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FCC Media Bureau News Items - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 21:00
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FCC Issues EAS Test Analysis

Radio World - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 14:59

The FCC has spent the last six months unpacking what it learned from the most recent nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. Now the issues and complications EAS participants experienced have come into focus.

The FCC has detailed its findings on how well the system worked in a new report released earlier this week.

Inadequate audio quality, out of date equipment software and alerting source issues were the most common problems reported by radio stations, TV stations and cable providers following the October 2018 test, according to the government agency charged with oversight of EAS.

The data was collected from filings by EAS test participants to the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) and prepared by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB).

The EAS test, administered by FEMA and sent on Oct. 3, 2018, was transmitted in English and Spanish and included a text message along with audio. It immediately followed the first ever nationwide Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), which was delivered to mobile devices.

The new analysis shows FEMA’S Integrated Public Alert and Warning System continues to deliver high-quality, effective, and accessible EAS alerts via its internet feed, according to the report.

EAS participants’ results were comparable to 2017 performance levels, according to the FCC, with continued improvement in several areas. Specifically:

  • A majority (58.7%) received the test alert first via IPAWS, as compared to 41.9% in 2017;
  • A similar rate of both successfully receiving and retransmitting the test alert (95.7% receipt, as

compared to 95.8% in 2017; 92.1% retransmission, as compared to 91.9% in 2017);

  • An increase in receiving and retransmitting the test alert in both English and Spanish (rates up

from 2017 by 388% for receiving the alert and by 350% for retransmitting the alert);

  • A decline in audio issues reported as an explanation for complications in receipt and

retransmission (down to 68 explanations, from 1056 explanations provided in 2017);

  • Slightly higher rates of configuring their equipment to monitor IPAWS (96.8%, as compared to

96.7% in 2017).

Radio-specific data shows of the 13,435 radio broadcasters participating in the nationwide EAS test, 96.4% of them successfully received the National Periodic Test with 96.4% successfully retransmitting it.

The FCC’s report details specifics on the performance issues of EAS participants. There were 504 test participants reporting issues involving antenna, reception and hardware issues. Some 160 participants provided detailed explanations of EAS equipment configuration issues, according to the report, most of those dealing with retransmission of the test.

The FCC noted 215 test participants who provided detailed explanations of complications related to the failure to update EAS equipment software. The impact of failing to install recent software updates varied: “Some test participants reported that failure to install a software update prevented their equipment from receiving the alert, while most reporting software issues with their equipment were unable to successfully retransmit the alert. A majority of test participants that reported needing updates also reported that they have since made the necessary updates,” according to the latest report.

Audio issues were fewer than during the 2017 test, the analysis reveals, with 68 participants explaining audio quality complications. Another 276 noted audio difficulties but failed to provide further explanation.

“Many test participants reported audio quality issues that included background noise, static, distortion, echoing, low volume, and slow audio playback. Some test participants attributed their issues to a weak signal from the over-the-air sources they were monitoring or EAS equipment malfunction,” the report states.

The FCC report concludes with a series of “next steps” to help address the remaining areas for improvement:

  • Provide guidance, such as through Public Notices and direct follow-up with EAS participants, to

improve the accuracy of reporting in ETRS and to address commonly reported complications,

such as the importance of software updates and proper equipment configuration, and following

State EAS Plan monitoring assignments.

  • Promote accessibility through continued outreach to EAS participants, particularly those

referenced in filings with the Public Safety Support Center and other commission records, to

ensure future coordination of alert crawl with closed captioning, and to ensure future EAS

messages are provided with appropriate crawl speed for readability, high-contrast text and

background colors, and adequate audio quality. Issue a Public Notice to remind EAS participants

about the relevant rules and best practices to provide accessible EAS alerts. Explore mechanisms

to improve feedback solicitation and collection for both the public and in ETRS regarding

accessibility issues for non-English speakers and people with disabilities.

  • Reach out to low-power broadcasters through a variety of means, including directed mailings

and a webinar, to improve their participation in the nationwide EAS test.

FEMA hasn’t set the next nationwide test date of the infrastructure designed to allow a president to speak to the country in case of a national emergency.

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The post FCC Issues EAS Test Analysis appeared first on Radio World.

Pai Says Yes, Embrace Digital — “But You Are Still Broadcasters First”

Radio World - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 14:08

“Being a broadcaster means something different than just being a media company. It means something more.”

That’s the country’s top telecom regulator, reminding broadcasters not to lose what makes them unique. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai addressed the NAB Show in Las Vegas Tuesday.

Pai often has referred to his affinity for broadcasting; he did so again in his speech, celebrating personal connections as the greatest competitive edge that TV and radio stations enjoy. “And I say that as someone who still reveres the broadcasters he grew up with — people like Dowe Quick of KOAM(TV) in Joplin, Missouri and Steve Lardy of KLKC(AM) in Parsons, Kansas.”

[Read: FCC Will Try to Ease Translator Interference Situation]

Touching on radio issues, Pai said the FCC will vote next month on ways to resolve the increasing number of interference complaints apparently caused by FM translator. Pai also saluted Gordon Smith on his 10-year anniversary as NAB’s president/CEO and complimented broadcasters for the trust Americans have in them compared to social media.

He then reviewed actions that the FCC has taken during his tenure to update or eliminate what he considers outdated and burdensome rules.

“Since beginning this process, the commission has opened 14 proceedings, and we’ve issued a total of 11 orders. And we’re not done yet — we’re still actively working on several major modernization matters,” including kid-vid rules and “unnecessarily complex” public notice requirements for broadcast applications.

He noted that the comment period is open through the end of May for the FCC’s current review of ownership rules. “Rest assured, we won’t be deterred by those whose regulatory views are not guided by facts and reason, but instead were set in stone in the era of Laverne and Shirley, Starsky and Hutch, and Captain and Tennille,” he said.

Pai believes the post-auction repack transition “has gone well so far, and we find ourselves ahead of schedule,” with more than 300 TV stations transitioned off their pre-auction channels. And he noted that a few weeks ago, the FCC established rules and procedures to enable FM stations and low-power TV and TV translators to be reimbursed for repack-related costs.

Here are Pai’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you all for that warm welcome. And thank you, Senator Smith, for that kind introduction and for your continued leadership.

You may not be aware, but 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of some major events in America. “He Could Be the One” by Hannah Montana and “My Life Would Suck Without You” by Kelly Clarkson were two of the top hits on the radio. “American Idol” was the top show on broadcast television. “Where the Wild Things Are” was one of the country’s top movies. And finally — and I have to think that all I’ve mentioned so far is connected here — Gordon Smith became NAB’s president. I was told by someone backstage that the traditional 10th anniversary gift is spectrum. If you’re interested in the 24 GHz band, I think I could swing something.

I’ve had a chance to walk around the showroom floor a little bit. And yet again, you’ve raised the bar. You have compelling demonstrations on everything from ATSC 3.0 to 5G to 8K. Then you’ve got exhibits on artificial intelligence and augmented reality. This is definitely not your father’s NAB Show.

