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FCC Media Bureau News Items - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 22:00
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NAB Sneak Peek: Burk to Demonstrate Arcadia

Radio World - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 16:30

Remote control products manufacturer Burk Technology will be showing its latest version of the Arcadia Cloud Service.

Burk explains that Arcadia “delivers secure web-based access to remote site information for managers and engineers on the go.”

Summary screens for each site are generated automatically providing an instant overview of facility status. Custom views highlighting critical information from multiple sites are created on the fly and stored for future use. Arcadia’s user interface adapts to fit each browser’s screen size, enabling easy viewing on smartphones, tablets or PCs, according to the company.

NOC facilities running Burk’s well-known AutoPilot software can also leverage the Arcadia cloud-based communications architecture, the company says. AutoPilot custom views and alarm logs in the NOC refresh continuously from the Arcadia cloud server, increasing network efficiency and improving coordination among multiple NOC operators and facilities.

According to Burk, “Arcadia’s cloud-based resources scale as needed, offering high performance for very large networks and cost-effective operation for smaller installations.”

Burk Senior Vice President Worldwide Sales Jim Alnwick said, “Arcadia delivers consolidated access to each user’s authorized sites over a single encrypted web link, leveraging the power of HTML 5.”

NAB Show Booth: N5224

Info: www.burk.com

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The post NAB Sneak Peek: Burk to Demonstrate Arcadia appeared first on Radio World.

iHeartMedia Nears Exit From Bankruptcy, Plans IPO

Radio World - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 14:22

Those baby steps iHeartMedia has been taking to wiggle free of bankruptcy became a giant leap today when this nation’s largest owner of radio stations filed plans for an initial public offering.

The news is widely viewed by observers as evidence the company is in the final stages of its restructuring process.

The broadcaster did not disclose the size of the share offering or estimate what the net proceeds from the sale of Class A common stock would be, nor did it set a price range in the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Committee. The company said it plans to “use net proceeds from this offering to repay indebtedness.”

[Read: iHeart Names Post-Bankruptcy Board]

At the time of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in March 2018, the San Antonio-based company listed $12.3 billion in total assets and $20.3 billion in debt, according to paperwork filed at the time with the SEC.

iHeartMedia will have 848 broadcast radio stations in 160 U.S. markets when it emerges from bankruptcy. It is now top commercial podcast publisher in the United States, according to recent data from Podtrac, with 148 million monthly downloads and streams. In addition, it owns Premiere Networks and Total Traffic & Weather Network.

The broadcaster also reports it has 128 million registered users on its iHeartRadio service and app. The company’s app is available on an expansive range of platforms and devices including digital auto dashes, tablets, wearables, smartphones, virtual assistants, televisions and gaming consoles.

And don’t forget about those smart speakers. “Additionally, we believe we are well-positioned to leverage our iconic brand and enormous reach to benefit from incremental listening growth. As smart speakers are creating an in-home audio hub that enhances radio’s reach, developing a leadership position in this category has become a key element of our growth strategy. Smart speaker adoption has seen rapid acceleration, with a 26% penetration rate among U.S. adults in 2018,” the company said in today’s SEC filing.

iHeartMedia, which also owns Katz Media Group, earlier this year announced it would spin off Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc. as part of its reorganization plan when it was approved in January 2019. The billboard subsidiary will become its own independent publicly traded company.

For the fiscal year 2018, iHeartMedia generated $3.6 billion in revenue according to today’s SEC filing.

iHeart Chairman and CEO Bob Pittman along with President, COO and CFO Rich Bressler will stay on with the company. Following the company’s emergence from bankruptcy, it will have a new board of directors.

Radio World plans to further explore what it means for the radio industry to have its largest ownership group back in better financial position.

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The post iHeartMedia Nears Exit From Bankruptcy, Plans IPO appeared first on Radio World.

Radio Republik Indonesia to Acquire DRM Transmitters

Radio World - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 12:30

Radio Republik Indonesia has revealed that it plans to purchase four DRM-capable medium-wave transmitters. The public radio broadcaster says it intends to use the first pair to reach populated areas of the Southeast Asian archipelago, and the second pair for emergency warning in west Sumatra and West Java.

Freddy Ndolu, of RRI in Indonesia, addresses the audience at the DRM General Assembly in March.

Freddy Ndolu, member of the RRI supervisory board, made the announcement during the Digital Radio Mondiale general assembly, which took place in March. RRI joined the DRM consortium in 2015.

“Radio is now a multiplatform media and DRM is certainly one of the choices that is suitable for a large country like Indonesia with its over 260 million people,” said Ndolu during the event. “DRM can connect its over 16,000 islands offering emergency warning to this country right on the ring of fire.”

[Read:  Managing Shortwave Broadcasts From Ascension Island]

For Ruxandra Obreja, the DRM Consortium chair, this is “a breakthrough following from DRM’s successful performance during RRI tests and demonstrations of the standard on AM and VHF. Indonesia has the technical expertise and the industry is ready and capable to bring digital radio DRM with all its benefits, including disaster warning, to such an expansive area.”

The post Radio Republik Indonesia to Acquire DRM Transmitters appeared first on Radio World.

NAB Sneak Peek: Elenos to Emphasize BE

Radio World - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 11:44

Elenos, known for transmitter manufacturing, acquired U.S. transmitter manufacturer and automation system developer Broadcast Electronics in late 2017.

It has now announced the move is “beginning to blossom,” and that BE will be the company’s U.S. “face.”

Elenos also owns the Itelco TV transmitter brand and Protelevision, a radio and TV modulation technology developer.

Elenos was founded in 1977.

BE, headquartered in Quincy, Ill., was founded in 1959 in Silver Spring, Md., as a cart machine maker and began manufacturing transmitters in 1977. Other familiar BE brands include AudioVault, Marti and The Radio Experience.

