Broadcast Industry News
GV20 FM transmitter installed for use at WSRB and WPWX
Application window open until Aug. 19
The post NABLF Accepting 2021 Broadcast Leadership Training Applications appeared first on Radio World.
The NAB Leadership Foundation is preparing for the 2021 edition of its Broadcast Leadership Training program, for which it is now accepting applications.
Now in its 21st year, BLT is an executive training program for the broadcast industry designed to prepare senior-level broadcasters to advance into ownership or executive positions. This includes the fundamentals of purchasing, owning and operating radio and TV stations.
NABLF especially encourages women and people of color to apply for the program.
This iteration of BLT will be a hybrid online and in-person model because of health and safety concerns regarding COVID-19. All education sessions planned through the end of 2020 will be held online. The inaugural session is scheduled to take place Sept. 24–25. The complete schedule will be announced in early October.
“As we transition to a hybrid online and in-person model, we look forward to expanding the reach of the Broadcast Leadership Training program,” said Diane Sutter, BLT program founder and dean, as well as the founder and CEO of ShootingStar Broadcasting. “Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we cultivate the next class of diverse industry leaders and equip them with the knowledge and training to advance their careers.”
The application deadline for the 2021 BLT program is Aug. 19. For more information or to apply for the BLT program, visit the website.
The post NABLF Accepting 2021 Broadcast Leadership Training Applications appeared first on Radio World.
How can stations best educate before Election Day?
Pew Research has issued its latest findings on the lead up to the U.S. election in November. The opinions of 11,000+ polled voters may give your radio station ideas on how to create new interest and conversation with your programming.
Pew’s figures revealed that, even amid major upheavals nationally, political affiliation since 2018 for thousands of Americans remains largely unchanged. There certainly have been shifts. The largest flights were among people of color and college-educated whites. However, whatever you think of media’s approaches to the news, early indications are that coverage is primarily seen as informational. Voters still feel as they do. Such is not a bad thing. In fact, this clarity can help us ask better questions to those in our medium.
What can radio’s role be in an election year? NFCB will explore that issue in a webinar Aug. 12, but it’s a subject all of us, commercial and noncommercial, are trying to figure out.
One possibility for your election coverage is to cover tension responsibly. Ariana Pekary just posted an announcement of her departure from MSNBC that may be instructive about what to avoid. In her view, pursing particular metrics incentivized offering a platform to fringe voices, stoking divisions, and cultivating an us-versus-them ethos. Chasing ratings, she writes, was “practically baked in to the editorial process — and those decisions affect news content every day. Likewise, it’s taboo to discuss how the ratings scheme distorts content, or it’s simply taken for granted, because everyone in the commercial broadcast news industry is doing the exact same thing.”
It is highly tempting to cover the worst aspects of any side of an issue. Indeed, conflict creates excitement and interest, but it may also normalize a distorted position to represent conservatives and liberals. As Pekary points out, commercial media has to change this. It can start with radio.
Another strategy for election coverage is seeking to tackle left-right splits in your community. The GroundTruth Project interviewed two academics on this subject. Reframing questions to avoid defensiveness; and talking with people about how they think, rather than what they think are among the ideas.
And finally, perhaps your radio station can use its website or airwaves to help answer voters’ questions and correct misunderstandings and assumptions they hear from friends or read on social media and text message exchanges. Make a little time for First Draft’s Infotheque 2020 virtual conference, which was held this week and posted its sessions on YouTube. You may discover ways to help your audience by addressing disinformation and, in turn, providing them assurances that you give back to your community.
Election day is less than three months away and listeners are hungry for your station to be the main dish in their information diet. We as radio can contribute with many innovative approaches and a commitment to do more.
SoftSurface teams up with TeamViewer and ENCO WebDAD
The post User Report: Axia Helps KIOS Make Workflow Changes appeared first on Radio World.
OMAHA, Neb. — As the coronavirus pandemic began to greatly affect radio stations across the country, many were scrambling to produce and maintain program material for their media services.
KIOS in Omaha, Neb., was in a difficult situation since the radio station studios are located in an Omaha Public Schools building and the school system was being ordered to close. Did this order to close mean everyone needed to evacuate the school’s property, including the radio station?
A conference call was scheduled to discuss the issue and how we would prepare to evacuate the radio station studios. KIOS had recently completed a studio project of its four studios. This involved remodeling the studios physically, replacing some studio equipment with Telos Axia Fusion consoles from Broadcasters General Store, and upgrading the ENCO DAD studio automation system.
Three important questions had to be answered: how to remotely control the program; how to remotely access the automation and console; and how to provide real-time audio or voice tracks from a remote location. I had just addressed the same situation with WHYY in Philadelphia, as we were halfway through a studio system replacement and needed to answer the same questions.
Fortunately, using an AoIP system is the same from one facility to another, no matter the operational size. First, my equipment recommendation for controlling the audio console and automation is a utility computer to use with technical applications. One of the applications is the Axia SoftSurface software installed on the utility computer. Remote control of the console is taken care of using TeamViewer to access SoftSurface.
Next, we looked at the ENCO automation remote control. During an ENCO software upgrade to the automation system technical support normally has remote access to the system, as they did have remote access setup. We used this remote access setup to remote control the ENCO automation system.
By using this remote access operation in a different way than using TeamViewer, it provided the ability to remotely access both the console and automation with full control from the same remote location computer.
Lastly, the most difficult question to answer is the real-time audio or voice tracks. We only had the internet as our method to provide a media for real-time audio. This would require a codec, same as we use for live remote broadcasts. It would need to be either software codec from a computer or hardware with a network connection at the remote location. If multiple locations are being used, then there would need to be multiple hardware units or traded less units between remote locations.
Since we are restricting contact between one another, trading a unit between locations was not the best solution. Additionally, there is an audio timing issue between audio from the automation at the studio and the codec audio feed that is slightly delayed. This can cause a train wreck on the final program product if not watched very carefully.
Using voice tracks, the remote location needs to have either remote ENCO WebDAD automation or prerecorded audio to be dropped into the ENCO system by Dropbox (file transfer system). The prerecorded remote voice tracking option was the best choice for KIOS. They would not have to worry about the timing issues of a codec and did not have the WebDAD software option installed for ENCO.