A brief look confirms what almost everyone now knows: the media and entertainment landscape has been completely transformed by the digital revolution. Just think about your own listening and viewing habits and how different they are from 10 years ago. Now, consider this. U.S. consumers have more than 200 streaming services to choose from. In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows with new episodes available to American audiences. You find yourselves in a war for attention with well-funded media giants, internet companies, and telecom companies. In such a crowded and rapidly evolving marketplace, how can broadcasters succeed?

The State of the Broadcast Industry report recently released by Ooyala examines this question. It argues that the key immediate challenge for your industry is the fusion between broadcasting and streaming. And it endorses the idea that broadcasters need to adopt the mindset of a diversified media company. With exhibits on the opportunities of streaming, esports, in-vehicle entertainment, and podcasting, this year’s NAB Show has clearly embraced that perspective.

In my view, the idea that you should increasingly think of yourselves as digital media companies is sound advice, with one important caveat. You are still broadcasters first.

Let me elaborate.

Being a broadcaster means something different that just being a media company. It means something more.

Think about this. This is the “We Are Broadcasters” session. Presumably, then, this is a celebration of the characteristics that you think define your industry. Well, who are the primary honorees? It’s the stations like KFOR(AM) that go above and beyond to serve their communities. It’s the broadcasters who are there for their neighbors in times of emergency. It’s broadcast performers like Sterling K. Brown, who, I’m not afraid to admit, make us cry. And let’s not forgot the broadcast engineers being recognized this afternoon, Cindy and Garrison Cavell, who do the important behind-the-scenes technical work that allows content to reach the masses. This is who you are. Come to think of it, perhaps you should have changed the session’s name from “We Are Broadcasters” to “This Is Us.” And of course, we can’t forget our host, Rickey Smiley. It’s broadcasters like him who keep us company on the drive to work every day, bringing a little laughter into our mornings.

This is what enables you to stand out in such a crowded media landscape. The trust that broadcasters have built over the years is real, and Americans’ personal connections with you are your greatest competitive edge. And I say that as someone who still reveres the broadcasters he grew up with — people like Dowe Quick of KOAM(TV) in Joplin, Missouri and Steve Lardy of KLKC(AM) in Parsons, Kansas.

This trust is on full display in the marketplace for news. In recent years, we’ve heard time and again about how social media platforms are increasingly the go-to source for news. According to a 2018 Pew survey, roughly two-thirds of Americans get news on social media. But they don’t trust it. In that same survey, nearly 60% of Americans said the news they see on these platforms is largely inaccurate. And a poll by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal last week revealed that “sizable majorities say[] these sites do more to divide the country than unite it and spread falsehoods rather than news.” The most trusted sources for most Americans are still local broadcasters.

One recent story vividly brought home the critical role that local broadcasters play in newsgathering. The Jussie Smollett saga was a big story across the country. It was widely covered by cable news, national network news, and digital outlets. But who was at the forefront of breaking news about the story? Local television news reporters like Rafer Weigel of Fox 32 and Rob Elgas of ABC7 in Chicago. Working hard on the ground, they were the ones getting to the bottom of what really happened while many other outlets were focused on editorializing and spin.

There’s something else that differentiates broadcasters from many of your competitors. You’re not just there for your communities; you’re there for free. In an age when consumers have an unprecedented choice of content, more are choosing free, over-the-air television as part of their media diet. Over the past four years, the number of homes that solely watch broadcast TV through an antenna has increased from 12 million to 16 million. Yes, that’s still a relatively small market share. But we’re also talking about 33% percent growth over four years. That’s a big deal.

By now, it should be pretty clear that I believe a strong broadcasting industry serves the interest of the American people. Which raises an obvious question: what’s the FCC doing to help make this happen?

I started off by talking about how new technologies have dramatically altered the media marketplace. I think it’s fair to say that, when it comes to broadcasting issues, the FCC’s guiding principle under my leadership has been to make sure that our rules keep pace with the times.

Starting big picture: two years ago, I launched a review of the commission’s media rules in order to revise or repeal rules that are outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome. Since beginning this process, the Commission has opened 14 proceedings, and we’ve issued a total of 11 orders. And we’re not done yet—we’re still actively working on several major modernization matters. For example, Commissioner O’Rielly is leading the effort to revamp our kid-vid rules, and I expect that we’ll be voting to modernize these regulations in the coming months. And we’re still looking at ways to simplify the unnecessarily complex public notice requirements for broadcast applications.

On the media ownership front, we’ve approved long-overdue updates to our rules. In particular, we scrapped the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban. It might have made sense when it was adopted in 1975, but it had become an anachronism in the Internet age. And we’re not done yet. Last December, the FCC began the 2018 quadrennial review of our media ownership rules. The public comment period runs through the end of May, so now’s the time to let us know which rules we should keep, which we should modify, and which we should scrap. And rest assured, we won’t be deterred by those whose regulatory views are not guided by facts and reason, but instead were set in stone in the era of Laverne and Shirley, Starsky and Hutch, and Captain and Tennille.

Modernizing our rules also means enabling broadcasters to innovate just like any other industry and making the changes needed to unleash new technologies. A good example is the Next-Gen TV standard, ATSC 3.0. The FCC allowed broadcasters to use ATSC 3.0 in November 2017. In doing so, we rejected the shortsighted pushback from those who didn’t want to allow this IP-based innovation or wanted to strangle it at the outset with red tape. And I’m glad we did.

This past August, I checked out a market trial of this new standard in Phoenix, which is headquartered at the local Univision station. From immersive audio to rich on-screen emergency content, I saw an interactive experience that has me more excited than ever about the potential of this new technology.

FCC staff have been working closely with broadcasters interested in starting other market trials and conducting further tests to determine what type of enhanced services can be offered. Aside from Phoenix, to date we’ve authorized market trials in Dallas, Santa Barbara, and Chicago, as well as experiments in Lansing, Michigan, and the Baltimore/Washington corridor. We’re wrapping up the last IT work and hope to begin accepting applications for the licensing of ATSC 3.0 facilities by the end of the second quarter of this year. My bottom line is that broadcasters should and will be allowed to compete in the digital world and deliver consumer benefits without having to beg the FCC for permission.

Emerging digital technologies were also a driving force behind the broadcast incentive auction. One aspect of that auction that I’ve stressed for many years (well before holding this job) is that we need to ensure a smooth transition for broadcasters. As you know, the post-incentive auction repack began in 2017 and will run until July 2020. And we’re just days away from the scheduled deadline for Phase 2 of a 10-phase process.

Overall, I’m pleased to report that the post-auction transition has gone well so far, and we find ourselves ahead of schedule. Well over 300 stations have transitioned off their pre-auction channels, including 130 reverse auction winning bidders that are now channel-sharing and about 200 of the 987 repacked stations. And by April 12, the end of Phase 2, I’m confident that number will increase to over 350 transitioned stations.