NAB Show Booth: N6406

Info: www.bdcast.com

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The post NAB Sneak Peek: Elenos to Emphasize BE appeared first on Radio World.

Podcast #187 – Archiving LGBTQ Radio History

Radio Survivor - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 01:00

This week our guest is Brian DeShazor, an independent radio researcher and founder of the Queer Radio Research Project. Formerly the Director of the Pacifica Radio Archives, DeShazor has taken a special interest in uncovering and highlighting the LGBTQ voices that have graced the community radio airwaves. On the episode, we discuss the history of […]

The post Podcast #187 – Archiving LGBTQ Radio History appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Broadcast Station Totals As Of March 31, 2019

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 21:00
Broadcast Station Totals As Of March 31, 2019

Broadcast Actions

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 21:00
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Dan’s Big Guide to Las Vegas

Radio World - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 20:22

Here we are, just days away from the 2019 NAB Show. As I’ve done each year, I build on all my other former NAB blogs to create a new “what you need to know for NAB.” For me, this is NAB #29, and I’m still excited about the show.

First thing to know is this looks to the last NAB Show with a Thursday exhibit day. Yes, after many years of a Monday through Thursday exhibit floor, they’ve moved to a Sunday through Wednesday show floor event. If you didn’t catch it, Paul McLane has written about this change.

There will still be the shuttle buses, overcharged-for-convention center food and drinks, and sore feet. After attending so many shows, I’m always very appreciative of the amount of work (and money) that manufacturers invest in this show (thus making it possible). This IS the BIG show for the U.S. broadcaster and many international broadcasters as well!

I enjoy seeing so many familiar faces and friends from the past (from engineers, old co-workers, to manufacturers), and making new friends is always welcomed too. If you are new to the NAB convention, I’d say the best part of the show is the contacts you make within the industry. Sure, you’ll learn a LOT about the “latest & greatest” gear, but one year later you’ll be learning about all the NEW “latest & greatest.” But the contacts and friends you make will be there year after year!

For me personally, I’m looking at both radio, and the upcoming 4K/UHD video systems as I’m in the process of a $3.5 million upgrade to all-4K at New World Center (for the New World Symphony). I’ll be running around, getting sore feet, but having great in “nerd heaven”!

I’ve already been planning my show and need to point out for those who are returning that there are some changes which occurred last year worth recalling. Some of the events at the event rooms/ballrooms between the North Hall and the Westgate (AKA formerly the Las Vegas “Elvis” Hilton), have moved into a space in the North Hall, and it’s now called the Main Stage. That, in itself, was a major change.

Many of the radio equipment manufacturers are centralizing in the North Hall. The remainder of the North Hall building has a mix of media management, some TV gear manufacturers along with specialty pavilions like Sprockit, the Startup Loft and the Futures Park. With the main stage eating up a quarter chunk of the North Hall (where it was last year), it seems that many of the TV gear folks have moved over to the South Hall.  Unlike last year, expect South Hall to be full of manufacturers, and that’s both the upper and lower floors!

As I said, this is my 29th consecutive NAB Show and they’ve all been in Las Vegas since I started attending. There have been so many changes over the years. Vegas is constantly in transition, so new casinos and hotels are up, while some (many) that were in Vegas in 1990 have been demolished or (significantly) remodeled. Monte Carlo is now MGM Park and fully remodeled. There’s always so much to see … and Vegas is a “world” constantly in change.

The convention itself has changed in many ways. At one time, seeing a computer by itself or standalone software was more of a rarity. Solutions to broadcasting were nearly all based on hardware, so there were a lot of physical “products” and a lot of variety to how they appeared. Then there were things called “tape recorders” that were analog, and later on new “digital tape recorders” of both the audio and video variety. Radio used reel-to-reel models, turntables, EBS equipment (now, of course, EAS), in addition to these crazy things called “cart machines” full of fun parts like pinch rollers, capstans with problems like phase/azimuth issues. Ah, the “good old days”!

TV solutions were generally “bigger” while usually doing less and along the way there was a new thing that they were talking about called “High Definition TV.” Rumors were going around about radio maybe going digital and in 5.1. There was no word in 1990 about streaming radio because it was simply impossible to get any quality when you dialed up your provider at 14,400 bps and heard that familiar “answer and screeching” before the sound muted on the modem.

In the TV world, it was tubes, tubes and more tubes but now the talk is of 4K/UHD with 8K around the corner. Japan’s NHK started 2019 by showing a 70 mm transfer of “2001: A Space Odyssey” and HDR (High Dynamic Range) is now a thing.

Many years ago, the convention center could no longer hold the NAB Show, so they moved part of it to the Sands Convention Center. That required more “bus time” (and lost time) shuttling between the Sands and the convention center. Then the South Hall was added, and now we see SU and SL (South Upper and Lower) on our maps.

There’s now talk of a “subway” to run from the farthest end of the South Hall to the planned new addition across Paradise Road, in the parking lot where the old Landmark Hotel was and stretching over to the backlot of where the Riviera used to be.

We saw the addition of the monorail years ago and it has come to be a great way to get to the LVCC. If you are at a hotel on the east side of the strip where the monorail runs from the MGM up through the Westgate (or, for “old timers” the old Hilton) to the SLS or, for “old timers” the old Sahara). Still waiting and hoping that eventually Vegas loops both sides of The Strip with the monorail.

Over the years, many dignitaries and celebrities have come and gone to the show. I’ve “stumbled across” people like Gary “Radar” Burghoff to Sherman “George Jefferson” Hemsley. Many friends have passed away or moved on to other career fields. A lot of old engineers decided to “get out of the rat race,” while many others saw new opportunities in radio and TV. But the NAB convention remains a great time to learn and grow and a great time to catch up with old friends and make new friends!

