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FCC Media Bureau News Items - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 21:00
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House Moves Ahead on Pirate Act

Radio World - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 20:28

Lawmakers are one step closer to bringing the PIRATE Act to life. Again.

The PIRATE Act (H.R. 583) has been unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. Once again.

And, once again, it has now headed to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation — just as it did in July 2018 before the resolution expired in committee without being addressed. Since no action was taken during that session of Congress, the bill was reintroduced in January of this year by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) in an effort to target pirate radio operators by upping fines and giving the Federal Communications Commission more enforcement authority.

[Read: Broadcasters Support New PIRATE Legislation]

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly reached out via letter on April 5 to extend his appreciation to New York members of the House of Representatives for its most recent efforts to address pirate radio activity.

The passage of the resolution by the House brings the country one step closer to expanding the enforcement tools available to take effective action against many of the nation’s pirate radio stations, O’Rielly said.

O’Rielly has often called on Congress to give more statutory authority to the commission in its efforts to combat pirate radio operations.

“Throughout my tenure at the Federal Communications Commission, I have spoken out strongly in support of increased enforcement efforts against this illegal use of the airwaves, which is why I am encouraged by passage of H.R. 583,” he wrote. “While the commission has certainly made strides to improve our enforcement activities against pirate operations, statutory reforms are a key part of adding even more teeth to our efforts.”

O’Rielly also made a unique request of asking lawmakers to actively discourage their constituents in the greater New York City radio market from facilitating pirate radio activities in any way — including listening, advertising or leasing space to those operators.

He also asked lawmakers to share locations of known pirate operations with the FCC’s enforcement bureau. The New York radio market is one of the most pirate-laden markets in the U.S. when it comes to illegal unlicensed radio activity.

“In addition to flagrantly violating federal law, pirate broadcasts undermine and even block the ability of licensed, legal broadcasters to provide vital services such as emergency alerts, critical weather updates, political information and news, thereby harming the listening public in the greater New York City radio market,” O’Rielly wrote. “In addition to these concerns, illegal use of the airwaves inflicts additional economic harm on legal broadcasters who stand to lose listeners and revenue or suffer interference at the hands of pirate broadcasters.”

The proposal introduced in this 116th Congress contains the same language as earlier legislation. The act proposes to hike fines for violations up to $100,000 per day (up from the current maximum daily penalty of about $19,200) and would give the government the authority to impose a maximum penalty of $2 million for illegal radio broadcasters.

Other provisions include creation of a yearly summary report of pirate activities; introduction of annual sweeps of the top-five pirate radio markets; and new authority granted to the commission on issuing Notice of Apparent Liabilities. The legislation also calls for the creation of an online database that lists all legal U.S. stations and suspected pirate operators.

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The post House Moves Ahead on Pirate Act appeared first on Radio World.

Community Broadcaster: A Time to Give

Radio World - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 19:23

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

You can feel it in the air and it’s not just tree pollen. It is the energy that can only come during a pledge drive.

Noncommercial radio stations around the nation host/air fundraising efforts now, or around this time, every year. They pull out all the stops, too. Special guests, marquee programming, blink-and-you’ll-miss-them features that only come around during a pledge campaign. Heck, some stations even call this project anything but a pledge drive, just to make sure you don’t think of it as a pledge drive! But, as the saying goes, it is what it is, and it is a time-honored tradition.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Post-Mueller, It’s Radio for the Save]

The noncommercial radio rite of spring is no doubt familiar to even casual radio listeners. There have been plenty of parodies. Jokes aside, few moments for stations are as critical as on-air fundraising. These efforts to raise operating capital shape a station’s next few months and up to a year. If you listen to your area community or public radio station, I encourage you to not tune away if you hear someone talking about donating. Instead, lean in and listen. You may discover compelling reasons to take out your credit card and call the pledge line, or go to a website, to contribute.

Your local noncommercial radio station contributes to your city’s culture in ways you may not always think about. Sometimes, it is doing so by providing incisive journalism and conversation. You do not have to look far to find local stations engaging residents around ideas and issues. Alaska’s Raven Radio is one of scores of stations that give neighbors a lifeline to the news. Utah’s KRCL makes room for community voices around a host of matters of concern. Noncommercial radio helps keep audiences informed. As more states are experiencing news deserts, these stations’ importance is only amplified.

Other times, stations give your town something to be proud of through music, live performances and boosting a regional scene. These organizations provide tangible benefits, by serving as a pillar for local arts. Oregon’s KPOV is one of many to host local concerts and touring acts coming through. This station is hardly alone. Where commercial radio largely neglects local acts, noncommercial radio is often the sole broadcast venue an independent artist can approach.

Directly and indirectly, noncommercial radio’s connection to local arts create jobs, tourism and much more. As Creative Many puts it, “Art is not only a driver for our economy, it is a key expression of our identity — creating connections across cultures, strengthening communities, and driving innovation … According to Americans for the Arts, the arts employ 4.8 million workers and are a robust $730 billion industry which contributes 4.2% to the nation’s GDP — a larger share of the economy than the transportation, tourism and agriculture industries. The arts and culture industries are one of the only economic sectors to yield a trade surplus (of nearly $30 billion), creating job opportunities in local communities that cannot be outsourced.”

You might think stations this rich in hearts and minds would be able to do all they do without on-air fundraising. Alas, that is certainly not the case. Those people asking for you to call and to give online genuinely need your assistance.

Politico points out that there remain persistent misconceptions about noncommercial media and federal funding. Many Americans believe public and community television and radio are wholly supported by the U.S. government. In reality, the numbers are quite small. In addition, the number of stations that receive money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the form of Community Service Grants is dwarfed by the legion of outlets that do not receive or are otherwise not eligible for such monies. There is a good chance your local station gets little to no such dollars. Those organizations truly do depend on listener contributions.

