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Radio Station Visit #161: SDS Radio at San Diego City College

Radio Survivor - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 08:17

On a beautiful morning in June this summer, my day of San Diego college radio immersion began with a stop at San Diego City College’s student radio station SDS Radio. When I entered the building where it was housed, the presence of a radio station was immediately discernible by signage and logos on the doors for jazz station KSDS aka Jazz 88.3.

San Diego City College. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

While I loitered outside the doors, a staff member from KSDS greeted me and asked me if I needed assistance. When I told him that I was visiting SDS Radio, he unlocked the station door and directed me to the booth. Sharing space with public/community radio station KSDS, SDS Radio is student-focused (thus, the tagline “student-delivered sound) and a part of the Radio-Television-Film program at San Diego City College.

SDS Radio banner in SDS Radio Studio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

At the end of the hallway, I made my way to the on-air studio, where student DJ Joe Martin was hosting a show, largely playing some under-the-radar metal music. A participant in the radio program, Martin also has a job as a board operator at an iHeart Media station in the area. Although it wasn’t his regular SDS time slot, he popped in to do a show since the summer schedule was largely open. A fan of all kinds of music from the 1980s as well as metal, Martin explained that he found one of the symphonic metal artists that caught my ear during his show, Dutch band Epica, by searching on YouTube.

Joe Martin in SDS Radio studio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

New to the program, Martin’s been involved with the station since the spring semester. James Call, who arrived as we were chatting, has participated in the program for three years, which makes him a veteran. A musician (organ and Theremin!) and self-described musicologist, he has a deep background in radio, having done shows on commercial and college radio in the 1980s and community radio in the aughts.

Sound board at SDS Radio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Call explained that part of the appeal of his SDS show is that he can explore musical themes on the air. Every week he picks a different topic, ranging from punk rock label Ork Records to the music of Mali. While he’s bringing in his own music to play, it still gets filtered into the station’s digital system, a process that every DJ goes through prior to their shows. Students upload music files to the station’s automation system and then create their playlists on the SDS computer.

Playlist interface at college radio station SDS Radio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

It’s possible to also play CDs over the air, but with no remote start capabilities, it’s a bit cumbersome. If one wants to play vinyl, it’s necessary to bring in a turntable from home since the studio turntable is not hooked up and is missing some parts.

Turntable in studio at SDS radio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Although their listenership is primarily online, SDS Radio also broadcasts over the KSDS 88.3 FM HD2 channel. Call estimates that around 20 students are in the radio program and the summer line-up was populated with 15 DJs or show hosts on the schedule. Call describes the mix as “pretty eclectic,” with students playing hip-hop, metal, jazz, and even 1950s/50s “crooners,” as well as hosting talk shows. When there isn’t a live host, the station airs a default automated playlist of pop, top 40, and oldies, according to Call.

SDS Radio studio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Although Call didn’t know the full history of SDS Radio, he shared some lore that the station had begun in a closet, joking that there’s a story that KSDS started in the same fashion. In the shadow of the longtime jazz station, SDS Radio was launched in recent years in response to a perceived need for a student station again. While KSDS began as a student radio station in 1951, it slowly changed over the years to more of a public radio model. The jazz format began in 1973. Call refers to SDS Radio as Jazz 88’s “sister station,” with its staff and volunteers happy to help when needed. The stations share some communal spaces and resources, including a break room/production studio.

LPs in Music Library at SDS radio’s sister station KSDS-FM. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Following my visit, instructor Scott Chatfield chatted with me by phone to fill me in on the back story of SDS Radio. He’s been an instructor at the college since 2008 and explained that the student radio station started up around 2013-2014 on one of KSDS’ HD channels and online in order to provide students with more on-air opportunities.