KIOS did not fully evacuate the radio station studios, but is operating with a limited staff. Some on-air shifts are using the remote control of the Axia Fusion Console and ENCO automation with prerecorded voice tracks as described. This remote operation will continue until further notice.
I appreciate being involved with KIOS preparing and executing the remote broadcast operation and the team of people involved: General Manager Ken Dudzik, Program Director Todd Hatton, Local Host, “All Things Considered,” Michael Hogan, former Chief Engineer Richard Dennis and current Chief Engineer Chuck Ramold.
Radio World User Reports are testimonial articles intended to help readers understand why a colleague chose a particular product to solve a technical situation.
For information, contact Cam Eicher at Axia Systems/The Telos Alliance in Ohio at 1-216-241-7225 or visit www.telosalliance.com.
The post User Report: Axia Helps KIOS Make Workflow Changes appeared first on Radio World.
Here's what it looks like inside
Here’s a peek inside new studios of CV Radio in Valencia, Spain.
Manufacturer AEQ shared photos and details about this turnkey project.
There are three studio rooms. Main control is equipped with a digital modular AEQ Forum mixer with 12 faders on the desk, while an AEQ Capitol IP compact digital mixer was installed in the “self-control” studio. Studios connect with AoIP using Dante.
“All studios are interconnected together by means of a Gigabit Ethernet network carrying the Audio over IP,” AEQ wrote in a project summary.
“Forum sends and receives 32 audio signals. Capitol IP manages 16 channels. Two PCs running AudioPlus radio automation software are also part of the audio network. This way, all multi-pair wiring between studios is eliminated while flexibility is drastically enhanced.”
Each studio can record and broadcast at the same time, although usually the self-control studio is for recording while main control is used for broadcasting.
In both cases, the AEQ mixers allow routing of a particular signal over a dedicated path in order to send the on-air program signal. Thus the signal provided by AEQ AudioPlus automation system can be sent on-air, and the two studios are released for recording tasks while a playout list is being broadcast.
An exterior rack holds AudioPlus servers, Venus IP audiocodec, Ethernet switches and radio links to send the program signal to its transmission center.
Content is managed by the AudioPlus automation system, and a continuity system records audio channels 24 hours a day, from which excerpts can be extracted. An AEQ Phoenix Venus codec in the studio pairs with an AEQ Alio codec in an OB van for remote work.
The project was lead by Bernardo Saiz, AEQ’s sales area manager for the Valencian community, in coordination with CV Radio technical services.
Send news and photos of projects to Radio World at [email protected].
Pittman: “The challenges that we have faced due to COVID-19 were unprecedented …”
It’s not surprising these days when a major media group reports sour Q2 results, but iHeartMedia’s financial announcement on Thursday was still eye-popping.
The largest radio broadcast group in the United Sates put an exclamation point on exactly how disastrous the COVID-19 pandemic has been for radio broadcasters by posting a 47% decline in revenue for the period from April–June 2020 compared to a year ago.
“The challenges that we have faced due to COVID-19 were unprecedented and had a severe, negative impact on our revenue in the second quarter,” said Bob Pittman, chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia.
iHeartMedia’s second quarter reveal on Thursday didn’t come as much of a surprise to radio observers. Other major radio groups have been reporting very poor Q2 numbers due to the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, but now we can see just how steep those revenue declines were earlier this year.
The company saw revenue drop by 50% in April and 49% in May compared to one year ago, according to iHeartMedia’s financial report. Overall revenue was $488 million for the second quarter.
“[iHeartMedia] revenue suffered with a big drop in April, but it’s been showing improvement in each successive month, including the just closed July. It’s still too early to predict the slope of the recovery with any certainty,” Pittman said on Thursday.
Broadcast revenue suffered the biggest fall at iHeartMedia in Q2, dropping 57% to $244 million compared to $561 million in 2019. In contrast to broadcast, the company’s radio networks were down 38.4%; smart audio down 28%; and digital up 2.4%, mostly driven by podcasting, which was up 103%, Pittman reported.
iHeartMedia has taken steps to cut expenses to help navigate the financial impact of the pandemic. “Corporate expenses decreased 36.1% during the second quarter compared to the prior year quarter as a result of lower employee compensation, including variable incentive expenses and employee benefits resulting from expense reduction initiatives,” according to the company.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused iHeartMedia to reexamine its real estate holdings going forward, and that includes iHeartMedia.
“We are taking a step back…looking at our organization, looking at things like real estate, which is a significant cost in this company,” said Rich Bressler, president and COO for iHeartMedia. “We continue to focus on maximizing liquidity and strengthening our capital structure during this period of uncertainty.”
iHeartMedia’s well publicized modernization efforts announced earlier this year are helping the bottom line, according to Bressler. “These initiatives remain on-track to deliver the expected $250 million of expense savings in 2020. We expect our modernization initiatives to deliver $100 million of annualized run rate savings by mid-2021. In addition to those savings, we are continuing to evaluate our cost structure to identify efficiencies.
“Our areas of focus will include continued optimization of our real estate footprint and the adoption of technology solutions that will drive increased efficiency and effectiveness in our operations,” Bressler said.
In response to a question from Sebastiano Petti, an equity research analyst at JP Morgan Chase and Co., Pittman on Thursday was blunt about squeezing additional savings out of new work from home strategies that have emerged during the pandemic.
“I will tell you I was not a fan of a work-from-home company at all, but I’ve realized that there are some people in our company who can work as productively or more productively from home, and it has very beneficial financial impacts for us. So we’re examining everything. And again, it’s been one giant experiment,” Pittman said.
Digital advertising can unlock competitive success for radio station
The author is senior vice president for product development at Marketron.
Is there any doubt that radio is the best and most cost-effective reach medium ever created? For many decades, radio broadcasters have made a can’t-miss pitch to advertisers: although they are focused on one primary tactic (the linear broadcast), it is a highly differentiated, high-value product with great reach in a given geography. Most radio stations can point to a long and proven track record of highly successful results, with close ties to the communities and loyal audiences they serve.
