Radio World

Subscribe to Radio World feed
Updated: 46 min 45 sec ago

KDNK Organizes With ENCO

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 18:28

Public radio station KDNK(FM) in Carbondale, Colo., depends on ENCO Systems’ DAD automation to handle its library of tens of thousands of songs and elements along with scheduling programming. It’s especially crucial considering that most of the staff is volunteers lacking in-depth training.

A release explains, “DAD serves as a critical network hub that connects KDNK’s on-air studio, newsroom, production room, and program department.”

[Read: User Report: KHNS Derives Efficiency From ENCO DAD]

KDNK Music Director Luke Nestler said, “While our DJs allow our station to be live 18 hours per day, DAD makes it very easy to automate the playout of fresh music playlists overnight from midnight to 5 a.m., at which time it triggers a live NPR satellite feed of “Morning Edition.”

“For a station like ours with a very small paid staff, the automated functionality of ENCO’s Dropbox utility is a very big timesaver,” Nestler added. “Without it, we would have to handle ingesting shows as a manual process, while guarding against human error. As part of its overall functionality, DAD automates this entire process reliably the moment a new episode arrives.”

A particular highlight is DAD’s work with the station’s sound library. Nestler estimates that 88,000 pieces of music have been copied and organized into different libraries residing in their digital archive. These libraries span a wide range of musical tastes, including folk, rock n roll, bluegrass, country, soul, R&B, funk, hip-hop, and electronica along with one dedicated to elements and clips.

[Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

 

The post KDNK Organizes With ENCO appeared first on Radio World.

College Radio Day Approaches

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 17:17

The ninth annual College Radio Day is fast approaching. According to a release, the event “will unite over 360 college stations from 26 countries around the world to bring awareness to the work and value college stations bring to the broadcasting medium.”

Recently announced was the appointment of The Black Keys as the official ambassadors for the day. Black Key Pat Carney said, “The importance of college radio can’t be overstated. Dan [Auerbach] and I are proud to be the ambassadors of College Radio Day.” As ambassadors of the event, Carney has recorded an exclusive interview for college radio stations to play on the air during the day.

The group’s mist recent album received significant college radio play. It was on the top spot for five consecutive weeks on the North American College & Community Radio Chart, giving The Black Keys the title for NACC’s longest run in 2019.

[Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

The post College Radio Day Approaches appeared first on Radio World.

FCC Proposes Framework for Online Station Public Notices

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 15:54

The FCC has voted on a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing changes to update the FCC’s rules to bring broadcast application public notifications into the digital age.

TV and radio stations had been required to file “certain applications” in “a local newspaper,” or “on air” and in some cases both, depending on the type of application, the primary reason being to direct them to the station’s studio, where they could review the documents.

But with the rise of internet usage and the FCC’s migration of those station application documents from their studios to an online database (some written notice requirements remain), the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai said that needed to change and has now come up with a plan, which the commission adopted at the Sept. 26 open meeting and will still need to be subject for public comment before a final order is voted:

  • “Replace the newspaper publication requirement with written public notice posted online on a publicly accessible website (either the station’s site or an affiliated site) with a link to the application;”
  • “Simplify and standardize the public notice requirements for on-air announcements (they must direct the public to the FCC database);
  • “Clarify certain local public notice obligations, such as those pertaining to international broadcast stations and low-power FM stations;” and
  • “Streamline and update the commission’s rules concerning public notice for stations designated for hearing.”

“I am pleased that this item recognizes that local public notice of licensing activity is required by statute, and searches for ways to use modern tools to make it more effective,” said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. “Specifically, I support the item’s proposals to continue to require both on-air and written notice of certain licensing proceedings and questions on the best way to offer such notice online. I am hopeful that a robust record will develop on these issues.”

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said the FCC needs to eliminate or modify “all” government burdens on broadcasters so they can compete with unregulated competitors. He said he strongly supported the item and hopes the FCC can move to an order quickly. Commissioner Brendan Carr agreed. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called it a “smart update.”

[Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

 

The post FCC Proposes Framework for Online Station Public Notices appeared first on Radio World.

User Report: KHNS Derives Efficiency From ENCO DAD

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 15:44

HAINES, ALASKA — As the Voice of the Wilderness, public radio station KHNS(FM) has been broadcasting to the Alaskan Panhandle communities of Haines, Skagway and Klukwan since 1980. Situated near majestic mountains and the Upper Lynn Canal, our listener-supported station is a source of music, news and programming from networks such as NPR, BBC World News and Alaska Public Radio.

Our staff has been downsized from 10 to four full-timers over the years and our budget remains tight — now even tighter with Alaska vetoing public broadcasting funding in June. But we’ve managed to maintain a highly-efficient and reliable broadcast operation in large part due to our ENCO DAD radio automation system.

Over several generations and system upgrades, DAD has supported our operation in what I would call a flexible, hybrid configuration that lets us to choose when and how our station automates playout. While DAD is programmed to deliver our 24/7 playlist, we are only fully automated overnight and on the weekends. Since DAD continuously plays out our playlist as a background process, it’s always there and ready to go should we need it.

Like our turntables and CD players, DAD has its own slider on our control room board. At the start of their shifts, our DJs pot down DAD, do their live shows and then pot DAD back up when they’re finished. DAD plays any time there isn’t a DJ sitting at the board, running through a daily playlist that has backup programming if a volunteer can’t make a regularly hosted show.

This flexible DAD setup allows our DJs to deliver a fresh, original show, playing music from our two turntables and CD players — as well as a DAD mini-array — as they’ve always done, and more important, preserving our station’s unique, regional sound.

While we chose DAD for its comprehensive functionality, we’re still discovering valuable features and capabilities. One such recent upgrade is ENconveyor, which automates the download of audio files, such as syndicated shows, from various web or FTP sites on the internet, and delivers them to our DAD media library, with metadata.

DAD’s DropBox application, also a recent upgrade, scans a watch folder associated with our own FTP site. When new media files arrive, DropBox retrieves them according to rules-based criteria. Together, these two new features save considerable man-hours and labor.

The ability to access the DAD system remotely from any mobile connected device, is another big time-saver. For instance, for our 1950s big-band retrospective, “Melodies and Memories,” our producer can access the DAD system remotely, from a desktop application in her home, to upload the latest show for broadcast on Sundays at noon.

Whenever a problem occurs while I’m off-site, such as satellite network disruption or weather emergencies, I can remotely access DAD using an iPad or smartphone to turn on weather advisories or technical difficulties messages. That flexible remote accessibility eliminates the long drive to the station.

For every KHNS department, including KHNS Local News, DAD is a vital platform underlying all that we do on a daily basis. We find the ENCO DAD system to be reliable, user-friendly, intuitive and for our lean operation, crucial for delivering the on-air product that our listeners rely upon and enjoy.

For information, contact Ken Frommert at ENCO Systems in Michigan at 1-248-827-4440 or visit www.enco.com.

The post User Report: KHNS Derives Efficiency From ENCO DAD appeared first on Radio World.

Live From the Radio Show

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 13:17
The nationally syndicated “Bob & Tom Show” broadcasts from the Radio Show in Dallas on Wednesday morning. Photo: Paul McLane

The post Live From the Radio Show appeared first on Radio World.

BTS Explores Tech’s Role in Content Wars

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 11:54

What form will the next generation of broadcast architecture take? A technology committee organized by the National Association of Broadcasters is exploring that question; and its work will be one of the radio-friendly topics on the agenda of the upcoming IEEE Broadcast Symposium.

A closeup of the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford. The IEEE BTS Symposium will be held at a nearby hotel.

Highlights of the BTS include a series of talks about emergency alerting; a new “Women in the Industry” breakfast; and a discussion of new protection requirements for Class A AM stations. Further themes include 5G, ATSC 3.0, IT security and regulation.

