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WorldDAB to Spotlight DAB+ Progress at General Assembly

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 02:00

The author is president of WorldDAB.

LONDON — The last 12 months have been an exciting period for DAB digital radio. At the end of last year, the European Union adopted the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), which will require all new car radios in the EU to be capable of receiving digital terrestrial radio. Shortly afterwards France confirmed the launch of national DAB+ with the support of all their major broadcasters.

Patrick Hannon

DEVELOPMENTS

Progress has continued throughout 2019 in May, Austria launched national DAB+ services and in the summer, Sweden saw the launch of national commercial DAB+.

More established markets have maintained their momentum in driving DAB+ digital radio forward. Following Norway’s switch-off in 2017, Switzerland has confirmed the switch-off of national FM services by the end of 2024; Germany and the Netherlands continue to make strong and steady progress, and the United Kingdom is seeing record levels of digital listening.

Belgium, the country hosting this year’s General Assembly, is also seeing high levels of activity, with both the Flemish (Dutch Speaking) and Wallonia (French speaking) regions demonstrating their commitment to the growth of DAB+.

[Read: EuroDAB Italia Begins Airing BBC World Service]

A further important development in Europe is the introduction of regulation requiring consumer receivers to include DAB+. Such laws will come into force in Italy and France in 2020, while a similar law coming into effect in December 2020 has just been passed in Germany. For WorldDAB, encouraging the adoption of such rules in other markets will be a priority in 2020 and beyond.

Joan Warner, CEO Commercial Radio Australia, addresses the audience at the 2018 WorldDAB general assembly.

We are also seeing interesting developments outside of Europe, with numerous markets pursuing trials in the Middle East, North and South Africa as well as Southeast Asia, and more significant developments in Australia and Tunisia. The former is now seeing its highest ever levels of DAB+ radio being fitted in new cars, while the latter which is a potential gateway to the wider Arabic speaking region has recently launched the first regular services in North Africa.

PROTECTING RADIO BROADCASTERS

Against this positive background, it’s increasingly clear that broadcasters and policy makers are concerned about the growing power of the tech giants in relation to national, regional and local content providers. This is likely to be a key topic of discussion at this year’s General Assembly. As WorldDAB, our focus will be on highlighting the contribution which DAB+ radio makes toward promoting and protecting the interests of national and local radio broadcasters.

Of course, the digital radio listening experience is evolving, and DAB+ is not the only digital platform. The key to long-term success is to position DAB+ at the heart of broadcasters’ digital strategies, and ensure its unique characteristics are preserved as the radio industry moves forward.

All of the above topics will be covered over the two days of the event held in Brussels, Belgium, and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible there.

 

 

The post WorldDAB to Spotlight DAB+ Progress at General Assembly appeared first on Radio World.

Upgrading an AM to All-Digital: Why, How and Lessons Learned

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 17:25

Dave Kolesar is senior broadcast engineer for Hubbard Radio. Mike Raide is manager of broadcast engineering at Xperi Corp. WWFD is serving as a real-world testbed for MA3, which the authors say provides more coverage and less adjacent-channel interference than hybrid MA1.

For AM stations, today’s HD Radio technology hasn’t done much to level the playing field with FM, satellite and streaming services such as Spotify. One major reason is that the current system uses the MA1 waveform, which, although it provides HD Radio capabilities such as high-fidelity audio, artist information and album artwork, may do so in only part of a station’s coverage area.

Fig. 1: The MA1 (hybrid) waveform.

MA1’s digital carriers also require three times more bandwidth than the analog signal, so they create more adjacent channel interference — an annoyance that’s among the reasons why people choose alternatives such as FM, SiriusXM or Pandora. So by providing a better listening experience for some stations, MA1 actually undermines others.

But HD Radio has another, far superior waveform that AM stations could use: MA3, which minimizes the interference problem and extends HD Radio’s capabilities to the vast majority of a station’s coverage area. The difference is MA3 is an all-digital signal, whereas MA1 is a hybrid of analog and digital.

In the MA1 mode, the analog carrier is flanked by primary, secondary and tertiary OFDM carriers, each with its own power level. In MA3, the primary carriers replace the analog carrier, and their power increases by 15 dB. MA3 also relocates the secondary carriers to the upper sideband and the tertiary carriers to the lower sideband, and both have their power increased to –30 dBc.

Thus the MA3 mode requires 20 kHz of bandwidth, while MA1 needs 30 kHz.

Fig. 2: The MA3 (all-digital) waveform.

MA3’s spectral efficiency provides two major benefits. First, MA3 protects the listening experience for first and second adjacent stations because the narrower bandwidth means less “slop” onto their signals, which is a longstanding problem with MA1, particularly after sunset. Second, MA3’s lower bandwidth requirement means it’s more likely to be capable of using antenna systems that were inadequate for MA1. As a result, more stations potentially can upgrade to digital because MA3 enables them to avoid the expense of replacing their antenna system.

Over the past year, WWFD in Frederick, Md., has served as a testbed that vendors, broadcasters and the FCC can use to understand how upgrading a station to MA3 affects antenna systems, transmitters and engineering practices. Here are the lessons learned so far, and a preview of the drive-test results that will be covered in a follow-up article.

THE STRATEGY AND BUSINESS CASE FOR GOING ALL-DIGITAL

Fig. 3: WWFD retuned daytime antenna Smith chart.

Owned by Hubbard Radio, WWFD runs an adult album alternative format on 820 kHz. It operates 4.3 kW non-directional during the day and switches to a 430 W two-tower array at night.

WWFD also has a 160 W translator, W232DG, on 94.3 MHz. Most WWFD listeners migrated to the translator after it signed on in July 2017, which made it feasible from a business perspective to replace the analog carrier with MA3 on an experimental basis.

If those tests were successful enough to continue using MA3, the translator could be used to educate listeners about the availability and benefits of the all-digital AM outlet. One example is explaining that when the translator’s signal starts to fade, they can switch their vehicle’s HD Radio to 820 and keep enjoying crystal-clear music for another 30–50 miles.

Fig. 4: WWFD retuned daytime antenna Smith chart marker data.

The FCC granted Hubbard a one-year STA to operate WWFD in MA3 mode, a switch that took place on July 16, 2018. Getting to that point took a lot of time, effort and collaboration with Kintronic Laboratories and Cavell, Mertz and Associates for the antenna system, and Broadcast Electronics, Nautel and GatesAir for the transmitters. Xperi Corp. lent its expertise to set up the digital transmitters, and to verify the operation of the antenna system.

GETTING A 58-YEAR-OLD ANTENNA SYSTEM DIGITAL READY

Fig. 5: WWFD retuned nighttime antenna Smith chart.

Early on, the MA3 mode would be used on 1670 kHz via a diplex into the existing 820 kHz antenna system. The 820 antenna system had undergone several modifications over the decades, including tower changes as part of a frequency change in 1987, and had not been characterized since it was last modified in 1991.

The first step was to measure every coil and capacitor, verify schematics and correct mistakes. Kintronic Labs helped with this process by analyzing the results and recommending changes. For example, they determined that the antenna system’s day and night performance was inadequate for all-digital transmission — no surprise, considering that WWFD has always been entirely analog and never used the MA1 mode. To support digital operations, a rule of thumb says that the SWR should be 1.4:1 ±15 kHz from the center frequency. WWFD’s was 1.8:1 at 10 kHz for the day mode, and 2.1:1 at 10 kHz for the night mode.

