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.”
W236CF is an FM translator located high atop Chicago’s Willis Tower with a highly directional antenna and 60 watts ERP. Don’t let the 60 watts fool you. With its antenna at 1,417 feet it is no slouch and covers more than half of Chicago and some suburbs with its 50 dBu contour. The translator was purchased along with W236CG at the west edge of Chicago with 250 watts at 146 feet. The two translators operate in sync to provide a very impressive coverage area. Purchase price for the pair $3.5 million.
Using the HD2 signal of WLEY(FM), the pair are on the air as “Club Steppin’” and cater to African-American listeners looking for a particular adult style of music not found on full power Chicago analog stations.
But the future of the translator twins may be in jeopardy based on the new interference rules passed by the FCC.
The 95.1 MHz frequency is also home to WIIL(FM) a 50,000 watt Class B licensed to Union Grove, Wis. It puts out a good signal from Milwaukee to Chicago.
The 45 dBu interference limit contour of WIIL actually encompasses the Willis Tower site of W236CF in Chicago, as well as the transmitter site of W236CG just outside Chicago in Elmwood Park. WIIL or “Will-Rock” as it’s called, enjoyed a very listenable signal over most of Chicago until “Club Steppin’” severely impacted Chicago coverage.
Sources tell me that WIIL was already working on a complaint filing under the old interference rules.
Meeting the complaint minimum might not be hard with thousands of households affected by the interference area. W236CF and W236CG already use very tight directional antennas away from WIIL(FM). Since both antennas are inside the 45 dBu contour of WIIL, the only solutions that appear to be available would be moving farther away from WIIL or changing frequency. With 95.1 being used by other stations south of Chicago, moving farther out is not a good option. And with FM congestion so severe in Chicago, a frequency change that would still allow the coverage from Willis Tower might be impossible. And the pairing of the two translators might be impossible to maintain if one can change frequency and the other cannot. Without the super height of a downtown skyscraper, W236CF’s commercial viability is in serious jeopardy along with the multimillion dollar investment.
Anytime a translator can be shoehorned into a market like Chicago at 1,400 feet downtown , it’s an engineering accomplishment. But it remains to be seen if “Club Steppin’” can stand the challenge or will the multimillion dollar investment be the first casualty of the FCC’s new interference regs. Stay tuned!
Here’s a list of web links for products discussed in the 2019 NAB Show Product Report Webinar.
More and more broadcasters are playing a larger role when it comes to responding to emergencies now that Washington state has signed a new first informer broadcast bill.
The decision makes Washington the 11th state in the country to pass such legislation. The bill was a culmination of three years of efforts by broadcasters, the Washington State Association of Broadcasters (WSAB) and the state’s Emergency Management Division to ensure broadcasters can gain access to transmitter and studio facilities during time of a declared emergency.
The bill was unanimously passed through both chambers of the Washington state legislature before being signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in late April.
To participate in the program, broadcast technicians must be registered as a First Informer Broadcaster as part of the Washington Business Re-Entry System. They will then have authorization to access to their studio and transmitter facilities to restore broadcast operations and disseminate safety and recovery information to listeners and viewers.
Broadcasters are still required to follow the direction of incident commanders as it relates to safety issues in declared emergency zones. Key language in the bill prohibits authorities from confiscating resources — fuel, food, water and other essential materials — brought to the site by a first informer broadcaster, WSAB said.
“This legislation is really impactful for broadcasters,” said Janene Drafs, chairwoman of the board of WSAB. “Access to our transmitter sites and studio facilities during time of emergency allows us to broadcast important safety and recovery information to the communities we serve across the state of Washington.”
A mini documentary that aired during the National Association of Broadcasters’ State Leadership Conference in February details the role that local radio and television broadcasters serve as first informers during times of emergency. This film focuses on broadcasters’ response to Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael, which hit the southeastern U.S. in the fall of 2018, causing evacuations and billions of dollars in property damage. It showcases footage of the storm as well as “examples of broadcasters’ valiant efforts to provide life-saving emergency information and community assistance,” wrote NAB Senior Vice President of Communications Ann Marie Cumming in a blog post about the video.
