One in a series of articles celebrating radio’s first century.
Nov. 2, 1920, traditionally is recognized as the start of radio broadcasting in the United States. It’s the date that station KDKA broadcast the Harding-Cox election returns from a primitive transmitter atop a Westinghouse factory building in Pittsburgh. But in reality, broadcasting had been taking place on an experimental, irregular basis for more than 10 years prior.
Notable early experimenters included Reginald Fessenden in Massachusetts, Charles Herrold in California, Vincent Kraft in Seattle and Frank Conrad in Pittsburgh. And perhaps the most prominent of these early experimenters was Lee de Forest (1873-1961), the radio scientist noted for his invention of the triode vacuum tube.“ELEMENTS OF CULTURE” Lee de Forest transmits into an early arc transmitter, about 1910. Two telephone microphones are joined in parallel to create a double button carbon mic. The arc chamber is attached to the right side of the transmitter cabinet. To the right is an Audion receiver.
De Forest had envisioned the concept of broadcasting news and music to an unseen audience as early as 1907, while experimenting with the transmission of voice using primitive arc transmitters.
“I had in mind its great usefulness as a means for broadcasting news and music entirely in addition to the use of the wireless telephone as a means of two-way communication by voice,” he wrote later. “From the beginning, (as) a great lover of opera and fine music, I was intent on developing the means and methods for broadcast distribution of these elements of culture to widely scattered audiences.”
De Forest conducted a number of demonstrations of voice transmission between 1906 and 1910, principally for the U.S. Navy, in which he broadcast phonograph music as well as the live voices of opera singers. In 1910, he broadcast a live performance from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, although the sound quality was poor and almost no one heard the broadcast.
In 1914, Lee de Forest sold his “Audion” vacuum tube patents to AT&T, but he wisely retained the rights to use tubes for distribution of news and music, and to manufacture devices capable of receiving these broadcasts. AT&T foresaw no commercial value in broadcasting, and so readily conceded to this clause in the contract.Here is de Forest with one of his first Oscillon transmitters, similar to one used at Highbridge. Before 1915, de Forest and others used arc transmitters, and he was apparently the first to develop a tube transmitter. (Perham de Forest papers, History San Jose)
Then de Forest established a laboratory at 1391 Sedgewick Avenue in the Highbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, where he developed a high-power vacuum tube capable of radio transmitting, which he called the Oscillon.
In 1915, de Forest received an experimental station license with the call sign 2XG and began experimental transmissions of concerts and news bulletins on a wavelength of 800 meters (375 kHz). It was the first radio station to use vacuum tubes instead of obsolete arc or spark technologies.
In October of 1916, he made a cross-promotion agreement with the Columbia Gramaphone Company, and 2XG began broadcasting the latest Columbia recordings three nights a week.
Carl Dreher, a young amateur operator, later recalled being a regular 2XG listener: “The quality was quite good, and I used to listen to the station for hours at a time.”De Forest with singer Mary White, broadcasting from 6XC at the California Theater in San Francisco.
On Nov. 7, 1916, de Forest broadcast the returns of the Woodrow Wilson-Charles Evans Hughes presidential election, four years before KDKA. De Forest later wrote: “The New York American ran a wire line into our office so as to have the up-to-the-minute reports. I myself served as one of the announcers. At 11 o’clock that night we signed off, after assuring our invisible audience that Hughes had been elected president.” The next morning, he was horrified to find out that late results from California had in fact reelected Woodrow Wilson for a second term.
It was estimated that 7,000 people heard de Forest’s broadcast that night, including listeners as far away as North Carolina.RADIO SILENCE Soprano Ruth Phipps sings over 6XC in San Francisco.
After the United States entered the World War, all private radio stations were ordered off the air on April 17, 1917. The operators were instructed to take down their antennas and disassemble their transmitters. The general public was even prohibited from operating a radio receiver. As a result, all other early broadcast experimentation was halted.
Lee de Forest’s 2XG was shut down, along with the stations operated by Frank Conrad in Pittsburgh and Charles Herrold in California.
The receiver ban was not lifted until April 15, 1919, while the restriction against transmitting ended on September 26. De Forest immediately reopened his 2XG Highbridge station, and on Nov. 8 he broadcast the play-by-play results of a Wesleyan-New York University football game. Popular New York vocalist Vaughn De Leath also made the first of a series of live broadcasts, earning her the title of “The Original Radio Girl.”Vaughn De Leath, the “Original Radio Girl,” first broadcast over de Forest’s station 2XG in 1920.
Early in 1920, de Forest moved the 2XG transmitter to the top of the World Tower Building in Manhattan, giving him improved coverage and easy access to performers in the city’s theater district. But Radio Inspector Arthur Batcheller ordered 2XG to cease operations because he had not requested prior government approval for the move. “There is no room in the ether for entertainment,” Batcheller declared.
Undaunted, de Forest packed up his equipment and took it to San Francisco, where he opened 6XC in the California Theatre, the city’s most opulent motion picture house. His 1,000 watt transmitter broadcast on 1260 meters (238 kHz) into an antenna suspended between the theatre building and an adjoining bank building. On Jan. 28, 1920, he wrote: “California Theater radiophone is in pretty good shape. Antenna on Humboldt Tower is not ideal, but the music has been heard 1,200 miles out to sea.”
By April of 1920, six months before KDKA, 6XC was airing daily broadcasts of Herman Heller’s 50-piece orchestra live from the stage of the theatre.
A microphone attached to a large Magnavox horn was hung 40 feet above the stage to pick up the music. Live singers also performed into individual microphones, and harp and piano soloists were broadcast. To allow the transmission of phonograph records, a steel needle was connected directly to the diaphragm of a microphone mounted on the tone arm. Demonstration receivers were set up in clubs, hospitals and hotels around the area to introduce the public to the potential of radio broadcasting.
In September, ARRL President Hiram Percy Maxim addressed the 6XC audience, predicting that radio broadcasting would one day serve audiences in the millions.OTHER INTERESTS Late in 1921, Lee de Forest closed 6XC at the California Theater. It was relicensed as KZY by the Atlantic-Pacific Company, and installed in the Rock Ridge neighborhood of Oakland. Seen here is the de Forest 1 kW transmitter, left, and an Interpanel receiver at right.