To bring things to the desired levels, Kintronic Labs redesigned the phasor and ATU networks. The goal was to enable optimal phase shifts to provide enough bandwidth to support all-digital transmission, while also keeping the number of new components to a minimum.

Several challenges stood in the way. For example, WWFD’s two towers are less than 90 degrees high, which restricts the bandwidth of the tuning units. The system also has filter and detuning networks both for the 1670 kHz operation and to protect another station whose 930 kHz facility is less than a mile away.

Fig. 6: WWFD retuned nighttime antenna Smith chart marker data.

One set of changes involved the ATUs, where the L networks were converted into T networks so the phase shifts could be adjusted to optimize bandwidth. Inside the phasor, the T networks that adjust each tower’s phase shift were converted to series LC networks. This enabled fine-tuning controls for the larger shifts at the ATUs. Longstanding issues needed to be addressed as well. One example is the discovery of an unbonded, abandoned RPU line, which had created extra capacitance across one tower’s base insulator, adversely affecting the tower’s self-impedance.

The daytime network uses only the T network in tower 2, where the tuning process simply required adjusting for an impedance of 50 + j0 at the transmitter. With all of the modifications and repairs, the bandwidth turned out to be more than adequate, with a measured SWR of less than 1.35:1 at ±10 kHz.

The two-tower directional nighttime array was more complicated. Dummy loads were inserted at each ATU’s input, with an Array Solutions Power AIM 120 looking backward into each network from the antenna side. The matching networks were then set for the complex conjugate of the drive point impedance measured when the array had been in substantial adjustment.

With the networks reconnected, the phasor controls were used to put the array back into substantial adjustment. A bridge was inserted at the output of each phasor port, and the transmission lines were matched to 50 + j0 using the “cut and try” method.

Finally, the input network to the phasor (i.e., the “common point”) was adjusted to provide the transmitter with an impedance of 50 + j0. Now in tune, the night network was swept for bandwidth, and had an SWR of not more than 1.37:1 at ±10 kHz. The entire antenna system was now capable of passing the MA3 waveform.

FINDING THE RIGHT TRANSMITTER

For analog, WWFD uses a Harris Gates Five as the main transmitter, with a Nautel AMPFET Five for auxiliary service. Re-using the AMPFET Five for MA3 wasn’t an option because it can’t support digital, so a BE AM-6A was brought in as the new main transmitter. A Nautel AM IBOC exciter and BE ASi-10 were added to generate MA3 waveforms, and for testing and demonstrating interoperability between different manufacturers’ equipment.

Next, each transmitter’s audio input was connected to its exciter’s magnitude output, while each transmitter’s external oscillator input was connected to the phase output. The first round of tests used the Nautel exciter and AM-6A transmitter, with the balanced magnitude exciter output interfaced to the balanced (left) audio input of the transmitter through an H-Pad variable attenuator.

The tests followed the manufacturer’s instructions for implementing the MA1 mode. Once the transmitter was tuned properly for MA1 operation, the exciter was flipped to MA3 mode. The transmitter’s audio input was set to not exceed 95 percent negative modulation, while positive peaks were typically above 150 percent.

With a spectrum analyzer monitoring the transmitter’s RF output, the phase delay was adjusted for minimum spectral regrowth. Ideally this adjustment should be done with the secondary and tertiary carriers turned off (i.e., in MA3 core mode, with just the primary carriers being transmitted). That’s because some regrowth may be hidden underneath the secondary and tertiary carriers in the full MA3 mode.

Now optimized, the MA3 secondary carriers were turned back on. At ±25 kHz from the channel center, the regrowth was limited to –65 dBc with reference to the pilot channel. These results ensure compliance with the NRSC-2 spectral emissions mask.

DEVELOPING A NEW POWER MEASUREMENT PROCEDURE

Fig. 7: WWFD transmitter configuration.

The STA didn’t change WWFD’s licensed operating parameters for power output and directionality. But because the MA3 mode is an OFDM method of transmission, all-digital power can’t be measured using the traditional analog AM practices.

For example, MA3’s peak-to-average ratio is significantly higher than that of analog AM, so the transmitter’s power level meter may read inaccurately. Also, if the transmitter isn’t optimized for MA3 mode, the peak-to-average ratio may be reduced, and a different power level reading may result than if the transmitter been optimally adjusted.

Thus, a new procedure is necessary to verify that transmitters are operating at licensed power when in MA3 mode.

INITIAL DRIVE RESULTS DEMONSTRATE REAL-WORLD BENEFITS

Qualitative field strength measurements used the station’s existing Potomac Instruments FIM-21 meter, which was checked against an FIM-4100, which is specifically designed to handle the MA3 mode. The FIM-21 and FIM-41 meters indicate lower field strengths in MA3 than what a FIM-4100 reads because the latter has passband filters that encompass the entire waveform. As a result, measurements must be compared side-by-side, and a multiplication factor for each individual meter (due to variances in the IF filter sections for the FIM-21 and FIM-41 meters, or any superheterodyne meter) should be used when a qualitative check is desired, and a newer meter is unavailable.

Daytime drive tests used multiple vehicles’ factory OEM radios. Under ideal daytime conditions, the MA3 primary carriers can be decoded down to the 0.1 mV contour, as confirmed via reception reports and drive testing at or near Harrisburg, Pa., Breezewood, Pa. and Cambridge, Md. Critical hours propagation phenomena typically reduce reliable coverage to the 0.5 mV contour.

Nighttime MA3 reception generally follows the station’s nighttime interference free (NIF) contour: Wherever an analog carrier-to-noise ratio of 20 dB is achieved, the MA3 carrier will generally be received. Early evening reception goes well beyond the NIF. As co-channel skywave interference increases during the evening, coverage is reduced to the NIF. In the station’s 2.0 mV contour, in-vehicle reception was reliable, without zero dropouts in either the Frederick urban core or underneath bridges. Reliable urban performance is particularly important for competing with satellite, which often has dropouts even in cities with terrestrial repeaters.

The MA3 waveform is adversely affected by the deep nighttime null that WWFD uses to protect WBAP in Dallas. Drive testing shows that reception is lost on this axis before the predicted contour, due to the directional antenna system suppressing the center of the channel more than the sidebands. This is likely to be a common condition in arrays with high degrees of carrier suppression and disappears once off the null axis.

TO REVITALIZE, DON’T COMPROMISE

The work thus far by WWFD, Xperi and its other collaborators shows that MA3 has a viable, highly promising role in enabling the AM revitalization sought by both the industry and the FCC. This promise is reflected in NPRM petitions to allow MA3. One example is Bryan Broadcasting’s March 2019 petition, which subsequently received numerous positive comments in support. This growing interest and support among station owners, equipment vendors and the rest of the industry highlights why WWFD’s testbed is so important.

In particular, the drive tests demonstrate that MA3 can provide not only high-fidelity audio, but also album artwork, artist information and other data, throughout a station’s coverage area. All of these features will help AM stations compete with FM, satellite and streaming in both vehicles and homes.