Equipment in SDS student. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Today, KSDS has some student interns and also airs student programming, including the news/feature show City Stories, which is a project of one of the Radio News Production class at San Diego City College. In contrast, SDS Radio is completely student-focused, with on-air shifts and leadership positions held by students in the radio program. Chatfield explained that podcasting is also taking on a bigger role, telling me that even with a smaller number of radio classes at the school, “…one of the things that’s really helping us is focusing a lot on podcasting, not just broadcasting,” adding, “That seems to be a much more attractive option for a lot of students these days…which is no surprise.” Podcasting is incorporated into both radio classes, allowing students to learn more about myriad aspects of the production process.

Jazz 88.3 banner at KSDS-FM. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Chatfield talked about the incredible transformations that students make over the course of their time at SDS Radio and told me that he loved seeing them achieve breakthroughs in their work. He shared, “I like the spark. I like seeing dazed and confused people in week one turning into people who have that tangible spark in their eyes by week four or five and they’re on the air rocking and rolling.” He also points out that the specific training and communication skills honed in the classes and at SDS Radio are transferable to so many aspects of life, including future careers. Chatfield elaborated, saying that he loves that SDS Radio “succeeds on such a high level. It’s almost like once people have learned how to do these things, they’ve gained a super power and that’s something nobody can take away from them.”

Sound board in SDS studio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

On another level, there’s also the pure joy of creating radio and podcasts. During my visit to SDS Radio, student James Call summed up his passion for SDS Radio, telling me, “I love eclectic radio and that’s what it is.”

SDS studio sign. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Thanks so much to everyone for the tour and interviews about SDS Radio. This is my 161st radio station tour report and my 106th college radio station tour. Catch up with all of my radio station visits in numerical order or by station type in our archives. I also discuss my San Diego-area college radio travels on Radio Survivor Podcast #202.

The post Radio Station Visit #161: SDS Radio at San Diego City College appeared first on Radio Survivor.

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WBU Warns C-Band Reallocation Could “Compromise” Broadcasters

Radio World - Mon, 09/23/2019 - 19:58

As the FCC and other global organizations discuss the potential reallocation of C-band spectrum to assist with the deployment and performance of 5G technologies, the World Broadcasting Unions has released its official position on what any reallocation of the spectrum used for Fixed-Satellite Services would mean for TV and radio broadcasters around the world. In short, WBU believes it would be a significant issue.

“The recent regulatory inquiries by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on the potential reallocation of some of the existing C-band downlink allocation (5G services) is a concern for the members of the WBU,” the organization’s position paper reads. “Given the ubiquitous use of C-band spectrum around the world and its potential to provide new services, such U.S. regulatory activity will likely be pursued by other administrations. Any subsequent proposals to globally harmonize the use of these frequencies above 3600 MHz for IMT, argued for on the basis of national reallocations, do not reflect the realities of global satellite service usage.”

[Read: NAB’s McFadden Warns Against Negotiating Available C-Band Spectrum]

Among the primary concerns of the WBU in the event of spectrum reallocation is the potential compromise of existing distribution and collection systems both domestically and internationally. It believes this could be particularly impactful in countries with equatorial geography and high rainfall, which often don’t have viable FSS spectrum alternatives to provide the same level of performance. WBU also contends that some direct-to-home services using C-band in these regions could be affected.

The WBU also worries that in the event of reallocation for the downlink C-band spectrum, the “twinned” uplink C-band frequencies may also be tapped at some point for reallocation.

“In all likelihood, harm will be done to existing C-band users and the solutions will compromise service reliability and increase the costs to the broadcast community,” WBU states.

“While improvements in satellite technology have made the use of C-band spectrum by broadcasters more efficient and effective for both content collection and distribution, there has been real C-band traffic growth over the years, which makes this spectrum crucial to broadcasters today as it was 50 years ago.”

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The post WBU Warns C-Band Reallocation Could “Compromise” Broadcasters appeared first on Radio World.

