The Alabama Broadcasters Association will not hold its annual conference this August, according to an announcement from the ABA board of directors Wednesday.
The board said they expect stations will find it “difficult to commit financial resources to attending the meeting” because they will instead “be focused on economic recovery.”
However, the ABA also took this opportunity to announce the dates and location of its 2021 event: the 75th Anniversary of the Alabama Broadcasters Association will be celebrated during the conference Aug. 13-14, 2021, at the Ross Bridge Resort & Spa in Birmingham.
The association says it will shift resources to focus on offering more virtual training and resources. The ABA also said they want feedback from members to learn what would be helpful during this time.
Additionally, the press release encouraged members to contact congressional representatives to lobby them to seek aid for local media outlets from President Trump. The deadline for lawmakers to sign a letter with this sentiment is Friday morning.
The post ABA Cancels Annual Conference, Shifts Funding to Virtual Resources appeared first on Radio World.
If you’re looking for new audio spots to boost morale during the pandemic, Grace Broadcast Sales has created some 30-second audio clips to address self-care during the age of coronavirus.
Grace Broadcast says these features are available as market exclusives and can be aired as standalone or sponsored content. They are the second series of these clips, the company says they added the second installment in response to station requests.
Synthax Inc. is kicking off a webinar series to help A/V pros stuck at home bone up on their audio networking knowledge and skills. Audio networking is part of the content.
The company is the U.S. distributor for Digigram, RME, Appsys, Ferrofish, myMix and ALVA. It says it plans to offer online learning opportunities during the normal workweek through at least the month of May. The webinars are free with registration and hosted via Zoom.
Those who tune in to the Friday 11 a.m. (ET) session titled “Reliable Audio Over Unreliable Networks” and the 1 p.m. “Unravelling Audio Networking: Dante, AVB & MADI” webinar may be eligible for two Certified Technology Specialist RU credits.
The release quoted Synthax Director of Sales Derek Badala as saying the webinars are intended to help attendees “make most of their time and advance their knowledge of different audio networking systems and solutions as well as receive up to four CTS RU credits for some of the sessions in the process.”
Check out the Synthax webinar schedule here.
Find the ready-to-edit-and-then-run python program here:
# These are libraries used by the program.
from gpiozero import Button
from time import sleep
# The “gpiozero” library calls an input a “Button.” If it goes LOW,
# we assume that the input has been turned on. Note that we assign
# the “genrun” Button to GPIO 22, which is actually pin 15 on the
# 40-pin connector.
genrun = Button(22)
# Other values to try might include pin 7 for GPIO 4 (“Button(4)”),
# or pin 13 for GPIO 27 (“Button(27)”).
# These are simple “flag” variables that I use to keep from sending
# the same email over and over.
running = 1
sent1 = 0
sent2 = 0
# IMPORTANT: Change these to your needed values. You’ll need a
# valid email account for the Pi, and a valid recipient. Replace
# “pi” and “recip” below with the correct values.
msg1 = “””From:firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Generator Is RUNNING! \n
msg2 = “””From:email@example.com
Subject: Generator Is NOT Running! \n
# This subroutine takes care of actually sending the email. You
# must edit this with a valid server name; you may need to change
# the port number. Note that this will also need “pi’s” password
# to log in, and that I’m using a secure SSL/TLS connection.
server = smtplib.SMTP_SSL(‘mail.yourmailserver.com’,port=465)
server.quit() # exit the connection
# The main program loop, which runs forever, or until you
# press CTRL-C in the terminal that’s running this program.
# Check the genrun “Button” object. The “running” flag
# prevents sending the same email if it has already
# been sent.
if( running == 0 ):
running = 1
if not sent1:
sent1 = 1
sent2 = 0
sendmsg( msg1 )
# Same, but check for Button “genrun” NOT being pressed —
# i.e., the generator isn’t running.
if not genrun.is_pressed:
if( running == 1 ):
running = 0
if not sent2:
sent2 = 1
sent1 = 0
sendmsg( msg2 )
# Go to sleep for 60 seconds, then run again.
Once you’re done, save the file as genwatch.py, then copy it onto your Pi. In a terminal, in the same directory as that file, enter the command
“chmod +x genwatch.py”
to make the file executable. Now you can run it by entering
at the terminal prompt, while still in the directory containing the file. The program will continuously check the assigned pin at 1-minute intervals, sending an email if the generator’s status changes. Press CTRL-C to stop the program.