Just as important, the drive tests show that MA3 avoids all of MA1’s biggest drawbacks, starting with excessive bandwidth requirements that result in adjacent-channel interference. Another is MA1’s annoying hiss due to how its digital carriers often bleed into the analog signal in receivers with wide IF bandwidth. Finally, unlike MA3, MA1’s digital carriers are 30 dB lower in amplitude than the analog carrier, which limits digital signal robustness and reception range.

Day and night drive testing currently is underway. Next time we will explore the lessons learned from those drive tests, and discuss further optimization of the antenna system as well as power measurement options.

Comment on this or any story. Email rweetech@gmail.com.

The post Upgrading an AM to All-Digital: Why, How and Lessons Learned appeared first on Radio World.

C-Band Hearing Scheduled for the House

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 17:00

A hearing on C-Band spectrum, titled “Repurposing the C-Band to Benefit All Americans,” has been scheduled by the House’s Energy & Committee and its Communications & Technology Subcommittee for Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 10 a.m.

The use of the C-Band spectrum in the 3.7–4.2 GHz band is currently used by broadcasters and satellite operators, but is being considered for possible use by 5G.

[Read: FCC Wants Additional Comments on C Band Issue]

“The FCC must repurpose the C-Band in a manner that promotes competition, spurs the 5G revolution and yields revenue for important priorities here at home,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J), Energy & Commerce Committee chairman, and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), chairman of the Communications & Technology Subcommittee, in a joint statement. “There may be a need for legislation to reduce uncertainty and benefit Americans.”

They added, “What we don’t want is the Federal Communications Commission to become mired in litigation that slows 5G deployment. We must ensure the American people benefit from this process, and we look forward to discussing these important issues at the hearing next week.”

Information regarding the hearing, including a livestream, will be available on the Energy & Commerce Committee website.

 

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Tornado Wrecks Dallas’ KNON

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 14:10

Those tornados Sunday night in Dallas sent KNON(FM) dark after a direct hit on the building housing the radio station’s studios.

Dave Chaos, station manager for KNON, was at home enjoying the Dallas Cowboys football game on TV when his radio station was literally blown away by the tornado.

“Great game but it was a horrible storm. I had a call at home that we had lost power at the radio station about an hour prior. Then the tornado hit the building and about all was lost,” Chaos says.

[Read: Months After Hurricane, WTJX Fights On]

The office building housing the radio station in North Dallas suffered major damage, including blown out windows. In addition, part of the building’s roof was blown off. Serious damage was done to the station’s main studio and offices, Chaos said. Some of the station’s broadcast equipment was damaged by the estimated 140 mph winds and broken glass and likely won’t be salvageable.

“We had several employees at the radio station when the tornado hit. They hid in the bathroom as the tornado roared past and shook the building. It scared them but they were uninjured,” he said.

KNON returned to the air less than 36 hours after the tornado, Chaos said, and continues to broadcast from a small brick building located at its transmitter site, which is located in Cedar Hill, approximately 20 miles southwest of its former studios. The transmission site remained intact following the storm.

“We are broadcasting at full power from an empty transmitter room and plugged straight to the transmitter. It’s about a 10 x 10 room. We have a few tables with a 16-channel Behringer mixer board, two CD players and two mics,” Chaos said. “We also have a USB connection into the board so we can plug laptops in with music to play.”

Chaos says the station will have to find a new permanent home since the damage to the station’s building is so severe. “We’ve already been told by the owners of the building we will not be able to rebuild there.”

KNON, which is owned by Agape Broadcasting Foundation, broadcasts at 89.3 MHz and also streams online. It plays jazz, punk, metal, gospel, R&B, Latin, blues, country, Cajun, reggae and Native American music, according to its website.

The radio station is a “nonprofit, listener-supported community radio station, which derives its main source of income from on-air pledge drives and from underwriting or sponsorships by local small businesses.”

The National Weather Service confirmed this week that a total of nine tornados hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area last Sunday night. The strongest twister, rated as an EF-3 by the weather service, packed 140-mph winds. No one was killed by the tornados and no major injuries were reported.

 

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Radio Industry Remembers Engineer Gary Lee Ellingson

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 12:05

The radio industry is mourning the death of long-time engineer Gary Lee Ellingson of Moorhead, Minn., who passed away on Oct. 11. He was 67.

According to an obituary on Inforum and the West Funeral Home in West Fargo, N.D., Ellingson was born to Oscar and Olga Ellingson of Thief River Falls, Minn., 24 years after the birth of his sister Helen. He was the youngest of four siblings, including Helen, Harry and Orville.

His father passed away after Ellingson turned two years old, and he and his mother regularly attended the Evangelical Free Church in Thief River Falls.

While working at a local radio station in the 1960s, Ellingson made a life-long commitment to religion and long talked about the correlation between current events and scripture. He pursued a career in missionary radio after attending Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in the fall of 1972. It was there that he met his wife, Billie Sue Shreve, and the two were married June 4, 1976, in Circleville, Ohio.

Ellingson went on to finish his college education at Northland Community College in Thief River Falls, including two years of electronics study at the Area Vocational Technical Institute, followed by Grace College of the Bible in Omaha, Neb.

While attending Grace, Ellingson worked full time as chief engineer for KGBI and KROA, two Grace radio ministries in Omaha and Grand Island, Neb. It was during that time that Ellingson developed a method of correcting interference between an antenna and the tower upon which it is mounted and distributing the mechanical load on the tower while allowing the antenna to be rotated around the tower. Through a friend in his Greek class at Grace, Ellingson was introduced to Wendell Miller, a registered professional mechanical engineer and patent agent in Goshen, Ind. Gary’s invention resulted in four United States Patents with the systems still being manufactured today.

Ellingson also worked for Motorola as a field service technician and then took a job as dispatcher-jailer at the newly constructed Law Enforcement Center in Thief River Falls where he installed all of the radio equipment.

Ellingson and Billie Sue moved back to Thief River Falls with their first two children, Daniel and Andrew, and he continued working in broadcast engineering as a field service engineer, and eventually went full time in manufacturing the antenna positioning system. He and a number of friends and relatives pooled resources to complete the patent process and went on to form Polar Research Inc.

The couple, with arrival of a third child, Mathew, moved to Moorhead, Minn., where Ellingson took a job teaching electronics at Moorhead Area Vocational-Technical School and he added a part-time announcer job at KFNW radio in Fargo. Their daughter, Kristin, was born shortly after moving to Moorhead.

In addition, he served as a pastor at New Hope Evangelical Free Church in Moorhead and went on to become director of engineering for the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minn., a missionary and liberal arts university.

Ellingson is survived by his children Daniel (Alissa) from Woodbury, Minn; Andrew (Krystyna) from Thief River Falls, Minn.; Matthew (Maria) from Minnetonka, Minn.; and Kristin from North Dakota. He is also survived by nine grandchildren: Samuel and Abigail from Woodbury; Gweneth, Logan, Farrah and Natalie from Thief River Falls; and Layla, Penny and Gloria from Minnetonka. He was preceded in death by his parents Oscar and Olga; his siblings Harry, Orville, and Helen (Adamson); and his wife Billie Sue, who passed away Dec. 1, 2018.