Other states with first informer legislation include Missouri, which voted in 2016 to give broadcasters priority in restoring, repairing or resupplying facilities following a disaster in 2016. That bill, known as SB 732, established a program for training and certifying broadcast engineers and technical personnel to allow them to act as first informer broadcasters if the need arises. The Washington legislation is similar to the Oregon State First Informer Bill that was passed in 2015.
Changes to the “Robert T. Stafford Relief and Emergency Assistance Act” in 2018, part of a federal appropriations bill, furthered the issue. The bill included language updating the definition of those essential service providers who have access to disaster areas during federally declared emergencies. Mobile telephone service, internet access service, radio or television broadcasting, cable service or direct broadcast satellite service are now considered essential service providers, according to the document, allowing them to gain access to vital infrastructure, including transmitter sites, when disaster hits.
The post Washington Becomes 11th State with Formal First Informer Status appeared first on Radio World.
There is less than three weeks until C Band operators are required to submit information on their use of C Band receive-only station as part of a public notice by the FCC. The Society of Broadcast Engineers has issued a friendly reminder for all of those who may still be outstanding on that request.
The public notice calls for operators of fixed-satellite Earth stations in the C Band that are licensed or registered in the IBFS database must certify the accuracy of all information reflected in the IBFS on their licenses or registrations. However, as the SBE points out, new or modified licenses filed in the C Band filing window of April 19, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2018, are not required to submit certification.
For the rest of the FSS earth station operators — including temporary-fixed or transportable earth stations — certifications must be provided in the form mandated by the FCC. Information required includes call signs, file numbers, applicant or registrant name and a signed certification statement. Temporary-fixed or transportable stations must submit additional information: address where equipment is typically stored; the area in which the equipment is typically used; how often equipment is used; duration of typical use; number of transponders typically used in the C Band; extent of use; and a point of contact.
All earth-station operations, even those exempt from the filing requirement, must update their information in IBFS.
The public notice can be found on the FCC website.
Deadline for submitting information is May 28.
The post SBE Issues Reminder For C Band Dish Users To Register appeared first on Radio World.
The author is partner of Navette Broadcasting.
NASSAU, The Bahamas — URCA, The Utilities Regulation & Competition Authority in the Bahamas has canceled our Sportsradio 103(FM) spectrum license. We were the country’s only sports formatted broadcaster and the police shut us down by raiding our tower and confiscating the transmitter!Vann Ferguson is a parter at Navette Broadcasting.
My partner and I started Sportsradio 103(FM) nine years ago as an all sports radio station. It was a joint venture between former Olympian, Frank Rutherford and Phil Smith and my partner Cheryl Braynon. We entered an agreement in 2009 with Rutherford/Smith supplying their government issued “letter of authorization for an FM license,” and Cheryl and I providing the funding and operations. It seemed to be a perfect fit.
When we presented Rutherford’s letter, we learned that it pre-dated the new Communications Act of 2009 and could only be grandfathered into the new URCA regime enacted the same year, empowering URCA with the authority to license radio stations. We discovered at that time that the new Act could only license incorporated companies and so we used our company, Navette Broadcasting, to get licensed.
We restructured the shares in the spirit of our 50/50 agreement giving Rutherford and Smith shares and director positions. This, consequently enabled us to begin broadcasting in 2010 with a spectrum license issued to Frank Rutherford and Phil Smith for Navette Broadcasting Co. Ltd.Cheryl Braynon is a partner at Navette Broadcasting
Our company operated for eight years as such, maintained an amiable relationship with URCA, paying the annual fees, and never committing an infraction. We were also listed on URCA’s website as the spectrum owner. By 2017, URCA was five years into a self-imposed moratorium on issuing FM licenses in the small island city of Nassau, having issued 22 spectrum licenses to date for the small market and population of only 300,000.