But the radio business is facing significant and pressing challenges. As consumer behavior has evolved, today’s advertisers have had to adopt new strategies for reaching potential buyers. That means interacting with consumers wherever, whenever, and however they consume media, from traditional broadcasting to the full range of digital platforms. In order to offer a competitive advertising product in this highly complex market, radio organizations of all sizes are under pressure to augment their traditional broadcast advertising programs with a healthy mix of digital advertising product (both O&O and third-party).
If managed well, this digital transformation offers a powerful growth opportunity for broadcasters. By some estimates, the digital advertising marketplace is at least seven times larger than the traditional radio market. As a company with a large installed base in the radio community, Marketron has seen even smaller broadcasters who aggressively pursue digital advertising add at least 10% to the top line of their businesses within the first year. And some of them have added 20–30% in additional revenues.
The Changing Market
There’s no question that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the radio business. We hope and expect the market to begin recovering in the second half of 2020, but radio revenues were already flat or even in slight decline prior to the pandemic. Two big reasons are the growth of the digital advertising market and the strong competition now posed by ad agencies.
In past decades, agencies were complementary partners to broadcasters — aggregating advertising across radio, television, and print and offering another market channel and services radio stations weren’t able to provide, such as creative. Fast forward to today, when agencies can now create highly integrated campaigns, targeted to specific objectives and employing a blizzard of different tactics: radio/TV/cable, print, OTT/CTV, internet display ads, video, search engine marketing, social media, outdoor advertising. Not only are these campaigns more measurable and targeted than traditional radio ads, but agencies can also offer creative development and metrics reporting.
The good news is that an effective digital transformation can enable radio stations to become effective competitors to agencies by maintaining ownership and control of client relationships, pricing, differentiation and targeting.
Making the Digital Transformation: Key Steps
Given those challenges and emerging new opportunities, growing numbers of radio broadcasters are taking the plunge and expanding into the digital advertising realm. But what are the best approaches, and how do you begin?
Most broadcasters already have a baseline of digital products in their mix, which they can use as the starting point to evolve their operation and develop new digital opportunities while continuing to maintain on-air products. That balancing act requires a carefully thought-out gameplan that addresses the following steps:
- Vision. Create a vision and prepare for change in order to engage employees effectively and set the company up for success and future growth. As we’ve said, this requires a full organizational commitment from the top levels of leadership down through each level of the organization. Everyone must be fully committed to embedding digital advertising into the fabric of the business.
- Design. Create your digital product suite. Although many radio stations are currently selling digital advertising on their O&O properties (e.g. display ads on the station’s website or social media channels), the ideal digital inventory should be a mix of O&O product and third-party advertising. These are ad products that appear on third-party platforms; e.g. paid social media ads, video pre-, post-, and mid-roll ads on OTT and CTV platforms.
- Opportunity. Build an internal organization designed for success. This includes an incentive and compensation structure that takes into account the expanded world of digital advertising, as well as the appropriate new hires and skill sets.
- Services. Create a business infrastructure with a consolidated set of technical services for creating a proposal, generating an order, invoicing, generating campaign reports, and facilitating renewals. All of these services should integrate seamlessly with your back-office system.
For many broadcasters, expanding into the digital advertising realm might seem like a daunting task, and of course there are some significant challenges involved. However, the digital transformation reward is worth the journey, paying off in the powerful new growth opportunities that a carefully crafted mix of radio and digital inventory will deliver.
Not so far into the future, we see a world in which many radio broadcasters have made a successful leap to digital — so successful, in fact, that they can position themselves as specialty agencies with a highly differentiated product. A radio station can offer something the agency down the street can’t: a highly successful linear channel, offering a powerful public service to listeners with well-established relationships in the community.
With a sophisticated product offering and thoughtfully structured internal operations, stations will be able to charge a premium for a multichannel campaign that uniquely meets the key objectives of the campaign. The net-net: local broadcasters will be able to position themselves as a single source for highly integrated and effective campaigns that meet and exceed all of their advertisers’ objectives.
Also, here’s an industrial and business surface sterilizer (if you can get your hands on one)
The post Workbench: A Good-Looking Weld Is Not Always a Good Weld appeared first on Radio World.
Broadcast contract engineer Tim Walker wrote in to say how much he enjoyed reading solutions to problems from engineers in the field in past Workbench columns. It’s reassuring to see the display of engineering talent visible in the pages of Workbench.
Tim shares an experience with a Collins/Continental “Power Rock” 5 kW AM transmitter. This is a pulse-width-modulated transmitter that, in Tim’s case, was intermittently losing modulation of the RF envelope.
The culprit turned out to be a broken connection to the grid of the triode switch modulator tube (Fig. 1).
The soldered connection appears solid but was in fact broken, making intermittent contact with the grid ring as the temperature fluctuated and it vibrated from the high volume of cooling air through the tube compartment.
When Tim finally identified the problem, he was reminded of the welder’s adage: “A good-looking weld is not always a good weld, but a good weld always looks good.” The same applies to electrical connections, so take nothing for granted when tracking down intermittent problems.
Early in my career, I was working with a consulting engineer, brought in by the station to try to determine why the transmitter would occasionally shut down, while the directional parameters went nuts.
The consultant and I walked to every tower. Using a long wooden broomstick, he rapped components in the base antenna tuning units, followed by a good rap to the coiled copper tube feedline to each tower. The station chief monitored operation and communicated the status over a two-way.
On the third tower, when the consultant whacked the copper feed tube, it broke right off the tower! The weld “looked” OK, but a good-looking weld is not always a good weld.
Connections need to be secure. This is especially true in older AM arrays.
Tip: Don’t Touch!
Projects engineer Dan Slentz and I were remembering the days of the big 50 kW transmitters, and the way the coils would “sing” with the modulating signal. You could actually hear the demodulated signal singing inside the transmitter, as well as in the tuning units at the tower base.
Dan found a memorable video on Reddit to share these memories with Workbench readers.
This would be a good video to post for your entire staff to watch. Hearing the advertisement’s phone number as the battery cable is arcing across the tower base is nothing short of amazing to someone who hasn’t experienced it.