At Ellingson’s request, in lieu of gifts or flowers, please consider giving the equivalent amount to Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, 3755 Mansell Road, Alpharetta, Ga., 30022 or Bethel Church, 2702 30th Avenue South, Fargo, N.D., 58103.

Visitation will be held at West Funeral Home, West Fargo, N.D., on Oct. 23, with the funeral held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, at Bethel Church in Fargo, N.D. Burial will be at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Fargo.

 

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Is the FCC Dropping the Ball on Directional Translators?

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 19:19

Larry Langford is the owner of WGTO(AM) Cassopolis, Mich. and W246DV, South Bend, Ind. You can reach him at LarryLangford@aol.com.

The author is owner of WGTO(AM) and W246DV(FM), South Bend. Ind. He has been in radio since 1965. His commentaries on radio issues such as those facing AM owners are a recurring feature. Read his past articles by searching for “Langford.”

The job of a consulting engineer is to do everything possible to maximize the facilities of a client within the constraints of FCC regulations, the laws of physics and the budget of the applicant.

In the case of a full-power FM that needs a directional antenna system, the FCC demands strict conditions before the License to Cover application is granted. These include detailed paperwork from the applicant showing that the antenna was designed by a reputable manufacturer using a test range with full-size or modeled  antennas that take into account the tower design, other antennas mounted to the tower, cables, conduits and anything else that could cause pattern distortion. The commission wants to see sketches, notes, and test results from the maker of the antenna.

[Read: Chicago Translator Concerns]

They further require you to use a licensed  surveyor to certify that the antenna was mounted at the correct azimuth as called for by the manufacturer and, lastly, the commission requires an affidavit from a qualified engineer that everything was done by the book and the resulting pattern is good based on a proof of performance. All this can be required of the simplest of directional systems for full power FMs

With consultants now being asked to shoe-horn translators  into the tightest of places, we are seeing some rather curious antenna patterns in FX applications. Some stretch physics to the absolute limit!

Again, understand, just because the consultant can specify a complex contour, one that requires a composite antenna design, it does not mean that the antenna company can make it happen for less than a king’s ransom. What is shocking is that for translator directionals, the FCC demands only a checkbox that promises that the antenna meets the required contours as shown in the CP. Talk about faith and trust. I will admit that for some “off the shelf” directionals and omnidirectional antennas that are side-mounted with a predictable pattern, just the antenna sheet and a promise that it was put up pointing the correct direction is probably enough.

But let’s take the case of the antenna pattern granted on a Chicago translator that is a real head scratcher!

Figure 1

Figure 1 shows a pattern that is obviously protecting more than three co-channel translators and full power FM stations. These pretzel patterns are becoming more and more common in metro areas where FX openings are tight. In this case the CP application specifies a two-bay “penetrator” style antenna with parasitic elements to get this very  complex and nonsymmetrical  pattern in both the horizontal and vertical planes.

If this pattern can be done with this type antenna it would take a lot of range testing and a big box of parasitics installed with great precision and care to pull it off.

The price tag for that would be in the thousands. I have seen more than a few installations that demand such complex antennas that are simply built with an omnidirectional  and no attempt to follow the one-of-a-kind design in the application. The temptation to cheat here is just too great and the results are a mess when there is an interference complaint and the commission relies on these sometimes fantasy patterns to be accurate.

I cannot blame the consultants, they just show what needs to be done. And often the person signing the License to Cover application is simply one of the owners just checking the box with no idea as to what pattern they really have. There are other cases where the commission is just plain wrong via its own mistakes on issuing a license. I know of a Chicago area translator with a detailed application on how the system would take care of second adjacency interference by using a multibay antenna to attenuate downward signal. The details were part of a waiver request. But when they put in the License to Cover application they specified a single-bay omni. And guess what? The commission granted the license anyway. Obviously this one slipped through the cracks.

With AM it’s pretty easy to check on a directional antenna system, just drag out the Potomac and find the monitor points. But trying to do a field proof on a 250 W translator DA with a meter to check on an installation after the fact will drive you crazy and tell you very little.

The FCC must tighten up regulations to make sure these exotic patterns drawn to get a CP are in fact built to get the License to Cover.

Since the commission requires detailed proof that a directional was actually built and installed correctly for a commercial FM, why not at least some documentation that shows that a composite directional FX antenna for the requested CP was actually built and tested on a range with proper proof of performance?

The commission would never accept the “word” of an AM operator that his multitower array was good without paperwork, so why allow translators to be put in with these very difficult patterns on just a wink and a promise that there is no cheating? While some old and outdated rules are being tossed out, here is one that needs to be revised for more not less paperwork.

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

 

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Groups Call on FCC to Waive First-Term Fees for Incubating AM/FM Stations

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 14:57

Of all the hurdles that new entrants and small broadcasters face when it comes to accessing capital to set up a broadcast station, there’s one challenge in particular that the Federal Communications Commission shouldn’t overlook: The task of keeping up with additional financial obligations like annual regulatory fees.

According to two media groups, the commission needs to reconsider the heaviness of that burden as part of its Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2019 Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which was released in August 2019. As part of that order and rulemaking, the commission is seeking comment on whether it should adopt a lower regulatory fee for full-service AM and FM broadcast radio station incubator licensees.

[Read: Groups Press FCC to Recommit to Promoting Media Diversity]

The answer is a resounding yes, according to two those two media organizations. In new comments filed with the commission, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters reiterated its stance that additional financial obligations, such as regulatory fees, may render it more difficult for incubated entities to thrive under the FCC’s incubator program as stations attempt to access capital and apply for new construction permits.

In comments filed back in August, the two groups proposed that the commission give an outright exemption to incubated stations for having to pay regulatory fees for a the initial eight-year term of the incubation period.

With a subsequent request in the R&O and FNPRM, the FCC asked for commenters to discuss a reduction that approximates, perhaps, as much as 50%.

That’s an amount that the MMTC and NABOB take issue with.

“[The commission ] is silent on the reason for an ‘appropriate reduction’ in the fee, and we cannot conceive of any reason why only a partial fee reduction would be justified,” the group said in its most recent filing. “In our experience, broadcasters generally need strong financial incentives to participate in FCC diversity initiatives. A waiver of all fees for a license period would profoundly demonstrate the commission’s endorsement of incubation and create a powerful incentive for it.”

While the dollar amounts of regulatory fees for an eight-year license term are “meaningful,” the two said, they are not so large as to materially diminish the commission’s ability to fund its operations. As a result, the two groups are pressing the commission to adopt the MMTC/NABOB proposal as filed.

Comments on the issue of regulatory fees can be viewed at the FCC’s ECFS database using Docket Number 19-105.

 

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What Does a Broadcast Engineer Do, Anyway?

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 12:10
The image of today’s broadcast engineer is a lot different than that of days gone by.

I was thinking the other day about what a broadcast engineer does. For the first couple of decades of my career, that was a fairly narrow list: Maintain and repair studio and transmitter equipment. Build out a studio or transmitter facility. Maybe fix the plumbing or install a radio in the GM’s car.