But de Forest was beginning to lose interest in radio. His professional interests were being directed towards the development of his “Phonofilm” sound-on-film technology, and his radio work was delegated to others in the company.
And so in late 1921, after originating more than 1,500 separate broadcasts from the California Theatre, 6XC was shut down and the equipment was transferred to the Atlantic-Pacific Radio Corporation, the de Forest Radio Telephone and Telegraph Company’s Western representative. A new station was installed in the company president’s home in the Rock Ridge area of Oakland, and KZY, “The Rock Ridge Station,” soon debuted.
KZY went on the air at midnight on Christmas Day, 1921, broadcasting several hours of Christmas carols. It quickly developed a large and loyal following in the Bay Area, and was heard clearly at night throughout the Western states. Live and recorded music programs were supplemented by news reports provided by the San Francisco Call and the Oakland Post-Enquirer.
But soon, like so many pioneer broadcasters, the new operators lost interest in funding the high cost of a radio station without any incoming revenue, and KZY had ceased operation by the end of 1922.
Back in New York, one of de Forest’s employees, engineer Robert Gowen, assumed responsibility for the company’s broadcasting activities. He built station 2XX at his home in Ossining and broadcast phonograph and live music each night at 11 p.m.Lee de Forest works on his invention of the “dynatherm,” a medical device used on radio waves, in 1937.
Vaughn De Leath again was heard on the New York airwaves, and news reports were broadcast nightly. 2XX operated from December 1919 to May 1921 with 300 watts on 330 meters, and was heard by amateurs around the country.
In 1921, the Department of Commerce became concerned that too many amateur and experimental stations were broadcasting programs intended for the general public, and so in the fall of 1921 it created a new “Limited Commercial” license class specifically for broadcasting. All stations were required to share just two frequencies: 360 meters (833 kHz) and 485 meters (619 kHz). All other classes of licenses were forbidden from broadcasting music and news.
And so, in order to continue broadcasting, the de Forest Company closed 2XX and obtained a Limited Commercial license on Oct. 13, 1921, with the randomly-assigned call sign WJX. But apparently, the station was never a serious venture and appears to have operated only sporadically. The license was finally deleted in June of 1924, marking the end of Lee de Forest’s radio broadcasting activities.
The renowned inventor spent the majority of his remaining career on the development of his sound-on-film system. It fell to the big electrical corporations — General Electric, Westinghouse, RCA and AT&T — to develop radio broadcasting into a solid commercial technology.
John Schneider is a lifetime radio historian, author of two books and dozens of articles on the subject, and a Fellow of the California Historical Radio Society. He wrote in Radio World in December about KJR in Seattle, perhaps the first station in the U.S. to achieve a century of continuous broadcast activity.
REFERENCES & FURTHER READING
- “Father of Radio” by Lee de Forest
- “De Forest — King of Radio, Television, and Film” by Mike Adams
- “The Airwaves of New York: Illustrated Histories of 156 AM Stations in the Metropolitan Area, 1921–1996” by Bill Jaker, Frank Sulek and Peter Kanze
- “Radio News” Magazine, June, 1921
- “Pacific Radio News” Magazine, July 1920
- “Radio” Magazine, February, 1922
- San Francisco Chronicle, March 24, 1922
- Wikipedia: “Radio 2XG”
- “Post-war Experimentation and Development” by Thomas H. White
- “Chronology of AM Radio Broadcasting 1900-1960” by Jeff Miller
The author is founder, College Radio Foundation and College Radio Day, and a professor at William Paterson University, New Jersey.
For many of us who started our broadcast careers in college radio, we still recall the memories of the experiences we had and the extraordinary bonding we shared with other students at the radio station. For most of us, it was in that environment that we not only learned or confirmed that we wanted to work in radio as a career, but we also created some friendships that would last a lifetime.
That all feels suddenly on hold for college radio students today. It seems that the very heart of their campus experience has been ripped away from them. Right now, most college radio stations studios are empty. The music director’s office is silent. The newsrooms are shut down, and the lounge area has empty sofas and chairs, with things left out on desks and tables, such as open magazines with half-read articles, unchecked lists of tasks that needed to be completed before spring break, and schedules for shows that will likely never take place. It’s like stumbling onto the Mary Celeste, a place that has been hastily abandoned on short notice.
“Our students were on Spring Break when the world began to shut down. Their belongings were still on campus, and the uncertainty of what was next was definitely a huge factor on their anxiety levels,” said Anabella Poland, GM at WMSC, Montclair State University in New Jersey. “As information began to trickle down from authorities, there was a shift to first sadness, grieving their loss of community, loss of togetherness, and for some, the loss of their last semester on campus and all the celebratory activities this semester would bring.” For many involved in college radio, the shutdown was a massive blow.
For example, at the radio station that I manage, WPSC — Brave New Radio, at William Paterson University in New Jersey, we have had to cancel all our planned major events for the rest of this academic year. No more Braveathon, no annual Alumni Weekend (devastating for the alumni who love coming back), and no game coverage for our sports crew that lives and breathes competitive sports.
But there is hope, a resistance to the circumstances that the students now find themselves in. The COVID-19 situation may have resulted in campuses closing across the country, and the world, but students are not staying silent. Many students involved with college radio have quickly adapted and are finding new ways to create radio and find a way to communicate that to their audiences. It’s heartening to witness their passion combined with sheer ingenuity, to create and share content that provides information and comfort to a listening audience.
That’s true at WMSC, whose staff went from a period of mourning their losses to switching “to strength and sheer determination, to not let this time define us, and to explore the available options to continue to service our community,” said Poland. The students quickly committed to continuing their meetings and creating content, and “While emotions do vary day-to-day, based on news headlines and on each student’s individual circumstances, the group’s morale when they come together in virtual meetings and shows is good.” Poland shared, “I am not a psychologist, but I always begin my meetings asking how everybody is doing, I validate their shared feelings.”WMSC’s Anabella Poland is creating programming from home.
