streaming platform for many years and, on the linear broadcast side of the business, WO Traffic was our system of record for some time.[Read RW’s latest ebook on cybersecurity and studio disaster recovery]
Because our staff was already comfortable with the WideOrbit interface and workflow, training for WO On Demand was simple and quick. The workflow is a natural extension from WO Streaming for both our end users as well as our engineers. In addition, we have the flexibility to manage and monetize our content in many new ways. Today, we can offer: ad insertion for podcasts at the show, station or network levels; streamlined file management to update intros, promos and sponsorships; Dynamic station ID tag insertion for an enhanced listening experience; and “Broadcast-to-Podcast” ability to auto-create podcasts from previously recorded original content.
WideOrbit has been a trusted and reliable partner on many levels. They continue to evolve their products as the media landscape shifts and I’m looking forward to improvements such as repurposing on-air content into podcasts with separate dynamic ad insertion; adding an embeddable player for our website, blog and social media; and reducing ad load by optimizing ad placement and balancing with content.For information, contact WideOrbit at 1-415-675-6700, Option 2, or visit www.wideorbit.com.
The post User Report: WideOrbit Provides Podcasting for Federated Media appeared first on Radio World.
We see it every few months: A headline that a radio group or station has been hit by the latest cyber attack.
What we don’t see are the emails that then fly out from radio CEOs to their IT and engineering teams: “How do we make sure this never happens to us?” The latest Radio World ebook is intended to help radio technologists answer that question.
Is your network adequately prepared to defend against cybersecurity incursions? Where are the vulnerable points in a broadcast radio and streaming operation? What has our industry learned from recent ransomware attacks on several large radio groups?
Also, more and more makers of critical radio content management systems are building cloud architectures or cloud backups into their designs. What should radio managers and engineers know about these new offerings?
Veteran broadcast IT and networking expert Wayne Pecena provides a primer on the subject. We interview Chris Tarr of Entercom about best practices for cyber and ransomware protection. Consultant Gary Kline provides a list of questions that smart managers should be asking themselves. RCS and ENCO provide their perspectives as suppliers of mission-critical station systems. Read it here.
LONDON — The United Kingdom’s Radio TechCon Conference covered a diverse range of topics this year. Taking place on Monday Nov. 25 at the IET [Institution of Engineering and Technology] in Central London, individual sessions covered subjects, ranging from the strategic to the practical.The audience at TechCon 2019. All photos: Radio TechCon/Vincent Lo
Supported by the IET and by various specialist broadcasting companies, including: Broadcast Bionics; Arqiva; Broadcast Radio; RCS; and Calrec, more than 100 people from the U.K. broadcast radio industry attended the event.
Over the years, Radio TechCon has developed a strong reputation for the range of content it offers and this year was no exception. From moving major broadcasting studio complexes, such as Virgin Radio, TalkSport and the famous BBC Maida Vale music studios, through to improving the user experience for broadcasters and coping with change in professional situations, there was something on offer for just about everyone.Dr. Lawrie Hallett explains how to build an SS-DAB MUX to the audience.
Perhaps one of the most strategically important topic covered this year was that of platform development and the challenges and practical implications of delivering broadcast audio via IP and mobile platforms (5G), as these become increasingly important for listeners.
Broadcast delivery via IP delivery is, as one of the session presenters, Simon Mason, head of broadcast radio technology at Arqiva, points out, far more expensive than FM delivery, which in turn is similarly more expensive than equivalent DAB delivery. The core on-going difficultly for broadcasters is the need to deliver via multiple platforms, each with its own incremental costs.
Since the demise of the Sound Broadcasting Equipment Show (SBES), some years back, Radio TechCon has increased the number of trade stands open across the day and situated in the main refreshment area. These companies, including HHB; Vortex; and Luci were busy showing equipment and discussing services over lunch and between sessions.
ON SHOWDino Sofos, editor of Brexitcast (left) and Robin Pembrooke, director, content production systems, BBC speak about the ‘The Technology Behind Brexitcast.”
At least one company, Systembase, used Radio TechCon for the public launch of its latest product. It has developed “SIPit pro” to allow SIP compliant codecs from a variety of manufacturers to easily communicate with each other.
The product not only removes many of the networking issues associated with AoIP connectivity, but also it provides one-time configuration, such that a SIP configured device can be moved from location to location whilst still retaining the same fixed ID, rather like a roaming mobile phone.
As part of its remit to support the U.K. radio and audio industry, the company behind Radio TechCon (TBC Media Ltd.) also runs a master class for those potentially interested in a technically-based broadcasting career and organizes a bursary scheme for attendance of the main Radio TechCon event.
This year a wide range of industry organizations supported the various elements of the bursary scheme. These included Cleanfeed; Bauer Media; The UKRD Group and the European Broadcasting Union, along with further support from the main event sponsors.
With such wide-ranging support from across the U.K. radio broadcasting industry, and a sell-out full house, quite clearly Radio TechCon remains an essential event in the U.K. radio calendar.