But at some point, things began to change. Personal computers began to enter the broadcast infrastructure. Then networks and file servers began to appear, and we had to add new skills. At the same time, staples such as turntables, cart machines and reel tape recorders began to disappear. As the years slid by, even CD players began to fade from the scene.

In a way, this paralleled changes in the auto service industry. Mechanics who for decades wore greasy coveralls and worked on carburetors, distributors and water pumps traded their coveralls for more professional attire, went from oil- and grease-stained hands to blue nitrile gloves and became technicians rather than mechanics. As with broadcast engineers, a whole new skill set was needed, one that included computers, sensors and OBD ports.

PORTS AND PASSWORDS

As I look around my company and consider the top-shelf group of engineers that we employ, I realize that their primary skills are in the IT domain.

We recently had one northern market CE leave for warmer climes, and as his newly-hired replacement came in and began work, the challenge was not transmitters, processors and antenna systems, but rather networks, IP addresses, ports and passwords. Because of the IP-heavy infrastructure, Job No. 1 had to be learning the networks at the studios, offices and transmitter sites and figuring out how it all works.

In the earliest days of my career, I worked at a local FM station (which few people listened to because there were few FM radios out there) changing automation tapes and doing top-of-the-hour rip-and-read news. The chief engineer was a guy named Don Freestone, and my memory is of him hunched over a smoking soldering iron back in his engineering shop, which was next to the AM transmitter room. That was pretty much the image and stereotype of the broadcast engineer for a long time. Back in the day, I even saw an episode of “WKRP in Cincinnati” with a brief glimpse of a broadcast engineer with that same stereotype.

Today, the image is a little different. Today, it is the engineer, probably dressed in khakis and a polo, sitting (or standing) at a desk hunched over a laptop computer, fingers flying over the keys as mysterious characters scroll by on the screen. That image is not far off. In this company at least, that is where our engineers spend most of their time, not making wiring changes or repairing equipment.

In today’s IT-centric broadcast plant, “wiring changes” are done with a mouse, making and breaking crosspoints in software. Even transmitter remote control systems are configured in software, using SNMP and Ethernet cables rather than the fat multi-conductor control cables that we used for that purpose for decades.

With the changes in infrastructure have come big changes in the ways we as broadcast technical professionals do business, and as I mentioned, the skill set has changed. For young upstarts, this is no big deal; IT is their native language; for old guys like me, well, we have a lot to learn.

TALL ORDER

So what does that mean for broadcast engineering as a field?

For starters, it means that the job description has to change, and because of that, our recruitment sources also have to change. Do we seek out and hire RF and audio people and train them in IT, or do we hire IT people and train them in audio and RF?

Either path, on the surface, is valid, but out here in the real world, it’s a tall order to find RF and audio people, especially young people just entering the workforce that have any training and expertise in audio and RF. It’s much easier to find young college or trade school grads who are trained in IT.

The practical course of action, then, is to find upstart IT people and train them in the other aspects of the broadcast engineering trade. Easy, right? Maybe not. There are a number of challenges to this course of action.

First, the career path model, while we weren’t looking, has changed dramatically. No longer are young people content to work and learn under a more experienced “guru” and then move up the ladder over a period of years as their skills develop. Those skills are in such demand that upstarts hit the ground running, landing high-paying jobs right out of school. They often move from job to job every year or two, always getting a better deal and a bigger paycheck.

Except for purely IT people, the broadcast industry cannot compete with that, not really. What we offer is a slow rise up the ladder that includes a lot of learning of other skills that are really well outside of the wheelhouses of IT-trained people.

And of course we offer lower pay and lousy hours. Why on earth would any young upstart trained in IT want to subject herself to that if she could easily land a job at Verizon or T-Mobile that pays more, has better benefits and regular hours?

So therein lies the challenge. It would seem to be nearly impossible. And yet … and yet … I have managed to find and hire a number of superb youngsters, real rock stars, over the past few years who have taken to the broadcast engineering trade like a fish to water.

Yes, they love their ones and zeros. They love their obscure command line syntax and code.

But they also love radio. And they have come to love transmitters, transmission lines, antennas, audio processing and sound just as much. It has been a real pleasure watching these youngsters bloom into what will be tomorrow’s chief engineers and engineering managers.

I might add that it hasn’t hurt one bit that our audio infrastructure has moved into the realm of ones and zeros (AoIP), or that transmitters, remote controls, audio processors and even STLs now have IP addresses and communicate with users in the IT domain.

The question, then, is how do we find such people? That’s a tough question, and I don’t have an easy answer. The best I can tell you is to be on the lookout for youngsters who might have the knack for radio.

Job fairs are often a good place to look. IT folks attend job fairs looking for employment, and maybe they are drawn to the banner with the radio station’s call sign because they listen to or have heard of the station, and they’re intrigued. Could it be that this radio station has a job for me that could be something more than assigning IP addresses and creating subnets?

At some point as you talk to them, the inevitable question is asked: “What does a broadcast engineer do, anyway?” The answer: “We do it all.”

And the one thing you can promise is that they’ll never get bored. Let Verizon or T-Mobile compete with that!

Cris Alexander, CPBE AMD DRB, is director of engineering of Crawford Broadcasting Co. and technical editor of RW Engineering Extra.

Comment on this or any article. Write to rweetech@gmail.com.

The post What Does a Broadcast Engineer Do, Anyway? appeared first on Radio World.

What Exactly Happened to Ampegon?

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 02:00

The author is sales and business development manager for Ampegon Power Electronics AG.

TURGI, Switzerland—Following this year’s IBC exhibition in Amsterdam in September it became clear that, despite our best efforts, many in the radio community are still in the dark about what has recently happened at Ampegon; a long-term supplier of transmitters and equipment to shortwave and medium-wave broadcasters worldwide.

Simon Keens

Rumors have abounded regarding the health of the company and we hope today to clarify the situation here

Late in 2018, Ampegon’s former investment capital owners decided to sell Ampegon. This had been planned since 2012 when they acquired the company following the restructuring of the Thomson group. Since you never completely fuel a car that you’re just about to sell, Ampegon was instructed to minimize further unnecessary investment in marketing, which is why customer visits and conference attendance fell to a historic low. This left the company to focus solely on completing projects prior to transfer of ownership.

In the end, the process of selling the company took longer than anticipated, meaning that some projects were delayed and left unfinished at the point of sale. Additionally, the former owners proceeded to sell the four parts of Ampegon separately: The shortwave transmitter, power supply and control system section in Switzerland, the antenna division in Ludwigshafen, the former Transradio medium-wave transmitter factory based in Berlin, and the industrial pulsed power supply specialists in Dortmund, all in Germany. This necessitated a break-up of the group, with assets from each company being sold off individually. It inevitably caused disruption to normal operations.

The shortwave transmitter business, along with the staff, tools, and stock material has now been bought by a new Swiss company: Ampegon Power Electronics AG. This company was formed specifically to complete the transaction with Ampegon AG, and took over all IP and technology rights, branding (including the name and logo of Ampegon), website and contact details.

