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Shulz and Nordstrom Made a Difference

Radio World - Mon, 12/02/2019 - 12:50
Warren Shultz

Not long ago, two very well known broadcast engineers left us, both part of the U.S. radio technical community. Their lives were intertwined; and they died within days of each other. 

Radio World gathered memories from friends and colleagues of Warren Shulz and Jeff Nordstrom. \


Warren Shulz, chief engineer of WLS(AM/FM) and WFYR and WKFM(FM) in Chicago, passed away at the end of 2018 at age 72, following a long battle with prostate cancer. He was a 1964 graduate of the Chicago Vocational High School. Shulz later earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology from Purdue University. He retired in 2012 after 50 years as chief engineer of WKFM, WYFR and WLS(AM/FM). 

Shulz was a lifetime member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Society of Broadcast Engineers, a member of the National Association for Radio and Telecommunications Engineers and the Audio Engineering Society. He was also a past board member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (radio division) and ham radio operator WA9GXZ. He enjoyed camping and riding his homemade electric bicycle.

Linda Baun, vice president of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, recalled Shulz as a regular at their annual Broadcasters Clinic. 

“Warren would travel from his home to attend the clinic in his RV. I always received his posts after the conference, commenting on the caliber of the educational sessions — he was tough, but fair.”

Warren Shulz was rarely without his plastic pocket protector, with at least one screwdriver inside. Family members sent it to friend Mark Heller, president and owner of WGBW and WLAK in Green Bay, Wis.

Colleagues remembered Shulz acting as a mentor to those less experienced, always willing to share his time and expertise. 

Art Reis of RadioArt Enterprises said, “Warren was a mentor to any who needed assistance. He famously helped out the CE at KFI Los Angeles, who was having problems with his Continental 317C, by sending him all his notes and documentation on the 317C he had here at WLS. The knowledge he got helped him greatly in solving his problems.

[Read one Shulz commentary on the state of FEMA, from 2013]

“Warren always had or took the time to help others, and he could go on for an hour or more on the phone helping out. I know because I was the beneficiary of quite a number of those phone calls. His knowledge was beyond that of almost anyone else I knew in the business back in the day. One of our compatriots in the business once told me, ‘If you’re going to get help from Warren over the phone, my advice is to pack a lunch.’ That was true, but we loved it. Sitting and learning at Warren’s proverbial feet was a true treat and a gift.”

Shulz was also known for the sound quality and competitiveness of his stations. 

Bob Gorjance, a former Harris sales rep, recalls a story involving Shulz and Gary Shrader, then the CE of WCLR(FM). 

“Gary bought a solid-state FM exciter and audio processor from me. Several days later, Warren calls and said he wanted to see me ASAP. When I stopped by his office, he asked me if I’d seen Gary lately. I nodded silently, yes. He then asked me if he had bought something from me. Again I silently nodded ‘yes.’ He said, ‘I want the same thing.’ I filled out the order form and silently pushed it over to him and he signed it. 

Jeff Nordstrom
Courtesy Eric M. Wiler

“Warren had heard a big difference in the sound of WCLR, and wanted to stay competitive with Gary. A few days later, Gary called, asking if I had visited Warren.”


Jeff Nordstrom got to know a great number of engineers through his work as manager of the satellite equipment sales division of Harris/Allied. He suffered a heart attack last December at age 67, just a few days before Shulz passed away. 

The two were close friends, first becoming acquainted through Nordstrom’s work for Harris/Allied.

Nordstrom started his radio career at Racine Park High School, and was an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. He was a member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers since 1973. He did a variety of jobs in radio, from disc jockey to chief engineer. Nordstrom worked at stations in Washington, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. In 1983, he joined Allied/Harris Broadcast in Indiana. He started working for Clear Channel Colorado in 2000, and later Westwood One, from which he retired in 2018. 

Like Shulz, he was a frequent attendee at the Broadcasters Clinic and made regular presentations.

Nordstrom also loved gardening and a bit of farming. He enjoyed the Denver Botanical Gardens and looking at antique radio equipment, and was an active member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter American Theatre Organ Society. He also enjoyed riding his motorcycle. 

Industry veteran Chuck Kelly recalled that Nordstrom had a great sense of humor, which sometimes extended to practical jokes. “I was always in awe of the technical operations at the Chicago stations. I on the other hand was employed by a poor AM-FM combo where nothing worked right, including the directional AM antenna system. I constantly lived in fear of an FCC inspection.