The fact that you “work” on this stuff as a broadcast engineer should amaze your staff as well. Show it to them! Just another day in the life of a broadcast engineer.
Tip: UV sterilizer
Griffin Communications’ Radio Engineering Director Brett Gilbert, researching a simple way to decontaminate surfaces, found an interesting product from CureUV.
The company specializes in ultraviolet light sources that sterilize surfaces. One particular model that looks promising is the GermAwayUV Premier 35 Watt Handheld UVC Surface Sterilizer.
This handheld device is about the size of a cigar box and is supplied with a 6-foot AC cord. It is smaller than CureUV’s other industrial sterilizers and is priced at under $400 list. The device will effectively decontaminate surfaces from viruses, bacteria and molds.
It provides a quick and easy way of sanitizing surfaces, as you plug it in and slowly pass the lamp over the surface to be sanitized. The bulb lasts up to 10,000 hours (about 1 year). In addition to the UV-C emitting bulb, brightened reflectors enhance the accuracy by up to 30%.
UV-C light is ultraviolet, in the C spectrum, and is especially efficient at destroying harmful microorganisms. In addition to being effective against a range of viruses, the UV-C light can be used to remediate mold, quickly killing mold spores.
UV-C light has a range of applications both residential and industrial. It’s used in food preparation settings to reduce contamination, as well as in hospitals, clinics and veterinarian offices to sanitize surfaces. The company offers a caution that Ultraviolet UV-C light is harmful to your eyes and skin, and users should never look directly at the bulb. The company recommends the use of safety glasses that can be ordered with the device.
But how do you know it’s working? As I read the description, that was my first question; I wondered whether this was snake oil.
The company acknowledges that this is a natural question, since disinfection is happening at a microscopic level. It includes a set of UV-C Visualizer Strips along with all GermAwayUV Surface Disinfection products. You place the UV-C Visualizer card on the surface you wish to disinfect and run the handheld sterilizer over it. The yellow strip on the card will change from a bright yellow to a light green.
Exposing the surface to the UV-C light until the strip turns green will ensure the surface has been treated properly, the company says. If there is no color change, you have to slow the rate at which you move the handheld sanitizer across the surface, or move the sanitizer closer to the surface.
The website was citing a shipping delay of eight to nine weeks at this writing. If you or your station invests in this device, please drop me a line to tell readers how it works out.
John Bisset has spent over 50 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles western U.S. radio sales for the Telos Alliance. He holds CPBE certification with the Society of Broadcast Engineers and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.
The post Workbench: A Good-Looking Weld Is Not Always a Good Weld appeared first on Radio World.
Except for WWVB there really isn’t a great need for HF time signals anymore
While I agree with most of the points raised by the author of “Why WWV and WWVH Still Matter,” as an engineer I’ve long abandoned zero beating WWV to calibrate local frequency references.
In fact I owned a WWVB comparator, basically a loop antenna and TRS receiver tuned to 60 kHz that permitted fairly precise calibration but took many minutes to center the reading due to the typical path instability of radio waves, even using the ground wave, which is only useful in daylight hours.
At night WWVB is unusable for frequency/phase measurements due to skywave propagation but is the best time for those so called atomic clocks to calibrate to the slow time code repeated once a minute on a daily basis.
So, how do I calibrate the frequency references of my frequency counters and spectrum analyzer used for broadcast engineering? The answer is GPS.
The line-of-sight microwave band signals provide much less jitter, especially when more than one SV is used for a timing solution. You can buy GPS timing receivers on eBay and elsewhere for under $100. Add a cheap patch antenna or a quality outdoor antenna and you’re good to go.
You’ll get both data for time of day and a precision 10 MHz reference signal you can lock to a synthesized RF signal generator to dial in any frequency precisely. And just in case a GPS signal is for some reason not available I have an old Rubidium Atomic Oscillator on hand, also quite inexpensive second or third hand.
So, ultimately as nice as WWV is to have around, except for WWVB there really isn’t a great need for HF time signals anymore.
The author is chief engineer of Monadnock Broadcasting Group in Keene, N.H.
Led RF Specialties of Texas after years with Harris Broadcast
Dan Sessler, who owned and led RF Specialties of Texas, has died. He was 74.
News of his passing was circulated by the broadcast equipment supplier and by the Texas Association of Broadcasters.
The RF Specialties Group is an alliance of independent broadcast suppliers. RF Specialties of Texas serves a six-state region, according to the group’s website.
Dan Sessler studied electrical engineering at Mountain State University; and his first radio engineering job was in West Virginia. He went into station ownership and helped build a local public TV station in Beckley, W.Va.
He was a district sales manager for Harris Corp.’s broadcast division from 1988 to 2010, according to his LinkedIn page.
Sessler acquired the Texas operation from Don Jones in 2010, as RW reported at the time.
“TAB named Sessler Associate of the Year in 2017 for his many years of service to Texas Radio and TV stations, as well as his vital contributions to the TAB Convention & Trade Show,” the Texas association wrote on its website.
“Dan Sessler was a mentor and friend to hundreds of Texas broadcasters,” said TAB President Oscar Rodriguez. “His standards of service were a model to all. And his passion for the industry was reflected in his personal commitment to organizations like TAB where he helped us build the annual TAB Show into the great success it is.
SBE Chapter 56 Chairman Don Dobbs also noted Sessler’s passing. “I have know Dan for many years having purchased transmitters and microwave equipment,” he wrote to Radio World. “He was always supportive of the local SBE chapters, buying ads on our website and taking us out for annual holiday dinners.”
More information about Sessler’s life is in this obituary. It reports that his interests included flying, scuba diving, photography, amateur radio and history; he also had an interest in politics, having served on the local city council. It said that a private graveside service was planned with his immediate family.
Radio is Africa’s most accessible and used information source
Radio is Africa’s most accessible, influential and used information outlet, according to a recent survey by United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization. Several radio stations in Africa have more than a million listeners each. An even more interesting phenomenon that is becoming a part of editorial policy for many radio stations is to engage young people as presenters, content creators and other important aspects of programming.
Radio is a wonderful way to interact, learn and communicate. There is a need to keep radio vibrant and active. Most importantly, it is important to engage young producers, presenters and reporters.
