Broadcast Industry News
MXes to be settled
Applicants who have waited more than 15 years for word on the status of their commercial FM translator construction permit may soon have an answer.
The Federal Communications Commission has finally set up a date by which applicants can actively participate in Auction 83. The date is set for June 21, 2018.
This auction is designed to resolve groups of mutually exclusive — AKA MX — applications for those who applied in a 2003 auction filing window for a new commercial FM translator station in the nonreserved band (Channels 221 to 300), as well as to make major modifications to authorized FM translator facilities.
In March of this year, the two bureaus involved in this auction — the Media Bureau and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau — finally provided a list of all applications received during the filing window that were mutually exclusive with other applications submitted in the original window. In 2014, applicants who were mutually exclusive were given the first chance to eliminate their mutual exclusivity with other applicants by settlement or technical modification.
And now, the bureaus will begin the auction process with the remaining 43 MX groups. A list of the locations and channels of these proposed stations can be found here. In addition to the names of the applicants, the list also determines the minimum opening bid and upfront payment amount required for each construction permit.
Consider that a permit for a spot in Macon, Ga., has a minimum opening bid and upfront payment of $3,500 for the two mutually exclusive applicants who can bid for it. Price-wise, that’s in the mid-range when compared to a permit with a minimum opening bid of $10,000 in Bossier City/Shreveport, La. There are also a fair number of permits with a $750 opening bid amount.
The Public Notice that the FCC recently released offers a relatively lengthy set of rules and procedures for the upcoming auction. The rules dictate the terms of the auction, the application process and the payment hoops one needs to jump through to participate.
First to know: To become qualified to place a bid, an Auction 83 applicant must submit an updated FCC Form 175 application (also known in commission parlance as a short-form application) and submit an upfront payment for the permit in question. The FCC set a 10-day window starting April 16 for applicants to review/update that short-form application.
An applicant will get the green light to go ahead and bid if it properly submits that short-form application and it submits an upfront payment for at least one of the permits for which it is designated as an applicant.
Be aware that no more than one construction permit will be awarded for each MX group identified in the list. And the commission has laid out specific guidance for applicants, stressing that they must be familiar with the commission’s competitive bidding rules and the procedures contained in the Auction 83 Public Notice.
How many times have you written a file to a directory only to find out, sometimes much later, it was corrupted, lost or improperly archived?
How many times have you written a file to a directory only to find out, sometimes much later, it was corrupted, lost or improperly archived? None of us are likely immune to this phenomenon and few are aware of how this might be prevented.
The accuracy, quality and consistency of data — regardless of where it is stored—is of immense importance; yet data integrity is often taken for granted by most users. Irrespective of where your data is stored — whether in a warehouse, data mart or some other construct, including the cloud—guaranteeing data integrity may be the most vital parameter in the entire compute chain.
Data integrity describes a state, a process or a function. It is often used as a proxy for what is sometimes referred to as “data quality.” Data integrity is routinely equated with “databases,” as in “ensuring database data integrity” but it can a mean a lot more, especially when referring to the many actions that might or can occur in manipulating files (data) through various workflows and processes.
Data integrity is warranted whenever the original data is modified, as in the editing, copying or transferring processes. Another concern is when the data is backed up or archived. The methods practiced by software and hardware storage solution providers need to be “transparently trusted” so that errors or losses of data are prevented. When or if data errors are detected, they should essentially be unnoticed (i.e., “transparent”) and never impact the results of when that data is used for computational, display or delivery purposes.
Data integrity infers that the data is trusted; that is, the data properties are trustworthy from a technical perspective (Fig. 1). Data must be trusted by the consumer of the data using reliable reports on the data’s state or status, as well as with the applications that will use the data.
Trusted data includes such attributes as “complete data.” This is achieved when the data integration technologies and techniques produce a consolidated data structure. The term “enterprise data warehouse” (EDW) — a term applied well ahead of today’s “cloud services” world—is where organizations could place their data (near term, short term or deep/long term), as a secondary service to on-premises (“on-prem”) storage. Respected and trusted EDWs should be competent enough to provide its customers with a full 360-degree view of users’ data with a historic context of all the real-time data activities. Cloud storage services have effectively replaced the legendary EDWs; with functions and expectations that are essentially the same.
STALE OF CURRENT
Trusted data should be “current data.” Users should be able to query the data system to understand questions such as “how old is the data” via a report?” Trustworthy data is “fresh,” whereas “stale data” is not. Stale data can be contaminated by successive read/write processes (where data is copied or relocated during defragmentation) or by “bit rot,” the slow deterioration in performance or integrity due to issues with the storage medium itself.
Existing data may be corrupted when there is considerable activity (multiple seeks, reads and/or rewrites) on the actual disk platter or across the physical tape medium due to successive passes and/or writes. On optical drives, if the physical areas of the disc where the current data resides, has been untouched (unwritten to) for considerable time and then the laser writes to an adjacent area (or surrounding tracks); there are opportunities to blur or distort the existing pits making your existing data unrecognizable or questionable.
CONSISTENT AND CLEAN DATA
Another data trust factor deals with supporting the other (i.e., meta) data associated with the main “core” data. Properly maintained metadata management and master data management practices help to ensure that the data you need can be searched, found and retrieved on a consistent and secure basis. Good metadata management includes documenting the data’s origins and meanings, in a reliable and coherent methodology.
Employing data quality techniques is critical to obtaining “clean data.” Typically, this is obtained by following standardizations in data management, using data verification and matching techniques, and using data deduplication. To maintain operational excellence and to make quality decisions, your data must be clean.
Since data activities often include the aggregation of one data set with other data sets as data traverses workflows, or when data travels across multiple IT systems; it is important to know and trust that the data is technically sound and consistent across the enterprise.
COMPLIANCE AND COLLABORATION
Ensuring you have “regulation-compliant data” is another element of a trusted data scenario. Regulations associated with data compliance come from sources which may be external to your organization, as in federal legislation or your partner connections. They may also come from internal policies such as your own internal IT data architectures, quality assurance, security and privacy. Businesses need to trust that their data has been accessed and distributed in accordance with both external and internal guidelines.
Data “collaboration” (also referred to as data “sharing”) is essential to business functionality. Collaboration helps to ensure a strong alignment between data management practices and business management goals. When successful, data collaboration improves trust amongst inter-departmental activities and functions.
SOURCE TO DATA INTEGRITY
Data integrity needs to be maximized from the data source to the application and through to the storage medium (disk, tape, optical or cloud). Data integrity (and protection) is made possible by applying multiple mechanisms during the write processes, modification processes and through the management of duplicated data throughout the system (Fig. 2).
One methodology is to ensure that when original data, stored for example on a disk drive is modified, that the results will always be written to unused blocks on that disk. This practice assures that the old (previously unmodified) data is unaffected on the disk, even if the new data written to the other location is corrupt. Through tracking history, if one data write is found to be in error, you could fall back to a previously written block and recover either the same (or a previous) version of the disk.
Another level of data insurance, the “snap shot” — from the photography term — is the capture (recording) of the state of a system at a particular point in time. Besides protection, this read-only snap shot of data can also be used to avoid downtime. In high-availability systems, a data backup may be performed directly from the snapshot. This method lets applications continue writing to the main data while a duplicate “snapshot” of data becomes that data, which is backed up to another storage resource.
There are many secondary (provided by the storage vendor) and third-party (nonstorage vendor) software solutions that can manage both snap shots and backups in real-time.
As expected, more organizations are now considering modern intelligent backup practices to protect their data. This means more storage is consumed and that more data system management will be necessary. Intelligent backup solutions may utilize a practice called “deduplication,” which finds all the instances of any data set, establishes pointers to where all those instances occurred relative to the data backup, and then narrows the amount of data down to only a single set of data. Deduplication reduces storage costs, but also increases performance of data backups and restores.
Data “dedupe” (its shortened name) can be used on main data (e.g., in databases or on transactional data sets) or for backups or archives. However, due to the already highly compressed nature of video along with the unstructured nature of motion imagining data, deduplication does not improve the storage performance in the same was it would for structured data.
Data management technologies, monitoring, and practices continue to evolve. How data is managed on a solid-state storage medium (SSD) versus a magnetic spinning disk or optical disc can vary. Users looking into new archive platforms or backup solutions should absolutely get the full story on how the vendor handles data management, data integrity and resiliency — before making a selection that they will live with for years to come.
Karl Paulsen is CTO at Diversified (www.diversifiedus.com) and a SMPTE Fellow. Read more about this and other storage topics in his book “Moving Media Storage Technologies.” Contact Karl at email@example.com.
Square Box Systems' flagship media asset management (MAM) system, CatDV, accelerates collaborative media asset management operations and empowers small-, medium-, and large-scale enterprises to repurpose and monetize millions of assets with ease and efficiency. At the 2018 NAB Show in booth SL5421, Square Box Systems will showcase its latest innovations for CatDV, focused on five key areas: AI, customization and extensibility, expanded support for creative workflows, support for large, cloud and hybrid deployments, and new capabilities for managing sports assets.
Square Box Systems' flagship media asset management (MAM) system, CatDV, accelerates collaborative media asset management operations and empowers small-, medium-, and large-scale enterprises to repurpose and monetize millions of assets with ease and efficiency. At the 2018 NAB Show in booth SL5421, Square Box Systems will showcase its latest innovations for CatDV, focused on five key areas: AI, customization and extensibility, expanded support for creative workflows, support for large, cloud and hybrid deployments, and new capabilities for managing sports assets.
2018 NAB Show Product Preview
CatDV (Square Box Systems Ltd.)
Enhanced Support for Creative Workflows
CatDV now enables even more creative workflows through integrations with Adobe® Creative Cloud and Avid® Media Composer. The system now features an updated and more powerful Advanced Adobe panel that can also operate in Adobe® Premiere® Pro, After Effects®, Illustrator®, Photoshop®, and InDesign®. CatDV also boasts enhanced support for Avid workflows.
Enhancements for Cloud and Hybrid Deployments
CatDV now offers a range of cloud and hybrid (supporting both on-premise and cloud) deployment options, including the seamless management and movement of content for creative workers who prefer to focus on making compelling content rather than worrying about NAS, SAN, cloud, or object storage tiers. New integrations with file acceleration tools from Aspera make these options even more compelling. In addition, CatDV now offers extended support for AWS S3 archive including KMS encryption and Glacier support with configurable expedited restores. CatDV has also built an all-new AWS deployment template with proxy playback from S3. Additional enhancements include an integration with Media Silo and support for Backblaze B2 archive.
Expanded Support for Micro-Services and Distributed Deployments
CatDV now includes the ability to deploy server plugin components on separate servers. Examples include data movers for archive plugins such as Black Pearl, S3, Azure, and B2.
New Workflow Automation Options and Extensions
CatDV now offers powerful new workflow automation enhancements, including a file path cleaner for removing invalid characters that can wreak havoc with storage and creative tools downstream; an MD5 checker; policy-based archives and restores; a document/PDF analyzer with simple OCR; and a YouTube uploader. Also available is a two-factor authentication and single sign-on solution based on SAML2– providing additional security for both web and installed CatDV users.
New Sports Capabilities
For supercharging sports deployments, CatDV now includes uprated, button-based logging and sports-focused search options. Capabilities like these have made CatDV the obvious choice for more than 50 sports teams worldwide.
"Since we launched CatDV 15 years ago, we've stayed on the cutting edge of MAM innovation through a concentrated product development effort based on customer input and the evolving media industry. At the 2018 NAB Show, we're looking forward to showing prospects, partners, and customers powerful new enhancements for CatDV that empower small-, medium-, and large-scale enterprises to repurpose and monetize millions of assets with ease and efficiency."
— Dave Clack, CEO at Square Box Systems
Square Box Systems is a privately owned software company specializing in media asset management (MAM) and production workflows. Its industry-leading CatDV application, launched in 2001, brings order to the chaos of media file management by making it easy for content owners to repurpose and monetize their assets. Offering a powerful, user-friendly toolset and streamlined integration with a multitude of media workflow vendors, the CatDV software runs on Mac and Windows platforms and can be scaled from small workgroups to multiuser enterprise solutions managing millions of assets. In 2012, Square Box Systems was awarded the prestigious Queen's Award for Innovation, conferred by HM Queen Elizabeth II. CatDV has also been honored with a number of awards including Creative Cow's Blue Ribbon for Best Asset Management Tool and Videography Magazine's Best of NAB Vidy Award. Based in the U.K., Square Box Systems sells CatDV globally through a network of distributors and resellers providing workflow design, local installation, consultancy, and support. More information is available at www.squarebox.com.
All trademarks appearing herein are the property of their respective owners.
Link to Word Doc: www.wallstcom.com/SquareBox/180315SquareBox.docx
CatDV now enables even more creative workflows through integrations with Adobe® Creative Cloud and Avid® Media Composer.
CatDV now offers more customization options than ever before.
For supercharging sports deployments, CatDV now includes uprated, button-based logging and sports-focused search options.
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FM translators and HD Radio broadcasting come easily to E750
HAGERSTOWN, MD. — When cross-service translator use exploded a few years ago, Manning Media decided to expand the service of our Hagerstown, Md., AM station 1490 WARK.
The CP for W255CP, conveniently already collocated on the WARK tower, was purchased and the project began. This was originally a noncommercial translator but was relicensed to a fill-in cross-service for WARK, allowing an increase in HAAT and ERP. The result was 250 watts ERP in to a single-bay Nicom BKG77 antenna at 340 feet on the AM tower. This configuration required 610 of TPO for 250 watts ERP.
After research of several transmitters and the recommendations of Phil Joiner at RF Specialties, we decided on the Crown-branded Ecreso E750. Installation was straightforward and basically plug and play.
What a great choice it turned out to be. So when we decided to launch HD2 and HD3 services on our Class B WWEG(FM) with fill-in translators in 2015 and 2016 respectively, there was no doubt what the transmitter choice would be after a year of trouble-free operation of the E750. We diplexed the 98.9 and 102.1 transmitters into the single-bay Nicom and the 100.5 transmitter diplexed into a two-bay Nicom with a noncom on 99.5 MHz.
The three Ecreso transmitters have performed flawlessly since installation in a transmitter building that is not climate-controlled with temperatures going over 100 degrees in the building on the hottest summer afternoons and dropping below 50 degrees on the coldest winter nights. We have also had zero lightning issues with the antennas mounted on a unipole fed grounded tower.
The E series transmitters are loaded with features that include stereo generator, dynamic RDS, internet GUI remote access for control and monitoring, plus built-in five-band audio processing, making them an even better bargain. A D-sub connector supplies the necessary control and metering functions for interface to a remote control system; ours are connected a Burk ARC-16.
We’ve been totally satisfied with Ecreso transmitters and would recommend them to anyone needing a low-power or translator transmitter. It truly can be a one-box solution for many operations. If Manning Media has future needs for translator transmitters the Ecreso will be at the top of the list.
For information, contact Tony Peterle at WorldCast Systems/Ecreso in Florida at 1-305-249-3110 or visit www.worldcastsystems.com.
Couple seeks 100% ownership of N.Y. station, triggering Communications Act regulations
What will the FCC’s stance be on the request from a pair of British and Polish expats to amend the Federal Communication Commission’s foreign station ownership rules?
That’s what the company Border Media is hoping to find out. The licensee filed a petition with the commission asking that the FCC allow it to acquire a 100% voting and equity interest in Border Media Licenses, which is the proposed new licensee of FM station WRGR in Tupper Lake, N.Y. At the same time, the current owner of Radio Lake Placid is looking to transfer control of its ownership in WRGR to BML.
Border Media is owned by two foreign members: Ricki Lee Shorthose, a British citizen, and Hanna Kaleta, a citizen of Poland. The two say that granting this petition would serve the public interest for several reasons: it would encourage foreign investment in the area, it would promote ownership diversity and it would allow for continued broadcast service to the small community of Tupper Lake, a village of 3,000 in the northeast corner of the state.
WRGR has been silent since January 2018, according to the FCC licensing database. The FCC granted the STA with the understanding that the station is not to remain silent for more than 180 days from Feb. 28, 2018. The license will automatically expire if broadcast operations do not resume by Jan. 28, 2019.
Border Media announced on the website www.lakefm.com that it plans to relaunch the station with a classic hits format and rebrand it as “Lake FM: The Tri-Lakes Greatest Hits.” A station with that same moniker is currently live streaming at www.lakefm.com.
In the petition, BML noted that managing member Shorthose has been working in various aspects of the radio business for nearly 18 years, and moved with his wife, Kaleta, to New York in 2015 to grow an audio tech company’s North American business. In December of last year, the two co-founded BML for the purpose of investing in one or more U.S. broadcast stations, the petition said.
In the application, the two maintain that they have been model residents of the U.S. for the past three years, and would not generate any national security concern or pose any threat to the U.S.
In the group’s petition, the two noted that the Communications Act’s foreign ownership restrictions were originally conceived to address homeland security interests during wartime. “It is obvious that allowing two European citizens — who have been model residents of the United States for the past three years and who have been involved in the radio business — to own a small, struggling U.S. FM radio station would not implicate any homeland security concerns,” the petition said.
The Communications Act currently establishes a 25% benchmark for foreign investment in U.S.-organized entities that control a U.S. broadcast license. Licensees must obtain FCC approval before foreign ownership exceeds 25%.
The FCC is asking for public comment on the filing by April 5, with secondary replies due on April 20. Commenters can submit a comment using Media Bureau Docket No. 18-66 via the commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System or via a paper copy.
The FCC is asking for interested parties to raise all issues or concerns in their initial filings, and not raise new issues in responses or replies.
Eric Small was good for the industry, as a broadcast engineer, and product developer, Frank Foti remembers
The passing of Eric Small is heartbreaking in so many ways. Most of us know of him through his broadcast engineering ability and his company Modulation Sciences. The CP-803 Composite Processor is legend! That product gave many FM stations the needed competitive edge when crafting their signature sound. I know this from experience while “Serving the Universe from the Top of the Empire State Building!"