[Check out more great articles from the Nov. 20 issue]

“One morning, the receptionist buzzed my office, letting me know that the FCC was waiting to speak with me up front,” Kelly continued. “I briefly thought of running out the back door, but finally decided to head up to reception and face the music. I was surprised to see Jeff Nordstrom in his motorcycle jacket, laughing in the lobby, when I came out. I don’t think he ever knew how petrified I really was.”

A “Minions” moment with the Dial Global team in 2012. Jeff Nordstrom is third from left at rear.
Courtesy Eric M. Wiler

In this industry, paths tend to cross many times, Kelly said. 

“So it was with Warren and Jeff. They both continued to impress me not only with their technical knowledge and skill, but with uncommon humility and warmth in careers lasting nearly 40 years. Losing these two friends leaves a void not easily filled.”

Mark Burg, assistant engineer, recalls Nordstrom for his attention to detail. 

“My very first contact with Jeff  was a phone call I initiated to him following a highly detailed parameter chart I made up to track legal and out-of-parameter readings of a three-tower AM directional near Oshkosh that Jeff had been engineer-in-charge of in the 1970s and early ’80s. It was during that discussion that he informed me that I had made a mistake and had made the chart too broad in the parameters. He highly suggested that I needed to trash that chart and start over. 

“Ever since that moment, I have every effort to double-check my math, the facts and spellings. Jeff’s point has always stuck in my mind: Double check what you’re doing, even if it looks correct and great on paper. It’s the ‘practice’ and the implementation of that information that really matters.”

WBA’s Baun reflected, “Success has many meanings. In my opinion, success is measured in your willingness to give of yourself. Growing, caring and sharing with others that need your time and expertise is never a waste. The rich careers of Jeff and Warren made a difference to many in this ever- evolving industry.”

Read several past commentaries by Warren Shulz at www.radioworld.com/author/warrenshulz. Comment on this or any article to radioworld@futurenet.com.

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Kentucky FM Bounces Back From Wednesday Tower Break

Radio World - Mon, 12/02/2019 - 10:54
Morning host Bobby Jack Murphy posted this photo of the damaged WAKY tower to the station’s Facebook page Nov. 27, alerting listeners of the problem.

As if the day before Thanksgiving isn’t stressful enough, the engineering team at Kentucky’s WAKY(FM) had a nasty surprise when a strong storm snapped a small tower nearly in half, knocking the station off air.

Morning host Bobby Jack Murphy announced at 11:15 a.m. on Facebook: “WAKY Tower a victim of the high winds!” He also posted a photo of the damage, which he could see from inside the studio. It appears to be the station’s STL send dish.

103.5 FM was offline for nearly 12 hours; the station’s Facebook page announced its return to the air at 10:35 p.m. the same day. 

During the interim, the station used its social media presence to alert listeners of alternate ways to tune in, reminding locals of WAKY’s simulcasts on 100.1 FM, 106.3 FM and 620 AM, as well as streaming versions available at wakyradio.com and the WAKY app and TuneIn.

The post Kentucky FM Bounces Back From Wednesday Tower Break appeared first on Radio World.

Student Broadcasters Convene at The Gateway to the West 2019

Radio World - Mon, 12/02/2019 - 09:57


The CBI National Student Production Awards recognize the best in student electronic media. CBI President John Morris congratulates the 2019 winners.

College Broadcasters Inc. said it hosted more than 350 student and faculty attendees at the three-day 2019 National Student Electronic Media Convention in St. Louis last month. 

The event centered on radio and television, but also featured workshops and sessions on podcasting and mobile multimedia storytelling. CBI said these were led by industry professionals, faculty advisers and students; some of the professionals were prior student NSEMC attendees themselves.

In a press release, CBI President John Morris said, “It impressed me to see nearly a hundred workshops presented covering a wide range of topics, including programming, leadership, news, sports, podcasting, promotion and more.”

According to CBI’s Morris, the Midwestern city was selected to host the event because St. Louis “is a top 25 media market, has incredible delicacies and includes a depth of history and entertainment options.” Next year’s host city, Baltimore, is ranked as the 26th media market, and has a similarly long history and plenty of its own fantastic food (crab cakes, anyone?). The 2020 event is scheduled for Oct. 21-24.  

The post Student Broadcasters Convene at The Gateway to the West 2019 appeared first on Radio World.

John Lyons Dies; Helped Shape New York’s RF Skyline

Radio World - Sat, 11/30/2019 - 20:30

John Lyons has died. He suffered cardiac arrest at home Friday, according to his family. He was 71.

Lyons was assistant vice president and director of Broadcast Communications at The Durst Organization.