Court Sends FCC Back to Drawing Board on Media Ownership

Radio World - Mon, 09/23/2019 - 15:54

The issue of media ownership is back in the headlines after a federal appeals court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission “overstepped” in its recent media ownership rule changes, failing adequately to consider the effect on women and racial minorities.

The decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals comes after a review of the FCC’s 2016 quadrennial review order on broadcast ownership rules.

Back in 2017, the commission voted along party lines to eliminate the ban on cross-ownership of newspaper and TV stations in major markets, to ease the process for media companies to buy additional TV stations in a market, to allow local stations to jointly sell advertising time, and to let companies buy additional radio stations in some markets.

But in a ruling Monday, the appeals said it would vacate and remand the bulk of the FCC’s actions, sending it back to the commission for further consideration.

Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the court was right to reject Republican-led attempts to loosen restrictions. “Media ownership matters because what we see on our screens says so much about who we are as individuals, as communities and as a nation,” she said. “But over my objection, the FCC has been busy dismantling the values embedded in its ownership policies. Today, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.”

The National Association of Broadcasters called the decision disappointing.

“The media marketplace has undergone massive changes over the past few decades, let alone since 2004,” said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton. “It’s shocking that the same panel of judges has supplanted Congress’ and an expert federal agency’s views with its own for more than 15 years.”

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly was of a similar mind and urged Chairman Pai and the Trump administration to take the case to the Supreme Court. “For too long, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has abused the statute and defied common sense as it pertains to media ownership limitations. It is clear that no argument, formula or well-reasoned reform can satisfy the majority’s wrong-headed demands, guaranteeing the complete preservation of the broken and outdated status quo,” O’Rielly said in a statement. He called it “a classic case of judicial activism and legislating from the bench that further justifies the ongoing fight for reforming the judiciary.”

The ruling is the latest in a long-running series of skirmishes between the court and the commission.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today accused the court of blocking attempts to modernize regulations to match the “obvious realities” of the modern media marketplace.

“It’s become quite clear that there is no evidence or reasoning — newspapers going out of business, broadcast radio struggling, broadcast TV facing stiffer competition than ever — that will persuade them to change their minds,” he said in a statement, adding that the commission nevertheless plans to appeal.

Pai also noted dissenting views expressed by Judge Anthony Joseph Scirica.

Scirica said that while he joined his colleagues in their rejection of part of the order that relates to the FCC’s incubator program as well as parts that deal with the Local TV Rule, he does not share the conclusion that the current FCC orders are arbitrary and capricious.

“In my view, the FCC balanced competing policy goals and reasonably predicted the regulatory changes dictated by the broadcast markets’ competitive dynamics will be unlikely to harm ownership diversity,” Scirica said. “I would allow the rules to take effect and direct the FCC to evaluate their effects on women- and minority-broadcast ownership in its 2018 quadrennial review.”

That leaves the commission with a decision on how to proceed. The 2018 Quadrennial Review is underway, and that process relies upon much of the same analysis as the orders vacated by the court, said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks in a statement.

“The court here suggests that ‘new empirical research’ may be required to fully satisfy our rulemaking requirements,” he said. “I wholeheartedly agree. Needless to say, today’s decision will require us to go back to the drawing board.”

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The post Court Sends FCC Back to Drawing Board on Media Ownership appeared first on Radio World.

EEO Supporters Oppose Any Big Change in Threshold

Radio World - Mon, 09/23/2019 - 13:57

Don’t eviscerate EEO rules for broadcasters.

That’s part of the message to the FCC from a group of organizations that support equal employment opportunity rules.

The FCC invited comments on how to improve EEO enforcement in broadcasting. The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council submitted a set of five proposals on behalf of itself and 36 other organizations. But they emphatically argued against an idea put forth recently by a group of 82 broadcasters that would raise the current threshold at which EEO requirements kick in from five full-time employees to 50; the supporters told the FCC that this idea “would put an end to most broadcast EEO enforcement.”

