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.
“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.
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:
- Smart Speakers Grow Even More Important
- Jay Tyler’s Top AoIP Trends
- About the EBU Media Technology Pyramid
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.
The post Wisconsin Broadcasters Clinic Preview: Raspberry Pi appeared first on Radio World.
Vearl Pennington, DW05CB, Burlington, Ohio, DW06BC, Mount Sterling, Kentucky, and DW10BM, Morehead, Kentucky
Radio World’s new ebook “AoIP for 2020” is our biggest to date; find it at radioworld.com/ebooks. This article is one in a series exploring that topic. Author Dee McVicker handles marketing and communications at Wheatstone.
There is far more to AoIP than routing and connecting things. It is because of AoIP that we can pan studio cameras at exactly the right moment or load an entire studio of controls onto a tablet, for example.
Where is this all going?Jay Tyler
Here are the top five AoIP trends, according to Jay Tyler, Wheatstone’s director of sales, who has been involved in hundreds of studio projects.
Native AoIP across distances. There’s a lot of sharing going on these days, from sharing VOs and bumpers between sister stations and sports venues to putting everything into one main operating center for several stations scattered across a region. Being able to move native IP audio and control across distances is why. The cost savings are significant in terms of staff, infrastructure and workflows, and disaster recovery doesn’t get much better than having your essential operation up in a cloud or in another Zip code while dealing with a disaster situation in the studio.
“We don’t care where music lives,” Tyler said. “We can pull it in or we can control it remotely. We can mix it remotely, send it to your transmitter site, bypass the studios, whatever you want us to do, we can now do it using a combination of AoIP logic controls, codecs and connectivity.”
Native IP for phone-ins, too. Connecting VoIP phones directly into the AoIP network without hybrids or stepping through analog-digital conversions means you can do so much more than just route one or two mic feeds down the phone line. You can split feeds, set up multiple sends, customize talkbacks, routing and conference feeds — all possible now that VoIP phones can connect directly into the native IP audio environment.
SNMP everything. “Everyone wants to know what everything is doing, and they’re doing it with SNMP,” he said. SNMP is a set of standards used for monitoring and managing data from servers, printers, hubs and switches. AoIP networks and devices that are SNMP-enabled have MIB files that define relevant data points for monitoring bitrates, temperatures, signal flow and other network details.
For example, WheatNet-IP BLADE I/O units have MIB files with data points for monitoring as well as alerting if a particular port is dropping packets or if a device is heating up and about to fail. In addition to devices containing MIB files, an SNMP browser or management tool is needed for managing networks.
Virtual interfaces into the network. UIs into the IP audio network are taking many forms today, from signal monitoring and switching control panels to news desks complete with talkback button, metering and weather, sports and stock market feeds. Meanwhile, according to Tyler, standalone virtual mixing consoles such as Wheatstone’s Glass LXE are popular in mid-market production rooms because they’re affordable to set up and use, and extremely serviceable for today’s production needs. With native audio IP able to cross distances as mentioned earlier, we can now tap into and control signal streams inside or outside a facility from any user interface available, whether it’s a multi-touch flatscreen or a mobile phone.
AES67 Everywhere. AES67 is no longer an afterthought. This audio transport standard is becoming an important part of the AoIP landscape as we move more and more audio between network systems. Also up and coming are complementary standards based on NMOS and AES70, which promise to add discovery, control and connection management to the interoperability mix.
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AMSTERDAM — The WorldDAB conference “Radio Distribution Strategies for a Connect World” focused on new and innovative ways to reach and attract audiences in a connected world.The speakers’ panel at the WorldDAB session during IBC2019. (L to R) Patrick Hannon, Graham Dixon, Michael McEwen, Jørn Jensen, Simon Mason, Andrew Murphy, Jordi Gimenez and Jacqueline Bierhorst.
