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Podcast #216 – Archiving LGBTQ Radio History (Rebroadcast)

Radio Survivor - Tue, 10/22/2019 - 21:00

Our guest is Brian DeShazor, an independent radio researcher and founder of the Queer Radio Research Project. Formerly the Director of the Pacifica Radio Archives, DeShazor has taken a special interest in uncovering and highlighting the LGBTQ voices that have aired on community radio in decades past.

On the episode, we discuss the history of queer radio programming as well as DeShazor’s work to bring some of the hidden LGBTQ stories to light.

This episode originally aired on April 2, 2019 as episode #187, which is slightly longer.

Show Notes:

The post Podcast #216 – Archiving LGBTQ Radio History (Rebroadcast) appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Is the FCC Dropping the Ball on Directional Translators?

Radio World - Tue, 10/22/2019 - 19:19

Larry Langford is the owner of WGTO(AM) Cassopolis, Mich. and W246DV, South Bend, Ind. You can reach him at LarryLangford@aol.com.

The author is owner of WGTO(AM) and W246DV(FM), South Bend. Ind. He has been in radio since 1965. His commentaries on radio issues such as those facing AM owners are a recurring feature. Read his past articles by searching for “Langford.”

The job of a consulting engineer is to do everything possible to maximize the facilities of a client within the constraints of FCC regulations, the laws of physics and the budget of the applicant.

In the case of a full-power FM that needs a directional antenna system, the FCC demands strict conditions before the License to Cover application is granted. These include detailed paperwork from the applicant showing that the antenna was designed by a reputable manufacturer using a test range with full-size or modeled  antennas that take into account the tower design, other antennas mounted to the tower, cables, conduits and anything else that could cause pattern distortion. The commission wants to see sketches, notes, and test results from the maker of the antenna.

[Read: Chicago Translator Concerns]

They further require you to use a licensed  surveyor to certify that the antenna was mounted at the correct azimuth as called for by the manufacturer and, lastly, the commission requires an affidavit from a qualified engineer that everything was done by the book and the resulting pattern is good based on a proof of performance. All this can be required of the simplest of directional systems for full power FMs

With consultants now being asked to shoe-horn translators  into the tightest of places, we are seeing some rather curious antenna patterns in FX applications. Some stretch physics to the absolute limit!

Again, understand, just because the consultant can specify a complex contour, one that requires a composite antenna design, it does not mean that the antenna company can make it happen for less than a king’s ransom. What is shocking is that for translator directionals, the FCC demands only a checkbox that promises that the antenna meets the required contours as shown in the CP. Talk about faith and trust. I will admit that for some “off the shelf” directionals and omnidirectional antennas that are side-mounted with a predictable pattern, just the antenna sheet and a promise that it was put up pointing the correct direction is probably enough.

But let’s take the case of the antenna pattern granted on a Chicago translator that is a real head scratcher!

Figure 1

Figure 1 shows a pattern that is obviously protecting more than three co-channel translators and full power FM stations. These pretzel patterns are becoming more and more common in metro areas where FX openings are tight. In this case the CP application specifies a two-bay “penetrator” style antenna with parasitic elements to get this very  complex and nonsymmetrical  pattern in both the horizontal and vertical planes.

If this pattern can be done with this type antenna it would take a lot of range testing and a big box of parasitics installed with great precision and care to pull it off.

The price tag for that would be in the thousands. I have seen more than a few installations that demand such complex antennas that are simply built with an omnidirectional  and no attempt to follow the one-of-a-kind design in the application. The temptation to cheat here is just too great and the results are a mess when there is an interference complaint and the commission relies on these sometimes fantasy patterns to be accurate.

I cannot blame the consultants, they just show what needs to be done. And often the person signing the License to Cover application is simply one of the owners just checking the box with no idea as to what pattern they really have. There are other cases where the commission is just plain wrong via its own mistakes on issuing a license. I know of a Chicago area translator with a detailed application on how the system would take care of second adjacency interference by using a multibay antenna to attenuate downward signal. The details were part of a waiver request. But when they put in the License to Cover application they specified a single-bay omni. And guess what? The commission granted the license anyway. Obviously this one slipped through the cracks.