The business environment was very challenging and Sportsradio, though popular, was not providing investor returns as projected and by 2018, Rutherford/Smith wanted out of the deal with Navette Broadcasting. They subsequently applied to URCA for the “change of control of ZSR 103.5(FM).” URCA appeased and came up with what my partner and I regarded as the most unfair and improbable resolution.
URCA reasoned that there was no need for a “change in control,” declaring our license void and defective, reissuing the same spectrum frequency license (103.5) to Paramount Systems Ltd., the new Rutherford/Smith partnership with casino operator Sabas Bastian.
My partner and I were told three months after Rutherford’s new company had received the green light, learning by industry rumors that a new 103.5(FM) would be testing shortly. We went headfirst into survival mode appealing URCA’s decision, “to cancel our license without due process or a fair hearing.” We stood our ground, not turning off our transmitter in defiance of URCA’s request protected by our court actions to fight the decision until URCA eventually seized the police on us to raid the transmitter tower.Former NBA player Rick Fox of the Lakers (left) chats it up with Sportsradio 103.5(FM) morning show host Marcellus Hall (center) and Lawrence Hepburn during a broadcast.
We sought and lost relief from the supreme court on the grounds of jurisdiction with cost; sought and lost relief from URCA appeals tribunal with cost. And, again on the grounds of jurisdiction, we were refused an application for leave to apply for judicial review by the supreme court with cost, due to “delayed” filings.
From what we initially envisioned as a clear case of the regulator overstepping its bounds, the regulator’s attorneys have skillfully misdirected this into our defending procedural moves in appealing their decision, avoiding a hearing so far on the substantial case.
Our Attorney, Khalil Parker, president of the Bar Association in the Bahamas, has filed an appeal and contends that URCA adjudicated on matters entirely outside of its jurisdiction, The act mandated applicants must be incorporated entities and URCA failed to acknowledge the license was clearly marked “for” Navette Broadcasting Company.
The license in dispute was clearly a civil matter and Navette was entitled to due process before being deprived of its license. URCA ought to have recused itself as opposed to acting as arbiter in a private dispute wholly unrelated to regulation. Mr. Parker claims URCA erred in their interpretation and use of the Communications Act 27(1)(a) to vary the license if the applicants license was void as alleged, as revocation would have been appropriate in the circumstances.
Therefore “curing” the alleged defect, issuing the same license to Paramount Systems is merely an unlawful and unconstitutional taking of the Applicants property. We at Navette Broadcasting are out of the radio business. Our company is eager to have our day in court so the substantial case can be heard. We are presently waiting for a date for the appeals court in the Bahamas.
Radio World has invited the regulator to reply to this commentary and will share any response.
Win-Group Software, manufacturer of the WinMedia automation software suite, is expanding with the recent addition of Jesus Vazquez as the group’s sales manager for Europe, Africa and Asia.Jesus Vazquez is Win-Group’s sales manager for Europe, Africa and Asia.
In his new role, Vazquez, who is based in Paris, is responsible for business development in these regions as well as the management of the company’s Europe- and North Africa-based distributors. He also oversees the sales efforts of Win-Group staff based in Johannesburg and Singapore.
Previously, Vazquez worked as international sales manager for French firm StudioCast, where he was responsible for global marketing and sales of the company’s visual radio solution. Prior to that, he was international sales coordinator for AEQ in Spain.
According to Win-Group, Vasquez, who has spent most of his career in the broadcast sector, brings his expertise in sales and marketing along with a good grasp of industry trends, which it says, will drive future business.
“Thanks to his vast experience and knowledge of the market, Jesus is the right person to promote Win-Group’s new products,” said Stéphane Tesoriere, Win-Group CEO.
Win-Group recently debuted the WinCam visual radio system and an enhanced version of the WinSales CRM and ad traffic system.
Some interesting college radio history is embedded in a story about Canadian campus-community radio station CFRC. The Queen’s University station stretches back to the 1920s, making it the oldest college radio station in Canada. According to the “90 Years of Queen’s Radio” online exhibit created by the Queen’s University Archives: Public radio broadcasting from the campus of Queen’s […]
The post College Radio Watch: Nearly 100 Years of College Radio in Canada and More News appeared first on Radio Survivor.
