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Radio History Calendar Available

Radio World - Tue, 11/26/2019 - 14:53

John Schneider’s epic Radio Historian’s calendars are always a treat for radio aficionados.

His latest, the Radio Historian’s 2020 Calendar, is no exception. Perhaps the best ever, it is packed with colorized black and white photos of radio facilities, mostly studios and mostly pictures taken in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Highlights include the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, Orson Welles and Burns & Allen.

Also outstanding are facility pictures of Powel Crosley’s WLW and Edwin Armstrong’s New Jersey FM test site.

Not to be missed and it makes a great Christmas gift (assuming the intended hasn’t already beaten you to it!).

 

The post Radio History Calendar Available appeared first on Radio World.

Scarlet Knights’ Station Gets a Fresh Start

Radio World - Tue, 11/26/2019 - 11:42
Photo by Paul Kaminski

WRSU(FM) 88.7 FM is the student voice of Rutgers University, with studios on the main campus in New Brunswick, N.J. The station broadcasts from the Student Center as it has done since 1969. 

Over those 50 years, WRSU navigated the challenges inherent in using analog equipment that often was near the end of its life cycle. But originating a broadcast schedule that includes three daily newscasts, music shows, live performance programs and more than 150 local and remote sports broadcasts a year was difficult under any circumstances; and the station felt that its product needed more focus on its audio luster.

Mike Pavlichko is the broadcast administrator and advisor for WRSU. “Our main studio was done [rebuilt] 10 years ago, but nothing else had really been touched in 30 years,” he said. 

Program Director Kelly Brecker, Music Director Bennett Rosner, DJ Blake Lew-Merwin, GM Justin Sontupe, Jake Ostrove (sports) from left, on the night of the first broadcast from the new FM studio. Station Advisor Mike Pavlichko said, “We played a legal ID followed by ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,’ which also was the first song that we played when WRSU switched from carrier current AM to FM in 1974, followed by ‘Turn Your Radio On’ by The Suburbs.”
Courtesy WRSU

There were three 2-inch conduits interconnecting the studios; the conduits were full of wires, many of which weren’t connected to anything after years of patches upon patches being applied to equipment to keep the station on the air.

Nick Straka’s company NS Engineering had done projects for WRSU including a news production studio and a transmitter upgrade; he was called in to help plan what would come next. Straka is an SAS field applications and sales engineer, with much of his work done in the greater New York City area (there are large SAS installations at iHeart NYC, New York Public Radio, CBS News Radio, Fox News Radio and ESPN). Straka also heads broadcast integration company DNAV, along with Daniel Hyatt. 

“The more we went through the planning phase, said Straka,  “the more it became obvious to put the station on auto-pilot and gut everything out.”   

MASHED AND SMASHED The Core64 connects WRSU’s Air, Production and News studios through a single length of Cat-6 cabling. The Core64 allows operators and engineers to fine tune program source selection and intercom/talkback choices on the fly.
Photo by Nick Straka

For two and a half months over the summer break in 2019, the station played recorded programs on the air while every bit of legacy analog wiring between the three studios was removed. WRSU transitioned from an analog plant with some digital sources, to an AoIP plant with some analog sources. 

At the beginning, they found that legacy wiring was unlabeled, and used nonstandard connections. 

“We found daisy chained distribution amps; each (audio) bus had a different AGC looped on it. By the time the audio got to the Orban Optimod 8600 at the transmitter, it had been mashed and smashed,” Straka said.

After the removal of analog equipment and installation of the AoIP architecture, all audio between the studios (newsroom, production and air) is now carried on one Cat-6 cable in one conduit.

Music Director Bennett Rosner sits at the SAS iSL 28.3 console in the WRSU air studio, with General Manager Justin Sontupe, left, and news anchor Ryan Margolis during the “R U Awake” morning show.
Courtesy WRSU

The heart of WRSU’s facility is an SAS Core64 Audio Engine. Straka says the Core64 provides dependable flexibility and expandability for future expansion (up to 512 by 512 channels). “If more AES67/Dante capacity is needed, it’s easy to slide in another card in the frame,” he said.

[Read: John Storyk on Podcast Studio Design]

When WRSU wanted to add a second preparation-and-playback personal computer in the air studio for the morning show, the installation was no more complex than downloading a driver for the PC and connecting that PC to the SAS crosspoint map. That process took two minutes. 

The WRSU Air Studio was reconfigured when the legacy analog equipment, wiring and technical racks were removed. Custom furniture by Studio Technology and increased space allow guests and operator to face each other in the studio.
Photo by Paul Kaminski

In the Main and Production studios, SAS 28.3 iSL consoles (bearing the Rutgers scarlet color) are installed in custom furniture from Studio Technology. Each of those consoles are connected to SAS Rio Bravo IP engines. All of the 24 main sources have their own faders, which makes training and operation easier for WRSU’s students and community volunteers.

[Read other great articles from the Nov. 20 issue of Radio World]

Now any audio source in the plant can be called up for broadcast, and the consoles can be reconfigured quickly to meet programming requirements. 