So whether a new person to the NAB Show or an “old timer,” here’s a look at some new things around Vegas and some things worth knowing about the convention and Las Vegas. Stay tuned in the middle of the links for my list of things you should REALLY know about the convention. The list grows every year. If you’ve gone to the show less than, say, five times, it might be of real benefit to read this.

Firstly, if you’ve been to Las Vegas before, you know it’s a city constantly changing so it pays to do a little research on the new things. Here’s one link with “the Cliff’s Notes.” And here is more information.

Packing Your Suitcase

This is funny, but I had never seen “a good way to pack your suitcase” video before until I saw this one and thought it looked like a good way.

And here is another person using the same method (with the Benny Hill “Yackety Sax” background music).

Fly Healthy

Flying to Las Vegas (or anywhere) is always a little bit of an experience. From the friendly TSA agents wanting to make sure “everything is good,” to the “cattle car” (AKA flying coach in a plane). WebMD has some great advice for traveling to stay healthy while being cramped up next to the sneezing, hacking person and the crying baby.

Speaking of TSA Agents

From Business Insider, here are 12 tips that can get you through the airport a little faster.

Things I’ve Learned:

Now for this short pause from the links as I share “the secrets” to having a much better NAB convention (at least the things I’ve found over the past 28 years):

Wear Comfortable Shoes!

You will walk … and walk … and walk some more in Las Vegas. And everything looks a LOT closer to you than it really is! Especially if you are on The Strip and see a hotel or casino “just down the road.” Warning! It isn’t “just” down the road.

A couple of years ago I stayed downtown and thought “that’s an easy walk” to the convention center. Rookie mistake. It ISN’T!

Be Prepared for Peddlers and “Hawkers”

The good Las Vegas weather allows for a lot of people to solicit for money or push “cards” (I say cards because anyone who has been on The Strip know what these are … but for the most part, you probably do not want these cards!) I just say, “No thanks” and walk by. As for the peddlers or panhandlers, what I can tell you is what a friend told me who works feeding the poor and hungry. If you truly want to help, donate to organizations that help these people. Handing them money often supports “needs” other than food or housing.

Big City Safety

Be aware of your surroundings. There are lots of international travelers who are confused, lots of panhandlers, some “unstable” people and even some unscrupulous people in Las Vegas. Be aware of people around you, especially away from the convention center or on The Strip. Keep bags or purses with strap from one shoulder to your opposite side (making it harder to grab and run). Keep bags zipped up and close by.

Turn your wallet sideways in your back pocket or keep it in a front pocket. There are pickpockets in any big city and Las Vegas is no different. Keep track of credit cards and watch them around taxi drivers and people who might take them from your sight while scanning them. About 10 years ago a driver used an old mechanical machine claiming his electronic wouldn’t work and within hours my credit card was used in Louisiana — while I was still in Vegas!

Keep your senses and never let yourself partake of the partying aspect to the point where you no longer are in control (you’ll see plenty of people doing that). Don’t get me wrong that it’s dangerous and unsafe, but it is a big city with a lot of tourists and you just need to be aware.

Sign Up for “Players Clubs” and Rewards Programs

If you drop money in “one-armed bandits,” don’t do it unless you sign up for the casino rewards programs. I know many people are smart enough NOT to do this (I’m not one of them), but at least know you may potentially get some benefit from your losses. I usually get a free meal or a discounted/free room on my next visit.

Also, wherever you stay, don’t have to walk away an “unsatisfied customer.” If something is not up to your expectations or liking, they often will make it right (like a discount or free room on the next visit). This IS Vegas, and they are experts in the “hospitality business.” There are a lot of choices, and they prefer you stay with them.

One thing I repeat is avoid telling them “I’m here for the convention.” The reason is conventioneers spend less time and money on gambling, and that’s the customer they want! I don’t lie, but I say “I’m here with a lot of my friends all having a good time.” Okay, mildly stretching the truth, but it makes the casino/hotels more interested in making sure you’ll be back to THEIR casino/hotel next time.

Don’t Sit at a Bar and Let a Chatty Person of the Opposite Sex Sit Next to You and Become Your “Friend”

One year a nice enough lady spent 20 minutes next to me talking up a storm at Quark’s Bar at the old Star Trek Experience in the former Las Vegas Hilton (Yes, I’m a nerd). Had a nice enough time talking to her (this was before there was a Mrs. Slentz, of course). When I went to leave, I found out the bartender had dropped her tab onto mine (Yes, scammed!). Chalk this up to “live & learn.”

Spiffs & Floor Freebies

Companies used to give away a lot more of these things 20 years ago, but look around for these things and grab some for home, work, your significant other, or kids. My wife and daughters always have fun going through the “bags of goodies” on my return. (And thanks to the companies that still “find it in their hearts” to give away little trinkets.)

Show Planning

Prior to the show, many people (myself included) make appointments and plan to visit particular manufacturers on the “floor” of the massive Las Vegas Convention Center. It’s actually several “floors.” Look carefully at where they’re located. Schedule appointments or visit manufacturers who are close to each other on the floor. There’s nothing worse than doing this haphazardly where you have a 9 a.m. appointment in the North Hall, then a 10 a.m. in South Lower, then back to the North Hall at 11. You’ll get the point. (*See above “Wear Comfortable Shoes”)

Make Friends and Get to Know Manufacturers

I almost hate to have to say this, but this is the best opportunity to forge great relationships with the people on the floor selling the gear that you use or want to use. I can’t begin to count the number of friends I’ve made over the years. They’ll be lifesavers when you need help with gear or have questions, and some of the friendships will last many, many years (even as some manufacturer’s reps move to selling gear with other companies). Oh, and have sympathy for them since they’re on their feet the whole time and stuck in one place. For me (and those of us attending and not showing), the convention is a little less work and probably a lot more fun than it is for the good people working the booths.