He was responsible for the communications infrastructure of Durst’s multimillion-square-foot commercial portfolio and played a major role in helping broadcasters return to the air in New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack on the World Trade Center. Among his many accomplishments was leading the design and implementation of the redesigned master antenna at 4 Times Square and the new broadcast transmission facility at One World Trade Center.

In 2006 Lyons received the Radio World Excellence in Engineering Award; in 2017 he was honored with the NAB Television Engineering Achievement Award.

Earlier in his career he held engineering positions with several New York-based broadcast organizations and served two stints as chairman of the Master FM Broadcasters Committee at the Empire State Building. “He was a walking history of New York broadcasting,” said fellow New York engineer David Bialik. “In addition he changed the RF landscape of New York.”

Lyons is survived by his wife Natasha Lyons and sons Matthew, 26, and Constantine, 7.

He was former president and most recently treasurer of the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers; he was elected Fellow of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, and was active in the National Association of Radio and Telecommunications Engineers, the NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference Committee and the Veterans’ Hospital Radio and Television Guild.

John Lyons, center, with David Antoine, left, and Tom Silliman at a recent NAB Show. Photo by Jim Peck

He was a devoted family man, and he made learning a lifelong pursuit. Among other things he was a licensed New York State Real Estate Broker and a member of the Real Estate Board of New York and the Building Owners and Management Association, and held a Certificate in Property Management from New York University.

Radio World described him in 2006 as “funny, brash, no-nonsense, unpretentious, sentimental … all characteristics we love in native New Yorkers.” He also enjoyed golf and competitive dancing; Lyons had met his wife in Siberia, while photographing a ballroom dance competition.

According to a biographical summary published earlier by Radio World, Lyons attended Brooklyn Technical High School and was a transmitter operator and studio engineer for radio station WRFM (later WWPR). He spent nine years as chief studio technical operator at WWRL and while there also worked as director of engineering at ZDK Radio in St. John’s, Antigua, a station he built and put on the air. He worked for WOR Radio as assistant chief engineer, then was moved by the company to WXLO (later WRKS) to be chief engineer, where he served for a decade.

During most of that time he was chairman of the Master FM Broadcasters Committee at the Empire State Building, coordinating the operations of 13 city FM stations with the broadcasters at Empire and the World Trade Center.

In 1990, he left WRKS to join DSI Communications (later DSI RF Systems), where he was senior project manager, responsible for communications facility build-outs, including TV and radio station transmitter facilities, two-way communications, point-to-point microwave and satellite communications systems. In 1994 he took a consulting position at the new Sony Worldwide Radio Networks, where he worked to establish and set standards for a nationwide satellite-programming network, built the studios and developed its operations system. With that established, Lyons moved on to WLTW with Viacom Radio (later Clear Channel Communications) as assistant chief engineer, and was promoted to become chief of the recently acquired WAXQ. He resumed his position as chairman of the Master FM Broadcasters Committee at Empire for four more years and was design engineer for many of the Clear Channel New York operations including the pioneer backup FM transmitting site at 4 Times Square for the five Clear Channel NYC stations.

After the catastrophic losses of Sept. 11, 2001, Lyons worked with the Empire State Building, 4 Times Square, broadcasters and contractors to restore broadcasting operations for all of the orphaned WTC stations. He designed transmission line runs, laid out transmitter plants and assisted the stations to return to the air as soon as possible.

In 2002 he was named manager of communications and broadcast operations at 4 Times Square for The Durst Organization and was responsible for removal of a 132-foot master FM antenna tower and its replacement with a 385-foot master TV and FM antenna tower, capable of accommodating all the TV and FM stations licensed to the New York metropolitan area. This facility also was capable of point-to-point microwave, spread spectrum, broadband, two-way, STL/TSL, RPU and ENG services.

In 2005 he became responsible for the communications needs of the entire Durst portfolio.

He also helped establish a state-of-the-art communications system for first responders in Durst skyscrapers in the wake of 9/11.

“His thumbprint is all over New York radio,” Radio World wrote in 2006, even before the new One World Trade Center and its showcase transmission facility were built.

Funeral arrangements were not finalized as of Saturday evening.

Radio World is gathering reader comments about the passing of John Lyons. Email radioworld@futurenet.com.

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FCC to Consider New Licensing Rules for LPFM/Noncom Stations

Radio World - Fri, 11/29/2019 - 15:38

The Federal Communications Commission is ready to move on a new Report and Order that would make changes to the rules and processes surrounding licensing for LPFMs and noncom stations.

At its December meeting, the commission plans to consider an R&O that would tweak the licensing process for low-power FMs and noncommercial educational stations and build upon lessons learned from the most recent NCE and LPFM filing windows, said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a recent blog.