I was very fortunate to have known Eric on a broader scale. He was truly an innovator, but I really admired his "hootspa." He was well read, and educated on many levels.
I recall being in an NRSC subcommittee meeting, many, many years ago, where the topic of composite clipping was up for debate. This was in the very early days of my own journey into business. I sat with awe, as Eric single-handedly took on all who tried to block the use of the tech. He was not to be denied…and I knew he was right regarding the topic at hand! Afterwards, he invited me out for a bite, and just laughed off the efforts of those who tried to derail him. He just "knew" what was right, and wasn’t going to back down. I learned something that day, and have never forgotten it, in my own ventures.
I can recall numerous times where Eric, Steve Church and I would get together just to discuss our views of the industry, technology, and whatever might be ‘cool’ to chat about. Since both Eric and Steve were very academic, those conversations could get a bit "heated" at times, but always done so with incredible mutual respect for all involved. He was a good friend, and since he got into business long before Steve and I, he was always in our corner, and at times was almost like a big brother to these two "radio-rat" engineers trying to build their own company.
He was good for our industry, as a broadcast engineer, and product developer. He is already missed. I’m sure he’s reconnected with Steve, and soon should you see or hear any thunder and lightning…well, it’ll be Eric and Steve in yet another wonderful debate. May you rest easy, my friend.
Ràdio World is gathering reader comments about the career of Eric Small, who died last week. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Delegates gather in Vienna to hear over 120 speakers across three days
VIENNA — “The World is Listening” is the theme for this year’s Radiodays Europe conference, which opened on Sunday in the Austrian capital.
Reflecting this, the first day saw a range of masterclasses featuring speakers from around the world. These included “Ask Elvis” with Elvis Duran, morning show host for Z100 in New York; voice training with Spain’s Emma Rodero; and “Peak Performance: Working with talent” with Travis Kemp, a consulting, coaching and organisational psychologist from Australia.
Alongside this, the “Fast and Curious” networking session brought together 10 topics, hosted on 10 tables, for 10 minutes each on key issues in the world of radio. The topics included smart speakers, hosted by Tom Webster, senior vice president at Edison Research; radio in the car with Nick Piggott, project office manager for RadioDNS; and podcasting hosted by Mitch Secrett from Omny.
This year also saw the launch of an initiative to create greater connections for women attending Radiodays, with a special session on Sunday afternoon bringing together both women and men to discuss issues of gender equality and to network. The session was introduced by Marja Keskitalo, head of radio at Yle in Finland, and hosted by Cheyenne Mackay from the sonOhr Radio and Podcast Festival in Switzerland.
Sunday’s opening night reception took place in the appropriate setting of Vienna’s Haus der Muzik (The Sound Museum). It was hosted by ORF, the Austrian public broadcaster, and VÖP, the Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Austria.
Across the three days of Radiodays Europe 2018, more than 120 speakers are taking part in over 50 sessions, at the Austria Center in Vienna.
Eric Small, co-developer of the Optimod FM processor, founder of Modulation Sciences Inc., and holder of several patents, is dead at the age of 71.
Eric Small, co-developer of the Optimod FM processor, founder of Modulation Sciences Inc., and holder of several patents, is dead at the age of 71.
On March 15, according to a local news station, Small was leaving a Publix grocery store in Delray Beach FL around 5:09 p.m., when the driver of a car lost control and accelerated towards the store. The car struck Small first and then crashed into the Publix, according to the Palm Beach Sheriffs Office report quoted in the story. The driver and Small were transported to Delray Medical Center, where they both died from their injuries.
Small is survived by wife Roberta, sister Linda (Don) Sussman, children Gary Moskoff, Eric (Shannon) Moskoff and three grandchildren, according to an online obituary.
Small gained note for his pioneering work as chief engineer of WXLO in New York. Later, he partnered with Bob Orban, and the two developed the Optimod 8000, a radical departure from traditional FM audio processors.
In 1981, he founded Modulation Sciences Inc., where he is best remembered for designing the CP-803 composite processor and Sidekick SCA generator. Over the years, he wrote numerous white papers about audio engineering, and held several patents for the circuits that he developed.
According to a bio in the 10 edition of the NAB Engineering Handbook, to which he contributed, he also was an aerospace hardware and software designer for the visual portion of the F/A-18 combat flight simulator in the 1980s. In 1975, he authored the technical chapter in the CPB Handbook for setting up SCA-based Radio Reading Services for the blind. And when Multichannel Television Sound emerged, he was a voting member of the BTSC, the group that wrote the standard for stereo TV sound.
Funeral service will be held March 20 at Riverside - Stanetsky Memorial Chapels in Delray Beach, Fla.
Or Happy St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day is upon us. This is the time of year when all of us (whether we have Irish heritage or not) are just “a little Irish.” In this updated edition of Off the Beaten Path, a few links related to the Irish and St. Patrick’s Day, featuring some new “lucky Irish” links.
This is the website for Ireland. If you were thinking about making a visit, this would be a great website to start with. With the size of Ireland and the different regions, you’ll find different experiences in different areas from Belfast to Dublin.
If you plan to make a trip to Ireland, what better way to fit in than to get to know the lingo and expressions. They do speak English in Ireland, but as we know from our own U.S. experience (think of the regional use of the words soda, pop, juice, and Coke as “interchangeable” expressions for a soft drink), they do have words that are slightly different. For instance, “heading to the jacks,” which means to the restroom.
The top international tourist attraction in Ireland in 2017 was Dublin’s St. James’s Brewery — and guess what is there. Yup! It’s the home the Guinness storehouse! Though Ireland has a lot of great and beautiful sights to see, who could miss seeing the home of Guinness (with its historical lease!).
After visiting the Guinness storehouse, here are 80 other very cool things you can do (if you are still awake and on your feet)! Ireland is a beautiful and fascinating country!
Shamrocks, green beer, silly hats, green clothing, bangers & mash, shepherd’s pie, cabbage … all part of what we (American’s) associate with St. Patrick’s Day. But what’s the real deal? From History.com is this link with information about St. Patrick’s Day, it’s original, how it’s celebrate, and how the Irish see it.
Who can resist corned beef and cabbage, Irish Stew, or Shepherd’s Pie? Each year at NAB, I make one of my first stops the Nine Fine Irishman pub (in New York New York) for some “lucky food.” Well, the food is good, but don’t know that it’s ever brought me much luck to “being in Vegas.” By the way, next month we’ll revisit “things to know before heading out to NAB in Vegas” in Off the Beaten Path.
From Biography.com, here’s a look at some of the most well-known Irish-Americans. From authors to politicians to actors, the U.S. has many great American’s with Irish heritage.
If you’d like to know more about St. Patrick, the same people from the Ireland website (above) trace the story of St. Patrick on this link.
Gangs of New York
In 2002, Martin Scorsese directed “Gangs of New York.” It was quite the movie about the different immigrants (including the Irish) who landed in New York City after immigrating to the United States. It showed the conflicts of different people and different heritages mixing together. Of course, this was JUST a movie, or was it? The movie actually DID reflect life in New York and The Discovery Channel presented a program called “Uncovering the Real Gangs of New York.” It’s a fascinating program!
Besides Enya, The Corrs, Flogging Molly (L.A.-based, though Celtic/punk), Sinead O’Connor, Van Morrison, The Cranberries, Bono, and many other Irish singers, the roots of Irish singers who gained popularity probably beginner with John McCormack. Though you probably don’t have “the cylinder” or 78 of “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” from 1914, it was one of his many “hits” and just one of hundreds of recordings he made beginning in 1904. Adding to our list of links is Archive.org. It has original McCormack recordings and maybe anything you are looking for.
And Finally ...
Anne Corry, of Belfast, here is a link to some of her work.
If you stumble across a good or unusual website that might be of interest, please don’t hesitate to send me the link and any info you might have about it. Also, with the upcoming “heading to Las Vegas for NAB” edition, if you have any tips or stories to share, please send them my way. My email address is email@example.com.
Research reveals our need to be flexible
Think radio is fading? Data just issued hints that community radio has several avenues before us for growth.
A new Edison Research Infinite Dial study came out late last week, offering some compelling information on changing listener habits. Since 1998, the Infinite Dial has been a bellwether of trends and media’s new normal. Podcasting and smart speaker adoption are among the big takeaways this year. Scattered in this survey, there are several notable statistics for community media.
What are some of the encouraging things you can take from the new release of this 20-year research?
First and foremost, streaming remains popular. While the death knell is still being sounded for the venerable medium, online radio streaming retains a consistent crowd. Sixty-four percent of Americans use a variety of applications such as Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora to hear their audio favorites. Amazon’s Alexa devices are also driving a lot of traffic. Although those numbers are most certainly tilted toward the music streaming side, radio is essential to this strong showing. Second, your community radio station’s chance to jump into podcasting is right now. Forty-four percent of Americans today say they have listened to a podcast — that’s up 4% from last year — and 64% of Americans know what a podcast is, also up by four points. Maybe those are not game-changing numbers, but consider that the number of Americans who use Facebook stands at 63%, and that’s dropping. The steady growth of podcast listenership across all demographics tells you podcasting has not reached its ceiling yet. If anything, it seems the world is primed for the next “Serial” or “S-Town” to become all the rage.
And finally, smart audio is a refreshing way to connect your station with audiences. Voice-activated audio caught fire over the holiday season and remains red-hot, according to Edison Research. Consumer awareness is phenomenal, with 71% of Americans who say they are familiar with Amazon Alexa. The astonishing part? Only 57% knew what Alexa was a year ago — a 14 percentage point jump from 12 months prior.
The smart audio spike squares up with the new Voicebot study, which suggests 20% of Americans now have a voice-activated device. Researchers audaciously forecast smart speaker adoption may hit 50% of Americans before year’s end. As for radio stations and other media, Greg Hedges of the RAIN Agency, one of the teams involved in Voicebot’s survey, remarked, “The question for those sitting on the sidelines can no longer can be, ‘When should I start thinking about this?’ but instead, ‘What’s the best way to get started now?’”
For community radio, the lessons to be gleaned from the Infinite Dial are many.
One of the biggest stories is the decline of social media. For stations that have invested time and money into Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like, audiences that are drifting away is going to be something you will want to watch out for. Inside Radio drills down into the findings. Snapchat and Instagram saw growth, but Facebook usage took a 5% dip. If your station has put most of its energy into Facebook, but less into platforms like Instagram, maybe this is your chance to pivot to a different flavor of social media than you typically use. There has been plenty of teeth gnashing over the Facebook publisher tweaks in late 2017 and early 2018; with the eroding user base and changes making it harder for you to reach your loyal fans, this spring may motivate your station is explore your options.
Another big deal is finding your home on smart audio. Physical radio ownership, according to the Infinite Dial, is crashing. Consider the fact that only 4% of Americans 10 years ago said they did not own a radio. Today, that number of radio non-owners is almost 30%. This probably explains why so many commercial stations actively promote their availability on smart speakers; if your listeners do not have radio in their homes, but have an Amazon Echo, you’ll do your DJs, underwriters and future a favor by making sure the audience knows how to listen.
Lastly, if you have not seen my past beating of the drum for community radio podcasting at Radio World, the latest Infinite Dial research reminds you that the growth arc for podcasts is still vibrant. Maybe you can do what Lincoln, Neb.’s KZUM is doing, formulating local podcasting out of an area festival. However, your community radio station works its way into podcasting, there is no time like the present to get started.
Some may pore through the Infinite Dial’s findings and see cause for alarm. Indeed, there is a great deal here that should serve to warn community radio not to freeze in one place. Rather, community radio, from full- to low-power, must remain adaptive to the new media environment we reside in.
Chapter 11 won’t affect day-to-day operations much
Don’t expect everyday operations at iHeartMedia radio stations to change much even though the broadcaster has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Company leaders say they don’t plan to liquidate stations nor lay off staff during the reorganization process. And music will keep streaming through the iHeartRadio app.
The country’s biggest radio group also will likely keep buying equipment as necessary. An observer familiar with United States bankruptcy law says that iHeartMedia likely has identified suppliers and vendors that provide it key goods and services and filed motions for them to receive preferred treatment on prepetition debt.
We have seen at least a partial list of iHeartMedia’s biggest unsecured creditors (AKA Top 30) and no broadcast equipment vendor’s name appears, but experts say some are likely to take a sizable financial hit. So far no one has filed a proof of claim against the broadcaster, according to the court docket in United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston.
That Top 30 list of top unsecured creditors includes performance rights organizations BMI, ASCAP, Global Music Rights, along with Nielsen Media Research and Vertical Bridge, the tower management company. No dollar amounts are yet available, according to court records.
Interestingly, fellow broadcast groups like Cumulus, Hubbard, Cox, Beasley and Urban One are also listed, possibly connected to iHeartMedia-owned Premiere Networks and inventory provided by the broadcasters.
iHeartMedia on March 15 said it intends to continue working closely with vendors throughout the reorganization. “We can and will pay for goods delivered and services rendered after the Chapter 11 filing in the normal course. In Chapter 11, amounts owed for goods delivered and services rendered after the Chapter 11 filing are deemed administrative priority claims.”
Chapter 11 rules require the company to pay those claims in full before it can pay any vendor or service provider expenses incurred before the Chapter 11 filing, according to court documents.
iHeartMedia’s goal is to move through the Chapter 11 process as “quickly as possible,” but that will likely take months. For example, Cumulus has been in Chapter 11 reorganization since last November. It hopes to emerge from court supervision by May.
Bankruptcy attorneys for the radio conglomerate met for the first time Thursday before United States Bankruptcy Court Judge Marvin Isgur. The next hearing before the judge that’s listed on the court docket is set for March 27, but you can expect boatloads of briefs and motions filed on top of that. The restructuring is expected to reduce iHeartMedia’s debt by more than $10 billion.
Pre-NAB Show PREC18 event planned for April 5–6
Not to be lost in the maelstrom that leads up to the NAB Show, the Association of Public Radio Engineers will convene their annual get-together, April 5–6, at their new traditional haunt, the Tuscany Suites.
PREC18, as it’s called, will feature speakers on topics ranging from hurricane recovery to program production and distribution to legal issues to broadcast IT security.
Some familiar names on hand presenting: David Layer, NAB; Keyur Parikh, GatesAir; Michael LeCalir, WBUR(FM); Jeff Holdenrid, DoubleRadius; Stu Buck, Arctic Palm; Tom Silliman, ERI; Steve Dove, Wheatstone; Rob Byers, NPR; and Wayne Pecena, Texas A&M.
APRE President Steve Johnston will address attendees and there’ll be an awards session concluding the convention.
Nautel’s engineer-oriented NAB Show collocated event schedule for April 8
A new NAB Show tradition, the Nautel Users Group meeting, NUG@NAB, will convene this year, April 8, at the Flamingo Hotel, starting at 9 a.m.
Expected speakers include Radio World’s own Paul McLane; Telos’ Hans van Zutphen, discussing single-frequency networks; Wheatstone’s Jeff Keith looking at AES Direct input; Nautel’s Philipp Schmid presenting on the HD Radio multiplex trials at KKLZ; and Nautel’s Jeff Welton promises more tips and tricks.
Nautel Regional Sales Manager, Asia/Pacific Chuck Kelly said, “More than 300 people have already preregistered, and we have room for more. This fast-paced meeting covers a wide variety of topics to keep our users up to date on technology advances both at Nautel and within the radio industry.”
A free lunch is included. Here’s a video from last year’s festivities.
“We need to remember that when the unthinkable occurs, we turn to radio,” she said
At the recent Hispanic Radio Conference in Miami, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel of the Federal Communications Commission made clear the vitally important role that radio plays during emergency situations by offering some harrowing examples that came to pass during last year’s hurricane season.
At the conference, which was held March 13 and 14 in Miami, Rosenworcel detailed some of the recovery efforts she recently saw in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
“[T]he damage from Hurricane Maria is still out in the open, for all to see,” she said, referring to broken traffic lights, closed businesses and statistics that say that as many as 400,000 residents still do not have electricity. “That means American citizens are still living without necessities like health care, hot meals and basic communications,” she said. “So not only has this prolonged power outage cut into the economic security of the island, it has put people’s lives at risk.”
Despite the damage, what she also saw was resilience in the people she encountered, pride in the island and a radio industry that is telling those stories — despite the damage that occurred to television and broadcast stations all across the island.
Radio station WKAQ(AM) is one of those, Rosenworcel said. The station became not just a broadcaster of events during the storm, but part of the story as well. The San Juan station broadcasts a Spanish-language talk radio format on 580 kHz. The studio itself is housed a modern building in Guaynabo that is covered with a big expanse of circular glass. When the winds arrived, the glass top of the building shattered. As the rain came down, it turned the stairs into a virtual waterfall.
But station’s staff had hunkered down to provide news and information. When the building began to break apart, staffer Ruben Sanchez paused a live interview with Gov. Ricardo Rossello to assure his listeners they would do what they could to stay on air.
The station started to relocate staff and broadcasting capability to a transmitter site nearby, but when they arrived, the area around the squat cement building has been flooded by a nearby creek. “That didn’t stop WKAQ,” Rosenworcel said. The staff secured a truck with large off-road tires, drove up to the transmitter, and set up a studio in a small room with an old linoleum floor and a single fan. “They dove back in, doing what radio does best,” Rosenworcel said. “Providing essential content for the community they serve.”
The station also served as a receiving station for calls from the mainland U.S. for those looking for their loved ones during and after the storm.
Rosenworcel also shared the story of station WAPA in San Juan, which opened its doors to its own employees and other members of the community after the storm. Residents came to request information about their loved ones, and all of those requests were read on the air. “In fact, the station still has the cardboard boxes where they kept the notes written on stray scraps of paper from anyone and everyone who stopped by the station seeking help and assistance,” she said.
“The stories from those visits are unbelievable,” Rosenworcel said, pointing to a story about a cardiac surgeon that visited the station seeking the mother of a newborn in need of heart surgery in order to authorize placing the infant on a flight for medical evacuees. As a result of his on-air plea, relief workers were able to track her down.
