Randy Stine reports on current contention about the fate of the C-band. Fred Jacobs explains why he is paying close attention to the latest SiriusXM app. ConnectedTravel explains its vision for the dashboard, and why radio should care. All this and much more. (Oh, and Legos, too!)
What Do You Get When You Combine Legos and Radio?
WLGO is a miniaturized radio studio, created by a passionate broadcast pro.
ROOTS OF RADIO
Broadcast History Cards Provide Peek Into Past
Available online, these images offer a trail of tantalizing bits of info over many decades of radio.
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:
- VB-Audio Software: France’s Best Kept Secret
- Bad Electrolytic Capacitors Can Cripple Your Exciter
- Summer of Products
The gas explosion that left 22 businesses homeless in Columbia, Md., last Sunday also wiped out a little bit of radio technical history.
The office and shopping complex that was so seriously damaged was also where HD Radio was invented and commercialized. Technology developer USA Digital Radio was based there in the early days of HD Radio.
“The entire system used today and approved by the FCC was developed there,” said Glynn Walden, the veteran broadcast engineer who was a key player in development of the in-band, on-channel digital radio technology.
“There were about 50 employees there. This was the home of USA Digital Radio during the development of HD Radio, which became iBiquity.” Walden’s office, other staff and leadership offices, and technical laboratories were located there at the time. The company later moved elsewhere and subsequently became part of DTS and then Xperi, which today maintains offices in another part of Columbia.
“All of the [IBOC] system that was approved by the FCC was developed in that building,” Walden continued. “The only real changes have been the implementation of the multicasting and data, which were part of the original design but were later added through the use of importers and exporters.”
The first IBOC test transmissions were done in the early 1990s. USA Digital Radio’s investors included radio broadcast groups seeking a way to deploy digital technologies that could coexist on the part of the spectrum where their existing AM and FM assets were licensed. The company filed a petition for rulemaking with the FCC in 1998, and the commission began the regulatory approval process the next year.
According to news accounts, the Lakeside Office Building and shopping center where the explosion occurred was home to a nail salon, day spa and an office for the Social Security Administration, among others. Residents at least a mile away reported their houses shaking from the explosion. No injuries were reported but parts of the complex were entirely wiped out.
Based on news photos, Walden believes that the second-story office space that USADR/iBiquity had occupied then was near the center of Sunday’s blast and probably totaled.
The post Maryland Gas Explosion Site Was Birthplace of HD Radio appeared first on Radio World.
Win-Group Software says the WinMedia radio and TV automation software, on show at IBC2019, unifies the content chain by managing all aspects of media from acquisition and production, through to distribution, marketing, planning and dissemination.
The company promotes the software as a “complete solution,” which allows users to ingest and produce content for radio, TV, web and mobile in a single system.
By adding the WinCam module, the company offer its own visual radio system for radio broadcasters and easy-to-use camera management for visual radio.
WinCam allows users to handle up to eight cameras or inputs and broadcast the results on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook Live.
In addition, Win-Group offers the WinMam integrated newsroom computer system that is designed to let users manage library, logger, voice track or playlist functions via internet.
Finally, the firm’s WinSales web-based CRM manages all client sales activities. WinSales is a scalable solution that promises to streamline booking and billing operations by providing real-time online booking, tailor-made customer relationship management and a wide range of planning, management, billing and reporting options.
IBC Stand: 6.A26
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It can be a dreaded call: “The STL is down,” or “The stream isn’t functioning.” Usually the goal is to get something back up — fast. It may not be perfect audio, but good (and reliable), and at least you are back on the air. Consultant and projects engineer with Chicago’s Scope+Focus, Len Watson, has been down this road and offers a solution: If you can locate an old computer (desktop, laptop, Windows, Linux) you can put together an audio backup that can be fired up in little time, and for about zero dollars. Translation: You’re a hero to the GM.