Fraunhofer IIS has signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s Administrative Bureau of Radio Stations of the Chinese National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) to strengthen the cooperation for the advancement of Digital Radio Mondiale in mainland ChinaFrom left to right are Yanzhou Wang, NRTA radio division; Guido Leisker, Fraunhofer IIS; Guoqiang Li, NRTA radio division; Bernd Linz, Fraunhofer IIS; Lida Zhang, NRTA radio division; Frederik Nagel, Fraunhofer IIS; Binbin Luo, Deputy Director, NRTA radio division; Bernhard Grill, Director of Fraunhofer IIS; Marc Gayer, Fraunhofer IIS; Toni Fiedler, Fraunhofer IIS; Shanshan Fu, Fraunhofer IIS, Thimmaiah Kuppanda Ganapathy, Fraunhofer IIS. © Udo Rink – Fraunhofer IIS.
According to Fraunhofer IIS, the MoU, which was signed at its headquarters in Germany, is based on “long-term mutual trust established in previous collaborations, and aims to further develop the cooperation with regard to the open terrestrial DRM standard, including technologies substantially developed by Fraunhofer IIS, such as the xHE-AAC audio codec and the Journaline text service.”
In addition, it says, the two parties will intensify their exchange of information on DRM technology, work on jointly promoting DRM technology, hold workshops on DRM technology, and conduct field trials to successfully drive the deployment of DRM in China.
“This MoU will further strengthen the relationship of Fraunhofer IIS with China’s broadcasting organizations and help both parties to collaborate even more closely on setting up the digital transmission ecosystems in TV, radio and the internet, introducing standards that deploy technologies driven by Fraunhofer IIS,” said Toni Fiedler, general manager of Fraunhofer IIS China.
“A new generation of information technology for the development of the radio and TV industries has brought unprecedented, profound changes and serious challenges,” said Binbin Luo, deputy director of the NRTA’s radio division.
“To drive the industry forward, we focus on cutting-edge technology and promote the development of best-in-class core technologies in key standards. The cooperation with the world’s leading standard research institutions such as Fraunhofer IIS will ensure the deployment of reliable, future-proof technology in China’s digital radio ecosystems.”
The post Chinese Broadcasters Collaborate with Fraunhofer IIS appeared first on Radio World.
The author is communications manager for WorldDAB.
BRUSSELS — Addressing the audience at the WorldDAB General Assembly, VRT’s Paul Lembrechts acknowledged the changing nature of the radio industry in Europe, stating that the “digitization of the radio market is now a fact — it will replace the analog era in the foreseeable future.” He also highlighted VRT’s shifting focus toward DAB+ as the successor of FM.Paul Lembrechts is CEO for VRT.
RTBF CEO Jean-Paul Philippot echoed this view, explaining RTBF’s vision of an alliance-like approach in which all industry players take an active part in digital distribution.
Referring to cooperation on distribution and competition on content, Philippot stressed the market’s need for collaboration between public and commercial radio, the retail and automotive sectors, as well as international bodies and organisations such as WorldDAB and RadioPlayer Worldwide.
According to Philippot, this new “competitive cooperation” is what led to the creation of maRadio.be, a cooperative consortium bringing together RTBF and most of the private players, large and small, from the French-speaking Belgian radio sector. It also opened the doors to regular DAB+ services in French-speaking Belgium — a launch that was officialised and celebrated at the start of November.
Wallonia joins its Flemish counterpart in launching DAB+ digital radio, with VRT having done so at the end of 2018. Commenting on the current state of the radio industry in Flanders, Lembrechts highlighted the growing popularity of DAB+ among Flemish people, explaining that 55% of the population has already heard of DAB+ and 9% of all listening in Flanders happens on DAB+. This, he said, is three times more than when the technology was launched 12 months earlier.
According to Lembrechts, the increasing popularity of DAB+ in Flanders is primarily the result of good cooperation between the major Flemish radio stations and the Flemish government. But, he added, it’s also related to the general popularity of radio as a medium, pointing out that people in Flanders “listen to the radio for about 3 hours and 31 minutes a day.”
VRT’s CEO also stressed the importance of DAB+ in relation to the EECC directive, which requires new cars across the European Union to include digital radio capabilities from 2021 onward. According to Lembrechts,Jean-Paul Philippot is CEO for RTBF.
DAB+ in the car forms an important part of VRT’s digital radio strategy, given that 39% of the 600,000 new cars are already equipped with a DAB+ radio.
As for RTBF, the public broadcaster for Belgium’s French-speaking community has been a strong supporter of DAB+ for the past decade. RTBF currently operates two DAB+ layers, broadcasting a total of 25 DAB+ radio stations (11 public radios and 14 private networks, which is an exception in Europe) — 10 of which are only available on DAB+. The broadcaster’s mobile coverage stands at around 98% of the population.