The annual technical conference will be held over three days at the Hartford Marriott Downtown in Hartford, Conn., at the beginning of October. Below are highlights of likely interest to Radio World readers.

Michelle Munson keynotes Tuesday’s luncheon.

CONSUMER INTERFACE

On Tuesday Oct. 1, Michelle Munson, co-founder and CEO of Eluvio, will keynote. She founded Aspera and led it as CEO until May 2017, including through its acquisition by IBM. She speaks frequently about content networking, machine learning, block chain and cloud infrastructure.

Tuesday afternoon the focus turns to “the consumer interface.” Tim Carroll, senior director, sound technology for the office of the CTO at Dolby Laboratories, is among the presenters.

Tim Carroll will discuss new audio systems, part of an exploration of the “Consumer Interface.”

“When first speaking with Peter Symes, the chair of the ‘Consumer Interface’ sessions, I was thinking this was related to HDMI or WiFi or other such interfaces,” Carroll said. “In fact, the focus is on the technology/human interface and will include not just a description of specific technologies but more specifically how these technologies can improve experiences for consumers and what might be required from consumers to enable new features.”

For instance Carroll said his own talk about “New Audio Features” will explore technologies like immersive audio and how it can be delivered by Dolby Atmos, accessibility improvements such as dialog enhancement and how consumers will be able to make such features work to their benefit.

“Engineers will get a view of what the consumer side can support and what will be required to enable it upstream in the broadcast facility.”

He expressed amazement at how far consumer technology has progressed.

“Devices like sound bars have become smaller and cheaper and yet perform far better than their predecessors. They provide a consistent, compelling experience while requiring very little setup experience to get it right. This results in consumer environments that are higher quality and more predictable than ever before, making it easier for broadcasters to satisfy viewers — and listeners.”

“RELENTLESS” DISASTERS

Several presentations, also on Tuesday, will explore emergency alerting. Hasn’t this subject been covered in great detail already? We asked Matthew Straeb, EVP/CTO of Global Security Systems and Alert FM.

Three presentations on Tuesday will focus on emergency warning, with speakers from FEMA, the NAB and Global Security Systems. Shown is a promotional image for Alert FM from GSS.

“Last year’s relentless season of natural disasters, from hurricanes in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico, to wildfires in California, has solidified radio broadcasting as the last resort for sending out life-saving information when power, cell and internet fail,” he replied.

Matthew Straeb of Global Security Systems is chair of the Emergency Alerts and Information Working Group of the National Radio Systems Committee.

“The future of broadcasting, to remain relevant and avoid becoming a victim of spectrum grab by FCC and others, will depend on the validity of this outcome and entertainment value. The incredible benefit of sharing essential information with communities, residents, first responders and the rest of the nation using terrestrial radio has become an aid and lifeline.”

Reliability issues, Straeb said, can impair the effective delivery for emergency alerts, which are of little value when one’s smartphone has no service or a dead battery. “That’s where FM broadcasting’s ubiquitous and pervasive infrastructure remains valuable.” He said he’ll describe building blocks of a nationwide network and a path for the consumer electronics industry to integrate emergency alerts into products and make it easily accessible for Americans.

Straeb said the most important challenge facing the U.S. radio industry is the relevance of terrestrial radio listening in the car.

“As Americans move from terrestrial to online listening, how does radio continue to stay top of mind as you cross that divide from terrestrial to online? There is a plethora of content competition. If we lose the terrestrial radio platform or it becomes diluted we are at risk,” he said.

“That’s why we believe the promotion of the radio platform for emergency alerts is critical. It’s one reason we created the NRSC ‘Emergency Alerts and Information Working Group,’ to assimilate the value proposition of radio for saving lives. As chair, I would invite any interested persons to join.”

MORE CAPACITY

Alan Jurison, who by day is senior operations engineer for iHeartMedia, chairs radio sessions offered on Wednesday morning.

“Several of the papers are focusing on next-generation transmission methods for radio,” he said.

“David Layer of NAB and Harvey Chalmers of Xperi will discuss the lab results of MP11, an exciting new extended hybrid mode enabled by fourth-generation HD Radio transmission hardware. It adds an additional 24 kilobits per second to the hybrid signal, for a total of 144 kbps of transmission capacity. The lab testing of this mode was critical before the industry moves to field trials.”

David Layer of NAB and Harvey Chalmers of Xperi will discuss lab results of MP11, a new extended hybrid mode enabled by fourth-generation HD Radio transmission hardware.

Jurison said that with more broadcasters employing MP3 mode for additional digital capacity and with the MP11 mode showing promising results, a presentation by Philipp Schmid of Nautel is timely. He will delve into peak power reduction for extended IBOC service modes.

Frank Foti of the Telos Alliance will offer “iMPX: Networked FM-Stereo Composite Connectivity,” discussing distribution of digital composite, or MPX. “This will be a growing trend over the years, as more functions we’ve typically relied on in hardware are moved to the cloud,” said Jurison.

Also on the docket is “Effective Monitoring and Protection Systems for Multiplexed TV and Radio Facilities” with Paul Shulins of Shulins Consulting and Jim Stenberg of American Tower.

“As we all know, everyone is tasked with more stations and sites than they once had,” Jurison said. “Comprehensive monitoring systems are essential to know about problems, hopefully before they exist, so you can be proactive, route around or fix the problem and keep your stations on the air and compliant.”

NEXT WAVE

Also Wednesday, Roswell “Roz” Clark, senior director of radio engineering at Cox Media Group, will discuss “Next-Generation Architecture for Radio.”

“Next Generation Architecture for Radio” is the theme for Roz Clark of Cox Media Group.

“The technology used for radio broadcasting has evolved significantly in recent years,” Clark said. “Advancements in content creation, digitization, HD Radio, metadata and display data have all been adopted and implemented into legacy systems. As the next wave of technology looms that includes virtualization and software-based systems, how will the infrastructure and content transport requirements be met to take advantage of these advanced technologies?”

He said the NAB Radio Technology Committee’s Next Gen Architecture Working Group is working with manufacturers, Xperi and broadcasters to answer that question.

“The presentation is an update on the ongoing efforts of this team. Engineers who are interested in what the future holds for the radio broadcast industry should find this topic interesting.”

Clark noted that radio engineering historically has benefitted from “adjacent” businesses that develop technical solutions that broadcasters then adopt and integrate into their own environment.

“Examples from the past include 66 blocks, data center servers, IP audio over computer networks, and software doing the work that was normally handled by discrete hardware,” he said. “What will it take to continue this trend of adoption to include cloud computing and virtualization? What are the requirements? How can products be designed to work together? Can the end result be easier to implement for everyone?”

Clark said that one of the most challenging issues related to the business of broadcast and technology is the human resources needed to take the business into the next generation.

“While technology continues to evolve and become cheaper, better and faster, the people that understand how to take advantage of these advancements and how they can be applied to broadcast are becoming rare. Attending events such as the IEEE-BTS Symposium is one of the ways to accelerate the knowledge needed for the future.”

Other talks of interest to radio engineers at BTS include “Real-Time Monitoring of RF System Performance” by Dan Glavin of Dielectric; “New Protection Requirements for Class A AM Stations” with Carl T. Jones; and a look at the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference from Winston Caldwell of Fox.

BTS features a number of session titles beyond radio. A sampler: “Reputation-based Network Selection in Multimedia IoT,” “Group-Oriented Broadcast of Augmented Reality Services over 5G New Radio,” “Networking Requirements for ATSC 3.0 Implementation,” “Security Provisions in ATSC 3 Studio-to-Transmitter Link Transport Protocol” and “Software Defined Systems — The Future Platform.”

A Women in the Industry breakfast will feature Jaclyn Pytlarz, senior engineer, Dolby Labs.