The station also managed to help an elderly home that had run out of diesel for its generator, helped a kidney patient get a ride to a dialysis center, helped get medicine delivered to those in need, and worked to facilitate calls so that first responders could rescue those trapped on the roofs of their homes due to rising water.
“As every broadcaster I visited with on the island told me, they were no longer competing for listeners, they were a team with one goal — staying on the air — and serving the community,” Rosenworcel said. “I don’t think you’ll find a better demonstration of radio’s commitment to the public interest than that.”
“We need to remember that when the unthinkable occurs, we turn to radio,” she said. “It’s a public safety force. It keeps us connected when too many of our other connections fail. I think it’s essential for the Federal Communications Commission to keep this in mind with everything we do.”
Rosenworcel said she remains committed to ensuring that the FCC works to promote media diversity, localism and competition through its policies. Over her objections, she said, the current leadership has given the green light for more consolidation and less diversity of ownership, she said, adding that today only 5% of AM radio stations and 4% of FM radio stations are owned by Hispanics or Latinos.
“Let’s acknowledge those numbers are too small,” she said. “They do not fully reflect the diversity of our country.”
Potential solutions, she said, may involve bringing back the minority tax certificate program as well as continuing to require broadcast stations to certify that their advertising sales contracts contain nondiscrimination clauses. She announced that the American Association of Advertising Agencies recently released a “Fair Play” charter that asks its members to recommit to ending redlining practices that discriminate against minority media outlets.
Although we live in a world with so many platforms and so many ways to listen, there is still something special about a voice in the air, Rosenworcel told the crowd.
“There is still something extraordinary about how a single signal can reach out and connect with so many of us,” she said. “I saw it clearly in Puerto Rico — and I know that power resides in the work you do every day.”
WWKL and WZCY trade places on the dial
As of Thursday afternoon, Cumulus Media’s Harrisburg, Pa., cluster has swapped the signals of its CHR and country-formatted stations.
WWKL(FM) — aka “Hot 93.5 FM” — has moved up the dial to 106.7 MHz, the former home of WZCY(FM).
The 106.7 frequency broadcasts at 50,000 watts making it significantly stronger than that of 93.5 MHz and reaches audiences across the Harrisburg, York and Lancaster metro areas.
WZCY(FM) has been rebranded as a Nash station and will now be referred to as “Your Neighborhood Country” and will play more traditional, “gold-based country music,” according to the announcement.
The Harrisburg, York and Lancaster clusters consist of WQXA(FM), WWKL, WZCY, WHGB(AM), WNNK(FM), WSOX(FM), WGLD(AM), WARM(FM), WSBA(AM) and WIOV(AM/FM).
It would be a challenging project under the best of circumstances
The author and his wife live on a log cabin on the grounds of KJNP(AM) in North Pole, Alaska, near Fairbanks. This is the first in a series about the process of replacing the station’s tower.
KJNP Radio has just finished celebrating 50 years of broadcasting from the city of North Pole. Founded by Don and Gen Nelson to broadcast the Gospel to Alaska and the Arctic, it went on the air in October 1967. Don Nelson later wrote a book “Shadows on the Arctic Snow” that details the start of KJNP Radio; the station has even been recognized as a historic part of Alaska by the state Office of History and Archaeology. Today we also have two FM signals, a TV station and translators.
Over the years the operation has changed from having DJs to operating with an automation system É from getting programs in by 16-inch LP, to cassettes, then CDs and now the internet. But with all the technical and operation changes, there are a couple of people who have been there from its beginning; Dick Olson and Bonnie “Yvonne” Carriker are still involved on a daily basis. And the purpose of the station has not changed; it is still broadcasting the Gospel to Alaska and the Arctic. Having begun at 10,000 watts, the AM is now a 50,000 kW signal that gets listener reports from as far as Sweden, Finland, eastern Russia and New Zealand.
Recently, after some other towers in the area had problems and needed to be replaced, we decided to have ours inspected for structural integrity.
The Nolan Brothers tower crew from Soldotna did an inspection and found that the legs were no longer within the acceptable tolerance for wall thickness; they had corroded from the inside. The outer paint and guy wires were OK, but internally the metal had been oxidizing. They found the problem throughout, not in just one area.
The 425-foot hollow-leg tower has been in use for 50 years. This is a 5/8-wave tower, taller than a lot of AM structures because we make use of skywave to cover the Arctic.
We also have temperatures that range from above 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to below minus-60 in the winter. This is a temperature change of over 140 degrees, which can cause stress on junctions and connections, especially when various metals are used. Copper and steel have different amounts of thermal expansion and contraction, which needs to be planned for in the construction. It can also affect the tuning of the tower and ATU at different seasons.
With this information in mind, we are going to be replacing the tower this summer. The tower will be in the same location, same height and face, same feed type. We want to reuse as many things as we can, like the ATU and coax. The replacement will be a solid-leg model from Magnum Towers.
When we started planning the replacement, we realized that we would also need to replace the ground system. It would be damaged during the tower work; and it had been in the ground for 50 years.
We started with the project last fall so that everything would be ready for tower work in the spring.
Part of the job was clearing the area of the tower field. Over time, the edges had grown in, even though the center was being mowed. We had a brush clearing company, TJ’s Landclearing, and a dirt work company, Alaska Groundworks, come do that.
After we picked up everything that had been stored on the edges of the tower field, they got things ready for the ground radials that will go in come summer. The tower field is now cleared and leveled to the original size; the guy anchor points are again in the field instead of among brush on the edges.
We are going to go with a pile foundation for the replacement tower. To plan for the foundation, we had soil samples taken down to 40 feet at two locations. Homestead Drilling did these in one day. They were analyzed by an engineering company that then designed the pile foundation. The piles were driven by Alaska Groundworks, two for the tower and one for each guy anchor. With those steps done last fall, we won’t need to wait for frost to be melted before starting things in the spring.
We are in the process of getting everything ordered and purchased so that when we start the actual work, all is ready. Shipping to Alaska can take time and is expensive. Fairbanks and North Pole are more than 300 miles from any other large city, and going to town to get supplies usually is not an option.
Previously, for large items, instead of commercial shipping we have done the shipping ourselves, getting the tower loaded on a large trailer and driving it up. We are looking at doing this again for this project.
Reginald “Redgy” Swedberg is the engineer for KJNP. He has been with the station since 1991. Share your own project experiences. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project will be added to a series of vital projects that aim to keep pace with technical progress worldwide
The Kuwait Minister of Information Mohammad Al-Jabri on March 8 launched a project to update shortwave transmitters at Kabd station from analog to digital, with plans in place to use the open standard Digital Radio Mondiale, according to menafn.com.
Kabd station, with the new DRM system, will allow "Kuwait's voice" to reach the entire Middle East region, Europe and Asia, the minister noted.
This new project for the ministry will be added to a series of vital projects that aim to keep pace with the rapid technical progress around the globe, Al-Jabri told KUNA and the Kuwait TV.
The medium is evolving, morphing and changing to adapt to the world around it
The author is the director general of the European Broadcasting Union.
GENEVA — Since the advent of television in the 1950s, people have been predicting the death of radio. Yet, despite the naysayers, it has continued to develop, innovate and thrive.
Of course there are challenges for all media sectors in an on-demand world – and radio has not escaped them. Younger audiences are used to choice and YouTube and Spotify have changed the music listening landscape.
But those that have written radio off over the decades have been proven wrong. Radio has shown a clear resilience.
Radio still reaches nearly 90 percent of European citizens every week. In Europe we listen to, on average, nearly 2.5 hours of radio every day and, in my home country Ireland, that figure is an incredible 3.5 hours a day.
I was recently a member of the European Commission’s High Level Expert Group looking at ways to tackle “Fake News” or “Disinformation.” I found it interesting just how many people accepted a narrative that trust in “all” media had collapsed in the digital age. Traditional media companies and news outlets were being lumped together with platforms.
Yet, as the broadcasters present pointed out, this is just not the case. Nowhere is that clearer than in Radio. The EBU's new Trust in Media report, published last month, shows that radio is the most trusted form of media – trusted by nearly 60 percent of the European population. At times of crisis, radio is still where people turn for their primary source of information and news.
At the EBU, our job is to support public service radio, help drive change in the industry and find new ways of enhancing the user experience to better engage audiences.
The good news is that there is a clear appetite for radio on new platforms. Greater connectivity, voice-controlled devices and widening multiplatform consumption allow broadcasters to connect with audiences in fresh and exciting ways.
However this also creates new problems for us as third party platforms and devices disrupt the direct connection broadcasters used to enjoy with their audiences. What happens, as has been the case in Belgium recently, when a third party decides to remove you from their platform? Or, as happened last year in Italy, places inappropriate advertising next to your content? As a broadcaster, who will own the relationship with your audience in the future? These are questions we need to wrestle with collectively.
The new generation of radio listeners are also increasingly expecting a more visual experience to run alongside their daily radio shows. Evidence suggests that listeners like to see the faces of their favorite DJs or musicians, enjoy music videos and live reports and learn more about what they are listening to.
Here at the EBU, we are working on initiatives to help Members with visualization such as EBU Storyboard which brings radio to social, converting audio clips into video content that is easily shareable online.
Our Members are also developing new ways of engaging with audiences. For example, BBC Radio 4’s Quake — a short-form audio drama — was accompanied by graphic-novel style animations and an immersive 360° 3D film and Czech Radio’s 1968 used surround sound and archive material (both visual and audio) to tell the story of the events that took place in Paris and Prague in that year. Both were recipients of the first Euroradio Innovation Fund.
The EBU is working on ways to ensure that radio remains prominent in cars and in homes. By working with automotive manufacturers and providing Hybrid Radio services and expertise to our Members, this ensures that radio in the car looks as good as it sounds. For voice-controlled devices, we bring Members together to share research and innovation and develop a common strategy.
By constantly innovating, we will ensure that radio continues to appeal to new generations. Despite being one of the oldest mediums, radio still reaches over 80 percent of young Europeans every week. However, in the era of streaming and downloads, we cannot afford to be complacent. If radio stands still it will face extinction. We all need to understand the scale of the threat.
At the EBU, we are strengthening our offer for young audiences in the Euroradio Music Exchange, which is the world’s largest offer of live music, sharing around 3,000 concerts from Members every year. And we are bringing Youth Channel Directors together to share ideas and best practice.
Despite all the changes in the media world, it is inspiring to see how resilient radio has been. Rather than dying out it is, in many countries, evolving, morphing and changing to adapt to the world around it. And we want to be here to support and champion it every step of the way.
This article was first published on the EBU website.
Leading audio codec manufacturer Tieline Technology has announced it will unveil a new IFB and push-to-talk (PTT) intercom solution called ChatterBox at NAB2018. A single ChatterBox rack-mount unit at the studio provides up to 6 channels of high-quality intercom audio for remote broadcasts. To complement this, a simple ChatterBox smartphone app delivers up to six dedicated IFB and push-to-talk communications circuits. Unlike DECT-based services, ChatterBox provides true roaming and portability over cellular networks (3G, 4G LTE, 5G) and Wi-Fi for remote television broadcasts.
“Delivering high-quality full-duplex communications between a remote location and the studio can be one of the most challenging aspects of a successful live remote broadcast,” said Will McLean, CEO Tieline Group of Companies. “ChatterBox delivers a high fidelity IFB communications solution which provides discrete program and IFB feeds with push-to-talk communications back to the studio from any remote location. Best of all, it delivers the freedom to communicate over readily available cellular and Wi-Fi networks from anywhere in the world.”
How does it work?
Reporters, guests and other on-air talent, as well as remote directors, producers, camera operators and other technical staff no longer have to carry bulky belt pack intercom units. They can simply download the ChatterBox app onto their iOS or Android smartphone or tablet, open the app, connect, and then tap the device screen to activate PTT talkback paths directly to the ChatterBox rack unit.
At the studio, route high quality, low latency intercom audio directly from the rack unit into studio communications panels for control room directors, producers, program directors, master control operators and other technical staff as required.
The Chatter Box app interfaces with your favorite earphones and microphones – you can even use a remote control button to activate the PTT function remotely! Up to 6 soft push-to-talk buttons are available in the ChatterBox app to allow a remote user to send low latency talkback audio to up to 6 different destinations at the studio.
Eliminate Legacy Technologies with Chatter Box
Tieline specializes in encoding broadcast quality, low latency audio over IP. With television and radio studios transitioning to IP only environments, now is the time to leverage the new IP technologies in ChatterBox to deliver IFB and talkback intercom solutions of the future. At the same time, networks can eliminate their reliance on old and inferior technologies like POTS hybrids and reduce ongoing costs substantially.
- For Australia and International: email@example.com
- For USA, Canada & Latin America contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or contact your favorite dealer for more information about Tieline codecs.
About Tieline Technology
Tieline Technology manufactures the world’s leading STL, audio distribution and remote broadcast digital audio codecs. Tieline also revolutionized newsgathering with the Report-IT Enterprise codec app for smartphone reporting applications. The company has won numerous awards for innovation in technology and thousands of customers around the world rely on Tieline codecs every single day for reliable broadcast solutions.
The tool provides search and insight across all content
Broadcast Bionics is showcasing a number of new and enhanced products at the NAB Show.
These include the Bionic Portal, a portal tool for search and insight across all content. The system handles auto segmentation and topic detection and allows linking and has recommendation capabilities. Bionic Portal promises to “instantly locate the most shareable and compelling content and extracts multi track audio, video and metadata directly to your desktop tools.”
Broadcast Bionics is also highlighting the MOR> multi-object recorder, which the company says captures “every element of live radio from the media and mixing telemetry to transcription and face recognition.”
Also on show will be the Smart Speaker Toolkit that is able to receive messages directly from listeners as they “shout at the radio,” and the Virtual Director for the capture and creation of visual radio.
NAB Show Booth: N7131
The association has embarked upon a future talent initiative focused on high school students interested in broadcast
If your engineer resigned tomorrow, do you have a list of capable applicants to interview? What if your traffic manager left? Your top salesperson? Your leading on-air talent?
NBA GMs and owners have cited the apparent lack of interest in our profession from today’s younger generations as something that literally wakes them up at night.
So what are we — as an industry — doing about this?
The NBA embarked upon a “Future Talent” initiative three years ago after a group of board and station members identified generating interest in broadcasting among high school (and eventually middle and grade school) students as a leading priority. The revelation was that if we’re not influencing a student’s interest by the time they’re in high school, we’re too late — their college or career plans will have already taken a different direction.
By no means have we “figured it all out” but we’ve made some encouraging inroads through a growing number of initiatives.
ChannelYouNBA.com. We hired a student-run ad agency at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to create a theme and website targeted at high school and middle school students. The site features video interviews with engineers, radio and TV on-air talent, salespeople and managers. Students at York High School in York, Neb., are about to begin a refresh and upgrade of the site’s content.
Classroom Visits. Using ChannelYou for content, we’ve asked our members to speak to area high school classes about broadcasting careers, armed with ChannelYou t-shirts, water bottles and bookmarks.
Nebraska High School Press Association. By contacting my own kids’ high school about our new initiative, I was introduced to the NHSPA, which has over 60 member schools with classroom and/or club activities related to journalism and yearbook. Some were already engaged in “broadcasting” activities and others were seeking to start. Door after door began to open as these NHSPA advisers have welcomed the NBA with open arms, leading to some of our other initiatives.
High School Media Conferences. Every fall the University of Nebraska at Lincoln hosts a day-long conference attended by nearly 700 high school students with interest in journalism and media. Students listen to a keynote speaker before attending a series of topic-specific workshops led by media professionals or college faculty. Before I discovered this event, it was dominated by newspaper and yearbook companies. We now co-sponsor the event, provide NBA members as guest speakers, and this fall, are paying to have Emmy Award winning TV news journalist Boyd Huppert of KARE(TV) in Minneapolis/St. Paul deliver the keynote address. Every spring, the University of Nebraska at Omaha conducts a similar event targeted to high school students from the Omaha/Council Bluffs, Iowa, area. Over 400 students attend this event and the NBA is proud to co-sponsor it and provide our members as guest speakers. Both events are critical recruiting platforms for the universities, which aligns perfectly with our overall “Future Talent” goal: build a pipeline of future broadcasters by getting high school students interested in a broadcasting degree and career path.
Summer Camps. The NHSPA has a summer workshop we sponsor with a video track that gives students experience in recording and producing feature-length pieces and newscasts. The students visit Gray Television’s KOLN/KGIN to meet station personnel and witness the preparation for an early evening newscast. The University of Nebraska at Kearney created the “Digital Expressions Media Camp” in 2016, drawing students from across the state for a week-long camp that provides hands-on experience with audio and video. NRG Media’s KGFW/KQKY/KRNY radio stations open their doors to the campers for a half-day workshop with more hands-on experience and interaction with station personnel. Sinclair’s KHGI(TV) welcomes the students ahead of a 6 p.m. newscast to witness the preparations and then sit through the inner workings of the live cast. The NBA provides scholarships to reduce the cost of attendance. The most popular activity at the UNK camp: being on-air live on campus station KLPR(FM)!
High School Adviser Workshops. Our involvement in these activities generated requests from faculty advisers across Nebraska, seeking guidance on starting or enhancing broadcasting curriculum. Last August the NBA produced our first annual High School Advisers Workshop, attended by 34 teachers from all across Nebraska. This one-day workshop was led by teaching peers and our second annual workshop is set again for August.
Awards and Recognition. We added a high school division to our annual Pinnacle Awards competition, culminating with our “best of broadcasting” awards banquet during our annual convention. It’s a pretty cool to see high school students — who are doing outstanding work — receive awards on the same stage as Nebraska’s broadcasting professionals. I also discovered that the Nebraska Scholastic Activities Association (NSAA) conducts an annual Journalism Tournament — with no broadcasting categories. Thanks to the friends I have made at some of the state’s high schools — and the NSAA — they approved the addition of broadcasting categories starting with the 2018 tournament.
