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Severe Weather Knocks Down Eagle Tower

Radio World - Mon, 12/09/2019 - 12:39

When a nearly 40-year-old Nebraska radio tower was felled by ice and high winds in late November, it was immediately clear that KQSK(FM) would require an interim solution to get back on the air, according to the Panhandle Post.

(The Panhandle Post is the online presence for Eagle Communications’ radio stations in the region.) 

General Manager Olivia Hasenauer told the Panhandle Post, Eagle Radio now has “a temporary antenna and transmitter for KQSK” in Chadron, Neb., but the broadcaster intends to rebuild the tower at its current site in 2020. 

Eagle Radio Chief Engineer Kevin Wagner said this has enabled “the majority population of Dawes County” to hear the country music-formatted station again.

Prior to the incident, the nearly 500-ft tower also provided leased space for National Weather Service’s NOAA weather, as well as other agencies and organizations. Until the permanent solution is constructed, the National Weather Service is attempting coverage with help from sister stations, but NWS’ Bill Mokry also told the Panhandle Post that residents should turn to other sources of weather information for now. 

The post Severe Weather Knocks Down Eagle Tower appeared first on Radio World.

Failing to Notify FCC of Primary Station Change Proves Costly

Radio World - Mon, 12/09/2019 - 12:30

It’s important for a licensee to notify the Federal Communications Commission of certain licensing changes. Otherwise it can turn into a costly mistake.

In this case, Carolina Radio Group applied for a construction permit for a translator in Raleigh, N.C. and specified WQDR(FM) as the translator’s primary station. After the Media Bureau granted the permit application and then the license application, a Petition for Reconsideration was filed by Triangle Access Broadcasting who said that not only was there was no technical need for the translator but that the translator was not being operated as authorized. Specifically, Triangle’s said that the CRG translator was broadcasting an unauthorized station.

[Read: FCC to Two AM Licensees: Pay Fees or Nixed Licenses Could Be Next]

In response, CRG said that no “technical need” showing was required and that the translator was currently rebroadcasting the signal of WQDR. However, CRG did not respond to Triangle’s claim that the translator had previously rebroadcast the signal of a different station.

Upon investigation, the Media Bureau found that when the translator commenced operations, it was rebroadcasting WPLW(AM) rather than WQDR. For about a month, CRG’s translator had been broadcasting a station other than its approved station, which is a violation of failure-to-file rules and the unauthorized broadcasting rule book.

The Media Bureau also found that CRG did not properly notify the commission of this change.

As a result, the bureau proposed a forfeiture for CRG of $2,000. Although the commission had the authority to establish a base forfeiture of up to $7,000 (for two violations: failure to file and unauthorized broadcasting) the Media Bureau said a reduced forfeiture was appropriate in this case. “We reach this conclusion based on the fact that CRG’s violations were not prolonged and the fact that CRG has no history of prior offenses,” the bureau said in its ruling.

The Media Bureau also moved to dismiss Triangle’s request that it reconsider the  licensing of CRG’s translator. Under FCC rules, a permittee “is entitled to a high degree of protection” and presumption that public interest is being served during the construction permit process — unless circumstances arise that would make operation of the station against the public interest. That’s not the case here, the bureau said.

As a result, the Media Bureau proposed a $2,000 forfeiture for CRG. The licensee has 30 days to pay the full amount or file a written statement explaining why it deserves reduction or cancellation of the forfeiture.

 

The post Failing to Notify FCC of Primary Station Change Proves Costly appeared first on Radio World.

DEVA Broadcast DB4005 Promises Precision

Radio World - Mon, 12/09/2019 - 02:00

BURGAS, Bulgaria — 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 leading 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.

For information, contact DEVA Broadcast in Bulgaria at +359-56-820027 or visit www.devabroadcast.com.

The post DEVA Broadcast DB4005 Promises Precision appeared first on Radio World.