[Read: FCC Hopes to Streamline NCE Selection Rules]

“[The changes] are designed to improve our comparative selection and licensing procedures, expedite the initiation of new service to the public, eliminate unnecessary applicant burdens, and reduce the number of appeals of our NCE comparative licensing decisions,” Pai said.

The media item, part of Media Bureau Docket Number 19-3, is the next step in the commission’s ongoing efforts to reexamine licensing procedures for noncommercial education and low-power FM stations. The commission most recently tackled the issue in February 2019 when it adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the same issue in an effort to improve the rules and procedures to select and license competing applications for new noncommercial educational broadcast stations and LPFM stations.

At that time, many commenters called for changes that would streamline improvements to FCC’s point award criteria, mandatory time sharing rules and tie breaking criteria.

The Report & Order is up for discussion at the FCC’s December Open Meeting on Dec. 12.


The post FCC to Consider New Licensing Rules for LPFM/Noncom Stations appeared first on Radio World.

Radio Duplication Rule Up for Discussion

Radio World - Fri, 11/29/2019 - 15:22

There have long been strong opinions on whether or not the Federal Communications Commission should modify — or maybe outright eliminate — the radio duplication rule.

Now, the FCC is looking for comment on that proposal, which currently prohibits any commonly owned commercial AM or FM station from duplicating more than 25% of its weekly broadcast hours a week if the community contours of the stations overlap to a specific degree.

[Read: FCC to Tackle Duplicative Programming Rule]

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was released by the commission on Nov. 25. Now the commission is asking whether the rule remains necessary to service the public interest goals of competition, programming diversity and spectrum efficiency.

It was back in 1964 that the commission first limited radio programming duplication by prohibiting FM stations in cities with populations over 100,000 from duplicating the programming of a co-owned AM station in the same local area for more than 50% of the FM stations broadcast day. The current version of the rule was adopted in 1992 and since there have been considerable changes in the industry since then, the NPRM is looking for comment on what modifications should be made.

Specifically, the notice will:

  • Ask whether the radio duplication rule remains necessary to foster competition and program diversity in light of significant changes to the radio broadcast industry since the current rule was adopted in 1992.
  • Seek comment on whether the radio duplication rule remains necessary to promote spectrum efficiency, or whether current demands for spectrum now push radio broadcasters to maximize efficiency and supply varied programming to the local market.
  • Seek comment on whether the rule should be modified or eliminated based on the changes that have occurred since adoption of the rule.
  • Seek comment on whether and how the rule should be modified to reflect the current radio market if the commission determines that the radio duplication rule should be retained.
  • Ask whether the rule should only apply to the FM band.
  • Ask whether the 25% of total programming hours threshold should be raised or lowered.
  • Ask whether the 50% overlap requirement should be raised or lowered.

“There are clearly circumstances in which some measure of program duplication in the same market is beneficial, such as rebroadcasting locally oriented programming that is often expensive to produce but is of particular interest to local listeners,” said FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr when the NPRM was released. “At the same time, there aren’t always going to be compelling reasons to rebroadcast 100% of another station’s programming. But those decisions should be determined in the market by the listening public and not in the pages of the Code of Federal Regulations.”

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel concurred with the NPRM as well, but said that she hopes “any changes made do not lead listeners to find fewer voices and sources of local news the next time they tune in.”

Comments can be made via the FCC’s ECFS database using Media Bureau Docket 19-122.


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User Report: WideOrbit Provides Podcasting for Federated Media

Radio World - Fri, 11/29/2019 - 14:38

MISHAWAKA, Ind. — In the summer of 2016, we launched our podcasting network to augment our growing linear and live streaming businesses. As our network grew, we had several opportunities to monetize our podcasting content with deeper sponsorships and requests to target ads across episodes and devices. While our existing podcasting solution was sufficient for basic functionality such as hosting multiple podcasts, organizing content by station, and uploading feeds to podcast directories, it lacked the advanced functionality to keep up with the growing popularity of podcasts and the associated demand from advertisers. Furthermore, our staff felt the existing monetization software was not intuitive or user-friendly and required complicated, manual ad insertion.

In 2019, after testing multiple alternate podcasting solutions, we decided to expand our relationship with our long-time media operations partner, WideOrbit. Their WO On Demand product could provide Federated Media the necessary advanced monetization functionality to scale our podcasting business immediately. Transitioning over to WO On Demand was simple because WO Streaming had been our live streaming platform for many years and, on the linear broadcast side of the business, WO Traffic was our system of record for some time.