Not only are we ahead of schedule, we have more resources to help stations do the job. Thanks to the additional $1 billion provided by Congress last year, we now have a total of $2.75 billion available. Now, there’s a lot one could do with that amount: you could buy 458 million footlong Subway sandwiches or 7.2 million season tickets to Kansas City Chiefs home games. But we’re aiming for the higher purposes of reimbursing broadcasters for repack costs and conducting consumer education. And we’re getting results, with about 17,000 invoices approved and nearly $450 million in reimbursements. Moreover, just a few weeks ago, the FCC established rules and procedures to enable low power TV, TV translator, and FM radio stations to be reimbursed for their repack-related costs.

In addition to making sure broadcasters are treated fairly during the post-incentive auction transition, we’re also looking out for consumers. We’ve set up a comprehensive consumer education strategy, including a dedicated call center to help consumers who need to rescan their TVs so that they can still receive local stations that change channels. The plan also includes public outreach efforts, with a focus on hard-to-reach communities like seniors, low-income households, and non-English speakers.

The last thing I’ll say on this topic is that we recognize the challenges that the transition presents. You have my word that the FCC will keep working hand-in-hand with broadcasters and their vendors to ensure a smooth, on-schedule transition, with the least impact to the public.

Shifting to radio, our AM broadcast efforts have been going well. For example, under our AM Radio Revitalization Initiative, the FCC has granted AM stations 1,707 construction permits for new FM translators. That’s about 37% of all AM stations in the United States. At least 459 have already completed construction and are on the air. This is helping broadcasters improve their programming, expand their listenership, and stabilize their financial position, as broadcasters have told me everywhere from big cities to small-town Marysville, Kansas.

But with this success has come an uptick in interference complaints from primary FM stations due to the increasing number of translators on the air.

To address this concern, last May, we launched a rulemaking to streamline and expedite our current process for resolving interference complaints. Our goals were simple: to get fewer of them and make them easier to resolve. Our most notable proposal was to end interference by allowing translator stations causing it to change to any available same-band channel as a minor change application.

Well, it’s time to take our ideas from the drawing board to the scoreboard. So today, I circulated to my fellow commissioners a draft order with new rules, and we’ll be voting on it at our May meeting. The draft order incorporates many of the proposals supported by NAB, such as streamlining interference remediation procedures, clarifying listener complaint requirements, and making it easier for translators causing interference to change channels. I believe that it’ll make the interference resolution process less frustrating for full-service stations, translators, listeners, everyone.

Another hallmark of broadcasting that we want to support at the commission is diversity. For a generation, there was a lot of talk at the FCC about setting up an incubator program to encourage entry into the broadcast business—but no action. That changed last year, when we established this program for full-service AM and FM radio stations. We hope established broadcasters will support small, aspiring, or struggling station owners that otherwise lack access to technical, financial, or operational expertise. We’re currently doing some necessary behind-the-scenes legwork, but I anticipate that the incubator program will be ready for applications later this spring. I encourage both seasoned veterans and potential new broadcasters to seek one another out here at the show and explore the new program’s potential for the radio business.

Last, but certainly not least, the Enforcement Bureau continues to diligently pursue unlicensed radio operations. In 2018, EB took 147 enforcement actions against pirate operators. And we’re working with our state law enforcement partners to take them — and keep them — off the air.

I’d like to close my remarks by congratulating the main honoree for this session: Lincoln, Nebraska’s KFOR radio. KFOR is receiving the Crystal Heritage Award for outstanding community service. And for good reason. It was a lifeline for the people of Nebraska during the recent historic flooding. In the midst of that flooding, my old friend and college classmate, Senator Ben Sasse, said that “Nebraskans want to make sure Americans across the country know what they’re facing.” And it is almost solely thanks to broadcasters like KFOR that we did. This station used its platform to give listeners vital relief information like where to get food, shelter, and medical assistance in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Today, it’s helping workers get unemployment assistance and figure out how they can get an extension on their tax returns. The station also worked with broadcasters from across the state to raise $450,000 to support the local Red Cross.

What’s remarkable about all this is that it’s unremarkable. As chairman, I’ve personally seen this same spirit of service in a battered broadcast station in Puerto Rico, a destroyed station in the Virgin Islands, a station in Houston in which employees slept for days, and too many others to count. When you say “We are broadcasters,” this is what you mean. In a time when America seems torn and divided, you mend and bring us together. Your public service during times of want, just as in times of plenty, is just what you do. To KFOR and so many others, thank you. To be sure, I can’t quantify any of this. There is no balance sheet that will depict the value of this work. But I know in my bones that this kind of dedication will help you thrive, no matter how much technology evolves. And as long as I am chairman, you will have a friend at the FCC, working to help you continue serving your communities.

 

The post Pai Says Yes, Embrace Digital — “But You Are Still Broadcasters First” appeared first on Radio World.

Are Touchscreen Car Radios Safe?

Radio World - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 13:51
Fig. 1: Average number of glances away from the road taken by test drivers when asked to tune to different stations.

LONDON — Static tests in a parked vehicle can tell just a part of the story. Almost any contemporary car can be equipped with feature-filled, eye-catching touchscreen displays, designed to control much of the car system, including the radio.

But how do these colorful displays perform in real driving conditions? Do they really succeed in assisting contemporary, tech-savvy drivers?

REAL-LIFE TEST

Digital Radio UK and Radioplayer, the U.K. nonprofit partnership between the BBC and commercial radio, whose aim is to keep radio listening simple, dug into this topic, comparing touchscreen experience to voice control “en roulant.”

To do so, Radioplayer recreated a realistic driving situation, using a car driving at an old World War II airbase on a farm in Cambridgeshire. It had serviceable roads but no other traffic. 

Fig. 2: The number of times the test drivers successfully tuned into a station on both touchscreen DAB and Alexa.

For the test, they used a Volkswagen car equipped with line-fit DAB receiver featuring a touchscreen display. In order to ensure a fair comparison between the in-car DAB touchscreen and the voice control, they used an Amazon Echo Dot integrated into the center console, and wired into the car’s media system. A separate Wi-Fi hotspot in the rear of the car provided adequate internet connectivity on the move.

“We recruited nine local people as test drivers, achieving a reasonable mix across gender, age, radio listening habits and prior experience of voice control,” said Michael Hill, Radioplayer managing director. “We devised a 30-minute test plan which we repeated exactly for each driver, so that we could compare results.”

Two GoPro cameras and a high-quality audio recorder equipped the car, to ensure a continuous record of how the drivers were speaking and where they were looking. During each run there were two facilitators in the back seat, one asking questions and the other taking notes.

LET’S DRIVE   The VW cup holder seems designed to fit an Amazon Echo Dot device.

Each test session included the same four segments. These were a familiarization run, so drivers could get used to the car and the route; tuning to a national station on the DAB radio; finding local stations, tuning to the same stations using voice control; and exploring more advanced radio features using voice control, such as find and play a specific podcast.