During the event, Jørn Jensen, senior adviser at NRK, highlighted how the advent of digital radio reversed the trend of radio listening figures in Norway. For years the overall listening values had been slightly decreasing, similar to what was happening in the rest of Europe.
In 2019, after the completion of the FM switchoff, the listening figures began to rise again, he explained. Clearly, the need to replace a legacy radio receiver with a new, digital-capable one did not scare Norwegians, driving them to leave radio behind and massively embrace alternative audio platforms.
“DAB gave Norwegian listeners a much wider choice,” said Jensen. “Apart from moving from three to 15 national radio channels, 35% of all radio listening is now to ‘digital only’ stations, which previously did not exist.”
Norwegian broadcasters were able to design new stations for smaller target groups outside the mainstream market. The NRK station P1+ (targeting listeners over 55), for example, rose to 6th position during its first week on air.Jørn Jensen said listeners figures rose in Norway after the FM switch-off.
Also, radio commercial revenues can benefit from the digital radio adoption. Even if the United Kingdom experienced a false start with DAB, after 2010 digital radio definitely had a stable comeback there, and now the U.K. is a leading market for DAB.
Overall radio commercial revenue (including FM) followed the rising trend of digital radio popularity. Patrick Hannon, WorldDAB president, emphasized that overall commercial revenues climbed up by 24% from 2014 to 2018.
NATIONAL BRANDSPatrick Hannon, WorldDAB president, gives a keynote speech and wraps up the session.
“Commercial broadcasters usually see more competition and more costs in the
DAB market,” Hannon said. “But DAB gave them the opportunity to establish national brands, which are transforming the perception of commercial radio in the U.K.” In his opinion, national brands are at the heart of the revenue growth.
The WorldDAB session also focused on the need for broadcast digital radio to secure its place through a fluid distribution mix of the advanced markets are now experiencing all around the world.
The session’s speaker panel also included Graham Dixon, head of radio at the EBU); Michael McEwen, director general for NABA; Simon Mason, head of broadcast radio technology at Arqiva, Andrew Murphy, lead research engineer at BBC R&D; Jordi Gimenez, project leader 5G at Institut für Rundfunktechnik; and Jacqueline Bierhorst, on behalf of Radioplayer Worldwide.
All the speakers agreed that a multiplatform digital radio strategy is necessary to preserve the value proposition of radio in a connected and evolving world.
“We have to maintain trustability and relevance — our content has no value, unless people are using it,” Jørn Jensen concluded.
The post Using Digital Radio to Boost Listening Figures and Revenues appeared first on Radio World.
The author is CEO of SSR Communications, owner of WYAB(FM) in central Mississippi.
A proceeding currently before the Federal Communications Commission to provide eligible Zone II Class A commercial FM broadcasters an opportunity to upgrade from 6 kilowatts to 12 kilowatts has not attracted a great number of headlines this year, but that has not prevented the FM Class C4 proposal from making some significant strides as of late.
Most noteworthy, the Class C4 FM idea has attracted some powerful allies. In January, the proposal won the backing of the Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, sitting chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the Congressional body that maintains direct oversight over the FCC. Sen. Wicker noted that the power increase could be of particular benefit to “small and rural radio stations” in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. In his February, 2019 reply, Chairman Pai agreed by saying that the FM Class C4 option “could be especially important for small, minority-owned stations that currently cannot serve their entire communities.”
Sen. Wicker now joins the list of approximately 130 small broadcasters who filed comments in full support during the FM Class C4 Notice of Inquiry (MB 18-184, FCC 18-69) filing windows in September, 2018. Several years prior, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai first advocated for the new station class in September, 2016 at the NAB/RAB Radio Show in Nashville, Tenn., and going back further, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) supported the effort in 2013 when it helped author the original proposal.