[Read RW’s latest ebook on cybersecurity and studio disaster recovery]

Because our staff was already comfortable with the WideOrbit interface and workflow, training for WO On Demand was simple and quick. The workflow is a natural extension from WO Streaming for both our end users as well as our engineers. In addition, we have the flexibility to manage and monetize our content in many new ways. Today, we can offer: ad insertion for podcasts at the show, station or network levels; streamlined file management to update intros, promos and sponsorships; Dynamic station ID tag insertion for an enhanced listening experience; and “Broadcast-to-Podcast” ability to auto-create podcasts from previously recorded original content.

WideOrbit has been a trusted and reliable partner on many levels. They continue to evolve their products as the media landscape shifts and I’m looking forward to improvements such as repurposing on-air content into podcasts with separate dynamic ad insertion; adding an embeddable player for our website, blog and social media; and reducing ad load by optimizing ad placement and balancing with content.

For information, contact WideOrbit at 1-415-675-6700, Option 2, or visit www.wideorbit.com.

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Cybersecurity and Studio Disaster Recovery

Radio World - Fri, 11/29/2019 - 12:48

We see it every few months: A headline that a radio group or station has been hit by the latest cyber attack.

What we don’t see are the emails that then fly out from radio CEOs to their IT and engineering teams: “How do we make sure this never happens to us?” The latest Radio World ebook is intended to help radio technologists answer that question.

Is your network adequately prepared to defend against cybersecurity incursions? Where are the vulnerable points in a broadcast radio and streaming operation? What has our industry learned from recent ransomware attacks on several large radio groups?

Also, more and more makers of critical radio content management systems are building cloud architectures or cloud backups into their designs. What should radio managers and engineers know about these new offerings?

Veteran broadcast IT and networking expert Wayne Pecena provides a primer on the subject. We interview Chris Tarr of Entercom about best practices for cyber and ransomware protection. Consultant Gary Kline provides a list of questions that smart managers should be asking themselves. RCS and ENCO provide their perspectives as suppliers of mission-critical station systems.  Read it here.

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Radio TechCon Talks Tech

Radio World - Fri, 11/29/2019 - 09:18

LONDON — The United Kingdom’s Radio TechCon Conference covered a diverse range of topics this year. Taking place on Monday Nov. 25 at the IET [Institution of Engineering and Technology] in Central London, individual sessions covered subjects, ranging from the strategic to the practical.

The audience at TechCon 2019. All photos: Radio TechCon/Vincent Lo

Supported by the IET and by various specialist broadcasting companies, including: Broadcast Bionics; Arqiva; Broadcast Radio; RCS; and Calrec, more than 100 people from the U.K. broadcast radio industry attended the event.


Over the years, Radio TechCon has developed a strong reputation for the range of content it offers and this year was no exception. From moving major broadcasting studio complexes, such as Virgin Radio, TalkSport and the famous BBC Maida Vale music studios, through to improving the user experience for broadcasters and coping with change in professional situations, there was something on offer for just about everyone.

Dr. Lawrie Hallett explains how to build an SS-DAB MUX to the audience.

Perhaps one of the most strategically important topic covered this year was that of platform development and the challenges and practical implications of delivering broadcast audio via IP and mobile platforms (5G), as these become increasingly important for listeners.

Broadcast delivery via IP delivery is, as one of the session presenters, Simon Mason, head of broadcast radio technology at Arqiva, points out, far more expensive than FM delivery, which in turn is similarly more expensive than equivalent DAB delivery. The core on-going difficultly for broadcasters is the need to deliver via multiple platforms, each with its own incremental costs.

Since the demise of the Sound Broadcasting Equipment Show (SBES), some years back, Radio TechCon has increased the number of trade stands open across the day and situated in the main refreshment area. These companies, including HHB; Vortex; and Luci were busy showing equipment and discussing services over lunch and between sessions.


Dino Sofos, editor of Brexitcast (left) and Robin Pembrooke, director, content production systems, BBC speak about the ‘The Technology Behind Brexitcast.”

At least one company, Systembase, used Radio TechCon for the public launch of its latest product.  It has developed “SIPit  pro” to allow SIP compliant codecs from a variety of manufacturers to easily communicate with each other.

The product not only removes many of the networking issues associated with AoIP connectivity, but also it provides one-time configuration, such that a SIP configured device can be moved from location to location whilst still retaining the same fixed ID, rather like a roaming mobile phone.

As part of its remit to support the U.K. radio and audio industry, the company behind Radio TechCon (TBC Media Ltd.) also runs a master class for those potentially interested in a technically-based broadcasting career and organizes a bursary scheme for attendance of the main Radio TechCon event.

