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Hooked on Startups, He Invented Infocast

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 11:30
Bill von Meister

“Von Meister is a terrific entrepreneur, but doesn’t know when to stop entrepreneuring.” — Jack Taub, financial backer of Infocast

Bill von Meister grew up planning to be his own boss. He had a fine example in his wealthy father, who managed a company called German Zeppelin Shipping in Lakehurst, N.J. 

After completing his (non-technical) education at Georgetown University in 1973, von Meister started a wholesale liquor company. He found this boring and decided that he should become a consultant. 

Working family connections, von Meister was hired to create a database for Litton Bionetics. He knew only the basics of computers but completed a successful database. Once it was up and running, he lost interest and went looking for another consulting gig.

Word got out and Western Union contacted him; they needed someone to create a computerized billing system. Von Meister went to work on the system in 1974 and expanded his knowledge of computer applications with the help of Western Union engineers.

He was fortunate to have an intuitive sense for how various systems and equipment might be combined to serve brand-new purposes. An example of this can be found in his next job change.


Western Union gave him an assignment that involved Telex. In it, he saw a way to speed up delivery of hardcopy business mail. A letter was transmitted to the city nearest its destination by Telex. A local teleprinter created a hardcopy, which was sent to its final destination via USPS Next Day Delivery. Customers could call in and dictate letters.

He offered the idea to Western Union. The company wasn’t interested, so von Meister found another backer for his idea, a company named Xonics. The service, called Telepost, was so successful that Western Union bought Xonics and rebadged it as Mailgram.

Here’s an example of a Mailgram — in this case, from George Burns to Bob Hope — and (see facing page) the envelope in which it was mailed after being transmitted to the post office nearest the recipient via email. HOOKED ON STARTUPS

Von Meister wasn’t giving Telepost much attention by this time. It was characteristic of Bill von Meister that he could never be happy running a successful business. He was hooked on startups. A pattern emerged as he started a search for a backer for his next big idea.

The idea was a “least cost” long-distance service that he developed with an engineer from Western Union. The service cost less (thanks to a routing algorithm the two developed) and had more useful features than anything MCI or AT&T offered. Von Meister called the service Telemax and marketed it under the corporate umbrella of TDX.

Telemax soon reached a point where it required additional capital. Von Meister found a backer in a British company, Cable & Wireless, which was looking for an entry into the lucrative North American business telephone market.

The deal closed with von Meister drawing $70,000 per year to run TDX/Telemax. Within months, von Meister was eyeing two new businesses while neglecting TDX.

One combined Telemax with FAX and Express Mail to expedite collection letters. Letters were FAXed to the USPS Express Mail center in Chicago. From there, the FAX printouts were Express Mailed to recipients.


The other idea was probably the most revolutionary concept Bill von Meister ever had.

Von Meister and two engineers devised an information network based on “piggybacking” digital data on FM radio broadcasts using a single sideband. 

The system, which von Meister named Infocast, could broadcast data up to the limit of an FM broadcast (about 75 miles). Dedicated receivers would decode Infocast data for display on terminals. As he told Businessweek, a network of 50 FM stations across the country, with data routed between stations by packet-switching networks over telephone lines, could reach more than 90% of businesses.

Von Meister’s plan was that Infocast clients would have private two-way data channels through which they could transmit anything, anytime. Infocast would lease equipment to clients, and charge for data traffic.

Von Meister formed a company called Digital Broadcast Corp. to produce and market Infocast — with Cable & Wireless money. (He would soon be forced out of TDX/Telemax over that.) 

He lined up equipment sources, set up offices and a technical staff in McLean, Va., and put sales force to work marketing Infocast to corporations and institutions. In November 1977, WGMS(FM) of Washington, D.C., began on-air tests with Infocast hardware. Before long, FM stations across the country were broadcasting data for Infocast. 

A California-based grocery chain called Lucky Stores signed up to send data to its stores on the East Coast. And there were other customers.


Infocast was a viable entity but more than a little tight for cash. Late in the year, von Meister found a backer for Infocast, an entrepreneur named Jack Taub.

Of course, von Meister’s master plan was for a consumer network — a system that would transmit news, weather, stock market prices, sports and other information from a central location, to be relayed to FM stations for broadcast.

Home users would tap into data broadcast with receivers and terminals rented from Infocast. Von Meister also planned to allow those same users to send data, and even exchange messages.

Essentially, it was a wireless public internet, 20 years ahead of its time.

But there was no way to fund an Infocast consumer network. Supplying 1,500 terminals to a corporate customer at a cost of a few million dollars was practical. Providing terminals to millions of consumers was not. Thus his dream faded.

[What’s Your Simulcasting Strategy?]

But Bill von Meister had another idea, which was inspired by reports of personal computers flooding homes across America. He called his idea CompuCom. Later, the name would be changed to “The Source.” But that is another, fascinating, story.

This story is based on trade magazines and newspapers of the period, with supplemental information from Bob Ryan, president of The Source at its founding, and Jack Taub, a primary investor who took over the company and fired von Meister in 1980.

Michael A. Banks is the author of “On the Way to the Web” (APress, 2008), “Crosley and Crosley Motors” (Enthusiast Books, 2012), “Ruth Lyons, the Woman Who Created Talk TV” (Orange Frazer Press, 2009) and other titles.

The post Hooked on Startups, He Invented Infocast appeared first on Radio World.

Apple Unveils Logic Pro X 10.4.5

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 15:12

With an eye on optimizing the software for its new Mac Pro, Apple released Logic Pro X 10.4.5, the latest edition of its professional music production software.

Making full use of the Mac Pro hardware, Logic Pro X 10.4.5 will now support up to 56 processing threads, and reportedly can now run up to five times the number of real-time plug-ins compared to the previous generation Mac Pro. Logic Pro X 10.4.5 also increases the available track and channel count for all users, now supporting up to 1,000 audio tracks and 1,000 software instrument tracks.

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

Additionally, Logic Pro X now supports 1,000 auxiliary channel strips, 1,000 external MIDI tracks and 12 sends per channel strip. Responsiveness of the Mixer and Event List when working with large sessions is said to have been improved, and projects with numerous Flex Time edits and tempo changes should perform more efficiently under the new update.

The loop browser in Logic Pro X 10.4.5 can filter by loop type and allows drag and drop of multiple loops into your project simultaneously. Meanwhile, the redesigned DeEsser 2 plug-in provides more options to reduce sibilance on audio tracks, and now MIDI beat clocks can be sent to individual ports, each with unique settings like timing offset and plug-in delay compensation.

Logic Pro X 10.4.5 is available as a free update for all existing users, and is available on the Mac App Store for $199.99 for new customers.

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The post Apple Unveils Logic Pro X 10.4.5 appeared first on Radio World.

LPFM Technical Changes May Be Coming

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 14:16

LPFM advocates, take note. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says he has heard your arguments that “the service has matured” after nearly two decades on the air and that LPFM now “requires additional engineering options to improve reception.” 

A new FCC notice of proposed rulemaking, he said, is intended to help while also meeting his goals of modernizing and streamlining media regulations.