With AM it’s pretty easy to check on a directional antenna system, just drag out the Potomac and find the monitor points. But trying to do a field proof on a 250 W translator DA with a meter to check on an installation after the fact will drive you crazy and tell you very little.

The FCC must tighten up regulations to make sure these exotic patterns drawn to get a CP are in fact built to get the License to Cover.

Since the commission requires detailed proof that a directional was actually built and installed correctly for a commercial FM, why not at least some documentation that shows that a composite directional FX antenna for the requested CP was actually built and tested on a range with proper proof of performance?

The commission would never accept the “word” of an AM operator that his multitower array was good without paperwork, so why allow translators to be put in with these very difficult patterns on just a wink and a promise that there is no cheating? While some old and outdated rules are being tossed out, here is one that needs to be revised for more not less paperwork.

Radio World invites industry-oriented commentaries and responses. Send to Radio World.


The post Is the FCC Dropping the Ball on Directional Translators? appeared first on Radio World.

Groups Call on FCC to Waive First-Term Fees for Incubating AM/FM Stations

Radio World - Tue, 10/22/2019 - 14:57

Of all the hurdles that new entrants and small broadcasters face when it comes to accessing capital to set up a broadcast station, there’s one challenge in particular that the Federal Communications Commission shouldn’t overlook: The task of keeping up with additional financial obligations like annual regulatory fees.

According to two media groups, the commission needs to reconsider the heaviness of that burden as part of its Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2019 Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which was released in August 2019. As part of that order and rulemaking, the commission is seeking comment on whether it should adopt a lower regulatory fee for full-service AM and FM broadcast radio station incubator licensees.

[Read: Groups Press FCC to Recommit to Promoting Media Diversity]

The answer is a resounding yes, according to two those two media organizations. In new comments filed with the commission, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters reiterated its stance that additional financial obligations, such as regulatory fees, may render it more difficult for incubated entities to thrive under the FCC’s incubator program as stations attempt to access capital and apply for new construction permits.

In comments filed back in August, the two groups proposed that the commission give an outright exemption to incubated stations for having to pay regulatory fees for a the initial eight-year term of the incubation period.

With a subsequent request in the R&O and FNPRM, the FCC asked for commenters to discuss a reduction that approximates, perhaps, as much as 50%.

That’s an amount that the MMTC and NABOB take issue with.

“[The commission ] is silent on the reason for an ‘appropriate reduction’ in the fee, and we cannot conceive of any reason why only a partial fee reduction would be justified,” the group said in its most recent filing. “In our experience, broadcasters generally need strong financial incentives to participate in FCC diversity initiatives. A waiver of all fees for a license period would profoundly demonstrate the commission’s endorsement of incubation and create a powerful incentive for it.”

While the dollar amounts of regulatory fees for an eight-year license term are “meaningful,” the two said, they are not so large as to materially diminish the commission’s ability to fund its operations. As a result, the two groups are pressing the commission to adopt the MMTC/NABOB proposal as filed.

Comments on the issue of regulatory fees can be viewed at the FCC’s ECFS database using Docket Number 19-105.


The post Groups Call on FCC to Waive First-Term Fees for Incubating AM/FM Stations appeared first on Radio World.

What Does a Broadcast Engineer Do, Anyway?

Radio World - Tue, 10/22/2019 - 12:10
The image of today’s broadcast engineer is a lot different than that of days gone by.

I was thinking the other day about what a broadcast engineer does. For the first couple of decades of my career, that was a fairly narrow list: Maintain and repair studio and transmitter equipment. Build out a studio or transmitter facility. Maybe fix the plumbing or install a radio in the GM’s car.

But at some point, things began to change. Personal computers began to enter the broadcast infrastructure. Then networks and file servers began to appear, and we had to add new skills. At the same time, staples such as turntables, cart machines and reel tape recorders began to disappear. As the years slid by, even CD players began to fade from the scene.

In a way, this paralleled changes in the auto service industry. Mechanics who for decades wore greasy coveralls and worked on carburetors, distributors and water pumps traded their coveralls for more professional attire, went from oil- and grease-stained hands to blue nitrile gloves and became technicians rather than mechanics. As with broadcast engineers, a whole new skill set was needed, one that included computers, sensors and OBD ports.