On stage at the General Assembly, both CEOs stood side by side to reiterate the various benefits of DAB+ digital radio, placing particular emphasis on the wide range of content available on DAB+, the improved sound quality offered by the technology, and its subscription-free model.
As DAB+ in Belgium continues to develop and reach maturity, it’s clear that Belgium’s French and Dutch-speaking public broadcasters are making sure that listeners across the country are able to reap the benefits of DAB+ digital radio.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s decision on how to clear C-band spectrum for 5G is a partial victory for cable operators and broadcasters, who use that satellite spectrum to deliver their program networks, and a big smackdown for the satellite companies that provide those content delivery services.
Pai signaled on Nov. 18 that the agency would clear 280 megahertz of the midband spectrum (3.7–4.2 MHz) via an FCC auction. Cable operators are OK with that arrangement as long as they are compensated for moving to smaller spectrum quarters, namely the 200 megahertz left after the FCC creates a guard band of 20 megahertz to protect against interference.
Some cable operators would have preferred the FCC clear more spectrum. ACA Connects and Charter Communications had proposed clearing 370 megahertz, and ultimately perhaps all of it, with network delivery moving to fiber.
Broadcasters were OK with an FCC auction, too, as long as there was enough satellite spectrum left over for their networks. They diverge from cable interests on the issue of fiber delivery, saying that would be too risky given that an errant backhoe could do in their network programming feeds.
Comcast, with both cable and TV station interests, told the FCC that 300 megahertz was enough to clear and the rest must be preserved for future innovative video uses. In fact, it said the final order needed to have an “unqualified assurance” that the FCC would not try to clear more than that 300 megahertz.
FCC officials speaking on background confirmed their plan was to reserve the remaining 200 MHz for continued satellite delivery of incumbent programming services.
The FCC said the auction will be held by the end of 2020, but it will not vote on a final order until early next year, so there will be a race to come up with a framework for the auction before that time. FCC officials suggested the regulator’s experienced auction staff was up to the task.
The big loser in the announcement is the C-Band Alliance, a point FCC officials were not quiet about. CBA comprises the major satellite companies that will be giving up spectrum in the auction. They had pitched a private sale, saying that was the best and fastest way to free up the spectrum. Many in Congress had disagreed, arguing that the money from the spectrum should go to the U.S. Treasury to fund activities like rural broadband rollouts and emergency communications. The FCC appeared to agree with that logic.
In a background call with reporters, top FCC officials said that the CBA’s private sale approach would not bring spectrum to market in a fair and transparent way, and would instead facilitate backroom deals. Comcast concurred, telling the FCC “the clock has run out on seriously considering CBA’s approach.”
The FCC plan is to move directly to an order on the auction, which Pai said he expected to be voted by early next year, rather than a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with additional time for public comment. But there will have to be an NPRM for the auction framework and specific rules.
The post C-Band Plan: Something For All, Except Satellite Ops appeared first on Radio World.
It is the Thanksgiving holiday week, including Giving Tuesday, the biggest day for nonprofits in the United States. It is also the season we take time with our families, in however we define them, and give thanks for all we have received during the year.
Surely, 2019 has been a year of much commotion. National scandals, local elections and the personal triumphs and tribulations in our daily lives are part of our memories. Yet the end of November is that time when each of us looks beyond the troubling times to embrace the things that make our lives rich and fulfilling.
For me, loved ones, friends and family are endlessly appreciated each day. I’m thankful many of those individuals have come through various physical and emotional difficulties this year, and come out even better, all told.
I am also thankful for community radio and my local nonprofit organizations.
Why should we be grateful for nonprofit organizations in our communities? I’m partial to Vu Le’s reflections on the importance of local nonprofits. “I often say that [a] nonprofit is like air, whereas other sectors are like food,” he writes. “People can see food, can taste it, so they value it and take pictures of it and put it on Instagram. The work that you do is often invisible, so most people do not see it, even as they benefit from it.”
Indeed, we sometimes overlook the many local nonprofits that beautify and fortify our cities and towns. Yet they’re still there, doing good works we appreciate. They educate our children, help hungry people, find homes for dogs and cats needing new families, clean up our parks, and countless other good works we sometimes never notice. They make us proud to live where we do, and ask little in return.
Like all nonprofits, noncommercial radio stations serve a vital educational and civic purpose. While our endeavors are more outward facing and thus more observable, radio too is almost invisible. Nevertheless, we serve our communities proudly and with empathy.
Radio is so much a part of our lives that we almost take it for granted. It is the soundtrack for our roadtrips. It is part of our happy childhood memories of being driven to our first day of school. Radio is there for those mornings and evenings we will never forget, even when we wish we could. Look no farther than the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s public collection of recordings for a glance at the country’s time capsule. But the funny part? Radio is something we may just not notice, and yet it is there.