This year a wide range of industry organizations supported the various elements of the bursary scheme. These included Cleanfeed; Bauer Media; The UKRD Group and the European Broadcasting Union, along with further support from the main event sponsors.

With such wide-ranging support from across the U.K. radio broadcasting industry, and a sell-out full house, quite clearly Radio TechCon remains an essential event in the U.K. radio calendar.

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Chinese Broadcasters Collaborate with Fraunhofer IIS

Radio World - Fri, 11/29/2019 - 03:50

Fraunhofer IIS has signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s Administrative Bureau of Radio Stations of the Chinese National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) to strengthen the cooperation for the advancement of Digital Radio Mondiale in mainland China

From left to right are Yanzhou Wang, NRTA radio division; Guido Leisker, Fraunhofer IIS; Guoqiang Li, NRTA radio division; Bernd Linz, Fraunhofer IIS; Lida Zhang, NRTA radio division; Frederik Nagel, Fraunhofer IIS; Binbin Luo, Deputy Director, NRTA radio division; Bernhard Grill, Director of Fraunhofer IIS; Marc Gayer, Fraunhofer IIS; Toni Fiedler, Fraunhofer IIS; Shanshan Fu, Fraunhofer IIS, Thimmaiah Kuppanda Ganapathy, Fraunhofer IIS. © Udo Rink – Fraunhofer IIS.

According to Fraunhofer IIS, the MoU, which was signed at its headquarters in Germany, is based on “long-term mutual trust established in previous collaborations, and aims to further develop the cooperation with regard to the open terrestrial DRM standard, including technologies substantially developed by Fraunhofer IIS, such as the xHE-AAC audio codec and the Journaline text service.”

In addition, it says, the two parties will intensify their exchange of information on DRM technology, work on jointly promoting DRM technology, hold workshops on DRM technology, and conduct field trials to successfully drive the deployment of DRM in China.

“This MoU will further strengthen the relationship of Fraunhofer IIS with China’s broadcasting organizations and help both parties to collaborate even more closely on setting up the digital transmission ecosystems in TV, radio and the internet, introducing standards that deploy technologies driven by Fraunhofer IIS,” said Toni Fiedler, general manager of Fraunhofer IIS China.

“A new generation of information technology for the development of the radio and TV industries has brought unprecedented, profound changes and serious challenges,” said Binbin Luo, deputy director of the NRTA’s radio division.

“To drive the industry forward, we focus on cutting-edge technology and promote the development of best-in-class core technologies in key standards. The cooperation with the world’s leading standard research institutions such as Fraunhofer IIS will ensure the deployment of reliable, future-proof technology in China’s digital radio ecosystems.”

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Belgium Unites in Driving DAB+ Forward

Radio World - Thu, 11/28/2019 - 02:00

The author is communications manager for WorldDAB.

BRUSSELS — Addressing the audience at the WorldDAB General Assembly, VRT’s Paul Lembrechts acknowledged the changing nature of the radio industry in Europe, stating that the “digitization of the radio market is now a fact — it will replace the analog era in the foreseeable future.” He also highlighted VRT’s shifting focus toward DAB+ as the successor of FM.

Paul Lembrechts is CEO for VRT.

RTBF CEO Jean-Paul Philippot echoed this view, explaining RTBF’s vision of an alliance-like approach in which all industry players take an active part in digital distribution.


Referring to cooperation on distribution and competition on content, Philippot stressed the market’s need for collaboration between public and commercial radio, the retail and automotive sectors, as well as international bodies and organisations such as WorldDAB and RadioPlayer Worldwide.

According to Philippot, this new “competitive cooperation” is what led to the creation of maRadio.be, a cooperative consortium bringing together RTBF and most of the private players, large and small, from the French-speaking Belgian radio sector. It also opened the doors to regular DAB+ services in French-speaking Belgium — a launch that was officialised and celebrated at the start of November.

Wallonia joins its Flemish counterpart in launching DAB+ digital radio, with VRT having done so at the end of 2018. Commenting on the current state of the radio industry in Flanders, Lembrechts highlighted the growing popularity of DAB+ among Flemish people, explaining that 55% of the population has already heard of DAB+ and 9% of all listening in Flanders happens on DAB+. This, he said, is three times more than when the technology was launched 12 months earlier.

According to Lembrechts, the increasing popularity of DAB+ in Flanders is primarily the result of good cooperation between the major Flemish radio stations and the Flemish government. But, he added, it’s also related to the general popularity of radio as a medium, pointing out that people in Flanders “listen to the radio for about 3 hours and 31 minutes a day.”