As I look around my company and consider the top-shelf group of engineers that we employ, I realize that their primary skills are in the IT domain.

We recently had one northern market CE leave for warmer climes, and as his newly-hired replacement came in and began work, the challenge was not transmitters, processors and antenna systems, but rather networks, IP addresses, ports and passwords. Because of the IP-heavy infrastructure, Job No. 1 had to be learning the networks at the studios, offices and transmitter sites and figuring out how it all works.

In the earliest days of my career, I worked at a local FM station (which few people listened to because there were few FM radios out there) changing automation tapes and doing top-of-the-hour rip-and-read news. The chief engineer was a guy named Don Freestone, and my memory is of him hunched over a smoking soldering iron back in his engineering shop, which was next to the AM transmitter room. That was pretty much the image and stereotype of the broadcast engineer for a long time. Back in the day, I even saw an episode of “WKRP in Cincinnati” with a brief glimpse of a broadcast engineer with that same stereotype.

Today, the image is a little different. Today, it is the engineer, probably dressed in khakis and a polo, sitting (or standing) at a desk hunched over a laptop computer, fingers flying over the keys as mysterious characters scroll by on the screen. That image is not far off. In this company at least, that is where our engineers spend most of their time, not making wiring changes or repairing equipment.

In today’s IT-centric broadcast plant, “wiring changes” are done with a mouse, making and breaking crosspoints in software. Even transmitter remote control systems are configured in software, using SNMP and Ethernet cables rather than the fat multi-conductor control cables that we used for that purpose for decades.

With the changes in infrastructure have come big changes in the ways we as broadcast technical professionals do business, and as I mentioned, the skill set has changed. For young upstarts, this is no big deal; IT is their native language; for old guys like me, well, we have a lot to learn.


So what does that mean for broadcast engineering as a field?

For starters, it means that the job description has to change, and because of that, our recruitment sources also have to change. Do we seek out and hire RF and audio people and train them in IT, or do we hire IT people and train them in audio and RF?

Either path, on the surface, is valid, but out here in the real world, it’s a tall order to find RF and audio people, especially young people just entering the workforce that have any training and expertise in audio and RF. It’s much easier to find young college or trade school grads who are trained in IT.

The practical course of action, then, is to find upstart IT people and train them in the other aspects of the broadcast engineering trade. Easy, right? Maybe not. There are a number of challenges to this course of action.

First, the career path model, while we weren’t looking, has changed dramatically. No longer are young people content to work and learn under a more experienced “guru” and then move up the ladder over a period of years as their skills develop. Those skills are in such demand that upstarts hit the ground running, landing high-paying jobs right out of school. They often move from job to job every year or two, always getting a better deal and a bigger paycheck.

Except for purely IT people, the broadcast industry cannot compete with that, not really. What we offer is a slow rise up the ladder that includes a lot of learning of other skills that are really well outside of the wheelhouses of IT-trained people.

And of course we offer lower pay and lousy hours. Why on earth would any young upstart trained in IT want to subject herself to that if she could easily land a job at Verizon or T-Mobile that pays more, has better benefits and regular hours?

So therein lies the challenge. It would seem to be nearly impossible. And yet … and yet … I have managed to find and hire a number of superb youngsters, real rock stars, over the past few years who have taken to the broadcast engineering trade like a fish to water.

Yes, they love their ones and zeros. They love their obscure command line syntax and code.

But they also love radio. And they have come to love transmitters, transmission lines, antennas, audio processing and sound just as much. It has been a real pleasure watching these youngsters bloom into what will be tomorrow’s chief engineers and engineering managers.

I might add that it hasn’t hurt one bit that our audio infrastructure has moved into the realm of ones and zeros (AoIP), or that transmitters, remote controls, audio processors and even STLs now have IP addresses and communicate with users in the IT domain.

The question, then, is how do we find such people? That’s a tough question, and I don’t have an easy answer. The best I can tell you is to be on the lookout for youngsters who might have the knack for radio.