So, this season, if you are perusing radio stations wherever you are, make sure to stop off on the dial to give a listen to noncommercial radio. Maybe you will happen upon a pledge drive somewhere. Tune in for a few moments and hear what hosts have to say about their outlet’s local. Investment. And, if you can, consider making a donation. You will undoubtedly delight a station with your donation, and you will contribute to media that needs you.

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The post Community Broadcaster: A Time to Give appeared first on Radio World.

College Radio Watch: Moonies, Nirvana, and Trent Reznor’s College Radio Ties

Radio Survivor - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 16:55

This week, so many fascinating college radio stories caught my eye. We learn about college radio’s profound influence on music culture in the 1980s and 1990s in a piece about the marketing of Nirvana as well as in Trent Reznor’s recent speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Reznor explains that college radio […]

The post College Radio Watch: Moonies, Nirvana, and Trent Reznor’s College Radio Ties appeared first on Radio Survivor.

NPR’s Sucherman Seeks Digital Partnerships

Radio World - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 10:56
Joel Sucherman. His email signature line ends with, “Tell your voice assistant to ‘Play NPR,’ or play your station by name.”
credit: Eric Lee, NPR

WASHINGTON — National Public Radio believes that growing 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.

Sucherman, vice president of new platform partnerships, is responsible for increasing the reach of NPR on emerging platforms while focusing on voice-activated devices. Promoted to the position in April by Chief Digital Officer Thomas Hjelm, Sucherman leads the media company’s efforts to develop strategic partnerships with Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung, Microsoft and other technology partners.

The rising popularity of personal assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home is fueling the new audio renaissance and makes Sucherman’s work critical, according to the organization.   

Sucherman, 54, came to NPR after having founded the first streaming video group at USA Today; his radio roots date to his time as a Capitol Hill correspondent in Washington. Over the past 10 years he has helped shape NPR’s digital strategy, including working with and guiding the team responsible for a digital portfolio that includes NPR.org, the NPR and NPR One apps, and products delivering live and on-demand audio to the connected car and home, the company said.

[Voice-Controlled Wait Wait Quiz “Checked All the Boxes” for NPR]

NPR has put a lot of resources into the development of multiple digital platforms that stretch the network’s digital fluency. The public broadcaster’s efforts include a Public Radio Incubation Lab, consisting of product managers, designers and technologists who work four-month rotations solving public radio’s pressing digital challenges, according to a press release.

Sucherman, who regularly travels to Silicon Valley and Seattle to meet with technology companies, said a recent survey by NPR and Edison Research pegged the voice-activated smart-speaker market at 53 million people in the United States.     

Radio World spoke with Sucherman about his vision of audio distribution and the challenges emerging technologies present to traditional radio broadcasters.

Radio World: Give us a summary of what you have worked on and your immediate focus these days.

Joel Sucherman: I came on board to work with member stations on improving digital acumen and reaching audiences in the digital space. First, it was building out a blog network of local blogs that were of critical importance. Then, I took over the product team, which manages NPR apps, the website, podcasts and social media. Then, it became clear that emerging platforms and, more specifically smart speakers, would become my primary focus.   

Today, I manage relationships with the big tech companies to ensure we are where we want to be, so that listeners can find public radio no matter how they choose to tune in.

RW: You are heavily involved with NPR’s growing presence on voice-activated platforms such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Bixby and Microsoft Cortana. What makes voice-activated services so critical?

Sucherman: Within just four years of their introduction, 53 million Americans now have a smart speaker in their home. These are what I call beautiful radios, and they are now in kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and garages. Our research shows that more than half of Americans that have a smart speaker have more than one. It’s really phenomenal growth. Almost a third of folks that have them have three or more.

You always have to eye with some caution when someone else owns the platform, so to speak; then you are beholden to them. But so much radio listening is happening on these devices now that we see it as a huge opportunity for us. Right now, there is a great synergy between these platforms and public radio.     

RW: When you talk about forming these partnerships, what do they typically look like?

Sucherman: Well, there is an exchange of value. I can’t really get into specifics of our arrangements and agreements. It’s not one-sided. We know full well the value of public radio and how many people are listening on various platforms. We know that right now we have over 2 million hours of listening to NPR programming per week on smart speakers. In fact, about 21% of all listening to public radio digital streams comes through smart speakers.

Companies like Amazon, Google and Apple are well aware of the power of NPR to drive those listening levels. They are happy to have us help people find value in these devices. This is kind of interesting. What we see time and time again is these companies take older technology and put it in or on new technology. We think it helps put more of a shine on our products.

Radio needs to make sure its content is available and easy to find on these appliances. Now we have started to experiment some with interactivity. Asking: How do we make the product more conversational? How do we begin to answer questions in that conversational tone?

We have 50 years of archives to dive into. That’s a lot of content.

RW: And you envision adding an “ask NPR” element to your offerings?

Sucherman: Yes. So for example, take the day Tom Petty passed away. We maybe had a 30-second story about his death in the newscast. Then, say, maybe there was a seven-minute segment from “Morning Edition.” Then somewhere, perhaps “Fresh Air” interviewed him in a longer 40-minute segment. So the challenge is to move people along from one place to the next and getting deeper into NPR content. But what are the magic words to get all of that accomplished?

Those are the sort of things we are working through. The goal is to get listeners to engage deeply.   

RW: Take me inside NPR and how decisions are made about digital initiatives. What is the business planning process?