VRT’s CEO also stressed the importance of DAB+ in relation to the EECC directive, which requires new cars across the European Union to include digital radio capabilities from 2021 onward. According to Lembrechts,

Jean-Paul Philippot is CEO for RTBF.


DAB+ in the car forms an important part of VRT’s digital radio strategy, given that 39% of the 600,000 new cars are already equipped with a DAB+ radio.

As for RTBF, the public broadcaster for Belgium’s French-speaking community has been a strong supporter of DAB+ for the past decade. RTBF currently operates two DAB+ layers, broadcasting a total of 25 DAB+ radio stations (11 public radios and 14 private networks, which is an exception in Europe) — 10 of which are only available on DAB+. The broadcaster’s mobile coverage stands at around 98% of the population.

On stage at the General Assembly, both CEOs stood side by side to reiterate the various benefits of DAB+ digital radio, placing particular emphasis on the wide range of content available on DAB+, the improved sound quality offered by the technology, and its subscription-free model.

As DAB+ in Belgium continues to develop and reach maturity, it’s clear that Belgium’s French and Dutch-speaking public broadcasters are making sure that listeners across the country are able to reap the benefits of DAB+ digital radio.

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The Demise of Radionomy Marks the End of Free Streaming for Internet Radio Broadcasters

Radio Survivor - Wed, 11/27/2019 - 20:06

After the demise of the first incarnation of Live365 in 2016, European streaming platform Radionomy remained the last platform to offer free streaming to internet radio stations. However, the writing was already on the wall earlier this year when Radionomy left the U.S. market. Though not confirmed, one might conjecture this was a result of a lawsuit filed in 2016 by major record labels – including Arista and Sony Music – alleging the platform had failed to pay U.S. statutory performance royalties since “late 2014.”

Now Radionomy announces it is fully shutting down worldwide. In its place, the company is offering to migrate stations over to Shoutcast for Business. Recall that Radionomy acquired the stalwart online radio platform along with the longstanding Winamp MP3 and internet radio player app in 2014 from AOL, which otherwise was ready to shut it all down.

As RAIN News notes, a big difference between Radionomy and Shoutcast is that the former purported to cover performance royalties (the same ones it was sued over charges it hadn’t paid). In the U.S. if your station uses Shoutcast and plays music then you need to take care of royalty payments to SoundExchange separately, on your own.

Prior to closing, Radionomy offered completely free radio stream hosting, music licenses covered, with no limits on audience size. The trade-off for broadcasters was that they had to accommodate a few minutes of ads per hour, and stations with tiny listenerships risked being cut off.

Now, there are still a number of companies offering free internet radio hosting, however it is up to broadcasters to secure the proper royalties in their home countries. Of course, if your station only airs talk programming with no copyrighted music – that includes even music used in bumpers or to fill time – then you’re in luck. But if you play any music at all, then you’re on the hook for royalties.

At least in the U.S., the thing to note about royalties is that it’s up to the broadcaster to proactively contact SoundExchange, ASCAP or BMI to begin payment. Conceivably you could start broadcasting tomorrow without doing so, but the risk is that once one of the rights organizations finds you, they’ll hound you – or maybe even sue you – until you pay up.

The Final End of an Era

This seems like a logical end to a sequence of events that began in 2016, when the Small Webcaster Settlement Act expired, ending a 14 year period where small and hobbyist internet broadcasters paid discounted royalty rates intended to reflect their mostly low-revenue and effectively non-profit nature. While services like the revived Live365 still offer turn-key hosting that covers music licensing, the costs begin at about $59 a month or $708 a year. Certainly this is less expensive than a lot of hobbies (golf?) – and less expensive than operating a licensed broadcast station – it’s still prohibitively expensive for many would-be internet broadcasters interested in creating the kind of niche, underground or community-focused stations that the internet should be a natural home to.

I do want to point out that the costs are not Live365’s fault. Royalty payments are fixed and unavoidable, and hosting live radio streams costs them money. It’s great that a company like this is available for those who can take advantage, but it must be noted that not all can do so.

To me, the irony is always that it’s free to upload hundreds of hours of video to YouTube or broadcast endless hours of live streams. It’s ironic because it’s far more costly to stream high-bandwidth HD video than the comparatively tiny internet radio streams. But one of the world’s largest companies (Google) never chose to essentially underwrite a robust independent internet radio ecosystem, just video.