Fig. 1 shows the drivers’ average number of glances away from the road when they tuned into different stations. The figures related to using the touchscreen interface are dramatically higher than the ones collected while performing the same actions using voice control: a minimum of 12 glancing away versus two. An excerpt from the test is available here. 

As for the effectiveness of each user interface, Fig. 2 shows the number of times the test drivers successfully tuned into a station by means of either touchscreen DAB or Alexa. It should be noted that the drivers had no help or training on how to use the devices before the trial..

“At the end of each of the tests, we did an in-depth interview with the driver about their experience,” Hill explained. “The videos report on the feedback and include responses from JohnSarah and Olivia.”

VOICE IS SAFER The test car at the World War II air force base in Cambridgeshire.

Drivers reported that voice control is safer than touchscreen controls when driving, and that even if they had never used voice control before, they learned it very quickly. For “voice virgins,” the car felt like a comfortable environment to speak in. Most drivers felt they could explore more live radio and podcasts through voice.

As for the factory-fit DAB radio, drivers reported that navigating by multiplex was universally problematic, while navigating by presets (logos) on the touchscreen was quite simple.

Some stations, particularly local stations, were harder to find than others through voice.

Michael Hill, managing director of Radioplayer, reviews the radio user interface in a Tesla.

“Test drivers found voice control much easier and much safer than the standard touchscreen interface,” Hill explained. “That road test has been the first step to prove that voice can work with radio. The second one will now be assessing how should voice work with radio.”

[The “Reference Radio” Looks Ahead]

In his opinion, voice is coming into cars but car companies are doing this in a fragmented way. Putting “as is” Amazon Alexa or similar technology in the dashboard could be appealing to consumers, but this doesn’t result in the complete in-car integration . For example, drivers won’t have the ability to turn on the car’s air conditioning. And Hill believes the voice system should be able to control all of the things in the car, not just messaging and sound.

“The perfect car radio is a blend of broadcast digital radio, FM, internet, and voice, working seamlessly together,” Hill concluded. “All new cars now have a connection to internet according to EU legislation. The radio industry should now study what it can leverage that internet connection.”

The post Are Touchscreen Car Radios Safe? appeared first on Radio World.

FCC Will Try to Ease Translator Interference Situation

Radio World - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 12:39

The FCC will vote next month on ways to resolve the increasing number of interference complaints apparently caused by FM translators.

Chairman Ajit Pai announced during the NAB Show that he is circulating a draft order with new rules to his fellow commissioners.

“The draft order incorporates many of the proposals supported by NAB, such as streamlining interference remediation procedures, clarifying listener complaint requirements, and making it easier for translators causing interference to change channels,” he said.

“I believe that it’ll make the interference resolution process less frustrating for full-service stations, translators, listeners, everyone.”

The problem is that there are a lot more FM translators on the air now than just a few years ago; and many more are coming.

Pai reviewed the history of the situation. He started by saying the commission’s efforts to help AM broadcasters “have been going well,” and said the commission has now granted AMs more than 1,700 CPs for new FM translators, of which at least 459 are on the air.

But while this effort, Pai said, is helping AM license holders improve programming, expand listenership and stabilize finances by adding an FM signal, there has also been “an uptick” in interference complaints from primary FM stations. So the FCC had launched a rulemaking to streamline the process for resolving complaints. Among other changes it proposed to end interference by allowing translator stations causing a problem to change to any available same-band channel as a minor change application.

Now, “It’s time to take our ideas from the drawing board to the scoreboard,” he said, and he expects the vote at the May meeting.

Pai noted that 37% of all AM stations in the United States have now applied for an FM translator.

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The post FCC Will Try to Ease Translator Interference Situation appeared first on Radio World.

Commissioning Practices for AES67

Radio World - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 11:44

The author is senior development engineer at Wheatstone

Once the PTPv2 clock is running, the system is licensed for AES67 and it’s possible to begin connecting AES67 devices to the network. This screen opened in Navigator, the administration application for the WheatNet-IP audio network, shows the status of the PTP2v2 master clock along with other key settings.

AES67 has emerged as an important standard that will eventually find its way into every broadcast plan that includes audio. With AES67 being the audio transport standard defined by SMPTE 2110-30 and supported by major IP audio network systems, all that remains is for broadcasters to commission AES67 in their plants. 

There are several key AES67 commissioning practices I’ve observed in the field and with a large, simulated studio network that included over a hundred AES67 compatible consoles, software applications, automation systems and controllers.

MAPPING IT OUT 

The first step in commissioning AES67 is to map out an IP and stream multicast address plan that assures every stream on every device will have a unique address available, keeping in mind that multicast traffic is not normally routed across subnets.

This is critical because the different devices in various AoIP networks can’t “see” each other, and therefore it is entirely possible that they may be using address settings already in use elsewhere.

To make a stream multicast address plan, note all the different devices that will be in the system and how they allocate multicast stream addresses. Start with the devices that are least common or least flexible in specifying or changing multicast addresses and isolate them in an address range, well removed from what the majority of your devices will be.

[Solving the Missing Link]

Multicast addresses are in the form of 239.xxx.yyy.zzz. Each AoIP vendor has their own way of allocating addresses for each stream. WheatNet-IP does it automatically (although you can change the starting address and range, if needed), whereas Dante will let the user specify the xxx octet of the address but automatically generates the yyy and zzz. 

Therefore, when adding two Dante devices to a WheatNet-IP system with 50 Blades, the Dante device streams would be given a multicast address of .192 for the second octet to produce a multicast address Dante autoassigns. Then, the WheatNet-IP devices can auto-generate multicast addresses starting lower (239.192.192.1) or higher (239.192.yyy.zzz+10), ensuring that there are no WheatNet-IP streams assigned the same multicast addresses.

It’s important to go through the effort of creating a plan first, because as you add AES67 devices to the system, you will be doing a lot of hand entry and specifying stream addresses the devices are using to transmit on and which stream address devices are using to receive.

If you go through all this effort only to discover that some other device is using that same address, you will only have to start over. Having a multicast address plan in place will be useful later when routing AES67 streams in your network; it’ll be referred to over and over again.

PACKETS AND TIMING

It’s also important that both systems are synchronized and use the same packet structure, which varies depending on devices and systems used in the network.

AES67 specifies the PTPv2 protocol to synchronize all the devices in the network, which is so precise that in the best circumstances (PTPv2 master clock synced to GPS for absolute timing reference and PTP aware switches used for reference signal distribution) timing accuracy of better than 1 microsecond can be achieved. 

While this degree of timing accuracy is normally not required for a typical AoIP installation, we find that an ordinary crystal oscillator in a PC or I/O device is nowhere near this accurate and stable enough when used with a multiplicity of various devices. In most cases, a standalone PTPv2 master clock device works best to serve the role of timing generator to which all other devices slave their timing. 

For packet structure, we suggest setting devices and system sample rates to 48 kHz as AES67 favors the 1 msec packet timing seen in all of the specifications, which equates to 48 samples left-right interleaved in a stereo stream. 

Dominic Giambo has been involved in industry AES67 plugfests as the lead engineer responsible for AES67 implementation in the WheatNet-IP audio network. 