For two different clients, Len has found old laptops in storage, and pressed them into backup service. One of these computers is a really old AMD Sempron (see Fig. 1) which actually took Windows 10. Len also converted a Lenova T42 (that’s not a typo) with Windows 10 and it works, too.Fig. 1: Len Watson of Scope+Focus put together this emergency streamer kit.
Once you’ve secured that computer, head to Icecast and SourceForge and get Icecast 2 and the Icecast GUI and BUTT respectively. Install Icecast, customizing the XML file, changing passwords, etc. Then load BUTT (it stands for Broadcasters Using This Tool); and customize it, selecting the stream rate and format. You’ll also want to enter the same password you gave Icecast.
Note, too, that BUTT will record an archive on the local hard drive if you want. Now, run audio and Ethernet to the computer and you have a cheap standby streamer. Icecast will tell you what the address is, and you can make it public or private.
In short, it will “find its way” to the web. You may have to open a couple of ports in a firewall, but it’s aggressive in getting through. If your back’s against the wall, you’re on the air with just that. If you drag Icecast and BUTT into the startup menu (for Windows, run shell:startup), the machine will begin streaming when it boots up.
Here’s a neat idea for contract engineers. Len has set up an HP ProBook 450G as a loaner/rental for his clients. The equipment pouch includes the computer, power supply, Digidesign Mbox2 audio interface, a couple of Ethernet cables and a number of audio adapters. It kept one station on for about six days.
Of course, you can make it better. Adding a used Mbox2 will improve the sound over an onboard sound card. They’re about $25 to $35 shipped on eBay. Len suggests you don’t buy an Mbox1.
Another tip — changing the name of Kastor.exe to .ex_ will disable Icecast’s internal audio recorder/importer so it won’t go hunting for something to record.
Len also cautions to be prepared for the “Nag Screen” that pops up looking for donations to SourceForge. You can close it out but they’re just looking for 20 bucks. If this kept a station on the air, have the GM send ’em some money — it’s worth it!
If you don’t want a lot of control of the stream — fewer format choices and having to adjust audio with the computer’s software slider — you can go with NCH’s Broadwave Streaming Tool. It will set you up nicely, too. It’s a pay program, but NCH makes a pretty trustworthy suite of audio and video tools.
If you’re using this setup to get your signal to the transmitter, you may want to install a VPN for security, too.
Here’s the SourceForge link: https://sourceforge.net/projects/butt/
The link for Icecast: http://icecast.org/download/
Although not designed for full-time use, having one of these set up and ready to go as a backup is cheap, yet invaluable, insurance. Thanks, Len, for the great ideas.
Sealing conduit is a must to avoid vermin, water and trash from incursion. Although foam or putty are satisfactory, removing the “plug” to get other wires into the pipe can be messy. Plus, rodents will chew right through the foam unless you include a stainless steel or copper wool component.
Consulting Engineer Charles “Buc” Fitch, P.E. offers another idea especially for unused pipe or conduit — use a pipe stopper. These are cost-effective seals that you insert in the conduit or pipe and when you hand tighten the nut, the rubber gasket expands to seal the opening. Of course, these are ideal when you are capping off an end, because if you have cable entering the pipe or conduit, you will need to carve a small notch in the plastic to permit the cable to pass, but it will keep the rodents and snakes out.
These handy devices can be found at Newman Tools —http://www.newmantools.com/cob/nylon.htm.
But you’ll also find them at the big box stores as well as plumbing suppliers. Buc advises if you buy these plugs locally, to take a small piece of the pipe with you, to insure you get the right inner diameter size.
One last thought from Buc — if you have those metal coax feedthrough ports for coax at your transmitter site, these stoppers are ideal for plugging unused ports, and they are a lot quicker to remove than the rubber boots held in place with a hose clamp!
Contribute to Workbench. You’ll help y our fellow engineers, and qualify for SBE recertification credit. Send Workbench tips and high-resolution photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author John Bisset has spent 50 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles Western US Radio Sales for the Telos Alliance. He holds CPBE Certification status with the SBE, and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.