On Wednesday, BTS will feature its first “Women in the Industry” breakfast. Featured is Jaclyn Pytlarz, a senior engineer at Dolby Laboratories in Sunnyvale, Calif., where she has worked in Dolby’s Applied Vision Science group since 2014.

Keynoting the Wednesday lunch is Mark Schubin, a video tech expert who likes to say that among other career highlights, he hooked up the TV in Eric Clapton’s bedroom. Also relevant if perhaps less exciting, Schubin has multiple Emmys and is chairman of the ATSC board of directors.

CONTENT TIDAL WAVE

The event’s organizers see a clear need for an understanding of the kinds of technical topics explored at their annual event.

Jurison said the industry faces plenty of challenges, “from having long-term digital strategies to retain terrestrial listenership or convert them into streaming listeners, ensuring we keep driving results for our advertisers on both terrestrial and digital platforms.”

Tim Carroll echoed Matt Straeb’s earlier comment about content competition.

“Consumers have so many choices for the sources of content it is increasingly difficult to provide services that are differentiated,” he said. “Quality robbing loudness wars are becoming a thing of the past, so what can make a service stand out and attract and keep listeners? Perhaps new features that make content more exciting to consume can help. Can radio do this?

“I believe the answer is yes,” Carroll said. “Audio improvements and new features have thus far been aimed at improving video services but are equally applicable to radio.”

IF YOU GO

Where: Hartford Marriott Downtown, Hartford, Conn.

When: Oct. 1–3

Who: Industry professionals and academia seeking to collaborate on current and challenges in the field of broadcasting

How: bts.ieee.org/broadcastsymposium

How Much: $630 for IEEE/BTS members, $750 others; single-day passes and discounts for students, advance registration and Life Members are available

The post BTS Explores Tech’s Role in Content Wars appeared first on Radio World.

Radio Minerva Enters the Digital Age

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 11:40

ANTWERP, Belgium — On June 1, Antwerp-based local, independent radio station Radio Minerva went on air from a new studio, marking its entry in the digital domain.

Radio Minerva developed special large-format displays for the track time remaining countdown on USB and CD players. Credit: mmpress

“After 37 years we’re proud to enter a new chapter. Going digital was not obvious and required a heavy investment,” said Radio Minerva founder and station director Frank Boekhoff.

“Thanks to many volunteers, the new on-air studio puts Radio Minerva on the cutting edge of new technology, in line with our nine-year broadcast license.”

UNIQUE FORMAT

Radio Minerva began broadcasting in 1982, offering a specific musical format of hard-to-find oldies tracks, evergreens, crooners and hits from yesteryear. Today, the station holds the second spot in the over-55 age bracket, enjoying an audience share of 12.7% in Antwerp, according to the IPradio, CIM ratings March 2018–Feb. 2019.

Radio Minerva’s nonprofit organization counts over 5,000 contributing members. The plan to renovate the station’s studio and transmission chain was already included in Radio Minerva’s application for a new broadcast license in 2017, explicitly stating its intention to switch to a digital on-air set-up.

Patrick Thijs, Radio Minerva studio engineer, shows off the connection cables, which are color-coded to indicate functionality. Credit: mmpress

“The analog studio was no longer reliable, and our BCS broadcast console, despite several upgrades and refurbishments, was worn out,” continued Boekhoff. “We also wanted to expand the current 16-fader setup with extra faders, but that wasn’t possible with the current configuration.”

With a volunteer on-air staff ranging from the age of 51 to 85, the key issue of the new configuration had to be its usability. Boekhoff wanted to avoid seeing the station’s senior presenters walk away because of technical headaches.

Last November the station transferred its broadcast studio to temporary quarters, allowing the staff to concentrate on the refurbishment of the new on-air studio, while maintaining the normal programming on 98 MHz FM.

The station’s army of unpaid workers completely stripped Radio Minerva’s riverside studio and started redecorating and painting the building. They renewed all of the mains, network and audio cabling with dedicated color function codes in a clear structure. The introduction of AES digital audio also resulted in fewer cables. They also revamped the ceiling insulation and put LED lighting in place.

TECHNICAL SETUP

“We added new equipment and a new equipment room within the physical boundaries of our building,” said Boekhoff.

After a thorough product comparison of three brands of digital on-air consoles, Radio Minerva selected a DHD 52/SX console, in combination with an MX-core.

“We compared the systems, their user-friendliness, reliability, the distributor’s support and maintenance and options for future expansion,” said Patrick Thijs, Radio Minerva studio engineer.

“The DHD mixing desk came out best. We opted for a 16-fader 52/SX type, which we expanded with an extra four-fader module. We also selected an MX core for budgetary reasons — the more powerful DHD 52/MX console came out quite expensive. Distributor Amptec suggested that we configure an MX core for the SX console.” Thijs added that the 20-fader layout also met the station’s initial requirements to manage the different audio sources.

[Read: Nostalgie Vlaanderen Goes to the Beach]

With a unique musical genre like Radio Minerva, the use of vintage vinyl records required the implementation of high-quality Technics SL 1200 turntables (connected to the DHD by means of a Sonifex RB-PA2 dual-stereo RIAA phone amplifier) and a Tascam MD-301 MkII MiniDisc player in the configuration.

“In the process of the rebuilding of our studio, we prioritized the requirement that the studio had to be backward compatible, with the ability to play different formats like the almost-obsolete MiniDisc, or vinyl,” said Boekhoff.

Radio Minerva’s New On-Air Studio Credit: mmpress

TRAINING SESSIONS

“In the early days of the station, the bulk of the audio was played from vinyl. From data we supplied to the artists’ rights association, SABAM, we learned that, today only about 70% of our playlist is recognized by the association’s software, meaning some of the tracks are very rare. The remainder of our repertoire is made up of vintage recordings, special tracks and hard-to-find vinyl. Today, however, we are seeing more DJs transfer these tracks to USB.”

Radio Minerva decided to continue using its Carmen Server radio automation software developed in house by Thijs for music scheduling, and Traktor F1 controller pad from Native Instruments for commercials.

The station equipped the on-air presenter desk with three Denon DN-500 USB players and three Denon DN-700C CD players, digitally connected via AES to the DHD core.

“Because of the poor readability of the ‘remaining time’ display on the Denon players, we decided to develop a prototype display with a micro-PC gathering data from the players and displaying them in big characters,” added Thijs.

DJ Eddy De Schutere trains in the new on-air studio. Credit: mmpress

“To facilitate the use of headphones when playing audio from a laptop, we put in place an extra patch panel with a laptop connection and a soundcard routed to the DHD console with two channels for monitoring the input signal.” The extra patch panel also features a standard output connection for TV crews when filming in the studio.

“The big advantage with this DHD setup is that we can add extra sources via snapshots, no need to change plugs,” continued Thijs. “And, even more important, with more than 40 DJs and presenters, we have an accessible working spot, offering all faders and controls — all other features like microphone settings, user profiles are locked.”

In the weeks prior to the launch of the new on-air studio, all of the Radio Minerva presenters were invited to participate in “hands-on” training sessions with the new gear.

TRANSMISSION CHAIN

A pair of KRK Rokit RP8 G3 active studio monitors and a Telos Hx1 telephone hybrid completed the new setup, with one Neumann TLM 103 and four Røde NT1 mics as standard, expandable with three Shure SM58 mics for presentations and concerts in the studio. The fanless, noise-free air-cooled DHD core was placed in the on-air studio, saving money on buying CAT-6 cables since fewer were required.

All of the production and editing computers were linked in a Dante network. Thijs and Boekhoff emphasized that also here budget and reliability were key in the choice for Dante, with the stability of the protocol and the lower cost of extra drivers playing a role.