As the world celebrates International Youth Day, Aug. 12, with calls for youth engagement for global action, it is important to look at some of the young Africans who have taken radio industry by a storm.
Natalie Githinji is a presenter at NRG Radio, a youth-targeted station in Kenya. At only 23, Natalie, who is also an actress and content creator, hosts one of the most popular breakfast shows in Kenya — “NRG Breakfast Club.” It has a large audience among the youth.
“Young people love listening to the show because they see me as one of their own and they are able to express themselves on touchy subjects which affect them, while feeling protected” Natalie said
“I always share my stories on air, and many of them are able to relate, get inspired and open up,” she added.
According to Natalie, radio stations in Africa need to engage more youth to give them a platform to showcase their talent and connect with young people who really need representatives and people they can relate with at stations.
Also, she believes that young people need more coaching and mentorship, and opportunities to understand, learn about radio and digital management to be prepared and become better presenters. Most important, Natalie is encouraging radio stations to appreciate and drive the content that youth relate to.
In Botswana, Yandile Nuku is proving that the airwaves are just as important now, as ever. The young radio host uses the platform to improve access to business opportunities.
Through her weekly show, “Venture In” that airs on Duma FM in Botswana, Yandile helps young people to make sense and have better understanding of the business world. Yandile who has immense confidence in young Africans has managed to connect students to markets and different industries.
“Young people, are unchartered territory yet to be explored, diamonds in the rough yet to be discovered, the deal breakers yet to be processed and products yet to be sold,” she said.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is becoming more youthful — youth as a proportion of the total is estimated to be above 75%. With almost 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, Africa has the youngest population in the world. And it keeps growing rapidly. To realize a demographic dividend, there is need to invest and tap into the potential, creativity and energy of young people.
It is encouraging to see young people joining radio and demonstrating their talents.
Josephine Namakau Pumulo is the co-founder and communication lead at Agents of Change Foundation in Zambia. She uses radio to connect with and impact communities.
“As a child, I always wanted to be a journalist to share about many issues in the society, and to speak for the marginalized,” she shared.
Agents of Change uses radio as a tool to communicate issues that are relevant to young people. Currently, the organization is producing radio shows on different topics including climate change, eye health and reproductive health and rights.
Also, Pumulo is developing production guides for the agency’s young reporters and preparing them for the shows.
“We want our young people to appreciate that being on radio means a certain level of responsibility,” Pumulo said. “That is why we ensure that the content relayed to the public is verified and well researched.”
Joseph Mulekwa is one of the beneficiary of Agents of Change program. Joseph became a reporter and presenter at age 15. He was trained together with other 40 young people across Zambia in radio production and broadcasting.
Now, Joseph runs the “Voice Radio Show” on Pan African Radio 96.1 FM. Young people appreciate his show because of the impact. The show has given listeners an opportunity to hold leaders accountable.
“I feel so good to be a young radio presenter and it has given me an opportunity to engage with civic leaders, policy makers and local authority … and it has helped me to act as a gatekeeper between my community and our leaders,” he said.
All his shows are live and call-in programs. This he says allows him to engage with listeners and get feedback on how best to deliver the show and discuss issues.
In the show young people do the program together with the presenter. The show is a conversation where young people raise questions, give their opinions, suggestions and demand solutions. Their conversation is always about concerns and possible solutions to issues that they care about.
“Things are changing and the world is changing too. Young people are vibrant and have more creative ideas on how to engage with other fellow young people. More radio stations should engage more young people because we understand things that affect us in our community because we are the ones on the ground,” he added.
According to Mulekwa, mentorship and support to young presenters is critical for success. He is urging more organizations to trust and support radio broadcasting for, with and by young people.
“For example here in Zambia, we only have two organizations that cater to about 70% of young people in the country … If we had more organizations that are youth-driven and speak to youth broadcast, we can have more young people becoming radio presenters,” he said.
James Smart, a renowned journalist in Africa and former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, agrees on the important need for support to young people to enable them to join radio industry.
Most importantly, he advises young people interested in radio, to build their craft, learn how to present, engage audiences and connect. He urges young people not to be afraid and to try new things, create a broadcast identity.
“Create your own style and identity, copying other sounds and style is OK but please bring your personality to the job. We are suffering with radio voices because people went in and became a clone of someone they admired. Let’s inject some freshness into the business,” he said.
It’s safe to say that more young people, not less will be the new normal in the changing radio landscape — radio for youth, radio with youth and radio by youth.
Raphael Obonyo is a public policy analyst. He has served as a consultant with the United Nations and the World Bank. Also, he’s a writer and widely published in Africa and beyond. An alumnus of Duke University, he has authored and co-authored numerous books, including “Conversations about the Youth in Kenya.” Obonyo is a TEDx fellow and has won various awards.
Association president and CEO is stable and alert at hospital, per NAB
The post NAB’s Gordon Smith Suffers Stroke, Responding Well appeared first on Radio World.
Gordon Smith, the National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO, suffered a stroke on Wednesday, Aug. 5, and was admitted to a hospital, according to a statement from the NAB.
“He is responding well to treatment, is stable and alert, and is resting comfortably,” the NAB shared in its statement. “His prognosis is good, and he is expected to make a full recovery.”
Smith, a former two-term Senator from Oregon, has been leading the NAB since September of 2009.
The post NAB’s Gordon Smith Suffers Stroke, Responding Well appeared first on Radio World.
Alan Hughes responds to Dan Slentz’s musings
The author comments here after reading the commentary “What Can ATSC 3.0 Teach Radio” by Dan Slentz.
Over-the-air TV, like broadcast radio, is the cheapest and fastest way to communicate to large audiences. These are one-way communication systems where the whole audience gets the same thing simultaneously.
It is possible to separate parts of the audience using the Alternate Frequency System available in DRM and DAB+ digital radio, which can specify areas as small as 7 x 7 kilometers (4.35 miles x 4.35 miles). It requires GPS to be automatic from the user’s perspective, but it won’t work indoors since the needed satellite GPS reception is blocked.