For more flexibility, Henry Engineering Multiports are installed in each studio, so programmers can connect their audio sources from personal music collections, and play those sources through the console. Denon DN-C635 CD players were recycled from the previous installation.

The 50-year-old space in the Student Center is concrete block, so moving walls to facilitate the installation wasn’t possible. Technical equipment was installed in the main studio. Once that equipment was relocated, Straka says Studio Technology took custom measurements to design and build an air studio that, for the first time, allowed guests to sit across from the hosts.

General Manager Justin Sontupe said, “We are kind of the college radio sound. If you go on Spotify, you can find different playlists, top 40, etc. Here, we have some of the not-as-popular music, not as mainstream. What you hear on 88.7, you’re not going to hear elsewhere.” To help Sontupe and the music department support that content, WRSU installed an RCS Zetta automation system with RCS Gselector music scheduling software.

RCS Zetta automation and RCS GSelector training in the production room at WRSU. The automation and software gives the music programmers flexibility in scheduling, and helps maintain the station sound in certain dayparts.
Photo by Paul Kaminski

Automation is used to run overnights and assist with live programming. The RCS system is being loaded with a library of tens of thousands of songs to reduce the reliance on CD playback, or worse, streaming a song from YouTube. Once the library is in place, students will learn voice tracking to fill the overnight hours.

Connections to the outside world are made with Comrex Access and Access NX codecs, which get a workout during football and basketball seasons. Telephone connections are made through a Comrex STAC phone system.

[QMusic and Joe Inaugurate New Studios]

The audio from the Student Center Studios feeds an STL consisting of a Harris Intraplex T1 as the main feed with Comrex BricLink as the backup. The STL feeds Orban Optimod 8600 processing. From there, WRSU uses two GatesAir FAX3 transmitters (main and standby) with ERP of 1,400 watts from a 190-foot tower on Rutgers property off Route 1. The station broadcasts from its original tower, three-bay antenna and concrete block building dating from its FM sign-on in 1971. 

The cost for the upgrades for WRSU were estimated to be around $250,000.

With one of these Henry Engineering Multiport Audio Interfaces in both the Main and Production studios, programmers of specialty shows can bring their own music on a jump drive or laptop. The bi-directional interface makes it easy to aircheck as well.
Photo by Paul Kaminski

The flexibility, digital wizardry and remodeling that went into this rebuild do more than future-proof the facility; they give the students an idea of what they may face in the broadcast environment off campus.

“That’s what we want to give them, the real-world experience. They’re going to go out and they’re going to have a leg up for that internship. They’re going to know how to use an automation system and audio over IP.”

Equipment Sampler

SAS Core64 Audio Engine

SAS iSL 28.3 Consoles (Main and Production)

SAS iSL 12.2 Console (Newsbooth)

SAS Rio Bravo IP engines (Main, Production and Newsbooth)

Pioneer PLX 500 Turntables

Henry Engineering Multiport

Yellowtec Mika! Mic and monitor arms

Comrex Access and Access NX IP codecs

Comrex STAC studio phone system

RCS Zetta Automation

RCS GSelector music scheduling software

iMedia Logger by Win-OMT

Studio furniture by Studio Technology

Acoustic Treatment by Sound Seal

 

Paul Kaminski, CBT, has been a Radio World contributor since 1997. Twitter: @msrpk_com  Facebook: PKaminski2468.

The post Scarlet Knights’ Station Gets a Fresh Start appeared first on Radio World.

User Report: Sweet Dreams, Sweet Streams

Radio World - Tue, 11/26/2019 - 11:15

MADISON, Wis. — It’s undeniable that streaming radio, something that has been around for quite a while, is steadily becoming more and more important in our daily lives. Especially when you consider the huge influx of smartphones and smart speakers in the market over the past five years. 

Until recently, it has required quite an investment to stream your radio station online, both in terms of equipment and in the time it takes to configure the server properly. Let’s face it, streaming can be a bit of a pain to get going for engineers of any skill level, even with the most basic setup possible.

When we started discussing how to improve our streaming configuration at Wisconsin Public Radio, I was tasked with finding an easy-to-use, robust and reliable solution that would integrate with our new audio over IP installation. I had considered using a custom-built system with custom software to run the stream, but the problem with custom solutions is that 90% of the time they are not easy to use and not as reliable as they need to be. Ruling out custom solutions led me on the search for a mysterious box that did it all, one that had the reliability, ease of use and tight integration with our AoIP system we were looking for. 

This search ended with the Z/IPStream R/2 from The Telos Alliance, the streaming encoder that satisfied all of the requirements and more. The R/2 allows us to reliably integrate directly with our AoIP network with a simple web interface while leaving the option open for analog or AES inputs. 

[Read: How to Process Audio for Streaming, Properly]

There were several things that set the Z/IPStream out from the competition. Most notably is the option to have Omnia.9 processing built into the box, letting you really get full control of your station’s streaming sound. If you don’t need the full power of the Omnia.9, there is an Omnia-based three-band processor available in the box as well. 