The Rise and Possible Fall of FrankenFMs Is One of the Most Important Radio Trends of the Decade

Radio Survivor - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 19:46

In a few dozen markets around the country there is a rare species of FM station that is only heard on the far left end of the dial. Because of the unusual spot on the dial, and sometimes unusual programming, some listeners may think they’ve tuned in a pirate. But these stations are legal, if not quite something the FCC intends to exist.

When I first found these stations more than ten years ago, I called them “Back Door FMs.” Later some commentators would call them “FrankenFMs.” The first instance of this moniker I can find is from Radio World in November 2014. The term became more popular when writer Ernie Smith covered the phenomenon for Tedium in 2016.

I think FrankenFMs are one of the most important radio trends of the last decade because only a handful of them were around when the decade started, and their number has nearly tripled in the intervening years. Yet, the 2010s might be remembered as their heyday, since they’re scheduled to go away in June of 2020, unless the Federal Communications Commission decides to intervene.

How Digital TV Inadvertently Turned a Curiosity into a Service

When I was a kid growing up at the Jersey Shore, I was fascinated by the fact that I could hear channel 6 WPVI-TV, Philadelphia’s ABC affiliate, on the left end of my radio. And disappointed that I couldn’t listen to other TV stations.

The existence of that phenomenon is owed to the fact that the first six channels of analog TV are just below the FM dial, with channel 6’s audio portion – which is also frequency modulated – situated at 87.76 MHz, receivable on most radios. For the roughly 44 years that analog television and FM radio were neighbors this was mostly a curiosity, since only some television shows make sense without the picture.

This changed on June 12, 2009, when all full-power television stations turned off their analog signals, becoming fully digital. The ones on channel 6 disappeared from the FM dial. But not every channel 6 station went away.

Because they were designed to serve local communities at a lower cost – similar to low-power FM – low power television stations were given a longer lease to hold onto their analog signals. That also meant that channel 6 LPTVs could still be heard on the radio.

As television viewers made their adjustment to digital receivers, the value of these low-powered analog signals began to fall. Those on channel 6 found a new lease on life: embrace their existence on the radio dial.

A Decade of FrankenFMs

I discovered my first such station on the Chicago radio dial just days after the analog TV shutoff, in June 2009. Back then WLFM briefly returned smooth jazz to the area’s airwaves – the station is now MeTV FM, which will I’ll return to in a bit. I soon learned there were a number of these stations around the country, from Anchorage, Alaska to New York City.

When the digital TV transition happened there were 77 analog channel 6s remaining on the air in the U.S. Two years later the FCC decided they would all be required to transition to digital by September 1, 2015. Then they received a reprieve in 2014, getting to stay analog while the Commission conducted what is known as the “incentive auction and repack.” This process allowed digital TV stations to trade in spectrum to be auctioned off for advanced digital services. Stations in affected markets then “repacked” in bunched up spectrum. It concluded in June of this year, and analog LPTVs were given an addition twelve months past this point to make the digital transition.

Today there are just 41 analog channel 6 stations left, just a bit more than half as there were a decade earlier. But now most – 31 – appear to operate as radio stations, with a majority broadcasting either a Spanish-language or religious format, usually syndicated and non-local. The last time I counted them was in 2014, when I came up with about 18. This increase certainly indicates that there’s little value left in analog television broadcasting as a visual service. The audio signal is clearly what’s most valuable.

A Stay of Execution?

Once more an analog sunset is upon us in just over six months when the post-repack grace period is finished. This time around the FCC isn’t asking the question if analog LPTVs should stick around – their digital transition appears imminent. Instead the Commission is directly addressing the existence of channel 6 FrankenFMs.

The Media Bureau is asking for the public to weigh in (MB Docket No. 03–185) on whether or not these stations should get an exception to continue broadcasting an analog audio signal as a “supplementary service” even while their video signals go digital. Moreover, should the FCC only consider stations that are actually operating as radio, or should all be considered?

If this supplemental audio service were to be allowed, should only existing channel 6s be eligible, or would someone be able to apply for a new station and also get permission to broadcast an analog radio signal? The FCC also asks if a channel 6 license is sold or transferred, should that right to the analog audio transmission also be transferred.