Radio World welcomes proposals about best practices in AoIP as well as other technical topics. Email radioworld@futurenet.com.

The post Commissioning Practices for AES67 appeared first on Radio World.

Inside the April 10 Issue of RW

Radio World - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 10:20

Few people know as much about syndicating audio than Norm Pattiz. Find out what he has to say about the state and future of podcasting in this issue. Also: stories on hybrid radio, best practices for grounding, AES67, new processors, a growing TIS network and more.

NEWSMAKER
NPR’s Sucherman Seeks Digital Partnerships 

National Public Radio believes that building relationships with tech companies like Google and Apple is key to its future digital success. At NPR, Joel Sucherman is point man for those budding partnerships. Read a Q&A to learn more about his thoughts on the subject.

FACILITY PROJECT
WWTC Moves in With KKMS

Salem Media Group just combined two of its stations in the Twin Cities market of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Salem is a Christian programming-formatted network of 115 stations and has four signals in the Twin Cities.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

The post Inside the April 10 Issue of RW appeared first on Radio World.

Pattiz: Podcasting’s Inflection Point Is Yet to Come

Radio World - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 09:06
Norm Pattiz

PodcastOne, founded in 2013, positions itself as “the leader in digital on-demand spoken word audio” and “one of the few pure plays” in the podcasting space. Its stable of talent includes Adam Carolla, Laura Ingraham, Shaquille O’Neal, Dan Patrick and numerous others, in a network of more than 200 shows.

The podcasting company was founded by Norm Pattiz, who was already a legend in radio and media circles for having created and led Westwood One. Radio World caught up with Pattiz recently to ask about the biggest challenges his company faces, where he sees PodcastOne going and how he feels podcasting has affected his former industry.

 

Radio World: Podcasting has had a remarkable arc in 15 years. Can you capture where you think the industry is in its life span?

Norm Pattiz: The growth of PodcastOne is remarkably similar to the growth of Westwood One when I founded the company. We started off with a little bit; in the case of Westwood One, I think, we had $150,000 worth of business. In the case of PodcastOne, we started out with a million-and-a-half dollars’ worth of business, and today, we’re well up into the tens of millions, which is where Westwood One was at a similar time. Then a few years later, Westwood had $600 million worth of business, went public and wound up with a $4 billion market cap.

I don’t know whether I’ll be around to see that because I’m considerably older; but that’s where I think that PodcastOne is going, reflective of the overall growth of podcasting. And the similarities will be when PodcastOne hits the same inflection point that network and syndicated radio reached — when rather than evangelizing and building support, we become a part of the overall media mix.

[Seven Myths Broadcasters Believe About Podcasting]

RW: So you’re a believer that the growth is yet to be fully realized.

Pattiz: Oh, I don’t see any cap on the growth, quite the opposite.

Let me say this first. I’ve been a cheerleader for radio for 45 years; I’m not changing now. But I think the fastest-growing segment of audio is going to be podcasting, because it’s not limited to simply the formats that exist on radio; you don’t have to find your radio station to listen to it; you can consume it anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

Programming in network and syndication, you’d [need] a certain amount of consumption that would be have to be relatively large. In the podcasting area, what you need are active and committed consumers and listeners.

This has been proven in the direct response market. But now brands are getting involved; where we used to be 90% direct response advertising when we started, we’re now about 50/50 direct response to brand advertisers.

There are too many great selling points to overlook. The podcast listener is the most committed listener in the audio or video medium. A recent study showed a 61% conversion rate for podcast listeners to products that are host-read and advertised on podcasts. I mean, that’s amazing.

RW: Yet I imagine there are perceptions about the market and the platform. If I’m a P&G or a Ford, I might sense that audio is hot, yet I might look at the total for podcasting and think there’s so many different offerings, and it’s not well developed in terms of audience measurement. … What objections do you hear from those kind of advertisers?

[Infinite Dial: Podcast Listening Now a Majority Behavior]

Pattiz: I’ve never heard that kind of argument. I’ve certainly have heard questions relating to measurement, which is one of the reasons why at PodcastOne we spent a lot of money building a back end that can provide audience measurement any way the advertiser wants it.

Whether it’s the way they currently buy radio or television, using gross impressions, or going through the digital door and using uniques, we can pretty much supply that number; we can use the IAB standard. We’re in a situation that as the marketplace remains in flux, we don’t lose business because our platform doesn’t deliver the metrics that the advertiser wants.

A sample PodcastOne offering, “LadyGang,” is described as “a celebrity-driven podcast from the minds and mouths of Keltie Knight, Jac Vanek and Becca Tobin where no subject is off limits. Inspired by their bottomless mimosa brunches, each week, a celebrity guest joins the girls for a raw, honest and hilarious look at what life is really like under the bright lights of Hollywood.”

We do business with third-party suppliers. We can give them survey research through Edison; we can give them download research through Knox and Verizon, who measures raw downloads; we can convert the raw downloads, filter them and convert them in to filtered downloads. We can deliver really any way that an advertiser wants.

When you compare podcast measurement to syndication or network radio, there are some sources that people are more comfortable using for radio and for radio syndication; but they’re phenomenally unsophisticated, and the word “estimate” is very much in view when those numbers are being supplied.

“Estimate” is what’s used no matter what service you use: They’re audience estimates. Though people talk about a universal measurement for podcasting, as long as there’s so many companies using their own technology to count those numbers, I don’t think we’re close to that.

But then again, RADAR in network radio was never a very accurate way of measuring audience. Some of the surveys that are used when buying sports inventory or special events, sometimes those services do overnight ratings with about a hundred people. How accurate can that be?

[Pro Audio Answers Podcasting’s Call]

Of course, people have [long] been complaining about survey research and call-out research and the latest overnight ratings — it’s endemic to media companies, whether they’re digital or not, people are always questioning the research.

When I was working in the television business, every time we got a lousy book we would find a reason to discredit it; and every time we had a good book this was the most accurate survey that had been taken in the history of television! I don’t see [measurement concerns] stunting the growth of podcasting in any way.

RW: What are other misperceptions among the advertising community or general public that you would like to see overcome?

Pattiz: The consuming public is just getting it. When you take a look at the number of people who have consumed podcasts — at one point when we started six years ago, it probably wasn’t even 20%. Now it’s either pushing or slightly over 50%. And when you take a look at the average time spent listening, it’s way more than any competitive medium. Even Apple, with the limited research that they release on podcasting, last year said that the average time listening to a podcast was 48.3 minutes. And when you consider that some of the podcasts that they were measuring probably didn’t even run that long, I think that’s pretty outstanding.

If a buyer is buying a million viewers on television or a million listeners on radio or a million consumers through a podcast, podcasting should be worth more because those people had to perform a positive act to get there in the first place.

[NPR’s Sucherman Seeks Digital Partnerships]

The biggest problem is educating advertising agencies and advertisers. They’re not used to it. So we have to go out there and evangelize and then build demand. That’s the stage we’ve been in.