Another factor that sets it apart is the ability to run multiple different stream-encoding settings with the same audio source with multiple different output types like Icecast, SHOUTcast or RTMP servers without even having to think about if you are running the correct software. I can honestly say the R/2 lets me sleep better at night. I know that if we need to change streaming providers, all I have to do is set up the stream in the easy-to-use web interface, and we will be up and running in minutes rather than hours or days if we had to configure or build a new streaming box just to change providers. 

I believe it is critical to invest in a proper streaming infrastructure; it may be just as important as a transmitter in the coming years. While streaming radio is changing the way radio stations work, there is one thing that will never change, whether the equipment is analog or digital, living at a transmitter site or in a datacenter: Engineers will always need a solution they can rely on for critical applications. For Wisconsin Public Radio, the R/2 is just that. It has been running in our datacenter for close to six months and it has been exactly what we needed for a reliable and powerful streaming solution. 

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

The post User Report: Sweet Dreams, Sweet Streams appeared first on Radio World.

Hungary Studies DRM Shortwave

Radio World - Tue, 11/26/2019 - 02:00

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Digital Radio Mondiale transmissions began from Budapest, Hungary, last June. Although two Hungarian broadcasters previously tested DRM on medium wave, the transmissions are the country’s first DRM trials on shortwave.

The antenna used in the trial is located at the Budapest University of Technology.

The Department of Broadcast Info-Communications and Electronic Theory at the Budapest University of Technology is conducting these latest trials. Csaba Szombathy, head of the broadcasting laboratory, is also head of the project, which will last for at least 12 months.

While the 11-meter 26,060 kHz frequency is well known for use in local broadcasting, it’s rarely implemented for international broadcasting. Both World Radio Network (now owned by Encompass Digital Media) and Vatican Radio conducted DRM trials on shortwave in the 26 MHz range in London and Rome in 2005 and 2008 respectively. Researchers have also performed tests in this frequency to measure coverage and determine optimal mode and bandwidth on various occasions in Mexico and Brazil. The new Hungarian trials will add to this research.

The Department of Broadcast Info-Communications and Electronic Theory at the Budapest University of Technology began testing DRM trials in June.

Szombathy initially operated the transmitter with just 10 W of power into a 5/8-inch vertical monopole. Radio Maria, a Catholic station, is providing a 25-hour program loop, while a Dream DRM software-based encoder broadcasts the signal using AAC encoding. In spite of the low power, the program was reportedly received in the Netherlands.

In early September, Szombathy moved the antenna and transmitter to a slightly different location to improve coverage. He increased the power to 100 W.

The second stage of the project is demonstrating DRM’s multimedia capabilities. Germany’s Fraunhofer IIS loaned the laboratory a content server, which provided a substantial upgrade to their setup. Szombathy’s station is transmitting with a xHE-AAC codec. The project also features Journaline data service, which Fraunhofer describes as “hierachically structured textual information.”

A diagram showing the compact DRM shortwave setup.

Although a number of Indian medium-wave stations broadcast in xHE-AAC, the Hungarian station is the only shortwave station with regular xHE-AAC transmissions. Fraunhofer previously supported a German university station broadcasting in xHE-AAC. That station, Funklust, is no longer on shortwave.

Szombathy says he welcomes any DRM receiver manufacturer or developer to Budapest to conduct field tests using any receiver they are working on.

The station may go on beyond its one-year project. “It depends on what we archive or where we get during this year,” explained Szombathy. “If I can generate sufficient interest, there’s a chance it’ll transition into a permanent, live broadcast.”

Hans Johnson has worked in the broadcast industry for over 20 years in sales, consulting, and frequency management.

The post Hungary Studies DRM Shortwave appeared first on Radio World.

Actions

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 20:00
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Amendment of Section 73.3556 of the Commission's Rules Regarding Duplication of Programming on Commonly Owned Radio Stations

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 20:00
The FCC seeks comment on whether the duplicative programming rule applicable to commonly owned radio stations in the same market should be modified or eliminated given the current broadcasting marketplace.

Broadcast Actions

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 20:00
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Applications

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 20:00
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All-Digital AM Broadcasting

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 20:00
FCC seeks comment on whether to authorize AM stations to transition to an all-digital signal on a voluntary basis.

Pleadings

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 20:00
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The 2020 POTUS race as covered by someone who is actually from Iowa

Radio Survivor - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 14:11

The 2020 POTUS primaries start, oddly enough, with an event that is not really a primary. It is called the Iowa Caucasus, in which Iowans pick a Democratic or Republican Presidential nominee via neighborhood cluster meetings. In the end, all the local choices are tallied, and et voila, a winner or group of winners emerge. The IC is scheduled for Monday, February 3, but that has not stopped the media from covering it as if it were happening next week.