With two new DEVA DB8008 silence monitors, one in the equipment room and one at the transmitter site, Radio Minerva safegu

The station’s volunteer workers renovated the whole studio. Station Director Frank Boekhoff is pictured second from left. Credit: Radio Minerva

arded its output continuity. In case of mains problems, three Eaton PX5 UPS devices of 3000 VA each guarantee 90 minutes of power supply.

“The DHD’s on-air signal is channeled via AES to the DEVA monitor and a BW Broadcast Ariane Encore audio leveler. The digital output is then routed to an Omnia One processor from where the MPX output is connected with a studio-to-transmitter link. A DEVA SmartGen 5.0 RDS encoder completes the chain. At present we only add RDS data during the station’s night programs,” said Thijs.

“The Omnia One’s low-latency output is divided into

Presenter Wilfried Vriens kicks off his program in the new studio on June 1. Credit: Radio Minerva

three signals by means of a Sonifex RB-DA6G distribution amplifier. One signal is rerouted to the DHD console for full monitoring with audio processing, a second signal goes to a Telos ProStreamer for our internet streaming, and a third signal is serving the monitoring in the equipment room.”

Radio Minerva’s signal is transmitted via a digital transmission system studio-to-transmitter link to the station’s BW Broadcast TX2500 v2 transmitter on top of the Antwerp Crown

Plaza hotel. This guarantees optimal coverage of the greater Antwerp area.

The new studios were inaugurated on June 1, when Radio Minerva invited personalities and presenters to visit the new on-air landscape.

“I’m happy that our new radio studio is up-to-date and future proof,” concluded Frank Boekhoff. “Thanks to the work of our many volunteers, we have been able to keep the budget within limits — otherwise this project would have not been possible.”

The post Radio Minerva Enters the Digital Age appeared first on Radio World.

User Report: Arrakis Digilink Evolves Through the Years

Tue, 09/24/2019 - 19:33

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W. VA. — In late 2006 or thereabouts I was asked by a colleague to help him select an automation program to recommend to one of his client stations that was looking to automate its talk format. He presented me with literature from Arrakis Systems on the Digilink-Xtreme automation product. After thoroughly reading the literature and going online to investigate further, I was sold on the system.

We then commenced planning the installation and programming of the system. We of course got the satellite package since most satellite delivered programming was already provided with automation cues. I found the instruction manual to be complete and easy to understand. After some experience with the system I found it to be self-intuitive to program. I understand that the system continues to perform flawlessly at that station.

In 2008 I was asked to recommend an automation system to one of my clients and, of course, I recommended the Arrakis Digilink-Xtreme. Again as in the first installation, I was impressed as was the client, especially with the ability not only to automate their talk format but to automate pro baseball, pro and college football and basketball games and the ability to handle baseball rain delays without human assistance.

In 2016, I was asked by the folks at Shepherd University for a recommendation for an automation system to replace the existing system they had at WSHC(FM). I recommended the Arrakis Digilink-HD system because of the newer features included in the software.

The system was quite easy to install, just like Digilink-Xtreme and as easy to program. Fortunately, I was forward thinking and insisted that they order the package that included the Bridge Switcher, a hardware matrix box originally designed to interface with multiple satellite feeds. I figured WHSC should have the ability to place any of their three studios on air if need be. In 2017, they were able to make an arrangement with West Virginia Public Broadcasting to carry much of their programming.

In 2018 Arrakis Systems announced a new automation program called Apex that looked to be cost-effective, and offered more features than Digilink-HD and Xtreme. After talking to the company’s Melissa Freeman and Ben Palmer, I recommended to WSHC management that they transition to Apex. I am happy to say that Apex has been all it was supposed to be and more. The transition to Apex occurred in short order one afternoon while we aired programming from the satellite receiver through the studio console.

In less than an hour, we were back on the air with Apex software running the show.

Yes, we have had some minor problems arise from time to time. However, we have never been off the air due to an automation problem. When we have had an issue that we couldn’t resolve on our own, Arrakis Customer Support came to the rescue. I can’t brag enough about Arrakis Customer Support. They have been the nicest people to work with, extremely knowledgeable and in all ways very attentive to customer needs. Hats off to all the employees at Arrakis Systems.

For information, contact Ben Palmer at Arrakis Systems in Colorado at 1-970-461-0730 or visit www.arrakis-systems.com.

The post User Report: Arrakis Digilink Evolves Through the Years appeared first on Radio World.

SBE to Coordinate With DOD on Select RF

Tue, 09/24/2019 - 19:13

The Society of Broadcast Engineers has announced that it has reached an agreement to provide spectrum coordination services for the Department of Defense in the 2025–2110 MHz/2 GHz range. That range is a slice of the Broadcast Auxiliary Service Spectrum. It also includes some civilian mobile,  military and other federal activities such as NASA communications.

The DoD is developing and deploying training systems that will be active in that range in a number of locations across the country. Since it is shared spectrum, the department wanted to avoid disruption of the services as well as disrupting civilian and commercial services also using that range.

That particular range is used by radio and TV stations, notably STLs/TLSes, auxiliary broadcasting such as translators, cable TV relays and more. After consultation with the SBE along with the National Association of Broadcasters the department has entered into an agreement with the SBE for the broadcast engineering association to provide nationwide frequency coordination services.

According to a release the SBE board of directors approved the agreement in April. The association has selected the broadcast consulting firm Technical Broadcast Solutions. Its principal is R.J. Russell, CPBE, a 20-year member of the SBE. He was most recently also SBE national vice president and chair of its Frequency Coordination Committee.

SBE President Jim Leifer said, “Part of the SBE’s mission is to create working alliances within the broadcast industry and with those who work in our space. Entering into this agreement serves to protect broadcaster’s use of spectrum and provides a needed service to our government. I am pleased that we are able to partner with the DoD’s prime contractor in this effort.”

[Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

The post SBE to Coordinate With DOD on Select RF appeared first on Radio World.

AM Station Hit with $15,000 Forfeiture After Public File Lapse

Tue, 09/24/2019 - 12:15

A heavy monetary forfeiture in the amount of $15,000 has been laid at the doorstep of a Virginia AM station after a series of alleged public file violations.

The Federal Communications Commission said that Hubbard’s Advertising Agency Inc., which is licensee of station WLLL(AM) in Lynchburg, Va., violated two sections of FCC Rules by failing to prepare required quarterly issues/programs lists and failing to upload that information into the station’s online public inspection file (OPIF).

In response, the company said the oversite was not intentional. The company’s owner, 92-year-old Fletcher Hubbard, is not computer literate, the letter said, and did not understand how to access WLLL’s online pubic file “let alone how to upload documents to the file.”

[Read: Small AM Station Hit With Violation Notice Over Tower and Station ID]

The FCC recently reviewed its public inspection file rules, which state that commercial broadcast licensees must maintain a public inspection file that details community-oriented programs that the station has covered during a three-month period. That list must include a narrative of the issues that were addressed as well as the time, date, duration and title of each program. Those issues and program lists must then be placed in the station’s public file and be kept while the station’s license renewal application is being considered.

The filing system was modernized in 2016 when the commission voted to update the OPIF Rule so that all public inspection files were uploaded to an online database. As of March 1, 2018, all broadcast radio stations were required to post all public file material (except certain political file info) in that file.

As station WLLL began compiling information for its license renewal application, it answered “no” when asked if documents had been properly placed in the station’s public inspection file at the appropriate times.

“[Hubbard’s] adult children, who recently begun to assist him in the operation of the station, have searched for such issues and programs lists and were unable to find any,” the licensee said in an letter to the FCC. “Going forward the licensee’s children intend to make certain that the station complies with all FCC requirements including uploading issues and programs lists to the station’s public file when due.”

But the FCC expressed no inclination to be lenient. “Where such lapses occur, neither the negligent acts or omissions of station employees or agents, nor the subsequent remedial actions undertaken by the licensee, excuse or nullify a licensee’s rule violation,” the commission said in response.