Predictably, a turf war has erupted between the small broadcasters that the FM Class C4 proposal would benefit, and larger license holders who generally control the biggest signals in any given market. The National Association of Broadcasters did not support the introduction of a new station class, which is unsurprising, as that same organization vehemently opposed the creation of the FM Class C0 allotment type some 20 years earlier. Although larger companies stopped short of endorsing the idea fully, some nationwide broadcasters did come out in support of the FM Class C4 concept, including Educational Media Foundation, while iHeartMedia did not oppose the new station class in its comments.
The current sticking point in the FM Class C4 proceeding appears to stem from a component of the proposal that would give certain underbuilt Section 73.207-licensed stations a Section 73.215 designation, provided that the affected station has operated under its maximum antenna height, power level, or equivalent thereof, for a period of ten years or more. Under the current FCC rules, a neighboring station looking to upgrade that is adjacent to an underbuilt Section 73.207-licensed station must treat that station as if it were fully built out, whereas a Section 73.215 station can be protected assuming its actual antenna height and power level.
The practice of treating underbuilt stations as if they were fully constructed can have large implications for smaller adjacent stations wanting to upgrade in power or situate their antenna sites more favorably. For example, a full FM Class C1 station is able to broadcast with 100 kilowatts of power from an antenna height above average terrain of 299 meters. If that station were to have an antenna height of only 200 meters above average terrain, then its primary service contour would be about 5 miles short of what a fully built FM Class C1 facility could reach. Any competing neighboring station looking to upgrade is compelled to protect that underbuilt station for five extra miles of coverage that it does not (or if underbuilt for more than 10 years, likely will not ever) serve.
In August, 2019, SSR Communications Inc., which co-authored the FM Class C4 petition with MMTC, presented a revised version of the Section 73.215 aspect of the proposal to the FCC’s Audio Division. The amended plan would still call for redesignation of certain underbuilt Section 73.207 licensed stations as Section 73.215 authorizations, but would also provide a 3 dB protective “buffer zone” to allow the affected stations an opportunity to relocate or build out more fully in the future. The buffer zone would create a protective bubble around underbuilt stations, usually amounting to anywhere from 3 to7 miles, depending on how severely underpowered or under-height the affected station may be.
This 3 dB buffer zone “compromise” would resolve the controversial aspects of the FM Class C4 proposal and should allow the proposal to advance. The buffer eliminates almost all scenarios in which an affected reclassified Section 73.215 facility could be hemmed in and blocked from making future service improvements or tower relocations. It would also disincentivize the Section 73.215 conference procedure for stations seeking such towards neighboring underbuilt Section 73.207 facilities in almost all cases, except for those involving Section 73.207 stations that are the most decidedly underbuilt with respect to their class. Indirectly, the buffer prevents almost any scenario in which a secondary service could be affected by the Section 73.215 component of the FM Class C4 idea.
Meanwhile, an alternative waiver-based path towards a FM Class C4 equivalent facility may also soon exist. In July, 2018, WRTM(FM) 100.5 MHz asked the Federal Communications Commission to consider allowing the station to double in power from 6 kilowatts to 12 kilowatts. If granted, the WRTM waiver application would establish new precedent and provide certain Class A FM stations an opportunity to enjoy an improvement in coverage.
Unlike the FM Class C4 proposal, the WRTM application (BPH-20180716AAC) suggests that, in order to double in power, a Class A FM licensee should guarantee that its upgraded signal would not impact vital LPFM and FM translator services. Also departing from the Class C4 FM proceeding is the idea that a neighboring Section 73.207-licensed station could still be reclassified as a Section 73.215 facility if it is not built out fully, but only if that station has been operating below its antenna height or maximum power level for a period of 30 years (the FM Class C4 proposal states that a 10-year window is appropriate). The WRTM filing backs this argument by saying, “No zoning problem, FAA issue, or cost consideration could not be resolved within 30 years if the desire is truly there to build out fully.”