He previewed the proposals in a July 10 blog post, when the chairman laid out the commission’s August meeting agenda. Subsequently, the commission’s Media Bureau opened MB Docket No. 19-193, “Amendments of Parts 73 and 74 to Improve the LPFM Radio Service Technical Rules” and released Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – MB Docket Nos. 19-193, 17-105, responding to a REC Networks petition of June 2018 and seeking comment on its own proposals.

Pai’s blog clarified his intentions: “I’m proposing reforms such as allowing expanded LPFM use of directional antennas and permitting LPFM use of FM booster stations. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking includes additional changes to increase flexibility while maintaining interference protection and the core LPFM values of diversity and localism.”

According to the NPRM, it would also remove the requirement for LPFMs and other radio broadcasters to  protect television stations operating on TV Channel 6 after July 13, 2021, when LPTV stations are scheduled to transition to digital. Also, because there are few stations currently affected by these protective measures, the commission proposes to enact a waiver process for stations that would like to make related changes prior to the final transition deadline.

[REC Networks: LPFM Is Not a Threat to Full-Power Radio]

The NPRM also proposes a new definition for LPFM minor changes to include changes that involve overlapping 60 dBu contours of the station’s own existing and proposed facilities, in addition to the current rules that define it as a move that does not exceed 5.6 km.

Although there is currently a waiver option available, the NPRM would also propose to allow LPFM stations to retransmit LPFM signals over FM booster stations without a waiver.

The NPRM also takes the opportunity to otherwise clean up language and update information in Parts 73 and 74 covering interference issues.

However, the commission says it will not discuss issues previously raised in the February 2019 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Comparative Standards proceeding, which included non-technical matters concerning LPFM stations raised by REC Networks (and also mentioned in this petition).

Read the full NPRM online here. 

The post LPFM Technical Changes May Be Coming appeared first on Radio World.

Inside the New Translator Interference Rules

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 10:09
People enter the Federal Communications Commission building in Washington. The FCC this spring adopted new procedures and rules for situations where FM translator interference is alleged.

Radio World has reported previously on industry reaction to the FCC’s recent action on translator interference. Here, Dan Kirkpatrick and Keenan Adamchak of the law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth detail the report and order in more depth.

On May 9, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission issued a report and order in which it adopted new procedures used to resolve interference complaints against FM translator stations. 

Sections 74.1203(a) and 74.1204(f) of the commission’s rules outline the procedures required for resolving complaints of actual and potential interference, respectively, against FM translators. The new rules are designed to streamline and shorten the highly contentious and protracted FM translator interference complaint process and to consolidate the disparate procedures for actual and potential interference complaints. 

As explained more fully below, we expect the new rules to go into effect by mid-August. This article breaks down the changes to the FCC’s existing FM translator interference complaint procedures.

New FM Translator Interference Complaint Requirements:

Minimum Number of Listener Complaints. The FCC adopted a requirement for a minimum number of bona fide (i.e., actionable) complaints ranging from six to 25 depending on the population served by a complaining station. The commission based the complaint minimums on an approximate increase of one complaint for every 100,000 people in the complaining station’s service area — i.e., six complaints for a population of 1–199,999 to 25 complaints for a population of 2,000,000 or more. Previously, FM translators could be forced off the air as a result of a single unresolved interference complaint brought against the station, or multiple unresolved interference complaints from a single location. As a result, the FCC now requires translator interference claims to be based on “separate receivers at separate locations” — whereby multiple listener complaints from a single location will not count beyond the first complaint towards the prescribed complaint minimum.

Contents of Each Listener Complaint. Under the FCC’s existing complaint procedures, there are separate requirements for demonstrating that individual potential and actual interference complainants are bona fide. This has resulted in protracted and contentious proceedings as to which individual complaints had to be resolved by the translator licensee — many times before the technical aspects of the interference complaints were even addressed.

[FCC Finalizes FM Translator Interference Rules]

In the report and order, the commission streamlined the individual complaint requirements by defining an actionable listener complaint as a complaint that is signed and dated by the listener and contains the following information:

  • The complainant’s full name, address, and phone number
  • A clear, concise and accurate description of the location where interference is alleged to occur (e.g., map coordinates, street addresses, street intersections, etc.)
  • A statement that the complainant listens to the complaining station using an over-the-air-signal at least twice a month to demonstrate that the complainant is a regular listener
  • A statement that the complainant has no legal, employment, financial or familial affiliation with the complaining station (social media contacts with, participation in promotions/contests held by, volunteering for, or donating to a complaining station are no longer deemed as disqualifying) to demonstrate that the complainant is disinterested

Complaints adhering to the above requirements enjoy a presumption of validity — which the translator licensee bears the burden of rebutting.

The FCC also eliminated the requirement that listener complainants must cooperate with translator licensees in resolving their interference complaints. In the past, listener cooperation was essential for the complaint to be bona fide — thus resulting in protracted and contentious proceedings as to the level of the listener’s cooperation.

Contour Limit on Interference Complaints. The commission adopted a contour limitation on translator interference complaints, setting the complaining station’s 45 dBµ signal contour as the outer limit for both actual and potential interference complaints. In other words, all individual interference complaints must now allege interference from a location within the complaining station’s 45 dBµ contour to be actionable. 

[Don’t Kill My FM Translator!]

Under the FCC’s existing complaint procedures, there are no geographic limitations on actual interference complaints, and the existing rules only require that each individual complainants’ address fall within the translator’s 60 dBµ service contour in order to be bona fide. The commission adopted the 45 dBµ contour limit due to concerns that out-of-market stations were using the lack of geographic limitations on complaints to extend their reach into markets which they otherwise would not have.

In the report and order, however, the FCC stated that waivers of the 45 dBµ contour limit would be granted in extremely limited circumstances. To obtain a waiver, the complaining station would have to include at least 20 individual complaints from outside the 45 dBµ contour. In reviewing such requests, the FCC would also take into account relevant factors including a demonstration that: (1) geographic features enhance reception at the relevant listener locations; and (3) the listener expectation of service is well-established.

Other Complaint Requirements. Under the new procedures, complaining stations must also include the following with their interference complaint:

  • A map plotting the specific locations of alleged interference in relation to the complaining station’s 45 dBµ contour
  • A statement that the complaining station is operating within its licensed parameters [not including pursuant to Special Temporary Authority (STA)]
  • A statement that the complaining station’s licensee has used commercially reasonable efforts at resolving the interference issue with the translator’s licensee
  • Undesired/Desired (U/D) data demonstrating that at each listener location the ratio of undesired to desired signal strength thresholds (co-channel and first, second, and third-adjacent stations as appropriate) are satisfied
[It’s Complicated: Garziglia on FM Translator Rule Changes]

Previously, the map and the technical showing requirements only applied to potential interference claims — not claims of actual interference. Moreover, the commission noted that the certification that the complaining station was operating pursuant to its licensed parameters was necessary because operating outside of the station’s licensed parameters “could affect its actual versus its licensed 45 dBµ signal contour and therefore alter the permissible scope of its interference claim.” Nevertheless, the FCC failed to state in the report and order whether the actual or licensed 45 dBµ contour was required for an interference complaint. 