“The 82 broadcasters declare that 50 employees is ‘the number regarded by the human resources profession as demarcating smaller from large for the purposes of hiring a human resources manager,’” the EEO supporters wrote.

[Read: 82 Broadcasters Want to Change the Definition of a Small Station]

“What the 82 broadcasters overlook is the fact that the amount of ‘paperwork’ the FCC requires that does not have to be done anyway as part of any business’ routine personnel functions requires far less time than a full-time employee’s 40 hours per week. In fact, it is exactly the same work that routine recruitment entails: maintaining an email list, hitting a key to send out job notices and posting the notices online — while also ensuring that the posts and job notices are widely accessible and that records of the postings are maintained in the (very rare) event of an FCC audit. This additional ‘burden’ requires more like 40 seconds per week than 40 hours per week.”

The EEO supporters argue that compliance is not arduous and that over five decades, “not a single broadcaster credibly claimed that it suffered any material financial hardship because of the need to comply with the EEO rule. Nor did any broadcaster ever claim that the rule was too dense for it to comprehend.”

They argue that few radio stations and only about half of all television stations employ more than 50 people full-time. “In several states, every radio and nearly every television station would be EEO-exempt. Nearly all noncommercial radio and television stations nationwide would be exempt.

The effect of exempting so many broadcasters from EEO compliance would be devastating, they wrote. “Many broadcast careers begin in small stations. Cutting off EEO protection at these points of entry would have a ripple effect on the rest of the industry. Large broadcasters that do not discriminate would have less diverse, and thus less talented pools of trained applicants from which to draw.”

Finally, they wrote, “the idea that a broadcaster of any size greater than ‘mom and pop’ should be exempt from EEO compliance is deeply flawed and troubling. Broadcast ownership is a privilege that necessarily includes EEO compliance; ownership coupled with nondiscrimination is not a ‘burden.’ Discrimination is a burden.”

The EEO supporters took no position on two other suggestions from the 82 broadcasters, one that would require online posting of all full-time job openings by all licensees of any size including those with fewer than the current threshold of five full-time employees, and another that would have EEO reports filed by “entities” cover entire markets, to avoid a practice by some broadcasters of creating several small entities, each with fewer than five employees.

The supporters listed five priorities of their own. They told the FCC that:

  • EEO data should be gathered as necessary for research on industry trends and EEO program effectiveness.
  • EEO data should be requested from licensees “found to have failed to engage in the broad recruitment (e.g., via internet postings) that is required by current FCC precedent.” They said that failure to do so means that a licensee recruited primarily by word of mouth, which “has been deemed to constitute a racially discriminatory scheme when performed from a homogeneous staff.”
  • Renewal applications and EEO audits should include a certification that job postings occurred before hiring decisions were made; they said this certification is common in other industries.
  • The FCC/EEOC Memorandum of Understanding should be updated to ensure that the FCC immediately audits employment units that receive EEOC probable cause determinations.
  • And “the commission should open an inquiry … into the pattern of consistently very low representation of minorities in radio news.”

Among the organizations in the MMTC filing are the NAACP, National Urban League, American Indians in Film and Television, Japanese American Citizens League, League of United Latin American Citizens, LGBT Technology Partnership and Institute, and 30 other diversity-oriented organizations.

“Inasmuch as the FCC’s record on EEO enforcement has not been refreshed in detail since 2004, the 37 EEO supporters appreciate this long-awaited opportunity for the commission to complete the unfinished work from its 1998 proceeding on EEO enforcement,” they wrote.

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The post EEO Supporters Oppose Any Big Change in Threshold appeared first on Radio World.

Construct an EAS Receive Loop Antenna

Radio World - Mon, 09/23/2019 - 11:57

Ken Beckwith is a field engineer with EMF based in Nebraska. Being a hands-on engineer, Ken has done his share of construction over the years. One of his projects was the construction of an octagonal-shaped AM loop EAS antenna using PVC pipe.

Fig. 1: The completed loop antenna.