The commission has established a base forfeiture amount of $10,000 for those stations that fail to maintain a public file and an additional $3,000 for failing to upload required information, although the commission has been known to adjust that forfeiture upward or downward after considering the gravity of the violation and any previous offenses.

The FCC decided that a $15,000 forfeiture was appropriate for the licensee’s failure to prepare and upload quarterly issues and programs lists — in part because the public file violations were “extensive and not remediable” and occurred across two successive license terms.

“Notwithstanding the licensee principal’s advanced age, it is a licensee’s responsibility to comply with commission rules,” the Media Bureau said.

But even though the licensee’s violations were deemed as “serious violations,” they do not rise to the point that the FCC decided to outright deny the station’s license renewal. The commission decided instead to approve a short-term license renewal to ensure the licensee complies with the public file rules moving forward.

[Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

 

The post AM Station Hit with $15,000 Forfeiture After Public File Lapse appeared first on Radio World.

WBU Warns C-Band Reallocation Could “Compromise” Broadcasters

Mon, 09/23/2019 - 19:58

As the FCC and other global organizations discuss the potential reallocation of C-band spectrum to assist with the deployment and performance of 5G technologies, the World Broadcasting Unions has released its official position on what any reallocation of the spectrum used for Fixed-Satellite Services would mean for TV and radio broadcasters around the world. In short, WBU believes it would be a significant issue.

“The recent regulatory inquiries by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on the potential reallocation of some of the existing C-band downlink allocation (5G services) is a concern for the members of the WBU,” the organization’s position paper reads. “Given the ubiquitous use of C-band spectrum around the world and its potential to provide new services, such U.S. regulatory activity will likely be pursued by other administrations. Any subsequent proposals to globally harmonize the use of these frequencies above 3600 MHz for IMT, argued for on the basis of national reallocations, do not reflect the realities of global satellite service usage.”

[Read: NAB’s McFadden Warns Against Negotiating Available C-Band Spectrum]

Among the primary concerns of the WBU in the event of spectrum reallocation is the potential compromise of existing distribution and collection systems both domestically and internationally. It believes this could be particularly impactful in countries with equatorial geography and high rainfall, which often don’t have viable FSS spectrum alternatives to provide the same level of performance. WBU also contends that some direct-to-home services using C-band in these regions could be affected.

The WBU also worries that in the event of reallocation for the downlink C-band spectrum, the “twinned” uplink C-band frequencies may also be tapped at some point for reallocation.

“In all likelihood, harm will be done to existing C-band users and the solutions will compromise service reliability and increase the costs to the broadcast community,” WBU states.

“While improvements in satellite technology have made the use of C-band spectrum by broadcasters more efficient and effective for both content collection and distribution, there has been real C-band traffic growth over the years, which makes this spectrum crucial to broadcasters today as it was 50 years ago.”

[Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

 

The post WBU Warns C-Band Reallocation Could “Compromise” Broadcasters appeared first on Radio World.

Court Sends FCC Back to Drawing Board on Media Ownership

Mon, 09/23/2019 - 15:54

The issue of media ownership is back in the headlines after a federal appeals court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission “overstepped” in its recent media ownership rule changes, failing adequately to consider the effect on women and racial minorities.

The decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals comes after a review of the FCC’s 2016 quadrennial review order on broadcast ownership rules.

Back in 2017, the commission voted along party lines to eliminate the ban on cross-ownership of newspaper and TV stations in major markets, to ease the process for media companies to buy additional TV stations in a market, to allow local stations to jointly sell advertising time, and to let companies buy additional radio stations in some markets.

But in a ruling Monday, the appeals said it would vacate and remand the bulk of the FCC’s actions, sending it back to the commission for further consideration.

Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the court was right to reject Republican-led attempts to loosen restrictions. “Media ownership matters because what we see on our screens says so much about who we are as individuals, as communities and as a nation,” she said. “But over my objection, the FCC has been busy dismantling the values embedded in its ownership policies. Today, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.”

The National Association of Broadcasters called the decision disappointing.

“The media marketplace has undergone massive changes over the past few decades, let alone since 2004,” said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton. “It’s shocking that the same panel of judges has supplanted Congress’ and an expert federal agency’s views with its own for more than 15 years.”

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly was of a similar mind and urged Chairman Pai and the Trump administration to take the case to the Supreme Court. “For too long, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has abused the statute and defied common sense as it pertains to media ownership limitations. It is clear that no argument, formula or well-reasoned reform can satisfy the majority’s wrong-headed demands, guaranteeing the complete preservation of the broken and outdated status quo,” O’Rielly said in a statement. He called it “a classic case of judicial activism and legislating from the bench that further justifies the ongoing fight for reforming the judiciary.”

The ruling is the latest in a long-running series of skirmishes between the court and the commission.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today accused the court of blocking attempts to modernize regulations to match the “obvious realities” of the modern media marketplace.

“It’s become quite clear that there is no evidence or reasoning — newspapers going out of business, broadcast radio struggling, broadcast TV facing stiffer competition than ever — that will persuade them to change their minds,” he said in a statement, adding that the commission nevertheless plans to appeal.

Pai also noted dissenting views expressed by Judge Anthony Joseph Scirica.

Scirica said that while he joined his colleagues in their rejection of part of the order that relates to the FCC’s incubator program as well as parts that deal with the Local TV Rule, he does not share the conclusion that the current FCC orders are arbitrary and capricious.

“In my view, the FCC balanced competing policy goals and reasonably predicted the regulatory changes dictated by the broadcast markets’ competitive dynamics will be unlikely to harm ownership diversity,” Scirica said. “I would allow the rules to take effect and direct the FCC to evaluate their effects on women- and minority-broadcast ownership in its 2018 quadrennial review.”

That leaves the commission with a decision on how to proceed. The 2018 Quadrennial Review is underway, and that process relies upon much of the same analysis as the orders vacated by the court, said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks in a statement.

“The court here suggests that ‘new empirical research’ may be required to fully satisfy our rulemaking requirements,” he said. “I wholeheartedly agree. Needless to say, today’s decision will require us to go back to the drawing board.”

[Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

 

The post Court Sends FCC Back to Drawing Board on Media Ownership appeared first on Radio World.

EEO Supporters Oppose Any Big Change in Threshold

Mon, 09/23/2019 - 13:57

Don’t eviscerate EEO rules for broadcasters.

That’s part of the message to the FCC from a group of organizations that support equal employment opportunity rules.

The FCC invited comments on how to improve EEO enforcement in broadcasting. The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council submitted a set of five proposals on behalf of itself and 36 other organizations. But they emphatically argued against an idea put forth recently by a group of 82 broadcasters that would raise the current threshold at which EEO requirements kick in from five full-time employees to 50; the supporters told the FCC that this idea “would put an end to most broadcast EEO enforcement.”

“The 82 broadcasters declare that 50 employees is ‘the number regarded by the human resources profession as demarcating smaller from large for the purposes of hiring a human resources manager,’” the EEO supporters wrote.

[Read: 82 Broadcasters Want to Change the Definition of a Small Station]

“What the 82 broadcasters overlook is the fact that the amount of ‘paperwork’ the FCC requires that does not have to be done anyway as part of any business’ routine personnel functions requires far less time than a full-time employee’s 40 hours per week. In fact, it is exactly the same work that routine recruitment entails: maintaining an email list, hitting a key to send out job notices and posting the notices online — while also ensuring that the posts and job notices are widely accessible and that records of the postings are maintained in the (very rare) event of an FCC audit. This additional ‘burden’ requires more like 40 seconds per week than 40 hours per week.”

The EEO supporters argue that compliance is not arduous and that over five decades, “not a single broadcaster credibly claimed that it suffered any material financial hardship because of the need to comply with the EEO rule. Nor did any broadcaster ever claim that the rule was too dense for it to comprehend.”