Dress for the Day

Vegas nights can get cool. Just watch the weather forecast and be sure to keep in mind that you might be still out after dark and walking around. It gets cool in the desert at night. And I wouldn’t worry too much about rain. In my nearly 30 years, I think it’s only rained a little maybe on two days. And only one year was it actually cool (and windy!) most of the week. Otherwise the weather is great! Again … just do a little preplanning and check the weather before you start your day.

Oh … and between the constant air conditioning in the hotels and convention center, and the fact that you are in the desert, plan for dry skin and dry lips. Bring Chapstick and some sort of hand lotion. Many hotels provide a travel-size bottle of hand lotion as part of their bathroom offerings. Grab it and put it into your pocket when you leave the room in the morning. Vegas’ April weather generally runs in the upper 70s to low 80s, though the direct sun can be much warmer. At night it can get quite chilly with a temperature in the mid to upper 50s.

Be Prepared

If you were a Boy Scout or in the military, this may be second nature … If you do a lot of walking (after the show), there seems to be a lot of bees … so those with sting allergies shouldn’t forget their EpiPens, etc. And pack all the necessities like antacids, pain relievers, Band-Aids, etc. They can get expensive buying them at the convention center, in hotel gift shops or off of carts.

If You Aren’t Prepared

Know that anything you buy in the casinos or hotels is more expensive than a regular store, much less a store back home. There are drug stores on The Strip where you’ll find the things you’ve forgotten at a much better price than in hotels and casinos. Same thing with cash. Avoid the casino ATMs as the fees are terribly high. Use your “Boy/Girl Scout” skills and BE PREPARED!

So these things are just a few of the most basic tips I can provide to those new to the NAB Convention or Vegas. Have fun and enjoy a great show and wonderful learning opportunity!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming …

Vegas Weather

After many trips to Las Vegas for the NAB Show, as previously mentioned, it’s generally pretty nice weather. If you’re coming from Ohio, it’s going to be a LOT nicer (probably), but coming from Miami, you’ll find similar temperatures but a major lack of any humidity. For the week of the NAB (4/6 through 4/11/19), the weather calls for highs in the mid to upper 70s (a little cooler on Saturday 4/6 at 73 degrees), with the nighttime chilling down to about 51 degrees. So heading out in the morning, it will be chilly. Then by the time you leave the Las Vegas Convention Center, expect it to be hot (81 degrees on Thursday 4/11). But if you’re attending an after-hours party, it can be chilly if “you’re hoofing it” after sunset. In the years I’ve been there, the most notable thing is the wind. It sometimes really picks up. And if it’s evening or the temps haven’t gone up, it cuts through you. As for rain, in 28 years and as previously mentioned, I only remember two days with some rain. You’re not very likely to get wet … but you never know. You really do need a medium to light jacket after sunset. Also keep in mind that the hotels and casinos sometimes run things on the cold side with their air conditioning. Keep this Accuweather link handy.

Vegas for the Solo Traveler

If you don’t happen to be traveling with co-workers or friends in Las Vegas, there are still a lot of options on things to do without being in a big group. Of course, there are a LOT of show opportunities to meet with other broadcasters and manufacturers so grab those opportunities when you can. But if you are looking for some things to do for the “solo traveler,” here are some ideas from Esquire.

Solo Safety

I’m originally from a small town in Ohio. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to live in places like Madrid, Denver and now Miami, so I’m pretty aware of how to stay safe in big cities (though, to avoid jinxing myself, you still must always be aware of your surroundings). If you are traveling solo, take time to review this information of staying safe.

LOTS to Eat in Vegas

There are a lot of great places to eat in Sin City. From the all-u-can eat places in about every casino to the big names in cooking. I found a few worth mentioning. First, I’m not a big steak fan, but The Steak House in Circus Circus deserves mentioning. It’s been voted “the best steak in Vegas” for 30 years … and there’s a good reason. There wasn’t a scrap of steak left on the plate. Just incredible. Sure, Circus Circus isn’t the top destination for many, but you’re missing the best steak ever if you don’t visit The Steak House.

Further on down the strip, Aria has their buffet. As a big fan of Alaskan snow crab legs, I’ve got to mention that this place is beautiful and the food is awesome. As opposed to MGM, where they serve snow crabs on ice, Aria has them steamed hot with lots of butter. Delicious!

If you’ve ever watched “Hell’s Kitchen” on TV, you’ve seen Chef Gordon Ramsay. I discovered the Yorkshire ale batter fish & chips at his Pub & Grill inside of Caesar’s Palace is awesome and the service is really good! On the flip side, it’s on the expensive side at about $30.

And when I worked for Hubbard Broadcasting, Mr. Hubbard liked the Hash House A Go Go inside the Linq hotel and casino (formerly the Imperial Palace). If you’re hungry, bring a BIG appetite. I’m not kidding when I say I really think a family of four could easily eat the food delivered on just one plate. They call this “Twisted Farm Food.” Another awesome choice!

Old Vegas Pics
Here are some pics of the original Flamingo (a la Bugsy). This website, vintage Las Vegas has lots and lots of great photos from Vegas’ history (since most gets demolished).

Vegas Trivia

Las Vegas is certainly an interesting place. If you don’t have the ability to go to another planet, it’s probably the closest thing to being in another world. Here are a few websites with some interesting Vegas facts (note that a few are out-of-date on some information …).