Paid Internship Stipend. For years, the NBA offered a paid internship stipend for members who provide opportunities to college students. High school students are now eligible, too.
Many other state broadcast associations make a variety of efforts to get high school students interested in broadcasting and have been at it much longer than we have. They’re doing some powerful things — things the NBA will add to our array of related initiatives.
So the next time you have that “where is the next generation of broadcasters?” moment, contact your state broadcast association to learn what you can do to help mine future talent in your state.
“We are also seeing a steady increase in repack-related projects in both TV and radio”
The spring NAB Show is approaching. Between now and then Radio World will conduct several short Q&As with manufacturers about their plans and offerings, to help you get the most out of the big annual trade show. Chuck Alexander is executive vice president for Burk Technology.
Radio World: How has business been for the company since last year’s NAB Show?
Chuck Alexander: It’s been a great year. Business was very strong in 2017 and we are seeing that growth curve continuing this year. It was also an exciting year for Burk with the expansion of our executive team. The addition of Paul Shulins as vice president chief technology officer and Jim Alnwick as senior VP global sales has brought a fresh outlook to our team and a renewed commitment to our core broadcast markets.
RW: What are you hearing from your customers about their business outlook this year? In what areas should we expect growth or the most interesting projects?
Alexander: We are seeing increased investment in infrastructure upgrades and preventative maintenance. This is no doubt due in part to the strong economy. I think it also reflects a pendulum swing back toward the strong engineering principles that were a foundation of our industry. In our business there has been a significant uptick in replacement of outdated legacy remote control systems in favor of modern IP-based equipment. We are also seeing a steady increase in repack-related projects in both TV and radio. We expect repack to be a significant factor going forward.
RW: You’ve been active in the remote control market for many years. What’s the biggest problem or challenge facing users in this segment right now?
Alexander: For many years our focus has been on helping engineers manage a steady increase in station count with limited resources. The industry’s response to this challenge has included creation of network operations centers at the market, regional and national levels. These centers can be as simple as a computer display in the engineering office, or as sophisticated as a fully staffed 24–7 monitoring and response facility. The objectives, however, are the same — to focus engineering resources on the most critical issues at any moment and to manage an effective preventative maintenance program to head off potential equipment failures. This ongoing need to “do more with less” will be a continuing challenge for broadcast engineers.
RW: What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your booth?
Alexander: We will be in the North Hall, Booth N5131. This year we will be showcasing Arcturus, our new RF site monitoring system. Arcturus is a complete, turnkey solution providing protection and safety for multiplexed antenna sites. The system monitors key RF parameters and takes immediate action when necessary to minimize the risk of damage to combiners, transmission lines or antennas. Transmitter interlocks are controlled by Burk’s new high-speed VSWR protection.
We will also be highlighting enhancements to our AutoPilot management software that make it even easier for users to create fully customized monitoring and control interfaces.
RW: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at the 2018 NAB Show?
Alexander: The steady increase in machine intelligence and connectivity at all levels in the broadcast infrastructure will be an interesting trend to watch at the show this year.
RW: Will you be attending any sessions or looking forward to any events?
Alexander: As always, there will be a lot to see at the show. Among other things I plan to take advantage of the convenient Main Stage location in the North Hall and will be interested to check out the IP Showcase in the Central Hall.
RW: This year show organizers have done some serious rearranging of the venue, expanded thematic items like pavilions and put emphasis on events and activities such as Main Stage. Any thoughts on that?
Alexander: The location and planned events on the Main Stage should cause a strong increase in North Hall booth traffic and activity level. It will be great to see the North Hall take on a more central role in the NAB experience.
APT Mobile SureStreamer puts remote streaming reliability into a portable case
APT/WorldCast Systems says that its new Mobile SureStreamer can be used to maximize the uptime and broadcast quality of existing hardware or software codecs over 3G/4G networks.
The system has been designed around SureStream, APT’s redundant-streaming technology, deployed in thousands of studio-transmitter links worldwide. SureStream says it employs multipath streaming over two or more redundant networks to deliver a solid connection similar to that offered from traditional synchronous links such as T1.
SureStream technology has been developed and refined over several years and tested regularly on the most unreliable of internet connections.
According to APT, the main benefit of SureStream is its ability to achieve the performance and reliability of a high-grade broadcast link for just a fraction of the operational cost. Now, the Mobile SureStreamer offers these same benefits to remote broadcasters in a portable, lightweight carry bag. It will work with app-based software codecs on your phone and hardware codecs to provide a direct connection to any SureStream-enabled decoder.
The system can be fully preconfigured in the studio so nontechnical personnel and talent in the field can connect immediately on start-up. Four universal Ethernet ports allow connection to any type of network access including the two 3G/4G modems that are supplied with the Mobile SureStreamer. Also included is a portable three-hour battery pack with backup and easy swap-out options.
It should also be noted that the Mobile SureStreamer is not restricted to purely audio use but can also be deployed to protect UDP video and live media streams using SureStream.
NAB Show Booth: N711
The Telos Alliance®—innovator in broadcast radio and TV technology and parent company to Telos®, Omnia®, Axia®, Linear Acoustic®, 25-Seven®, and Minnetonka™—is leading the way with AoIP/AES67 and virtual content education at NAB 2018, April 7–12 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. There, Telos Alliance will be showing exciting new products and technology in two booths—one for Telos Alliance radio solutions (N6531) and one for the Telos Alliance TV Solutions Group (SU2321)—in addition to hosting several educational and dealer training sessions.
“Telos Alliance has always put a huge emphasis on training both users and dealers,” says Marty Sacks, VP of Sales, Support, and Marketing at Telos Alliance. “There is so much to learn about the ever-evolving broadcast landscape. At NAB, our emphasis is on showing both users and dealers how they can create a truly integrated AoIP environment—whether radio or TV, virtual- or hardware-based. Our solutions-oriented products, all operating on an AoIP backbone, revolutionize workflows and allow broadcasters to operate way more efficiently, all while plugging them into to the largest AoIP ecosystem in broadcast—Livewire+ AES67.”
Telos Alliance-led educational sessions happen over several days at NAB, and the company is also hosting special Telos Alliance Dealer Training sessions. The sessions and dealer trainings are as follows:
Telos Alliance Dealer Training
April 7–8, Various Times
Telos Alliance dealers are invited to get an in-depth view of what's new and exciting at the Telos Alliance NAB 2018 Dealer Training Sessions. In an effort to accommodate more people for this popular training, this year the Telos Alliance is offering all five sessions on two days. All training sessions are in room #N208LMR. Telos Alliance dealers can sign up at TelosAlliance.com/Telos-Alliance-Dealer-Training. Space is limited and reserved for Telos Alliance dealers only.
Where's My Console? New Tools Lead to New Workflows for On-Air Radio Talent
April 7, 1:30–2:50 p.m., Room N260 (Kirk Harnack, the Telos Alliance)
"Virtual Radio" is the buzz phrase among forward-thinking radio broadcasters. The term implies new tools, new methods, and new workflows for producing compelling audio content. Workflow virtualization is now taking several directions. A common theme within these manifestations is the abstraction of traditional hardware into graphical user interfaces. A hardware audio console with faders, buttons, knobs, switches, and meters is no longer a requirement for creating a radio show. With any paradigm shift in technology or workflows there will be multiple approaches to achieving similar ends. This presentation explores workflow improvements through equipment virtualization. It also examines several approaches in achieving similar outcomes aimed at producing more meaningful content with accuracy and convenience. More>
Latest Updates on Audio over IP & AES67
April 8, 10:40 a.m.–12 p.m., Room N260 (Ken Tankel, the Telos Alliance)
Audio over IP has been a revolutionary innovation, changing almost everything about how the job of professional audio gets done. The hallmark of a true revolution is that it keeps going, the change keeps evolving and growing. This paper will overview the current state of Audio over IP technology, and its impact on the industry as of 2018. Coverage will include the use of AES67 as part of the latest SMPTE standards, the growth of interoperation of both industry standard and proprietary AoIP systems, the penetration into automotive, entertainment, government, public address wired sound systems, and more. More>
The Post-Production Vending Machine: How the Cloud Dilutes the Competitive Advantage
April 11, 2:30–2:50 p.m., Room N256 (Markus Hintz, the Telos Alliance)
References to "The Cloud" in our industry are common, but wide-ranging and often specific in their application. One such example is taking advantage of off-premise computing power, where tasks such as file-based audio processing, loudness normalization, and transcoding—which often require significant dedicated computer resources and investment in a specific platform—can be accomplished on a scalable basis with someone else's hardware and utility software. This concept effectively levels the playing field and allows small companies to more easily compete with larger vendors by removing the high initial and ongoing costs associated with purchasing and maintaining dedicated servers and IT experts on site. More>
For more information, please contact: Krissy.Rushing@TelosAlliance.com
About The Telos Alliance
For three decades, the brands of the Telos Alliance have revolutionized radio and television by pioneering disruptive, cutting-edge audio technology with the goal of helping global networks and local stations produce better programming, improve audience engagement, and bolster ratings. The Telos Alliance is made up of six brands—Telos Systems, Omnia Audio, AxiaAudio, Linear Acoustic, 25-SevenSystems, and Minnetonka Audio—that raise the bar for quality and innovation in the radio and television industries. The Telos Alliance invented Audio over IP for broadcast and contributed time and resources to the effort that led to the AES67 standard. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, with additional offices and dealers around the world, the Telos Alliance offers an industry-leading warranty and backs users' critical on-air needs with worldwide 24/7 round-the-clock support for all customers. A complete list of dealers can be found at TelosAlliance.com/Dealers.
Quality and features of VS Series please Twin Cities broadcaster
ST. PAUL, MINN. — WDGY(AM), “The Original Rock n Roll station,” or “Wee Gee,” is an institution in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and serves the Twin Cities area with “All the Hits of the ’60s and ’70s.” Our AM 740 station is daytime-only but we keep the rock and roll going through the night thanks to some well-placed FM translators on 103.7 and 92.1 MHz. Also in our group is WREY(AM), a Spanish-language station with 3 kW daytime and 2.4 kW nighttime operation. WREY is also served by an FM translator on 94.9 MHz.
This report concerns the translators, purchased and placed on the air in 2016. All three came from one of my favorite companies, Nautel. I’ve been doing business with them since the early 1990s, and with only one exception (I’m calling that exception a mistake) I have only purchased Nautel equipment during that time.
In 2009, the FCC issued a Report and Order formally allowing AM stations to run FM translators. However, they only allowed use of existing translators and were subject to the rules at the time regarding moving translators. In Market No. 16, this meant that there was nothing to be had within the budget of an AM-only group. However, in October 2015, when the move-in rules were released, we saw the opportunity to bring some additional energy to our stations with the January 2016 filing window. Applications were submitted and we got our opportunity to match FM translators with our AM stations.
We elected to use the Nautel VS Series FM transmitters for our translator sites. For WDGY, we put a Nautel VS1 (1 kW) on 103.7 FM and a VS300 (300 W) on 92.1 FM; and we installed a VS1 on 94.9 FM for WREY. These VS Series transmitters have some great capabilities including IP audio, USB backup audio, SNMP support and so on. We aren’t using all of the features, but it’s nice to know they are there.
One feature that is outstanding is built-in Orban Optimod audio processing, which allows us to achieve the perfect sound for our audiences on these transmitters. We sound every bit as good as — if not better than — the big corporate facilities in our market. We’ve even had “audio geeks” call us to rave about the great sound. Setting up the processing was easy, thanks to some presets that we were able to select.
Control is easy, too. We use the Advanced User Interface — AUI — to monitor all three of the translators, but so far we haven’t encountered any deviations that we need to adjust. In the event that there is a situation at the transmitter site, due to ice or AC power, usually logging into one of the transmitters and looking at the stored logs is enough to give us an idea as to what most likely happened.
Nautel transmitters are bulletproof. Set them and forget them. They operate without a glitch or hitch. Maintenance is simple too, with easily accessed, washable air filters. It is also nice to have the ability to update software — frequently Nautel will release an update that adds features. Their continuous improvement philosophy and attention to their customers’ input serves all of us well.
If you’re looking to expand your listening area with translators, my advice to you is “Don’t cut corners: Buy the highest quality equipment that you can.” You know it will work and serve you well.
For information, contact Wendell Lonergan at Nautel in Nova Scotia at 1-902- 823-5131 or visit www.nautel.com.
Inovonics founder has been pushing for “better radio since 1972”
For the past 45 years, the equipment design philosophy of Inovonics has been “Simplicity in design, consistent with performance objectives.”
It’s a suitable mantra for a broadcast manufacturer whose corporate personality reflects that of its founder: quiet, dignified and widely respected. It’s a policy that has produced a lifetime of close personal relationships for Jim Wood with employees, fellow designers and manufacturers, radio engineers and station owners.
Wood, a recent recipient of NewBay’s Industry Innovator Award, spoke with RW about his earliest interests in electronics, his career and some milestones in the history of his company.
VIDAR AND GRT
Wood, 76, recalls that his interest in electronics began when he was about five years old.
“My dad had been a ham radio operator in the 1920s. He had a box with old equipment that I used to play with. That’s what fostered the initial interest. When I was around 10, I started building crystal sets, and got interested in pirate broadcasting and sound recording.”
He initially hadn’t considered electronics as a career, earning an undergraduate degree in theater arts with a minor in industrial arts from San Jose State University.
“I was informed by a professor in the Theater Arts Department that my portrayal of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ was the most ‘unique’ one he’d ever seen in his life,” he recalls. “I took this as a hint that a career on the stage, movies or TV was probably not in the cards, so I followed my lifelong hobby-related interest in radio and electronics.”
His education in the business really began after graduation in 1964, when he went to work as a test technician for Vidar Corp. in Mountain View, Calif. It made instrumentation equipment, temperature gauges, strain gauges and similar equipment.
“The circuitry was analog, but they were beginning to transition to digital. The company was staffed by a lot of Stanford graduates. From them I learned how to make transistors do interesting things.”
After Vidar, Wood was a production engineering tech for General Recorded Tape, which in addition to producing tape product for about 30 record labels developed high-speed duplicators for 8-track tape and cassettes. Following efforts to diversify into unrelated industries, it went out of business in the late 1960s.
It was in 1972 that Wood partnered with Mark Drake to found Inovonics in Campbell, Calif. The two saw a market for replacement electronics for professional tape recorders, in particular those made by Ampex and Scully. The electronics for many of these machines used first-generation transistor circuits or, in the case of the Ampex 350 series, vacuum tubes. The original manufacturers had no interest in providing updated electronics.
Wood handled electronic design, Drake did the packaging. In what has turned out to be an ongoing practice, Inovonics talked to potential customers — in this case, recording engineers — to learn more about their needs and expectations. Wood said he found a great deal of room for improvement in recorder electronics, in both features and performance.
By the early 1970s, even basic opamp circuits could run circles around those early transistor and mature tube designs, and the smaller size of components meant that Inovonics could offer replacement electronics in a package the same size as the original, but with more features.
Enhancements offered by Inovonics included the ability to remotely switch all monitor and equalization functions, the use of solid-state switching to eliminate contact issues and harmonic and phase distortion nulling circuits.
The original market for Inovonics’ tape recorder electronics was not broadcasters but recording studios. The premiere Model 355 was developed as a feature-packed stereo chassis. The marketing plan soon had to be changed.
“The studios turned out to be an unstable market in many ways,” he said. “I thought that radio might be a more solid market base, and it was.”
For radio customers, a mono chassis was needed, and the Model 360 was introduced. The sales pitch was difficult to argue with: Spend $690 for Inovonics 360 replacement electronics, install it in your Ampex 350, and come away with a machine having performance equal to or better than most modern recorders.
Over several years, Inovonics focused on refining recorder electronics and adding to the product line. A new 380 series was an upgrade from an earlier 375. It included advanced features such as circuitry to reduce the effects of tape compression and phase distortion, expanded signal and bias headroom to accommodate high-coercivity tapes and extra bias and EQ settings to work with “super tapes.”
In 1989, Inovonics introduced its final product for magnetic recording, the 390 series film recorder electronics package. It was designed to replace obsolete sound electronics in motion picture recording and playback equipment.
By the late ’80s, digital audio was gaining a foothold, and it was clear that the days of analog tape recorders were numbered. Wood had built compressors and limiters for his garage studio, and began to explore the market for commercial audio processors.
“The market was dominated by the CBS Audimax/Volumax and Gates Sta Levels at the time. We had built the Model 200 and 201 for recording studios, and took one to KFWB Los Angeles. The engineers talked about their requirements, and we listened. The result was the Model 220, a mono audio processor for AM that could be paired with a second unit for FM stereo.”
A less-familiar Inovonics products was the Model 210 Frequency Selective Limiter. “It was originally developed while I was working at GRT, and patented there. However, we purchased the patent for $1 when GRT went under. The unit was repackaged, still mainly for tape duplicators, but with plug-in cards for different protection characteristics in anticipation of use for the unit in FM broadcasting.”
Eventually there were four audio processors in the product line. The new units sold well, and by 1980, Wood recalls, about half of Inovonics sales were audio processors, the other half replacement recorder electronics.
Mark Drake left the company years ago to pursue other interests but Wood has been its face and mainstay. Over ensuing years, Inovonics branched out into AM and FM modulation monitors, RDS encoders and rebroadcast receivers. As new products were released, others seemed to suggest themselves. When web streaming became more popular, an internet radio monitor was introduced.
Wood is proud that Inovonics manufactures all its equipment in the United States. “It’s very important for us to support the local and U.S. economy.”
At one time, all assembly took place in the factory, but with advances in technology, some adjustments were necessary.
“When circuit boards had through-hole components, we could fabricate our own boards and then stuff them in-house. Surface-mount technology requires some very expensive equipment for assembly, so the board fabrication part of the process is now outsourced.”
Final assembly and quality control checks are completed at the Inovonics factory in Felton, Calif., where 14 people are employed.
In addition to the shift to surface-mount technology, another big change in equipment design and manufacturing is the dependence on software. Very little of the traditional circuit design takes place any more. Most of the magic of the latest generation of broadcast equipment lies in the use of digital signal processing (DSP) and other software.