It’s significant that the FCC is in effect proposing to officially recognize channel 6 LPTV stations as radio stations, rather than just sort of tolerate the loophole. Of course that’s because the loophole is about to go away.

Should FrankenFMs Be Saved?

As I noted above, the majority of the FrankenFMs seem to broadcast syndicated programming. Only a handful broadcast anything I’d call interesting or unique, which is unfortunate to me.

On the one hand I have to tip my hat to clever broadcasters exploiting a loophole to get onto the radio legally, especially in tight markets with few or no opportunities to squeeze another station onto the dial. But I really want these stations to be run by passionate folks, eager to do something innovative or different, not just rebroadcast some satellite or internet signal, or another iteration of a tired format already heard everywhere.

Even though it’s formally an oldies station, I think the aforementioned MeTV FM is the clearest example of a unique Franken-FM. Deviating from the usual canon of 60s, 70s and 80s music, the station mixes in a healthy dose of what I’d call “forgotten oldies.” These are one-hit-wonders or even hit songs by established artists that were popular in their day, but somehow never endured heavy rotation in the years after.

MeTV FM’s eclectic oldies format stands out so much that it now has an audience big enough audience to show up in the Nielsen ratings beginning four years ago, even beating out the nine-decade-old news/talk station WLS-AM.

Previously only available to terrestrial listeners in the Chicago area, MeTV FM now streams online, so you can check out its distinctive oldies format for yourself no matter where you are. It even has picked up four FM affiliates: KXXP 104.5 FM serving the Portland, Oregon metro out of White Salmon, Washington; WXZO 96.7 FM serving the Burlington, Vermont and Plattsburgh, New York area; KQEG 102.7 FMserving the LaCrosse, Wisconsin metro from La Crescent, Minnesota; and WJMK 1250 AM in Saginaw, Michigan, which has a translator at 99.3 FM. HD Radio listeners in Milwaukee, Wisconsin can tune it in on WMYK-HD2.

As far as I can tell, MeTV FM may be the only FrankenFM that serves as the flagship station for burgeoning network of true FM stations.

A couple of other interesting and notable FrankenFMs include indie/alternative Hella 87.7 FM in Redding, California, and Kickin’ Country 87.7 FM in Ridgecrest, California.

Though channel 6 TV stations have been tucked into the bottom of the FM dial for more than four decades, it’s only in the last one that this has been systematically exploited, turning into a small shadow service. Yet every broadcaster taking this advantage has known the lease would eventually expire, and now they’re definitely making a last-minute Hail Mary. I’d be more inclined to rise up in their defense if the majority were idiosyncratic, eclectic or at least locally programmed.

Instead, I’d rather see that little bit of spectrum freed up for actual FM broadcasters, and non-commercial ones at that, since the space from 87.7 to 88.1 is in the non-commercial band. Because there are many more markets without a TV channel 6 than there are with FrankenFMs, such a change could open up the possibility for dozens, if not hundreds, of new local radio stations. I’d even go so far as to reserve the space just for LPFMs, which would allow for even more stations, and more diversity. This is the sort of innovation that engineering firm REC Networks has been advocating since at least 2008.

At the same time, I empathize with the broadcasters who have built compelling and creative services on channel 6s, but who now see their stations on the chopping block. I think it would be a true loss to their local radio dials if MeTV FM or Hella 87.7 were to go away. But it’s also true that radio stations and formats go away all the time, often for more mysterious or wrongheaded reasons. In this case the broadcasters can’t say they weren’t warned – in fact, they’ve had an effective five year extension.

It will be fascinating to see how the FCC decides to resolve this issue, and how the rest of the broadcast industry reacts.

The post The Rise and Possible Fall of FrankenFMs Is One of the Most Important Radio Trends of the Decade appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Introducing the Most Important Radio Trends of the Decade 2010 – 2019

Radio Survivor - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 22:32

This year we celebrated 10 years of Radio Surviving. We ended out our first year of publication in 2009 with a look back at the “Decade’s Most Important Radio Trends.” As the 2nd decade of the 21st century draws to a close, we will now similarly review the last ten years of radio.