Despite this time lag, interesting things do transpire as these Iowans prepare for their Caucuses. Thus you might want to check out 2020TALKS, a daily three minute newscast covering the Democratic primary race in general, and this gateway to next year’s primaries in particular. Headquartered in Ames, Iowa at KHOI Community radio, 2020Talks is hosted by Lily Böhlke and distributed by the Public News Service and the Pacifica Network. The show serves up what is happening from the progressive perspective of an Iowa Community radio station about 25 miles north of Des Moines.

For example, the above episode covers efforts in Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which Iowa United States Senator Jodi Ernst wants to water down, relaxing its protections for Native American women, among other groups. The clip also surveys what the various Democratic POTUS hopefuls are saying about the law. 

You can pick up 2020Talks at Audioport.org and NewsService.org. It posts its latest shows from midnight EST Sunday through Thursday.

The post The 2020 POTUS race as covered by someone who is actually from Iowa appeared first on Radio Survivor.

User Report: StreamGuys Helps Atunwa Digital Help Broadcasters

Radio World - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 12:52

NEW YORK and GHANA — Headquartered in New York with key personnel based in Africa, Atunwa Digital is a digital network that advises media enterprises on monetization strategies. We develop full-scale digital marketing and advertising strategies, helping clients from planning to execution and analytics.

Two years ago, we launched our initiative to help African audio content publishers better leverage digital distribution and advertising opportunities to get the most monetization value from their content. We find that while a lot of African media enterprises have loyal, global audiences listening to their content regularly, they do not possess the in-house technical expertise nor advertising capacity to fully realize its built-in value. 

We were seeing a trend where many of these organizations were leaving revenue on the table by receiving only a small percentage back from their streaming or podcasting service provider. 

COLLABORATION

We set out to address this issue by helping creators of African content reach both their local and diaspora audiences through online streaming, with the ability to serve geo-targeted advertising to their listeners, all while taking control of their digital future. 

To do this, we needed to find an audio streaming technology provider who could supply not only the tools and infrastructure needed for online delivery, but also the support and expertise that our customers would need as they develop their own digital media autonomy. We wanted to work with a company that we could depend on for support, while collaborating with us to design the optimal streaming workflows for our clients. 

A recommendation from one of our partners led us to StreamGuys, and we determined that they would be an ideal fit. In addition to having great tools, technology and support, they were willing to deal with us on a collaborative level. We now use the complete suite of StreamGuys services and solutions, from their robust content delivery network to their analytics tools. 

At Atunwa, our advertising offerings span both programmatic and direct sales approaches, as we have established relationships with both multinational and local brands looking to reach the African demographic globally. StreamGuys’ integration with industry-leading ad platforms allows the insertion of dynamic, server-side, targeted advertising into our clients’ live streams and podcasts. 

The targeted addressability of the ads is particularly valuable in capitalizing on revenue opportunities from the African diaspora living in the United States, Europe and other markets, as that audience receives spots that are relevant to them.  

Another significant challenge faced by African content providers has been unauthorized redistribution of their content. It is crucial that content owners regain control of their streams and have visibility into their daily earnings. Unauthorized usage leads to revenue being taken away from the original content owners. 

StreamGuys’ tools including the SGPassKey system enable our clients’ streams to be restricted to authorized distribution partners and are also integrated into StreamGuys’ embeddable SGplayer media player, giving us end-to-end security for both affiliate and consumer delivery. 

The SGrecast live stream repurposing system enables our clients to turn live productions into on-demand podcasts, with automatic template-based publishing ensuring they are submitted correctly to aggregators. The fact that StreamGuys’ dynamic advertising capabilities are unified across both live streams and podcasts is advantageous; rather than managing two separate systems, podcasts just become a seamless extension of live operations.

The results of working with StreamGuys have been impressive. As an example, they have enabled us to deliver over tenfold growth in the monetization of radio content online for respected Ghanaian media organization Multimedia Group Limited, as well as significantly growing their digital traffic by taking back control of their content. Across five key MGL stations, monthly total listener hours increased by 152% and monthly cume by 96% in their first month of full operation with StreamGuys, and both metrics more than tripled over the past 18 months.

There has always been significant value in African content providers’ programming. Our goal with Atunwa is to build a digital network whereby we become the most trusted monetization source for African content publishers and the resource for brands/advertisers looking to connect with African audiences globally. StreamGuys’ streaming technology and expertise have allowed our clients’ digital media operations to become more independent, unlocking that value through the power of digital advertising. 

For information, contact StreamGuys at 1-707-667-9479 or visit www.streamguys.com.

The post User Report: StreamGuys Helps Atunwa Digital Help Broadcasters appeared first on Radio World.

LPFM Stations Seek Technical Upgrades

Radio World - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 12:22
The studio of WXOX, a low-power FM in Louisville, Ky., features a mural by Wilfred Sieg of the Art Cartel. WXOX is among the stations that filed comments to the FCC.

The low-power FM service in the United States has grown to more than 2,100 stations. Advocates say it has matured to the point that those stations should have an opportunity to improve their signals through technical upgrades.

The FCC is considering a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would, among other things, allow for more widespread use of directional antennas by LPFM stations. Currently the rules allow LPFMs to use directional antennas under special circumstances, including as part of a second adjacent waiver request or for LPFMs licensed for public safety purposes. The commission is also proposing to allow LPFMs to use boosters.