Telephone numbers and email addresses for contacts in sales, engineering and purchasing are essentially unchanged. Today (at time of writing) we understand that Ampegon AG exists only as a company on paper, with practically all staff moved over to Ampegon Power Electronics AG. Similarly, staff and assets from Ampegon Antenna Systems GmbH and AM Broadcast GmbH have been sold to Cestron International and now continue their respective businesses under the name Elsyscom.

We hope that Ampegon Power Electronics and Cestron/Elsyscom work closely moving forward, once the necessary agreements are in place; providing the integrated transmitter/antenna systems that have been so successful in the past. Research Instruments has acquired the industrial pulsed power team in Dortmund, although this is not considered significant to the broadcast community.

A 4/4 rotatable directional antenna supplied by former Ampegon Antenna Systems GmbH of Ludwigshafen, Germany.

Unfortunately, a number of Ampegon’s customers were left with partially completed projects when our former owners withdrew their support in preparation for selling the company.

The company’s former staff — who remained in post even though they went unpaid for some months — regret the inconvenience caused, but are currently working hard under Ampegon Power Electronics to resolve the issues arising from being a new company, and not the legal successor of Ampegon AG. This has meant that contracts must be transf

erred, warranties reviewed and all other previous agreements with our customers and colleagues in the community must be annulled and renewed.

Looking ahead, however, the core skills of Ampegon remain in place to support the broadcast community over the coming years and decades. By and large Ampegon’s engineers and employees are the same people in the same place doing the same thing, but now with an industrial group behind them rather than a capital investment company. We are looking forward to continuing work with our friends and colleagues in the community as we look at new revolutions in broadcasting such as Digital Radio Mondiale, data communications and energy efficiency in the future.

Development of Ampegon’s second-generation Class A/B solid-state transmitters is practically complete, with production of 1.5 kW – 25 kW versions, capable of broadcasting between 3 MHz to 30 MHz, ramping up. A third-generation solution offering significantly greater energy efficiency is approaching prototype stage.

A shortwave transmitter supplied by Ampegon, now Ampegon Power Electronics AG, of Switzerland.

[Read: Solving the Medium-Wave Problem]

Simultaneously, Ampegon has developed control system upgrades to support users of older-generation tube transmitters having difficulty sourcing spares, and also to provide opportunities to retrofit older systems with new digital DRM broadcast capabilities. Of course, with touchscreen technology and innovative controls, such an upgrade makes these transmitters easier to use, simpler to maintain and safer than ever before. Of course, we are complimented by the requests to support over 20-year-old transmitters, since this is testimony to their reliability and value.

It is Ampegon’s hope to continue serving shortwave broadcasting long into the future. We see the unique capabilities of the technique, and the significant future opportunities presented by digital broadcasting with DRM. And who knows what other technologies may benefit from use of shortwave? Time will tell, and Ampegon intends to be there to support it.

For information, please see:

https://ampegon.com/download/pr_sale_assets_of_ampegon_ag_-_immediate_release.pdf

https://cestron.de/News

https://research-instruments.de/news-events/news-detail/13

 

 

The post What Exactly Happened to Ampegon? appeared first on Radio World.

NYSBA Honors Native Son O’Rielly as New Yorker of the Year

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 14:10

As he gratefully accepted an award from New York State Broadcasters Association, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly noted — wryly — the irony of the moment.

The award, for New Yorker of the Year, was being bestowed, he said, on a government bureaucrat “who never spent one day working at a broadcast station; who has never been closer to the news industry than when he had a paper route.” Those were some of the remarks made by O’Rielly — undoubtedly to laughs from the room full of broadcasters — during a luncheon with the NYSBA during its Broadcast Leadership and Hall Of Fame Luncheon on Oct. 17 in New York City.

[Read: O’Rielly: First Amendment Rights Worthy of Strongest Defenses]

“You should know that, when David [Donovan, president of NYSBA] called to congratulate me for being selected as New York Broadcasters New Yorker of the Year, I suggested he was way off base,” O’Rielly told the crowd. “In my mind, I stand before you as someone completely unworthy of this honor. Let’s face it: you are looking at a short, overweight, government bureaucrat … whose claim to FCC fame includes successfully allowing broadcast stations to close up shop,” (albeit, he said, as part of the much-lauded elimination of the FCC’s long-standing Main Studio Rule).

“[While] there are far more deserving individuals from this amazing state,” he said. “But…not being on the selection committee myself, I happily accept this award.”

O’Rielly, a native New Yorker from the western part of the state, said broadcasting provided a “wonderful foundation of fulsome life experiences” that have been enormously valuable throughout his professional career. He was born and raised in a small city on the Erie Canal just outside Buffalo, N.Y., which is home to hearty, hardworking individuals that — as he said in his confirmation hearing back in 2013 — “accept the hard winter weather and lack of sun as a badge of honor.” All across the State of New York, O’Rielly said, people are smart, gritty realists who tend to tell it as it is. “Throw into that mix some challenging weather from time to time, and you have the formula for some really unique individuals that tend to do well in our fairly complex society,” he said.

Local broadcasting was a key part of his early education, he said, as local news, sports coverage and children’s programming fed some of his earliest interests. During his six-year-long tenure at the commission, O’Rielly said he has attempted to distinguish himself as someone who listens attentively to the problems and issues facing broadcasters and tries to find workable solutions, from local ones pirate radio to broader ones like the seismic shift in the video marketplace.

“Part of my focus has been to reduce the overall regulatory burden on broadcasters, as is demanded by the FCC,” he said. “This means eliminating any and all unnecessary requirements that impinge on broadcasters’ ability to serve their local communities. Your government should not mandate obligations that impose undue costs and require inordinate time to comply when a regulation has far outlived its usefulness in the modern marketplace.”

O’Rielly told the organization that the good news for the broadcast industry is that there are important and vibrant opportunities ahead. “While the competitive marketplace may change around you and technology may continue to present challenges, you provide real value to the American public,” he said.

For local radio in particular, “your role in the community has never been more important, especially with the demise of so many newspapers.”

He touched on personal tragedy during the event by saying that a recent death in his family of his brother-in-law put a somber note on his appearance at the event.

But he closed by saying that this award would only serve to make him “work harder, smarter and longer to ensure that the American people are getting their money’s worth from the FCC.”

As president of the NYSBA, Donovan said that O’Rielly stands apart as one of the outstanding commissioners in the history of the FCC.  “He studies an issue in depth and then makes a principled decision,” Donovan said, saying O’Rielly has been a leader on a number of issues affecting New York broadcasters, including his championing of increased enforcement against illegal pirate radio operations.

Prior to being nominated by Pres. Barack Obama in 2013, O’Rielly served in key positions in the U.S. Senate, including as policy advisor in the Office of the Senate Republican Whip and as a professional staff member on the Committee on Energy and Commerce for the House.

 

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PBC Tests DRM for FM on a Consumer Receiver

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 14:00

On Oct. 17 Pakistan Broadcasting Corp. began DRM for FM test transmissions on a consumer receiver.

According to the DRM consortium, the public broadcaster is sending the DRM signal from its headquarters in Islamabad using a low power of 75 W. The signal reportedly reaches an area of between 5–10 kilometers around the city.

Pictured from left to right are Ghulam Mujaddid (PBC), Roman Afroz (HEDRA), Peter Timmons (GatesAir), Kamran Saeed and Nauman Jarral (PBC).