It’s not often somebody who tests the medium doesn’t wind up using it more.

RW: Is there a difference between what makes good, compelling content in podcasting versus what makes good, compelling content for a Westwood One radio?

Pattiz: It’s entirely different. All of the research shows with people who consume radio are not the same people who consume podcasts.

Now, that could change, with iHeart getting into the business and with Cumulus getting into the business. But they’re learning very quickly — I could cite the iHeart deal with “How Stuff Works” — you can’t just go in there and say you’re the biggest because you’re repurposing your radio shows. Nobody’s gonna buy that. It’s not true. They have now gone out to try and get podcast-specific programming. And if they, in fact, do promote across their radio, that could drive more consumption of radio listeners to podcasts. But right now, I haven’t seen it happen.

Most radio companies, they’re seeing people do well in podcasting such as ourselves and others, and they think, “Well, we should be able to do this, look at all of our content and look at all of our resources.” Even though resources is probably not the best word to use for radio major companies these days.

They’re learning. I see them making many of the same mistakes that we made when we first started. But we overcame them, and I’m sure they will too.

[From 2015: Is This the Golden Age of Podcasting?]

In terms of the competition, we’ve got 300 podcasts on our network. I could have 3,000 tomorrow. But since our programming is generally partnerships between the network and the producer — and of course, we produce a lot of our own stuff — I’m not interested in filling our network full of programs until everybody’s making money.

RW: These are remarkable times for people who believe in audio. For a radio broadcaster watching the development of podcasting, what do you think should be going through their mind about the relationship of the two?

Pattiz: Radio broadcasters should pay a lot of attention. They certainly are corporately, and I think they are well down the ranks.

In our partnership with Hubbard, which owns almost 31% of PodcastOne, we have been doing some work on the local level; and they’ve been supplying us with programming, both original podcasts and programming [from] very popular time periods on their stations.

The economic impact of being able to provide the kind of data, and the ability to digitally insert, and the kinds of things we’ve been able to do — being used by a major radio group has proven to be very valuable. Some of their podcasts develop audiences that are big enough to be packaged in with our biggest national programs. Others simply provide an on-demand audience that can be sold locally, along with the regular average quarter hour of the time period, to bring in new audience and new revenue for little or no cost.

We have some repurposed radio programming on our network … but the strength of podcasting is original content.

[Radio Seeks to Strengthen Podcast Connection]

One case in point: We had the Laura Ingraham radio show for many years; I’ve had a relationship with Laura for 17 years going back to Westwood One. Now Laura is no longer doing a radio show, she is doing multiple podcasts during the week; and the size of her audience, after having been on only three weeks [as of early February] is four to five times the size of her audience in radio.

That’s because the way that radio groups function right now is that the big ones control the major markets. If you’re an independent, even if you’re distributed by that radio network, all of those programming decisions are still made locally. In the case of Laura, she’s been on for a very long time but was weak in the top 10.

Well, she’s not weak in the top 10 anymore; and when she mentions her podcast on her Fox TV show and we start using all of our network programming to promote new shows, special events and what have you — because we have the right to promote in unsold inventory on every show that’s on our network — that combination is a tough one to beat.

There will be more and more interaction between radio and podcasting.

[How Technology Helps Radio and Its Listeners]

For the radio talent? Where radio and other big media companies paid little or no attention to podcasting, now if you go to work for them there’s a high likelihood that your podcast rights will be part of your deal — even though they may never, ever do a podcast. But using the misconception that their popularity in radio is what’s driving the interest of anybody wanting to put them in a podcast network, so that they can get a piece of the action. You see that everywhere. It’s not unusual to see it creep into podcasting.

RW: Do trends in consumer use of technology affect this? I’m thinking for instance about smart speakers and how dramatically that’s come on in the last two years.

Pattiz: Absolutely. Our programming is compatible with both the Apple speaker and the Android speaker. What you have to do is you have to identify the program, currently, by who distributes it. So you’d have to say “Go to PodcastOne. Go to Adam Carolla.”

One step too much. And that’ll be solved quickly. It shouldn’t be more than “Hey, I wanna listen to Adam Carolla’s program last Thursday.”

RW: It sounds like you definitely feel like we’re nowhere near seeing the full story of podcasting written.

Pattiz: Oh, no, not even close. When I left Westwood One, they asked me if I would form a consultancy or a boutique that would keep the talent that I had relationships with still in the Westwood One camp, and of course, I did that.

[Radio Keeps Dying But Someone Forgot to Tell the Listeners!]

When a mutual friend of mine introduced me to a young man named Kit Gray who was repping podcasts out of his apartment in Marina Del Rey with his dog, and I saw what he was doing on a very, very small scale, I thought, well, this is just the digital version of Westwood One, with so many advantages it’s tough to count them all.

I had no desire to go back into business; I’d had a pretty successful business career. It certainly wasn’t about the money. But the thing that was nice about the money was that I didn’t need any partners, I could fund this myself. So we did, and it’s just been a great ride ever since.

I think the entrance of PodcastOne was one of the inflection points that pointed out the ability that podcasters have to go to national advertisers if they have a variety of programs in their mix.

I couldn’t go in and start evangelizing podcasting unless I had offerings in every category that was on iTunes. Otherwise, I’d be going in and saying podcasting was great, and somebody would ask me for something I didn’t have. Before we hit the streets or went to Manhattan, we were making sure that we had program offerings in every category that an advertiser could want.

Podcast host Todd Garner, right, with his debut episode’s guest Adam Sandler.

RW: Anything else we should know?

Pattiz: I still get asked to speak at a lot of radio functions. From the very beginning, I have said: What radio needs to do is embrace digital, whether it’s podcasting or streaming or what have you. Because radio has had a history of growing every year, for a very long time, until recently.

[Radio Seeks Its Future in the Vehicle]

I said that by adapting digital, as part of audio, part of radio, you’re going to see your business start growing again. That pretty much fell on deaf ears at the highest level until a couple of years ago. Now we see radio companies getting involved.Most of them are dipping their toes.

Hubbard was the company that recognized the opportunity. The investment they made in the company could still be classified as dipping their toes [but] it was a larger investment than any radio company that I knew of had made in podcasting.

So we were encouraged then; we’re encouraged now. I see that there’s been press about Gimlet possibly getting bought by Spotify for $230 million. Boy, do I hope that one closes! [Spotify announced the deal shortly after this interview.]

RW: You put a lot of work in to get to this position.

Pattiz: Yeah. And we’re bigger!

A lot of deals that are being made involve bigger production guarantees, bigger fees to name talent. We haven’t gotten caught up in that; we like the idea of partnerships. Even though we could make bigger guarantees, we think that the personalities that we’re working with, if they’re hugely successful in other mediums, that no matter what podcasting has to offer them it’s probably going to be at the lower end of the priority list.

We like the idea of being partners with them so that they’re as committed to the success of the podcast as we are; it’s not just a big check that their agent brought them, and they’re going to wind up having to cancel shows because they just got a movie or something.