Community radio stations are something to be thankful for because they focus on radio as a medium with meaning. With missions devoted to championing music discovery, offering a gathering place for locals to share a space together, or serving as a broadcast platform for arts, culture and news, stations are devoted to public service first. In the advent of news deserts, community radio fills a vacuum in many communities. And, while you think about the many wonderful nonprofit organizations in your city, consider that community radio is the only nonprofit dedicated to broadcasting their efforts, in essence amplifying valued missions far beyond the walls of those beloved institutions.
Where else but on community radio and college radio is the experimental, iconoclastic spirit still alive and well in broadcast media? Who other than community radio station DJs are keeping alight the flame of freeform, courageous radio? This call-back to our imaginations and most rebellious selves may be one of the best reasons to be thankful for community radio.
While we take the time to appreciate our blessings, let us all give praise to the many community radio and college radio DJs, volunteers, staff members, donors and founders. Our nation owes them all a tip of the hat. A donation would be nice as well.
The post Community Broadcaster: Be Thankful for Community Radio appeared first on Radio World.
The author was director of engineering at Drake-Chenault Enterprises Inc. from 1974–1989.
A recent Tom Vernon article (“The Time Has Come to Talk of Many Things, of Reels and Carts and Carousels, and Automation Things,” Oct. 23, 2019) touched on the history of automation. At the invitation of Radio World, I’d like to share thoughts about my own experiences that readers may find interesting.
Drake-Chenault Enterprises was a successful producer of music formats for automation, with about 300 clients stations across the country. The production of music programming tapes for automated radio stations at Drake-Chenault evolved into a highly regimented process that produced a polished, consistent product week after week, month after month. A typical automated broadcast station could be airing tapes that were anywhere from one week to one year old. There needed to be absolute consistency in programming, studio engineering and tape duplication in order for the final product to sound seamless on the air.Terry Tretta in Studio E.
In 1974, Drake-Chenault produced music tapes for several formats: XT-40 (Top-40), Hit Parade (AC), Solid Gold and Classic Gold (Oldies) and Great American Country. There were two “house announcers” who did the voicing for these formats. Billy Moore voiced XT-40, Hit Parade, Solid Gold and Classic Gold formats; Bob Kingsley voiced Great American Country. Once a week, Billy and Bob would come to the studios and record the voice tracks (VTs) for all the music reels to be produced that week. The music librarian would pull the LPs and 45s that were needed for each reel. The studio engineers would then mix the music from records with the VT tape to produce a finished master reel. The masters were recorded using 1-mil tape, so we got up to 90 minutes, usually 20–25 songs, on a 10-inch reel.ONE SECOND EARLY
Broadcast automation equipment of the ’60s and ’70s was usually limited to “easy listening” music formats, because the hardware of the era wasn’t capable of executing a tight, fast-paced pop music format. With easy listening, it was OK if there was some silence between songs; not so with Top-40! Top-40 needed tight segues, jingles, spots, time announce, weather and other elements in rapid succession. The problem was how to make an automation system run tight and quick?
The answer was developed by D-C: We put the 25 Hz “cue” tones at the end of each song one second early, so the automation equipment had a “one-second head start.” This would compensate for the start-up delay of the reel-to-reel playback decks, and yield tight segues without any “wow-in.”Closeup of a three-track mastering recorder.
The next challenge was to figure out how to put those inaudible 25 Hz tones at the end of each song, but precisely one second early. The answer will explain why we used multitrack mastering decks in the D-C studios.
Master tapes were recorded at 7.5 inches per second on custom three-track recorders. At the end of each song on the tape, a cue tone was recorded on a separate track. However, it wasn’t the usual 25 Hz cue tone and it wasn’t recorded one second early. It was a 1 kHz tone that was recorded in “real time,” i.e., at the logical segue point for the song, not one second early.[Read more great articles from the Nov. 20 issue of Radio World]
Because this tone was audible (through a “cue” speaker) and was on a separate track, it was easy for the studio engineer to place it at the proper segue point, tight against the end of the song. The cue tone could be re-recorded as necessary until it’s placement was appropriate to the song ending. The one-second advance would happen when the master tape was duplicated.Custom three-track heads used on mastering recorders.
Drake-Chenault’s standards for technical quality were absolute, and our studio engineers were perfectionists. We carefully watched levels, double-checked cue tone placement, fixed fades and manually edited out tics and pops! The studio staff would spend hours with a razor blade removing tics, pops and other noises that were common on vinyl records. LP tracks were often used (after editing, to match the 45 “hit” version) because the quality of LP vinyl was usually superior to the poly-plastic used to press 45 rpm singles.
To ensure technical consistency, a full set of Level, EQ and head alignment tones were recorded at the head and tail of each master tape. We went to great lengths to be sure that there was no phase error in the audio, which would cause a degraded signal when a stereo station was heard on a mono receiver. All audio was checked using a vectorscope to ascertain mono-compatibility. We would often discover phase error in 45s and LPs; it was corrected before transferring the audio to a master tape. The turntables were equipped with Shure V15 cartridges and Marantz “audiophile” preamps. The audio path was clean and direct, without any “house EQ” or level compression. Voice tracks were recorded using Shure SM7 microphones.DUPLICATION
Once a master tape was produced, we made second-generation copies that were shipped to our client stations.Dan Musselman loads the Tape Duplicating System.