The approximate service range of a 100 watt LPFM station is about 3.5 miles, according to the FCC.

DIVERSITY & LOCALISM

Advocates say the commission was understandably conservative at the outset of the service almost two decades ago, authorizing small coverage areas with very low powers and height, and imposing strict transmitter requirements. Now, they say, LPFM deserves additional engineering options to improve reception. 

Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wrote in a blog post this year: “When the commission launched the service in 2000, it designed LPFM requirements to be simple. The purpose was to make it easier for non-profit organizations with limited engineering expertise and small budgets to readily apply for, construct and operate stations service highly localized areas.”

Pai said the NPRM includes changes to increase flexibility while maintaining interference protection and the core LPFM values of diversity and localism.

The proposed rules would not be “a carte blanche for all LPFMs” to use directional antennas, said Michi Bradley, founder of REC Networks and an LPFM advocate who has pushed for rule changes.

Bradley said the main beneficiaries of the change would be a handful of LPFM stations near the Mexican border. Currently, stations within the Mexican border strip zone, within 125 kilometers, are limited to 50 watts ERP non-directional, Bradley said. 

[Read more stories from the Nov. 20 issue of Radio World]

“The proposal would add a third category to allow LPFM stations to use DAs to limit power to 50 watts or less along radials that are within 125 km of the border and to allow the full 100 watts in directions away from Mexico,” Bradley said.

Another aspect of the proposed directional antenna changes is to permit, in certain cases, the use of composite directional antennas, as opposed to off-the-shelf models. 

“This would give LPFM stations more flexibility to use antennas, such as the Nicom BKG-77, which are not listed in the FCC’s standard pattern list, as well as use multiple skewed antennas in order to maximize coverage while still protecting second adjacents or meeting international agreements.”

The FCC in its NPRM stated that it doesn’t think the use of DAs will be widespread: “We believe that directional antennas, whether off-the-shelf or custom models, will not be used widely in the LPFM service due to their higher cost and limited necessity. Nevertheless, the use of such antennas could, if properly engineered, provide significant flexibility to LPFM licensees subject to international agreements and to those that must relocate in areas with few available transmitter sites.” 

The FCC is also contemplating a new definition for LPFM minor changes to include those that involve overlapping 60 dBu contours of the station’s existing and proposed facilities or a move of 5.6 km or less.

In addition, the proposal would allow LPFM stations to retransmit their signals over FM booster stations without a waiver in order to fill in terrain-associated gaps in service. REC believes very few LPFM stations would benefit from having FM boosters but that in some cases it may help fill in certain gaps in challenged coverage areas.

EXPERT ASSISTANCE

A Radio World review of comments filed through early November showed many commenters urging the FCC to adopt the technical upgrades. 

Steven White, director of Triangle Access Broadcasting, Inc., said the FCC’s original goal of installing simple technical rules made sense under the circumstances.      

“What became apparent was that, while the LPFM rules are comparatively simple, expert assistance was still required for many organizations that just don’t happen to have the right balance of people within themselves,” he wrote.

“If technical services are required anyway, then it is only proper to make the fullest use of those services and maximize the use of spectrum achieved with directional antennas.”

Veteran broadcast engineer Dana Puopolo wrote, “I support this proposal because it is well past time the commission stop treating low-power FM stations as second-class citizens. No other class of full-power FM station, translator or booster has the amount of technical restrictions as low-power FM stations do.

“For example, no other FM facility is restricted to such a small operating power, use of directional antennas, certification requirements for transmitters, use of an arbitrary 12 kilometer buffer and other restrictions as low-power FM stations are. The low-power FM service has become a mature service. It should be allowed the same rights (and responsibilities) as any other FM service.”

[NJBA: FCC Must Protect Full-Power Stations]

The Inge Davidson Foundation, licensee of WZML(LP) Bryn Mawr, Pa., wrote in support. 

“For far too long, low-power FM stations have been at the bottom of the pecking order. No other class of full-power FM station, translator or booster has as many restrictions as low-power FM stations do,” said Linda Davidson, chairwoman of the foundation.

Mike Starling, president and GM of Cambridge Community Radio and WHCP(LP) in Cambridge, Md., expressed support for the “common-sense LPFM technical improvements outlined in MB docket No. 19-193.” Starling is a former director of technical operations at NPR.

VOICING CONCERNS

Other commenters, including full-power broadcasters, expressed concern about increased crowding in the FM band.

Representatives of Entercom Communications met with Chairman Pai recently and said that “certain modifications to the LPFM technical rules proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking … could bring increased congestion to the FM dial leading to interference to full-power stations,” according to a public filing.

The New Jersey Broadcasters Association reminded the commission of the need to “adhere to the obligations of secondary broadcast services” as it proceeds.