All of that stuff will work itself out over time. But right now it’s a very interesting and exciting medium. Over the next few years, more will be revealed.

[Read the Radio World eBook “Trends in Visual Radio 2019” at radioworld.com/ebooks to hear more from Pattiz.]

The post Pattiz: Podcasting’s Inflection Point Is Yet to Come appeared first on Radio World.

Hearing It in the Air Tonight

Radio World - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 06:52

GREENSBORO, N.C. — One of the most powerful stories of music creation comes from 1981, when Phil Collins produced “In The Air Tonight.” The song was assembled during a dark time in Collins’ life, and he wasn’t afraid to show his feelings.

If you remember, the song’s foundation is an emotionless drum machine, and it’s layered with movements of great intensity, crescendos and decrescendos, leading up to the song’s climax and trademark drum solo. The emotions in each layered and reversed vocal, transient guitar riff, and synth is, to me, unlike any other song pressed to vinyl or compact disc.

For years however, I always thought this track sounded rough on FM radio. It seemed most stations had to dance the loudness dance and leave musicality and emotion leaning against the wall like an awkward seventh grader at his first dance.

[NAB Sneak Peak: Omnia Releases Major Processor Update]

That’s one of the toughest parts about radio in general. It can be difficult to express emotion when we’re told we have to be the loudest station on the dial — the station with the most bass, the station that doesn’t come up for air because we’re afraid someone’s going to punch over to a competitor. And, Lord, have mercy if you’re encoding for PPM.

But isn’t music the ultimate expression of emotion? Lost love, party songs, pride about your home state (I’m looking at you, Skynyrd) — the list goes on, but the common thread remains … music is all about emotion!

Enter the Omnia.11 audio processor from Cornelius Gould and his merry band of processing gurus at the Telos Alliance. With the recent release of G.Force Version 3.5 software update, coupled with its optional Perfect Declipper software, there’s no longer a tradeoff between loudness and musicality. I can push a station’s Omnia.11 as hard as the market will tolerate, while at the same time allowing the processor to open up those transient details that come standard with “In The Air Tonight.”

A MATTER OF FEEL

Modern songs that have been mastered for smartphone consumption (translation: clipped to death) are given a breath of fresh air that’s akin to early compact disc technology with incredible dynamic range, but at the same time maintaining the competitive punch, with loudness that doesn’t generate that ridiculous intermod distortion that traditional processing tends to generate. Sure, the .11 has been out for a number of years now — but I’m more than confident installing this processor in some of the most competitive stations in America.  

Yes, the Omnia.11 can make your station loud — it’s great at helping your station jump off the dial and makes you as competitive as you want. As a program director, however, the real under-the-hood elements don’t matter as much as the results.

How does the listener feel when they hear the radio station? Are we taking them somewhere? Can they feel the despair in Phil’s heart when the first few beats of the drum machine arrive? Can they really feel the intensity of his pain when the infamous drum break finally kicks in? Are listeners hearing the subtle crackle and pops of a smoldering fire in Cam’s “Burning House?” How do your listeners feel when the beat drops in Maren Morris’ “The Middle?”

What makes the .11 my favorite tool in the processing arsenal is its unparalleled ability to handle both loudness and emotion. To me, it’s akin to seeing HDTV for the first time. You’ll hear songs that you’ve played countless times on the air come out of your speakers with an added dimension. I don’t know how they do it, but it sure is cool.

The fact of the matter for me is that songs are like bookmarks in the chapters of our lives and we deserve the chance to treat them like it. The Omnia.11 audio processor from the Telos Alliance gives us a chance to turn our radio stations away from being hype machines to being what we truly were designed to become — emotional companions for our fantastic listeners.

For information, contact Cam Eicher at The Telos Alliance in Ohio at 1-216-241-7225 or visit www.telosalliance.com.

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Podcast #188 – Hip-Hop Radio Archive (rebroadcast)

Radio Survivor - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 03:00

The Hip-Hop Radio Archive aims to digitize, preserve, share, and contextualize recordings of hip-hop radio from the 1980s and 1990s from commercial, college, community, and pirate stations of all sizes, telling the stories of the shows and the people that made them. Our guest is founder of the archive, Ryan MacMichael. This is a rebroadcast […]

The post Podcast #188 – Hip-Hop Radio Archive (rebroadcast) appeared first on Radio Survivor.

A Las Vegas Legend Celebrates 50 Years of Service

Radio World - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 21:52

Las Vegas is full of living history. 2019 marks Gino Alexander’s 50th year of providing shoeshines along the Las Vegas strip. For the last 15 years, this octogenarian’s company, Jackpot Shoe Shine, has been providing customers with a great shine, and a little Las Vegas history while he works.

Located in the Stratosphere “Strat” Casino, across from the new Starbucks, Gino’s weathered hands turn dirty and scuffed shoes into objects of beauty. Over his half-century, he has shined tens of thousands of pair of shoes and boots, belonging to vacationers, conventioneers, and celebrities.

Making a good impression and looking good at the convention includes a shoe shine. Stop by and get yours.

– John Bisset

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NAB Crystal Radio Award Winners Honored

Radio World - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 21:09

Ten radio stations made up the 2019 class of Crystal Radio Award recipients at this NAB Show.

They are:

KBHP(FM), Bemidji, Minn.

KCVM(FM), Cedar Falls, Iowa

KNDE(FM), College Station, Texas

KWBG(AM), Boone, Iowa

WMBX(FM), West Palm Beach, Fla.

WMGK(FM), Philadelphia

WRLT(FM), Nashville, Tenn.

WTAM(AM), Cleveland

WWPR(FM), New York

WYCT(FM), Pensacola, Fla.

The NAB Crystal Radio Awards recognize radio stations for their outstanding year-round commitment to community service. The 50 finalists were chosen by a panel of judges representing broadcasting, community service organizations and public relations firms.

Also honored at the celebration was KFOR(AM) in Lincoln, Neb., a five-time Crystal Award winner.

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FCC Media Bureau News Items - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 21:00
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Barix Releases Opus-Based Box

Radio World - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 20:35

There’s something comforting about seeing a new simple, little, shiny Barix box. This NAB Show the company is bringing out the MA400 which it describes as an IP codec having the “flexibility and ease of SIP-based link establishment with the quality and efficiency of the Opus compression format …”

Barix CEO Reto Brader explained, “Advanced broadcasters are moving away from static setups to SIP-based link establishment, particularly for remote contribution back to the studio such as from sporting events. That’s where the MA400 SIP Opus Codec comes in, establishing the connection through dial-up and then encoding and decoding the audio signal.”

Brader added, “… for SIP-based remote broadcast links the MA400 SIP Opus Codec is perfect.”

The company says that the bidirectional MA400 is built on Barix’s latest-generation, high-performance IPAM 400 audio module. It features an analog, microphone-level input and line-level output. The new units share the familiar space-efficient form factor.