34 Things First-Time Visitors Need To Know About Las Vegas

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Las Vegas

Vegas Legal

From Ladah Law in Las Vegas comes “The Best of the Best in Vegas.” It’s their round-up of places worth knowing or checking out. There is also a section half way down the page on the “Worst that Could Happen in Vegas” which shows some unfortunate accidents (where legal services were presumably needed). Keep in mind that this is a legal firm and it’s part of their business and note that this is not an endorsement for any company or business by myself, Radio World, or Future, Inc., but just provided as a story link since it contains some useful information. The “worst of” is an interesting combination of links to unfortunate events that happened in Vegas to individuals. In addition to events like the ones listed, there are other tragic stories like the MGM fire (now Bally’s Las Vegas) in 1980 and the terrible shooting last year during a concert. These should serve to remind you to be aware of your surroundings and know how to escape and what to do in the event of an emergency. Even as a young Airman in the U.S. Air Force in the mid-1980s, overseas we were taught to always be aware of our surroundings and have some sort of escape plan in the event of an emergency. Remember, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”

And Finally … Shows, Shows, Shows!

Hey, “This is Vegas, baby!” There are so many excellent shows that you should really try to see one (or two). You can find show discounts, hit Vegas show “discount stands,” or show up at the box office just before showtime for better pricing.  ’ve seen everything from “Starlight Express,” “EFX Alive” (now “KA,” which I’ve also seen), “Zumanity,” “The Beatles Love” (STILL my all-time favorite).

This is not an endorsement of this or any company, but with most shows, if you get “last minute tickets” (and not from people standing on the street but at the box office or legit sellers), you can get substantial discounts for shows (as it’s better to sell a cheap seat than leave the seat empty). I work with a fellow who worked for Cirque du Soleil and has friends who work on “The Beatles Love” show. He’s the one who mentioned this particular ticket dealer as a good way to get discounted tickets (and I’ve ignored these ticket brokers for years … go figure!) My friend did say that it’s a little bit of a hassle as you still need to go to the box office even after you get the tickets through the broker, but he said “for the good 40% discount, it’s worth the extra little effort.” But like anything I find, I’d invite you to do your own research and check into these.

So, have fun, learn a lot, stay safe, and remember that the Vegas nickname is Lost Wages for a reason. Be smart about “dropping nickels in the ‘one-armed’ bandits”!

If you have any post-show info you think is worth passing along next year, please let me know. My email address is dan_slentz@yahoo.com.

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The post Dan’s Big Guide to Las Vegas appeared first on Radio World.

Survey Says … Radio Is Still Going Strong, But Digital Is Moving Up  

Radio World - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 16:42

Jacobs Media has unpacked the results of its 15th annual Techsurvey, and the outcomes could be described as mixed for broadcast radio.

Essentially, the medium remains strong, yet digital competitors are making inroads with listeners — confirming some broadcasters’ fears while, maybe, also offering a new way forward for radio stations.

Note that Jacobs Media polls commercial radio listeners in the U.S. and Canada for its Techsurvey, so the results should be read as measuring behavior among current radio listeners and not necessarily all consumers. Results were also collected online, which could favor those who are at least somewhat tech savvy.

The 2019 Media Media Pyramid shows that 95% of the 50,652 radio listeners surveyed indicated they watched TV/video content for at least one hour per day, followed by smartphone usage and AM/FM radio listening, both at 91%.

[Infinite Dial: Podcast Listening Now a Majority Behavior]

Only 65% of respondents indicated they use radio and music apps with that kind of regularity — but that number is much higher than the one-in-four who said they tune into satellite radio often. Time spent listening to smart speakers came in at 27%. Weekly podcast listening was reported by one-in-five respondents, and HD Radio was only cited by one out of every 10.

AM/FM radio’s brand usage remains extremely high at 91% (again, perhaps not surprisingly when polling a group of radio listeners). But Pandora is not faring so well, sliding to 20% from last year’s 25%. At 17%, iHeartRadio is basically flat and lagging far behind the 42% of respondents who say they weekly tune to their home station’s stream. However, iHeart continues to beat Spotify (12%) and TuneIn (6%).

What is broadcast radio’s enduring appeal in the world of audio? According to the survey, radio’s very low price tag and ease of use are major factors for listeners — another reason for radio to fight for a prominent, accessible place in the connected car, since traditional radio receivers are becoming less commonplace in many homes.

In fact, 65% of radio listening is done via what Jacobs Media called “regular radios,” but that drops a bit among Millennial respondents. As radios are on the decline, smart speakers continue their precipitous ascent. Smart speakers are now in the homes of one-third of respondents, up from 11% in 2017, and smart speaker owners are likely to own more than one such device, which further solidifies their ubiquity.  

[Pandora Leads Audio Brand Awareness and Use]

Localism is another quality cited by about nine-in-ten as a primary advantage for radio. Despite industry concerns that radio is increasingly homogenized, this number is actually way up from three years ago.

While the number of podcast listeners remains relatively small —  and slightly down from last year — the time spent listening to podcasts is increasing for this segment of the population. In fact, 40% reported that they are listening to more podcasts/on-demand audio content this year than they did in 2018. Podcasts also continued to be most popular among Millennial males, compared to other demographics.

Review the full report online or sign up for the “10 Key Takeaways from Techsurvey 2019” webinar, scheduled for April 15.

The post Survey Says … Radio Is Still Going Strong, But Digital Is Moving Up   appeared first on Radio World.

NAB Sneak Peek: RCS Offering Emphasizes Operational Continuity

Radio World - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 16:16

RCS says a station can obtain low-cost disaster recovery insurance, based on its new service Zetta Cloud.

Traditionally, to back up a station’s on air operations you’d need A and B systems, or a redundant backup offsite. But RCS says Zetta Cloud’s Disaster Recovery system continuously backs up your database including audio, schedules and metadata, and then sends it to the cloud in an ongoing background process that doesn’t affect normal workflow.

In the case of a serious event that disables the station, such as a weather disaster or massive IT virus or failure, Zetta Cloud takes over, allowing you to stream “station audio” directly from the cloud to your transmitter or your web stream or emergency studios. RCS says think of it as a high-tech, cutting-edge insurance policy that gets you back on the air efficiently and quickly.