Sucherman: Producing great content is the recipe for success on all of our digital platforms. The business model of National Public Radio is to be sustainable in the digital world. Overall we won’t have to completely reconfigure our business model if we continue to produce great content.

[NPR’s Mohn Announces Plans to Step Down]

RW: Seems like the immersion of NPR’s digital brands know no limits.

Sucherman: Oh, yes. We are talking about connected TVs and connected homes. We even have NPR updates in Samsung smart refrigerators. It’s all about being able to meet listeners however they choose to tune in. We are even interested in the shared economy of Uber and Lyft and the opportunities there.

The podcast group here still rolls up to me on the product side. There is so much crossover between app platforms, podcast platforms and emerging platforms that it makes sense to do it that way.

Podcasting continues to grow for us. We now have better measurement of podcasting efforts with our new podcast measurement system called RAD [Remote Audio Data], which is being deployed. It shares listening metrics from podcast apps straight back to publishers. NPR One’s Android app is configured to read RAD tags now, and iOS will do the same.

In-car is, of course, a major focus. All of this digital fluency is really a collaborative effort between the digital media group here, programming and the news division along with sponsorship.

RW: You work closely with the likes of Google and Apple. Those companies want to control the audio experience of users. How do you view those relationships?

Sucherman: There are a lot of ways to look at it and turn that question around. Here is an example of how we view it. About eight years ago, we began to focus on the connected car and how that would impact how people listen to “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.” It became important that we focused on how things would look on what has become more like a tablet or a computer screen. Of course, each automaker had their own screen and vision of what things would look like.  

So as it came to a duopoly, as it has today with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, we welcomed that consolidation. As an app developer and publisher it makes things so much easier to consolidate around just a couple of standards.  

NPR Team members at work: Senior Interaction Designer Vince Farquharson, Senior Product Manager Emerging Platforms Ha-Hoa Hamano, and Software Engineers Kris Kagei and Kaivon Jones.
credit: Wanyu Zhang, NPR

RW: With so much focus on voice assistants, has app development taken a backseat at NPR?

Sucherman: Good question. The NPR and NPR One apps are well established. With NPR One, we are beginning to personalize offerings and have it understand your listening habits, much like Pandora does on the music side. Maybe in the morning you want hard news, but then for the afternoon drive home you are interested in podcasts.

The number of NPR podcasts has increased significantly along with updates via Twitter.

[At this point in the interview, Sucherman’s office smart speaker engages with Alexa, interrupting the conversation for a moment, which leads to laughter.]

Oh, sorry about that! Since we try to look at what the world might look like five or 10 years from now, we are trying to balance a lot of platforms. We try to think as much as possible about creating content that is flexible to fit whatever the platform might be.

[Community Broadcaster: Radio’s Smart Audio Moment]

RW: Any worries that autonomous vehicles will bring a more hostile environment for audio houses that produce content?

Sucherman: The focus on our in-car offering continues to expand. As a traditional radio company, we have to consider what autonomous vehicles might bring to that space. I will say that in one sense, motion sickness might be our friend [chuckles], in that not everyone will want to watch video in a moving vehicle.

Autonomous is an on-going development and will be for years. It’s very early. Public radio has been able to weather a number of challenges through the years with a focus on meeting the needs of listeners.    

RW: What other trends are you focused on that might happen in the next five to ten years?

Sucherman: So as we think about voice assistants and smart speakers, we begin to think about a voice-first world. Voice-activated assistants such as Alexa, Assistant, Siri, Cortana and Bixby are going to be with us everywhere. Google and Amazon are talking about voice assistants that are with you all the time. On your phone, in your car and in your home. So all of your queries will become voice queries, no matter where you are. Making voice queries is so much quicker than typing things out.

We also think screen environments will still be very important in the voice space. Both Amazon and Google have spent a lot of time thinking about the screen and visual companion content. We hope to be part of those solutions to provide knowledge, entertainment and information.  

RW: What is the next great partnership for NPR as you seek to engage with other emerging technologies?

Sucherman: Our digital portfolio continues to expand. Things are moving so quickly, especially in the voice assistant space. We are growing. We already have one scrum team in place devoted to emerging platforms like voice assistants and will soon be spinning up a second soon. A team is generally made up of a product manager, voice experience designer, two software engineers, a quality assurance specialist and a “scrum master” or project manager.

It’s a matter of trying to realize our ambitions in the space as they exist today.

And while Amazon and Google have certainly dominated the voice assistant space in this country to this point, Apple was really first out there with Siri, so I expect them to fight back and make more inroads. They launched a Homepod last year, and while it is a high-end speaker so it isn’t competing with the Mini or the Dot, I expect them to be a player yet.

I see the way we think about voice assistants today changing. Right now, it is more of a fetch mentality. “I want this, so you are going to get it for me.” It will become much more conversational in ways that is an always on experience. It will provide more nuanced meaning and better overall experiences for you.

The last thing I’ll say is I believe privacy and security will become even a greater concern to people. Certainly, people have the right to feel safe and that they are bringing these devices into their home that the devices are good houseguests.   

The post NPR’s Sucherman Seeks Digital Partnerships appeared first on Radio World.

Cordillera Communications, LLC, Scripps Media, Inc., and Quincy Media, Inc

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 22:00
Granted the transfer of control of subsidiaries of Cordillera Communications LLC holding television licenses to Scripps Media, LLC, and the assignment of a television license from Cordillera Communications LLC to Quincy Media, Inc

Modification of Satellite Market for Stephens County, GA

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 22:00
Granted satellite modification petitions of Stephens County, GA

Broadcast Actions

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 22:00
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Deane Brothers Broadcasting Corp., Licensee of WJDF(FM), Orange, Massachusetts

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 22:00
MB revokes license for WJDF(FM), Orange, Massachusetts after licensee fails to pay delinquent regulatory fees or show cause why payment should be waived or deferred

High School Radio Week Arriving

Radio World - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 20:41

Ralph Martin is director, Radio Conservatory of the Arts at Vacaville Christian Schools in Vacaville, Calif.