Before you begin this project, check out the completed antenna, shown in Fig. 1. The visual will help you piece all the angled elbows and tees together.

Note that to improve the strength of the loop, Ken added a piece of conduit down its middle.

Construction starts with one tee, to which you attach two 4-inch pieces to the arms of the tee. The 2-1/4-inch piece attaches to the bottom of the tee. The 90-degree elbow attaches to the other end of the 2-1/4-inch piece, but save that step until later.

Two 45-degree elbows attach to the 4-inch pieces so they lay flat. This is so the “tail” of the tee is at 90 degrees, as shown in Fig. 2. The 9-1/2-inch pieces of PVC attach to the elbows next. Then, another set of elbows and another set of 9-1/2-inch pieces.

Fig. 2: Two elbows attach to the 4-inch pieces so they lay flat. The “tail” of the tee is at 90 degrees.

Continue with a third set of elbows, and the 9-1/2-inch pieces. Attach the 2-1/8-inch pieces to the last elbows. The “tee box” is connected to the 2-1/8-inch pieces, so the bottom of the tee sticks up parallel with the tee at the top of the antenna.

Attach the 23-1/4-inch piece to the 90-degree elbow, mentioned above, and then attach the other end of the elbow to the 2-1/4-inch piece on the top tee. Position it so the bottom end will connect to the remaining tee at the tee box.

Attach the 2-inch piece to the tail of the remaining tee, then connect it to the 23-1/4-inch piece so the 2-inch piece fits down into the bottom of the tee on the tee box, as shown in Fig. 3.

Fig. 3: The 2-inch piece fits down into the bottom of the tee on the “tee box.”

Attach the remaining piece of conduit to the other end of the tee, and attach the end cap to the end of that piece, to complete construction. Assemble the parts without glue, first. Once everything is fitted properly, use PVC cement to make a permanent bond.

After the glue is dry, fish a pull string through the conduit loop. A vacuum cleaner will make the job easier. Tie the Belden cable to the end of the pull string, and secure with electrical tape. Pull the cable through the pipe.

Strip the jacket off both ends of the cable and unwrap the shielding foil from each of the three pairs, and from both ends. Cut the shield wires off only one end of the cable. Join the ground wires at the other end together. Take the red wire next to the shields and lay it with the shields. It will be connected later. Take the other end of the red wire and connect it to the opposite end of the black wire paired with it. You’ll want to solder these connections, and cover them with a short piece of heat shrink or electrical tape. You will be making a six-turn coil using the multi-pair wires.

Now take the other end of that black wire, described above, and connect it to the white wire on the opposite side. The second end of the white wire connects to the black wire of the same pair at the first end. That black wire then connects to the green wire on the opposite side. The second end of the green wire then connects to the opposite end of the black wire it is paired with. The second end of the black wire connects to ground along with all of the shields.

Confusing? Fig. 4 gives you a visual of the connections.

Figs. 4a and 4b: A visual representation of the wiring connections to form a six-turn loop antenna, and a closeup identifying the wire colors.

Once the connections are made, connect the shields and the black wire from the opposite side to ground using a 3/8-inch ring connector. That is held in place using the nut securing the F connector barrel to the tee-box housing.

Fig. 5: All of the wiring connections, as well as the ground for the F-connector, are made in the tee-box.

The antenna has a broad coverage angle with a deep null when the antenna is broadside to the signal. Aim the “edge” of the loop toward the AM station you want to receive. The strongest signal will be received when the antenna end or edge is pointing to the signal source. The antenna can be mounted on a mast with U-bolts, hose clamps or whatever else works.

Here’s the construction parts list:

A 10-foot length of 3/4-inch diameter, schedule 40 PVC conduit cut into the following lengths:

2 – 4-inch
1 – 2-inch
1 – 2-1/4-inch
2 – 2-1/8-inch
6 – 9-1/2-inch
1 – 23-1/4-inch

Whatever is left over can be discarded, but before making your cuts, cut the flared end off, so all cuts are even.

