Tucked away in a shed in a northwest Seattle neighborhood was perhaps the tiniest radio station that I’d ever seen: community radio station KBFG-LP. Part of the most recent wave of low power FM stations, it launched in December, 2017 and broadcasts for a 2.5 mile radio to a potential FM audience of around 250,000 people in the Ballard, Fremont and Greenwood neighborhoods (thus the B-F-G call letters).KBFG’s Jerry Russell and my pal Colin hanging out at The Shack in October, 2018. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
Radio Survivor readers will recall that my colleagues Eric and Paul attended KBFG’s launch party, interviewing several of its founders for Radio Survivor Podcast #124. That event was also featured in a big story about low power FM in the New York Times, lending some incredible early attention to the station.KBFG sign in front of the Shack. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
Thanks to the wonders of technology, KBFG-LP was able to take to the airwaves before it had a public-facing studio, with programmers submitting their shows remotely. Within a year, it opened “The Shack,” in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. The mini studio was housed in a pre-fabricated building that I was told was really designed as a lawnmower shed. Nestled behind a coffee stand and steps away from a dumpster on a Ballard corner, it was a funky location that truly spoke to KBFG’s hyper-local, neighborhood ethos.Tripod Coffee, adjacent to the KBFG Shack. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
On a rainy afternoon in late October, 2018, I ventured to “The Shack” to check out the station. With room for approximately two people in the studio, part of the visit was spend lingering outside under umbrellas. As I spoke with Fulcrum Community Communications (KBFG’s non-profit license-holder) board member Jerry Russell, his fellow board member Pamela Burton arrived for a separate interview. I was curious how we’d all manage the space constraints and watched in awe as she invited the guest into her car for the conversation, while I chatted with Russell in the small studio. Clearly this is a crew that is used to managing with limited resources.KBFG Board Member Jerry Russell at the Shack in October, 2018. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
At the time of my visit, the Shack had been up and running for about six months, with a couple of shows broadcasting live from the cozy studio, including a Sunday evening show called “Night Sweats.” Other volunteers used the Shack to pre-record their shows or conduct interviews that would air at a later time. Russell explained that the Shack was outfitted with “bare bones” equipment while KBFG awaited an eventual move to a bigger space.A glimpse inside the KBFG Shack. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
A light outside the door of the Shack alerted passersby that the station was on the air and speakers could also be set up to play KBFG to folks hanging out in the adjacent triangular gravel-filled space. While it was quiet (except for the “45rpm” show of 1940s and 1950s music playing from automation in the background) and rainy on my visit, I was told that during summer months there were picnic tables and a food truck parked outside, creating an even more convivial atmosphereOn-air light outside KBFG’s Shack. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
Earlier in the day, I got my first taste of KBFG during the Halloween event/food drive, Hunger Goblin’ Treat or Treat, in a nearby neighborhood. The station set up a remote outpost in the corner of a bank, with windows facing a busy daytime trick-or-treating route. The costumed father-son DJ duo played spooky tunes and chimed in with running commentary about the ghouls, goblins, TV characters, and other revelers spotted during the event.KBFG’s Tim and Tristan broadcast live from Hunger Goblin’ Trick or Treat event. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
While both the parade broadcast and the Shack speak to KBFG’s community outreach, back in October much of the production of radio shows was taking place inside the homes of DJs and show hosts. With a mix of music and public affairs programming, KBFG’s local-focused mission extends to the artists played over the airwaves. When there isn’t a live DJ, the station plays a curated mix of music, with 80% of it from Seattle artists and 20% from musicians from other states in the Northwest. Russell told me that by October, 2018, the station had already acquired music from 5,000 artists in Seattle alone. During my visit, the music collection was largely digital, with not much room for a physical music library of records or CDs in the Shack (although I did spot a few vinyl LPs).Small collection of LPs in the Shack at KBFG. Photo: J. Waits
Russell and Burton were among the group of folks who worked to bring KBFG to the airwaves. While Russell’s radio experience was limited to a stint at his high school station many years ago; Burton worked at Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles for close to 20 years in numerous roles, including Director of the Pacifica Radio Archives.KBFG Board Member Pamela Burton at the KBFG Shack in October, 2018. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