The author is chief technology officer of GeoBroadcast Solutions.
The prospect of geotargeting radio transmissions to better serve the public has seemingly been a pipedream for OTA broadcasters, as they’ve watched their television and mobile competitors improve their revenues through technology that seemed beyond reach. And, although radio still maintains the highest audiences for sources of entertainment, news and information, the elusive goal of localizing its content has been a hurdle it can’t leap until the FCC allows separate single-frequency network content.A single-frequency network can be designed to the necessary specifications for geo-targeting, as illustrated in how our deployment for WXLO(FM) in Boston added a million potential listeners to its signal.
Think of the highest-powered, largest radio stations in the country and consider their reach and popularity. Now consider how better served their millions of listeners would be — through the very same call letters on the dial — if they could receive a localized early warning weather alert or, simply, a news update or traffic report that was more specific to their region than it is today.
Now recognize the competitive disadvantage radio has to ATSC 3.0 TV or mobile apps because its advertising is too cost-prohibitive for small business or regional political advertisers who only need to reach a limited audience in the broadcaster’s signal.
On March 13, GeoBroadcast Solutions requested from the FCC a minor rule change to allow radio broadcasters the ability to air geotargeted programming, including emergency alerts, news and advertising, on a voluntary basis through technology we developed called ZoneCasting.[FCC Seeks Comment on Geo-Targeting for Radio Stations]
For radio, localization is a sort of holy grail. With technological abilities to improve signal strength and reach, the only impediment is providing a personalized experience for each listener at every exit on the airwave highway. That elusive “last mile” has just recently been a boon to TV, internet and mobile devices, and it should now be granted to radio.TESTED TECHNOLOGY
GeoBroadcast began in 2011 to explore and design an FM single-frequency network that would create geotargeted coverage areas, or zones, that could deliver separate audio content to those zones.
As an outgrowth of this research we discovered new design parameters and processes that could use the same technology to help stations improve coverage in low signal areas. Since the main program audio would be unchanged, and therefore is fully compliant with all FCC rules, GeoBroadcast rolled out MaxxCasting, which further allows the Radio Data System (RDS) screen to carry zoned data for targeted on-screen advertising.
Put simply, MaxxCasting is a system of FM on-channel boosters, otherwise known as a single-frequency network deployed similar to cellular technology, with transmitters fully synchronized to boost the signal from the main transmitter with seamless transitions from the main to the booster nodes. Since the signal level is vastly improved in otherwise spotty areas, the host station enjoys higher listening — and greater recovery of Nielsen PPM decoding.
If we take a MaxxCasting system and add some additional equipment, we can actually geotarget programming from the station — this is ZoneCasting. The process is made by arranging transmitters in a cluster to allow programming in the zoned area break away from the main signal and transmit geotargeted content.
One of MaxxCasting’s recent deployments was at Cumulus’s WXLO(FM) just outside of the Boston market. Until implementing the technology the station didn’t get a listenable signal into central Boston. Now in place, the signal added about 1 million potential listeners to the WXLO signal and changed the profile of the station virtually overnight. With the installation of its new highly-directional antennas WXLO has added geotargeted RDS information, which will change what the listener sees on his screen. This adds a new revenue source to the WXLO signal and poises it for using ZoneCasting if the FCC agrees with the petition.