Tape duplication was done in-house, using 25 Technics RS1500 two-track recorders. The system ran “tails-out” so the audio was actually being recorded in reverse. A three-track master deck was used to play the master tape, which had left, right and cue channels. When the system sensed a 1 kHz cue tone on the master tape, it triggered the 25 Hz tone, which was injected into the left channel audio. When the 1 kHz master cue ended, the 25 Hz tone generator would stay on for one additional second, hence “stretching” the 25 Hz cue tone so it started exactly one second before the 1 kHz cue on the master. This one-second pre-roll was controlled electronically, so it was exact and consistent.
The duplicating system produced copies that were flat to 15 kHz, and typically had less than 30 degrees of phase error at 10 kHz. To achieve this level of quality, each “slave” recorder was hand-aligned to each new “pancake” of tape before the duplication process was started. The duplicating engineer would align the record head of each recorder for zero phase error. Then the master tape would be started and the duplication process would begin. After duplication, each tape copy’s alignment tones were checked on a special “QC” deck. We again verified level, stereo balance, EQ and phase (head alignment) before the tape was shipped.
Drake-Chenault produced about 1,000 music format reels each week. In the 15 years I was there, we never missed a deadline!
Russian broadcasters took a deep dive into the realm of digital radio with a conference, “Digital Broadcasting Standard DRM: Results of the Experimental Zone and Development Prospects in the Russian Federation,” held in St. Petersburg on Nov. 18.
The conference featured a number of speakers who provided insights into where digital radio stands in Russia.Victor Demyanovich Goreglyad is deputy director general of RTRS.
Viktor Demyanovich Goreglyda, deputy director general of RTRS, gave a presentation about the prospects of Digital Radio Mondiale in Russia, which he believes would work as the technology to switch the FM band to digital broadcasting. He specifically highlighted that using DRM will not created new digital channels while also allowing for the transmission of additional information.
RFmondial’s Albert Vaal had two reports that he gave to the conference, the first focused on reviewing the DRM standard and the second talked about the experiences other countries had in implementing the standard, like India and China.
Other speakers at the conference included Sergey Sokolov of Digital Systems LLC talking about the plan for transmitting part of the DRM Simulcast complex; Sergey Myshyanov from St. Petersburg State University of Telecommunications shared the results from Russia’s experimental zone; Vasily Gerasimov of GPM Radio explained additional services are available with digital radio; and sound engineer Densi Davydov talked about the different approaches to multiband dynamic sound processing for analog and digital broadcasting.
In addition, Professor Alekseevich Kovalgin of SPbSUT shared info on sound data compression algorithms for digital broadcasting systems; Oleg Guminsky, a student at the school raised issue of market availability of DRM receivers; Igor Hvorvo, associate professor at ITMO University touched on regulatory support for digital broadcasting.
The conference also offered two demonstrations of digital radio broadcasting that compared the sound of FM and DRM formats.
The conference was organized by FSUE Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network, Digital Systems LLC and St. Petersburg State University of Telecommunications.
John Schneider’s epic Radio Historian’s calendars are always a treat for radio aficionados.
His latest, the Radio Historian’s 2020 Calendar, is no exception. Perhaps the best ever, it is packed with colorized black and white photos of radio facilities, mostly studios and mostly pictures taken in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Highlights include the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, Orson Welles and Burns & Allen.
Also outstanding are facility pictures of Powel Crosley’s WLW and Edwin Armstrong’s New Jersey FM test site.
Not to be missed and it makes a great Christmas gift (assuming the intended hasn’t already beaten you to it!).
WRSU(FM) 88.7 FM is the student voice of Rutgers University, with studios on the main campus in New Brunswick, N.J. The station broadcasts from the Student Center as it has done since 1969.
Over those 50 years, WRSU navigated the challenges inherent in using analog equipment that often was near the end of its life cycle. But originating a broadcast schedule that includes three daily newscasts, music shows, live performance programs and more than 150 local and remote sports broadcasts a year was difficult under any circumstances; and the station felt that its product needed more focus on its audio luster.
Mike Pavlichko is the broadcast administrator and advisor for WRSU. “Our main studio was done [rebuilt] 10 years ago, but nothing else had really been touched in 30 years,” he said.Program Director Kelly Brecker, Music Director Bennett Rosner, DJ Blake Lew-Merwin, GM Justin Sontupe, Jake Ostrove (sports) from left, on the night of the first broadcast from the new FM studio. Station Advisor Mike Pavlichko said, “We played a legal ID followed by ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,’ which also was the first song that we played when WRSU switched from carrier current AM to FM in 1974, followed by ‘Turn Your Radio On’ by The Suburbs.”