They argue that few radio stations and only about half of all television stations employ more than 50 people full-time. “In several states, every radio and nearly every television station would be EEO-exempt. Nearly all noncommercial radio and television stations nationwide would be exempt.

The effect of exempting so many broadcasters from EEO compliance would be devastating, they wrote. “Many broadcast careers begin in small stations. Cutting off EEO protection at these points of entry would have a ripple effect on the rest of the industry. Large broadcasters that do not discriminate would have less diverse, and thus less talented pools of trained applicants from which to draw.”

Finally, they wrote, “the idea that a broadcaster of any size greater than ‘mom and pop’ should be exempt from EEO compliance is deeply flawed and troubling. Broadcast ownership is a privilege that necessarily includes EEO compliance; ownership coupled with nondiscrimination is not a ‘burden.’ Discrimination is a burden.”

The EEO supporters took no position on two other suggestions from the 82 broadcasters, one that would require online posting of all full-time job openings by all licensees of any size including those with fewer than the current threshold of five full-time employees, and another that would have EEO reports filed by “entities” cover entire markets, to avoid a practice by some broadcasters of creating several small entities, each with fewer than five employees.

The supporters listed five priorities of their own. They told the FCC that:

  • EEO data should be gathered as necessary for research on industry trends and EEO program effectiveness.
  • EEO data should be requested from licensees “found to have failed to engage in the broad recruitment (e.g., via internet postings) that is required by current FCC precedent.” They said that failure to do so means that a licensee recruited primarily by word of mouth, which “has been deemed to constitute a racially discriminatory scheme when performed from a homogeneous staff.”
  • Renewal applications and EEO audits should include a certification that job postings occurred before hiring decisions were made; they said this certification is common in other industries.
  • The FCC/EEOC Memorandum of Understanding should be updated to ensure that the FCC immediately audits employment units that receive EEOC probable cause determinations.
  • And “the commission should open an inquiry … into the pattern of consistently very low representation of minorities in radio news.”

Among the organizations in the MMTC filing are the NAACP, National Urban League, American Indians in Film and Television, Japanese American Citizens League, League of United Latin American Citizens, LGBT Technology Partnership and Institute, and 30 other diversity-oriented organizations.

“Inasmuch as the FCC’s record on EEO enforcement has not been refreshed in detail since 2004, the 37 EEO supporters appreciate this long-awaited opportunity for the commission to complete the unfinished work from its 1998 proceeding on EEO enforcement,” they wrote.

[Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

 

The post EEO Supporters Oppose Any Big Change in Threshold appeared first on Radio World.

Construct an EAS Receive Loop Antenna

Mon, 09/23/2019 - 11:57

Ken Beckwith is a field engineer with EMF based in Nebraska. Being a hands-on engineer, Ken has done his share of construction over the years. One of his projects was the construction of an octagonal-shaped AM loop EAS antenna using PVC pipe.

Fig. 1: The completed loop antenna.

Before you begin this project, check out the completed antenna, shown in Fig. 1. The visual will help you piece all the angled elbows and tees together.

Note that to improve the strength of the loop, Ken added a piece of conduit down its middle.

Construction starts with one tee, to which you attach two 4-inch pieces to the arms of the tee. The 2-1/4-inch piece attaches to the bottom of the tee. The 90-degree elbow attaches to the other end of the 2-1/4-inch piece, but save that step until later.

Two 45-degree elbows attach to the 4-inch pieces so they lay flat. This is so the “tail” of the tee is at 90 degrees, as shown in Fig. 2. The 9-1/2-inch pieces of PVC attach to the elbows next. Then, another set of elbows and another set of 9-1/2-inch pieces.

Fig. 2: Two elbows attach to the 4-inch pieces so they lay flat. The “tail” of the tee is at 90 degrees.

Continue with a third set of elbows, and the 9-1/2-inch pieces. Attach the 2-1/8-inch pieces to the last elbows. The “tee box” is connected to the 2-1/8-inch pieces, so the bottom of the tee sticks up parallel with the tee at the top of the antenna.

Attach the 23-1/4-inch piece to the 90-degree elbow, mentioned above, and then attach the other end of the elbow to the 2-1/4-inch piece on the top tee. Position it so the bottom end will connect to the remaining tee at the tee box.

Attach the 2-inch piece to the tail of the remaining tee, then connect it to the 23-1/4-inch piece so the 2-inch piece fits down into the bottom of the tee on the tee box, as shown in Fig. 3.

Fig. 3: The 2-inch piece fits down into the bottom of the tee on the “tee box.”

Attach the remaining piece of conduit to the other end of the tee, and attach the end cap to the end of that piece, to complete construction. Assemble the parts without glue, first. Once everything is fitted properly, use PVC cement to make a permanent bond.

After the glue is dry, fish a pull string through the conduit loop. A vacuum cleaner will make the job easier. Tie the Belden cable to the end of the pull string, and secure with electrical tape. Pull the cable through the pipe.

Strip the jacket off both ends of the cable and unwrap the shielding foil from each of the three pairs, and from both ends. Cut the shield wires off only one end of the cable. Join the ground wires at the other end together. Take the red wire next to the shields and lay it with the shields. It will be connected later. Take the other end of the red wire and connect it to the opposite end of the black wire paired with it. You’ll want to solder these connections, and cover them with a short piece of heat shrink or electrical tape. You will be making a six-turn coil using the multi-pair wires.

Now take the other end of that black wire, described above, and connect it to the white wire on the opposite side. The second end of the white wire connects to the black wire of the same pair at the first end. That black wire then connects to the green wire on the opposite side. The second end of the green wire then connects to the opposite end of the black wire it is paired with. The second end of the black wire connects to ground along with all of the shields.

Confusing? Fig. 4 gives you a visual of the connections.

Figs. 4a and 4b: A visual representation of the wiring connections to form a six-turn loop antenna, and a closeup identifying the wire colors.

Once the connections are made, connect the shields and the black wire from the opposite side to ground using a 3/8-inch ring connector. That is held in place using the nut securing the F connector barrel to the tee-box housing.

Fig. 5: All of the wiring connections, as well as the ground for the F-connector, are made in the tee-box.

The antenna has a broad coverage angle with a deep null when the antenna is broadside to the signal. Aim the “edge” of the loop toward the AM station you want to receive. The strongest signal will be received when the antenna end or edge is pointing to the signal source. The antenna can be mounted on a mast with U-bolts, hose clamps or whatever else works.

Here’s the construction parts list:

A 10-foot length of 3/4-inch diameter, schedule 40 PVC conduit cut into the following lengths:

2 – 4-inch
1 – 2-inch
1 – 2-1/4-inch
2 – 2-1/8-inch
6 – 9-1/2-inch
1 – 23-1/4-inch

Whatever is left over can be discarded, but before making your cuts, cut the flared end off, so all cuts are even.

1 –  3/4-inch 90 degree elbow
2 – 3/4-inch tee
8 – 3/4-inch 45 degree elbows
1 – 3/4-inch cap
1 – 3/4-inch tee box, plastic, with weatherproof gasket
1 – 7-foot piece of Belden 8777 or other three-pair shielded cable
3 – 7-foot single-pair shielded cables can substitute for Belden 8777
PVC primer and cement
Wire nuts or other connectors
1 – 3/8-inch ring terminal
F connector barrel with nut

Fig. 6: The completed antenna, showing the F-connector on the tee box.

Share your tips with other engineers in the pages of Workbench while qualifying for SBE recertification credit. Send your tips and high-resolution photos to johnpbisset@gmail.com.

Author John Bisset has spent 50 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles western U.S. radio sales for the Telos Alliance. He holds CPBE certification status with the SBE and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.

The post Construct an EAS Receive Loop Antenna appeared first on Radio World.