Though there are “pirate” radio broadcasters on YouTube who flout copyright restrictions, it’s a game of cat and mouse to stay in operation. YouTube does have agreements with music labels to allow some videos to contain copyrighted music, but not all songs and artists are covered, and using such music can impact a YouTuber’s ability to generate revenue on the platform.

The New Radio Pirates Don’t Pay Royalties

At various points in the last 20 years, internet radio has been trumpeted as the next, legal, incarnation of “pirate radio.” That’s more due to the lack of formal licensing requirements and lack of indecency restrictions than anything else. But the death of reasonable royalty rates means that dream of “legal” pirate radio is over.

That said, a broadcaster that streams music without paying royalties is ostensibly a pirate. So maybe the new radio pirates are ones that set up streams and don’t bother to pay royalties. Just like terrestrial pirates, they would take measures to obscure their identities and where they’re streaming from in order to make it hard for SoundExchange or BMI to track them down and send a bill. Assuming they’re successful in avoiding identification, their biggest risk is having their host shut down their stream. Of course, just like the terrestrial pirate who loses one transmitter to the FCC while remaining on the run, it’s just a matter of finding a new host or streaming server to get back on the tubes.

My question: do these new pirates exist? Or does the seemingly omniscient surveillance and tracking of the internet make a private enforcement authority seem more threatening than any FCC or Ofcom?

The post The Demise of Radionomy Marks the End of Free Streaming for Internet Radio Broadcasters appeared first on Radio Survivor.


FCC Media Bureau News Items - Wed, 11/27/2019 - 20:00


FCC Media Bureau News Items - Wed, 11/27/2019 - 20:00


FCC Media Bureau News Items - Wed, 11/27/2019 - 20:00

Notice Concerning Ex Parte Status of Information Related to the FCC's Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Wed, 11/27/2019 - 20:00
Public Notice Regarding the Ex Parte Status of Information Related to the FCC's ACDDE

Broadcast Actions

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Wed, 11/27/2019 - 20:00

C-Band Plan: Something For All, Except Satellite Ops

Radio World - Wed, 11/27/2019 - 12:42

FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s decision on how to clear C-band spectrum for 5G is a partial victory for cable operators and broadcasters, who use that satellite spectrum to deliver their program networks, and a big smackdown for the satellite companies that provide those content delivery services.

Pai signaled on Nov. 18 that the agency would clear 280 megahertz of the midband spectrum (3.7–4.2 MHz) via an FCC auction. Cable operators are OK with that arrangement as long as they are compensated for moving to smaller spectrum quarters, namely the 200 megahertz left after the FCC creates a guard band of 20 megahertz to protect against interference.

[Read: NAB, Content Companies See Protection of C-Band Services as “Critical”]

Some cable operators would have preferred the FCC clear more spectrum. ACA Connects and Charter Communications had proposed clearing 370 megahertz, and ultimately perhaps all of it, with network delivery moving to fiber.

Broadcasters were OK with an FCC auction, too, as long as there was enough satellite spectrum left over for their networks. They diverge from cable interests on the issue of fiber delivery, saying that would be too risky given that an errant backhoe could do in their network programming feeds.

Comcast, with both cable and TV station interests, told the FCC that 300 megahertz was enough to clear and the rest must be preserved for future innovative video uses. In fact, it said the final order needed to have an “unqualified assurance” that the FCC would not try to clear more than that 300 megahertz.

FCC officials speaking on background confirmed their plan was to reserve the remaining 200 MHz for continued satellite delivery of incumbent programming services.

The FCC said the auction will be held by the end of 2020, but it will not vote on a final order until early next year, so there will be a race to come up with a framework for the auction before that time. FCC officials suggested the regulator’s experienced auction staff was up to the task.

The big loser in the announcement is the C-Band Alliance, a point FCC officials were not quiet about. CBA comprises the major satellite companies that will be giving up spectrum in the auction. They had pitched a private sale, saying that was the best and fastest way to free up the spectrum. Many in Congress had disagreed, arguing that the money from the spectrum should go to the U.S. Treasury to fund activities like rural broadband rollouts and emergency communications. The FCC appeared to agree with that logic.

In a background call with reporters, top FCC officials said that the CBA’s private sale approach would not bring spectrum to market in a fair and transparent way, and would instead facilitate backroom deals. Comcast concurred, telling the FCC “the clock has run out on seriously considering CBA’s approach.”

The FCC plan is to move directly to an order on the auction, which Pai said he expected to be voted by early next year, rather than a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with additional time for public comment. But there will have to be an NPRM for the auction framework and specific rules.


The post C-Band Plan: Something For All, Except Satellite Ops appeared first on Radio World.