Job fairs are often a good place to look. IT folks attend job fairs looking for employment, and maybe they are drawn to the banner with the radio station’s call sign because they listen to or have heard of the station, and they’re intrigued. Could it be that this radio station has a job for me that could be something more than assigning IP addresses and creating subnets?

At some point as you talk to them, the inevitable question is asked: “What does a broadcast engineer do, anyway?” The answer: “We do it all.”

And the one thing you can promise is that they’ll never get bored. Let Verizon or T-Mobile compete with that!

Cris Alexander, CPBE AMD DRB, is director of engineering of Crawford Broadcasting Co. and technical editor of RW Engineering Extra.

Comment on this or any article. Write to rweetech@gmail.com.

The post What Does a Broadcast Engineer Do, Anyway? appeared first on Radio World.

What Exactly Happened to Ampegon?

Radio World - Tue, 10/22/2019 - 02:00

The author is sales and business development manager for Ampegon Power Electronics AG.

TURGI, Switzerland—Following this year’s IBC exhibition in Amsterdam in September it became clear that, despite our best efforts, many in the radio community are still in the dark about what has recently happened at Ampegon; a long-term supplier of transmitters and equipment to shortwave and medium-wave broadcasters worldwide.

Simon Keens

Rumors have abounded regarding the health of the company and we hope today to clarify the situation here

Late in 2018, Ampegon’s former investment capital owners decided to sell Ampegon. This had been planned since 2012 when they acquired the company following the restructuring of the Thomson group. Since you never completely fuel a car that you’re just about to sell, Ampegon was instructed to minimize further unnecessary investment in marketing, which is why customer visits and conference attendance fell to a historic low. This left the company to focus solely on completing projects prior to transfer of ownership.

In the end, the process of selling the company took longer than anticipated, meaning that some projects were delayed and left unfinished at the point of sale. Additionally, the former owners proceeded to sell the four parts of Ampegon separately: The shortwave transmitter, power supply and control system section in Switzerland, the antenna division in Ludwigshafen, the former Transradio medium-wave transmitter factory based in Berlin, and the industrial pulsed power supply specialists in Dortmund, all in Germany. This necessitated a break-up of the group, with assets from each company being sold off individually. It inevitably caused disruption to normal operations.

The shortwave transmitter business, along with the staff, tools, and stock material has now been bought by a new Swiss company: Ampegon Power Electronics AG. This company was formed specifically to complete the transaction with Ampegon AG, and took over all IP and technology rights, branding (including the name and logo of Ampegon), website and contact details.

Telephone numbers and email addresses for contacts in sales, engineering and purchasing are essentially unchanged. Today (at time of writing) we understand that Ampegon AG exists only as a company on paper, with practically all staff moved over to Ampegon Power Electronics AG. Similarly, staff and assets from Ampegon Antenna Systems GmbH and AM Broadcast GmbH have been sold to Cestron International and now continue their respective businesses under the name Elsyscom.

We hope that Ampegon Power Electronics and Cestron/Elsyscom work closely moving forward, once the necessary agreements are in place; providing the integrated transmitter/antenna systems that have been so successful in the past. Research Instruments has acquired the industrial pulsed power team in Dortmund, although this is not considered significant to the broadcast community.

A 4/4 rotatable directional antenna supplied by former Ampegon Antenna Systems GmbH of Ludwigshafen, Germany.

Unfortunately, a number of Ampegon’s customers were left with partially completed projects when our former owners withdrew their support in preparation for selling the company.

The company’s former staff — who remained in post even though they went unpaid for some months — regret the inconvenience caused, but are currently working hard under Ampegon Power Electronics to resolve the issues arising from being a new company, and not the legal successor of Ampegon AG. This has meant that contracts must be transf

erred, warranties reviewed and all other previous agreements with our customers and colleagues in the community must be annulled and renewed.

Looking ahead, however, the core skills of Ampegon remain in place to support the broadcast community over the coming years and decades. By and large Ampegon’s engineers and employees are the same people in the same place doing the same thing, but now with an industrial group behind them rather than a capital investment company. We are looking forward to continuing work with our friends and colleagues in the community as we look at new revolutions in broadcasting such as Digital Radio Mondiale, data communications and energy efficiency in the future.