There were three 2-inch conduits interconnecting the studios; the conduits were full of wires, many of which weren’t connected to anything after years of patches upon patches being applied to equipment to keep the station on the air.
Nick Straka’s company NS Engineering had done projects for WRSU including a news production studio and a transmitter upgrade; he was called in to help plan what would come next. Straka is an SAS field applications and sales engineer, with much of his work done in the greater New York City area (there are large SAS installations at iHeart NYC, New York Public Radio, CBS News Radio, Fox News Radio and ESPN). Straka also heads broadcast integration company DNAV, along with Daniel Hyatt.
“The more we went through the planning phase, said Straka, “the more it became obvious to put the station on auto-pilot and gut everything out.”MASHED AND SMASHED The Core64 connects WRSU’s Air, Production and News studios through a single length of Cat-6 cabling. The Core64 allows operators and engineers to fine tune program source selection and intercom/talkback choices on the fly.
Photo by Nick Straka
For two and a half months over the summer break in 2019, the station played recorded programs on the air while every bit of legacy analog wiring between the three studios was removed. WRSU transitioned from an analog plant with some digital sources, to an AoIP plant with some analog sources.
At the beginning, they found that legacy wiring was unlabeled, and used nonstandard connections.
“We found daisy chained distribution amps; each (audio) bus had a different AGC looped on it. By the time the audio got to the Orban Optimod 8600 at the transmitter, it had been mashed and smashed,” Straka said.
After the removal of analog equipment and installation of the AoIP architecture, all audio between the studios (newsroom, production and air) is now carried on one Cat-6 cable in one conduit.Music Director Bennett Rosner sits at the SAS iSL 28.3 console in the WRSU air studio, with General Manager Justin Sontupe, left, and news anchor Ryan Margolis during the “R U Awake” morning show.
The heart of WRSU’s facility is an SAS Core64 Audio Engine. Straka says the Core64 provides dependable flexibility and expandability for future expansion (up to 512 by 512 channels). “If more AES67/Dante capacity is needed, it’s easy to slide in another card in the frame,” he said.[Read: John Storyk on Podcast Studio Design]
When WRSU wanted to add a second preparation-and-playback personal computer in the air studio for the morning show, the installation was no more complex than downloading a driver for the PC and connecting that PC to the SAS crosspoint map. That process took two minutes.The WRSU Air Studio was reconfigured when the legacy analog equipment, wiring and technical racks were removed. Custom furniture by Studio Technology and increased space allow guests and operator to face each other in the studio.
Photo by Paul Kaminski
In the Main and Production studios, SAS 28.3 iSL consoles (bearing the Rutgers scarlet color) are installed in custom furniture from Studio Technology. Each of those consoles are connected to SAS Rio Bravo IP engines. All of the 24 main sources have their own faders, which makes training and operation easier for WRSU’s students and community volunteers.[Read other great articles from the Nov. 20 issue of Radio World]
Now any audio source in the plant can be called up for broadcast, and the consoles can be reconfigured quickly to meet programming requirements.
For more flexibility, Henry Engineering Multiports are installed in each studio, so programmers can connect their audio sources from personal music collections, and play those sources through the console. Denon DN-C635 CD players were recycled from the previous installation.
The 50-year-old space in the Student Center is concrete block, so moving walls to facilitate the installation wasn’t possible. Technical equipment was installed in the main studio. Once that equipment was relocated, Straka says Studio Technology took custom measurements to design and build an air studio that, for the first time, allowed guests to sit across from the hosts.
General Manager Justin Sontupe said, “We are kind of the college radio sound. If you go on Spotify, you can find different playlists, top 40, etc. Here, we have some of the not-as-popular music, not as mainstream. What you hear on 88.7, you’re not going to hear elsewhere.” To help Sontupe and the music department support that content, WRSU installed an RCS Zetta automation system with RCS Gselector music scheduling software.RCS Zetta automation and RCS GSelector training in the production room at WRSU. The automation and software gives the music programmers flexibility in scheduling, and helps maintain the station sound in certain dayparts.
Photo by Paul Kaminski
Automation is used to run overnights and assist with live programming. The RCS system is being loaded with a library of tens of thousands of songs to reduce the reliance on CD playback, or worse, streaming a song from YouTube. Once the library is in place, students will learn voice tracking to fill the overnight hours.
Connections to the outside world are made with Comrex Access and Access NX codecs, which get a workout during football and basketball seasons. Telephone connections are made through a Comrex STAC phone system.[QMusic and Joe Inaugurate New Studios]
The audio from the Student Center Studios feeds an STL consisting of a Harris Intraplex T1 as the main feed with Comrex BricLink as the backup. The STL feeds Orban Optimod 8600 processing. From there, WRSU uses two GatesAir FAX3 transmitters (main and standby) with ERP of 1,400 watts from a 190-foot tower on Rutgers property off Route 1. The station broadcasts from its original tower, three-bay antenna and concrete block building dating from its FM sign-on in 1971.