At Neumann University in Pennsylvania, close to Philadelphia, resiliency is a way of life. Director of Neumann Media, Sean McDonald, has been very busy. “Morale at my station (WNUW) has progressively gotten better,” he says. After the sudden shock of the situation, “The initial response was dead air. Nobody wanted to do anything,” said McDonald. But now the students are back to creating content.
“Because of my background in broadcast engineering, I quickly go into problem solving mode,” and so right now, “WNUW is fully operational, even though I am the only person legally allowed into the station. I took home a bunch of equipment and created my own remote studio/master control, and have complete control of our TV and radio studios. My students are doing both prerecorded and live radio shows in a variety of methods,” he explained.
Those methods include using Discord to record shows, as well as Skype, Zoom or MS Teams. But because of McDonald’s engineering background he has been able to set-up a lot of technology from his home. “I have been using Axia’s SoftSurface over our school’s VPN client to control our Axia Fusion console. I set-up our record bus to a recorded feed in our iProfiler system, so I can hear callers that may call the studio through the Live Player app, and I have VPN access to control our RCS Zetta system … I’ve also given the more tech-savvy students access to the Comrex FieldTap app, and they can dial into one of my other Comrex units to get on the air. Like I said, having a broadcast engineering background certainly comes in handy during a pandemic!”Sean McDonald with his home studio setup.
Poland is also using similar strategies and technologies to keep WMSC on the air. “We began broadcasting via Zoom on FB Live and uploading the shows to YouTube and SoundCloud, and then our chief engineer procured the necessary software to remote us into the station. Now we do our morning show live Monday through Friday. We also host two other news shows live. As we get more comfortable with this new modus operandi, we are adding prerecorded shows to our RCS NexGen lineup.”
Both Poland and McDonald have been working together to develop a project called the College Radio News Network (CRNN), which was conceived by Poland a while ago, and was already being used to share content and programming for celebratory occasions such as the annual College Radio Day and Vinylthon events. But the current situation now offers a perfect scenario for people to collaborate and share material that would help stations in this difficult time. The CRNN could be a vital tool for college radio stations during this time of social distancing, allowing students from college stations across the world to connect, share content, and participate in each other’s broadcasts.
So, looking to improve the process, Poland reached out to McDonald at Neumann University, to create a space that would allow for easy content sharing. “In order to keep the CRNN free to use and access, I had to find a way for stations to be able to contribute content that would not take too much time — I was looking for a way for people to easily upload and download content. Sean’s extensive technological background was vital to creating that space,” said Poland.
McDonald was able to set-up a space on a secure server at his university and was happy to help Poland take her idea to the next level. “The College Radio Network is the baby of Anabella Poland. We all have different perspectives, coming from all over the country. The idea of the website is to share copyright-free material created by college radio, for college radio. Newscasts are how this started, but we’re also looking to share coronavirus content in various forms. From interviews with front line workers, to diaries of how you’re feeling, to play-by-play of your mother in the kitchen making pancakes (true story), we want to give content to stations to share and to be the voice of the pandemic. There’s no obligation or pressure, just another resource to use during this strange time in our world,” said McDonald.
Other initiatives are also taking place, such as the College Coronavirus Coverage Awards, organized by four major journalism organizations — The Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Collegiate Press, the Society for News Design, and College Broadcasters Inc. — who have joined forces to recognize college journalists who are “admirably covering a pandemic for little or no money while struggling with online classes.” The awards invite content from students “about COVID-19 that informed your audience of students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni,” according to the website.
All these developments and initiatives are evidence that this difficult time can be met with responses of ingenuity and determination to connect with others. “Bringing my studio to my house has made me excited to go to work, and excited to problem solve,” said McDonald. He added, “Right now I’m loving what I’m doing and I’m making the best of it!” There is the belief that college radio should not be silent during this time. As Poland says, for her students, “There is a sense of urgency and duty to be on the front lines covering a historic moment, and to not allow the virus to take that from them.”
Perhaps something good can come from a bleak moment in time, and college radio can step up and help fill the silence.
One small pleasure denied us with the decision not to hold the NAB Show in April was that we aren’t able to see the new expansion of the LVCC under construction. But when broadcasters do come back to Vegas, we won’t be able to miss it.
With nearly 2 million square feet of exhibition space, the Las Vegas Convention Center has always been a spacious facility for NAB Shows. But thanks to the $980 million expansion project now underway, the LVCC is adding 600,000 square feet of exhibition space called the West Hall, an outdoor plaza and a new grand atrium. What was spacious before will be even more vast.
The expanded LVCC will have an entrance facing the famous Las Vegas Strip. For those familiar with the city landscape, the 60-year-old Riviera Hotel and Casino was cleared to make room for this new facility.
But that’s Vegas, a one-of-a-kind destination that is constantly reinventing itself.BIG, BIG, BIG
“Las Vegas is a city built for moments that change lives, and now we’re expanding to better serve the moments that change business,” said John S. Schreiber, vice president of business sales with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The LVCVA is the owner/operator of the LVCC.The future West Hall exterior.
“These additions and improvements will keep Las Vegas as a top destination for meetings, events and tradeshows.”
To put it mildly, the expanded LVCC will be huge, so huge that it will include a three-station underground loop tunnel system traversed by self-driven Tesla electric vehicles to move convention-goers around.
Las Vegas is the kind of town where a tourist can clearly see their destination but then spend half-an-hour walking towards it without making much apparent progress.
The current LVCC with its North, Central and South Halls fits into the city’s “Big, Big Big!” tradition. And when the West Hall opens in January 2021 — its first event will be CES 2021 — it will push those limits even further even by Vegas standards.
Construction of the new LVCC West Hall, outdoor plaza and grand atrium is in full swing. “The project is currently more than 70% complete,” said Schreiber in early 2020. And once it is done, the LVCVA will start renovating the current North, Central and South Halls to bring them up to the West Hall’s standards; that work is scheduled to be finished in 2023.
(Target dates in this story were gathered prior to the global coronavirus emergency but an LVCVA official said in late March that the dates remained valid so far.)PHASED COORDINATION
“The LVCC expansion and renovation project was designed in phases to accommodate the needs of all shows utilizing the facility with minimal disruption,” Schreiber told RW.