DB4005 is the latest monitoring product from DEVA Broadcast.
The company explains that the unit makes use of sophisticated DSP algorithms and provides SDR FM tuner-based signal processing. “Its powerful digital filters are a guarantee of precision and enable the FM signal to be accurately and repeatedly analyzed with each device,” the company adds.
A standout feature of the DB4005 is the MPX input, which allows users to monitor external composite signals, regardless of whether they are from a composite STL receiver/stereo FM encoder, or from an off-air source. In addition, the Loudness Meter allows for measurements to be shown as defined by ITU BS.1770-4 and EBU R128 recommendations — the DB4005 supports both standards.
DB4005 is easy to use and packs a host of features. These include TCP/IP connectivity, audio streaming, and automatic alerts for operation outside of predefined ITU-R ranges, as well as GSM connectivity.
IBC Stand: 8.D79
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The organizers of the upcoming Radio Show have released information for “Tech Tuesday,” a day featuring sessions and a keynote dedicated to engineers and technical personnel attending the show.
Scheduled for Sept. 24, consultant/engineer Gary Cavell, recipient of the 2019 NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award at the spring show, will deliver the keynote. He said, “I’m excited and honored to be presenting the keynote address at the first-ever Radio Show Tech Tuesday. Frankly, there is so much to talk about it’s hard to pick a topic. I’ve decided to focus on how technology is evolving in radio, on some of the technology projects being pursued by NAB PILOT, and perhaps most importantly, the value of continuing education and mentoring for radio engineers.”
Radio World Editor in Chief Paul McLane will head up a session entitled, “What’s Next in Radio Tech.” Joining him will Michele Laven of iHeartMedia, Steve Shultis of New York Public Radio, Nick Piggott of RadioDNS, engineering consultant Bert Goldman and Joe D’Angelo of Xperi.
Another session will look at the possibility of digital AM broadcasting. The NAB’s Vice President of Advanced Engineering David Layer will discuss the topic with Dave Kolesar of WTOP(FM)/WFED(AM) and Russ Mundschenk of Xperi.
On-site radio equipment companies and Tech Tuesday sponsors presenting breakout sessions include Comrex, Dielectric, ENCO, GatesAir, Nautel, RCS and The Telos Alliance.
The Radio Show is Sept. 24–26 in Dallas.
The Society of Broadcast Engineers has announced the results of its 2019 election for the national board of directors, disclosing that Wayne Pecena has been chosen as the next president of the SBE, replacing Jim Leifer, who becomes the immediate past president.
Pecena, a member of SBE’s Chapter 99 in College Station, Texas, is the assistant director of educational broadcast services at Texas A&M University, where he also serves as the director of engineering for public broadcast stations KAMU FM/TV. Pecena will serve a one-year term as the society’s president.
“I look to continue the strategic planning implementation work that began under Pres. Leifer, while insuring that the future certification, continuing education and professional service needs of all SBE members are met as our industry and technology continues to change,” Pecena said.
Three other officers were elected to one-year terms: Andrea Cummis (Chapter 15, New York; Roseland, N.J.) was voted vice president; Kevin Trueblood (Chapter 90, Southwest, Fla.; Ft. Myers, Fla.) will become the secretary; and Ted Hand (Chapter 45, Charlotte, N.C.) was voted to the position of treasurer.
Six individuals were also elected to serve two-year terms on the board of directors: Mark Fehlig (Chapter 40 San Francisco; Walnut Creek, Calif.); Charles Keiler (Chapter 53 South Florida; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.); Geary Morrill (Chapter 91 Central Michigan; Saginaw, Mich.); Jason Ornellas (Chapter 43 Sacramento, Calif.); Chris Tarr (Chapter 28 Milwaukee); and Dan Whealy (Chapter 96 Rockford; Waterloo, Iowa).
The newly elected officers and board members will begin their terms on Oct. 16, where they and the previously elected board members will continue to develop policy and programs for its members.