Since broadcasting and OTA are one-way systems, how and where are the data to make appropriate individualized advertising to be gathered? Smart TV’s microphones and cameras? Existing smart speakers provide data, which could be sold, which will enable control like cable TV companies have had.
Is the broadcast industry ready for the privacy issues of having microphones and cameras always on while watching TV?
Dan Slentz in “What Can ATSC 3.0 Teach Radio?” suggests using the MAC address. Consider the data requirements to send for an audience of a million TVs and sending the different content data as well as the 48-bit MAC address a million times. How long would that take? The remaining available data rate available in HD Radio once the sound data has been used is tiny for additional content such as unique addressing and its unique information.
After 20 years, ATSC 3.0 is finally an admission that COFDM modulation, which is used in all other digital TV systems outside of North America and South Korea, is much better than ATSC 1.0. COFDM can reject reflected signals (in the analog days these were called ghosts). The extensive use of outdoor TV antennas has kept broadcast TV popular as it is free to the user and the signal reliably is good.
ATSC 1.0 uses MPEG2 compression, the least efficient system; and in much of the rest of the world MPEG4 compression is used, which halves the data rate, allowing for more HD programming. Now ATSC3.0 is capable of Ultra High Definition because of the latest compression, which halves the data rate again. However, UHD requires more data for the extra sharp images.
I agree that having more channels from the same transmitter does not necessarily improve profits. In Australia all TV stations transmit two high-definition programs and three standard-definition programs. The SD programs are generally old reruns, cheap programming or advertorials that the advertisers pay the broadcaster to transmit. These programs generally get much lower ratings.
The problem with FM zoning is that the translators are located in areas where the main signal is poor, not where a particular audience type lives. DRM and DAB+ use the Alternate Frequency System which can specify the four-corner GPS co-ordinates of a rectangle as small as 7 x 7 kilometers and send the data to that area. It is not part of the HD Radio specification.
Advertising the presence of the steakhouse down the road is already being done by Google via cellphones and smart speakers.
The reason the cable companies became dominant in TV was because of the selection of “Never Twice the Same Color” (i.e., NTSC analog TV) and later ATSC 1.0, which with the use of indoor antennas shows the wrong hues, ghosts and, in ATSC, unreliable reception.
ATSC 3.0 can broadcast up to 57,000 kbps. It is difficult to have new innovations with HD Radio because the highest bitrate is only 96 kbps, and nearly all of this is required to get reasonable sound quality or for additional, poor sound-quality, subchannels. For AM HD Radio the number is either 20 or 40 kbps.
In HD Radio, you need to use the primary and secondary signals. In all-digital HD FM, the secondary digital signal is radiated at 1% of the main signal power, which makes the reliable digital coverage area much smaller than analog. By comparison DRM can have up to 186 kbps and all digital signals are of the same power which is not limited by interference to and from adjacent channel broadcasters including your own.
The author is a broadcast technical author from Australia and has spent a lifetime in training technicians. Radio World welcomes opinion and points of view on important radio broadcast industry issues.
[Also by this author:“A Better Way to Revitalize U.S. Radio”]
A conversation with Jesus Vazquez Miguel
Winmedia nominated its winSales system. We asked Jesus Vazquez Miguel, international sales manager, for more information.
Radio World: What is winSales and what is its targeted application?
Jesus Vazquez Miguel: WinSales facilitates advertising management for radio, TV and advertising agencies.
Fully integrated with the winMedia playout system, WinSales can also easily be interfaced with most playout systems currently in the market. Therefore it is a major asset for sales and financial teams as well as a very powerful monitor tool for management, to follow the evolution of the turnover or the invoicing cycle of the different projects.
WinSales is intuitive. It makes it possible to respond in real time to market issues. It includes a calendar of events to anticipate and create special offers. The sales manager can organize suitable and targeted advertising offers.
RW: What sets it apart from similar offerings in its product class?
Vazquez Miguel: WinSales is the only product in its range that is able to send the content scheduled within the platform directly into the dedicated slots of the playout system.
In other words, when an advertising campaign is booked in winSales, in one click, it can be sent into the playlist of the automation system.
Lastly, winSales bridges the gap between the sales and production. The customer can provide the media corresponding to his campaign. In that case, the audio or video file will automatically be inserted in the playlist. If the media is not provided at this stage of the booking, the playout will generate a production sheet in which the audio will have to be added.
RW: What are the benefits of a “secured extranet”?
Vazquez Miguel: The WinSales offers a secured connection to the main server, an end-to-end encrypted connection, but also cloud data backup on multiple servers.
RW: In light of the pandemic, what kind of remote capabilities does it offer?
Vazquez Miguel: In these unprecedented times, we really have to work on improving the ability of our customers to go through their whole day-to-day workflows without being able to access their workspaces.
When we designed winSales years ago, we already had in mind that people’s ways of working were changing, and this is even more important when it comes to the various roles within the advertising space.
WinSales is a web-based platform; therefore, it can be used remotely from any type of device, from a computer, to a tablet or a smartphone in its responsive version, while offering the exact same capabilities as what a salesperson will get from being at his office.
For instance, he would have an extensive access to his sales catalog — advertising spots, sponsorship, events, packages, promotions, digital and social networks — and would be able to give availabilities and rates to his client in real time
RW: What does it cost?
Vazquez Miguel: The system starts from $300 (U.S.) per month.
RW: What else should we know about winSales or winMedia’s business these days?
Vazquez Miguel: In the era of uberization, winSales is fundamentaly the intermediary between the broadcasters and the advertisers, and provides a range of solutions in order to remove the stress and the admin on their daily basic workflows.
More than a website, winSales is a true market place where advertisers can simply upload the different products that are part of their catalog throughout the year, and where broadcasters can compose their campaigns as simply as by putting the different type of products they need in their baskets.
WinMedia is more than ever improving its products by transforming them to respond to the major need the world is facing at the moment: being able to work efficiently and deliver from anywhere. As a result, we offering more web-based and user-friendly interfaces, easy-to-set-up packages and a full offer of remote presentations.
[Read about all the nominees and winners in the award program guide.]