High School Radio Day began as the brainchild of Pete Bowers, retired director of WBFH, Bloomfield Hills High School, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. It was a chance to get high school radio stations together, and it worked brilliantly. It ultimately sparked more than a day to celebrate. Broadcast teachers across the country began to support each other and stay in contact throughout the year.

WAHS, Avondale High School, Auburn Hills, Mich.

This sense of unity lead to a national network that includes a weekly live coast-to-coast show; a teacher support forum; a syndicated programming sharing network and lasting friendships of both students and teachers across the country. Now expanded to eight days and redesignated, High School Radio Week, the event has greater flexibility to allow schools with limited resources, schedule their events any day within the week, making it High School Radio Day, or go all out for the entire High School Radio Week.

[Read: High School Radio Week Approaches]

Starting Saturday, April 6, many radio stations across the country will celebrate in their local way for eight days.

In Auburn Hills, Mich., WAHS,  Avondale High School, will have an open “coffee studio” during the school day to encourage students to stop by, study, listen and learn about the radio station program. They’ll also have a donation drive the entire week, inviting community and alumni to be guests on evening shows with current students.

KOEM, Mesquite Independent School District, Mesquite, Texas

KEOM, Mesquite Independent School District, Mesquite, Texas, has a field trip planned to KZMJ/Majic 94.5 FM and KBFB/The Beat 97.9 FM (both owned by Urban One) in the morning. That afternoon, they’ll travel to the transmitter site/tower.

To the south, in Galveston, Texas, Ball High School’s KTOR/The Tornado, will celebrate with a marathon broadcast from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. one day. The student hosts will anchor the live eight-hour broadcast featuring in-studio and call-in guests.

KTOR, Ball High School, Galveston, Texas

KVCB, Vacaville Christian Schools, Vacaville, Calif., plans to get a bit crazy for the occasion. They’re capping the week off with a live 24-hour marathon with a twist — sending a coded message into outer space inviting alien spaceships to land on the school’s football field.

They’ll simulcast their show’s live audio into outer space all night using a series of modulated LED lights on the school roof. They plan to keep the football stadium lights on as a landing guide (as if an advanced civilization capable of interstellar travel needs landing lights). A team of remote student broadcasters, in tents and with binoculars, will check in from time to time to report on any UFOs sited or landing.

Meanwhile, in the studio, local bands will play space-themed songs live, and studio guests will be asked to offer a message to prospective space aliens friends. Listeners will be encouraged to call in to give their message. Other high school radio stations have expressed an interest in joining in so this will, no doubt, become a fun joint venture!

You can expect innovative programming all week long at your local high school station. Look for professional guest broadcasters; community musicians and artists; and public leaders to join the kids in entertaining and informative collaborations. It’s all an exciting glimpse into what these aspiring broadcast kids do all year long. If you’re not within listening range on FM, no worries; most high school stations also stream online!

KVCB, Vacaville Christian High School, Vacaville, Calif.

For more information, visit http://hsradionetwork.com.

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The post High School Radio Week Arriving appeared first on Radio World.

Bruce Reese Dies, Led Bonneville and Hubbard Radio

Radio World - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 17:14
Bruce Reese

Bruce Reese has died, according to an email to employees from Bonneville International President Darrell K. Brown.

“We are grateful for Bruce’s service to Bonneville and his commitment to community,” Brown wrote in the email. The National Association of Broadcasters also released a statement from NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith.

“NAB and the entire broadcast industry is saddened to hear of the passing of our friend and former Bonneville President Bruce Reese,” Smith said. “Bruce’s accomplishments in broadcasting — former NAB Joint Board Chair, former National Radio Award Winner and chair of the NAB Education Foundation — were surpassed only by his commitment to charity and community service. Broadcasting is a better business and the world was a better place because of my friend Bruce Reese.”

Bruce also served as a director of the Associated Press.

[Reese Tells Lawmakers: ‘Unreasonable’ Royalties Need to Go]

Reese was a lawyer by trade and training; he once characterized his trajectory to the radio industry as a series of “happy accidents.” He joined Bonneville in 1984 as the company’s general counsel in 1984 and was named president in 1996, a role he held until 2010.

In April 2011, St. Paul-based Hubbard Radio acquired 17 radio stations from Bonneville International and Reese was named Hubbard president and CEO. In July 2014, Reese passed the reins to Hubbard CEO and Chair Ginny Morris.

According to Brown’s email, funeral arrangements have not been shared. Reese is survived by his wife, seven children, daughters- and sons-in-law and grandchildren.  

The post Bruce Reese Dies, Led Bonneville and Hubbard Radio appeared first on Radio World.

Jünger Audio Joins Telos Alliance

Radio World - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 17:03

The Telos Alliance says it has added Jünger Audio’s processing solutions to its portfolio under a new exclusive agreement with the company.

The company says this is a global agreement. “We are essentially a sales and marketing arm to sell their products globally, so we are combining forces with their product team,” a Telos Alliance spokeswoman said. “It’s about supporting the audio ecosystem and giving the customer more choices when it comes to the gear they need for their particular project.”

In addition to selling, marketing and supporting Jünger products, the Telos Alliance will work with woks audio GmbH to develop enhancements for existing solutions and new products, the company says.