Burton’s work at Pacifica as both a radio producer and archivist informs her current programming on KBFG, as she regularly combs the archives to use on her “You Heard it Here” program, drawing links between current events and historical material. She’s pulled clips from a wide range of past programs, with topics covering everything from feminism to vampires.Headphones at KBFG Shack. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
Excited about both the current group of KBFG-LP volunteers and the possibilities of collaborations with Seattle institutions and venues, Burton told me that she was looking forward to having more people involved with the station, adding, “everybody’s invited to come and play.”Board in the Shack. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
In March, 2019, KBFG moved to its new home, complete with studio and office, leaving the Shack behind. Its new headquarters, The Jack Straw Cultural Center, holds a special place in community radio history, having been established with funds from pioneering Seattle radio station KRAB (hear about the KRAB Archives on Radio Survivor Podcast #134). Over email, Burton relayed the exciting news:
Our new digs are in the Jack Straw Cultural Center which was built from funds earned when KRAB radio’s frequency was sold in 1984. There are production studios down stairs as well as performance spaces which we plan to use for live broadcasts. For now we are training new programmers in our studio/office including a Monday night session at 7pm called Office Hours when program director Tim Flanagan goes on the air inviting people to come in and learn how to do radio.Audio equipment in old KBFG Shack in October, 2018. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
Thanks so much to everyone at KBFG for sharing your station with me. This is my 158th radio station tour report, my 33rd community radio station tour, and around my 21st LPFM tour. Read of my radio station tours in numerical order or by station type in our archives.
The post Radio Station Visit #158: Community Radio Station KBFG-LP in Seattle appeared first on Radio Survivor.
Radio World previously reported that the Federal Communications Commission intended to tackle LPFM modernization during its August open meeting, according to the preview FCC Chair Ajit Pai shared in a blog post.
Now it’s “officially official.” The commission posted a notice of proposed rulemaking tackling the issue July 30. It mirrors the draft Pai shared earlier in July, tackling issues brought up in MB Docket No. 19-193 and MB Docket No. 17-105.
Note that comments are due by Aug. 29 and reply comments must be submitted to the commission no later than Sept. 13.
The post FCC Stakes Out Position on LPFM Modernization in NPRM appeared first on Radio World.
Audio over IP technology has touched thousands of radio and audio facilities to date, and the AoIP landscape continues to evolve and grow. AoIP continues to have a huge presence at technical conferences and in discussions about new facility installations; and the subject is one of the most popular that Radio World has explored over the years.
Now, in a special double-size ebook, Radio World asks engineers, manufacturers and industry thought leaders about trends and best practices in AoIP for radio today.
What’s next in AoIP? How have these trends affected design of technical centers, rack rooms and control rooms? What standards issues or best practices have yet to be finalized? How do AES67 and AES70 complement various AoIP solutions? What is the status of efforts to create full interoperability and “discovery”?
The free ebook “AoIP for 2020” explores these questions. Read it here.
It’s new equipment season!
This annual feature is all about new gear that has come onto the market in recent months, especially during spring convention season.
Check out this installment of products, and also find previous batches online here.Angry Audio Guest Gizmo and Bidirectional Balancing Gadget
Angry Audio has introduced itself as a problem-solver.
Its Guest Gizmo (shown above) is a multifeatured RF-resistant metal panel for studio guests. It has a cough button and a headphone amp with volume control. According to Angry Audio, the cough circuit can connect to a small mixer’s insert jack, or to the muting logic of a broadcast board. The Guest Gizmo can even light up a mic arm tally, according to the company. It can be installed in a cable/grommet hole.
Also Angry Audio says that its Bidirectional Balancing Gadget has exclusive “ground-breaking” technology that suppresses ground loop noise while converting unbalanced signals to pristine, broadcast-grade balanced audio. It converts one stereo pair from unbalanced to balanced, and a second stereo pair from balanced to unbalanced — for the likes of recording devices computers.
Bittree Patch32A Dante Patchbay
Interconnects specialist Bittree says that its Bittree Patch32A was “the world’s first Dante audio patchbay to market.”
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.
Info: www.bittree.comBurk Arcadia Cloud Service
Remote control products manufacturer Burk Technology is promoting 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 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.”
Inovonics INOmini 679 FM/HD Radio Monitor Receiver
Inovonics describes its INOmini 679 as a third-generation, small form-factor FM and FM band HD Radio broadcast monitor receiver.