Finally, the commission noted that the certification regarding the private resolution of interference complaints would encourage parties to resolve complaints before a complaint proceeding was initiated at the FCC.

New Complaint Remediation Procedures

The commission also drastically changed the existing translator interference complaint procedures to speed up and streamline the process. Under the new rules, translator licensees may resolve each listener complaint by either working with: (1) a willing listener to resolve reception issues; or (2) the complaining station to resolve signal interference issues using suitable techniques.

Working with Willing Listener Complainants. Translator licensees are permitted to resolve individual listener complaints by adjusting or replacing the listener’s equipment. This option, however, is only available if: (1) the listener’s equipment is determined to be the primary cause of the interference issue; and (2) the listener is willing to cooperate with efforts to eliminate the interference. Otherwise, translator licensees are required to work directly with the complaining station to resolve interference complaints.

Working with Complaining Stations. The vast majority of translator interference complaints must now be resolved by translator and complaining station licensees working together using suitable techniques to resolve the interference issue. Such suitable techniques include, but are not limited to usage of: (1) the U/D ratio methodology previously applicable only to potential interference complaints; (2) the FCC’s standard contour predicted methodology specified in Section 73.313 of the commission’s rules; (3) on/off testing; and (4) on-site field strength measurements. The FCC noted that lack of interference may be demonstrated by either on/off testing or on-site field strength measurements, and alternative translator technical parameters that would eliminate interference could be derived from on/off testing.

[The Development of the Directional AM Broadcast Antenna]

The commission intends to provide translator and complaining station licensees flexibility in the interference testing and remediation techniques and therefore leaves it to the parties to settle upon mutually-acceptable techniques. If the translator and the complaining station licensees are unable to agree on which methodologies to employ, the parties may engage a third-party engineer to conduct interference testing and remediation. The results, however, are to be jointly submitted to the FCC — which will make a final determination as to whether interference has been resolved. Unilateral or contested data, however, will not be permitted to be presented to the commission as a remediation showing — or to dispute such a showing.

The FCC declined to adopt a universal interference resolution deadline, instead deferring to the Media Bureau to establish specific deadlines for each interference complaint. The commission, however, established a target deadline of 90 days from the date the bureau completes its initial review of an interference complaint to resolve complaints. 

In practice, the bureau will issue a letter notifying the translator licensee that the interference complaint has passed its initial review, and will set a specific remediation deadline along with any necessary intermediate deadlines (e.g., remediation plan deadline). If all interference complaints are not resolved by the set deadline, the FCC may order the immediate suspension of translator operations or power reduction.

Channel Changes

The commission adopted the proposal to allow FM translator stations to remediate interference issues (either caused to or received from another station) by changing channels to any available same-band frequency. Such channel changes would now be deemed minor changes and would be permitted upon a showing of actual or predicted interference to or from any other broadcast station. Previously, translators were only permitted to move to first, second, and third or intermediate frequency (IF) channels to resolve interference. The expanded channel-change options will provide translator licensees with increased options for resolving interference — without having to undergo protracted complaint proceedings or being forced off the air for failing to eliminate interference.

Treatment of Pending Complaint Proceedings

The commission explicitly stated that any FM translator interference complaints pending as of the effective date of the new rules would be decided under the new rules. 

Once the new rules become fully effective, the commission will permit parties to pending complaint proceedings to submit supplemental materials to address the revised rules. Presumably, this will serve as an opportunity for complainants to make the necessary modifications to their complaints to adhere to the new complaint requirements, and for defending translator licensees to seek dismissal of the complaints for their failure to adhere with the new procedural requirements.

The amended rules should become effective in mid-August. The report and order was published in the Federal Register on June 14, which would make the effective date of the rule amendments that do not constitute “information collections” Aug. 13 (we note that the initial Federal Register publication reported the effective date as July 15, but FCC staff has confirmed that was in error, and a correction will be published). 

As stated in the report and order, however, the bulk of the new complaint procedures deal with “information collections” and therefore require the further approval of the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act, and will become effective only after the FCC publishes a notice of OMB approval in the Federal Register. FCC staff has indicated that they expect that approval to also be obtained by mid-August, so that all of the rule amendments can take effect at the same time.

Should you have any questions regarding the new FM translator interference complaint procedures, or require assistance navigating a current complaint proceeding, please contact your attorney.

This article originally appeared on the blog of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth.

The post Inside the New Translator Interference Rules appeared first on Radio World.

Ten Codec Questions to Consider

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 16:00

The author is owner of Kline Consulting and former corporate director of engineering and broadcast IT for several radio companies. 

The large choice of codecs available on the market can be overwhelming. Here are some important points managers should take into consideration when defining their audio transport strategy and shopping for new gear.

  1. In today’s terms, does everyone on the team understand what a codec is and how it is used?

This might seem like a basic question that anyone can answer; but often, depending on the person you ask, the definition will vary. Years ago, we thought of a codec as a simple singular compression and decompression scheme or device. But the term “codec” has taken on a more general definition, which can sometimes be interchanged with STL, microwave, transmission path, etc. So before you go down the path of integrating new codec technology into your facility, make sure everyone on the team is familiar with the current models and configurations of the codecs on the market. Codecs today comprise many technologies and come in various sizes, shapes and price tags.

  1. Is this a simple codec replacement project or something bigger in scope?

In my consulting practice, I meet many managers who start off by asking about a simple codec recommendation. By the time we finish talking, we both realize that there is a bigger picture to consider involving several codec brands and models. By asking the right questions and walking through the technical workflow of the building, we learn that there are pending, among other things, STL, remote broadcast and even on-air telephone system needs, all of which could involve codec purchases. So before the codec selection and quoting process begins, ask yourself whether this is a limited scope project or something broader. You may save money and increase efficiency on your capital spend by reviewing the larger picture up front.

  1. If this is a broader physical plant codec review, have you defined your goals and requirements?

Defining your requirements goes together with the above question. Without specific goals, how can you determine whether a codec makes sense for a particular situation?

Obviously, a simple remote broadcast codec solution is easy to determine. But a larger, sophisticated codec upgrade and replacement project does require you to identify your goals and requirements.

Some requirements might include:

  • cost savings over telecom fees
  • audio quality
  • increased density so that multiple audio channels can be accommodated with lower cost
  • improved workflow
  • redundancy against existing legacy audio transport, metadata and control
  • integration into AES67/AoIP/Dante infrastructure
  • cost savings over non-codec/IP solutions
  • reduced maintenance requirements
  • interoperability/interconnectivity within the plant or third-party studios
  • portability in the field
  • integration (or replacement) of on-air phone systems
  • additional methods for listener interaction (using mobile apps, etc.)

Those are just a few examples. Any of these requirements can be combined into a matrix to help determine if or when a codec purchase should be made.

  1. I don’t trust my audio to the public internet for delivery. Is that a valid concern?

Ten years ago, many engineers had their doubts about the reliability of using IP codecs for critical audio applications over the public internet. At the time, they might have considered using the public internet as a backup path only. This was due to internet speed, reliability, cost and a lack of availability at rural locations, such as transmitter sites.