The work was not expected to have an effect on the 2020 show, according to Chris Brown, the NAB’s EVP of conventions and business operations. Construction was to be limited to the new West Building. “The LVCVA has done a good job of coordinating with major shows like ours to minimize the effects of their construction and renovation plans. They have set their schedule to work around the big events.”
Looking farther ahead, Brown said that he anticipated “one year of challenge” in 2022.
“We will lose access to the Central Hall as it is taken off-line to undergo much-needed renovations,” he said. “This means we will be in a situation where we will use West, North — renovated at that point — and South. So we will need to come up with supplemental transportation options to help move people between the three halls.”A free underground system will move attendees quickly among three station stops.
The underground tunnel loop being built by Elon Musk’s Boring Company should be online by 2021.
Excavation of the first of the two vehicular tunnels was completed in February. The boring machine tunneled 40 feet underground for nearly a mile over three months, then broke through a concrete wall near the West Hall expansion. The project is designed to transport up to 4,400 convention attendees per hour.
“This is an exciting new transportation concept and will provide a highly-advanced and unique underground transport option to move people from one corner of the campus to the other using Tesla vehicles,” said Brown.
“It will ultimately move a high volume of people at rapid speeds. For instance, it will only take a couple of minutes to go from the tip of West to the tip of the South Hall.”BIGGER, BETTER SHOWS
Once all phases of the LVCC expansion and renovation have been completed in 2023, the facility’s extra room will allow for bigger, better NAB conventions.
“We are excited about the expansion as it will not only provide access to more space, but to more flexible space,” said NAB’s Brown.
“For instance, the new West Building includes a large, centralized meeting room complex that includes great swing space and some larger room options. This opens up some possibilities for us, including moving our Main Stage programs to that area or maybe adding a second spot for larger sessions. We are also considering some creative uses of that space; perhaps using it for more experiential purposes, special demo areas, combo learning and networking areas.
“Another great feature of the new West Hall is a sizable outdoor balcony space that is perfect for receptions and other networking,” Brown added. “So we will definitely be incorporating the West Hall immediately.”
Adding more floor space potentially means more walking; would NAB add other options such as Segways, electric carts or other people movers to help delegates get around the larger LVCC more comfortably?
“Some of that will depend on how we are using the space from one year to the next,” replied Brown. “In 2022 we will likely have to consider some of these options to help facilitate flow between the buildings. The Boring system will certainly help in all scenarios, but we also understand it won’t cover the need entirely.”
Brown expressed excitement about the long-term impact.
“The plan is being undertaken not just to add the space, but to create a more modern facility with better and more flexible space. And at a point in time where we are very focused on evolving and enhancing the experience that we deliver through the NAB Show, those enhancements will have a very positive effect.
“It is also true that more space means more options for us, both in terms of what space we choose to use and how we use it. The rest, the getting around part, is all an operational challenge — and I think our team is pretty good at figuring out how to manage those challenges.”
Before it starts to get too hot, now is a good time to check your cooling systems — both at the transmitter and for the studio and rack room.
Studio air handlers can be wedged above the actual studio or technical operations center, which can be a nightmare should the condensate drain get clogged with algae and then overflow.
Whether you do the maintenance yourself or you contract an HVAC company, schedule it now.
If you’re doing the work, remove the PVC cleanout cap atop the drain trap (shown in Fig. 1). With a bottle brush — buy one in the housewares/kitchen supply section of a grocery store — clean out the trap. Pour clean water down the trap as you go to speed the process. After cleaning, store the bottle brush next to the condensate drain, so it will be handy next time.
Once the trap is clean, I’ve seen some HVAC techs pour a little bleach into the drain. The big box stores sell an alternative, Air Conditioner Drain Pan Tablets. These tablets are placed in the drain pan and last about a month. Their chemical makeup prevents the buildup of algae, slime and scale, keeping the drain clear. Two hundred tablets run about $30; smaller quantities are available for about $1/tablet.
We write a lot about redundancy. In a large transmitter building, your cooling backup may consist of a second air conditioner. An alternative is forced air cooling, as pictured in Fig. 2, should the air conditioning fail.Fig. 2: High-efficiency filters combined with a louvered air intake can keep a transmitter site cool, should the air conditioning fail.
An air vent, even if it’s filtered, would defeat the job the air conditioning does, so adding motorized louvers is recommended. As shown in Fig. 3, the louvers are controlled by a thermostat, which drives a motor to open them when high temperature is detected. You’ll probably need to remove the air filters to inspect the operation of this seldom-used backup system. Maintenance includes lubricating the linkage that controls the louvers, and watching for smooth operation as the louvers open and close.Fig. 3: Inspect the thermostat, motors and linkage that open and close the louvers on your backup air system.
If you’re not using high-efficiency air filters, as in Fig. 2, consider doing so; they’re worth the extra cost. We don’t get to transmitter sites as often as we used to, and these filters will keep your equipment cleaner. While you’re at it, measure the filter sizes of your transmitters and convert them to the higher-efficiency filters as well.
You can reduce cost by buying in bulk. Once you have your filter sizes, search online for bulk air filters. Of course, Amazon sells a variety, but also check acFilters4Less.com; they offer free shipping.
We’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating: With so many sites to cover, keeping track of the filter change dates can be difficult. With a Sharpie-type permanent marker, write the date of install on the new filters. Depending on the local conditions, plan on inspecting their condition every month and replacing as needed. Most sites can get by with a quarterly filter change.
You’ll find a variety of air conditioning maintenance videos online — just search for air conditioning maintenance.***
Veteran San Francisco contract and projects engineer Bill Ruck enjoyed reading Frank Hertel’s tips regarding rodent control in transmitter buildings. Bill adds two things.
First, regarding rat poison. A poisoned rodent goes looking for water and may die outside. The body is then eaten by one of their natural predators, and the poison kills the predator. Natural predators like coyotes and raptors control rodents for free, so think hard about the effects of using poison.
Engineers will find this useful: Bill’s wife Siobhan shared a website called R.A.T.S., which stands for Raptors Are The Solution. Their home page www.raptorsarethesolution.org encourages you not to use toxins for controlling rodents. As you will read, poison not only kills birds of prey, but also dogs and cats.