Development of Ampegon’s second-generation Class A/B solid-state transmitters is practically complete, with production of 1.5 kW – 25 kW versions, capable of broadcasting between 3 MHz to 30 MHz, ramping up. A third-generation solution offering significantly greater energy efficiency is approaching prototype stage.

A shortwave transmitter supplied by Ampegon, now Ampegon Power Electronics AG, of Switzerland.

[Read: Solving the Medium-Wave Problem]

Simultaneously, Ampegon has developed control system upgrades to support users of older-generation tube transmitters having difficulty sourcing spares, and also to provide opportunities to retrofit older systems with new digital DRM broadcast capabilities. Of course, with touchscreen technology and innovative controls, such an upgrade makes these transmitters easier to use, simpler to maintain and safer than ever before. Of course, we are complimented by the requests to support over 20-year-old transmitters, since this is testimony to their reliability and value.

It is Ampegon’s hope to continue serving shortwave broadcasting long into the future. We see the unique capabilities of the technique, and the significant future opportunities presented by digital broadcasting with DRM. And who knows what other technologies may benefit from use of shortwave? Time will tell, and Ampegon intends to be there to support it.

For information, please see:






The post What Exactly Happened to Ampegon? appeared first on Radio World.


FCC Media Bureau News Items - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 22:00


FCC Media Bureau News Items - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 22:00


FCC Media Bureau News Items - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 22:00

Broadcast Actions

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 22:00

NYSBA Honors Native Son O’Rielly as New Yorker of the Year

Radio World - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 14:10

As he gratefully accepted an award from New York State Broadcasters Association, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly noted — wryly — the irony of the moment.

The award, for New Yorker of the Year, was being bestowed, he said, on a government bureaucrat “who never spent one day working at a broadcast station; who has never been closer to the news industry than when he had a paper route.” Those were some of the remarks made by O’Rielly — undoubtedly to laughs from the room full of broadcasters — during a luncheon with the NYSBA during its Broadcast Leadership and Hall Of Fame Luncheon on Oct. 17 in New York City.

[Read: O’Rielly: First Amendment Rights Worthy of Strongest Defenses]

“You should know that, when David [Donovan, president of NYSBA] called to congratulate me for being selected as New York Broadcasters New Yorker of the Year, I suggested he was way off base,” O’Rielly told the crowd. “In my mind, I stand before you as someone completely unworthy of this honor. Let’s face it: you are looking at a short, overweight, government bureaucrat … whose claim to FCC fame includes successfully allowing broadcast stations to close up shop,” (albeit, he said, as part of the much-lauded elimination of the FCC’s long-standing Main Studio Rule).

“[While] there are far more deserving individuals from this amazing state,” he said. “But…not being on the selection committee myself, I happily accept this award.”

O’Rielly, a native New Yorker from the western part of the state, said broadcasting provided a “wonderful foundation of fulsome life experiences” that have been enormously valuable throughout his professional career. He was born and raised in a small city on the Erie Canal just outside Buffalo, N.Y., which is home to hearty, hardworking individuals that — as he said in his confirmation hearing back in 2013 — “accept the hard winter weather and lack of sun as a badge of honor.” All across the State of New York, O’Rielly said, people are smart, gritty realists who tend to tell it as it is. “Throw into that mix some challenging weather from time to time, and you have the formula for some really unique individuals that tend to do well in our fairly complex society,” he said.

Local broadcasting was a key part of his early education, he said, as local news, sports coverage and children’s programming fed some of his earliest interests. During his six-year-long tenure at the commission, O’Rielly said he has attempted to distinguish himself as someone who listens attentively to the problems and issues facing broadcasters and tries to find workable solutions, from local ones pirate radio to broader ones like the seismic shift in the video marketplace.

“Part of my focus has been to reduce the overall regulatory burden on broadcasters, as is demanded by the FCC,” he said. “This means eliminating any and all unnecessary requirements that impinge on broadcasters’ ability to serve their local communities. Your government should not mandate obligations that impose undue costs and require inordinate time to comply when a regulation has far outlived its usefulness in the modern marketplace.”

O’Rielly told the organization that the good news for the broadcast industry is that there are important and vibrant opportunities ahead. “While the competitive marketplace may change around you and technology may continue to present challenges, you provide real value to the American public,” he said.