[NAB Exhibitor Viewpoint: Tom Swidarski, The Telos Alliance]

The Telos Alliance will display Jünger Audio processing solutions in booth SU3921 at NAB Show.

The Telos Alliance owns brands including Axia Audio, Linear Acoustic, Minnetonka Audio, Omnia Audio, Telos Alliance, Telos Infinity, Telos Systems and 25-Seven Systems.

The post Jünger Audio Joins Telos Alliance appeared first on Radio World.

WWTC Moves in With KKMS

Radio World - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 14:49
Fig. 1: The KKMS radio towers point north into the metro.

It is happening more and more, with property values going up: AM stations sharing transmitter sites with other stations for the benefit of both.

Case in point, 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.

The tower site for 1280 kHz WWTC was on the west side of the metro, combined with 1570 kHz KDIZ. Consulting engineer Carl T. “Tom” Jones of CT Jones in Springfield, Va., was hired for the project, and his study showed WWTC could increase from 5 kW day and night to 10 kW day and 15 kW night by moving to the south side of town.

Yes, that’s right — they could have more power at night than day. That helps overcome night interference!

THE SITE

Fig. 1 shows towers at the 980 kHz KKMS site in Eagan, a south suburb of the Twin Cities. It was a prime candidate for diplexing two AM signals. All four towers are now used for both stations. No new towers were added and no changes were made.

Tower lighting power is via Austin brand isolation/lighting transformers, commonly called Austin Rings. Lighting chokes can change tower impedance a bit. Ring transformers don’t have that problem.

All patterns point north-northeast. The study showed WWTC would lose a little coverage to the west, but would gain in high population areas. For perspective, most AM directional patterns in Minnesota point north with nulls to the east, south and west, protecting existing stations in the U.S.

This new site on the south side of the market makes a lot of sense.

TIGHT SCHEDULE

Steve Smit, Salem engineer in the Twin Cities, was a busy man during this project.

Fig. 2: Water half-filled trenches to the towers

First, there was a year of planning. Construction started in late summer of 2018, when there were 95-degree Fahrenheit days in September, followed by 40-degree weather two weeks later. This is Minnesota!

Steve had to manage this new work while doing all the necessary engineer duties required to keep four stations running.

SLIP SLIDING

Trenches were dug to each of the four towers at a depth of 4-1/2 feet (See Fig. 2).

All was going well until 3 inches of rain drenched the site, causing trench bank cave-ins. The top layer of cushioning sand washed away in places. They had to dig to recover the transmission lines, sample lines, control lines and power cables by clearing away debris and rocks. Sand was then put in again before final trench closure. The soil is a mixture of clay, field stone and sand that was very greasy and slippery after the rain.

What a mess. But they got it done.

[Radio Ranger Rides Into the Sunset] THE PHASOR Fig. 3: One of the three-bay tower cabinets

Kurt Gorman and crew at Phasetek Inc. of Quakertown, Pa., rebuilt a used phasor from Salem’s 1300 kHz KKOL in Seattle. They were also able to reuse some parts from other Salem network stations (see. Fig. 3).

The antenna coupling unit/filter cabinets were new, but again benefited from some used components inside. Concrete pads were poured at each of the four towers to support the 4 ft. x 3 ft. x 12 ft. cabinets containing antenna coupling networks and filters for the two stations. Fences had to be rebuilt to accommodate the change.

Fig. 4 shows the newly constructed antenna coupling network for KKMS. You will note there is no RF contactor to change from day to night patterns. That station has just one pattern with the same 5 kW power for day and night. That is very convenient!

Fig. 4: The KKMS antenna coupling network

Fig. 5 is an antenna coupling network for WWTC. The center bay, of each 12-foot cabinet, is a combining network, which is seen in Fig. 6. All nicely done.

THE BUILDING

The station was built in the 1960s for one AM with the possibility of an FM in the future. All equipment was on the main level. No thought was given to expanding.

Fortunately, there is a basement, as is the custom in almost all Minnesota buildings. The basement area was rebuilt to accommodate two transmitters and the WWTC phasor system. Wiring had to be bored through cast concrete walls, and air conditioning was installed.

Fig. 5: WWTC’s coupling network THE TRANSMITTERS

A used Harris 3DX50 transmitter was brought in from KKOL in Seattle, then tuned to run on 1280 kHz at 10 kW day and 15 kW night. It is loafing along in this application. (Interestingly, Steve had helped install that transmitter back in 2005, when he worked in Seattle.)

This transmitter was built to run on 480 volt three-phase power, so new electrical service was added. The list of items to be completed went on and on.

Fig. 7 shows Steve Smit checking the WWTC common point impedance on the newly rebuilt and operational phasor. To his back is a Nautel ND-5 backup transmitter from WWTC’s original transmitter site. There is also an equipment rack and the Harris 3DX50.

Fig. 6: The combiner network just before final hookup

The KKMS transmitter and phasor room remained the same. In Fig. 8, Steve is checking readings at the phasor, with two Gates 5 transmitters as alternate mains. This is a good arrangement with two equally-capable transmitters that substitute for each other on a regular basis.

MOM

RF Method of Moment proofs were performed several years ago by Tom Jones and this time were proofed by Kurt Gorman.

MOMs, as you know, avoid frequent monitor point measurements on the pattern for KKMS, along with day and night monitor point readings at WWTC. Of particular importance were monitor points on the somewhat restrictive WWTC night pattern. They had to be read during the day, resulting in some listener complaints.

Fig. 7: WWTC transmitters and phasor

Kurt Gorman filed the FCC paperwork. Approval was granted in early January 2019.