It receives both analog FM and digital HD1–HD8 radio channels for confidence monitoring and delivers a high-quality audio feed for rebroadcast or program distribution throughout a broadcast facility with adjustable analog and AES digital audio outputs.
Onboard is a sensitive, DSP-based software-defined radio. Balanced analog and AES digital program line outputs are available simultaneously. The levels are independently adjustable. The screen displays RBDS, PAD info, RSSI, SNR, Cd/No, multipath and HD level metrics to help with receive antenna alignment.
Front-panel alarms and rear-panel “tallies” indicate HD reception loss, low signal and audio loss. Inovonics says the 679 will stay on-mode and on-channel through signal and power loss and won’t blend between FM and HD Radio as consumer units do. Split Mode audio monitoring aids transmission diversity delay setup.
Free firmware updates are easily installed in the field via USB.
Have you ever considered selling or leasing your broadcast tower? If the thought has crossed your mind, Dave Dybas breaks down some of the potential pros and cons in a guest commentary. And don’t miss this month’s Buyer’s Guide, which focuses on audio transport/STL products. We also feature two articles that imagine what the user interface will look like in car dashboards of the future.
UX Clash in the Dash
Consulting firm Strategy Analytics recently surveyed consumers in six major countries about their use of audio infotainment sources in the car. We invited Roger Lanctot, associate director in the Global Automotive Practice, to comment about the study’s results and their implications.NEW GEAR
Summer of Products
It’s new equipment season again! Radio World’s “Summer of Products” feature is all about new gear that has come onto the market in recent months, especially during spring convention season. Over several issues we feature equipment that caught our eye.ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:
This week we explore the role of radio as a tool for resistance with two of the eight organizers of the “Resistance Radio ‘The People’s Airwaves'” exhibit in Brooklyn, New York.
Interference Archive volunteers Celia Easton Koehler and Elena Levi join us on the podcast to discuss the scope of the exhibit, which investigates a cross-section of themes, including black liberation, radio and prisons, squatting radio, war and revolution radio, and more.
The physical exhibit (on view until September 29, 2019) includes artifacts and audio from a wide range of radio stations from all over the world. Additionally, the team is producing a series of events, a ‘zine, and an online companion exhibit.Show Notes:
- Resistance Radio at Interference Archive
- Online exhibit for Resistance Radio
- Resistance Radio Live Broadcast
- Audio Interference Podcast
- Prometheus Radio Project
- Kichwa Hatari (NY radio program in Kichwa)
- Italian station Radio Alice
- Radio La Conciencia
- Bush Radio (station in Cape Town that began via pre-recorded tapes on buses)
- ‘Zine quote from Rosa Ramón, KDNA (Granger, Washington) in “Programas Sin Verguenza: Mapping Chicanas in Community Radio in the 1970s”
- Podcast #174: Preserving Brooklyn Pirate Radio
- The Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map is Now Online
- Podcast #181: Visiting Community Radio Stations Around the World
- Radio Survivor Patreon campaign
- We’re Making a ‘Zine for Our Supporters
- Help us Tell the History of Indymedia and LPFM
The post Podcast #204 – Resistance Radio ‘The People’s Airwaves’ appeared first on Radio Survivor.
OEM chipmaker Silicon Labs has announced that software-defined radio technology is being introduced into its Si479xx line of chips.
The notable point of the announcement is that the Si479x7 set will offer DRM digital radio reception along with AM/FM.
Juan Revilla, general manager of Broadcast Products at Silicon Labs said: “Our tuners with advanced digital radio features enable radio manufacturers to develop a single platform to demodulate and decode worldwide digital radio standards, greatly simplifying car radio designs and reducing system cost. A single digital radio platform can be achieved either with an SDR-based design approach or by using a tuner-plus-co-processor design.”
The announcement also notes that : “These features enable automotive radio manufacturers to support global digital radio standards with a common radio hardware and software design. This added flexibility helps OEM and Tier 1 customers reduce design, qualification, sourcing and inventory costs while avoiding the complexity and inefficiency of supporting multiple automotive radio platforms.”
SWANNANOA, N.C. — I started in radio in an on-air capacity while pursuing an engineering degree and, while still in college, transitioned to a station engineering position. In the years following, I served at several facilities in roles from maintenance engineer to director of engineering. Since 2001, I have operated MultiTech Consulting, offering a full range of services tailored to the broadcast and information technology industries, including facility and system design, installation/integration and equipment performance verification/measurement.