Historic Woofferton Boasts a Modern Twist

Mon, 09/23/2019 - 11:20

WOOFFERTON, England — Nestled in the beautiful Shropshire countryside, just a few miles from England’s border with Wales, is the tiny village of Woofferton. That name is synonymous with shortwave radio for millions of listeners around the world as just a short distance from the village itself, lays the United Kingdom’s last remaining public service shortwave transmitting station.

Antenna switches in the field feed the HF curtain arrays.

Now owned and operated by Encompass Digital Media, Woofferton recently celebrated its 75th birthday. Built in 1943, the station has a fascinating history; originally designed to bolster the BBC’s General Overseas Service (now the World Service) during the latter years of World War II, it was later partly funded by the United States and was used extensively by the Voice of America to broadcast into Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union during the cold war years. Today, Woofferton transmits programs for the BBC and a number of other international broadcasters, reaching audiences across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

OPERATIONS

Woofferton near Ludlow in Shropshire is the U.K.’s last shortwave broadcasting station.

There are 10 high-power HF transmitters at Woofferton. They range from Marconi senders of various vintages, including two BD272 250 kW units that date back to the 1960s, to the more recent 300 kW B6124 solid-state transmitters, and four of the most modern RIZ 250K01 wideband systems, which are also capable of operating in Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) mode. In fact, the BBC’s daily DRM transmission for Europe is broadcast from here.

Outside in the antenna field, there are 35 shortwave curtain arrays (aerials) supported by 25 masts. Most of the antennas can be operated in full or half-curtain mode, depending on the coverage required, and can be electronically steered (slewed) to beam transmissions in a variety of directions. This is done by varying the phase of the signal and feed points to the antenna, rather than by physical movement.

The Duty Room has visibility of all of the station’s transmission systems, and executive control of the broadcast schedule.

The Woofferton team numbers some 14 staff, comprising of broadcast engineers, maintenance technicians, mechanical and electrical engineers, riggers (antenna specialists) as well as providing an outpost for Encompass’ International Operations team. The station’s facilities and location make it an excellent logistical base for the testing, servicing and deployment of a wide range of satellite receivers and FM radio transmission systems which are installed at hundreds of BBC FM relays and partners around the world.

A Marconi BD272 250 kW sender, one the station’s oldest transmitters, is still in regular daily use.

Woofferton has one of most modern and flexible transmission control systems in the world, allowing the entire facility to be remotely controlled and monitored by Encompass’ MCR in London, over 150 miles away. At around 5 p.m. each evening, the Woofferton engineers handover control to the nightshift in London and until 8 a.m. the next morning, the whole operation is fully automated.

MCR engineers in London can take control at any time however and remotely power up and tune the transmitters and then switch the output to any of the available antennas in just a few minutes. This capability is particularly useful if another transmitter fails and an alternative resource is required at very short notice. This flexibility means that scheduled broadcasts from other international sites, such as from Ascension Island, the Middle East and even Singapore, can be “covered” from Woofferton, minimizing the impact on listeners if a breakdown occurs.

MAINTENANCE

A shortwave transmitter station is a complex mix of engineering disciplines — from high-voltage electricity and radio frequency and traditional audio engineering, through to modern computer processors, which run the station’s automation and control systems.

Throughout a typical day, the duty engineers coordinate any changes to the transmission schedule, which may be required to allow maintenance and repairs to be carried out.

Non-radiating towers support the latticework of HF curtain antennas.

Ensuring the safety of staff working inside the transmitter enclosures and outside on the antennas is essential: a safety lock out system is used to isolate the equipment to be worked on, with unique physical “keys” and interlocks needed to make sure systems cannot be used or become live until the engineers and riggers are safely clear of high voltages and radiating elements.

Surprisingly maybe, the middle part of the day is one of the “quietest” periods at the site, as most transmissions take place during the early morning and evening, due to the time differences between the U.K. and audiences in Africa and the Middle East. This is therefore the ideal time to carry out routine maintenance to the transmitters, some of which are still going strong after 40 years of service thanks to the skills and expertise of the Woofferton engineers.

One of the station’s four RIZ 250 kW transmitters that is used daily for the BBC’s DRM transmission to Europe.

They need a carefully planned regime of regular checks and preventative work to keep them on the air, as well as some tender loving care — something which is in no short supply at Woofferton. A myriad of maintenance tasks are carried out, which include checking the RF, modulator and water cooling systems, and testing individual components such as resistors and capacitors, and of course the valves themselves.

Any faulty components will be replaced with spares from stores, or as is sometimes required when items are obsolete, manufactured on-site by the station’s workshop. The mechanical and electrical engineers can fabricate bespoke metalwork and fittings which are no longer available, as well as carry out maintenance to the stations “heavy” equipment such as HV transformers, fan units, gas compressors and pumps.

MISSION-CRITICAL ROLE

At around 3 p.m. GMT each day, the station comes alive as the evening transmissions for Africa and Middle East start to ramp up and by 6 p.m. almost every transmitter is on-air, broadcasting in languages such as Arabic, French, Hausa, Amharic, Kurdish, Dari, Pashto and Russian, as well as English.

DT700 monitoring receivers analyze the parameters of DRM broadcasts from the station’s digital transmitters.

In recent years, Woofferton has also taken on a new role in being one of a few sites around the world where satellite carrier monitoring is carried out, to check and report on the performance of quality of satellite distribution of the BBC’s international TV and radio channels.

More than 75 years after its first broadcast to wartime occupied Europe, Woofferton continues to demonstrate the unique and enduring power of shortwave broadcasting — especially in parts of the world where media freedom and access to objective news is sometimes made deliberately difficult for international broadcasters to reach. And it’s still proud of its critical role in informing, entertaining and educating millions of listeners around the world.

[Want more information like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

The post Historic Woofferton Boasts a Modern Twist appeared first on Radio World.

AIR Highlights DRM Ahead of Cricket Matches

Mon, 09/23/2019 - 11:14

On Sept. 22 in Bengaluru, ahead of the cricket match with South Africa, All India Radio hosted a public roadshow event designed to highlight DRM sets in cars that are receiving digital services from AIR.

The event followed the recent announcement made by Shashi Vempathi, the public radio and television Prasar Bharati’s CEO, who revealed that live cricket commentary would return to AIR and be broadcast on DRM for the first time.

According to the Digital Radio Mondiale consortium, the cricket matches, the most popular sport in India, serve as an ideal space for publicizing DRM’s features, including data reception. In addition to receiving sports updates participants in Bengaluru can also receive agricultural produce market rates.

The post AIR Highlights DRM Ahead of Cricket Matches appeared first on Radio World.

NAB’s Pilot Seeking Proposals For AI-Inspired Innovation Challenge

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 19:42

Now in its fourth year, NAB’s Pilot Innovation Challenge, part of the association’s business incubator, Pilot, is now accepting proposals and has announced a new component for this year’s program. For the first time, Pilot will provide support to a pair of winners so they can develop a prototype to be presented at the 2020 NAB Show.

[Read: Pilot Promotes 12 Innovation Challenge Finalists(2018)]

The prompt for this year’s Pilot Innovation Challenge is to build an AI character that can have conversations with individual viewers, listeners or consumers, with character traits that can be defined and trained by the broadcaster.

Individuals, teams, companies, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations are eligible to submit proposals, with up to five finalists selected by a panel of judges by the end of November. Of those five, two winners will be granted as much as $150,000, relevant mentorship and feedback during the development of their prototype. They will also be invited to the 2020 NAB Show, April 18–22, in Las Vegas to demonstrate the prototype.

The deadline to apply for the Innovation Challenge is Oct. 18. Interested applicants can review the judging criteria and apply here.

[Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

 

The post NAB’s Pilot Seeking Proposals For AI-Inspired Innovation Challenge appeared first on Radio World.