The cost for the upgrades for WRSU were estimated to be around $250,000.With one of these Henry Engineering Multiport Audio Interfaces in both the Main and Production studios, programmers of specialty shows can bring their own music on a jump drive or laptop. The bi-directional interface makes it easy to aircheck as well.
Photo by Paul Kaminski
The flexibility, digital wizardry and remodeling that went into this rebuild do more than future-proof the facility; they give the students an idea of what they may face in the broadcast environment off campus.
“That’s what we want to give them, the real-world experience. They’re going to go out and they’re going to have a leg up for that internship. They’re going to know how to use an automation system and audio over IP.”Equipment Sampler
SAS Core64 Audio Engine
SAS iSL 28.3 Consoles (Main and Production)
SAS iSL 12.2 Console (Newsbooth)
SAS Rio Bravo IP engines (Main, Production and Newsbooth)
Pioneer PLX 500 Turntables
Henry Engineering Multiport
Yellowtec Mika! Mic and monitor arms
Comrex Access and Access NX IP codecs
Comrex STAC studio phone system
RCS Zetta Automation
RCS GSelector music scheduling software
iMedia Logger by Win-OMT
Studio furniture by Studio Technology
Acoustic Treatment by Sound Seal
Paul Kaminski, CBT, has been a Radio World contributor since 1997. Twitter: @msrpk_com Facebook: PKaminski2468.
MADISON, Wis. — It’s undeniable that streaming radio, something that has been around for quite a while, is steadily becoming more and more important in our daily lives. Especially when you consider the huge influx of smartphones and smart speakers in the market over the past five years.
Until recently, it has required quite an investment to stream your radio station online, both in terms of equipment and in the time it takes to configure the server properly. Let’s face it, streaming can be a bit of a pain to get going for engineers of any skill level, even with the most basic setup possible.
When we started discussing how to improve our streaming configuration at Wisconsin Public Radio, I was tasked with finding an easy-to-use, robust and reliable solution that would integrate with our new audio over IP installation. I had considered using a custom-built system with custom software to run the stream, but the problem with custom solutions is that 90% of the time they are not easy to use and not as reliable as they need to be. Ruling out custom solutions led me on the search for a mysterious box that did it all, one that had the reliability, ease of use and tight integration with our AoIP system we were looking for.
This search ended with the Z/IPStream R/2 from The Telos Alliance, the streaming encoder that satisfied all of the requirements and more. The R/2 allows us to reliably integrate directly with our AoIP network with a simple web interface while leaving the option open for analog or AES inputs.[Read: How to Process Audio for Streaming, Properly]
There were several things that set the Z/IPStream out from the competition. Most notably is the option to have Omnia.9 processing built into the box, letting you really get full control of your station’s streaming sound. If you don’t need the full power of the Omnia.9, there is an Omnia-based three-band processor available in the box as well.
Another factor that sets it apart is the ability to run multiple different stream-encoding settings with the same audio source with multiple different output types like Icecast, SHOUTcast or RTMP servers without even having to think about if you are running the correct software. I can honestly say the R/2 lets me sleep better at night. I know that if we need to change streaming providers, all I have to do is set up the stream in the easy-to-use web interface, and we will be up and running in minutes rather than hours or days if we had to configure or build a new streaming box just to change providers.
I believe it is critical to invest in a proper streaming infrastructure; it may be just as important as a transmitter in the coming years. While streaming radio is changing the way radio stations work, there is one thing that will never change, whether the equipment is analog or digital, living at a transmitter site or in a datacenter: Engineers will always need a solution they can rely on for critical applications. For Wisconsin Public Radio, the R/2 is just that. It has been running in our datacenter for close to six months and it has been exactly what we needed for a reliable and powerful streaming solution.For information, contact Cam Eicher at The Telos Alliance in Ohio at 1-216-241-7225 or visit www.telosalliance.com.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Digital Radio Mondiale transmissions began from Budapest, Hungary, last June. Although two Hungarian broadcasters previously tested DRM on medium wave, the transmissions are the country’s first DRM trials on shortwave.The antenna used in the trial is located at the Budapest University of Technology.
The Department of Broadcast Info-Communications and Electronic Theory at the Budapest University of Technology is conducting these latest trials. Csaba Szombathy, head of the broadcasting laboratory, is also head of the project, which will last for at least 12 months.
While the 11-meter 26,060 kHz frequency is well known for use in local broadcasting, it’s rarely implemented for international broadcasting. Both World Radio Network (now owned by Encompass Digital Media) and Vatican Radio conducted DRM trials on shortwave in the 26 MHz range in London and Rome in 2005 and 2008 respectively. Researchers have also performed tests in this frequency to measure coverage and determine optimal mode and bandwidth on various occasions in Mexico and Brazil. The new Hungarian trials will add to this research.The Department of Broadcast Info-Communications and Electronic Theory at the Budapest University of Technology began testing DRM trials in June.