If you feel it necessary to kill rodents, Bill suggests snap traps. Bill is one of many volunteers at the KPH Project, the Maritime Radio Historical Society. The National Park Service, which owns the society’s sites, prohibits the use of poison, so Bill says they had to seek out alternatives. They have found that electric traps also work well, especially for larger rodents.
Bill’s second point refers to airborne disease. He says Frank was lucky that he only got a bacterial infection and not Hantavirus after his rodent experience.
There is no cure for Hanta, and the mortality rate is 38%. Keep that in mind if you encounter a site littered with mouse droppings.
Bill offers a suggestion when cleaning up mouse droppings: First, wet them down with a dilute chlorine bleach solution. It’s best to wear a respirator. Then, wear gloves and use paper towels to clean up the mess. Dispose of the used towels carefully, preferably in a plastic bag that you seal.
There’s useful information about Hantavirus on Wikipedia and the Centers for Disease Control. He also recommends a PDF from the CDC. It explains Hantavirus, how it’s spread and safe procedures to clean up, should you encounter a rodent infestation.
Bill concludes that the best overall long-term solution for mice infestations is to follow Frank’s tips for prevention, especially never leaving any food or drinks or anything that smells of food (like fast food wrappers) in your transmitter building. Practice good housekeeping.
John Bisset has spent over 50 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles western U.S. radio sales for the Telos Alliance. He holds CPBE certification with the Society of Broadcast Engineers and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.
For the millions who are stuck at home, the National Recording Registry has a few new suggestions on how to inspire nostalgia or arouse baseball fervor — and much of it came to you through your radio.
The U.S. Library of Congress recently named more than two dozen recordings as national aural treasures worthy of preservation because of their cultural, historical and aesthetic importance to the nation’s recorded sound heritage.
What makes that list? The opening melody from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood;” the thrilling play-by-play of the 1951 National League tiebreaker between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers and even the Village People’s international dance anthem “Y.M.C.A.” Those are among the newest recordings recently inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.
“The National Recording Registry is the evolving playlist of the American soundscape. It reflects moments in history captured through the voices and sounds of the time,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. The library received more than 800 nominations this year.
Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the librarian, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB), is tasked with annually selecting 25 titles that are for culturally, historically or aesthetically significant and are at least 10 years old. The new recordings bring the total number of titles on the registry to 550, a small part of the Library’s vast recorded-sound collection of nearly three million items.
Of the different genres and formats, listeners can find old radio sportscasts, classical recordings, jazz music and songs so knowable that it only takes a few notes to decipher its origin — take, for example, the disco hit “Y.M.C.A.” The new group of recordings also include the vibrant 2008 “Percussion Concerto” album and Dr. Dre’s debut studio album “The Chronic” (1992). Other selections include the 1920 jazz swing “Whispering” by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra; Puccini’s “Tosca,” performed by Maria Callas; and the first commercial digital recording of symphonic music in the United States by the Cleveland Symphonic Winds. Several recordings on the list were made by some of America’s female changemakers, including Memphis Minnie, one of the most popular female country blues singers of all time and her single “Me and My Chauffeur Blues,” which was recorded in 1941.
Also on the list: comedy radio classics. Allan Sherman’s comedy classic from 1963, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” made the registry this year, a fact that would have astonished its author, said Sherman’s son, Robert Sherman. “It’s still something that people care, sing about. It would have amazed my father, 50-plus years since he wrote it.” Other ’60s classics include the original version of “Wichita Lineman,” written by Jimmy Webb and recorded by country music singer Glen Campbell in 1968.
Recordings of several radio broadcasts made the list too: an episode of “Arch Oboler’s Plays,” one of the earliest American old-time horror radio programs, and the announcement of the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy made by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor during the recording of a live performance on Nov. 22, 1963.
And lest we forget the appeal of our nation’s pastime, the Library of Congress selected Russ Hodges’ call of the 1951 National League tiebreaker between the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers.
In that game, the Giants were down two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning of the final game of the three-game playoff. Ralph Branca was pitching for the Dodgers, Bobby Thomson came to bat, and Willie Mays was on deck.
“Ralph was a good, good pitcher. Didn’t have a real good curve but a good fastball,” the legendary Mays said to the Library of Congress. “And he placed it a lot, so I thought they would do the same thing with Bobby. Walk him and pitch to me because they knew that was my first year.”
They didn’t. Instead, Thomson hit a walk-off home run — the “Shot Heard ’Round the World” — and gave the Giants one of the most dramatic victories in baseball history.
Registry titles are preserved at the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, a facility with more than 7 million collection items where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings.
Here are two well-known recordings that made the list.
The 1951 National League Tiebreaker: New York Giants vs. Brooklyn Dodgers — Russ Hodges, announcer (Oct. 3, 1951)
In 1951, the New York Giants won 37 of their final 44 games to catch their crosstown rival Brooklyn Dodgers, forcing a three-game playoff for the National League pennant. The teams split the first two games, setting up the decisive tiebreaker at the famed Polo Grounds. In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Dodgers led 4 to 1. The Giants had scored a run and had runners at second and third with one out when third baseman Bobby Thomson stepped into the batter’s box. Ralph Branca’s first pitch was a called strike. As he released his next pitch, Giants announcer Russ Hodges said, “Branca throws…” and then shouted, “There’s a long drive. It’s gonna be, I believe — the Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” This game was actually covered by several legendary announcers, including Hodges (Giants radio), Ernie Harwell (Giants TV), Red Barber (Dodgers radio) and Gordon McLendon (the national broadcast). But it is Hodges’ call that is most remembered and which so vividly captures not only the action on the field but also the excitement of the moment — truly the thrill of victory and one of the greatest calls in all of sportscasting.