“We saw this change coming, and wanted to keep all the development work in-house. We hired people with training in software engineering, and set out to build our first product.”
The Inovonics TVU was the first device that used CMOS logic and an EPROM. It displayed stereo audio level metering on the screen of a video monitor. When connected in-line with the monitor’s video signal, it inserted into the picture a boxed audio level bargraph that could be positioned anywhere on the screen.
Wood’s role at Inovonics has changed over four-and-a-half decades.
“I used to design all the equipment, but my input in that end is about 10 percent now. I understand the concepts, stay focused on the big picture, and make sure the demand for new products is being met by the technology.” In addition, Wood writes the Inovonics tech manuals. “It’s something I enjoy, and I come away with a better understanding of our new products.”
Ben Barber joined the company as a test and R&D tech and engineer in 1988 and was named president/CEO in 2012. Wood today remains chairman of the board.
From the beginning, Inovonics sold into a global marketplace. In the early years, the biggest international consumers were in the United Kingdom and France. Wood adds that over the years, exports have ranged from 10 percent to 80 percent of Inovonics’ sales.
He noted differences in doing business abroad and in the U.S. “The cost of manufacture is usually less overseas, and we see some real innovation in products, particularly from the Czech Republic. They have great success selling to pirate broadcasters and smaller operations.”
Despite the price differential, Wood said Inovonics has a strong market position abroad, particularly with government broadcasters.
“Much of the equipment built by these smaller companies does not have the same quality of manufacture as gear from U.S. companies, and might not hold up well in 24/7 operations. Government broadcasters want the good stuff, and can be very demanding customers. They can have unrealistic demands, such as signal-to-noise ratios in excess of 100 dB.”
Inovonics is a company that likes to emphasize “the basics.” As expressed on its website, this means emphasizing service, ease of use, fair prices and “respect for our customer’s time, money and trust.” The company is also one of the few in broadcast with a section on its site devoted to its own history. For Wood, that is important.
“History can teach us some vital lessons, and it’s good to occasionally reflect on some of our milestones. You can’t dwell on it too much though, because you need to keep up with the times. If we hadn’t gotten ahead of the curve when digital was coming and hired new people, Inovonics would be part of history now.”
Part of being ready for the future involves taking risks. Not all of them pay off.
“We got involved with Motorola AM stereo and CBS Lab’s FMX, which just weren’t going to fly, so it’s just as important to know when to cut your losses and move on.” On the brighter side, Inovonics was an early promoter of RDS, an investment that has certainly paid off.
A testament to the quality of Inovonics equipment lies in the fact that so many of the original recorder electronics remain in service, some 45 years after they were built. “There are still quite a few channels in use for archiving and to play ‘legacy’ tapes from the archives. There are also many channels of film record/play and play-only electronics in use, as Hollywood has so much material still on full-coat 35 mm film stock.”
Looking ahead, the company will introduce a new RDS/RBDS encoder at the NAB Show this year, Model 732, which Wood says will make setup and programming much easier and include a true web interface.
Reflecting on his career, Wood said the best choices aren’t always about making a lot of money.
“There are easier and more lucrative ways to make a living. But something very special about radio appeals to so many of us. We’re here because we love it and want to be a part of it.”
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If podcasters gain, who loses?
The focus of last week’s Infinite Dial webcast on Facebook Live was strategies for podcasters to grab a larger share of the voice audience. But that begs the question, if podcasters gain audience, who loses? Edison Research Senior VP Tom Webster shared videos of podcasters to get some ideas.
Excerpts from the video included: “I definitely listen to music less. There are so many podcasts out there, it’s hard to find time to hear all of them.” “I seldom listen to music on the radio any more, it’s just the same songs over and over again. And then all the stations go to commercials at the same time.” “I used to be a Howard Stern fanatic, but I got overwhelmed with keeping track of the show. So I stopped that, and brought in the podcasts.”
But it’s not just music radio that’s taking a hit, for many of these same podcast listeners, the words talk radio have a fairly negative connotation. “It got so I hated talk radio. It seems like the ratio of talk to commercials is 50–50.” “I think podcasts take risks and explore subjects that might not be appropriate to broadcast live. Podcasts just seem more in-depth and personal.” “The humor seems a bit younger on podcasts, and more in line with my own.”
Webster noted that these are some clear indications that one of the primary places where podcasting will claim its share is from AM/FM radio. He also compared how these people talk about radio versus how they talk about podcasts. “They’re a great way to expand the minutes of your day. You can learn something new. They’ve definitely influenced the way I think and relate to my friends.” “I love to listen to podcasts, particularly the ones that are industry related, they allow me to self-educate about my business.” “Podcasts are very entertaining. You can learn something new every day while you’re driving to work.”
Webster concluded by noting that none of the individuals on the videos talked about RSS feeds, downloads or what devices they listened on. Rather, they talked about how they discovered their favorite podcasts, they talked about content, connection, community and learning something new every day. He noted that as podcast creators think about how to promote their products, they might do well to consider how their listeners talk about podcasts.
Cites availability of critical components in taking “responsible step”
GatesAir is suspending the sale of new AM transmitters.
When a prominent radio engineer passed along word to Radio World that he’d sought a quote from the manufacturer on a new transmitter but was told the company had discontinued the model and was assessing its AM line, we sought to learn more.
Chief Product Officer Rich Redmond replied: “Recent changes in the long-term availability of critical components from our suppliers, including several last-time buy notices, have caused us to take proactive steps to ensure we can meet our continued support obligation of our AM products,” he said.
“To safeguard our ability to offer an ample supply of spare components — and to secure the ongoing field support of our AM transmitters — GatesAir has taken the responsible step of suspending new AM transmitter sales, and will instead focus on supporting existing customers’ transmitters with our available components.”
He said warranty, field service, phone support, spare parts and repairs continue as normal for GatesAir AM products.
Flexiva DAX, DX and 3DX transmitters all had a number of obsolete components that influenced the decision.
“GatesAir is currently in the advanced technology assessment phase for the development of an updated line of AM transmitters,” Redmond said.
The company, formerly part of the old Harris Broadcast, has deep roots in AM, and its Flexiva line ranges in power from 1 kW to 2 MW.
The news has no impact on the FM line, anchored by its Flexiva FAX or FLX transmitter. For DAB Radio, GatesAir recently launched the Maxiva VAXTE platform and will be showing new power levels at the NAB Show, Redmond said.
We asked him if engineers should read this as a backing away in general from AM by GatesAir.
“We continue to be committed to all radio customers, and this includes AM,” he replied. “We have always taken our long-term support seriously, hence the steps we have chosen to take to be able to ensure continued support of our customers in the field. It is always simple for a supplier to declare lifetime support, but we believe it is more important to be upfront about the challenges of shrinking component lifecycles, and in some cases make difficult choices to continue support.
“AM transmission uses very different RF device technology as compared to FM, DAB and TV transmitters, and requires a new approach for the next generation of AM systems. We are excited about some of the advances that are applicable to AM, driven in part by new developments for electric cars that will enable us to bring to market-high efficiency, compact and modularity in transmitter design to AM broadcasters.“
Trevor Baylis’ ‘Wind-Up Radio’ invention allows for battery-free radio anywhere
EEL PIE ISLAND, United Kingdom — Trevor Baylis, the inventor of the “wind-up radio” technology that powers many emergency and humanitarian radio receivers today, died at his home on the United Kingdom’s Eel Pie Island (near Twickenham) on March 5. He was 80.
“Trevor Baylis deserves ground breaking credit for the first higher quality windup radio commonly available,” said Bob Crane, radio innovator and owner of the C. Crane Company retail/online electronics store (www.ccrane.com). “His original BayGen radio worked well even if the rechargeable batteries were dead. The audio was pleasing.”
Although not personally trained as an engineer, Baylis was fascinated by all things mechanical (an interest encouraged by his engineer father). Following an amateur swimming career — he just missed making it to the 1956 Olympics — Trevor Baylis became a professional aquatic entertainer, including performing an underwater act at a Berlin circus.
The death of a friend on the trapeze made him realize that “disability is only a banana skin away,” Baylis told the Telegraph newspaper in 2014. In response, “I invented and developed a range of products for the disabled called Orange Aids,” he said. “I made more than 200 products, including one-handed nail clippers and bottle openers.”
In 1991, Baylis invented the Wind-Up/Hand-Crank Radio, which was eventually marketed as the BayGen Freeplay Radio and sold in various bandwidth configurations. They are sold today under the Freeplay Energy brand name here.
The technology works by the user hand-turning a crank that winds up a large internal spring. As the clockwork-style spring unwinds, it turns an onboard generator that powers the radio. Some Freeplay models can charge a radio’s internal batteries for long-term use, plus the batteries of connected devices such as like smartphones.
The wind-up radio’s invention “was pure chance,” Baylis told the Telegraph. “I was watching television in 1991 and there was a program on the spread of AIDs in Africa. They said a good way to tackle it was through educational radio programs, but a lot of the continent did not have access to electricity, and batteries were expensive,” he said.
“I had a prototype for the wind-up radio within half an hour,” he continued. “The original ran for 14 minutes before needing to be wound up again, but it improved.”
Baylis’ wind-up radio went nowhere until he showed it on BBC-TV’s “Tomorrow’s World” in 1994. This led to a backer coming forward, funding the BayGen FreePlay Radio for sale to aid groups, and eventually consumers as well.
The invention of the wind-up radio inspired many manufacturers to come up with similar models; a fact that didn’t help Baylis’ fortunes due to his lack of adequate patent protection.
“I got more money from the publicity around the radio than the actual radio,” Baylis told the Telegraph. “These large corporations can circumnavigate your patents.”
Nevertheless, Baylis’ invention has made a difference to aid agencies such as Ears to Our World (ETOW), which provides radios to Third World communities.
“We still deploy hand-crank radios in Haiti, Kenya, South Sudan, Cameroon and other countries where remote areas lack a power grid,” said ETOW Executive Director Thomas Witherspoon. “Although a number of solar options exist, solar radio require forethought — setting it in the sun to charge — whereas hand-crank radios are ready anytime,” he said.
“I would note that Trevor has had a profound humanitarian impact,” Witherspoon added. “Although various forms of hand-crank powered devices have been around since before WWII, Trevor made them accessible, affordable and implemented in a portable form factor. His clockwork radio changed the nature of self-powered devices.”
“He has touched everyone that knew of his purpose and accomplishments,” said Crane. “His avid supporters included Nelson Mandela, the Queen Elizabeth II, Tom Hanks, and a million C. Crane customers.”
Country’s biggest radio group plans to reorganize
The radio industry has seen a few bankruptcy filings through the years but this is colossal. iHeartMedia on Wednesday night filed a Chapter 11 petition with bankruptcy court in Houston, Texas, saying it has reached an agreement in principle with lenders that will erase more than $10 billion in debt.
The San Antonio-based iHeartMedia listed $12.3 billion in total assets and $20.3 billion in debt in paperwork filed late Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Committee. Analysts have long said iHeartMedia has a solid business model but could likely not survive its overwhelming debt. The company’s financial unbalance began in 2008 when private equity groups Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners purchased Clear Channel Communications in a highly leveraged deal valued at about $24 billion.
The company’s press release announcing the filing said it has enough cash on hand to fund business operations throughout the Chapter 11 proceedings: “To implement the balance sheet restructuring contemplated by the agreement in principle, iHeartMedia and certain of its subsidiaries, including iHeartCommunications, Inc., have filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.”
iHeartMedia, which has spent months in active negotiations with its lenders and noteholders to restructure debt, says it reached an agreement in principle with holders of more than $10 billion of its outstanding debt and its financial sponsors. “The agreement reflects widespread support across the capital structure for a comprehensive balance sheet restructuring that will reduce iHeartMedia’s debt by more than $10 billion.”
The radio conglomerate employs over 14,000 workers and has about 850 radio stations. A total of 35 iHeartMedia affiliated companies filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on Wednesday, including Katz Media Group, Premiere Networks and Total Traffic & Weather Networks. All cases are expected to be jointly administered in bankruptcy court.
iHeartMedia also owns 90% of billboard subsidiary Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, which did not file a Chapter 11 case. iHeartMedia has been looking for a buyer for its billboard business.
Chairman and CEO Bob Pittman said in a press statement: “The agreement we announced (Wednesday) is a significant accomplishment, as it allows us to definitively address the more than $20 billion in debt that has burdened our capital structure. Achieving a capital structure that finally matches our impressive operating business will further enhance iHeartMedia’s position as America’s #1 audio company.”
The agreement with lenders probably doesn’t leave much for current owners Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, which had controlled 68 percent of the voting stock of iHeartMedia. In fact, it likely nearly wipes out the equity stakes of the pair, analysts say. iHeartMedia’s most recent proposal would have given holders of secured loans, who are owed nearly $13 billion, about $5.6 billion in new debt and 94% of the equity in a reorganized iHeartMedia.
Petite three-way coaxial monitors come to Las Vegas
Powered speaker maker Genelec is thinking small these days. Small as in the new 8331 (on the far left) and 8341 (middle) miniature monitors — additions to The Ones series.
The wee monitors are built around coaxial drivers. As small as they are though, The Ones are three-way speakers with the coaxial combination concealed within Genelec’s Directivity Control Waveguide design and feature Genelec’s Acoustically Concealed Woofer technology.
For the 8331 the drivers are two 5 1/8-inch woofers and a 3 1/2-inch coaxial mid-range/tweeter combo. They are driven by a 72 W LF amp, a 36 W midrange amp and a 36 W tweeter amp.
For the 8341 the drivers are two 6 5/8-inch woofers and a 3 1/2-inch coaxial mid-range/tweeter combo. They are driven by a 250 W LF amp, a 150 W midrange amp and a 150 W tweeter amp. All amplifiers are Class D.
The 8331 and 8341 are compatible with Genelec’s Smart Active Monitoring speaker network managing and monitoring system. Both speaker cases utilize Genelec’s Minimum Diffraction Enclosure technology.
NAB Show Booth: C4742
The Assembly will take place from April 16–18
The Spanish island of Mallorca will serve as the backdrop for the DRM 2018 General Assembly, per an announcement from Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium.
The General Assembly is where the strategy and working plan for the next year is set for DRM. This year’s Assembly will also serve as an election year for the chairman and all leading bodies of the Consortium. The project office will issue a call to members who wish to register interest in serving on the Steering Board and/or occupy other DRM positions.
The event is slated for April 16-18, with the Assembly taking up the full day of April 17, including the event’s traditional dinner, and a halfday on April 18.
The Assembly will take place at the Palma Bellver Bay Meliá Hotel on Mallorca. Click here for more information.
System convergence through IP technologies will continue to be an important trend
The spring NAB Show is approaching. Between now and then Radio World will conduct several short Q&As with manufacturers about their plans and offerings, to help you get the most out of the big annual trade show. Peter Howarth is business coordinator at AEQ’s U.S. operation, AEQ Broadcast International Inc.
Radio World: How has business been for the company since last year’s NAB show?
Peter Howarth: We continue with our trend and are consolidating our presence in our traditional markets, while simultaneously increasing the number of markets in which we are present. We have been reorganizing our distribution in North America with the relaunch of our operation in Mexico, led by César Reyna, as well as our United States office. It has been a logical reshuffling in regards to how we are addressing the North, Central American and Caribbean markets. In parallel to this, we have entered and are seeking strategic partnerships for these markets related to the convergence of broadcast equipment and IP technologies. One example is our recent agreement with Broadcast Pix in Massachusetts for broadcast automation processes such as visual radio.
RW: What are you hearing from your customers about their business outlook this year? In what areas should we expect growth or the most interesting projects?
Howarth: The convergence of equipment and services based on IP will continue. We saw the tendency last year and this year the trend will most certainly continue with interesting projects in the Mexican and Brazilian markets. Scalable and flexible IP-based systems that provide both resource and format sharing in tandem with comprehensive operation and control will be areas of market growth.
RW: You’ve been active in the broadcast studio market for 37 years. What’s the biggest problem or challenge facing users in this segment right now?
Howarth: Workflow integration of solutions for the operation and control of all equipment encompassed in any system. This does not necessarily imply a one-stop shop but rather the possibility of being able to shop anywhere with a guarantee that the final solution for the system integration will work. As already mentioned, equipment interoperability and management standards are becoming critical to customers.
RW: What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your booth C3651?
Howarth: We will be showing SystelSet+, a completely new control panel for our talk show system, Systel IP. Also, we are going to display new equipment with AoIP connectivity together with our latest advances, NetBox DSP and Matrix, for our already existing range of such equipment. These include specific operational functions for our intercom systems, mixing consoles Forum IP, Forum Split IP and Capitol IP and new developments that are part of our global solutions.
[Read: AEQ Upgrades Forum and Capitol]
We will demonstrate how to best rely on a common infrastructure for different functions. Visitors to our stand will also be able to see that equipment infrastructure has mixed functionality like for example, visual radio. That is, audio mixing consoles, AoIP interfaces, intercom user panels, commentary units such as the Olympia 3 and audio codecs are connected to the same router, creating a global, flexible, and if required, redundant system. All this is benefiting from the simplicity and flexibility IP technology provides in terms of wiring, for example. The result is an audio quality that was previously only reserved for contribution and broadcasting.
RW: What specific challenges and/or developments do you expect in your markets in 2018?
Howarth: The challenges are intrinsic to the markets. Latin America is a traditional market for AEQ since we are Spanish. That does not necessarily mean that we have an advantage compared to other companies, however. On the contrary, we have to overcome a geographical barrier that is the Atlantic and the related time zones. We have had a U.S. operation since 1994 and this is now reinforced with our Mexico office. The North and Central American and Caribbean markets are now much more accessible to us from these locations, and our initiated reorganization of our distribution for these markets will certainly see a lot of development in the forthcoming months. In this ever-shrinking world in terms of communications, one thing that we have found is that the customers like to have proximity to their suppliers.
RW: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at NAB 2018?