Some changes are obvious – for instance, Clear Channel is now known as iHeartRadio – while others are more subtle. The majority of the technologies that most influence audio and radio media today were extant in December 2009: smartphones, mobile broadband, internet radio and podcasting, to name just four. So what is different?

That’s the question we’ll take up between now and January 1, 2020. As we publish each trend we’ll list it here for easy reference.

What do you think are the most important trends in radio for the years 2010 – 2019? Drop us an email, tweet at us or comment on our Facebook page.

The post Introducing the Most Important Radio Trends of the Decade 2010 – 2019 appeared first on Radio Survivor.

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Community Broadcaster: Will 2020 Elections Doom Radio Fundraising?

Radio World - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 16:47

The author is membership program director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. NFCB commentaries are featured regularly at www.radioworld.com.

The last week or so, it seems like almost everyone in the United States has been transfixed on the impeachment hearings being held in Washington. Riveting testimonies, piercing questions and literally around-the-clock analysis of every word and nuance has made for penetrating coverage. If you were among the noncommercial media watchers, all of this focus may have prompted anxiety. Not for what is happening in Congress at the moment, but what is to come around the country in 2020.

This election year is shaping up to be a big one. With all seats in the House of Representatives, one-third of the Senate, and the White House being contested, interest is going to be tremendous. Plus, love him or hate him, Donald Trump is going to inspire fiery passions for and against the incumbent president. Volunteer block walkers, phone callers and campaign workers will dot communities as they do every election, and indubitably shall in 2020, in presumably growing numbers.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Be Thankful for Community Radio]

And then there is the matter of money.

Even with the elections a year away, donations have been pouring in for all the Democratic and Republican contenders. By next spring, the massive field will whittle down and fundraising will be in full court press for advertising, staffing and winning.

Guess what is also in the spring? Pledge drives.

Is your station ready to go one-on-one with the election cycle?

For noncommercial stations, competing with others for financial support is nothing new. However, when other organizations have the greatest lightning-rod issues and personalities in recent memory that motivate people to give, stations must make a fresh pitch.

Right now, many community radio and noncommercial media institutions are doing year-end fundraising. If you’re a listener, you should certainly support your local radio. If you work with a station, the close of 2019 is a good time to map out your 2020 strategy.

Attention will be high for every election. Residents will be seeking context for the races and issues that they care most about. Understanding how your station can sustainably deliver election coverage is crucial to your audience. Your station’s ability to be relevant to your community also makes a strong case for giving in the future.

With a high-stakes election almost here, why not take an audit of your service? Making an appraisal of your news, talk and community coverage; what each of your programming resources can practically do; and possible collaborations and partnerships with your city and local nonprofits to get out the vote and elections education are all a good place a start. What questions do your listeners feel are most in need of answers? How are they even getting their information, and how can you reach them about the elections?

These questions are not intellectual exercises at all. They are asked with a purpose: to understand how community radio can have the greatest connection to the audience, and to create the best engagement possible.

Stations provide valuable coverage to their communities. The 2020 election promises to draw many ears and dollars. Whether your station stays in the hearts and minds of your listeners rests on your ability to respond.

The post Community Broadcaster: Will 2020 Elections Doom Radio Fundraising? appeared first on Radio World.

Inside the December issue of Radio World International

Radio World - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 08:27

Soundware Norway ran a live radio broadcast using the touchscreen monitor inside a Tesla 3 electric car. In the Tesla parked outside the firm’s Oslo headquarters, Soundware Sales Manager Ketil Morstøl managed a mock live broadcast using the Tesla 3’s web browser, which accessed the web via the car’s built-in LTE wireless modem.

The “broadCARst” project aimed to demonstrate that physical radio stations are no longer necessary. Read about this and more in the December issue of Radio World International.

GUEST COMMENTARY 

What Exactly Happened to Ampegon?