Proponents for and against changes to the LPFM interference complaint process continue to debate the merits of the proposed changes — with one technical consulting firm pointing out that use of one particular measurement radio could usher in a series of “dire unintended consequences.”
In May the Federal Communications Commission adopted new proposals to streamline the rules relating to interference caused by FM translators and adopted specific proposals to expedite the translator complaint resolution.
Among those changes were the decision to allow FM translators to resolve interference issues by changing channels, to standardize information that must be submitted, to establish new interference complaint resolution procedures, and to establish a new outer contour limit (outside of which within which interference complaints will not be considered).
But in the weeks since then, organizations have called on the FCC to reconsider its stance. The LPFM Coalition said that the FCC rulemaking fails to meet certain statutory requirements within the Communications Act and the Local Community Radio Act of 2010.
Among other concerns, the coalition said that the rulemaking fails to provide improvements for LPFM stations, that it ignores multiple listener interference complaints if they come from a single building, and that the new rules require that interference complaints contain data points that measure underlying interference using a calculation rubric that excludes any measure of interference, a move that the coalition said “is essentially a rule that negates itself.”
That calculation, known as an undesired-to-desired ratio (U/D ratio) for determining interference, was also brought up in a separate filing by the technical consulting firm Skywaves Consulting LLC.
That consulting firm said the imposition of standard U/D ratios using standard FCC contour methodology could usher in a series of “dire unintended consequences.”
Skywaves said the use of a contour-based U/D study for each complaint is certainly useful for complaints outside the protected contour. But using it within a protected contour is a mistake.
“The U/D ratio decreases within the protected contour as you approach the protected transmitter. Therefore, it appears that the new rule would eliminate from consideration all complaints of co-channel and first-adjacent channel translator interference within a protected station’s protected contour,” the Skywaves filing said.
“This is clearly not an intended result, and this portion of the rule should be reworded to make it clear that the U/D ratio criterion applies only outside the protected contour,” the firm said.
According to counsel for the LPFM Coalition, the commission should stay the specific rulemaking aspects that it specified and either rescind those provisions or issue a notice of further rulemaking to fix them.
The low-power station KGIG(LP) in Salida, Calif., agreed with the coalition’s stance, saying that conclusions in the rulemaking conflict with precedent and fact and could contravene the Administrative Procedure Act.
The LPFM Coalition’s stance also has support from REC Networks, which expressed specific concern with the use of a –20 dBu U/D ratio for determining interference. “This standard, coupled with the 45 dBu outer limit, would mean that a station could formulate an interference complaint in areas where the new FM translator only places a 26 dBu contour,” REC Networks said. “This can open the door to more fraudulent and frivolous claims against very distant translators.”
But other organizations disagree of several of those issues.
The National Association of Broadcasters said the LPFM Coalition “simply rehashes previously rejected arguments” that the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 requires equivalent regulation of LPFM and FM translator services.
The NAB pressed the FCC to reject the coalition’s concern over the rule change that now says that translator interference complaints must be based on multiple listener complaints using separate receivers at separate locations (multiple listeners complaints from a single building are now to be counted as a single complaint).
The NAB also said the coalition’s argument fails to meet a necessary list of four standards for a stay. The coalition responded soon after to say the “NAB is wrong on the law” as no mandatory stringent four-prong test applies.
The NAB did not address the U/D issue in its first filing. In a subsequent filing, the NAB said that it agrees with the Skywaves assessment that the order’s requirement of a contour-based U/D study for every interference complaint could unintentionally impede consideration of bona fide translator complaints.
Another view came from a joint group of broadcasters who praised the commission’s order as a balanced approach but they also expressed concern about the U/D threshold.
The order will undoubtedly bring more consistency, predictability and speed to the process for resolving FM translator interference complaints, said a group that includes Beasley Media Group, Cox Media Group, Entercom Communications, iHeart Communications, Neuhoff Corp. and Radio One Licenses, which are licensees of both primary FM stations and FM translator stations.