Howarth: AEQ thinks the trend in system convergence through IP technologies will continue and we will see further system integration becoming increasingly necessary. Global solutions are now becoming paramount for operators in media markets. Equipment interoperability and global system solutions for operation and control are needed more and more so this will be something to look out for at the NAB.
RW: Will you be attending any sessions or looking forward to any events?
Howarth: Personally I would love to attend the “Business of Sports Entertainment” sessions, as well as the other events taking place at the Main Stage. As an exhibitor, however, we have very limited options for attending sessions or events. We are normally too busy trying to keep up with our visitors. Take into account that every handshake at NAB is really expensive so our effort is on the ROI — doing everything to avoid potential customers from “slipping through the net.” We need to meet them, talk to them, and listen to what they have to say. We have people form our marketing and R&D department with us of course, and they normally spend time looking at the trends and innovations.
RW: You’re a show veteran, how has the show changed since your first visit?
Howarth: Pfffffff. AEQ exhibited in Atlanta and is definitely a veteran. I personally have been attending the NAB Show since 1993. For me, the main change has been the way we communicate and get exposure. The real revolution in this respect took place not so long ago, with the introduction of smartphones some 12 years ago. All of a sudden everything started networking and became so much easier, so many more possibilities. Just look at the number of sessions and events. To be honest I don’t believe that the show has grown in visitors but a lot more so in exhibiting companies and this is certainly due to the evolution of technology. Today, broadcasting technology is cross-platform rather than the once highly specialized technology for radio and television and encompasses a myriad of challenges and opportunities.
RW: This year show organizers have done some serious rearranging of the venue, expanded thematic items like pavilions and put emphasis on events and activities such as Main Stage. Any thoughts on that?
Howarth: We applaud any efforts that assist visitors to optimize quality time at this show. As we see it, it is apparent the show has grown in number of exhibitors. If, as a visitor a broadcaster that wants to use NAB to keep abreast with both technology and trends, it will be a really tough week. If you are a small- to medium-sized broadcaster, you also have the issue of the amount of resources you are able to deploy for a show like this. For AEQ, the choice of exhibit space is becoming more and more critical. You need to be close to the events that are generating general visitor traffic.
Nine organizations have joined WorldDAB since the start of 2018
WorldDAB has crossed into triple digits with their membership, as the organization has announced that with the addition of nine organizations since the start of 2018 there are now 104 official members from 29 countries.
The most recent companies to join WorldDAB have been Italian public broadcaster Rai, General Motors, Toyota, Transmitters and Communications Ltd., Pluxbox, Nextbase, In2digi, Avateq Corp. and Inovonics.
“We’re delighted to welcome these new members who are representative of our key member constituencies and the global reach of our membership,” said Bernie O’Neill, project director for WorldDAB, in a statement.
“They reflect our core remit of fostering cross-industry collaboration and the exchange of best practice on the rollout of DAB+ digital radio.”
Efficiency, quality, ease of maintenance seal the deal for NRG
CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA — Serving a mid-sized broadcaster with 40 radio stations in four states, the NRG Media engineering team has operational savings on the mind. Every dollar counts, especially when it comes to labor and equipment costs. Therefore, there are three key traits we look for with technology: longevity, reliability and, increasingly, efficiency.
We have long counted on GatesAir for a large percentage of our transmission systems. Their proximity to our Midwest location has been a benefit for service, including quick access to spare parts and occasional training sessions at their Quincy, Ill., facility. In the rare instance we need to call support, we know to whom we are speaking with on a first-name basis.
The quality of their transmitters, however, is what keeps our stations competitive and profitable. We have many GatesAir tube and solid-state transmitters that have been in reliable service for many years. However, as solid-state technology continues to grow more efficient, thanks to advances in LDMOS transistors, we gradually have retired or moved our tube transmitters into backup service.
Our recent transmitter purchases favor GatesAir’s Flexiva FAX air-cooled transmitter line. Many of these have low-power systems, but we recently installed a FAX30 (30 kW) transmitter at KOKZ(FM) in Waterloo, Iowa. The FAX30 replaces a GatesAir FM-25K tube model that had been in service since 1985; that transmitter now operates in standby mode, as it remains in excellent condition.
As with most such facilities, we had limited space to accommodate a new transmitter. An advantage of modern LDMOS technology is that the transmitter footprint is reduced significantly. Since we signed up for GatesAir’s white-glove service, the service team slid the FAX30 into the designated space we provided. The modular build of the transmitters removes the need for forklifts and just makes the move-in process painless.
A remarkable benefit of Flexiva transmitters is how quickly they are ready for air. In most cases, we have a new Flexiva on the air within two hours, and it was no different for KOKZ. Once the frame was in place, we plugged in the modules, wired three or four connections, and plugged in a few ribbon and coaxial cables. The rigid RF pipe provided with the transmitter is precut, and simple to line up and tighten to our combiner and other RF accessories. The Flexiva manuals are straightforward, and our electrician was clear on proper cable size and voltage handling for the final steps. It’s literally the easiest transmitter model we have installed.
Speaking of modules, the limited number of power amplifiers and other parts inside the transmitter offer several benefits. For one, there is ample space to work inside the transmitter; modules are easy to reach and hot-swap as needed, and typical maintenance is limited to blowing dust out of the filters. More important is the high-efficiency design that ties to the limited modules and LDMOS transistors. Both play significant roles in reducing power consumption and cooling loads; our air conditioning units run far less than before. In fact, the FAX3 and FAX5 transmitters run so cool at other facilities that we have had to occasionally pump in heat during the winter months.
The FAX30 air-cooled design draws air from the front, and exhausts it through the rear of the building. The design provides options for perforated or solid doors depending on whether you want to channel the air straight up into a hot air return, or just dissipate the air within a closed air conditioning system. These options are important as it doesn’t force the broadcaster into an air-cooling pattern that might require other expensive and time-consuming design changes inside the building.
The audio quality coming is second to none, and much of this is due to the design of the Flexiva FAX exciter. NRG sizes our future transmitters with HD Radio in mind. We like that this exciter, and by default the transmitter, are HD Radio-ready without expensive reconfiguration. Once we are ready to move forward, we will work with our regional GatesAir representative to determine equipment configurations.
GatesAir helps our stations remain competitive and profitable. They clearly are the most economical transmitters from a price-to-performance ratio, typically costing about 10 percent less than the closest competitor. We have small- and medium-sized markets, and everything in between. Regardless of market size, it’s paramount to have a reliable transmitter that produces excellent sound and coverage to optimize ratings and revenue. GatesAir fits that bill for us across our station group.
For information, contact Keith Adams at GatesAir in Ohio at 1-513-459-3447 or visit www.gatesair.com.
Commissioner speaks up for economic freedom, licensed incumbents and the rule of law
Michael O’Rielly keeps on his wall a framed picture of Ronald Reagan and on his desk a memento with the word “Freedom” — both suggestive of his regulatory philosophy. A picture of his two-year-old daughter and a Father’s Day card signed “Daddy’s Grilling Partner” attest to the role of family.
With more than four years at the Federal Communications Commission including one in the political majority, O’Rielly is no longer the new guy. Radio World Managing Director of Content Paul McLane and Content Manager Emily Reigart sat down with him in February ahead of his appearance at the spring NAB Show. Text is edited for length and clarity.
Radio World: On the idea of a 5G nationalization proposal, you said, “I’ve seen lead balloons tried in D.C., but this is like a lead balloon made out of a Ford Pinto.” Regarding the possibility that then-Chairman Wheeler would circulate a draft item, you said, “Forgive me being pessimistic after having the rug pulled out from beneath the feet of rationality so many times.” And more recently, you told an audience that Chairman Pai couldn’t make a scheduled appearance so instead they were going to get “a shorter, less attractive version of an FCC Republican.” Do you write your own material?
O’Rielly: I have a good staff. But they tend to let me write the colorful stuff. I try to make things lighthearted but also make a point.
RW: Would you say that you have a tart tongue and a quick wit?
O’Rielly: That seems too complimentary. I do like to joke around. I think wit is part of the job.
RW: Since you’ve come into the majority, what’s your big-picture assessment of the FCC’s performance? Is there a signature accomplishment to date?
O’Rielly: Chairman Pai has done a wonderful job, and I hope I’ve been a good partner to him. He and I have a great relationship, I’ve been very impressed with his leadership and excited to see where we go in the next couple of years.
The chairman would say his top priority is the digital divide, closing that. It’s something I’ve spent a ton of time on myself. There are many items that go into that; we just did one on terms of the Connect America Fund Phase Two auction rules. There are pieces people can’t see on a day-to-day basis that set the stage to bring broadband to those who don’t have it.
RW: How would you grade yourself in regard to radio issues so far?
O’Rielly: I don’t look upon it as one particular segment or another. But in terms of radio, I’ve spent a great deal of time getting to know the industry, understanding what the concerns are, what’s happening in the marketplace and addressing them from our vantage point. From my perspective it’s been about removing barriers that no longer make any sense and addressing the issues the chairman has led — AM revitalization, the main studio rule. A number of burdens have been there so long and not a lot of people have paid attention to them.
RW: What did we learn from the Hawaii false missile alert situation?
O’Rielly: We’re still in the investigative stage, so we’ve got more work to do on our end to get a complete picture. The preliminary report and presentation were made at our [January] meeting. We learned a couple of things that I can’t extrapolate anywhere else yet; in Hawaii there are some management issues and serious staffing capability issues that are really troubling.
Our role at the FCC is the back end — after the notice and the warning have been prepared, making sure providers get it out. That side of the equation worked very well. The wireless companies getting out the message worked very well. The broadcasting industry did an exceptional job getting out the message — and getting the correction out.
The front end — people don’t like to hear it — is not necessarily the FCC’s responsibility. It doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s important. Congress decides our lines of who should do certain things; and that is a FEMA job. … People talk about best practices and corrective measures. That’s on the FEMA side, given the industry side worked very well.
RW: You mentioned the broadcasters’ response in distributing —
O’Rielly: Thank goodness for the broadcasters! It’s not just Hawaii, it’s everywhere. A massive snowstorm happened in Buffalo a couple of years ago and you have like seven feet in a weekend. How amazing it was that they were able to get the information out. Thank goodness we have broadcasters that educate consumers, especially during time of trouble.
RW: Do you think broadcasters have an additional role to play in some sort of mechanism for calling alerts off?
O’Rielly: I think that’s one thing that’s being worked on in Hawaii. I don’t know if it needs to be done elsewhere. That’s something FEMA is going to have to look at closely.
Broadcasters did a wonderful job. I’m not interested in posing new burdens on them. I want to congratulate the work that they did.
RW: Our industry’s tech leaders feel the decision to close FCC field offices led to the retirement of some very talented people. And there was the promise of Tiger teams. Do you see an opportunity to restore field offices?
O’Rielly: I think it might be a heavy lift to reopen field offices, given the budgetary situation that we face.
The decision on the field offices was made by former Chairman Wheeler. I didn’t necessarily agree with the decision. He had said, “This a path we need to go along,” and it had the Tiger teams. Since then, I’ve been asking the Enforcement Bureau, “Where are the Tiger teams? What’s the status of them?” They seem to be quite lacking. They aren’t able to do what was envisioned. People have called them basically a roving field office; that’s not was anticipated when it was sold to us. It was supposed to be this “strike team” that would hit a particular area because something happened. I’m a little disturbed on where that is, and just getting operational. Last I knew, they were still looking to fill slots. They have personnel openings to try and find the right personnel.
I visited a number of our field offices in my time here, and I really appreciate the work that they do. … I didn’t sign up for Chairman Wheeler’s plan; I think undoing it is probably pretty problematic.
RW: How did illegal broadcasts come to be one of your major issues?
O’Rielly: To me, it’s a rule of law issue. It impacts listeners and it impacts the companies.
Companies themselves have had financial issues; the radio industry is going through some turmoil; AM radio has had some issues. On the financial side, the impact of pirate radio is problematic.
On the listeners’ side I think it’s equally problematic in terms of what they may miss out on by having these pirate stations — whether they’re stealing advertisers and making the other stations less vibrant, or missing requirements like EAS, the warning systems, the good work that broadcasters do.
With Chairman Pai focused on it too, it’s been great. He’s been such a good leader on it. I don’t agree with someone just determining that they can set up their own station at any time. There are rules and obligations that come with getting a license. Our obligation is to shut them down. If for some reason the market is able to handle a licensed station, then we should look at that closely.
RW: Where are you on your push to get more statutory power to act against landlords, seizure of gear, increased penalties.
O’Rielly: I continue to have my conversations with friends on Capitol Hill. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. It’s not my job. They get to determine when they may or may not act on something. But I get the impression from talking with folks that they’re getting closer to looking at the issues that are important to me, increasing the fines, addressing those who are aiding and abetting.
RW: Many who watch the pirate radio debate scoff at the FCC fines. They perceive that unless the Justice Department picks the matter up, nothing’s going to happen, so who cares. So what do you do about that? Even if you increase the fines?
O’Rielly: Increasing the fines actually does trigger the thresholds at the Department of Justice and their ability to enforce them. If they’re at paltry levels, they tend to focus on bigger cases; increasing the fines does have an impact on that side.
Two, we can have a telephone scammer or someone sending a fax — hundreds of million dollars may be the proposed fine against them, and then you see $14,000 against a pirate radio station; that’s never going to be collected. You can throw multiple fines on somebody and it has no impact. It’s demoralizing to the field staff to know that their work is not being as fruitful as it should be. We’re working through that and hopefully we’re going to see some stuff done in the very near future.
RW: Okay. …
O’Rielly: I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
RW: Okay. I see you smiling about that. There’s something going on there. Let me ask you about AM revitalization. That has included modification of FM translators and expansion of cross-service translators. These are popular with a lot of AM owners; but some folks say this is only a short-term solution, or actually detrimental because we’re actually moving people over to the FM band more than we are focusing on AM. How do you view the success of AM revitalization so far?
O’Rielly: To me it’s about giving AM stations an opportunity to reach the marketplace.
To the second part of your question, it was very important for me to have conversations with those stations that are not on AM. I talked to a number of [FM stations] and said, “Does this cause you problems if we were to do this?” And they said, “No. We actually work in cooperation. We don’t have difficulty with their becoming an FM broadcaster.” That was helpful for me. I had a number of conversations to make sure that wasn’t going to be problematic.
In terms of the first part of your question, it really does give an AM broadcaster an opportunity. But the marketplace is what’s going to decide whether they succeed. Does AM have a long-term future? That’s what consumers are going to decide. The technology is only one component of it. Do they serve the local consumers? Does it attract enough listeners? Is it a long-term medium? That’s for the marketplace to decide, in my opinion.
RW: One then might say, “Why have an AM revitalization procedure at all?”
O’Rielly: There are technical limitations that could be addressed with the [translators] that full-power FM stations don’t have a difficulty with. To give them that opportunity to me is just like removing a number of barriers on rules. Remove those things, give them the opportunity and see where the market takes it.
RW: Do you think we’ll see the FCC change protected contours and give less protection to those big Class A stations that they’ve always enjoyed?
O’Rielly: Those are harder cases to say. I can’t tell you right now where we’re going to come out on that issue. It’s been something debated for quite a while. There’s [also] a proposal to create a new class on the FM side.
To see where the path is, you’ve got to see what’s the opposition. Many of these have opposition, and it makes it’s harder and probably more unlikely. But we’ll just have to see.
RW: The historic structure of the AM band, with big signals that covered so much of the country — the historical justification for that, one might argue, is long since gone.
O’Rielly: Don’t disagree with that, but I’d also say people bought those stations with the understanding of the rules that were in place. They’ve put finances based on those. If they had known, you would have different purchasing prices. There are expectations that we can’t just mightily wipe off without serious consideration.
RW: Broadband. You wrote an op-ed with Sen. Ted Cruz about net neutrality and made a comment that it was “imperative to establish a strong deregulatory federal framework.” You’ve also been quoted as saying, “People do a disservice to overstating the internet’s relevance.” Given its critical role in society, shouldn’t the internet be a utility?
O’Rielly: The internet is very important. It can be incredibly beneficial to consumers.
I disagree that it’s a necessity. There are individuals who do not have the internet today and are quite successful in the marketplace. I don’t think it’s an absolute necessity. Necessity is a term that gets denigrated when we go down this path. A necessity, if you look at circumstances, you need food, shelter, water, power. If you look at what the needs are in areas such as Puerto Rico, it’s power, it’s clean water.
Communication is very important. It doesn’t rise to that exact level, in my opinion.
RW: Isn’t it getting there?
O’Rielly: I think it’s increasingly important; but even at the time of [peak] telephone penetration we only had 95 percent of reach of telephone. No matter what we did, we couldn’t get the last 5 percent; and people still were able to function.
If it’s a necessity, then you have a right to it. Therefore, you can’t be denied it. So you don’t pay your bill, you can’t be — there are consequences to declaring it certain things.
We have utilities for water and sewer; that’s not where broadband is today. These are private sector companies that offer service. We haven’t nationalized them; localities are not declaring them the local property in the community. That’s the wrong direction to even contemplate. It is a private-sector service being offered to consumers. They are incredibly increasing investment to try and meet consumer demands. It’s exciting for consumers. It’s a race to provide service and meet all the different technologies and what you can do on the net. It’s incredibly valuable to individuals.
I’m a full-bore supporter of the internet and what it can be. I just don’t declare it a necessity.
RW: How serious is the FCC about sharing the C Band with wireless carriers for broadband? We hear there’s a proposal for a market-based approach that would split up the spectrum and share it with satellite and wireless broadband. There’s also disagreement about just how many stations broadcasters are using. How serious is that proposal?
O’Rielly: It’s a very serious proposal. I think it’s very likely to move forward. Radio broadcasters and broadcasters in general should not be concerned. As someone who’s leading the effort on the 3.7 to 4.2 band, and the 6 gigahertz bands, which are the C Band up and down links, we’re going to take care of incumbents. I’m not interested in disrupting incumbents.