The stations are 100-percent operational, and the staff is happy to have this project completed. The timing was good. Temperatures dropped to 30 degrees below zero (the actual temperature!) for several days later in January. You wouldn’t want to work on an AM under those conditions!

PROGRAMMING

The station’s programming is not all automated or from a bird. About 25% of aired material is locally produced for the four Salem stations in the Twin Cities. They find it is important to be connected with listeners, via live talk, in the market.

Fig. 8: The KKMS transmitter room THREE IN ONE

KDIZ, the 1570 KHz non-directional station, moved from the west site, to KYCR’s three-tower transmitter location in Golden Valley, Minn, in March 2019. (Salem owns that one too.)

This was just one more combining project for Steve Smit.  

Michael Patton of Michael Patton & Associates in Baton Rouge, La., was hired to retune the 3DX50 transmitter for WWTC, as well as a Nautel ND-5 transmitter for KDIZ.  

In the end, Salem consolidated three transmitter sites down to just two, each with two stations. The studios are all at the KKMS/WWTC site, where Steve’s office is.  Very convenient!

Comment on this or any article. Write to radioworld@futurenet.com. We’re always looking for good facility project stories to share.

Mark Persons, WØMH, is a Certified Professional Broadcast Engineer and has more than 40 years’ experience. His website is www.mwpersons.com.

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Pro Audio Answers Podcasting’s Call

Radio World - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 11:41
Dan Hughley

When podcasting emerged in the early 2000s, the format often felt like a gawky kid brother to talk radio — a domain of programming with limited reach and even more limited appeal to mainstream listeners.

As discussed elsewhere in this issue of Radio World, those days are gone. According to Edison Research, 64% of Americans have heard of podcasts, 44% — which is to say 124 million people — have listened to at least one, and 32% of Americans age 25 to 54 now listen to them every month.

But an often overlooked key to podcasting success is its sound quality. For an established radio operation with an existing studio facility, this may not be an issue; but as podcasting more broadly has taken off, the pro audio marketplace has moved to address the format’s needs.

“Personally, as a fan of many podcasts across several genres … the poor sound quality of some shows bothered me,” said Dan Hughley, market manager for Focusrite, “so much so that even though I liked the content of certain shows, I noticed I wasn’t listening to those shows where I experienced audio issues as often anymore, or I was only listening to them in smaller doses or when they had a guest I was especially interested in.

Robb Blumenreder

“This is what convinced me that more podcasters need to be concerned and educated about their audio quality production, and that excites me to address this market.” Focusrite has been doing just that. Hughley cites a number of podcasts that now use Focusrite interfaces, ranging from solo efforts that use the Scarlett 2i2 to in-studio productions that use gear from the top end of the Clarett USB line.

LOW BARRIER

Part of podcasting’s appeal to content creators is its relatively low barrier to entry, but that also means that many who enter the field don’t come to it with an audio background.

“While there are certainly audio experts in the field of podcasting, the majority of users are looking for a way to share their hobby, talents, advice and their story with a broader audience,” said Robb Blumenreder, manager of audio for video at Sennheiser.

“Most people don’t have a high level of audio experience, so finding creative ways to bridge that knowledge gap is an important step toward getting them started. Content creation can be addictive when you hit your stride. We often see users wanting to upgrade sooner rather than later when they recognize that their voice is part of their brand.” Accordingly, Sennheiser has been bringing products like its MK 4 digital, HandMic digital, ClipMic digital and AMBEO Smart Headset to podcasters’ attention.

While podcasts often focus on storytelling, listening to new podcasts over time can inadvertently reveal another story: that of how their creators learn more about audio and find gear appropriate to their needs.

Derek Badala

Derek Badala, Synthax’s director of sales for the Americas, said, “The podcast community struggles with a mix-minus setup when interviewing folks via Skype. If you see the videos and links online, there are all kinds of crazy solutions offered, usually with adapters, Y cables and just bad audio practices.” With those scenarios in mind, Synthax’s RME brand points to the Babyface Pro interface as a solution.

LESS TECH-SAVVY

Still, parsing the pro audio world can be intimidating to new podcasters. Manufacturers including Audio-Technica have been reaching out to the community through user events at SXSW and PAX gaming culture festivals.

Audio-Technica’s Gary Boss, marketing director, professional markets, noted, “We knew early on that many Audio-Technica mics were being selected as popular options for podcasting. … While professional podcasters will use very high-end studio products, the majority of users are not as tech savvy as studio engineers. The more we can help them select the appropriate mic, the better.”

Soren Pedersen

A-T now has four turnkey podcast/streamer packs with a mic, headphone and boom arm; the packs feature AT2035, AT2020, AT2020USB+ and AT2005USB microphones.

For many podcasters, the ability to record on a mobile device is a key factor, not only for portability but also for the simple fact that they already own a smartphone or tablet that can be tasked for production. Soren Pedersen, senior product specialist at Shure, said, “We noticed that more content creators are using their mobile devices to capture content on-the-go, [and] the need for digital microphones that allow them to capture professional sounding audio — anytime, anywhere — is also increasing.”

As a result, Shure introduced the MOTIV line, aimed at emerging content creators, including in the fields of podcasting and YouTube video creation. “MOTIV was a chance to provide a solution for quicker, more agile content needs on devices like mobile phones and laptops,” said Pedersen.

Whether by introducing new lines of gear or demonstrating how long-time industry-standard equipment can be applied to podcasting, pro audio manufacturers are finding that the new content format ultimately sits comfortably in their wheelhouse.