The company provides an update on recent changes.

INNOVATION

Project MARCONI Brings Stations Closer to Listeners

EU-backed program aims to automate and increase listener engagement.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

NXP and DRM Hold First India Infotainment Forum

Podcasts, On-Demand Challenge Traditional Radio

Buyer’s Guide: Streaming Radio, Podcasting, Online Content Delivery 

The post Inside the December issue of Radio World International appeared first on Radio World.

College Radio Watch: CMJ to Return in 2020 and More News

Radio Survivor - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 06:54

As we approach the end of 2019, I’m starting to reflect back on not only the year in college radio, but also the decade in college radio. While 2009 doesn’t seem like all that long ago, some major changes have occurred in the radio and technology landscapes, which have had implications for student radio.

Beginning in the late 1970s, CMJ was a major part of the college radio scene for nearly 40 years, with publications, conferences, music festivals, and long-time college radio charts. When CMJ petered out circa 2015-2016, it was a sad and notable loss for college radio. Lawsuits were filed for unpaid wages and in fall, 2018 the CMJ trademarks went up for auction. According to the auction website, “The CMJ Music Marathon was an institution of the New York music scene for 35 years.  The buyer of these four CMJ Trademarks will be buying an iconic brand name in the music world.”

Yesterday, I was surprised to learn that a new CMJ is returning in 2020. As of this week, it would appear that there is a new owner of the CMJ trademarks, as they have been posting on the CMJ Twitter account (which had been stagnant since late June, 2016) and have set up a preliminary website. Yesterday’s initial CMJ tweet reads, “After a long break, CMJ is under new management and re-launching in 2020. More news soon. http://cmj.com info@cmj.com.” Folks on social media replied with their frustrations about CMJ employees not getting paid, tales of subscribers who lost out, and other grievances. The response: “We understand that totally justified unhappiness. This is a brand new company, with no connection to the former regime(s). We are working on ideas to try to right those wrongs however.”

While there are few details about the new CMJ owners and what their specific plans are, they’ve indicated that the CMJ music events may be returning in 2020. Pitchfork reports, “…the organizers told Pitchfork that former CMJ CEO Adam Klein is no longer involved with the company. (Last year, Klein was ordered by a judge to pay over half a million dollars to former employees that filed a collective lawsuit against him in 2016 for unpaid wages and other damages.)”

While CMJ’s publications, charts, and events were college radio staples for decades; various groups have launched new endeavors to fill those niches. North American College and Community Radio Chart (NACC Chart), Muzooka, RadioFX, and Spinitron are among those who have created radio charting alternatives.

As a college radio historian, I’m particularly interested in learning if the new CMJ owners have access to the decades-worth of print and online publications from CMJ’s past. @lowmediumhi asks on Twitter, “Does this mean there’s a chance we could get an online archive of all the past issues of New Music Report? Virtually every other broadcasting trade is online somewhere and this would be a valuable resource to media historians.” CMJ replied, “Great question and we have been talking about whether there is a way to do that. We are different people from before, but we would like to be able to make it happen.”

We’ve reached out to the new CMJ and will keep readers posted as we learn more about their plans for the future of the CMJ brand.

More College Radio News College Radio Regulations Station and Staff Profiles Programming, Radio Drama, Podcasts Events Infrastructure, Funding, Endowed Scholarship Music Industry and College Radio Technology Radio Culture Awards and Accolades Alumni

The post College Radio Watch: CMJ to Return in 2020 and More News appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Carolina Radio Group, Inc., Application for License to Cover W225DF, Raleigh, North Carolina

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 20:00
Media Bureau issues proposed forfeiture to Carolina Radio Group, Inc., in the amount of $2,000 for failure to notify FCC of change to W225DF's primary station and failure to submit technical need showing

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Univision Holdings, Inc. and Grupo Televisa S.A.B., Petition for Declaratory Ruling

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 20:00
This declaratory ruling permits aggregate foreign equity and voting interest in Univision to exceed 25% and to increase up to and including 70%

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