1 –  3/4-inch 90 degree elbow
2 – 3/4-inch tee
8 – 3/4-inch 45 degree elbows
1 – 3/4-inch cap
1 – 3/4-inch tee box, plastic, with weatherproof gasket
1 – 7-foot piece of Belden 8777 or other three-pair shielded cable
3 – 7-foot single-pair shielded cables can substitute for Belden 8777
PVC primer and cement
Wire nuts or other connectors
1 – 3/8-inch ring terminal
F connector barrel with nut

Fig. 6: The completed antenna, showing the F-connector on the tee box.

Share your tips with other engineers in the pages of Workbench while qualifying for SBE recertification credit. Send your tips and high-resolution photos to johnpbisset@gmail.com.

Author John Bisset has spent 50 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles western U.S. radio sales for the Telos Alliance. He holds CPBE certification status with the SBE and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.

The post Construct an EAS Receive Loop Antenna appeared first on Radio World.

Historic Woofferton Boasts a Modern Twist

Radio World - Mon, 09/23/2019 - 11:20

WOOFFERTON, England — Nestled in the beautiful Shropshire countryside, just a few miles from England’s border with Wales, is the tiny village of Woofferton. That name is synonymous with shortwave radio for millions of listeners around the world as just a short distance from the village itself, lays the United Kingdom’s last remaining public service shortwave transmitting station.

Antenna switches in the field feed the HF curtain arrays.

Now owned and operated by Encompass Digital Media, Woofferton recently celebrated its 75th birthday. Built in 1943, the station has a fascinating history; originally designed to bolster the BBC’s General Overseas Service (now the World Service) during the latter years of World War II, it was later partly funded by the United States and was used extensively by the Voice of America to broadcast into Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union during the cold war years. Today, Woofferton transmits programs for the BBC and a number of other international broadcasters, reaching audiences across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

OPERATIONS

Woofferton near Ludlow in Shropshire is the U.K.’s last shortwave broadcasting station.

There are 10 high-power HF transmitters at Woofferton. They range from Marconi senders of various vintages, including two BD272 250 kW units that date back to the 1960s, to the more recent 300 kW B6124 solid-state transmitters, and four of the most modern RIZ 250K01 wideband systems, which are also capable of operating in Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) mode. In fact, the BBC’s daily DRM transmission for Europe is broadcast from here.

Outside in the antenna field, there are 35 shortwave curtain arrays (aerials) supported by 25 masts. Most of the antennas can be operated in full or half-curtain mode, depending on the coverage required, and can be electronically steered (slewed) to beam transmissions in a variety of directions. This is done by varying the phase of the signal and feed points to the antenna, rather than by physical movement.

The Duty Room has visibility of all of the station’s transmission systems, and executive control of the broadcast schedule.

The Woofferton team numbers some 14 staff, comprising of broadcast engineers, maintenance technicians, mechanical and electrical engineers, riggers (antenna specialists) as well as providing an outpost for Encompass’ International Operations team. The station’s facilities and location make it an excellent logistical base for the testing, servicing and deployment of a wide range of satellite receivers and FM radio transmission systems which are installed at hundreds of BBC FM relays and partners around the world.

A Marconi BD272 250 kW sender, one the station’s oldest transmitters, is still in regular daily use.

Woofferton has one of most modern and flexible transmission control systems in the world, allowing the entire facility to be remotely controlled and monitored by Encompass’ MCR in London, over 150 miles away. At around 5 p.m. each evening, the Woofferton engineers handover control to the nightshift in London and until 8 a.m. the next morning, the whole operation is fully automated.

MCR engineers in London can take control at any time however and remotely power up and tune the transmitters and then switch the output to any of the available antennas in just a few minutes. This capability is particularly useful if another transmitter fails and an alternative resource is required at very short notice. This flexibility means that scheduled broadcasts from other international sites, such as from Ascension Island, the Middle East and even Singapore, can be “covered” from Woofferton, minimizing the impact on listeners if a breakdown occurs.