We estimate that geotargeting will be active about 5% of the overall time, and will be primarily used during commercials, local news, weather or emergency alerts. Stations can also operate in multiple zones and generate local revenue in each one. When ZoneCasting is not active, the boosters often revert to MaxxCasting, for improved coverage.
As for the listener experience, tests have shown that the transition areas do not cause interference and there is no noticeable change in audio. Transitions are not long enough to be noticeable. For the average listener the change-over would appear as if the station would be switching to a network news feed or different programming.
For station groups and owners, the costs of embracing this new technology would be elective. If the rule change request was accepted by the FCC, there would be no changes to the interference rules requested, and participation would be entirely voluntary.PROOF OF CONCEPT IN FRANCE
We traveled to France in the summer of 2019. Its national highway system has been using a ZoneCasting-like system.In France the 107.7 MHz frequency is dedicated to broadcast solely along the roadways and operated by different stations through 1,100 transmitters set up to broadcast on a SFN. When not broadcasting the required local traffic and emergency information as needed to drivers, it has music, news and other programming that vary by region.
Station 107.7 is broadcast along the roadways by many different operators, with each operator required to bring local traffic and emergency information as needed to drivers. Its system uses over 1,100 transmitters to create zones every 8 to 10 kilometers on average. When not broadcasting localized information, the network provides music and news that may vary by region or operator. Sometimes it’s the same programming and sometimes it’s different.
What we learned from the models in France was that the ZoneCasting concept is feasible and that it can be successfully deployed. In France this system of entertainment and zoned information has been very successful.DO LISTENERS CARE? DO ADVERTISERS?
Yes, and yes. In 2018 Edison Research found that 77% of listeners say they would pay more attention to ads on the radio if they were for local products or businesses, and 72% said they would actually listen more to their radio station if the commercials they heard were better targeted to their local area.GeoBroadcast Solutions has performed three ZoneCasting tests under FCC experimental operation. For WIIL(FM) in Milwaukee the main zone is shown in red on the left and the increased zone is shown in green. This successful design is being used full-time in France.
Generations of radio listeners embrace their favorite stations but are used to filtering out the ads, traffic reports and news that do not pertain to them. A geotargeted broadcast would surprise and awaken their listening experience.
Advertisers have begun embracing geotargeting in television and mobile to localize their reach and are looking forward to using radio to reach specific communities. Stations with geotargeting capability would be able to offer lower-cost advertising opportunities to small businesses, restaurants, medical centers and even local political races.
BIA Advisory Services estimates the impact of zoned radio advertising could provide more than $750 million in needed added revenue to the industry. Its recent survey with Advertiser Perceptions found that more than 90% of local retailers and two-thirds of national advertisers are poised to put more money into FM radio when geotargeting becomes available.PASSING ALL TESTS
The GeoBroadcast Solutions technical team has been involved in SFN design and deployment for many years. Our patented multiple node FM analog stereo and analog/ HD Radio SFN design has now been successfully deployed across the United States.
In order to obtain design parameters on what listeners will accept for interference, Geo contracted NPR Labs and Towson University for a subjective analog FM listening study (one of the largest ever) to determine objective target parameters Geo used both for Maxxcasting and ZoneCasting geotargeting research and development.
The results were instrumental in the now field-proven successful design for Maxxcasting, and we believe we can now leverage the Maxxcasting specifications to implement Zonecasting when approved by the FCC.NEXT STEP: PUBLIC COMMENT
This is a forward-moving initiative that now requires industry and public support. Tell the NAB and FCC what you think. The commission is taking comments at www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings (use proceeding RM-11854). Comments must be uploaded in a .doc or .pdf format.
Bill Hieatt oversees GBS technology operations including system architecture definition, network infrastructure design, single-frequency network, RF coverage/field measurements/model tuning, project management, intellectual property development, patent applications and field trials.
The post ZoneCasting Will Level the Playing Field for Radio appeared first on Radio World.