Shown in the image, during normal workday operation at left, audio, logs and voicetracks are saved locally but also automatically in the cloud. Zetta Cloud is configuring the assets for disaster recovery playout; when something goes wrong, the user can enable Zetta Cloud from any browser-enabled device, as shown in Step 4, and continue to run the station while also adding audio, logs and voice tracks.

When your station is ready to resume normal service, RCS says it takes just a couple of minutes to restore the database, with audio, to resume normal service; and it has meanwhile saved any changes you made while in the cloud environment.

The service is offered for a fee of a couple of hundred dollars a month for commercial users. Users retain ownership of the assets even though they’re off-premises. RCS adds that this is a global service, available anywhere.

RCS says it is a believer in the potential of using the cloud for professional-grade broadcasting; when it introduced its cloud-based automation system at a conference in London last fall, the company listed other reasons for radio groups to consider cloud services instead of on-premises installations. They include savings on equipment, a fast way to create new channels, and assurance that customers would always be on the same product version, among other benefits.

RCS also is highlighting its 40th anniversary this year.

NAB Show Booth: N2519

Info: www.rcsworks.com

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The post NAB Sneak Peek: RCS Offering Emphasizes Operational Continuity appeared first on Radio World.

Managing SW Broadcasts From Ascension Island

Radio World - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 04:06

The author works at Encompass Digital Media, managing the transmission and distribution services for BBC World Service

ENGLISH BAY, Ascension Island — A six-mile stretch of volcanic rock in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean is home to the BBC’s Atlantic Relay Station.

Neale Bateman

Now managed and operated by Encompass Digital Media on behalf of the BBC World Service, the stations’ six powerful shortwave transmitters on Ascension Island beam program in a dozen or more languages to some 30 million listeners in north, west and central Africa.

It’s a remarkable and fascinating diversion for a digital media business better known for providing video streaming, TV playout and OTT services — but it’s not only the shortwave transmission site on Ascension that Encompass is responsible for. The company’s engineers also run the island’s power station (consisting of five diesel generators and five wind turbines) as well as a reverse osmosis desalination plant, supplying electricity and drinking water to the island’s population of more than 800 people.

A BRIEF HISTORY

Originally garrisoned by the British Navy in the early 19th century, Ascension Island, a British overseas territory, proved to be a useful stopping off point for ships crossing the Atlantic due to its location almost half-way between Africa and South America. It remains a strategic communications and logistics hub for both the United Kingdom and United States.

Satellite downlinks receiving BBC World Service programs from London via Intelsat 10-02. All photos: Neale Bateman

The United States built an airbase on the island during World War II and later expanded the runway to allow for larger aircraft — it even served as an emergency runway for NASA’s Space Shuttle, although thankfully it was never used.

The British Royal Air Force also has a military base on the island, sharing the same runway. It was a key base during the Falkland Islands conflict in 1982.

The European Space Agency maintains a monitoring base there along with a small monitoring site for NASA and the United States Department of Energy.

In the mid-1960s, the BBC built a relay station at English Bay on the northern tip of the island to transmit shortwave radio broadcasts to Africa and South America, plus a power station to provide the electricity.

A LIFELINE FOR AFRICA

For more than 50 years, the Atlantic Relay Station has transmitted critical radio broadcasts to millions of listeners in some of the remotest parts of Africa. The daily broadcasts include transmissions in English, French, Arabic, Hausa, Somali, Swahili and several other African languages, and more recently has added transmissions for other international broadcasters as well as the BBC.

Four of the towers supporting HF curtain arrays on easterly bearings to Africa. The towers vary from 60 to 125 meters in height.

The shortwave transmitters include two 250 kW Marconi BD272 transmitters originally installed in 1966 (and still in daily use) and four 250 kW RIZ K01 transmitters, which are also capable of transmitting in Digital Radio Mondiale mode.

Each transmitter can be switched to one of more than 20 antennas, which consist of HF curtain arrays beaming toward target areas in Africa and South America. Programming from London is delivered via satellite, with resilience and backup feeds provided by Encompass. The power station is staffed around the clock with engineers taking remote control of the transmitter site outside of peak broadcast times.

TRANSMISSION

Ascension typically transmits around 1,800 hours of program each month on shortwave for the BBC and other broadcasters. Most of these are beamed into Africa, but with the massive footprint of a shortwave transmission, some frequencies are also audible across much of Europe and the Middle East. Although the BBC closed its shortwave service for North and Latin America some years ago, the ability to transmit westward still exists.

One of the original 250 kW Marconi BD272 HF transmitters, installed in 1966 and still in daily use.

There are currently no regular scheduled DRM broadcasts from Ascension Island but it has recently transmitted several digital test transmissions to South Africa and Brazil, proving that DRM on the shortwave bands (DRM30) can reach vast international audiences and deliver high-quality audio as well as data services.

The station’s engineers also maintain the island’s FM transmitters on Green Mountain (an extinct volcano), which broadcasts BBC World Service and the British Forces radio service (BFBS) to the local audience of servicemen and women, civilian contractors and their families.

OPERATING CHALLENGES

Atmospheric conditions, seasonal variations, sunspots and a host of other factors determine the propagation of shortwave transmissions and therefore affect the audibility of the signal in the target area. Encompass’ specialist team of frequency managers plan all of the BBC’s transmissions and work closely with other international broadcasters to choose the optimum frequencies at various times of the day. But in the case of Ascension, that’s the least of the problems of operating a high-power transmitter site on a large volcanic rock in the middle of the ocean.

Among the black volcanic rock (obsidian) Ascension Island has some fantastic bays and beaches.

Getting supplies, spares, and, of course, staff on and off this remote island, nearly 2,000 miles off the west coast of Africa, is an enormous logistical challenge. Advance planning is essential; everything has a lead-time of several weeks if not months. When the transmitter station needs a spare part, you can’t just drive to the local store or order on-line. A supply ship from the U.K. calls at Georgetown several times a year, but the islands’ only “convenience store” usually sells out of fresh fruit and vegetables within the first week of a new delivery.