A Q&A with station advisor David Price
Founded as a teachers’ college in the 1860s, Truman State University has evolved into “Missouri’s only public liberal arts and sciences institution.” And radio and media play a role in that mission.
Radio World contacted David C. Price, Ph.D., to learn more about the vibe around the station right now, part of our ongoing coverage of issues facing college and educational media.
Price is associate professor of communication and advisor to KTRM(FM), KKTR(FM) and TMN(TV).
Radio World: Describe the media programs and operations there.
David Price: The Department of Communication at Truman State University sponsors five media outlets, along with the digital/social media associated with these outlets: a campus newspaper, “The Index”; an online magazine, “Detours”; a television studio, TMN-TV; an NPR-affiliate station, KKTR 89.7 FM, which re-airs programming from KBIA out of the University of Missouri in Columbia; and a student-run radio station, KTRM 88.7 FM.
RW: Tell us more about that.
Price: KTRM is a student-run eclectic station. Students who want on-air experience are given one-hour shifts and are allowed to select their own formats.
We have approximately 75 to 100 students participating, with the vast majority doing on-air programs. In between shifts and when classes are not in session, the station airs adult CHR on the Simian automation platform from BSI.
The station describes itself as playing “genre spanning alternative and underrepresented music,” emphasizing independently produced music and music from smaller record labels.
KTRM is a Class A non-commercial station running 3,500 watts. KKTR is also a Class A noncommercial station running 3,500 watts.
KTRM has one air studio with a three-microphone set up for interviews, a back-up studio production room and two editing suites equipped with Adobe Audition and Adobe Premiere Pro.
The station is entirely student run, with a support staff of faculty advisors and an engineer; a secretary is available for purchasing and bookkeeping. Only the engineer, Norm White, works full-time supporting the radio and television outlets. The faculty advisor is given one quarter released teaching load and handles the required FCC documentation. (There are two faculty advisors at this time, one for radio and television, the other for newspaper and magazine.)
The mission of the station is educational — though we have to remind students of that frequently. There is some integration with the curriculum, but it is indirect so as to maintain the editorial and management independence of the media outlets.
RW: Other media facilities on campus?
Price: The campus public relations office has a videographer and photographer on staff and are actively producing print, social media and video productions. We do share some equipment with them when needed.
The sports information area in the athletics department has video and audio production staff and equipment, though the live game productions are done by a contracted professional radio station.
The campus library has an audio/video production room for students who wish to self-produce content.
RW: How has the pandemic affected operations of the radio station?
Price: Our students were on spring break when we were told operations were to cease. The radio station has been playing Simian nonstop since then.
The faculty advisor kept the station running (since students were not allowed on campus) by adding an externally produced weekly public affairs program and monitoring the equipment.
When students return to campus, they will once again be responsible for the public affairs programming. Under the student station manager, some content has been created, emailed to the faculty advisor who then uploaded it to the log by the faculty advisor. Students have also updated the playlist, which was emailed to the faculty advisor, who then uploaded the new songs and added them to the log. The student station manager decided to feature only Black artists in June to support the Black Lives Matter messaging.
The student station manager and an assistant were permitted to enter the studio to create the new playlist and upload related content. That was the only time students were in the station from March 6 to the end of July.
Students were allowed back into the studio beginning Aug. 3; the station manager and one staffer came in on Monday to being preparations for fall semester.
As of now, the student body is expected to return to campus Aug. 12, and the station is expecting to have student broadcasters on-air at that time to resume control of daily operations, including all the public affairs programming, content creation, uploading, modifying logs, and other management tasks.
During the last two months we have been actively discussing how to maintain a safe workspace when we have 75 to 100 students coming in and out the studio and changing personnel every hour. The student station manager has been involved in these discussions.
We struggle with developing cleaning protocols, especially with microphones and audio boards. We have requested, but not yet received, Plexiglas dividers to separate student work areas and alcohol-based cleaning supplies. We purchased microphone covers, though we are uncertain how effective they will be.
RW: For the educational year ahead, what are the priorities of the station or your broader programs?
Price: Our top priority has to be protecting the health of the students. We will repeatedly tell students that the concept of “the show must go on” is no longer true. We have the Simian backup so if a student doesn’t feel safe or doesn’t feel healthy they are not punished in any way for not being there for a show. This is true of all of our media outlets.
We are planning for students to return to the studio as in the past. However, our student station manager is encouraging and welcoming offsite productions, where students can prerecord segments or shows at home and submit them for loading into Simian. We hope this option decreases the number of bodies going in and out of the studio, but still keeps students involved.
RW: You mentioned the Simian system. Describe the rest of the air chain.
Price: The air studio has an Audioarts D75 digital audio console with Electro-Voice RE20 mics; a DaySequerra M2 HD Radio Modulation Monitor; Sage Digital Endec; Symetrix AirTools 6100 Broadcast Audio Delay; and Rane HC6S Headphone Console.
We also have three Denon DN-C635 Compact Disc/MP3 Players; a Technics SL-1200MK2 turntable; a JK Audio Broadcast Host Digital Hybrid; Samson Servo 200 Amplifier; Symetrix 581 Distribution Amplifier; and Dell Optiplex 7020 computer with two monitors. We expect students to supply their own headphones for health/sanitary reasons.
The backup/production studio has an Audioarts R55e On-Air Console with Electro-Voice RE20 mics and Dell Optiplex 7020 computer with two monitors. For field productions we’re using a Comrex Access IP codec.
The transmitter is on campus here in Kirksville, about a half-mile SSE from the studio. The STL microwave link is a Moseley SL9003Q. The RF chain at the transmitter site includes a Harris HD transmitter with an Orban audio processor; and the antenna is an ERI LPX-4E.
RW: How would you characterize the feelings of students these days about careers in radio and in media more broadly?
Price: Our campus is located in a relatively rural part of the state, and I see more interest in time-shifting audio (podcasting) than in live broadcast. We don’t have a commuting audience, for the most part, so dayparts are less significant.
In my teaching, I pitch the value of local content that print can’t and doesn’t do as well — particularly sports and weather broadcasting. We regularly broadcast Truman athletics (even though there is a professional station also broadcasting the games).