We have clients throughout the U.S., and some of the networks I have consulted with include Relevant Radio, VCY Networks, Salem Communications, and ABC television O&Os to name just a few.
I have followed the progression of Tieline ever since they advertised the original Commander in Radio World 15 or more years ago. Since that time, I have installed a range of Tieline codecs including Genie STL, Merlin, Merlin Plus, Bridge-IT, Bridge-IT XTRA, Commander G3 Studio and Field, and i-Mix G3. Primarily, the codecs have been used as STLs, but also for remote contribution.
We recommend Genie STL codecs to customers because of the range of features and built-in redundancy options. Key features that are significant factors in our recommending the product include configurability, the IP distribution options, and backup features like SmartStream Plus, ISDN and POTS. That, coupled with the customer support Tieline has always provided, makes the selection easy.
Our typical configuration is a single-IP stream, either unidirectional or bidirectional, as well as multiple peer-to-peer IP streams, or several multi-unicast streams. We have also configured multicast connections for clients.REDUNDANCY STRATEGIES
So long as properly engineered networks are implemented, we have found IP connections to be extremely reliable. Redundancy requirements vary from client to client, but are largely fulfilled by the built-in redundancy afforded in the Genie: redundant power supplies, SmartStream Plus redundant streaming, and failover to a backup connection, etc.
Larger clients may implement an N+1 configuration to ensure complete redundancy and utilize the Genie’s built-in PSU failure, temperature and connection loss alarms, or more elaborate external silence detection and network traffic monitoring. We have also started to utilize SNMP traps for SNMP monitoring.
Our clients utilize everything from DSL to point-to-point fiber, or microwave IP transport. It is dependent upon location and availability. The most popular options are cable modem for general use and metropolitan area Ethernet networks for our “hardcore” clients. Noticeably, a growing number of studio and transmitter sites are unable to be linked via traditional RF point-to-point methods, or face the ongoing sunsetting of the ISDN and T1 infrastructure. As more and more “real-time” traffic is carried by IP networks, I believe QOS and dynamic bandwidth allocation will require more planning and attention.
We frequently utilize MPEG 2 encoding for its transcode and cascade resilience. Where bandwidth allows, such as with metro Ethernet circuits, we use uncompressed audio. For field work/remote broadcasts, etc., we find AAC and Tieline Music/Music Plus algorithms work well.
Contribution and STL encoding bitrates are usually at 256 kbps or greater, and remote broadcasts at 64, 96 or 128 kbps. With cellular connections we used to employ 32 or 48 kbps, but with the cost of bandwidth almost constantly decreasing and the reliability of mobile networks increasing, we rarely, if ever, still connect at those bitrates.[Tieline Puts Excitement in Small-Market Stations]
As clients have transitioned to IP operations, most have adapted to the slight amount of latency that is inherent within the digital environment. Where latency is critical, such as with IFB or comms channels, choosing an appropriate low-delay algorithm like AAC-LD or G.722 is key.
We use a mix of auto and fixed jitter buffering based upon the application; however, we find for most situations auto works quite well. FEC is also a valuable tool for mitigating packet loss.
The Toolbox web GUI interface has always been straightforward and easy to work with and the transition to the HTML 5 interface has made remote configuration and control from virtually any browser even easier.
We recommend clients take full advantage of the built-in security options, have a schedule for password changes and make use of a firewall. The ability to implement SSL security certificate connections is a great addition to the feature set and in many cases removes the need for a VPN connection to securely administrate the codec.
For point-to-point connections, we recommend limiting, via a firewall, the IP addresses that can connect to the codecs. In all situations, we advise they open only the necessary ports, maintain and review logs of connections and connection attempts, and implement firewall monitoring that generates alarms for excessive traffic on administrative addresses/ports.
Clients who use the Genie for STLs often compare it to their former RF-based systems. We most often hear: “Just like the old system — we set it up and forgot about it. It just works.” That level of reliability allows them to focus on other day-to-day tasks without worrying about the STL.
For information, contact Dawn Shewmaker at Tieline in Indiana at 1-317-845-8000 or visit www.tieline.com.
The post MultiTech Installs Tieline Codecs for Steadfast STLs appeared first on Radio World.