“Specifically, the obligation that secondary services not interfere with full-power radio broadcast stations,” the NJBA wrote. “In addition, the need for further expansion and competition from LPFM services is dubious at best — given that the radio broadcasting industry has already been subjected to increased competition from the recently-enacted FM translator rule changes, digital media, satellite radio, podcasts, internet and other media sources.”

The National Association of Broadcasters told the FCC, “NAB is concerned that the proposal to allow LPFM licensees expanded use of directional antennas could cause interference to full-service FM stations. We further object to the commission’s proposal to grant a blanket authorization to LPFM operators to use boosters,” the association wrote.

[Buffer Compromise Would Boost FM Class C4]

In addition, NAB supported the commission’s rejection of proposals to allow LPFM stations to increase power above 100 watts, which was suggested in REC Networks’ petition. 

REC Networks has asked the FCC to reconsider 250-watt stations (LP-250). Under its proposal, Bradley said, LP-250 would only be available as an upgrade to already licensed LP-100 stations and be considered a minor change. In addition, any LPFM station proposing LP-250, FM translator relief or LPFM-to-LPFM short-spacing would be subject to an interference remediation rule similar to the one recently adopted by the FCC for FM translators.

“REC’s LP-250 proposal has been refined for many years, taking into consideration the input of NAB, EMF [Educational Media Foundation] and other opponents, and is statutorily sound,” Bradley contended.  

Numerous LPFM broadcasters, filing comments on the current petition, also brought up a desire for LP-250 to better serve local communities. 

[Is There an Afterlife for “Franken” FMs?]

Sharon Scott, president of WXOX(LP), a volunteer community radio station on 97.1 MHz in Louisville, Ken., commented on her support for the boost to 250 watts. 

“While reviewing LPFM rules, we hope you will consider increasing our maximum allotted power from 100 watts to 250 watts of effective radiated power at 100 feet height above average terrain. This modest increase would greatly improve our ability to deliver the diverse voices of our community to those whom it matters the most,” Scott wrote. 

Park Public Radio, which holds the license for KPPS(LP) in St. Louis Park, Minn., wrote, “Proposed rules do not substantially help the needs of incumbent LPFM broadcasters, and further reforms are necessary to address the unfavorable rules that LPFM operators face versus FM translator operators.” KPPS’ Jeff Sibert said he believes the commission should reconsider its tentative rejection of an LP-250 service. 

Comment on this or any story. Email radioworld@futurenet.com with “Letter to the Editor” in the subject field.

The post LPFM Stations Seek Technical Upgrades appeared first on Radio World.

Radio Station Visit #165: Maui Youth Radio Station KOPO-LP RadiOpio

Radio Survivor - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 08:24

On the edge of a funky beach town in Maui lies magical community radio station KOPO-LP, whose broadcasts are filled with youthful voices. Since 2006, thousands of kids and teens from the Pa’ia Youth and Cultural Center (PYCC) have taken to the FM airwaves from its seaside perch.

View of the beach from the back entrance to Pa’ia Youth and Cultural Center. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Known as RadiOpio (opio means “youth” in Hawaiian), KOPO-LP operates from the site of a formerly abandoned building that now houses a youth center, complete with skate park. As surfers trek to and from the adjacent beach, young people are hanging out, skateboarding, playing pool, and taking part in a range of programs, from cooking to media production.

While on vacation in Hawaii this August, I dropped in to the station with my family and was lucky to be able to meet up with RadiOpio Program Director Laura Civitello. Civitello greeted us enthusiastically and indulged me in a short interview and tour. She told a fascinating story about the station’s improbable history. It all begins with Pa’ia Youth and Cultural Center, which stemmed from a grassroots community effort to re-purpose an old, spooky home that was the sole survivor of a neighborhood-destroying 1946 tsunami.

View of Pa’ia Youth and Cultural Center from parking lot. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Civitello recounted that in 1999, a staff member at the youth center spotted an ad in Wired Magazine about the opportunity for a low power radio license and that prompted the organization to apply. By 2005, they were awarded a construction permit for a new FM station, but struggled to find someone to take on the project as a youth program.

RadiOpio Program Director Laura Civitello. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

When the center reached out to Civitello, her reaction was markedly different. She told me that she thought, “That’s perfect for me.” After taking on the project, she heard from plenty of naysayers who told her that it was “insane” to launch a radio station at the beach with kids on the air. She was undeterred.

Sound board and audio equipment in KOPO-LP studio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Having been a volunteer at another Maui community radio station, Mana’o Radio (see my tour report), prior to KOPO-LP; Civitello had both local radio connections and insights, which helped as she worked to get the new station on the air in 2006. “It went well immediately,” she recounted, explaining that RadiOpio’s focus on its participants is key. To emphasize that, she spoke about the station’s air sound, relaying, “I hope it’s the sound of kids having fun.”

Radio station stickers spotted in the PYCC parking lot. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

While we chatted, I noticed numerous radios in Civitello’s office. When I pointed them out, she smiled and revealed that folks keep giving her radios as gifts, no doubt as a sign of her passion for radio. The school year started a few days before our visit and the center was buzzing with activity. Young people trickled in and out to check in with Civitello and we were introduced to some of the DJs, including a pair of 12-year-old girls who were on the air.