Info: www.barix.com

 

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WATCH: NAB Reimagines the Radio Show

Radio World - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 20:14

The fall Radio Show will be getting an updated look and feel, NAB Executive Vice President of Industry Affairs Steve Newberry announced at Monday night’s We Are Broadcasters Celebration in Las Vegas.

Attendees got a preview of the revamped brand through a teaser video (watch it below) and the debut of the rebranded Radio Show logo. Although the video didn’t share a lot of information, it suggests an expanded scope for the trade show including voice, podcasting, streaming and other technologies in the modern consumer’s audio ecosystem.

“This year, we are excited to unveil a revitalized Radio Show that brings together all things audio – radio, podcasting, streaming and future technologies,” Newberry told attendees. He emphasized that core elements of the show will remain consistent — sessions, professional training and development opportunities — “but you can expect a fresh, new casual vibe.”

Radio Show 2019 is scheduled for Sept. 24–27 in Dallas, Texas.

https://www.radioworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2019-Radio-Show-Promo.mp4

 

 

 

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Proper Grounding and Bonding Are Essential to Uptime

Radio World - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 19:02

Grounding in the broadcast plant is a topic as old as the business itself. Protecting equipment and operations from potential damage caused by lightning is of vital importance when the use of proper and effective grounding methods are considered by working engineers.

As we all know, direct lightning strikes and their damaging effects cannot be completely controlled or totally eliminated; but we can do a lot to minimize potential damage by employing the best time-tested methods to achieve that goal.

The various “best practice methods” used over time have evolved and improved as more has been learned about what lightning energy is, as well as how and where it travels to release its payload. A single wire running to the power company’s 8-foot ground rod connected to their disconnect panel with #6 wire is hardly an adequate single-point ground reference for a broadcast studio or transmitter facility.

Implementing an effective grounding scheme need not be expensive and is not difficult if you know what to use and where to install it.  If you haven’t thought about or reviewed this issue lately regarding your own facility, keep reading.

EVERY SITE UNIQUE

The Copper Development Association a is a not-for-profit trade organization representing the copper industry to promote research and education for industry and business in proper use and implementation of copper products including best practices for energy efficiency, power quality maintenance, wiring and grounding as well as NEC adherence.

Staff from the CDA have presented talks and seminars on grounding and other electrical matters many times at NAB Shows and Ennes workshops and have a paper titled “Proper Grounding and Bonding Are Essential to Uptime.”

Grounding and bonding, including how equipment is connected, is fundamental to an electrical system. It’s like the importance of a building’s foundation. Proper grounding and bonding is cost-effective, often with paybacks under one year. But there is no single solution that applies to every facility.

Each site and design is unique. The quality of local ground characteristics will vary. Rock piles and deep sand need a lot more grounding augmentation than sites surrounded by good topsoil. Proximity to a water source also is important.

[Pragmatics 101: The Big Picture of the Small End of Power Generation]

Typically a single point of ground reference for a given facility is preferred, and that includes the power company’s disconnect panel ground reference. The use of multiple independent grounds can be disastrous since resistance and potential difference values between them invite additional lightning discharge conduits.

The primary goal of any grounding scheme is to minimize the resistance between the master ground reference and all of the facility’s equipment, including transmitters, rack cabinets, cabling and transmission line shields and cable trays as well as connections to outside equipment over waveguide bridges at tower bases.

However those connections should not be grounded to the tower(s) themselves.  Towers should have their own ground system reference, including the guy wire anchors to isolate and prevent lightning energy strikes to the tower from reaching the tower base connections and traveling to the building.

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

The question is often asked, “How much grounding is enough to be effective”?  

The CDA case study cites 5 ohms or less from the ground reference to the surrounding ground as the IEEE suggested target value. Sensitive facilities, especially in high lightning zones, should strive for 1 ohm or even less if possible.

The other goal is to configure the grounding connections such that any incoming lightning-induced energy from the outside traveling the power lines or transmission cables will be shunted to ground before it can enter the building. Those ground connections need to be substantially low impedance so larger wire sizes and/or copper straps are recommended to handle larger currents.

All connections exposed to the outside elements should be exothermic or cad-welded. If mechanical connections are used, all-copper or stainless steel hardware should be used. All connections need to be inspected annually to verify they are still clean, tight and secure and the bonding has not deteriorated.

Control, communications and low-voltage wiring needs to be routed away from the common facility “halo” ground wire runner as well as power and transmission lines that run to the outside so they cannot induce lightning energy that may enter the building along those conduits. The use of 4/0 stranded copper wire connecting equipment and transmission lines to wall-mounted copper grounding plates as well as wide copper strap running between cabinets along the floor typically is employed. Anything smaller is deemed inadequate for most installations.

[Field Service Tips: Grounding]

CDA has given presentations about facility case histories from Florida and New Jersey that had suffered extensive lightning damage before the recommended grounding methods were implemented. Pictures of before-and-after hardware environments illustrate how the additional grounding interconnections were best routed and installed.

While adhering to NEC standards for hardware installation guidance is recommended, some of the NEC codes will not always apply or adequately address specific site needs. CDA case studies discuss such unique situations. For all facilities, grounding and wiring is usually cost-effective, especially during the construction phase of a facility. Lightning damage to equipment and resulting downtime are usually far more costly than corrections to the electrical installation.

The Copper Development Association’s website has many articles and videos on wiring, research, case histories on grounding, connectability and a host of other topics. Most can be downloaded. CDA also offers free seminars to groups like SBE chapters.

The post Proper Grounding and Bonding Are Essential to Uptime appeared first on Radio World.

Xperi Explores Hybrid Radio at NAB

Radio World - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 18:36

Xperi at the NAB Show is highlighting its “hybrid radio” platform as well as connected-car implementations with partner companies Karma Automotive and Panasonic.

DTS Connected Radio is a hybrid platform that pairs over-the-air services with IP-delivered content. The company says it aggregates metadata such as artist and song info, program info and station contact info from broadcasters into an API that provides a cohesive visual look in vehicles. The idea is to enable car makers to create a common, enhanced radio experience across different analog and digital broadcast systems deployed regionally.

The firm has been working on it for several years and said last fall that the platform would soon be integrated into the cars of a “major global automotive brand.” Recent additions to the platform include event discoverability, on-demand content, voice control services and greater customization options.

Xperi is demonstrating live metadata across 16 markets operating through Connected Radio in real time. It is also showing how DTS Connected Radio is experienced in various markets and vehicles, as well as how the platform can work with Amazon Alexa smart speakers for voice control capabilities.

At the convention’s In-Vehicle Experience pavilion, the company is showing how DTS Connected Radio would look integrated into a Karma Revero electric vehicle, and it is giving the first demonstration of Connected Radio and HD Radio working on an Android-based platform, with integrations from Panasonic, Qualcomm, Google and Xperi.

On the HD Radio product side, Xperi says 60 million HD Radio receivers are now on the road. It is highlighting new automotive receiver demos from Mercedes, Toyota, FCA and Hyundai, and home AV receivers from VQ, Sangean, Sparc and Outlaw.

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