One could have ordered dedicated point-to-point IP circuits, but 10 years ago those costs were much higher than they are today. Also, some codec models didn’t have a redundant second carrier or aggregation option which meant everything had to rely on a single internet provider.

Today, however, public internet generally is reliable and can be ordered as a business class service with higher speeds. It is usually inexpensive and is available in more places including rural transmitter sites.

Most codec units on the market now — including single remote broadcast units — have options for integrating and aggregating multiple carriers, which make using the public internet safe and reliable. A number of codec installs using the public internet have been installed with few problems. In some very high-profile mission critical situations, I have ordered a point-to-point Ethernet circuit to be used as the primary carrier with a public internet line as the second carrier. Dedicated Ethernet circuits guaranteeing increased supervision by the carrier are a lot less expensive today. So if having a dedicated circuit is a mandate for you, like a traditional T1, this is absolutely possible.

Broadcasters use a combination of public internet, point-to-point Ethernet, MPLS and RF to connect their codecs.

[Read: How to Cover Live Events Successfully]

  1. Can a codec operate using RF?

Yes. Typically, a data radio is used at each end, which provides a private Ethernet path for the station between two points (typically between the studio and the transmitter site). This allows for audio transport, metadata, Ethernet and remote monitoring.

The RF data radios are usually bidirectional, as are the codecs, so return audio can be passed back to the studio for confidence monitoring, etc. The RF path physical distance can be short or go for several miles.

There are different radio models with different costs depending how much bandwidth is needed and how far the transmission path is. For shorter distances, these radios utilize smaller dishes. If a proper path is designed and the appropriate radio/antenna combination is selected, the RF system will be very reliable. Some systems can be installed without a license from the spectrum regulatory body and in other cases may require one.

The cost to implement an RF link for codec usage is very competitive compared to traditional analog microwave gear, in some cases much less expensive.

  1. Are there any new practical codec technologies?

Yes. Here are some of the features you’ll find in codecs today: AES67 and Dante compatibility, AoIP compatibility with console manufacturers, transport of FM MPX composite over IP, higher-density transport containing multiple audio channels using the same piece of hardware, smaller physical sizes, carrier aggregation for redundancy and improved connection reliability, improved usage of cellular including 4G LTE and easy-to-understand GUIs.

In addition, most units now feature integration with on-air phone systems for improved caller audio, iOS and Android apps for remotes and news gathering as well as enhanced listener and VIP participation, reduction in cost per audio channel, and cloud-based switchboard servers to make connecting codecs even easier by eliminating certain firewall or router issues.

The FM MPX over IP feature is very helpful to those who wish to move their audio processing back to the studio or for those who want one audio processor to feed multiple locations. MPX over IP may also be interesting to those who employ SFNs.

Apps for the smartphone or laptop make remotes, newsgathering and listener call-ins sound better and are easy to implement. Cellular bonding makes broadcasting from rural areas and large events (concerts, sports) more reliable because it helps mitigate network congestion.

  1. Are there advantages to having an AoIP plant as it relates to codecs?

Yes. There are several codec boxes today that are compatible with AoIP consoles and audio routing systems. This allows for high-density audio paths without all the extra wiring.

A well-designed AoIP plant will incorporate seamless integration into the switching and control aspect of all installed codecs. For example, a large complex with many studios can use just a handful of codecs by utilizing dynamic allocation and switching available within an AoIP system. This saves on the expense of purchasing more codecs than otherwise might be needed.

AoIP also allows for the automatic control and manipulation of codecs for linking remote studios together or to send programs from one city to another. The macros and automation available in a typical AoIP infrastructure can tie together the features of your automation playout system, console routing and codec allocation to facilitate very powerful audio transport within your plant or to the outside world. Modern radio distribution networks are being built around this concept. IP codecs are increasingly being used for program backhaul, satellite replacement, and regular program distribution at great cost savings and efficiencies.

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  1. Besides the purchase of the codec equipment, what other technical matters should be considered?

There are a few key ones.

One is your firewall. Codecs that talk to other devices in the outside world need a way to get through your firewall. Each codec has its own set of ports and special routing requirements so they can connect reliably to the far end. The requirements are not complicated, but someone with knowledge of firewalls and routers will need to manage this. The use of cloud-based switchboard/transversal servers can eliminate some or all of this, so they are a good option.

You should also consider redundancy for mission-critical paths. This is good practice whether you are using a codec or any other type of transport device. One method is adding additional carriers for what is known as “carrier redundancy.” The other is physical hardware redundancy, which means you will have a second physical codec or legacy device in place to backup the primary codec.

Another key consideration is your internet provider. You should allow for enough bandwidth inside your facility to handle all the requirements not related to codec usage plus your total possible codec utilization.

Do not ignore your upload speeds; this is particularly important for codecs that are sending IFB audio to the field. Some facilities have installed a separate internet line solely for their codecs or to be used as a backup, although this is not absolutely required.

Every situation is unique, so it’s impossible to cover them all here. These are just a few of the more common approaches. The bottom line: Redundancy is good engineering practice in addition to having a well-designed IT infrastructure.

  1. Do I need to be a scientist (or hire one) to install and program codecs?

No. The GUIs and setup screens in codecs today are easy enough to understand and navigate.

In addition, because IP codecs have been around for several years, there is a lot of institutional knowledge out there. It is easy to find someone on staff or locally who can assist with the programming and setup of any popular codec device.

There are also excellent online resources in the public user groups and on manufacturer websites. Most program directors and on-air talent regularly broadcast from the field using an IP codec without any technical assistance. Some codecs even allow for remote control so that someone back at the studio can diagnose minor issues in the field for an added measure of support.

  1. I have a codec; which audio algorithm should I use?

Use the highest quality (least compressed) algorithm that will reliably work given your particular speed, network congestion and program material. In other words, choose for the best audio quality without risking dropouts or glitches.

Most codecs have settings to buffer and lock in a solid connection even under challenging situations, so don’t be afraid to start at the top and work your way down. Using more than one carrier simultaneously (aggregation) can improve robustness. Music programming usually requires higher quality while speech can get away with lower bandwidth in many cases.

Your codec manufacturer can walk you through the steps necessary to activate carrier aggregation.

The post Ten Codec Questions to Consider appeared first on Radio World.

RW Gabs With Bob Houghton About 85th Anniversary Tour

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 13:41
GAB President Bob Houghton

The Georgia Association of Broadcasters is in the midst of the GAB 85th Anniversary Tour. Each stop features a presentation from GAB President Bob Houghton about the history and future of broadcasting in Georgia, and will also include GAB ABIP Inspector and engineer John George, who will address radio license renewals. 

Radio World reached out to learn more about the tour and GAB’s goals from Houghton in an emailed Q&A, shared here.  

Radio World: Why is the Georgia Association of Broadcasters doing an 85th anniversary tour? 

Bob Houghton: The GAB decided to do this statewide tour of outreach with eight different media regions in the state. 

RW: Who thought it up? 

Houghton: We are always looking for reasons to get out and meet with our members, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that. The 85th anniversary allowed us to have one consistent theme and agenda throughout the state.

RW: Why GAB is including engineering so prominently in this event? 