Radio in Laura Civitello’s office at KOPO-LP. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

The KOPO-LP studio is in a tiny room next to Civitello’s office. A short hallway leads in to the studio and we loitered there while checking out the space. With two DJs sitting in the studio in front of microphones and audio equipment, the studio was pretty much at maximum capacity.

Shelf of CDs in KOPO-LP studio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Between songs, the show hosts bantered before exiting the studio to make room for the new crew of DJs. Civitello explained that the schedule is very loose, with kids as young as nine years old coming in after school and taking turns on the air. “I give them a lot of freedom,” Civitello shared, telling me that the young DJs make their own decisions about what to play and say on the air. Sometimes kids will even sing along with the music that they are playing with the microphones turned on.

DJs in the studio at KOPO-LP RadiOpio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Although KOPO 88.9 FM’s 100 watt range is hampered by the ocean (not too many listeners in that direction), we were amazed by how far we heard the station on our sunset drive up to the 10,000 foot summit of Haleakala. As we trekked out of town and up into the clouds, we caught a mix of pop (Billie Eilish was a big favorite of many DJs), hip-hop (Cardi B, Post Malone and Big Sean were represented) and reggae and could still hear KOPO-LP as we hit an elevation of 7,000 feet! On our post-sunset journey back down, KOPO-LP was playing some older music, including jazzy-bluesy material and some vintage pop from Patti Drew. Earlier in the day we’d heard some classic Beastie Boys as well.

Sign for Pa’ia Youth and Cultural Center. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Civitello said that over FM, KOPO-LP covers the north shore of Maui, but that it also has many “faithful” online listeners. The soul of the station is its young participants. “We’re like a family,” Civitello opined, telling me that the free after-school programs at the youth center draw in 9 to 19-year-olds from a range of backgrounds, including “some of the wealthiest kids in the world” as well as youth who are homeless. Most end up doing radio at one point or another, but there’s also the lure of the skate park, pool tables, and other programs.

Old KOPO-LP sticker with former frequency. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

As I took in the beautiful surroundings and incredible opportunity for kids to do radio at such young ages, I thought about all the tourists passing through on their way to see the sights of Hawaii. I hope they take the time to flip through the dial on their rental cars to catch the joyful sounds of kids and teens on RadiOpio.

Radio tower and palm tree in Hawaii at KOPO-LP. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Thanks to Laura Civitello for welcoming us at RadiOpio when we stopped by unannounced! Following the visit, she joined us on Radio Survivor show/podcast episode #210, “Youth Radio by the Beach,” filling in even more details about how the station came to be. This is my 165th radio station tour report and my 36th community radio station recap. View all my radio station visits in numerical order or by station type in our archives.

The post Radio Station Visit #165: Maui Youth Radio Station KOPO-LP RadiOpio appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Mayah Communications, Ferncast Announce Strategic Alliance

Radio World - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 07:14

Mayah Communications has set a new marketing and development cooperation with Ferncast GmbH, the company announced on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Detlef Wiese is CEO of Mayah.

Mayah, which has crafted ISDN and IP audio codecs, is now moving into cloud and virtual machine applications, something that Ferncast has experience with from their products based on aixtream technology.

“Mayah is bringing its experience and knowledge of the market, while Ferncast develops innovative broadcast solutions with their highly skilled developers team of PhD and Msc with a close relation to the RWTH Aachen University and the Institute of Communication Systems (IKS),” said Dr. Hauke Krüger, CEO of Ferncast.

“The Ferncast team is creative, dynamic  and experienced at the same time,” said Detlef Wiese, CEO of Mayah.

Dr. Hauke Krüger is CEO of Ferncast

“It is a pleasure to work with them and an exciting big step for the broadcasting industry. I am sure the customers will benefit from this cooperation and the resulting innovative professional audio solutions.”

The post Mayah Communications, Ferncast Announce Strategic Alliance appeared first on Radio World.

FCC Opens Proceeding for All-Digital AM Radio

Radio Survivor - Sun, 11/24/2019 - 14:32


On Nov. 22 the Federal Communitications Commission voted unanimously to adopt a proposal for rulemaking to allow AM radio stations to convert to fully digital broadcasting, using the MA3 all-digital mode of HD Radio. There was no dissent, and all three Republican commissioners issued separate statements of support. As I noted earlier, if approved, all-digital AM broadcasting would be voluntary.

In addition to deciding if AM stations can convert to digital, the proceeding will also pose questions about how these new all-digital signals will be required to protect adjacent stations from interference. The FCC hasn’t published the full proposal for these details in docket 13–249 yet. Once published in the Federal Register a 30-day comment period will open up where any interested party may let the Commission know their opinion on the idea.

If approved, stations that go all-digital will no longer be receivable on analog receivers, which includes most portable and home radios. About 50% of new car radios feature HD reception. Though because the average vehicle on the road is 11 years old, a smaller percentage of them are HD-capable. 