MAINTENANCE

A shortwave transmitter station is a complex mix of engineering disciplines — from high-voltage electricity and radio frequency and traditional audio engineering, through to modern computer processors, which run the station’s automation and control systems.

Throughout a typical day, the duty engineers coordinate any changes to the transmission schedule, which may be required to allow maintenance and repairs to be carried out.

Non-radiating towers support the latticework of HF curtain antennas.

Ensuring the safety of staff working inside the transmitter enclosures and outside on the antennas is essential: a safety lock out system is used to isolate the equipment to be worked on, with unique physical “keys” and interlocks needed to make sure systems cannot be used or become live until the engineers and riggers are safely clear of high voltages and radiating elements.

Surprisingly maybe, the middle part of the day is one of the “quietest” periods at the site, as most transmissions take place during the early morning and evening, due to the time differences between the U.K. and audiences in Africa and the Middle East. This is therefore the ideal time to carry out routine maintenance to the transmitters, some of which are still going strong after 40 years of service thanks to the skills and expertise of the Woofferton engineers.

One of the station’s four RIZ 250 kW transmitters that is used daily for the BBC’s DRM transmission to Europe.

They need a carefully planned regime of regular checks and preventative work to keep them on the air, as well as some tender loving care — something which is in no short supply at Woofferton. A myriad of maintenance tasks are carried out, which include checking the RF, modulator and water cooling systems, and testing individual components such as resistors and capacitors, and of course the valves themselves.

Any faulty components will be replaced with spares from stores, or as is sometimes required when items are obsolete, manufactured on-site by the station’s workshop. The mechanical and electrical engineers can fabricate bespoke metalwork and fittings which are no longer available, as well as carry out maintenance to the stations “heavy” equipment such as HV transformers, fan units, gas compressors and pumps.

MISSION-CRITICAL ROLE

At around 3 p.m. GMT each day, the station comes alive as the evening transmissions for Africa and Middle East start to ramp up and by 6 p.m. almost every transmitter is on-air, broadcasting in languages such as Arabic, French, Hausa, Amharic, Kurdish, Dari, Pashto and Russian, as well as English.

DT700 monitoring receivers analyze the parameters of DRM broadcasts from the station’s digital transmitters.

In recent years, Woofferton has also taken on a new role in being one of a few sites around the world where satellite carrier monitoring is carried out, to check and report on the performance of quality of satellite distribution of the BBC’s international TV and radio channels.

More than 75 years after its first broadcast to wartime occupied Europe, Woofferton continues to demonstrate the unique and enduring power of shortwave broadcasting — especially in parts of the world where media freedom and access to objective news is sometimes made deliberately difficult for international broadcasters to reach. And it’s still proud of its critical role in informing, entertaining and educating millions of listeners around the world.

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The post Historic Woofferton Boasts a Modern Twist appeared first on Radio World.

AIR Highlights DRM Ahead of Cricket Matches

Radio World - Mon, 09/23/2019 - 11:14

On Sept. 22 in Bengaluru, ahead of the cricket match with South Africa, All India Radio hosted a public roadshow event designed to highlight DRM sets in cars that are receiving digital services from AIR.

The event followed the recent announcement made by Shashi Vempathi, the public radio and television Prasar Bharati’s CEO, who revealed that live cricket commentary would return to AIR and be broadcast on DRM for the first time.

According to the Digital Radio Mondiale consortium, the cricket matches, the most popular sport in India, serve as an ideal space for publicizing DRM’s features, including data reception. In addition to receiving sports updates participants in Bengaluru can also receive agricultural produce market rates.

The post AIR Highlights DRM Ahead of Cricket Matches appeared first on Radio World.