A market-based mechanism may be the best way to go. Intelsat and Intel have a proposal. I really appreciate the work that they’ve done on that; but I haven’t endorsed that mechanism yet.
I’m looking at how we would best go about the 3.7 to 4.2, how would we make that happen without disrupting service to local broadcasters.
You also raised the point: We don’t know exactly who’s operating today. You get interference protection if you’re registered; you don’t if you aren’t. We’re trying to figure out how we protect those we don’t know about. “Tell us if you exist.” It’s hard to protect people we don’t know about.
C Band, itself, may not be the way to offer service. Maybe it could be done through fiber. It can be other bands, satellite. I’m open to looking at different ways to make sure that broadcasters — or whomever is operating in the band, there are multiple players — aren’t disrupted and are not harmed in the process.
RW: Related to that is general concern about noise and interference across the dial. Can’t the FCC do something to protect over-the-air incumbents more aggressively?
O’Rielly: The noise floor is a huge problem. It’s not just the radio band. It’s a lot of different bands.
Consumers want more technology, more wireless technology. It does have an impact. Our job is to protect from harmful interference those licensees that have them, and we will continue to do so.
The noise floor, in general, we are trying to figure out how you would deal with and what does it mean. Each band is a little different. It’s not an easy answer though.
RW: The FCC’s Technology Advisory Council has taken this on and asked for comment on spectrum management proposals. It seems, in general, there’s a need for better understanding of that environment — quantifying it. There was a proposal to conduct such a study; I don’t believe that’s been happening.
O’Rielly: I can’t speak to it off the top. There had been a proposal to establish a noise floor, and we weren’t ready to do that at the time. We were trying to figure out, how do you quantify it? What does it look like? What does it mean for this band, how does it differ from over there? It wasn’t ready at the time. It doesn’t mean that the TAC recommendations don’t lead to something along those lines. We just weren’t ready at the time. I think it was premature.
RW: What priority do you see next that will affect radio licensees and people in the industry?
O’Rielly: I don’t want to point to any specific item; the chairman gets to dictate the schedule. But what you have seen so far will continue, and I’m excited about that. We have a media modernization effort; every month we’re taking something up along these lines. If there are burdens on the industry that no longer make any sense or are unnecessary given the marketplace competition, for multiple reasons we want to get rid of those.
You’re going to see more of the same, in a good way.
RW: It was a big change to see the main studio rule go away. How can stations really be local without a studio?
O’Rielly: I don’t believe the elimination of the requirement is going to have a tremendous impact. In radio, like the television side, stations are committed to the community. They have to be. They know that’s how you make money. That’s how you stay profitable.
I don’t believe their ties to the community are driven by the fact that they had a particular site, on this street, in this community. I don’t see a tremendous change in how radio operates. We’re not going to see tremendous closure of studios in the near future. There may be some efficiencies to be had. It shouldn’t be something though where people make decisions based on FCC rules. We want to make sure that radio is allowed to have efficiencies to address what’s happening in the marketplace. I don’t think for a minute that they’re going to change their behavior in staying incredibly local. It’s the only way to succeed, in my opinion.
RW: Should the FCC raise radio’s ownership caps — local station numbers?
O’Rielly: I’m open to exploring that. We will look at that as part of our quadrennial [review].
I have suggested that we need to eliminate the AM/FM sub-caps. I don’t think the downsides that people have suggested actually will occur. I got a promise from the chairman that we’re going to look at that as part of the quadrennial. We’re going to start the quadrennial sometime this year, I’m hoping this summer.
Whatever is decided here is going to go into court. We’re still stuck with so many rules because the court hasn’t approved anything — on either side of the ledger, either from Republicans or Democrats or conservatives or liberals. We’ve been basically stuck for so long with no changes, it’s been incredibly problematic.
RW: You’re not a lawyer, working in a town and an organization of lawyers. How does that play out in your job?
O’Rielly: I spent 20 years on Capitol Hill as a staffer. I’ve written, probably, more provisions than a lot of lawyers have. My fingerprints are all over the statute. I don’t pretend in any situation to be a lawyer. I have a wonderful staff who are all layers and they do incredible work. I rely on their expertise on those points. But I don’t think you have to have a law degree to serve in my role; you want varied backgrounds and personalities for commissioners.
RW: Do you think there should be a requirement that at least one commissioner be an engineer, as has been posited over the years?
O’Rielly: No. I don’t think an artificial requirement is the way to go. If that were a requirement, I might not have made the commission. Hopefully I’ve brought some benefit to my time here so far.
RW: You’ve worked for and around Republican lawmakers for two decades. What did you learn from people like Senators Sununu, Cornyn and Kyl?
O’Rielly: I did nine years in the House, 11 in the Senate; it wasn’t intentional necessarily but I found that those I was interested in working for were strong family people. They would rather spend time with their family than trying to get the most publicity for whatever item they’re working on.
That has been something I’ve tried to do in my job here. I try to make it home. I try to go home for dinner, whether I’m cooking dinner or my wife is cooking dinner.
I’ve also learned that there are incredibly dedicated people with different backgrounds. You may not agree with them on every instance. I worked a ton with Democrats and I have a lot of Democratic friends on the Hill. You may not agree with everything that they do; but you have to respect that they’re dedicated to the job. We kind of lost that some in the last couple of years; hopefully, we’ll get back to that. You can have a disagreement of positions, disagree at one moment and then try to find something else.
That’s what I strive to do here at the commission. I might argue with my Democratic colleagues, or even Republicans in the past, not that often; but if there are instances, disagree; and the next day try to work on something different.
I disagreed with Commissioner Clyburn on something in a recent meeting, and this week we did a blog together on an issue. You try to find those partnerships when they can happen.
Telecommunications policy was not partisan for the longest part of my career. A couple issues would spike up. Public broadcasting was one that would spike up and cause some partisanship; more recently net neutrality has gone along those lines and made it seem like Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on communications policy. That’s something the Congress needs to address. If they do, we can go back to doing our job and getting along again.
RW: I do wonder what it’s like working on and around the Hill in an environment like it’s been for the last year or two. You clearly are a fan of Ronald Reagan; and I can’t think of a less Reaganesque president than we have right now.
O’Rielly: I haven’t been there for four years but I do keep up. In my time period, 20 years, I lived through some very extraordinary times. There were government shutdowns. We had an impeachment process of the president of the United States. My old office building, kind of nondescript, is where they kept the information regarding impeachment, the Starr report. I’ve seen a lot of things.
This doesn’t surprise me too much or jar me too much. You go with the flow. We’ve dealt with wars. We’ve dealt with domestic attacks. You grow used to the dynamics of things shifting very quickly.
I’m excited to see what the next couple of years have for the new administration. They have a track record so far in a year. They’ve got a lot of problems for the United States to work on, and a lot of success so far. So we’ll just see where it goes.
RW: Spectrum, at least on the FM band, remains very much in demand. To some people, the band is full. Is there anything the FCC should be doing differently about FM band management?
O’Rielly: Just like I’m not a lawyer, I’m not an engineer. That’s why we have some really good folks in the Audio Division in the Media Bureau and in OET [Office of Engineering and Technology] to give some inclination of what the story is.
But I don’t think your estimate is too far off. We have thrown a lot of stuff at the FM band. That’s why the noise floor is of deep concern to a lot of individuals. We have to have a better analysis of that. I think that’s a fair role for the commission.
RW: Does the FCC have a role to play in getting Apple to activate the FM chip in phones?
O’Rielly: We don’t have a statutory role over Apple. The chairman has done a wonderful job in trying to convince them of the benefits. I’m of the same mind — that you can’t do it through a mandate. We don’t have the statutory requirement. I also don’t think that’s the best way to go. But that seems to be the biggest sticking point: how to convince the one company, given that the providers themselves are willing to do so, as they have on other platforms.
RW: I’m curious to your perspectives on whether we might see a time soon when the FCC would allow broadcasters to turn off their analog and go all-digital — whether it’s AM or FM.
O’Rielly: It still seems like the story is mixed in terms of where the industry is on digital radio. It goes back to that point: Is there a general agreement that it should go one way or the other? Right now it doesn’t seem to be the case. I certainly don’t want to mandate we go that direction. …
Whatever side of broadcasting, we want to make sure whatever we do doesn’t cause harm to the listeners or viewers who enjoy their product today.
RW: There have been broadcasters who’ve said, “We’ll never in our lifetime turn off our analog.” Given the television experience, it seems it could be more of a possibility.
O’Rielly: I think that’s a fair analysis. It’s more likely today than in the past. But that doesn’t mean it will happen.
RW: The commission seems to have more of a collegial environment than over the last 10 years.
O’Rielly: It is this year. Under Chairman Pai it’s more collegial than it was. Tom Wheeler is a friend, a former colleague; but everyone walked around holding their breath; it was almost like dancing on the head of a pin. He was a very dominating personality. I think Chairman Pai is a little bit more open. It’s a breath of fresh air.
RW: What role does the FCC play in the dashboard and the broader world of the autonomous vehicle?
O’Rielly: Very interesting question. We are still limited by our statute. Our role in terms of autonomous vehicle is not extensive. We have some spectrum issues; one that’s been important to me is the 5.9 DSRC. [5.9 GHz Dedicated Short-Range Communications is a range of spectrum set aside by the FCC in 1999 for use in intelligent transportation systems]. The system proposed would have interaction with other cars and infrastructure and everything else in their path; I’ve had some concerns about that. But that’s one of our roles, the spectrum around autonomous vehicles. Other safety agencies deal with how the autonomous vehicles work.
The dashboard itself, we don’t have a great role in. I’m just of the mind that radio is so important to consumers, their interests and meeting what they do on a daily basis, that no matter what the car looks like — or maybe we won’t even call it a car, whatever the vehicle is going forward — radio is going to be a part of that equation.
RW: You have a desk ornament with the word “Freedom” front and center on your desk. Why?
O’Rielly: A gift from a former staff person. It complements my overall message. I stated in my first speech that I was going to look upon issues of the commission through what I call an economic freedom lens. There’s a number of criteria that I still abide by — like cost-benefit analysis; does the solution actually bring about what it is supposed to, [solving] the problem that we’re trying to solve; does it have negative consequences?
It also was a mantra that I had on Capitol Hill: Stay strong for freedom. … I think freedom is incredibly important. It’s what makes our country unique — we provide a beacon of light to the rest of the world, what they want to be.
RW: Final thoughts?
O’Rielly: I want to get the FCC to remove the barriers to allowing broadcasters, particularly radio, to serve their local communities. And I thank them for the benefits that they bring. There’s no better participant or active aid during emergency circumstances; there’s no better fundraiser than the broadcaster when the chips are down in the community; there’s no one who cares about their community more than a broadcaster.
A CAREER ON THE HILL
Michael O’Rielly was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 2013. In 2015, he was sworn in for a new term.
O’Rielly received his B.A. from the University of Rochester and began his career as a legislative assistant to Rep. Tom Bliley in the mid-1990s. He also served as telecommunications policy analyst and then a professional staff member on the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the House of Representatives.
Moving to the Senate, he worked in the office of Sen. John Sununu as senior legislative assistant and later legislative director, and for the Republican Policy Committee as a policy analyst for banking, technology, transportation, trade and commerce issues. He later served as a policy advisor in the Office of the Senate Republican Whip, led by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. He worked in the Whip’s Office since 2010, as an advisor from 2010 to 2012 and deputy chief of staff and policy director from 2012 to 2013 for Sen. Jon Kyl.
Featuring the NAB Show business and management preview and more
Welcome to NAB Show season! This issue of Radio World previews the business and management aspects of the spring show for radio and audio media professionals. Why should radio care about “Big Data”? Are there downsides for radio by jumping into smart speakers and A-I? What’s the new schedule for the big awards events at NAB? All that, plus Jim Wood, Michael O’Rielly, a cool tower project, a nifty switch for an RPU application, your annual Transmitter Buyer’s Guide and plenty more.
Latest research may require a rethink of the social dynamics of podcasting
During last week’s Facebook Live webcast, Edison Research Senior VP Tom Webster shared some insights about podcasting from the latest Infinite Dial survey. He concluded the presentation with three take-aways to help podcasters get a bigger share of the voice audience. First, explain the content of podcasts, not the technology. Second, promote podcasts through “push” campaigns, rather than “pull” techniques such as discovery. Third, embrace social audio.
Webster described a smart audio study that Edison completed in partnership with NPR. One of the surprising results is that smart speakers are beginning to make listening to audio a social event. “We’ve always defined podcasting as an intimate medium, something that happens between your ears,”' said Webster. “But now, it’s becoming a fun thing for groups, families and couples to do.” He added that this is really coming full circle, because families used to listen to radio in their living rooms during the 1930s and ’40s. It is also the first time that millennials and younger groups are listening to podcasts without earbuds.
“Podcasters need to deliver ‘water cooler moments’ in the way that talk radio and great morning shows can do,” said Webster, adding that a rethink may be in order regarding both the content of podcasts and how they’re promoted to make them appeal more to groups.
Reflecting on the impact of smart speakers, Webster immediately thinks of the car environment. “When you can simply ask for the podcast that you want to hear while driving, it becomes easier to listen without crashing your car,” noted Webster. “Our research shows that as it becomes easier to listen to audio, people listen more, and smart speakers are increasing all of that.”
Susan Larkin named New York’s new market manager
Entercom Communications New York operation has named Susan Larkin as its new market manager. Also, Gregory Nemitz was promoted to senior vice president and market manager of Entercom San Francisco, and Kieran Geffert has been upped to vice president and director of sales in the same market. Plus, the broadcaster tapped Miles Anzaldo as the new music director for Los Angeles station KROQ(FM), and Jeff Federman will assume regional oversight of the southern California markets.
Larkin will continue in her role as regional president overseeing San Francisco and Sacramento while assuming the new position on April 9, and Nemitz will report to her. Larkin joined Entercom San Francisco in July. Larkin is a native New Yorker.
Anzaldo is a native Californian. He comes to Entercom from KQGO(FM) in Minneapolis, where he was the assistant program and music director since 2015. Prior to that, he spent 10 years in San Francisco on air and as assistant music director.
Federman now oversees San Diego, Riverside and Palm Springs, while continuing in his post as SVP/market manager of Entercom Los Angeles.
Entercom Communications Corp. is one of the largest radio broadcasters in the U.S.
Is currently official in FCC Enforcement Bureau
According to sources on the Hill and off it, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has proposed FCC Enforcement Bureau official Geoffrey Starks to succeed Mignon Clyburn as Democratic FCC commissioner when she decides to exit — or when a new nominee speeds that process.
Customarily the Senate Minority Leader gets to choose Democratic FCC nominees. The President can nominate whomever he wants, of course, but the custom dates from when Pres. Bill Clinton deferred the Republican and Democratic picks for FCC nominees to the majority and minority leaders.
A Schumer spokesperson was not available for comment at press time.
Starks is currently in the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, which is not a typical launching pad for a commission seat, like, say, a Hill communications counsel would be.
One source said public interest groups and others have been scrambling to find out just who Starks is, and more importantly where he comes down on important issues. The fear is someone that might be striking deals with Republicans rather than holding the line against deregulation, as Clyburn has.
“I remember a lot of people talking trash about Commissioner Clyburn, about how she wasn't qualified or only got the job because of her daddy (Rep. James Clyburn [D-S.C.]), and look at what a superstar she turned out to be in every way,” said David Goodfriend, president of the Goodfriend Group. “So let's give Mr. Starks a chance to prove himself.”
Clyburn has not signaled she is ready to exit, but it would take time for the FBI to vet a new nominee and hold a hearing and get them confirmed, so Schumer might be thinking ahead. Or Starks nomination could force the issue. Clyburn can serve until the end of the next Congress after her term ends — which it did last June — or until a successor is seated.
The Republicans are also trying to get a second, full-five-year term for Brendan Carr, who was only confirmed to fill an unexpired term--of former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler — and will need to pair him up with a Democrat if past is prologue.
Starks has an impressive resume, and one that may calm those public interest groups.
According to a Starks resume supplied by a source, he is currently assistant bureau chief at the FCC and is focused on “closing the digital divide by bringing more broadband to underserved communities; building transformational 5G infrastructure to help deliver the largest wireless platform for innovation in the world; and advancing broadband telemedicine programs to improve access to quality medical services and health outcomes.”
He is credited in the one-sheet with “leading the FCC team in a regulatory action against a carrier for net neutrality violations, resulting in a $48 million consent decree and the FCC’s only successful net neutrality prosecution to date.”
That should be reassuring to activist groups pushing back on network neutrality deregulation.
Starks has an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a law degree from Yale. He also founded a community bank.
Like FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, he grew up in Kansas, though the city rather than a small town.
His wife is Lauren Thompson Starks, a former Obama appointee. Starks is also a former staffer to then Senator Barack Obama and a former attorney with Williams & Connolly in Washington.
Starks' Obama-era government service includes serving under Attorney General Eric Holder at the Dept. of Justice, including as the lead on financial and health care fraud.
RedNet X2P and Red 16Line interface work for mics, line and DAWs
Focusrite is bringing to the NAB Show a couple of interfaces that might find a home in broadcaster production studios.
The RedNet X2P (shown) is a two-channel networkable preamp with analog inputs. The desktop-style unit outputs line level or Dante AoIP digital signals. The preamps are from Focusrite’s Evolution series. Features include phantom power, a high-pass filter, phase reverse and an “Air” processing preset. It also includes headphone and local mixer controls.
The Red 16Line is a 64-in/64-out rackmount unit with Pro Tools HD or other multichannel DAWs in mind. It offers dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, Dante AoIP, S/PDIF (RCA), optical, D-sub analog line connectivity and more. In addition there’s a pair of Focusrite Evolution mic preamps, Word Clock and a loop sync. Headphone outputs are on the front-panel.
Both units are controllable via network remote control.