For local radio in particular, “your role in the community has never been more important, especially with the demise of so many newspapers.”

He touched on personal tragedy during the event by saying that a recent death in his family of his brother-in-law put a somber note on his appearance at the event.

But he closed by saying that this award would only serve to make him “work harder, smarter and longer to ensure that the American people are getting their money’s worth from the FCC.”

As president of the NYSBA, Donovan said that O’Rielly stands apart as one of the outstanding commissioners in the history of the FCC.  “He studies an issue in depth and then makes a principled decision,” Donovan said, saying O’Rielly has been a leader on a number of issues affecting New York broadcasters, including his championing of increased enforcement against illegal pirate radio operations.

Prior to being nominated by Pres. Barack Obama in 2013, O’Rielly served in key positions in the U.S. Senate, including as policy advisor in the Office of the Senate Republican Whip and as a professional staff member on the Committee on Energy and Commerce for the House.


The post NYSBA Honors Native Son O’Rielly as New Yorker of the Year appeared first on Radio World.

PBC Tests DRM for FM on a Consumer Receiver

Radio World - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 14:00

On Oct. 17 Pakistan Broadcasting Corp. began DRM for FM test transmissions on a consumer receiver.

According to the DRM consortium, the public broadcaster is sending the DRM signal from its headquarters in Islamabad using a low power of 75 W. The signal reportedly reaches an area of between 5–10 kilometers around the city.

Pictured from left to right are Ghulam Mujaddid (PBC), Roman Afroz (HEDRA), Peter Timmons (GatesAir), Kamran Saeed and Nauman Jarral (PBC).

Broadcasting on 101.6 MHz and pushing from a single FM transmitter, the receiver auto tunes into three services — FM101 (entertainment), Dhanak (music) and Saut-ul-quran (religious). Additional text information including Journaline is also available.

For the trial, the PBC is using a GatesAir 1 kW Flexiva transmitter and Exgine card; an RF Mondial DRM Content Server and DRM+ professional receiver; a Label Italy Bay antenna system; and a Gospell consumer DRM receiver.

“The Gospell receiver, which originally worked on AM is now working on FM too,” noted DRM Chair Ruxandra Obreja. “This is a great step forward as it shows there can also be a commercial solution for DRM in FM. A similar test, which started this summer and continues in St. Petersburg, Russia, is also using a Gospell receiver.”

[Read: Solving the Medium-Wave Problem]

Hedra Technology, Fraunhofer IIS and the DRM international Consortium are collaborating on the project, which is managed by PBC specialists Kamran Saeed, director engineering; Ali Zia Abbasi, controller engineering and chairman DRM steering committee; Ghulam Mujaddid, engineering manager and DRM steering committee member; and Yasir Mustafa, engineering manager and DRM steering committee member.

DRM adds that in addition to Russia, Pakistan joins Indonesia and South Africa. Both of these countries have recently demonstrated DRM in the FM band as well.


The post PBC Tests DRM for FM on a Consumer Receiver appeared first on Radio World.

DABCAST Designed to Simplify DAB+ Implementation

Radio World - Sun, 10/20/2019 - 00:00

Technical broadcast operator BCAST has debuted a new platform that is meant to help small and medium broadcasters implement the DAB+ standard, named DABCAST.

DABCAST supports the range of functionalities needed for digital radio creation from studio to broadcasting. This is done through its Virtual Studio web app, where multimedia content can be created and managed.

The cloud application MUX processes the radio streams and converts them into the appropriate format for DAB+; while the TX transmitter, a physical device that receives signal from the cloud, modulates it for final broadcast. The signal from the air is then analyzed by the DAB+ monitoring probe.

More information about DABCAST can be found here.



The post 
DABCAST Designed to Simplify DAB+ Implementation appeared first on Radio World.


FCC Media Bureau News Items - Fri, 10/18/2019 - 21:00


FCC Media Bureau News Items - Fri, 10/18/2019 - 21:00

Broadcast Actions

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Fri, 10/18/2019 - 21:00


FCC Media Bureau News Items - Fri, 10/18/2019 - 21:00