My 5th and final radio station visit at the end of a long day of Seattle touring brought me to an interesting arts enclave in Warren G. Magnuson Park in northeast Seattle. My destination, the newish low power FM (LPFM) community radio station SPACE 101.1 (KMGP-LP), which is a project of the Sand Point Arts […]
The post Radio Station Visit #156: KMGP-LP Space 101.1 FM in Seattle appeared first on Radio Survivor.
One of community radio’s most enduring conversations, and one that it is hardly settled, is the matter of youth radio. Moreover, it is a question of how young people should be involved in community radio.
Among National Federation of Community Broadcasters member stations, youth radio — shorthand for high school and college student producing content at stations — is a topic that always sparks intense interest. NFCB has held many conference sessions about it, and even held a parallel conference for young people in community radio a few years ago. On email lists and online forums, youth radio prompts discussion because it speaks to past and future values of community media itself.
What makes a sustainable and effective youth radio effort? At my old community radio station, I launched and ran a youth radio initiative for several years. Ultimately, it fizzled out. Why it failed in the end may inform your station’s ongoing dialog on how to involve those 18 and under in your organization.
Community radio tends to attract its share of mavericks, people who do not like being told what to listen to, what to play or what to do. There is a peculiar beauty to this archetype, which has been wholly subsumed by big business hectoring around freedom of choice. Its aesthetics play out in stations around the nation. Some of community radio’s biggest fights tend to be over authority and pecking order. With the maverick approach also comes a variety of sometimes problematic assumptions. The biggest of these? That everyone, naturally, wants to do whatever strikes their fancy, too.
I confess to approaching youth radio from this position. I heard from any number of people that told me young people should get to choose what they do, create what they want to create, and tell the story in their voices. Sounds great, right? In theory, community radio would then sound like what young people think, listen to and discuss. In practice, not so much. Ultimately, it proved to be all our good intentions’ undoing.
Why? As someone who trained many high school and college aged young people, I can tell you many do not always have the skills at this point in life to choose a passion and stick with it for any length of time. They’re also not attuned to even what their peers enjoy, because they are still developing their own basic life discernment talents. That was my experience at least. Giving a student trainee complete freedom to create radio that they, and possibly their peers, found intriguing would be a novelty for a month or two. Then they drift off.
The reasons they vanished were not hard to determine. School, friends and afterschool activities were time consuming. At least two of those three would impact them for years to come. In a few cases, youth radio was an outlet because their parents liked radio and pushed them to go. Yet radio, while fun, was not as important in their young lives. Maybe they’d want a recommendation, but the leadership skills, technical talents and intellectual proficiency my station wanted to instill, without metrics, was hard to quantify. High school juniors and seniors were thinking about college. My station’s youth radio was not recognized or accredited by area school districts. Although community radio experience might show civic involvement, tests, academic programs and district accolades for programs meant more.
As an audio trainer of students, I was humbled to realize schools have curricula for a good reason. Veteran teachers realize students need structure, simple and spelled out objectives, and critical thinking opportunities that offer scaffolding for a young person to learn. Youth radio projects must center that kind of organization as a key to success.
Then there was the matter of content. The truth is that what high school and college students listen to and talk about may not be what a station’s core audience is interested in, or even believes to be community radio. I found that young people needed a lot of coaching to find suitable subjects to build into radio. That, in turn, prompts the existential question of whether youth are creating radio, or creating what adults think they should be creating to represent what young people think of radio. It’s a question to which easy answers do not exist.
Finally, it was hard to contend with the power of social media. Put simply: if a student’s peers are on Instagram, for example, and go there all the time, because they can post what they want, when they want, and how they want, and they’re already broadcasting to the school this way, why does radio, with its rules, adult gatekeepers and conventions, mean anything to them beyond that aforementioned novelty? Again, it is a question to which I found few great answers.
None of this is an argument against youth radio. Rather, it is an encouragement to tackle the most challenging questions. Together, for the betterment of communities, I am hopeful community radio is capable of forwarding dynamic answers.