As a representative for Tascam — which has seen podcasters turn to its DR-40 and DR-10X digital recorders — put it, “From a market perspective, we see no fundamental difference between podcasters and the recording musicians we have traditionally supported. In both cases, you are dealing with artists who are looking to communicate thoughts and emotion. The only real difference is that one primarily speaks, while the other plays and sings, but in the end, the technical needs are quite similar.”

Clive Young is the content director of Pro Sound News, where he has worked for the last 25 years. He is the author of “Crank it Up: Live Sound Secrets of the Top Tour Engineers” and” Homemade Hollywood: Fans Behind The Camera,” and is currently nominated for a 2019 Neal Award for “Best Range of Work by a Single Author.”

 

Podcast Gear at Work

What are some podcasts our readers can check out that use your gear?

AUDIO-TECHNICA

There are a number, but one readers might find enjoyable (or may be currently following) is “Working Class Audio.” Host Matt Boudreau is using the BP40 on this show.  — Gary Boss

FOCUSRITE

There are so many, but a few to check out include Pat Flynn’s “Smart Passive Income,” Amy Porterfield’s “Marketing Made Easy,” Julian Placino’s “Pathways to Success,” Daniel J. Lewis’ “The Audacity to Podcast” and  Lewis Howes’ “School of Greatness” — Dan Hughley

RME/SYNTHAX

Jonathan from “ChooseFi.com” along with Dan Franks from Podcast Movement both use RME products. — Derek Badala

SENNHEISER

We recently partnered with Stitcher, helping to outfit their content creation studios on both coasts of the U.S., and we have also been selected as their official headphone brand. Their app is a fantastic way to experience a wide variety of curated podcast content. — Robb Blumenreder

SHURE

Marc Maron famously used the SM7B on his “WTF” podcast that spawned a television show of the same name, and it’s also the primary mic for the “Joe Rogan Experience.” “Serial” host Sarah Koenig uses our KSM32 condenser, as does “This American Life.” — Soren Pedersen

TASCAM

In addition to the successful and educational “Tascam Talkback,” there are a variety of popular podcasts being produced on Tascam gear including the WDW Tiki RoomDisney-focused podcast, the “We Be Geeks” pop culture podcast and many more. — Erik Larsen

The post Pro Audio Answers Podcasting’s Call appeared first on Radio World.

Peruvian CRP Medios y Entretenimiento Opts for Dielectric Gear

Radio World - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 11:36

Dielectric has announced that it will ship a DCBR 20-panel FM antenna and dual-manifold combiner to Lima, Peru-based commercial radio group, CRP Medios y Entretenimiento.

Engineers from the CRP team on a visit to Dielectric’s Raymond, Maine facility, stand in front of Dielectric’s outside trestle for antenna testing. Pictured from left to right are Jesus Uribe, CRP; Luis Garcia, CRP; Federico d’Avis, Dielectric; and Juan Pablo Salazar, CRP.

According to the company, CRP chose this solution for its “ability to cost-efficiently combine eight FM stations onto a single antenna system while covering the entire target market.”

The Morro Solar site, located in the Chorrillos district of Lima, is one of the most crowded broadcast antenna farms in the world, the company added.

“With its total power input of 240 kW and dual input array, our antenna system offered CRP the best option for improving their stations’ signal strength, reception, and coverage across the Greater Lima area,” said Federico d’Avis, Dielectric’s international sales manager.

“In addition to meeting CRP’s expectations about the target coverage pattern, the dual-manifold combiner makes it possible for the company’s eight separate high-power FM channels to share the same antenna.”

Dielectric is now preparing the RF system — including the antenna, combiner, and filters — to ship to the Lima site later in April.

The post Peruvian CRP Medios y Entretenimiento Opts for Dielectric Gear appeared first on Radio World.

Inside the April issue of Radio World International

Radio World - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 11:25

The remote Atlantic Relay Station on Ascension Island transmits critical radio broadcasts to millions in Africa and beyond. Find out how Encompass Digital Media on behalf of the BBC World Service manages shortwave broadcasts from this six-mile stretch of volcanic rock in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean in the April issue of Radio World International.

GUEST COMMENTARY

Solving the Missing Link

We’ve mastered the IP studio but need to tackle more challenges to fully connect multiple locations.

NAB SHOW

NAB Show Looks at Global Digital Radio Achievements

Spring show session highlights a few of the key growth points this year.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

 

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

NAB Show Looks at Global Digital Radio Achievements

Radio World - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 03:27

Digital radio has made significant progress in recent months and NAB Show session “Digital Radio Roll Out Around the World” will provide attendees with an overview of some of these developments.

Radio World spoke to three of the conference’s speakers, Joan Warner, CEO Commercial Radio Australia; Joe D’Angelo, senior V.P. Radio at Xperi Inc.; and Ole Jorgen Torvmark, CEO at Norsk Radio AS, to gain insight into these advances for DAB+ and HD Radio as well as the issues associated with digital deployment and consumer adoption. DRM is another global standard notable by recent growth (particularly in India), though it was not part of the panel at press time.

The increasing population coverage of DAB+ across Europe.

TURNING POINT

For Warner, who is also V.P of WorldDAB, the European Union’s implementation of the new European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) marks a turning point for the radio industry. The directive, which took effect in December, requires all new car radios sold in the 27 EU member states to be capable of receiving digital terrestrial radio as well as any FM or AM functionality manufacturers may want to include.

Warner believes this directive “highlights the wider radio industry’s shift toward a digital future, and more importantly, it ensures that millions of car drivers across Europe will have access to the various benefits presented by digital terrestrial radio.”

Torvmark echoes this sentiment, adding that the new EU code “sends a clear signal to all EU countries, car manufacturers and radio listeners that one must take into account a digital future for broadcast radio too.”