WGBH broadcast of the Boston Symphony on the day of the John F. Kennedy Assassination, Boston Symphony Orchestra (1963)
The ageless adage of “drawing comfort through music” had never been more thoroughly tested than on the scheduled afternoon broadcast of the Boston Symphony, with its conductor Erich Leinsdorf, on Nov. 22, 1963. That day, just after concluding Handel’s Concerto Grosso in B flat major and a second short piece, Leinsdorf was forced to break with normal concert protocol and, stoically, address the large audience with a change of program and to share the tragic news of Pres. Kennedy having been killed in Dallas only minutes before. For those in the audience and thousands more listening to the broadcast over the radio, it was their first news of the president’s assassination. In the hall, and over the airwaves, shock and gasps rang out. As everyone in the hall — including the musicians — processed this news, the sheet music for the “Funeral March” from Beethoven’s 3rd symphony was distributed to the orchestra, which bravely performed. The next day, Margo Miller of the Boston Globe reported, “The ‘Eroica’ marcia funebre is one of the great moments in music. The dread beat of the march cannot be disguised. Yet there is a middle section of the movement, a time of incredible energy and involvement, somehow, or so it seemed Friday, expressing eternal hope.”
Final List — 2019 National Recording Registry
“Whispering” (single), Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra (1920)
“Protesta per Sacco e Vanzetti,” Compagnia Columbia; “Sacco e Vanzetti,” Raoul Romito (1927)
“La Chicharronera” (single), Narciso Martinez and Santiago Almeida (1936)
“Arch Oboler’s Plays” episode “The Bathysphere.” (Nov. 18, 1939)
“Me and My Chauffeur Blues” (single), Memphis Minnie (1941)
The 1951 National League tiebreaker: New York Giants vs. Brooklyn Dodgers — Russ Hodges, announcer (Oct. 3, 1951)
Puccini’s “Tosca” (album), Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Angelo Mercuriali, Tito Gobbi, Melchiorre Luise, Dario Caselli, Victor de Sabata (1953)
“Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” (single), Allan Sherman (1963)
WGBH broadcast of the Boston Symphony on the day of the John F. Kennedy assassination, Boston Symphony Orchestra (1963)
“Fiddler on the Roof” (album), original Broadway cast (1964)
“Make the World Go Away” (single), Eddy Arnold (1965)
Hiromi Lorraine Sakata Collection of Afghan Traditional Music (1966–67; 1971–73)
“Wichita Lineman” (single), Glen Campbell (1968)
“Dusty in Memphis” (album), Dusty Springfield (1969)
“Mister Rogers Sings 21 Favorite Songs From ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ ” (album), Fred Rogers (1973)
“Cheap Trick at Budokan” (album), Cheap Trick (1978)
Holst: Suite No. 1 in E-Flat, Suite No. 2 in F / Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks / Bach: Fantasia in G (Special Edition Audiophile Pressing album), Frederick Fennell and the Cleveland Symphonic Winds (1978)
“Y.M.C.A.” (single), Village People (1978)
“A Feather on the Breath of God” (album), Gothic Voices; Christopher Page, conductor; Hildegard von Bingen, composer (1982)
“Private Dancer” (album), Tina Turner (1984)
“Ven Conmigo” (album), Selena (1990)
“The Chronic” (album), Dr. Dre (1992)
“I Will Always Love You” (single), Whitney Houston (1992)
“Concert in the Garden” (album), Maria Schneider Orchestra (2004)
“Percussion Concerto” (album), Colin Currie (2008)
Many cities and states are reaching the conclusion of their stay-at-home period. Whether that period is extended or not, community radio stations need to start planning what they will and need to do when their communities reopen.
Virtually every community radio station has been affected in some way by the coronavirus. From complete switches to automation systems to staggering staff and volunteer presence for health and safety, community radio has had to adapt during this extraordinary time. Our programming and community service have been impacted. And, though we all crave getting back to what we love to do, community radio stations have to be especially diligent, considering their many constituents, volunteers and donors.
Pres. Trump has said in recent press statements that he intends to defer to the states, though he’s also expressed his desire to restart the economy amid growing unemployment. Many states indicate they will approach the reopening of businesses and public spaces with caution.
How will community media organizations that have been on reduced operating and programming capacity return to normal operations?
You should strongly consider again reviewing existing documentation on these issues, as well as advice from federal, state and county officials. Communicating with those on the frontline is going to give you the most informed look at what your city is facing, and the risks to your staff and volunteers. Those leaders may say it’s too risky right now, or may involve you as part of phased returns.
In March, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an excellent guide for preparing workplaces for COVID-19. Though it came out before the peak of public awareness, its lessons are important for everyone. At the top of the list is developing an infectious disease emergency plan, in the event of an outbreak. Your station’s plans should consider and address the level of risk associated with various areas of your building and the tasks staff and volunteers perform there.
For example, a locked engineering room is unlikely to have a lot of foot traffic and volunteer presence. Your live studio will have both. Will you be open to the general public to come in? Should on-air volunteers come back all at once, or in waves? How can your station put cleaning and other safety rules in before reopening fully? How can you educate your staff and volunteers about the new normal, at least for the foreseeable future?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends ongoing safety protocols like face masks and social distancing. It also suggests a standard for sick individuals in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
In this context, your station will also want to consider the welfare of its volunteers, staff and visitors. Whether and where people came from after travel and if they are in vulnerable populations may be significant if they are coming to your station. If your station has been dependent on preproduced programming, what programming can continue to be preproduced and what needs to be live in the studio? And how can you respectfully include those volunteers who still do not feel safe or are in an at-risk group?
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, radio has been a trusted service. So, our return to business must come with an appreciation for the faith listeners put in us. Our returns must thus come with attention, care and compassion.
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Hear from Paul, Marguerite and our webinar sponsors about their new offerings this spring, including key features and targeted applications; explore the trends you would have heard about at the NAB Show; and learn what our editors are hearing from the industry’s leaders about important tech developments and standards.
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Editor in Chief, Radio World International
Born in the U.S. and based in Paris, Marguerite is a veteran industry technology journalist who has been covering issues impacting the global media sector for more than 20 years from both Italy and France.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai addressed the InterAmerican Development Bank and the International Institute of Communications Online Workshop this week.
The following are his remarks, which he titled, “Regulation in Times of Pandemics: Lessons for the Future.”
Thank you to Ambassador David Gross and COMTELCA Executive Secretary Allan Ruiz for running this virtual panel.