Until a little over a year ago, reaching Ascension Island was relatively straight forward; an

English Bay on the northern tip of the island. Two of the power station’s wind turbines can be seen in the distance.

RAF plane bound for the Falkland Islands used to touch down on the island twice a week to refuel. However, there is currently a major project being undertaken to repair and resurface the runway and until this is completed, regular access is limited to much smaller military planes.

There is one commercial flight a month from Ascension’s nearest neighbor, Saint Helena (more than 800 miles, or a two-hour flight away) that links with Johannesburg, but these few military and commercial routes are the only opportunities to get people and goods to and from the island.

[Read: A Uniaue Approach to Cutting AM Costs]

Without all of the vital resources and services provided by Encompass engineers, the daily shortwave broadcasts simply wouldn’t happen, let alone the 24/7 power and water supply to the island’s population. The 800 or so people living on the island are in a unique position, and they have to work together in order to survive.

The shortwave transmitter station is as important today as ever, broadcasting to one of the BBC’s largest audiences in the world — all from a rock in the middle of the South Atlantic.

The post Managing SW Broadcasts From Ascension Island appeared first on Radio World.

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FCC Media Bureau News Items - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 21:00
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NAB Exhibitor Viewpoint: Tom Swidarski, The Telos Alliance

Radio World - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 18:31

The spring NAB Show is next week. Between now and then Radio World will conduct several short Q&As with manufacturers about their plans and offerings, to help you get the most out of the big annual trade show. Tom Swidarski is chief executive officer of The Telos Alliance.

Radio World: How has business been for the Telos Alliance since last year’s NAB Show?

Tom Swidarski: At the risk of reusing an old phrase, “Business is great and people are fantastic!” I say that because of the two primary types of business activity in which broadcasters are currently engaging.

The first is the usual equipment replacement and improvement cycles. Stations are upgrading their on-air phone systems to SIP-based solutions like the Telos VX series. Other stations are installing new audio processors with HD and RDS options. Stream processing and encoding are becoming critical these days. AoIP audio consoles, a Telos Alliance innovation, are now becoming standard in the industry. Our flagship consoles like our Axia iQ and Fusion remain standards for the entire industry. That said, big studio builds are still happening as well. KCRW’s new $38 million facility in Los Angeles, which we’ve been privileged to be a part of, is a great example.

[Read: NAB Exhibitor Viewpoint: Bruce D. Swail, GatesAir]

The second is truly forward-looking: We’re seeing the first movements to a broadcast infrastructure that’s application-based in addition to hardware-based. In this new paradigm, studios will be easier to build and even friendlier to operate. The Telos Alliance and our partners will make the smart systems that “just plain make radio work,” leaving the talent to focus even more on content.

Not all of our success this year has been simply product-centric. We’ve increased alignment in our sales, marketing, and product development teams; we’ve debuted a new product introduction process that decreases our time to market; and we’ve standardized the manufacturing process. The result is a nimbleness that lets us both lead the industry in innovation and respond quickly to the evolving audio landscape.

RW: What are you hearing from your customers about their business outlook this year? In what areas should we expect growth or the most interesting projects?

Swidarski: Broadcasters are making smart investments right now. When they upgrade existing studios or build new ones, they’re not just looking at individual products; instead they are looking at the entire ecosystem and choosing equipment and software that works together and creates an end-to-end workflow. That thinking is not only saving them time and money up front, but will pay huge dividends as we all move into a more connected world. The demand to create more content in less time and with fewer resources has never been greater, nor has the need for intercommunication and the sharing of content between facilities.

We’re also hearing more about the move away from proprietary hardware and into software-driven, virtualized environments where it is consistent with our development path.

RW: Within the last year or so the two largest station ownership groups have filed for bankruptcy while there’s also been serious consolidation as other groups leave the market. Stepping away from your particular segment, what is your feeling for the overall health of the radio industry?

Swidarski: The term “radio” used to be reserved for analog, terrestrial, over-the-air delivery. That model is still valid, alive, and well, but radio is evolving and diversifying into digital terrestrial delivery, streaming, and on-demand content. The popularity of smart speakers — the new table radio — is testament to this, as is the continued increase in podcast listenership, which just this year has experienced its biggest jump in growth since 2006.

The good news is that radio is going through a real renaissance, and the demand for audio content has never been higher. Our customers are producing quality and quantity content like never before, and they are looking to companies that understand their evolving needs and pain points and who respond to them with innovative solutions. The broadcasters with the best tools and the most forward-thinking strategies and facilities are going to prosper.

RW: You’ve been active in the broadcast equipment market (AoIP, consoles, processors, etc.) for decades. What’s the biggest problem or challenge facing users in this segment right now?

Swidarski: One of the biggest challenges for broadcast system integrators and engineers is making sure they’re up to speed on the best AoIP practices and have a firm grasp of networking fundamentals, like proper clocking techniques. AoIP is everywhere, and networked audio is in a very good place now. Using the AES67 standard, we’re seeing meaningful interconnections between different brands and systems. This is the vision we had years ago when we invented AoIP for broadcast. Our goal of interoperability is essential in the new IT ecosystem!

Another challenge is the fierce competition for the ear. Our clients are reminded of it every day. They have to be wherever their customers are and embrace the ways in which their listeners consume content. They have to be ready to change course on a dime, and are realizing the advantage of being able to choose products from various vendors to “roll their own” systems. This underscores the critical importance of interoperability. For our part, we’re helping them through these transitions by moving toward software, automated solutions, and virtualization.

RW: What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your booth?