A former head of FEMA says the FCC should allow geo-targeted radio programming in the United States.
Craig Fugate was administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 2009 to 2017. He told Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai in a letter this week that he supports a rule change that would permit radio broadcasters to deploy geo-targeted programming.
The change was requested by technology company GeoBroadcast Solutions, which has been advocating the idea for years and recently made a formal request for a rule change. The FCC is taking comments through May 4 on the idea.
Geo-targeted radio programming would include locally targeted advertising — which is a significant selling point to the radio industry — as well as targeted informational programming. But it is the emergency alerting aspect that Fugate focused on. “I have witnessed first-hand that our oldest form of broadcast, radio, remains the most reliable, stable form of communicating,” said Fugate, according to a press release from GBS.
He told the FCC that “localized” radio broadcast updates of the COVID-19 crisis would serve the public good. “Consider the benefit of reaching a 25-mile portion of a radio signal about local test sites or shelters versus informing that same station’s 100-mile audience that do not need those specifics but require their own, zoned, details,” Fugate wrote.
Fugate has often spoken publicly, both during and after his tenure at FEMA, about the value of radios and radio broadcasting in emergency preparedness.
The system GeoBroadcast wants to use is based on FM booster networks. “Radio is currently the only mass medium that cannot geo-target its content,” the company has argued.
The FCC is taking comments here. Use proceeding number RM-11854.
Broadcast content management system developer ATX Networks has released Version 7 of its XDS content management system.
ATX General Manager and CTO, Media Broadcast, Jose Rivero laid out a chief reason for the new whole number version — centralized control. He said, “The fact that most broadcast platforms are made up of a series of discrete components that must be managed and controlled separately, rather than a fully-integrated solution, is a significant operational challenge — and cost concern — for network operators.”
An added benefit, “It’s imperative that today’s audio distribution and content management systems offer flexible and open APIs that facilitate the integration of the back-office business solutions that are so crucial to the network’s financial health,” Rivero said.
According to ATX, the new version supports the latest versions of Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server, .Net Framework 4.0, enabling network operators to deploy their audio distribution and monitoring operations in virtualized server- and cloud-based environments. ATX says that will improve “benefits of server virtualization include reduced hardware costs, improved network resiliency and recovery, deployment flexibility and significant operational savings.”
Furthermore, “The new version of the XDS Content Management System also provides additional centralization capabilities and openness, further facilitating the simplification of complex operational environments and network health monitoring.
Back office features streamline “the sales organization, empowering account managers to sell spots in multiple markets or even regions, but still offer their clients the ability to customize their ads, station IDs, interstitials and programming to specific markets.”
Steinberg has launched of Cubasis 3, a digital audio workstation/music creation app designed for both iPad and iPhone iOS mobile devices. According to the company the new whole number version was “rewritten from the ground up.”
Cubasis 3 offers new features like Group Tracks grouping; eight rearrangeable insert and send effects; 75 new effects presets; MIDI resolution dramatically improved with 960 pulses per quarter note; redesigned instruments and effects; and undo reinvented with a history list.
The audio, MIDI and automation editors have been updated. Cubasis has full screen mixer and waveform editing GUIs.
Free Cubasis 2 in-app purchase transfer to Cubasis 3.
This is one in a series of interviews about legal, unlicensed low-power broadcasting and how these systems are being used during the coronavirus crisis in the United States. Eric Hoppe is owner of Progressive Concepts. Its product line includes FM and low-power systems.
Radio World: Are you hearing interest from unfamiliar quarters in how to use low-power transmitter systems for specialized applications right now?
Eric Hoppe: Yes. We are getting a huge number of calls from churches around the country asking if we can help them to broadcast their sermon into the parking lot of their church.
RW: Can you share a specific example?