Applications

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WLLL(AM) Lynchburg, VA

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 21:00
Issued a $15,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture to Station WLLL(AM), Lynchburg, VA for failure to prepare quarterly issues and programs lists and upload this information into the Station's online public inspection file

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NAB’s Pilot Seeking Proposals For AI-Inspired Innovation Challenge

Radio World - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 19:42

Now in its fourth year, NAB’s Pilot Innovation Challenge, part of the association’s business incubator, Pilot, is now accepting proposals and has announced a new component for this year’s program. For the first time, Pilot will provide support to a pair of winners so they can develop a prototype to be presented at the 2020 NAB Show.

[Read: Pilot Promotes 12 Innovation Challenge Finalists(2018)]

The prompt for this year’s Pilot Innovation Challenge is to build an AI character that can have conversations with individual viewers, listeners or consumers, with character traits that can be defined and trained by the broadcaster.

Individuals, teams, companies, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations are eligible to submit proposals, with up to five finalists selected by a panel of judges by the end of November. Of those five, two winners will be granted as much as $150,000, relevant mentorship and feedback during the development of their prototype. They will also be invited to the 2020 NAB Show, April 18–22, in Las Vegas to demonstrate the prototype.

The deadline to apply for the Innovation Challenge is Oct. 18. Interested applicants can review the judging criteria and apply here.

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The post NAB’s Pilot Seeking Proposals For AI-Inspired Innovation Challenge appeared first on Radio World.

Community Broadcaster: Acting on Equity

Radio World - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 19:27

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

Community radio attracts so many talented individuals who devote time managing and shepherding stations through many adventures. Virtually all of these people do what they do for the love of their local stations. So, at a time of the year when many community media organizations are nearing the end of the fiscal year, this is a gentle encouragement to think about these selfless individuals and their futures.

To be sure, no one is getting rich off running a community radio station. But that isn’t an excuse for keeping them destitute either.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Community Radio Needs You]

My timeline the last few months has been dotted with stories of talented community radio general managers, journalists and other leaders leaving for greener pastures. The departures all have a similar ring: opportunities you can’t pass up and offers that are too good, among other reasons. Less in the public eye are issues stations can improve upon.

Not every station has the resources currently to afford staff. But if your community radio station does have staff, attracting gifted people and keeping them happy means more than promising them a fulfilling role. It means valuing their contributions by treating them like professionals who care about your organization.

Not enough of us give thought to drawing in and retaining the best people. Moreover, having limited resources is used not as a challenge to do better, but a rationalization to do nothing. Thus the backchannel stories are troubling: staff who had to take extra jobs to support their families on a station salary; stations that asked for 60-hour work weeks and little appreciation; stations that would not offer health insurance; unions that failed to advocate for even a cost of living increase in a decade or more. The most problematic boards and senior leadership in these scenarios suggest a community radio job as a privilege and other audacious proclamations directly opposed to labor fairness, diversity and equity.

And we wonder why stations struggle. Look not much further than turnover and a lack of investment in people who care.

I speak about these matters from a place of compassion for stations, but also direct experience with station myopia. I worked for a community radio station for years without a penny extra in wages. Like many station staffers, I accepted such because the organization was meaningful to me. However, I suspect a lot of station staffers make similar excuses. In the end, this acceptance does not make for forward-thinking dynamics. It may contribute to dissatisfaction instead. And the people who should act to make these situations better are only emboldened to advocate for quasi-austerity or, worse still, inaction.

As many nonprofits get ready to kick off the new fiscal year, don’t be that station. Don’t treat the people who love your organization and give so much of their time and ideas to its betterment like people whose lives you should not care about. And don’t fall back on the collective shoulder shrug to address the needs of community radio.

Different community radio stations are faced with different local conditions, so it is impossible to be prescriptive about how organizations should remedy these matters. However, a commitment to change is a start. From staff evaluations to studying area pay trends to investigating healthcare options, there is a lot boards and senior leaders can do. Equity and fairness starts at home.

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