Broadcasting on 101.6 MHz and pushing from a single FM transmitter, the receiver auto tunes into three services — FM101 (entertainment), Dhanak (music) and Saut-ul-quran (religious). Additional text information including Journaline is also available.

For the trial, the PBC is using a GatesAir 1 kW Flexiva transmitter and Exgine card; an RF Mondial DRM Content Server and DRM+ professional receiver; a Label Italy Bay antenna system; and a Gospell consumer DRM receiver.

“The Gospell receiver, which originally worked on AM is now working on FM too,” noted DRM Chair Ruxandra Obreja. “This is a great step forward as it shows there can also be a commercial solution for DRM in FM. A similar test, which started this summer and continues in St. Petersburg, Russia, is also using a Gospell receiver.”

[Read: Solving the Medium-Wave Problem]

Hedra Technology, Fraunhofer IIS and the DRM international Consortium are collaborating on the project, which is managed by PBC specialists Kamran Saeed, director engineering; Ali Zia Abbasi, controller engineering and chairman DRM steering committee; Ghulam Mujaddid, engineering manager and DRM steering committee member; and Yasir Mustafa, engineering manager and DRM steering committee member.

DRM adds that in addition to Russia, Pakistan joins Indonesia and South Africa. Both of these countries have recently demonstrated DRM in the FM band as well.

 

The post PBC Tests DRM for FM on a Consumer Receiver appeared first on Radio World.


DABCAST Designed to Simplify DAB+ Implementation

Sun, 10/20/2019 - 00:00

Technical broadcast operator BCAST has debuted a new platform that is meant to help small and medium broadcasters implement the DAB+ standard, named DABCAST.

DABCAST supports the range of functionalities needed for digital radio creation from studio to broadcasting. This is done through its Virtual Studio web app, where multimedia content can be created and managed.

The cloud application MUX processes the radio streams and converts them into the appropriate format for DAB+; while the TX transmitter, a physical device that receives signal from the cloud, modulates it for final broadcast. The signal from the air is then analyzed by the DAB+ monitoring probe.

More information about DABCAST can be found here.

 

 

The post 
DABCAST Designed to Simplify DAB+ Implementation appeared first on Radio World.

USB C Audio Interfaces Come to Steinberg

Fri, 10/18/2019 - 15:13

Software developer and digital audio hardware maker Steinberg is expanding its line of portable and rackmountable digital audio interfaces with the UR-C line of USB C interfaces.

The UR-C family will initially offer two- (UR22C) and four-preamp (UR44C) models with a rackmountable eight-preamp (UR816C) model following. There’s also a “Recording Pack” bundle featuring the UR22C.

[Check Out More Products at Radio World’s Products Section]

All models offer 32-bit/192 kHz conversion, 48V phantom power, Neutrik analog combo connectors, Hi-Z switch, MIDI I/O, and software including REV-X Reverb, Channel Strip, Guitar Amp Classics, dspMixFx, Cubase AI and Cubasis LE. All are Windows-, Mac- and iOS-compatible.

The UR816C also offers word clock ADAT I/O for those with legacy equipment.

There is also a UR22C Recording Pack bundle version featuring all of the previously listed plus the ST-M01 condenser microphone (with cable) and ST-H01 headphones along with WaveLab LE software.

UR22C: $239; UR44C: $439; UR816C: $789; and UR22C Recording Pack: $439.

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Best of Show Up Close: Broadcast Partners Smart Processing

Fri, 10/18/2019 - 14:21

“Best of Show Up Close” is a series about participants in Radio World’s annual Best of Show at NAB Awards program.

Broadcast Partners nominated Smart Processing, a module of the company’s Smart Radio. SmartRadio is a cloud-based radio automation platform. We asked Rene van de Kolk, manager, R&D, Broadcast Partners, to explain.

Radio World: Smart Processing was a feature of your booth at NAB. For those who couldn’t attend, what is the product and what are its targeted uses?

Rene van de Kolk: Smart Processing provides three different cloud-based modulation-processing solutions: Basic, Medium and High-End. Smart Processing uses Orban back-end software solutions for this.

Smart Processing is a part of Broadcast Partners’ SmartRadio platform, and can be used in this full cloud- and web-based platform by integrating with the Smart Playout possibilities by using AoIP protocols. Smart Processing is hybrid, and thus also standalone, available outside the SmartRadio platform and can easily be connected with other existing playout services.

[Read: Best of Show Up Close: MaxxKonnect Wireless]

Smart Processing delivers excellent Orban modulation presets and a unique sound, with all of the presets that Orban has been offering the market or years.

Smart Processing is for the increasing online and digital radio market. Media companies all over the world are launching multiple subchannels as additions to their main brand. These can be for shorter periods or select certain seasonal theme such as summer, Christmas or Valentine’s Day or used for longer periods. Branded radio channels can be launched easily without investing in hardware units or upgrading server farms. So targeted users are media companies, radio stations and publishers who launch multiple online or digital (DAB+) radio stations.

RW: You describe SmartRadio as “radio as a service.” How does it differ from other offerings in this product class?

Van de Kolk: SmartRadio is 100% cloud- and web-based. All functionality can be used in a Chrome browser. Creating and producing content can be done easily, anywhere, anytime or any place. The only requirement is connectivity. SmartRadio is a beginning-to-end solution: using Smart Database with multiple metadata options that can be used for playout, cloud-based voice tracking, cloud-based multitrack editing without delay and pushed through Smart Processing to be published on multiple platforms online or digital radio, for example.

For online, the best CDN network from the Netherlands is fully integrated. In addition, the specially developed headend for DAB+ services, aXemble, is as-a-service available in SmartRadio. With these services our goal is to help existing and new media-organisations to innovate without the need of heavy investment. All services are available as-a-service with specific pricing per module. For the past two years, we developed this platform with eight developers at Broadcast Partners.

At NAB, IBC, Salon de Radio and Radiodays Europe we retrieved feedback from the market to develop customized solutions. This is possible because all services (also a full Smart Scheduler, or Smart Commercial Scheduler) are developed by thinking in micro-services terms. This means hybrid and flexible development in the most modern program code-language. Connections with other innovative parties is possible by using our API. In SmartRadio, connections with VMix, Beats Newsportal and Radio Manager are already made.

RW: What does SmartRadio cost? Is it available now?

Van de Kolk: SmartRadio is fully hybrid and can be used in all preferred setups. Licenses can be used as-a-service per month/radio channel and are customizable for one channel for one month in an existing cloud environment. This includes the Smart Database (including cloud-and web-based metadata-editor), Smart-Format Scheduler and Smart Non Stop Player (including four-channel cloud- and web-based editor). SmartRadio is available in public cloud-based environments but can also be installed in private cloud-based environments. All preferred connections and add-ons for services will increase the monthly fee.

Smart Processing, is also available. Licensing/pricing is based on an as-a-service model. For one radio station you pay the required service fee per month based on your preferences.

RW: More generally, what do you see as the most important trends or changes happening these days in how broadcasters are using the cloud?