Hoppe: Just last week a customer from Texas called and explained that he was trying to find a way to set up a mini drive-in theatre in the parking lot of his temporarily closed restaurant using a large screen TV and a DVD player. But he needed help figuring out how to get the audio signal out into all of the cars that would be parked in his lot. We set him up with one of our FCC certified Part 15 FM transmitters to solve the problem. [Part 15 is the section of federal regulations that pertains to unlicensed transmissions.]
RW: Which product of yours is used in these kinds of applications?
Hoppe: That would be our model ACC100, which is FCC certified for license-free Part 15 use in the U.S. We manufacture them right here in Streamwood, Illinois.
RW: What should potential buyers of such systems know about legality and about FCC certification?
Hoppe: Whatever you do, avoid at all costs buying something from websites like Amazon or eBay. That is a recipe for disaster. Most, if not all, of the FM transmitters you will find on sites like those are made in China and will not be FCC certified.
Using an FM transmitter that is not FCC certified can get the user into a lot of trouble with the FCC. Fines start at $10,000 and go up to $75,000 for each offense of this type. Look for the FCC ID number on the transmitter you intend you use.
Avoid at all costs buying something from websites like Amazon or eBay. That is a recipe for disaster.
For example, our model ACC100 bears the FCC ID number MBMACC100. You can look that number up on the FCC’s database to verify that the product is certified and registered with the FCC before using such a device. The first three letters of the ID are the manufacturer’s “Grantee Code” (in our case this is “MBM”) and the remaining letters and numbers are the manufacturer’s “Product Code.”
RW: A common question we hear is “How far will it cover?” What can users expect?
Hoppe: We get that question all the time. Users can expect to get anywhere from 50 to 200 feet in radius when using a Part 15 FM transmitter. Results will vary depending on the location that the transmitter is deployed in. If all the stars are in alignment, you can cover an area the size of a football field (just the playing surface, not including the stadium) or about one acre.
Many customers think that they will be able to set up the transmitter inside the church then connect it to their mixing console and broadcast through the walls of the church and out into the parking lot. This just isn’t possible with such a low-power device.
To get the best results with a Part 15 transmitter we recommend that the customer locate the transmitter as close to the center of the parking as is possible. This requires using a long extension cord for the power and a relatively long audio cable. Then they need to use their car radio to scan for an open spot on the FM “dial” and then simply set their transmitter to that frequency. Once the customer understands this concept, they have reported back to us with very good results![Related: “Distinguish Pirates From Part 15 Operators”]
RW: What else should we know?
Hoppe: Some customers have asked me if I can set them up with an FM transmitter that will cover an area of several miles. Unfortunately, while we do sell LPFM transmitters that can provide that kind of range, there is no legal way for them to do that. They would need a license for that kind of RF power and range. Fortunately there is a legal way that they can cover the area of an average size parking lot. They can use one of our FCC certified Part 15 FM transmitters. Part 15 certified FM transmitters can be used legally by anybody, anywhere in the U.S. without the need for a license.
The post Look for FCC Certification When Choosing a Part 15 FM Transmitter appeared first on Radio World.
Magnum.Media has tapped Chris Tarr to serve as group director of engineering for its 16 radio and three LPTV stations in Wisconsin.
Tarr stepped down from his role at Entercom last week after accepting an offer from Magnum.Media in mid-March. He had been with the broadcaster for 16 years and most recently held the title of director of technical operations for its Wisconsin cluster. Tarr was quoted in the release as saying, “I made lifelong friends at Entercom and am so proud of all we accomplished with the Milwaukee and Madison facilities.”
At Magnum.Media, Tarr steps into a newly created position for the family-owned business. According to Tarr, he and Dave Magnum had been friends for 15 years before he recruited him. Tarr also called Magnum a kindred spirit and said he expects the role to be “a perfect match” for him and his lifestyle.
The media company was founded in 1991 by Dave and Lynn Magnum. Initially, the Magnums kept the stations on the air with the help of contract engineers, namely Steve Konopka, Mark Burg, Bruce Herzog, Jim Zastrow, Jon Zecherle, Darrel Sanders, Bob Gorjance, John Church and Chuck Gennaro.