Reflecting on his native Norway, the first country to switch off national FM services, Torvmark adds that the biggest news there is about radio listening figures, which had declined after the country’s digital switchover in 2017 but are now back to where they were before the transition.

WorldDAB released a report on April 2 at the Radiodays Europe conference in Lausanne, Switzerland showing how the switchover has impacted Norway’s radio listening. In addition to confirming that the country’s total radio listening has bounced back, the study finds radio’s daily reach there to be at 67 percent of the population compared to 68 percent in 2016. It also reports that listeners are listening for longer (146 minutes per day in 2019 compared to 127 minutes in 2016) and that 86 percent of daily listeners now use DAB+, compared to 55 percent in 2016.

“With the digital switchover behind us, and with the knowledge that we have secured a national, digital, free-to-air backbone for radio distribution, the Norwegian radio industry is focusing on how we can best manage the rest of radio’s distribution, including the user data.” Now, he says, the focus is on “becoming stronger as an industry across borders in the developments for radio taking place with connected cars, voice-controlled devices and IP-distribution.”

In other parts of Europe stats show Germany leading the way, surpassing the United Kingdom, as the main DAB+ consumer receiver market. Both Italy and France now have receiver legislation in place that requires all new receivers to include digital audio capabilities. And in the U.K. DAB today accounts for more than half of all radio listening.

In addition, France’s media regulator Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel just published the list of stations that have received a DAB+ license to begin broadcasting nationwide via digital terrestrial radio in 2020. Among recipients are all six of public broadcaster Radio France’s radio channels — France Inter, France Info, France Culture, France Musique, Fip and Mouv’.

OUTSIDE EUROPE

Beyond Europe, Warner points to a number of markets she says WorldDAB is monitoring. These include Vietnam and Thailand, where a 20-month trial with 11 stations is expected to go on air this year in Bangkok.

“Vietnam is also hoping to complete a digital switchover by 2025,” she said. “The first DAB+ trials in the country were conducted in Hanoi in 2013, and more trials are expected this year. The results of the trials in Vietnam will be evaluated in 2020.”

This implementation of HD Radio is shipped across North America.  This receiver has these HD Radio features; Digital Audio, HD2/HD3, Program Info, and Artist Experience®.

In North America, the HD Radio system continues to move forward with increasing commercial deployment in Mexico, the United States and Canada. In Mexico, D’Angelo counts more than 100 stations that have converted to the digital radio standard, and in Canada, he says, broadcasters also continue to add stations and evaluate the system performance as they move through their regulatory process.

“The strong show of support by broadcasters has helped drive an increase in HD Radio equipped cars,” said D’Angelo. “There are now over 55 million cars on the road with HD Radio technology and over 4,300 HD Radio broadcast programs.” D’Angelo explains that recent activities in South America and Southeast Asia seem to indicate that countries in those regions are ready to begin the transition to digital broadcasting. “For years, the lack of widely available receivers or high price points, have slowed the transition to digital in many markets,” he said.

INCREASING MOMENTUM

“However, in the last decade, the radio industry has benefitted from an ever-increasing number of HD Radio and DAB+ models reflecting a very healthy and vibrant manufacturing and supply chain. In fact, recently the Philippines has broken new ground with the introduction of the first, extremely affordable HD Radio-enabled cell phone.”

But with the changing ways listeners consume audio, how will digital radio remain competitive and/or cooperate with internet-based streaming services?

D’Angelo believes that while broadcast radio operates in a competitive environment, it also has unique advantages over internet-only streaming services. “In many ways, over-the-air radio is the incumbent for audio services and across markets has the benefit of very large/loyal audiences with extremely well established brands and presenters,” he added.

“By investing in all aspects of audio distribution, digital broadcasting, streaming, apps and on-demand, broadcasters are maintaining their connection with their audience and actually growing time spent listening with their programming across distribution platforms.”

He warns though that broadcasters need to embrace all technologies available to them and to create unique programming for each medium as needed. “We are particularly excited about the intersection of broadcast and IP services in the car. At Xperi we are working hard with broadcasters in over 50 countries to bring these together with the DTS Connected Radio ecosystem. This platform will ensure that listeners get the best possible radio experience in the car and the broadcasters benefit from enhanced insights and metrics to power their programming and operations.”

EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY

In Warner’s opinion, for the radio industry, streaming on the internet is a complimentary delivery platform to allow listeners to continue access content across all platforms and is not a replacement for reliable and robust broadcast radio.

“Broadcast radio and in particular DAB+ is free, reliable and doesn’t require access to the internet or electricity, which makes it still the most efficient and effective way to communicate live to a mass audience, particularly in times of emergency. The radio industry worldwide is ensuring radio content is available across all devices with broadcast radio AM, FM, DAB+ as the backbone of the business and where the bulk of listening takes place.”

Warner, Tovmark and D’Angelo agree that radio’s forte is its adaptability and that the medium — still — has a promising future, also thanks to the industry’s commitment on technology and innovation. “Voice activation technology is a perfect example,” says Warner. “As people move away from reading and typing instructions, radio has integrated this new technology with Amazon Alexa to ensure radio is part of the user experience and in Australia, users can simple ask Alexa to play their favorite radio station. Radio continues to evolve and integrate new ways of accessing the content produced by radio broadcasters 24/7,” she concluded.

“Radio is so much more than a jukebox of tracks,” added D’Angelo. “ It remains a highly curated, timely, local medium that delivers an experience, information and entertainment to listeners that cannot be replicated. It is a critical component of any community and can always be counted on. And, just as radio has transitioned from AM to FM to digital it will evolve to ensure that streaming does not kill the radio star.”

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