Whether moving forward “as is,” as an amended proposal with a 3 dB buffer zone consideration, as a waiver-based procedure for eligible stations, or something else altogether, what will happen next in the FM Class C4 proceeding is anyone’s guess. What is clear is, however, is that hundreds of FM Class A stations would be able to double in power and would gladly do so if given such an opportunity. With support in high places, it seems as if a breakthrough is just around the corner, and it could be sooner than later that the FM Class C4 idea moves from concept to reality.
A recent visit to the small agricultural town of Hughson, Calif., led Enforcement Bureau staff to note that one Spanish-language station was in alleged violation when it came to lighting and painting its tower/antenna and noting on-air proper station identification.
The agent noted that on more than one occasion, there was no station identification announcement at the hour for KLOC(AM) 1390 kHz, which is licensed by La Favorita Radio Network. FCC rules say that broadcast station identification announcements shall be made hourly and as close to the hour as feasible.
The agent also noted several alleged tower and antenna issues, including irregular painting on an antenna installation, inadequate lighting, failure to notify the commission about inoperable lighting and faded painting.
The FCC Rules lay out specific requirements when it comes to painting and lighting towers and antennas — even relying on a paint tolerance chart created by the Federal Aviation Administration and given the heavy name of an In-Service Aviation Orange Tolerance Chart. FCC Rules also say that antenna structures should be cleaned and repainted as often as necessary to maintain good visibility.
So, too, are the FCC rules clear on tower lighting. A tower must be painted for visibility during daytime; during the night, a series of top flashing red obstruction lights and midpoint sidelights must be lit and operational. When those lights are not operating for some reason, the owner of the antenna structure has to report the problem to the FAA unless the lights are corrected within a 30-minute time frame. That notice — called an FAA Notice to Airmen — hadn’t yet been filed by the station, the Enforcement Bureau said.
The FCC has given La Favorita 20 days to submit a written statement explaining the violations and to clarify what action will be taken from here. The commission said it may take further action if warranted, including issuing a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture.
The post Small AM Station Hit With Violation Notice Over Tower and Station ID appeared first on Radio World.
When it comes to requesting a reimbursement for repack-related expenses, the clock starts now.
Low-power TV, translator and FM radio stations have a pool of $150 million from which to request funds after the Federal Communications Commission voted in March to allocate additional funding for those adversely impacted by the post-incentive auction TV station repack. The FCC Incentive Auction Task Force and the Media Bureau have since outlined procedures for reimbursing those left out of the first round of funding from the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund.
The first step, according to a webinar hosted by Hillary DeNigro, deputy chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, is to get a reimbursement form filed in the LMS database (known as FCC Form 2100, Schedule 300). The deadline for that filing is Oct. 15. That form includes an eligibility section as well as a broadcaster relocation reimbursement estimates section.
Next up: file a banking form (Form 1876) in the CORES incentive action financial module database to clarify where funds should be sent.
In the webinar, attorneys and specialists from the FCC walked listeners through the eligibility requirements charts for this process, noting that are unique and separate rules for LPTVs, translators and FM stations when it comes to eligibility.
See the charts for eligibility requirements for both LPTV/TV translator stations and FM stations.
But DeNigro stressed stations should not wait to receive feedback on whether or not they are eligible for stations to start submitting expenses. “You should not wait to receive feedback on eligibility,” she said. “We encourage you to not wait but to [go ahead and] submit the forms because we are reviewing materials as we receive them.”
How much can a station expect to receive? That will be dependent a number of factors, DeNigro said, including the number of stations that file, the aggregate dollar value of verified estimates received by the commission, and the amount available for reimbursement based on that category of stations.
Payments will be made on a rolling basis; so get your invoices in, she said. “You don’t need to until you have everything together before you submit payment.”
Once a station’s move is finalized and all expenses have been accounted for, a final form 399 is needed to let the commission know that you’re closing out your account. The deadline for those forms is July 3, 2023.
The post FCC: The Time to Request Repack Reimbursements Starts Now appeared first on Radio World.