However, Magnum explained in the press release that “the more we’ve grown, several of those great contract engineers have strongly encouraged me to bring on board a group chief to take our stations under his wing,” which is why he sought out Tarr. He also noted that the choice was greeted with approval from those same engineers.
“Working with Chris is no doubt going to make our on-going adventure in broadcasting even more of a blast as we head into our fourth decade,” said Magnum.
Chris Tarr currently serves on the Society of Broadcast Engineers’ national board as the Mentor Committee chair and has earned CSRE, AMD, DRB, CBNE accreditations. Additionally, in 2007 the society recognized him with the Wulliman Award for service to the SBE and engineering community in southeast Wisconsin.
According to a press release, SCMS is now MultiCAM Systems-certified to provide technical service and support.
SCMS’ Matt Cauthen was quoted in the announcement saying that MultiCAM’s offerings are the type of “product that everyone is looking for right now” given the workflow changes spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
MultiCAM Systems is headquartered in Paris, and SCMS is a dealer based in Pineville, N.C., with representatives at several locations in the United States.
Wheatstone is expanding its blade offerings with the StreamBlade, a WheatNet-IP appliance that accepts up to eight input steams of native WheatNet-IP audio directly from a sound card or AoIP driver as well as RTP sources and can output each in four streams; providing up to 32 total streams per device.
Output choices include Opus, AAC and MP3 encoders. The company says it is cloud-ready and compatible with standard CDN and streaming platforms, including Icecast, Wowza and RTP.
The StreamBlade has onboard processing with a six-band parametric EQ, a five-band AGC, a two-band final limiter and a stereo width control.
Wheatstone says that the AGC is designed for streaming. Jeff Keith, senior product development engineer for Wheatstone’s audio processing line explains, “Fast time constants (compression) can add intermod sidebands around a sustained note or bass note, which the codec has to spend bits on instead of the signals that are actually part of the program. That can be bad for any stream, but it’s especially bad for low-bitrate streams that don’t have a lot of data bits to begin with.”
StreamBlade can be configured and managed from a laptop and web browser using WheatNet-IP Navigator software. The box has two Ethernet ports, one for direct connectivity into the WheatNet-IP audio network on one end and another for connectivity into a WAN for streaming to a CDN or other service provider.
Dubbed NAB Show Express, it will be held online May 13–14. Registration opens April 20 and is free.
NAB will feature on-demand content including 100 educational sessions organized into three channels:
- BEIT Express, which centers on broadcast engineering and information technology
- NAB Show Experience, offering product showcases, interviews with industry leaders and more
- Tech Talks, produced by Broadcast Beat
Each channel will be populated with eight hours of on-demand content, including interactive panels and some sessions originally slated for Las Vegas.
Additionally, the NAB Broadcast Engineering and IT Conference proceedings will be released online May 13 via nabpilot.org.
This also is the first time the show’s technical proceedings will be available only online rather than also in print; that was a planned change, not related to the coronavirus cancellation, according to NAB Vice President of Technology Education and Outreach Skip Pizzi.
And for those who usually get their gear fix in Vegas, they can check out the NAB Show Express Solutions Marketplace, which will house exhibitor profiles, company-hosted events, press conferences and resources such as white papers, articles, webinars, guides and research reports.
According to Pizzi, the association will also incorporate its award presentations during the digital event. The format and schedule have not yet been announced. The recipient of the NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award is Jeff Welton of Nautel.
Three related events were also announced Monday. On May 11, NAB and Variety will co-host an Executive Leadership Summit. On May 12, NAB will offer a Cybersecurity & Content Protection Summit. And Post | Production World Online is scheduled for May 17–19.
The 2021 NAB Show is scheduled for April 10–14 in Las Vegas.