Szombathy initially operated the transmitter with just 10 W of power into a 5/8-inch vertical monopole. Radio Maria, a Catholic station, is providing a 25-hour program loop, while a Dream DRM software-based encoder broadcasts the signal using AAC encoding. In spite of the low power, the program was reportedly received in the Netherlands.
In early September, Szombathy moved the antenna and transmitter to a slightly different location to improve coverage. He increased the power to 100 W.
The second stage of the project is demonstrating DRM’s multimedia capabilities. Germany’s Fraunhofer IIS loaned the laboratory a content server, which provided a substantial upgrade to their setup. Szombathy’s station is transmitting with a xHE-AAC codec. The project also features Journaline data service, which Fraunhofer describes as “hierachically structured textual information.”A diagram showing the compact DRM shortwave setup.
Although a number of Indian medium-wave stations broadcast in xHE-AAC, the Hungarian station is the only shortwave station with regular xHE-AAC transmissions. Fraunhofer previously supported a German university station broadcasting in xHE-AAC. That station, Funklust, is no longer on shortwave.
Szombathy says he welcomes any DRM receiver manufacturer or developer to Budapest to conduct field tests using any receiver they are working on.
The station may go on beyond its one-year project. “It depends on what we archive or where we get during this year,” explained Szombathy. “If I can generate sufficient interest, there’s a chance it’ll transition into a permanent, live broadcast.”
Hans Johnson has worked in the broadcast industry for over 20 years in sales, consulting, and frequency management.
NEW YORK and GHANA — Headquartered in New York with key personnel based in Africa, Atunwa Digital is a digital network that advises media enterprises on monetization strategies. We develop full-scale digital marketing and advertising strategies, helping clients from planning to execution and analytics.
Two years ago, we launched our initiative to help African audio content publishers better leverage digital distribution and advertising opportunities to get the most monetization value from their content. We find that while a lot of African media enterprises have loyal, global audiences listening to their content regularly, they do not possess the in-house technical expertise nor advertising capacity to fully realize its built-in value.
We were seeing a trend where many of these organizations were leaving revenue on the table by receiving only a small percentage back from their streaming or podcasting service provider.COLLABORATION
We set out to address this issue by helping creators of African content reach both their local and diaspora audiences through online streaming, with the ability to serve geo-targeted advertising to their listeners, all while taking control of their digital future.
To do this, we needed to find an audio streaming technology provider who could supply not only the tools and infrastructure needed for online delivery, but also the support and expertise that our customers would need as they develop their own digital media autonomy. We wanted to work with a company that we could depend on for support, while collaborating with us to design the optimal streaming workflows for our clients.
A recommendation from one of our partners led us to StreamGuys, and we determined that they would be an ideal fit. In addition to having great tools, technology and support, they were willing to deal with us on a collaborative level. We now use the complete suite of StreamGuys services and solutions, from their robust content delivery network to their analytics tools.
At Atunwa, our advertising offerings span both programmatic and direct sales approaches, as we have established relationships with both multinational and local brands looking to reach the African demographic globally. StreamGuys’ integration with industry-leading ad platforms allows the insertion of dynamic, server-side, targeted advertising into our clients’ live streams and podcasts.
The targeted addressability of the ads is particularly valuable in capitalizing on revenue opportunities from the African diaspora living in the United States, Europe and other markets, as that audience receives spots that are relevant to them.
Another significant challenge faced by African content providers has been unauthorized redistribution of their content. It is crucial that content owners regain control of their streams and have visibility into their daily earnings. Unauthorized usage leads to revenue being taken away from the original content owners.
StreamGuys’ tools including the SGPassKey system enable our clients’ streams to be restricted to authorized distribution partners and are also integrated into StreamGuys’ embeddable SGplayer media player, giving us end-to-end security for both affiliate and consumer delivery.
The SGrecast live stream repurposing system enables our clients to turn live productions into on-demand podcasts, with automatic template-based publishing ensuring they are submitted correctly to aggregators. The fact that StreamGuys’ dynamic advertising capabilities are unified across both live streams and podcasts is advantageous; rather than managing two separate systems, podcasts just become a seamless extension of live operations.
The results of working with StreamGuys have been impressive. As an example, they have enabled us to deliver over tenfold growth in the monetization of radio content online for respected Ghanaian media organization Multimedia Group Limited, as well as significantly growing their digital traffic by taking back control of their content. Across five key MGL stations, monthly total listener hours increased by 152% and monthly cume by 96% in their first month of full operation with StreamGuys, and both metrics more than tripled over the past 18 months.
There has always been significant value in African content providers’ programming. Our goal with Atunwa is to build a digital network whereby we become the most trusted monetization source for African content publishers and the resource for brands/advertisers looking to connect with African audiences globally. StreamGuys’ streaming technology and expertise have allowed our clients’ digital media operations to become more independent, unlocking that value through the power of digital advertising.For information, contact StreamGuys at 1-707-667-9479 or visit www.streamguys.com.
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