Houghton: Every eight years, stations have to renew their license with the FCC. This year, radio license renewals are due and next year, TV license renewals will be due. We want to ensure that our members are fully prepared for this. 

Engineers are the cornerstone of every TV and radio station, but they don’t always get the recognition they deserve. So for our convention this year, we have also created a full day of engineering-only sessions just for them. We are using this tour to promote and encourage them to attend. 

[Broadcast Finds Itself in a Natural State]

RW: How is this tour different than others? 

Houghton: It’s been an honor for the GAB to have served the broadcasters of Georgia for 85 years. Our last stop on this tour will be July 23 in Savannah. This stop is especially significant because we’ll be holding the event at the same hotel where the GAB was founded 85 years ago. 

This tour is also different because it allows broadcasters to network with one another. We are excited about this opportunity to get out and meet with our members while celebrating this milestone. 

RW: What do you hope to accomplish/how will you define success? 

Houghton: The tour has already exceeded our expectations. We hope to reach nearly 500 broadcasters by the end of this tour! Even if we only make a difference at just one of our member stations, we’ll call it a success. 

RW: Anything else you think readers should know?

Houghton: In the world of broadcasting today, we just don’t have the time to get out and network with each other. This tour has brought an unexpected comradery that we are so thankful for. The GAB is proud of our industry’s past and the success of our association. We are and looking forward to what the future holds. 


The post RW Gabs With Bob Houghton About 85th Anniversary Tour appeared first on Radio World.

WTMA Celebrates 80 Years in Charleston

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 12:17
A station vehicle is parked in front of WTMA’s offices and studios on Church Street in downtown Charleston in a photo from a 1950s promotional postcard. The building also housed the historic Dock Street Theatre, so the station jocks reportedly had to minimize the volume on their control room monitors when a play was being performed. The small sign above the door reads “Radio Station WTMA, N.B.C.”

“We’ve come a long way from being that crazy ‘Tiger Radio’ back in the 1960s and ’70s playing top 40, to being a more responsible station that talks about today’s news,” says Program Director John Quincy. “WTMA(AM) is still here and thriving.” 

Our story begins 80 years earlier. 

On June 15, 1939, WTMA, Charleston, S.C., signed on the air, the second station in the market to do so. WCSC(AM) was the first (signing on in 1930), but while that station still exists, it has changed call letters several times, something WTMA has never done. Coincidentally, the two stations now share a tower site. 

Bill Edwards in 1965

WTMA originally broadcast at 1210 on the dial and had its early studios on 10th Street in Wagener Terrace, with its first broadcast originating from the Dock Street Theater. In those years, WTMA operated at 250 watts, but because there was little interference from power lines, that signal was enough to blanket Charleston and beyond. 

[Remembering Radio Times]

The original owners were insurance men Y. Wilcox Scarborough and Jesse W. Orvin, but they owned the station for only a few months before selling it to the local newspapers. And what did the call letters stand for? Stay tuned to find out, as the early announcers might have said. 

Today, WTMA is 5,000 watts non-directional during the day, and 1,000 watts directional at night with two towers. The station moved its dial position to 1250 in 1941 and has had multiple owners over the past eight decades including a brief stint with Ted Turner. Today, WTMA runs a news/talk format and is part of a five-station cluster owned by Cumulus Media, with studios in north Charleston. 

John Quincy at the mic

Quincy has been with the station since 2002. Having come to appreciate WTMA’s rich history, Quincy took it upon himself in 2003 to establish a website devoted to celebrating its personalities and community service:

“After years of carrying NBC soap operas and other network fare, WTMA adopted a top 40 format in the early 1960s that was very successful,” said Quincy. “In fact one of the ‘Mighty TMA’ DJs back then had a 70 share in the Arbitron survey! As FM became more popular with music listeners in the late 1970s, WTMA switched formats a couple of times before adopting the current news/talk format on June 1, 1989.”


Hurricane Hugo arrived just three months after that format switch, and while it was a disaster of immense proportions, Quincy said it was the event that put the “new” WTMA on the map. 

“The station was off the air for a day, as everyone in the city was evacuated,” he said. “Our engineer, Bruce Roberts, was first to return, and he used a generator-powered hair dryer to help drain the transmitter after the flap on the vent opened during the storm. 

“For weeks until Charleston residents all returned home and power was restored in the region, WTMA carried all the news, and then at 7 p.m. the program manager, Dan Moon, would go on and open up the phones. The people called in and talked, and Moon stayed on the air every night until that evening’s calls dropped off,” he said.

“The other Charleston stations were playing music and commercials, but WTMA provided information and kept people company throughout the evening. Eventually, this led to Moon becoming the morning show host, a job he held until 2003.”


But in the course of 80 years of broadcasting there had to be some funny station stories, right? 

“At one point WTMA and its sister WSSX(FM), formerly WTMA(FM), were in the same building,” said Quincy. “But there was an RF problem that caused the AM signal to get into the FM studio’s board. According to then-DJ Moon, the FM staff would surreptitiously reduce the AM daytime power from 5,000 to 1,000 watts, which alleviated the RF problem in the FM control room but caused other issues.” 

And according to Quincy, former top 40 personality Bob “Booby” Nash performed some of those wonderful stunts that made the format so much fun in the ’60s. 

Booby Nash in 1966

“He allowed himself to be ‘buried alive’ at a local drive-in, and he broadcast one show underwater from a tank at a mall. Nash had buttons made and distributed to listeners that said ‘I’m a Booby Lover.’”

[Love Radio Finds Niche in Shanghai]

The previously mentioned website, WTMA Memories, is a great source of other station trivia. For example: When broadcast personality Connie Neal McPhaul (air name “Big Mack”) was a 14-year-old radio enthusiast growing up in Charleston, he put a pirate station on the air. Unwisely, he used a 75-foot tower and pumped out 250 illegal watts, knocking off any station within a half mile of his house. An FCC field rep busted him and seized his equipment, but suggested the lad enter radio legitimately when he was a little older. 

Eighty years after the station signed on, WTMA still serves Charleston. On June 15, 2019, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster declared its 80th anniversary as “WTMA Day” statewide. 

Check out a multi-hour audio documentary on the history of WTMA, and visit the station’s website to learn more. 

But what do the call letters “WTMA” stand for? Nothing at all — they were randomly assigned by the Federal Communications Commission. 

Ken Deutsch describes himself as a former disc jockey, program director and master of ceremonies at local animal moltings.

The post WTMA Celebrates 80 Years in Charleston appeared first on Radio World.

NeoGroupe’s NBSSmart Manages Inventory on the Go

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 00:00

MAROLLES EN BRIE, France — Software developer NeoGroupe has released a new version of its NBSSmart application.

NBSSmart, which works with NeoGroup’s asset tracking system, allows radio stations to easily
carry out an inventory check. It also lets staff scan an item and immediately access its historical information, including details about the vendor as well as scanned documents including invoices, a picture of the item and more.

With NBS, technical teams and administrative staff can easily communicate with each other regarding assets. In addition, the company says, keeping information current is “effortless.”

The application runs on smartphones and tablets and is available for iOS and Android.