Swidarski: Telos Alliance has two booths again this year — SU3821 (TV) and N5806 (radio) — to make it easier for people to find the solutions they are looking for based on their primary market. However, the lines between media are blurring. Notre Dame’s Martin Live Production Media Center is a great example of an all-IP routing infrastructure, with Axia at its core.

Telos Infinity IP Intercom’s broad appeal has resulted in installations outside of the traditional TV market, including radio facilities like Chicago’s WGN. We’re expecting Telos Infinity to be successful in nonbroadcast vertical markets in 2019 as well.

You’ll see Telos VX VoIP phone systems equally at home in both radio and TV facilities, and you’ll find AoIP consoles — like our new Axia iQx, which makes its official stateside debut at NAB — used in both markets as well.

Attendees will get to demo a really cool new product from Omnia (hint, it’s not a processor) and get a glimpse of the virtual future of broadcast in our HyperStudio Experience demo which features several of our products operating in a hypervisor environment.

Our goal at the show — and in general — is to shape the future of broadcast audio by delivering innovative, intuitive solutions that inspire our customers to create the most exciting and engaging audio experiences imaginable, and that’s what they’ll find at both booths.

RW: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at the 2019 NAB Show?

Swidarski: Audio over IP is gaining such widespread acceptance and deployment in both radio and television that even today it’s still right up there. Standards like SMPTE ST 2110-30 — which incorporates AES67 for television audio — and standards like IS-04 and IS-05 bear this out.

Savvy broadcasters will want to keep their minds open to the virtualization technologies on the horizon as well. One very large broadcaster has over 500,000 hours of successful operation using centralized—and redundant—back-end infrastructure. They’ve been on-air with a virtualized environment for almost four years now, and their success demonstrates the viability of this paradigm for our future.

That said, part of the future is already here, and users can begin virtualizing key systems and convenient talent touchpoints right now. Users love the convenience and modern feel of customized touchscreen consoles and console extensions. As an example, the IP-Tablet from the Telos Alliance is seeing enthusiastic deployment in the most modern studios.

Streaming is on the rise thanks to the explosion in smart speaker listening, which has doubled in the last year. Our Z/IPStream line of stream encoders and processors feature Omnia processing that allows streams to sound as good or even better than on-air.

Finally, standards are more important than ever, and will be prominently touted by manufacturers at NAB. AES67 will be everywhere, including the world of television audio with the new SMPTE ST 2110-30 standard. ATSC 3.0, with its next-generation immersive and personalized audio, brings with it huge changes to the television audio landscape for production, loudness control, monitoring, authoring, and upmixing.

RW: Will you be attending any sessions or looking forward to any events?

Swidarski: Absolutely! We’re really looking forward to the IP Showcase (C12634), which continues to help guide the industry on all things IP. Greg Shay, our CTO, will be speaking at the IP Showcase booth on April 9, from 5–5:30 p.m., offering his practical experience and perspective on using PTP/SMPTE 2059.

We will also be participating in three sessions during the show: Frank Foti’s talk about “µMPX FM Stereo Composite Connectivity” via IP goes down on April 9th at 4 p.m. in N260. Kirk Harnack will discuss “Offsite Radio Infrastructure and Virtualization Technology” on April 11th at 10:40 a.m. in N258. John Schur will give attendees the lowdown on “Audio Monitoring for Next-Gen TV Audio” on April 9th at 2:30 p.m. in N260. All of it promises valuable and practical takeaways.

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The post NAB Exhibitor Viewpoint: Tom Swidarski, The Telos Alliance appeared first on Radio World.

NAB Sneak Peek: V-Soft Promotes Probe to Fifth Level

Radio World - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 16:51

V-Soft’s RF signal propagation measurement program Probe gets a whole number upgrade to Probe 5.

This latest version of Probe will now process at 64 bits. That should increase its calculating power to take advantage of computer RAM greater than 2 GB.

The company says that users can configure every aspect of Probe 5’s maps including down to the street level to provide high detail. It also says that features such as, highway colors, line-thickness, road markers, city names, lake and ocean colors, font names and sizes are fully selectable. It features USGS topographic maps.

The program now includes “industry standard” NSMA OHLOSS propagation algorithm. Incumbent propagation methods include: Other propagation methods are standard FCC, Longley-Rice, Okumura/Hata/Davidson and COST-231/Hata, point-to-point path profile analysis, line of sight/shadow, the FCC’s PTP and PTP2 methods and ILLR Satellite Home Viewers Act.

NAB Show Booth: N5921

Info: www.v-soft.com

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The post NAB Sneak Peek: V-Soft Promotes Probe to Fifth Level appeared first on Radio World.

NAB Sneak Peek: Bittree Gets Ready for Dante

Radio World - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 15:21

Interconnects specialist Bittree is laying claim to “the world’s first Dante audio patchbay to market” with the Bittree Patch32A. It will be available for viewing at the upcoming NAB Show.

Bittree Patch32A

According to the company, “the Bittree Dante patchbay will interface with Dante Virtual Soundcard, countless Dante devices, and almost any analog component in the same system, including audio distribution equipment, digital audio workstations, digital signal processors, mixing consoles, multitrack recorders and video routers.”

Bittree Senior Sales Consultant Bryan Carpenter said, “This patchbay streamlines the integration of analog and digital network audio patching, and establishes a foundation for interconnectivity across facilities within central equipment rooms, production studios, and IT closets among other locations. It is flexible enough to immediately solve problems in existing facilities, or optimize flexibility from the start in new facility designs.”

Bittree’s Dante patchbay supports a sample rates ranging from 24-bit/44.1 to 192 kHz. The design utilizes balanced TT connections to Dante analog and digital conversions. Settings are configurable using Dante Controller, including sample rates and channel assignments to and from Dante networks.

The compact standalone or rack-mounted 1.5 RU powder-coat enclosure has redundant DC power, external word clock I/O, network status and LED metering.

NAB Show Booth: SU6221

Info: www.bittree.com

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