Van de Kolk: Using AoIP solutions from companies such as Lawo, Ravenna, Telos Alliance and Dante [Audinate] but also virtualized complete productions environments. That’s also why our software-defined solutions are integrated in the different mixing console platforms, to provide a full screen-based user-experience in the future. By publishing multichannel, on different platforms, hybrid software solutions are important and are more flexible in terms of updates than ever before in the past. Relevant data from listeners is key if you want to stay relevant in the future, so collecting data and receiving clear insights is also a main trend, in my opinion.

 RW: What else should we know about this product or your company’s recent offerings?

Van de Kolk: Different modules are available. Innovation can therefore be done in different projects or trajectories. Our Smart Scheduler, is a full option format planner and can be connected to all big existing solutions when they are able to connect on API. A very impressive web-based user-experience in defining your format is possible.

The Future Best of Show Awards program honors and helps promote outstanding new products exhibited at industry conventions like the spring NAB Show. Exhibitors pay a fee to enter; not all entries win. Watch for more coverage of participating products soon. To learn about all of the nominees and winners, read the 2019 Best of Show Program Guide.

 

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MXL Releases Podcasting Bundle

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 18:43

Marshall’s microphone and accessories division MXL has packaged together some of its offerings into a podcasting bundle.

Called APS Podcasting Bundle, it consists of MXL’s BCD-1 dynamic broadcast microphone; its companion BCD-Stand; and the Mic Mate Pro XLR-USB digital audio interface/adaptor.

The heart of the bundle is the top-address BCD-1 microphone. It has a dynamic element, internal shockmount and tuned grille to combat unwanted noises. Its design aims to also have high side noise rejection.

The Mic Mate Pro offers gain and headphone controls with 16-bit 44.1/48 kHz conversion.

MXL Microphones Sales Director Trevor Fedele said, “In the last decade, podcasts have seen a huge surge in popularity, and our APS Podcasting Bundle provides the quality tools needed for those in this market. … With the creation of the APS Podcasting Bundle, studio-quality broadcasting technology is now within the reach of every recording enthusiast.”

 

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EuroDAB Italia Begins Airing BBC World Service

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 02:00
Eugenio Lateana, head of research and development for EuroDAB Italia (left); Federica Gentile, RTL 102.5 presenter (center); and Mary Hockaday, controller of BBC World Service English, announce the Italian launch of BBC World Service on the EuroDAB Italia multiplex.

MILAN — BBC World Service and EuroDAB Italia have entered into an agreement to broadcast the global network’s rich mix of BBC News, documentaries, business, sports, arts and science programs as a new service included in EuroDAB Italia’s DAB+ multiplex.

On Oct 9, Mary Hockaday, controller of BBC World Service English, and Lorenzo Suraci, president of EuroDAB Italia, officially launched the new service and presented the vision behind this agreement and their expectations for the future.

TRUSTED BRANDS

Mary Hockaday (left) and Lorenzo Suraci, EuroDAB Italia present, presented the vision behind the new agreement and their future expectations.

Although about 30% of Italians can speak some English, including a large part of the younger generation, no English-speaking service is at present broadcast in Italy on regular basis.

“We live in a world with an infinite number of information sources and making a choice among those sources often makes us feel confused,” Hockaday said. “It’s wonderful to have such a diversity, but in this surrounding noise actually many people seek trusted brands, and they seek media and information they can trust.”

According to Hockaday, trust is at the heart of what BBC and BBC World Service can offer, including “accurate and impartial means and good information.”

In a world where everyone can have on his or her smartphone a multitude of headlines and news from all over the world and from as many different sources, Hockaday emphasized how hard the BBC World Service works to provide their listeners with a rich editorial mix with news but also information on business, sports, culture, technology, politics and stories.

DIGITAL CAPABILITY

The BBC World Service logo displayed on a visual-capable DAB receiver tuned to the EuroDAB Italia multiplex.

“Whenever you turn on the radio, you will always find something engaging, informing, delighting and feeding curiosity within our offer ,” she concluded.

“We are very proud that BBC World Service choose the EuroDAB digital network to broadcast its content in Italy,” added Suraci. “It improves and extends the offer of the contents of our bouquet and helps the radio, in general, in an increasingly global world.”

DAB+ broadcasts are already available to 80% of Italians and that percentage is set to grow due to the Italian legislative requirement for all radios sold in Italy from Jan. 1 2020 to have digital capability.

[Read: Does 5G Make Sense for Radio?]

In Italy, 46% of new cars are now sold with DAB+ as standard, and according to the Italian media regulator AGCOM, radio is the second most frequently used media after television, while 68% of the population listens to radio for an average of 2.5 hours per day.

 

The post EuroDAB Italia Begins Airing BBC World Service appeared first on Radio World.

Tesla, Twain and McLane

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 18:28

RW Editor in Chief Paul McLane prepares for his time in the almost-Broadway lights with his fellow actors, Robert Alvey as Mark Twain and P.J. Ochlan as Nikola Tesla. They’ll be appearing in a special performance of “An Intimate Evening with Tesla and Twain” for an AES Show audience, Wednesday.

The post Tesla, Twain and McLane appeared first on Radio World.

15 Things You Can’t Miss at IBC2019

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 16:53

Would you like to get an early start on one of the industry’s biggest annual trade shows? Come along for a free webinar from Radio World International, hosted by editors Marguerite Clark and Paul McLane, on Sept. 4 at 3:30 p.m. CET.

Marguerite and Paul will provide a peek at new products they expect to create buzz; explore the newest digital radio sessions; and share what they’re hearing from our industry’s leaders about important tech developments and standards.

IBC is a huge and fabulous event, but it can also be daunting. With more than 55,000 attendees expected and more than 1,700 exhibitors covering 15 halls, the job of getting the most out of IBC2019 requires a lot of planning. Radio World International will help you learn about key pieces and products the show selected with the radio reader in mind.

The webinar was sponsored by: Comrex, Digigram, ENCO, GatesAir, Rohde & Schwarz, StreamGuys, The Telos Alliance, Veritone and Wheatstone.

NOW AVAILABLE HERE ON DEMAND

 

The post 15 Things You Can’t Miss at IBC2019 appeared first on Radio World.

Inside the October 9th Issue of Radio World

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 16:18

Find your modulation “sweet spot.” Build a solid-state mic preamp. Plan a visit to the WBA Broadcasters Clinic. Create a YouTube channel. And take a look inside the new studios of America’s top-billing radio station.

BROADCAST LAW
Radio Eyes Advantages of Deregulation

With the commission backing off numerous requirements, how will broadcast ownership groups respond?

FACILITY PROFILE
Inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center

Two dozen photos from Radio World’s recent video webcast tour of WTOP in Washington.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

 

The post Inside the October 9th Issue of Radio World appeared first on Radio World.

Inside the Oct. 16 Issue of RWEE

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 15:04

“Today, wiring changes are done with a mouse, making and breaking crosspoints in software.” If you are nodding in agreement, RW Engineering Extra is for you! Find out who said it by browsing your latest issue.

DIGITAL RADIO
Upgrading an AM to All-Digital: Why, How and Lessons Learned

Dave Kolesar and Mike Raide update you on the WWFD project.

YOUR CAREER
What Does “Value Engineering” Mean to You?

Sometimes, plans need to be adjusted to fit the available dollars.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

 

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