For information, contact NeoGroupe in France at +33-9-72-23-62-00 or visit

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Community Broadcaster: Turning Off Access

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 21:56

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

Community media advocates are working overtime to call attention to potential Federal Communications Commission efforts that could impact local media forever.

The latest FCC endeavors affect public, educational and governmental access, or PEG, media and have been the subject of protests, petitions and editorials. However, with the commission considering regulations set forth through the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, the ongoing pressure from PEG leaders and advocates remains persistent these days week, and into the future.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Northern Discomfort]

At issue is the aforementioned Cable Communications Act and what cable providers are bound by law to give back. Title VI, Section 622 of the act sets a ceiling on the fees cities can charge cable companies at five percent of companies’ gross revenue from that cable service. Last year, the FCC set off a firestorm of criticism when it announced a move to allow cable companies to deduct nonmonetary requirements they are compelled to adhere to by the act. This would include providing PEG channels’ capacity and associated costs.

The casual observer might not even know where his or her local PEG channel is among the dizzying list of networks a cable operator offers. When one does look, a cornucopia of critical local content awaits. Whether it is televised city council and school board meetings, college courses or local public-affairs programming, PEG channels are a vital part of a city’s media choices. PEG channels are even more indispensable for working families, the elderly, those with limited transportation or other mobility issues, for whom PEG outlets give a window into our democratic procedures. In addition, because so many PEG channels also offer training in media and equipment, they may be the first place someone can go for an education in media that is more affordable than a big-city college. This learning as well as educational programming is doubled in a scattering of cities where PEG outlets offer both television and radio broadcasts.

In the end, the changes mean less funds available to PEG channels and less for the public, at a moment when money is already scarce.

While cord-cutting and the emergence of streaming — thus far excluded from franchise agreements, even if they’re offered by the same cable companies — is already eating into the monies cities once got, the pressure these changes put on PEG channels is enormous. As Jen Ramsey of Easthampton Media recently told the Daily Hampshire Gazette, “In the past five years, there’s been a 20% drop in cable subscriptions in the two towns that we service. So that translates to a 20% drop in our budget. Our budget is dwindling already.”

Moreover, an affected channel leaves many satellite communities reeling. “Going from having franchise fees to not having them, typically what happens in that case is the public access goes away,” Amanda Mountain of Rocky Mountain PBS told the Colorado Sun. “And eliminating that will leave a huge void where some will feel it more than others.”

Maryland’s Montgomery Community Media is among many PEG channels to produce videos explaining PEG stations’ importance and how the existing rules are beneficial. Groups like the Alliance for Community Media, hosting its national conference in Portland this week, have been out in front the last few months to demand accountability from FCC Chair Ajit Pai and commissioners.

We live in an era where the public’s access to information is challenged as never before. Newspapers are closing. Social media is awash in misinformation and detritus. Virtually every media outlet has a spin of some kind on the news of the day. States are even changing laws to restrict access to proceedings. PEG channels are our last outpost for an unfiltered glimpse at city hall and our community. Even if there may be a valuable conversation to be had about fee structures for cable companies, yanking the rug out from cities and towns simply is not the answer.

With the financial support PEG outlets get from fees, this remixing of generations’-old rules could be lethal to community access. PEG channels quietly uplift local economies, providing skills and nourishing the arts, business and many other fields. PEG channels’ funding should not only be held firm, but expanded, given their service to community media and Americans everywhere.

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Nautel Names Schmid as CTO

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 19:22

A familiar face at many an NAB engineering session, Nautel’s Philipp Schmid will be taking on a new, expanded role at the transmitter maker.

As chief technology officer he’ll “lead research teams in the development of new technologies for broadcast, navigation, sonar and high-power RF applications,” an announcement says. In addition, “Schmid will remain active in select engineering projects and will also continue his industry role as a passionate voice for the advancement of digital transmission technologies.”

[Read: Live Tests Explore Future of HD Radio]

Nautel CEO Kevin Rodgers said, “Philipp has been instrumental in the development of Nautel’s industry-leading HD and DRM+ technologies. … This new role both recognizes his contribution to Nautel and positions Nautel and Philipp to continue to lead the industry in digital radio technologies as they are adopted globally.”

He was recognized in 2017 by the National Association of Broadcasters for Best Paper” at the BEITC (Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology Conference). The award-winning presentation covered research on single-frequency networks for HD Radio.

Schmid has also garnered multiple industry awards for Nautel in digital broadcast technologies over the past 10 years. The announcement says that he was the first to investigate peak to average power reduction for hybrid HD Radio transmission which led to Nautel’s patented HD PowerBoost technology.  Some recent projects have included research and testing of all-digital AM (DRM & HD Radio); extended HD Radio FM service modes; Nautel HD Multiplex, with up to 15 HD channels on one transmitter; and the development of IP STL technologies for HD Radio.

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Zamir Ahmed Promoted at NAB

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 15:43

NAB’s Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton has announced that Zamir Ahmed is being promoted from his current position of NAB director, media relations, to vice president, media relations.

In his new role, Ahmed will be tasked with shaping the messaging for NAB Communications in the public policy arena and occasionally serve as a spokesman with trade and consumer press. He will work with Senior Vice President, Communications Ann Marie Cumming, and report to Wharton.

[Read: Broadcasters, You’re Not in Radio Anymore]

Ahmed has worked for NAB since 2011, when he joined the organization as manager, media relations. He was later promoted within the organization to senior manager and then director, media relations. Prior to joining NAB, Ahmed was an intern in the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and then worked two years as deputy press secretary for the House Committee on Small Business.

“We’re pleased to reward Zamir for his loyalty to NAB, his intellect and strong work ethic, and his excellent writing skills,” said Wharton. “He’s a terrific asset to our organization and to free and local broadcasting.”

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Radio Systems Turns a Business Page

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 15:24

Industry engineers had spotted an announcement on the company’s website that states “Stay Tuned for New Radio Systems Products and Services Coming Soon,” and they speculated about its meaning in discussions on social media and listservs.

Radio World reached out to its president, Dan Braverman.

He said Radio Systems has begun a new relationship as Lawo’s exclusive sales representative to the radio broadcast industry in the United States. Meanwhile his company has discontinued manufacturing its existing product line due to the termination of a licensing agreement with its tech developer. He declined to provide details.

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

Lawo AG, based in Germany, makes networking, audio, video and control technologies for several markets including broadcast. Radio Systems is based in New Jersey near Philadelphia; its offerings are led by the StudioHub+ Cat-5 wiring product line and Millenium studio consoles.

Lawo Radio Product Manager Mike Dosch confirmed the outline of the relationship and said that the company was pleased to have Braverman representing it. He said Lawo’s products seem a good fit as a new anchor around which Radio Systems would become a reseller again and build in a new direction.

Radio Systems over the decades has made several console lines and shipped approximately 6,000 units. Other products have included distribution amplifiers and preamps, clocks and timers, cart and DAT machines, low-power AM transmitters and studio accessories. The company also has been involved in a number of major industry facility projects and turnkey installations.

Braverman said most Radio Systems dealers continue to have its products in stock. A dealer list is found on the website. He said the company will continue to support its legacy products with service and parts, and that most employees will remain on staff in its new iteration.