It’s a pleasure to be with you and an honor to be joined by my distinguished counterparts: Alejandra de Iturriaga, Head of Spain’s CNMC; Adolfo Cuevas Tapia, President of the IFT in Mexico; and Leonardo Euler de Morais, President of ANATEL in Brazil. I hope all of you and your families are staying safe.
We’ve all been asked to talk about our experiences in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and any lessons learned that could guide us in the future.
Before going any further, I think it’s important to acknowledge up front that we should approach this exercise with a proper dose of humility.
At the FCC, it has been exactly five weeks since we effectively shut down our headquarters, shifted our operations online, and made pandemic response our primary focus.
In many ways, we’re still building the plane while flying it. Recognizing that it’s hard to say anything definitive only a few weeks into a fluid situation, I’d like to walk you through the FCC’s guiding principles as we’ve approached this challenge.
Number one, set clear priorities.
There’s an old saying: if everything is a top priority, then nothing is a top priority. With limited time and capacity, we needed to make quick assessments about the most important national objectives where the FCC could make a difference.
Looking at the landscape in early March, a few things became clear. First, social distancing was going to force huge segments of our economy and daily lives to move online, making it more important than ever that Americans have Internet access. And, second, social distancing would create massive temporary job losses and furloughs, putting millions of Americans at risk of missing bill payments and having their Internet and telephone service cut off.
So, we decided that our top priority was to make sure that as many Americans as possible have Internet access and that that no American would have their Internet and voice service cut off because of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That brings me to guiding principle number two: use markets before mandates.
In times of crisis, I understand how some might be tempted to look for any lever they can find to compel private companies to carry out the government’s goals. But with the coronavirus pandemic, the FCC chose a different path.
Specifically, we called on broadband and telephone service providers to take what we call our Keep Americans Connected pledge. The pledge has three core commitments: no consumer would lose service over the next 60 days due to an inability to pay a bill because of the disruptions associated with the pandemic; no one would be charged late fees because of the pandemic; and Wi-Fi hotspots would be opened up to anyone who needs them. The response was overwhelmingly positive. More than 700 broadband and phone providers have signed the pledge, including all of the nation’s largest service providers and many of the smallest.
We also urged providers to go above and beyond the pledge, to do whatever they could to help Americans stay connected and expand connectivity. And many have. They’ve upgraded speeds at no charge, expanded low-cost programs, offered free service to low-income families and students, and donated connectivity to healthcare workers and facilities.
Some might wonder: why are these private companies acting in the public interest?
I think the biggest factor is that these decisions are made by people. And in trying times, most people want to do the right thing, not just for their company, but for their fellow citizens and for their country.
But I also think that the market creates powerful incentives for companies to do the right thing. If your company doesn’t step up for you, or even worse, engages in bad behavior, consumers will be much more likely to turn to the competition in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
I would note that we also urged broadcasters to use their platform to promote social distancing, and they have enthusiastically and voluntarily done so. They have also expanded news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing Americans with the information that they need to stay safe and healthy. And they’ve raised funds in their communities to help those in need.
In the end, I believe trusting the markets rather than solely relying on mandates resulted in more consumer-friendly policies than we would have achieved with a more heavy-handed government intervention, and I know that we were able to make these changes more quickly. I’d also argue that the general regulatory approach that we have in the United States have applied to the broadband marketplace gave us much stronger infrastructure in the first place, as it gave companies the incentives to invest in resilient, robust networks that could withstand unprecedented consumer demands.
The third principle I’d like to highlight is to use every tool in the toolkit.
None of the FCC’s programs was developed with a pandemic in mind, but all of them sure can help.
For example, telehealth has become increasingly valuable in the era of social distancing. It allows people to get medical attention while avoiding the increased risk and strains at hospitals. To promote telehealth solutions for the patients of rural hospitals and clinics, the FCC voted to make an additional $42 million immediately available through our Rural Health Care Program.
Building on this foundation, two weeks ago, the FCC established a $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program to help health care providers provide connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the pandemic. This new initiative was fully funded as part of Congress’s recent coronavirus relief legislation.
Similarly, the FCC has examined our programs to connect schools, low-income households, and individuals who are deaf or have a speech disability, and has relaxed rules to help extend service to more people during this pandemic.
Relatedly, these efforts highlight the importance of having pre-existing programs in place to close the digital divides that exist in our communities. These are the communities that are most vulnerable during emergencies, and it is much easier to scale up existing programs than start from scratch during an emergency.
That brings me to the fourth principle: During an emergency, act like it’s an emergency.
If there’s one area where bureaucracies struggle most, it’s doing anything fast. But during a pandemic, delays can be deadly. So the FCC has put a premium on making decisions as quickly as possible. We’re talking days, not months or years.
In particular, it seems like every other day, we have been granting temporary authority to wireless carriers to use additional spectrum to meet the increased demand for mobile broadband. We’ve already seen evidence that one of these waivers has helped a provider double the speeds for its 4G service in certain areas of the country.
We have also moved quickly to identify new scam robocalls and text messages offering free home testing kits, promoting bogus cures, selling health insurance, and preying on virus-related fears. We’re working to warn consumers about these schemes and how best to protect themselves.
The last principle I’ll highlight might be the most important: put your people first.
To get the policies right, you need to treat the people on your team right. The health and safety of FCC employees is paramount to me. That’s why, on March 12, I directed all FCC staff who could telework to begin working from home. For context, on March 19, California became the first state in the U.S. to issue a stay-at-home order. We know that many of our staff are home with children, so we’ve given staff 10 hours a week of leave if necessary to tend to family concerns. These decisions may seem small, but I believe they make a big difference. They’re the right things to do for our dedicated professionals who always give us everything they’ve got.
I’ll finish with something I said earlier: it may seem like a long time, but we’ve only been dealing with this issue for several weeks. There’s still much we can learn from each other. So let me just say that I look forward to hearing from everyone else and leaving this conversation armed with new ideas to better serve our fellow citizens.
The author is senior operations manager for CRP Radios.
LIMA, Peru — CRP Radios is a leading radio company in Peru, the only one 100% focused on entertainment radio, with eight FM brands and two AM brands strategically segmented to connect with Peruvians. In my position I am responsible for the effective performance management of all technical activities, taking overall responsibility for engineering, IT and supply-chain performance nationwide.