But the commenters expressed concern that there is a real (though they said rare) possibility that the U/D threshold for actionable complaints could negatively impact legitimate interference complaints based on listeners within a desired station’s protected contour.
According to the joint group of broadcasters, the commission should consider exempting listening locations from the U/D showing if they are within the desired station’s protected contour.
Comments on the issue are being field as part of Media Bureau Docket 18-119.
The post Battle Lines are Drawn in LPFM Interference Rules Order appeared first on Radio World.
Voice of America has launched its first radio program in Rohingya, the language of more than 800,000 refugees who fled Myanmar and are living in camps across the border in Bangladesh.Amanda Bennett
Many international organizations are working to provide the refugees with necessities such as food, clean water and shelter, but there is another critical need facing these refugees — the need for information. When I visited the largest camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, last year, many who had just recently been driven from their homes, wanted to know what was going on back in Myanmar. They wanted to know what the international community was thinking about them, or if they had been forgotten.
The life for these and other refugees and displaced persons is extremely difficult. They are basically stateless, homeless, with little opportunity for education or jobs, and few hopes for the future. They are very isolated and want to know what, if anything, is being done to try to resolve their crises.
VOA’s new Rohingya program is called “Lifeline.” It airs for 30 minutes, five days a week, on shortwave and medium-wave frequencies. The program focuses on the lives and needs of the refugees, providing them with valuable information about the situation in the camps — security issues, food rations, education and health. In addition, a daily segment of the program offers the refugees the opportunity to share their stories and try to connect with relatives in other camps.
There is also a need to address rumors in the camps. Refugees are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking and recruitment by extremist groups. In Bangladesh, they also must deal with natural disasters such as flooding and landslides, especially during the rainy season.
We’ve already had feedback expressing great appreciation for programming in the Rohingya language, and for giving refugees a window to the outside world.VOA Director Amanda Bennett with two Rohingya broadcasters Mohammed Hussain (on her left) and Sami Ahmed (on right), Bangla Language Service Chief Roquia Haider and the Bangla language service group.
Why did VOA choose to use SW and MW? While there is Internet access in the refugee camp, and limited power supply for televisions or computers, the camp-based refugees, however, share a practice that has been common throughout VOA’s history: They gather around shared radios and listen as a group, much as SW listeners did in years past.
Rohingya is now one of 22 VOA language services that still broadcast radio programming via SW and MW frequencies. Most of these are targeting audiences in Africa and South or East Asia.
VOA’s distribution strategy has evolved over the years to meet changes on the ground in its markets. Where we can get placement on local television, radio, or online affiliates, we do. Where we can build our own FM towers, we do. And in areas where VOA content is aggressively blocked, such as China and Iran, we employ circumvention technology.
A growing proportion of VOA’s audience is now accessing content via mobile devices and social media platforms. In fact, while still the smallest share overall, the digital audience is the fastest growing segment of VOA’s audience over the past five years.
The weekly radio audience has also grown during that time frame, increasing 23 million to a total of 107.9 million. During that same period, VOA’s television audience doubled to more than 174 million, accounting for the largest share of audience.
VOA will continue to adapt to changing market environments in an effort to provide truthful, fact-based news and information to those needing it most: those with little or no access to a free press and those who are inundated with misinformation and disinformation from state-run media or extremist groups.
The growing number of refugees and displaced persons are among those with the greatest need. With numbers now totaling a combined 70 million globally — more than the population of France — and with many children knowing no other life than that in a refugee camp, their needs will continue to grow.
One other way VOA is helping refugees is through its popular Learning English program — another one of our historic practices. Prior to launching the Rohingya language broadcasts, a VOA Learning English team traveled to the Rohingya refugee camps at the invitation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The VOA instructors offered six days of intensive training on teaching techniques and methods for 100 selected English teachers. The teachers, in turn, will use the acquired knowledge and the VOA curriculum to train another 5,000 of their colleagues in the camps.
Amanda Bennett is director of Voice of America.
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