He added that Radio Systems had made its first Lawo package sale, to Connoisseur Media in Connecticut.

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Wade Deeper: Summer of Products 2019

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 11:12

It’s new equipment season!

This annual feature is all about new gear that has come onto the market in recent months, especially during spring convention season.

Check out this installment of products.

Neumann NDH 20 Headphones

Microphone maker Neumann has finally released a pair of headphones that the company feels are worthy of the Neumann name.

The NDH 20 is a closed-back circumaural design with large memory foam earpads aimed at making long listening sessions comfortable.

The Duofol drivers are 1.5-inch with high-gauss neodymium magnets. The company says that frequency response is 5 Hz–30 kHz.

Neumann NDH-20

The adjustable headband is made of flexible steel while the ear cup covers are machined from lightweight aluminum. The headphone is foldable and can be placed into the supplied soft cloth bag for transportation.

It ships with two detachable 10-foot cables (one straight, one coiled) and a 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch adapter is also included.


Shively Labs 2930 Branched Combiner

Shively Labs says that its 2930 low-power branched combiner is the best solution for multiple stations.

The company can custom-engineer a client’s system using either 2914 or 2916 bandpass filtering that will provide higher spectral purity, flat in-band frequency response and typical isolation values of 50 dB or higher — even for frequencies 0.8 MHz apart.

Shively 2930

Each combined system is designed to provide high performance in the smallest space possible and are fully IBOC compliant, Shively says.


On-Hertz Lumo Virtual Radio Studio

A new name for many, On-Hertz has introduced its virtual radio studio: Lumo.

Running on standard IT infrastructure, offering a web-based UI and optimized for touch interfaces, Lumo integrates a playout solution into one unit. It also comprises a 10-channel mixing console and AoIP features, including a phone hybrid and a transmission codec.

The Lumo radio studio, On-Hertz says, “boosts radio broadcasters’ production capabilities with mobility and enhanced workflows at a fraction of the cost of traditional equipment.”

On-Hertz LUMO

The Lumo platform features a scalable pricing structure, a redesigned user interface, a gain-sharing auto-mixer and enhanced DSP. Thanks to its modern APIs and various integration possibilities, Lumo can be integrated within an existing ecosystem of professional broadcasters.

From the show host’s couch at home to the basket of a hot-air balloon a thousand feet above the ground, or simply to create a more relaxed atmosphere in the main facility, On-Hertz points out that Lumo lets users focus on producing quality radio content.



[Read more about new products here.]

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Strategy Analytics Report Finds In-Car Terrestrial Radio at Risk

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 12:02

The In-vehicle UX (IVX) group at Strategy Analytics has issued a new report on car owners’ usage of, and interest in, audio infotainment sources in the car.


In a study the research firm carried out across the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and China, it discovered that after several years of “explosive interest,” consumer demand for smartphone mirroring systems has leveled off.

“As more mirroring systems come to market in high-volume cars, and more non-early-adopting segments are exposed to them, their limitations are becoming apparent,” the report stated. “But despite this, most embedded systems still do not provide better UX than smartphone mirroring systems.”

[Read: Are Touchscreen Radios Safe?]

According to the study, radio usage is in “fast decline” across the U.S., Europe, and China, even though in the west it remains important for some key consumer segments. It also finds that car owners are sending mixed signals on the next-best “must have” after radio. “Flat user interfaces which allow easy access to all audio/media sources will be more important than ever for the next model turn,” it found. In addition, the report exhibits that in the “search for a next successor to the CD player, streaming media has shown a remarkable surge in usage and interest,” as regards owned media on portable devices.

“The UX of embedded systems still does not exceed smartphone mirroring systems, essentially driving car owners to CarPlay and Android Auto leaving infotainment devoid of any brand differentiation,” commented Derek Viita, senior analyst and report author. “Given these shifting infotainment usage habits and consumers’ shifting interest in what is a ‘must-have’ for the next car purchase, designers and product planners must tread carefully in future product lines.”

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Arrakis Is at the Beginning for Humana

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 10:30

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On May 6, the Humana Audio Visual Services team launched Humana Radio, an internally streamed radio station, featuring music, podcasts and wellness breaks, in Louisville, Ky. Humana Radio is broadcast to the nationwide employee population of Humana Inc., composed of almost 50,000 employees.

In 2017, AV Services began an overhaul of space and technology within their headquarters, which gave birth to the Video Enterprise Collaboration Suite, a location where any and every employee was invited to bring their talent, passion and creativity to work on video and audio projects with their teams. The suite included a green screen studio, edit bays featuring Adobe products and an audio booth, all available for checkout and training. 

As employees poured in to use the available services, many teams began creating podcasts to share internally with their teams at Humana. AV Services Manager Trey Pennington along with Kellie Stephens, myself and other members of the team began to brainstorm a solution and spark a vision for how these informative podcasts, many containing information which could be beneficial to Humana as a whole, not just specific silos, could be shared company-wide. We wanted to deliver interconnectivity to our company, regardless of location, and we wanted to inform, encourage and empower each member of our Humana family. From there, Humana Radio was born, and the podcasts on a plethora of different topics began to flow in greater numbers than they ever had before. 

[More DARCness From Arrakis]

Along with finding the correct personnel to help man the station, our equipment had to meet the needs of broadcasting 24/7 as well. We began looking for a great solution that would be powerful yet graceful, and are proud to say that we arrived on the DARC console from Arrakis Systems. 

We love this product because it was easy to learn for both novices as well as experienced radio professionals. We didn’t have to be absolute experts on the situation, as we learned the ins and outs of the DARC. We were able to set it up according to our own personal needs, inputs and styles to help us accomplish the task of generating a new form of communication within Humana. 

Everything from having routing control of specific channels, along with having the physical board working in collaboration with a digital setup to how seamlessly it matched up with Arrakis’ Apex automation made our installation a breeze. We were excited to learn and to take our project to the next level, and for the questions we did find ourselves wondering about, the customer support at Arrakis made us feel like family. They were there to make sure we had all the tools we needed to be successful for our launch and into the future. 

As we look to the next phase and coming months and years of Humana Radio, we have no doubt in our minds that we made a smart choice by choosing the DARC system along with Apex, to help us facilitate discussion, real talk, diversity of thought and creativity, from, with, and for all employees.

For information, contact Ben Palmer at Arrakis Systems in Colorado at 1-970-461-0730 or visit

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Ofcom Prepares for Small-Scale DAB Rollout

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 03:36

LONDON — Ofcom, has launched a consultation regarding the future of localized DAB broadcasting. The broadcasting regulator plans to rollout the new tier of digital radio across the United Kingdom starting next year.

Engineers check the performance of small-scale DAB transmissions.

Experimental small-scale DAB transmissions in the country began as far back as 2012, with formalized public trials beginning in the summer of 2015. These trials, in 10 different locations, were originally intended to last only a matter of months, but have, in fact, continue to the present day.

Over recent months, the Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) has been working to get changes in legislation through Parliament. These would allow the licensing of localized DAB multiplexes across the country on a long-term basis.