NAB Show Booth: C1147
GAINESVILLE, GEORGIA: Building on the continued success of the fully-weatherized Danley OS-80 & OS-90 loudspeakers and the OS-115 subwoofer, Danley Sound Labs introduces the Danley OS-12CX. Like its siblings, the OS-12CX is built to withstand punishing rain, heat, and freeze/thaw cycles season after season after unrelenting season, while delivering a sonic performance that is closer to the sound in an audiophile’s listening room than to the egregiously band-passed outdoor PAs of the past. The Danley OS-12CX uses Danley’s patented Synergy crossover design, Sentinel™ limiter protection circuitry, and stainless steel mounting hardware that is prepared to brace the OS-12CX against mother nature’s worst.
“The Danley OS-12CX is a compact, yet powerful box for smaller outdoor installations like small- to mid-sized sports venues, water parks, and cruise ships, as well as for larger distributed outdoor installations or as fill for end-fired systems,” said Mike Hedden, president and founder of Danley Sound Labs. “Its 90-degree coverage pattern drops off with Danley’s characteristic steepness, and all the sound within the beam is even, flat, and perfectly phased. Plus, at only forty pounds, the OS-12CX is easy to move around.”
The Danley OS-12CX boasts a frequency response that is +/-3dB from as low as 69Hz to as high as 21.7kHz using a single 12-inch coaxial driver. It is rated at 400W continuous and 1600W peak and is capable of delivering 121dB SPL continuous and 127dB SPL peak. Its dimensions are approximately 30 inches tall by 26 inches wide by 11 inches deep. In addition, the Danley Sound Labs Centinel Protection Circuit is on both high and low frequencies.
ABOUT DANLEY SOUND LABS Danley Sound Labs is the exclusive home of Tom Danley, one of the most innovative loudspeaker designers in the industry today and recognized worldwide as a pioneer for "outside the box" thinking in professional audio technology.
Features DSP-based core and a compact, practical design
DEVA says its new DB45 is an essential tool for the reliable monitoring of FM signals. With a DSP-based core and a compact design, the system promises accurate parameter measurement, including the RF level, MPX deviation, MPX power, left and right audio levels, RDS and pilot injection levels.
Upon demodulation of the FM signal, the SDR FM tuner digitizes the RF signal and all signal processing is achieved through calculations. Courtesy of this tool’s precision digital filters, DEVA says, the FM multiplex signal’s components can be accurately and repeatedly reproduced from one device to another. This means, for example, that the same signal applied to two devices would give the same result.
The DB45 also features an “easy-to-use” web interface, a built-in audio streamer, which lets users listen to and record audio from any station, and TCP/IP (GSM connectivity is optional) for remote monitoring.
The DB45 is versatile, accurate and easy to operate – the ultimate piece of monitoring equipment.
NAB Show Booth: N5916
Radio up, decides to dump some poorly performing live events
Townsquare Media executives admit the company’s multiple-business platform is taking a toll on the company. Overall revenue for the fourth quarter 2017 was down $4.4 million or about 3.7% to a total of $114.3 million when considering all of its holdings.
The company’s live events sector, which includes Taste of Country Music Festival and The Insane Inflatable 5K, tumbled to about $22.6 million in revenue in the final quarter compared to $27.3 million generated the previous year. That’s a substantial 17.4% dip in revenue for the division that also includes North American Midway Entertainment (NAME).
However, Townsquare’s radio sector made slight gains in the quarter. The group’s radio and digital division increased advertising revenue some 0.4% in Q4 2017 and was up 5.2% when excluding political revenue.
Getting back to its live events issues, Townsquare has now concluded an extensive review of its live entertainment division and said today its findings and resulting moves will reduce complexity and volatility in that segment. Townsquare will cut the number of live events to about 350 in this year compared to 500 in 2017. They’ll take an axe to the Insane Inflatable 5K schedule, drastically whittling down its dates, according to today’s earnings presentation. The company expects revenue from the entertainment division to drop even further in 2018 due to the cut in events and continued labor issues at North American Midway Entertainment thanks to the government crackdown on HB2 visas for temporary non-agricultural workers in this country.
We learned on today’s earning’s call that co-CEOs Bill Wilson and Dhruz Prasad have visited nearly every one of Townsquare’s 67 small and mid-sized radio markets in this country, which total 317 radio stations. The pair remain convinced that the group’s local marketing offerings are on track and offer superior products and services, including Townsquare Interactive, its digital marketing solutions platform and its digital programmatic advertising platform known as Townsquare Ignite.
Prasad says radio, which contributed nearly 70% of the company’s net revenue on 2017, remains the core of Townsquare’s business. Its radio revenue grew at a clip of 1.9% for the year in 2017 and was up 3.9% for the year when you exclude the impact of less political spending compared to the presidential election year of 2016.
Townsquare, which executed an agreement to purchase WOUR(FM) in Utica, N.Y., last month, continues to brag on its digital business products. In 2017, total net revenue from digital products and solutions was just under $100 million, Wilson said on today’s earnings call. He also pointed to the company’s major “traffic system conversion” completed in 2017 that “significantly enhances revenue management.”
Every single Townsquare radio station is now compatible with smart speaker platforms operated by Amazon, Google and Apple, Wilson says.
Townsquare, which today announced a dividend for shareholders of just over $0.07 per share in an effort to begin returning value to its shareholders, reported total debt of $571.9 million at the end of 2017.
Centro Cristiano apparently will no longer pursue the license
A radio engineer in Chicago has filed a petition pressing the Federal Communications Commission to take action on what he calls a ghost translator station that exists only on paper.
The FCC should stop taking applicants’ word on whether projects have actually been built, said engineer Larry Langford. In this case, he alleges that rubber-stamp approvals may have deprived others from using a frequency during one of the recent AM translator windows.
Langford owns WGTO and W244DS in Michigan and is an amateur radio operator. He alleges that Houston-based licensee Centro Cristiano de Vida Eterna submitted falsified information to the FCC in multiple instances by claiming that a Chicago-based translator station had been constructed, then filing paperwork to move that translator to different spots multiple times.
The licensee apparently has since decided to formally drop its license request; Radio World has been unable to obtain further comment on the allegations.
Langford said that through research, site visits and conversations with local engineers, he found that no station exists, despite the fact that the FCC green-lighted applications for translator W252AW each step of the way, Langford said. This resulted in approvals for construction permits, several licenses to cover and minor change applications for a station that had not been constructed, he said.
In December 2016, Langford said he noticed a construction permit application had been submitted for a translator on 98.3 MHz that would be based on the Chicago Transit Authority Tower, a few blocks from his home. “Any time a translator is applied for in Chicago it’s a big deal,” Langford told Radio World. Not only does it take engineering skill to operate in such a spectrum-dense market, he said, but such a translator would be particularly valuable if it could be installed on a tall building downtown.
Langford said he watched for an antenna to be constructed on the Chicago Transit Authority Tower but did not notice one. Three months later after a look through the FCC application database, Langford said he noticed Centro Cristiano had already applied for a license to cover. “How did I miss that construction?” he said he asked himself. Langford drove to the tower but did not see a new antenna in place.
A series of background research efforts revealed that Centro Cristiano submitted a license application to begin operation of a transmitter on a tower operated by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Via details found through a Freedom of Information request, Langford said he found that no correspondence exists showing that the tower was leased, donated or otherwise used for operation of W252AW.
He said that Centro Cristiano then filed a minor change application for W252AW on a tower owned by CBS Radio and used by CBS’s WSCR(AM) in Chicago. This resulted in a construction permit and then a license to cover that was granted; however, according to Langford, CBS Radio staff told him that no FM translator had been installed on the WSCR tower.
Afterward, Centro Cristiano made a minor change application to move the W252AW transmitter to a tower in Chicago owned by the Chicago Transit Authority. Three months later they applied for a license to cover. Another Freedom of Information request revealed no documents relating to the lease of this tower to W252AW, Langford said.
A short time later, another application was filed to move the station to a high-rise building on South Calumet in Chicago. Centro Cristiano thereafter filed a license application certifying that the station was constructed and ready for operation at this location. According to Langford, however, during an inspection with the building’s engineer at the Calumet building, no FM transmission equipment could be found.
In late 2017, Langford filed an informal petition to deny and a supplement regarding the construction of translator W252AW. He called on the FCC to cancel the license of the station as well as to cite Centro Cristiano for several reasons: filing consecutive applications for construction permits with no reasonable assurance of site availability, filing multiple applications for license to cover on construction permits that were not built, and filing a minor change in a licensed facility application for a facility that was never properly licensed.
In his petition, Langford also suggested the FCC consider using licensed amateurs on a volunteer basis to inspect translators before a license is issued.
Centro Cristiano holds multiple licenses and construction permits for NCE FM, commercial FM, LPTV stations and FM translators. In the weeks since, an attorney representing Centro Cristiano said the licensee has decided to formally drop its license request. “It is not going to be pursued further,” attorney Dan J. Alpert said
Radio World asked Alpert to comment on Langford’s allegations and on what prompted the reversal; he has not made further comment. RW also requested comment on the case from the FCC, which has not responded.
Langford was blunt in his filing: “The facts are clear that none of the four locations referenced in the petition to deny have ever been built,” he wrote. “Centro Cristiano de Vida Eterna has perpetrated a clever fraud against the FCC and the citizens of Chicago.”
Powerlite DCR-T enters HD Radio and LPFM markets
Antenna-maker Dielectric says it has adapted its Powerlite DCR-T antenna for the special needs of HD Radio and LPFM broadcasters. The key, according to the company, is added control of directionality.
The circularly polarized DCR-T directional antenna is offered as a cost-effective solution for low-to-medium power FM and translator stations, which traditionally required a far more expensive antenna in designs typical of higher power operations, to meet directional pattern requirements.
Dielectric says this is possible because special software reduces antenna costs and production lead times, and with most FM translator directional antenna requirements, significantly reduces the price of the FCC proof of performance. The software that provides the proof of performance data required to confirm directional pattern compliance, as opposed to the traditional method of verifying patterns with physical scale models.
Dielectric Sales Manager Steven Moreen said, “The ring-style design of the DCR-T antenna, with its stable axial ratio independent of impedance tuning, is an ideal platform on which to add directional signal control. And, given the efficiency at which Dielectric can produce these antennas, the antenna can be delivered within weeks as opposed to months, along with the associated FCC proof of performance.”
The company adds that the DCR-T’s broadband capability offers enough bandwidth to accommodate HD Radio signals alongside analog FM, with in-field channel adjustments should channels change. The low-profile design offers less wind resistance. An optional radome is available.
NAB Show Booth: C2613
Also, fabulous Workbench readers respond to other recent tips with ideas of their own
Dale Lamm is with WHBC(AM) in Canton, Ohio. Our recent column “When Components Fail, Use Your Ingenuity” reminded him of one of the first hacks he had to do several years ago, after taking his current engineering position, when he had to repair a failed FM exciter power amplifier board.
C-44, a 1.0 μF surface mount capacitor on the PA board, shorted. The adjacent 15 amp SMT fuse also blew but not before the board was scorched, as seen in Fig. 1.
He removed all traces of the failed components and cleaned the board. Dale found a 0.22 μF Orange Drop capacitor, which he tacked on the board to replace the failed 1.0 μF. An inline fuse holder with a 15 amp automotive fuse was installed in the wiring harness feeding the PA board. This replaced the destroyed surface mount fuse.
Dale noted in his logbook, “Operations back to normal on 12/28-inch.” The exciter manufacturer quoted a new board at $1,815, a replacement board with trade-in of the old board was $464. Dale’s cost to repair was under $5.
As it turned out, this was not the last failure for this exciter. After two failures in the associated switching power supply board, Dale bit the bullet and traded in the board for a factory-rebuilt version. The replacement board has lasted since November 2013 without incident.
Responding to a photo of the distended ends of defective capacitors, engineer Duke Evans writes that he has repaired many a circuit board trace with bare wire.
Duke adds that some older electrolytics do not have the top crease in the aluminum, and when they explode, they explode downward through the rubber base. This then blows a hole in the circuit board! Not fun.
On one board Duke was able to fill the hole with E-6000 epoxy from Tap Plastics, not to mention lots of wiring. But his ingenuity saved the day.
Engineer Brad Johnson dropped a note saying our tip on the “automatic bypass for UPS AC power” was very useful. Glad to help, Brad!
If you have a mod or adaptation to improve your facility, share it with other engineers in the pages of Workbench.
I hear often that “Everyone knows that trick!” Not only is this not true, but best practices and fundamentals are becoming even more important given the number of younger IT folks involved in engineering who don’t have years of troubleshooting and transmitter experience.
Email your submissions, along with high-resolution photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Published submissions qualify for SBE recertification credit.
Audio over IP brings a lot of features to the studio. One of the best, in my opinion, is the automatic mix-minuses that can be programmed for each channel. This foolproof feature eliminates the echo, feedback and general confusion caused by a phone hybrid feeding its audio onto itself when the wrong selector button is depressed.
Engineers still working with analog consoles have to depend on console labels to ensure the “right” bus pushbuttons are selected on the hybrid fader. Bill Frahm of Cumulus in Boise, Idaho, came up with a neat solution on his analog Arrakis consoles to prevent mix-minus foul-ups.
As you can see in Fig. 3, the UTIL (utility) bus is used for the mix-minus bus. The mix-minus is the mix of all the other faders on the console, minus the telephone hybrid audio.
To achieve this, the UTIL pushbutton on the “A PHONE” fader pictured in Fig. 3 cannot be depressed. Bill removed the module and inserted a plastic tie wrap around the UTIL pushbutton switch section, preventing it from latching on that channel. The mod is seen in Fig. 4, with the Philips screwdriver pointing to it.
Most mix-minus foul-ups occur when the operator inadvertently depresses the wrong button. With Bill’s mod, operators can depress the UTIL button for that fader but it will not latch. What’s nice about this modification is the module can be restored quickly to normal operation by removing the tie wrap; but in its present form, there’s no way the operator can select that bus accidentally.
Workbench is your column. Share your ideas with fellow engineers and qualify for SBE recertification credit while you’re at it. Send tips and high-resolution photos to email@example.com. Fax to (603) 472-4944.
John Bisset has spent 48 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles western U.S. radio sales for the Telos Alliance.
The former NewBay group publisher will be responsible for overseeing NAB’s sales staff
Eric Trabb has joined the National Association of Broadcasters as senior vice president of Business Development and will be responsible for leading and managing the association’s sales team, NAB announced today.
“Eric is well-connected within the industries that NAB events and programs serve,” said Chris Brown, NAB executive vice president of Conventions and Business Operations. “His 25-plus years of experience leading national and international sales teams, combined with his proven track record in B2B sales generation around media and entertainment, will be a great asset to NAB’s business operations.”
Prior to joining NAB, Trabb was vice president of sales and group publisher for the NewBay Media Broadcast/Video Group, publisher of Broadcasting & Cable, MultiChannel News, TV Technology and Radio World. In all, he was responsible for 14 publications and their websites as well as show dailies, trade shows and events.
To contact Trabb, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-429-5382.
Brooklyn, NY (March 13, 2018): Pro Sound Effects®, the next level sound effects library company, has released European Capitals – a massive exclusive sound library featuring nearly 20 hours of surround urban ambience recordings from six major cities in Europe.
Recorded by award-winning sound designer Ken Skoglund (The Duel, Fire With Fire), with the assistance of recordists Anna Bertmark and Eric Eklund, the European Capitals library takes listeners on an authentic sonic journey through Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, London, Stockholm and Berlin. This characteristic collection of immersive atmospheres pristinely captures the essence of ordinary and iconic locations - from the Louvre museum in Paris to a small pub in Amsterdam and beyond.
“European Capitals is the most comprehensive and versatile surround city library I have ever come across,” says sound effects editor Christer Melén (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). “The library is beautifully recorded with loads and loads of useful material.”
Delivered in both 5.1 surround and stereo, each sound file in European Capitals is embedded with descriptive metadata including a photo from the exact recording location for your reference. Paint the perfect background for a scene with setting-specific sonic indicators including walla in various languages, train announcements, traffic, birdsong and more.
European Capitals Key Features:
● 412 sounds from 6 cities (145GB)
○ Berlin: 83 sounds
○ Rome: 74 sounds
○ London: 69 sounds
○ Amsterdam: 64 sounds
○ Stockholm: 62 sounds
○ Paris: 60 sounds
● Nearly 20 hours of immersive surround recordings
○ Average file length: 2 minutes 54 seconds
● Delivered in both 5.1 Surround (124GB) and Stereo (21GB) formats
● 24-bit/48kHz broadcast .wav files
● Descriptive embedded metadata
○ Includes a photo of each location
● 100% Royalty-Free
● Download or hard drive delivery
● Free Sampler available for download (2 sounds, 626MB)
PRICING AND AVAILABILITY
The European Capitals sound effects library is available now at $449 for a one-user lifetime license. Recording collections from individual cities are also available at $99 each for a one-user lifetime license. A free sampler including two WAV files selected from the library is available for immediate download at prosoundeffects.com/european-capitals.
2+ users? Contact email@example.com
JetConnect is a manager for JetLink remote audio software
Logitek Audio continues to refine its JetLink audio distribution software. According to the company, the next step is JetConnect, a software manager for JetLink.
Logitek says that the “PC application makes it easy to click and connect to other computers and includes firewall transversal so users can easily access remote computers without the inconvenience of port forwarding. With JetConnect, users set up a master account for their station/company and then assign clients to the account. Clients can have easily-identifiable names such as studio, site name or call letters.”
Once set-up, users can select which sites to use for connection by point and click rather than having to type in IP addresses or assign ports.
JetLink is a cloud-based service requiring a subscription. As a cloud service, however, users can change assignments of computers for JetLink, making the system versatile and more secure. Licenses may be managed either corporate-wide or by market.
JetLink and JetConnect are compatible with AoIP systems.
Logitek President Tag Borland said, “With JetLink and JetConnect, it’s easier than ever to manage remotes or to set up a backup STL for your station, with full fidelity audio and extremely low latency. We will soon be expanding the abilities of JetConnect even further, and are excited about the opportunities these technologies will bring to the radio market.”
NAB Show Booth: C1633