The question AM broadcasters will need to consider is if the gain in fidelity is worth the potential loss of half or more of their audiences. For listeners and radio enthusiasts, the question is what is the toll for communities when more than half of listeners lose access to a station’s signal. Even if the programming is of interest to just a fraction of listeners, many AM stations still serve an important community service function.

The thought experiment is to consider what it would be like if a major top-rated AM news broadcaster like KFI in Los Angeles, WCBS in New York or WLS in Chicago went all-digital. These are the stations that millions depend on during an event like Superstorm Sandy, major blizzards or wildfires, when electric or cell service may go down for hours or days.

Of course, just because they can go all-digital doesn’t mean these stations will. But I also don’t expect millions of people will rush out to buy HD capable radios if their favorite station converts. They’ll just switch over to listening online or stop listening altogether. It won’t be like the 2009 digital television transition, where it was a case of buy a new TV or coverter box, or lose free over-the-air television altogether. 

Also under consideration is removal of the programming duplication rule, which has been around in some form for decades. Since its last modification in 1992, commonly-owned or operated AM and FM station in the same market may only air the same programming for a total of 25% of airtime during a week. The rule already excepts FM translators, which are permitted to full rebroadcast AM station programming under certain conditions.

We’ll take a closer look at both of these full proposals when released. 

The post FCC Opens Proceeding for All-Digital AM Radio appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Alice’s Restaurant on the 2019 Thanksgiving Radio Menu

Radio Survivor - Sat, 11/23/2019 - 22:28

In fall, 1967, Arlo Guthrie released “Alice’s Restaurant,” unintentionally launching a Thanksgiving radio tradition that persists more than 50 years later. The Thanksgiving-themed 18+ minute story-song is beloved by folkies and classic rock fans who continue to search the radio dial for it on Thanksgiving Day in order to take part in ritual listening sessions. In 2019 you can listen any time you like thanks to streaming music, but there’s nothing like tuning in to hear the same song at the same time as legions of fellow fans on one of the most American of holidays.

Guthrie has been on the tour circuit in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the film version of “Alice’s Restaurant,” with plenty more concerts scheduled through spring, 2020. For followers of his annual Thanksgiving weekend Carnegie Hall gig, this year’s event on November 30th is expected to be the last.

For a decade, I’ve been compiling a list of radio stations that air “Alice’s Restaurant” as part of their Thanksgiving schedule. I will continue to update this list as I learn of additional stations leading up to Thanksgiving

Alice’s Restaurant on the Radio on Thanksgiving Day 2019 – November 28, 2019

Last updated on November 23, 2019

Terrestrial Radio:

Wyoming Public Radio will air “Alice’s Restaurant” at 11am during the Wyoming Sounds Thanksgiving Special (9am to noon).

KBCO 97.3 FM (Denver, Colorado) airs “Alice’s Restaurant” at noon.

WAMC 1400 AM and 90.3 FM (Albany, NY) Northeast Public Radio, per tradition, will air “Alice’s Restaurant” at noon.

WTTS 92.3 FM (Indianapolis/Bloomington, Indiana) is airing “Alice’s Restaurant” at 8am, noon and 8pm.

WCLY 95.7 FM (Raleigh, NC) will air “Alice’s Restaurant” at 10am and 5pm.

KPIG 107.5 FM (Freedom, CA) and KPYG 94.9 FM (Cayucos/San Luis Obispo, CA) will air “Alice’s Restaurant” at 9am, noon, 4pm, and 8pm.

WERS 88.9 FM (Boston, MA) plans to play “Alice’s Restaurant” at 9am.

WXYG The Goat 540 AM/107.3FM (Sauk Rapids, MN) will play “Alice’s Restaurant” at noon.

WCMF 96.5 FM (Rochester, NY) will play “Alice’s Restaurant” at 11am prior to the Buffalo Bill’s game!

WMMM 105.5 FM (Madison, WI) will play “Alice’s Restaurant” at noon and 6pm.

92 KQRS (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN) will play “Alice’s Restaurant” on Thanksgiving at 10am and 2pm

WDRV 97.1 FM The Drive (Chicago, IL) will play “Alice’s Restaurant” at 6am, noon, and 4pm.

KOZT 95.3 FM/95.9 FM The Coast (Ft. Bragg, CA) will play “Alice’s Restaurant” at 12 noon on Thanksgiving.

KRCC 91. 5 FM (Colorado Springs, CO) will play “Alice’s Restaurant” at 7pm on Thanksgiving.

WRUV 90.1 FM (Burlington, VT) will air “Alice’s Restaurant” at 11am EST.

98.5 WNUW-LP (Aston, PA) at Neumann University airs “Alice’s Restaurant” every Thanksgiving at 9am, 12noon, 5pm, 8pm and 10pm.

Online Radio Stations:

The Whip Radio will play “Alice’s Restaurant” four times on Thanksgiving: 8am, 12 noon, 5pm and 9pm Central time.

REC-FM will play “Alice’s Restaurant” at 11am Eastern time.

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