The draft legislation was put before Parliament last month and is currently awaiting final approval, but Ofcom is consulting now to minimize the time delay before it can begin licensing new multiplexes, once it has the legal powers to do so.

[Read: DAB+ Deployment in France Progresses]   

The consultation covers a number of areas, but at its core, it is designed to help shape Ofcom’s approach to spectrum planning and the licensing of new localized DAB services. In addition, the consultation considers the impact its plans might have on the further development of the existing tier of larger “local” DAB multiplexes.

A spectrum analyser shows DAB multiplex spectral occupancy.

Another important outcome of the current trials has been the take up of DAB by community services and specialist commercial stations. These have previously been largely excluded from the platform on grounds of cost and scale of available coverage.

Historically, U.K. “local” multiplexes have typically tended to cover countywide areas rather than individual towns and cities.  The consultation sets out proposals for the introduction of a new form of Community Digital Sound Programming License (C-DSP).

Such new licenses would permit non-profit-maximizing broadcasters to operate on DAB under dedicated conditions and provide them with the option of accessing DAB capacity reserved on the new multiplexes, for use by only by licensed Community Radio operators.

Technically, a major success of the trials has been the launch of a large number of DAB+ services.  Indeed, some of the multiplexes involved now operate using DAB+ only. Recognizing the enhanced spectral efficiency of the more recent transmission standard, Ofcom’s consultation currently suggests that the new tier of localized DAB multiplexes should not be permitted to transmit using the older original ‘plain vanilla’ DAB standard, a sign perhaps of just how quickly the world of DAB broadcasting in the U.K. is now changing.

The Ofcom Consultation closes on Friday Oct. 4.

Dr. Lawrie Hallett writes for Radio World from Norwich in Norfolk, where he is Technical Director of DAB Multiplex operator, Future Digital Norfolk Limited.

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Digital Alert Systems Releases Guide for National EAS Test

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 20:08

There is less than a month before the mandatory, nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, and Digital Alert Systems is aiming to help its customers with a free online preparation document.

The brief, as described by Ed Czarnecki, senior director of strategy and government affairs for Monroe Electronics and Digital Alert Systems, provides the steps needed and additional recommendations to ensure a successful test. Noting that failures during the 2018 test were primarily due to audio quality issues, equipment misconfigurations, out-of-date software and device failure, Czarnecki says “our readiness document can help operators avoid those pitfalls.”

[Read: FCC Accepting Late Filings of ETRS Form One]

Things that are covered in the document include the filing procedures through the FCC’s EAS Test Reporting System; Form One was due July 3, but Forms Two and Three will be due on Aug. 7 and Sept. 23, respectively. It also provides information on how to check EAS equipment is properly powered and operated, as well as being up to date.

The National Periodic Test is set for Aug. 7 at 2:20 p.m. EDT.

Read DAS’ preparation document here.

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Synthax to Distribute Digigram in U.S.

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 19:57
Synthax’s Mathias von Heydekampf (Left) and Digigram’s Xavier Allanic

France-based equipment manufacturer Digigram is going to have a new distributor in the U.S. market, Synthax.

Digigram Sales Director Xavier Allanic said, “This new partnership provides us with the perfect boost we needed to deploy Digigram’s commercial strategy throughout North America.”

He added, “Acting as Digigram’s exclusive distributor in the U.S., Synthax USA has the experience to broaden Digigram’s spectrum as our range of solutions are key to making customers’ day-to-day operations simpler.”

Synthax Managing Director Mathias von Heydekampf said, “Digigram is on the cutting edge of audio over IP, offering end-users solutions that not only fill their current audio needs but also keep them ready for the future … Digigram’s solutions provide both radio and TV broadcasters as well as audio installers solutions that help simplify everyday operations while streamlining the delivery of their content.”

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Broadcasters, You’re Not in Radio Anymore

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 12:39
Fred and Paul Jacobs

If you’re headed to Dallas this Sept. 24–26, you may be attending the Radio Show, but the Jacobs brothers want you to know that you’re not really working in radio anymore.

[Read: NRG’s Quass to Be Saluted at Radio Show]

Yes, you read that right: on Sept. 26, Jacobs Media’s Fred and Paul Jacobs will present a session explaining why broadcasters are moving on to new opportunities while maintaining the core values of the medium. During “You’re Not in the Radio Business Anymore: Stories from Innovators Who’ve Made the Transition,” attendees will learn about the challenges and benefits of expanding beyond OTA in 2019 from those who’ve made the leap.

“We are excited to present an all-important session on the strategies that best serve broadcasters as we position our industry to succeed in 2019 and beyond. Fred and Paul Jacobs will offer actionable insights on propelling the radio business forward in today’s changing media landscape,” Radio Advertising Bureau President and CEO Erica Farber said in the announcement.

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IAAIS Presents Annual Awards

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 12:20

At its recent annual conference in June the International Association of Audio Information Services presented a series of awards for individuals, organizations and programs.

The programming winners were:

Newspapers — Audio Reading Service, Fort Wayne, Ind., “Journal Gazette Book Reviews”

Consumer Information — Audio Reading Service, Fort Wayne, Ind., “Broadcast Program Schedule”

Magazines — Audio-Reader Network, Lawrence, Kan., “The Adult Hour”

Magazine Digest —  (three winners) — WXXI Reachout Radio, Rochester, N.Y., “Silver Threads: The Opiod Impact on Elders”; VOICEcorps, Columbus, Ohio, “Keystrokes”; Audio Reading Service, Fort Wayne, Ind., “Wired”

Narrative Reading — Audio-Reader Network, Lawrence, Kan., “The Book Club: Beauty Will Save the World”

Drama and Dramatic Reading — Talking Information Center, Marshfield, Mass., “Dracula”

Thematic Production ­— Audio-Reader Network, Lawrence, Kan., “Springfield Regional News Promo”

Interview and/or Call-In — Virginia Voice, Richmond, Va., “The Mighty Pen Episodes”

Non-Reading Entertainment — Audio-Reader Network, Lawrence, Kan., “New Year’s in History”

On Location — Talking Information Center, Marshfield, Mass., “Sunset Boulevard”

The group say that the entries are judged by staff and volunteers of member stations.

Four Public Affairs Awards were presented. They are designed to honor excellence in member organizations. They are intended to raise awareness of excellence at work in all areas of our sector and honor staff and volunteers who excel in the audio information service field. The winners were:

Excellence in Organizational Leadership — Marjorie Moore, former president and CEO of MindsEye, for her 15 years of leadership where she diversified revenue and guided the organization through a state budget crisis.

Excellence in Communications and Marketing — MindsEye, for their ongoing communications initiative, Arts and Culture Accessibility Cooperative (ACAC).

Volunteer Excellence — Carl Graves, a 21-year volunteer with the Audio-Reader Network. In 2018 Graves dedicated over 520 hours to preparing, creating and reading programming, volunteering an average of 10 hours each week. Graves has also won programming awards.

Excellence in Fundraising — Ultimate Beepball Tournament. Ultimate Beepball Tournament participating teams compete in games of beepball, or blindfolded baseball, a sport that brings together blind and sighted athletes and features a beeping ball and buzzing bases. It introduced by MindsEye in 2007.

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