We are a customer-oriented organization, hence listeners’ and advertisers’ satisfaction is placed at the core of our technical and business decisions. Our overall strategy for the radio broadcasting environment is that it’s what comes out of the speaker that counts — the perfect mix of content and sound quality.
The FM spectrum in Lima is a very competitive sound environment — a challenge that’s not always easy to face. Each of the eight FM brands that we manage has a different format, so that means eight different music formats focused on eight different groups of listeners. All aimed at having the best sound in the segments in which we compete.
When it comes to processing, it’s too easy to crank up the levels to be the loudest on the dial, but we know full well that that’s not what our listeners want. The Omnia.11 broadcast audio processor has proven to be a flexible device for sound-quality improvements in all our FM stations. We have been amazed at the difference a good audio-processing preset can make for a station’s flavor. We are continually aiming to create a sound that keeps listeners listening and feeling that they’ve got the best flavor of their favorite music.Omnia.11
This sound cannot be created in a silo, it’s an ongoing process that relies on customers’ and engineers’ feedback alike, and each step has brought us closer to that golden sound.
Omnia processing gives you the ability to craft the sound you want and contributes to bring out the most from content and create long-lasting engagement with listeners, which after all is a key part of broadcast service.
We are consistently seeking out the best-in-class platforms and support professionals. Our partnership with The Telos Alliance has proven to be powerful forthe challenge of achieving a signature sound that suits our listeners’ tastes. Great platforms are just as important as proper professional support in the operations arena, and we have received great technical assistance on every project or technical issue that we have faced over the last few years.
Having Axia consoles plus Omnia processors is the technical solution that is supporting us to be able to create our own unique style and more importantly the one that suits our listeners. During 2020 we will continue to migrate to Axia consoles and we are in the process of optimizing all our audio connections through Livewire + AES67 to create a more flexible and smarter I/O topology.
We feel that the partnership that we have built with The Telos Alliance continually contributes to our efforts to improve audience engagement and bolster ratings.
For information, contact Cam Eicher at The Telos Alliance in Ohio at 1-216-241-7225 or visit www.telosalliance.com.
The coronavirus crisis ripped the fabric of the U.S. radio broadcast industry in March, as it did virtually all of the nation’s business sectors.
Vague uneasiness about public health and transmission in early March changed swiftly to sweeping action that reinvented radio’s daily life a week or two later. And the situation continued to evolve daily.
For many, it was the postponement (and eventual cancellation) of the April NAB Show, first announced March 11, that brought home reality: The 2020 spring convention season would be like no other.
This decision would have seemed controversial not long before, and it was still jarring on the day it was announced, given that the spring show hadn’t missed a year since 1945.
But within two more days President Trump was declaring that COVID-19 constituted a national emergency. The loss of a big convention, as dramatic as it was, became just another example of how radio’s business and technical landscape was altering at breathtaking speed.RADIO AT ARM’S LENGTH
Virtualization became a trending topic as stations told employees they’d be working work from home for the foreseeable future. Engineers and IT staff had to move quickly to enable remote shows from living rooms of air talent without opening new cybersecurity gaps.
“The good news is that for many stations, remote access has been in place in one form or another,” consultant Gary Kline told Radio World. “Traffic can operate remotely using VPN or other specialized remote access software. The same goes for music scheduling and even the automation/playout system. Many stations have been utilizing some form of remote voice tracking for years,” he said.
The basic elements of operating a radio cluster are routine for most stations, he said, perhaps with help from the vendors of traffic, CRM or playout systems as well as the involvement of the station engineer or IT department/contractor.
The emotional impact of this transition, however, was another matter. For engineers, Facebook groups and social media sharing became even more important sources of information, ideas and comfort.
Meanwhile radio stations that remained “open” adopted vigorous procedures for cleaning and sharing equipment. Microphone windscreens became a hot commodity. Station visitors such as prize winners or clients were asked to stay away.
Broadcast equipment manufacturers said they were working to maintain product shipments from current inventory and to maintain remote support; but many sent team members home or, at least in one case, quietly laid off most of their staff. Many manufacturers also wondered whether their incoming component shipments would be maintained.
NAB’s PILOT innovation initiative cancelled an FM-band HD Radio field test that had been scheduled to start in March, involving Xperi and radio engineers from a number of NAB member groups.
The Society of Broadcast Engineers asked its chapter chairs to refrain from holding in-person meetings for at least two months. Instead, SBE encouraged them to “meet virtually through any capabilities you may have available to you,” according to an email shared by Chapter 1 Chair Paul Kaminski.
Numerous planned events like the annual convention of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association in June were cancelled.
College radio station managers were faced with deciding whether and how to function when their campuses shuttered or student populations mostly went home.
FEMA put out messaging about how the Integrated Public Alert Warning System may be used to inform, alert or warn the public, including EAS and WEA alerts. It encouraged questions via email to IPAWS@fema.dhs.gov.
Manufacturers, law firms, trade publications and other service providers scheduled virtual conferences and events either to present the content they’d planned to share at the convention, or to help clients cope with their new business reality.#WeAreGrateful
Radio leaders celebrated the medium’s role in disseminating information. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upped the number of radio PSAs airing specific to COVID-19 in target markets, including Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Houston. NAB said the value of airtime donated to coronavirus PSAs in about a week was equivalent to $10 million of radio and TV ad spots.
Beasley Media Group rolled out a hashtag and PSA campaign, the #WeAreGrateful initiative, intended to thank “first responders, healthcare industry workers, retail employees, utility workers, transport drivers and others who are making a difference.”
Dashboard radios began displaying messages from RDS feeds like “Remember to wash your hands” and “We’re all in this together.”
But some in the industry lamented recent reductions in U.S. radio air staffs — such as the big cuts by iHeartMedia in January — and questioned radio’s ability now to provide true local programming during a time of crisis.
Some observers also speculate that the impact of changes on operations and workflows will be long-term. Given that stations only recently have been allowed to run without a main studio in each city of license, one school of thought holds that this sudden growth in the use of remote broadcasting could hasten the trend away from local physical studios.
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