Community Broadcaster: Acting on Equity

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 19:27

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

Community radio attracts so many talented individuals who devote time managing and shepherding stations through many adventures. Virtually all of these people do what they do for the love of their local stations. So, at a time of the year when many community media organizations are nearing the end of the fiscal year, this is a gentle encouragement to think about these selfless individuals and their futures.

To be sure, no one is getting rich off running a community radio station. But that isn’t an excuse for keeping them destitute either.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Community Radio Needs You]

My timeline the last few months has been dotted with stories of talented community radio general managers, journalists and other leaders leaving for greener pastures. The departures all have a similar ring: opportunities you can’t pass up and offers that are too good, among other reasons. Less in the public eye are issues stations can improve upon.

Not every station has the resources currently to afford staff. But if your community radio station does have staff, attracting gifted people and keeping them happy means more than promising them a fulfilling role. It means valuing their contributions by treating them like professionals who care about your organization.

Not enough of us give thought to drawing in and retaining the best people. Moreover, having limited resources is used not as a challenge to do better, but a rationalization to do nothing. Thus the backchannel stories are troubling: staff who had to take extra jobs to support their families on a station salary; stations that asked for 60-hour work weeks and little appreciation; stations that would not offer health insurance; unions that failed to advocate for even a cost of living increase in a decade or more. The most problematic boards and senior leadership in these scenarios suggest a community radio job as a privilege and other audacious proclamations directly opposed to labor fairness, diversity and equity.

And we wonder why stations struggle. Look not much further than turnover and a lack of investment in people who care.

I speak about these matters from a place of compassion for stations, but also direct experience with station myopia. I worked for a community radio station for years without a penny extra in wages. Like many station staffers, I accepted such because the organization was meaningful to me. However, I suspect a lot of station staffers make similar excuses. In the end, this acceptance does not make for forward-thinking dynamics. It may contribute to dissatisfaction instead. And the people who should act to make these situations better are only emboldened to advocate for quasi-austerity or, worse still, inaction.

As many nonprofits get ready to kick off the new fiscal year, don’t be that station. Don’t treat the people who love your organization and give so much of their time and ideas to its betterment like people whose lives you should not care about. And don’t fall back on the collective shoulder shrug to address the needs of community radio.

Different community radio stations are faced with different local conditions, so it is impossible to be prescriptive about how organizations should remedy these matters. However, a commitment to change is a start. From staff evaluations to studying area pay trends to investigating healthcare options, there is a lot boards and senior leaders can do. Equity and fairness starts at home.

[Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

 

The post Community Broadcaster: Acting on Equity appeared first on Radio World.

Inside the September 11th Issue of Radio World

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 17:59

The new edition has AoIP tips, emergency operations kits for public radio stations, the transmitter remote controls of yore, battle lines in the translator interference debate, our preview of the Radio Show in Dallas and much more.

DALLAS PREVIEW
“Tech Tuesday” and Lessons From the Cowboys

Read about the convention’s fresh new feel, its day devoted to technology, and highlights of the three-day event including business ideas from Dallas Cowboys’ Chief Brand Officer Charlotte Jones Anderson.

NEW FACILITY
Stitcher’s Flexible New Facility in Manhattan

The company moved into new headquarters and built studios for creating podcasts; find out what’s in them.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

 

The post Inside the September 11th Issue of Radio World appeared first on Radio World.

Wisconsin Broadcasters Clinic Preview: Raspberry Pi

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 14:10

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Clinic, Oct. 15–17, is a highly anticipated annual event for radio broadcasters. Like a miniature NAB Show it offers a wealth of information from a show floor along with useful sessions. Radio World is previewing several of those upcoming sessions.

 Tim Wright is a senior engineer for the Cumulus Radio Station Group in Chicago. He’s taking a look at the using the Raspberry Pi computer system in a broadcast environment in “Nuts and Bolts: Building the Perfect Pi,” Oct. 15, 7 p.m.

Radio World: The Raspberry Pi is still unknown to a lot of radio broadcast engineers. What is it and how can it be of use in a radio broadcast environment?
Tim Wright: The Raspberry Pi is a single board SOC (system on a chip) computer that is about the size of a deck of cards. It runs a ARMCore version of Debian Linux in a standard configuration but can also run Ubuntu Linux, several other more obscure OSes, and Windows 10 IOT (If you like the Microsoft [non]security model). The basic Raspberry Pi model lists at $35 US so it is a very cost effective solution for those broadcast applications that would normally require a full blown PC to just loaf along and do one thing.

RW:  What is a good and useful studio project?

Wright: I have implemented several applications for the Raspberry Pi for our studios and transmitters for Cumulus Chicago. We will be showing, hands-on, several of these applications at the “Nuts and Bolts” session of the Wisconsin Broadcasters fall show. My first application was porting Anthony Eden’s Livewire Simple Delegation Switcher to the Pi. At that point it only ran on Windows in a windowed configuration. I needed a border-less configuration with large buttons to use as a monitor routing panel to select which audio went to overhead speakers in Sales, Promotions, and common areas. Since the code is open source, I modified it to fit my needs. Since that time, Anthony has posted Raspberry Pi configuration instructions on his GIT repository web site.

The Raspberry Pi version of the Livewire switcher that Tim Wright has developed.

My second project was for the transmitter sites. I developed a temperature sensor (thermometer) that outputs SNMP data for ingestion into my icinga2/Grafana-based “Heads Up Display” in the TOC. I have also developed several types of multistream monitors for web streams, and a studio clock that interfaces with Livewire right now, and WheatNet is in the works.

Additional applications that are possible but not necessarily practical, include an IP-based STL/TSL, decoding HD Radio using a Pi and an SDR dongle, DHCP server, multimedia displays, KODI home theater, etc.

Use your imagination, or as they say, “Imagine the Possibilities.”

RW: Can it be used in networking?

Wright: The Raspberry Pi family, with the exception of the $5 Pi Zero, support networking. The currently available versions 3B and 4 support both wired and wireless networking, with the 3 at 100 Mbps and the 4 at gigabit speed.

In addition there are third-party hardware additions that allow POE (Power over Ethernet) of the Pi. Since it is a full-blown Linux system, you can do anything that Linux is capable of.

RW: Its simplicity, small footprint and low power consumption would seem to make it a natural for backup uses. Tell us about that.

Wright: Not just backup uses. I have a web server that has been running on a Pi original model for years quite happily.

I did an analysis of PC vs Pi, since any of the projects discussed in the session can and will run on PC hardware as well. In bottom line terms, what can be done for $900 with a PC can be done for $130 with a Pi and is a tiny fraction of the space. A typical PC consumes 150 W of power and the Pi is 5 W. Do the math — total cost of ownership.

Tim Wright’s Raspberry Pis at work.

RW: Have you worked with the new Raspberry Pi 4 yet?

Wright: I just purchased a half dozen of the Raspberry Pi Version 4 in all the various models (1 GB, 2 GB and 4 GB RAM versions) specifically to use at the WBA for hands-on demonstrations. It took four trips to Micro Center to get them all, because they cannot keep them in stock. Needless to say they are a popular commodity. Be warned, the Version 4 Pi requires a different HDMI cable, power adapter and case, since, following the Apple mantra, why would we want to be backwards hardware-compatible. The larger memory footprint is really only necessary in the minority of applications since Linux runs quite fine with the standard 1 GB. I can imagine that with the dual HDMI ports on the Version 4, the increased CPU speed and cores, and the gigabit networking capability, the Pi could even be used as a digital audio workstation. I have successfully run, as an experiment, a 24-track editor on the Pi 3, so the 4 is even better.

I am setting up all the demo systems with VNC access and Webmin access via HTML, so attendees can use their laptops to play with the systems as if it were a local PC.

[Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

 

The post Wisconsin Broadcasters Clinic Preview: Raspberry Pi appeared first on Radio World.

Pages