Our radio students are also big into community engagement, sponsoring live music performances on campus or in community venues, which draw large audiences.
RW: Anything else we should know?
Price: Although the pandemic has disrupted operations, the bigger threat to student media is the continuous budget cutting coming from legislators and the governor of the state. As they cut funds for higher education, the cuts are passed down to our operations also.
We fear that if a major piece of equipment were to fail we would not be able to find the money to replace it. Some of our technology is aging, and our engineer has done his best to keep it going, but there are weak links in the production chains that could be big-budget problems.
Local broadcaster honors its late owner with a stunning on-site radio gallery
Many successful career people are grateful for mentoring they received on the way to the top. But few have honored a memory as passionately as has Beth Mann.
Ham Broadcasting is all about local. It owns five stations and markets itself as “western Kentucky’s leader in marketing and promoting all types of businesses.” It tells advertisers on its website, “We use a unique and powerful combination of radio and new media platforms to grow all types and sizes of businesses and organizations. We are 100% locally owned, 100% locally operated, 100% locally oriented and 100% locally committed to help you grow your business.”
Mann, its owner and general manager, wanted to commemorate the contributions of her predecessor D.J. Everett III. She did so by creating a Radio Room named for him at the WKDZ/WHVO studios in Cadiz, Ky. It opened to the public last October during the station’s 10th annual Pink Out fundraiser for breast cancer research.
Everett worked as a broadcast journalist and TV general manager, as well as a radio owner. He was inducted into the University of Kentucky’s Journalism Hall of Fame in 2012. He died in 2015 at the age of 67. “Under his leadership, WKDZ was recognized numerous times as one of the best radio stations in the U.S. in its market size,” according to the Times Leader newspaper in Princeton, Ky.. “Everett was also known for his civic engagement and community involvement.”
This Radio Room is a gallery and meeting space also dedicated to the physical history of radio in Cadiz locally and in the United States.
Among its highlights are an extensive, beautifully staged collection of antique radio receivers behind glass walls; the Legends Room, a replica 1966 radio production studio; and a public meeting space in the center of the facility.
The D.J. Everett III Radio Room covers 1,850 square feet, entered through a pair of custom-made doors adorned with door handles styled after the RCA 77-DX microphone.
“I started working with D.J. Everett when I was 17 years old, first in television and then in radio here at Ham Broadcasting,” said Mann. “D.J. was a father and mentor to me, and when he passed away in 2015, he left me a number of vintage radios. I took over the company at that time — it had been part of his long-term plan for me to do so — and I wanted to find a way to honor his memory and showcase his collection. The D.J. Everett III Radio Room grew out of that.”
An Inspired Radio Collection
The radios in the room cover from the earliest days of the medium up to the 1960s. Included in the displays are a 1919 Commerce Radiophone crystal set: a 1923 Atwater Kent “breadboard set,” so-called because the components are laid out on a flat piece of polished wood with no protective case; and a wonderful selection of 1930s-era “tombstone” and floor console radios from the Golden Age.
“We also have a 1943 metal-cased Echophone radio, which was used by the troops during World War II,” said Mann. “My favorite is the gorgeous dark green 1946 Bendix Caitlin, which came in a plastic case that would melt if the radio’s tubes got too hot.”
Also on display are photos, posters and other historical memorabilia. “We even have a diary donated by Annette Hargis, in which her great-grandmother Mrs. Wiley Stallons noted WKDZ’s first broadcast on April 8, 1966,” Mann said.
The Legends Room radio studio features 1966-era radio equipment that would be familiar to many broadcasting veterans, including a suspended RCA 77-DX microphone, a Gates Producer dial-type control panel, a cart tape machine for commercials and idents, a rotary dial telephone and a Revox reel-to-reel machine of a kind this author used in his own early radio days.
“The Legends Room is decorated with photos of our staff back in 1966, plus photos that trace D.J. Everett’s distinguished broadcast career,” said Mann.
Add the many tables and chairs available for community meetings, and one can see why the D.J. Everett III Radio Room has caught the imagination of Cadiz residents and radio fans in general.
“The overall reception to our project has been phenomenal,” said Beth Mann. “It is a chance for us to celebrate D.J.’s legacy, and also to show the world that local, community-centric radio is alive and well, and a career worth pursuing by young people.”
See below for photos of the radio room. For more about this impressive installation head to www.wkdzradio.com.
Santrella: Radio needs to improve UX to look as good as it sounds
Radio data technology company Quu announced a deal to provide Salem Media Group with “ad sync” services on 28 FM stations in 17 markets.
Quu offers services to let radio stations manage RDS/HD in-car stereo displays with an eye toward revenue and a better listener experience. Beasley Media Group is among its investors.
It says its technology lets stations generate revenue by enhancing over-the-air spots with client logos and text to be seen by consumers on their desktops, mobile and dashboard devices.
The announcement was made by Quu CEO Steve Newberry and Salem Media Group President of Broadcast Media Dave Santrella.
[Related: “NAB EVP Newberry Plans Exit”]
“Salem Media Group further underscores the broadcaster’s commitment to providing unique advertiser experiences and optimum service offerings by featuring album art, showcasing station information and creating a complete 360-degree visual and audio-based advertiser experience for clients and listeners,” Quu said in a press release.
Santrella was quoted saying that radio serves and engages but that “radio needs to improve the user experience so that we look as good as we sound.”
[Related, 2019 story: “NextRadio Outcome Leaves a Void”]
Commissioner’s five-year term has expired
Michael O’Rielly’s renomination as an FCC commissioner was rescinded by Pres. Donald Trump Monday, according to published reports.
O’Rielly was originally nominated to the FCC by President Barack Obama and was sworn in November 2013. He was sworn into a second term in 2015. His term expired in June.
O’Rielly is a conservative who generally favors deregulation, including of ISPs and lifting media ownership rules given the rise of competition from cable and broadband and satellite, and was instrumental in loosening KidVid regs on TV stations.
The renomination of O’Rielly for another term was reportedly put on hold in July by Sen. Jim Inhofe because of the FCC’s decision to allow Ligado Networks to deploy a lower-power national mobile broadband network.
NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith released the following statement in response to the news O’Rielly’s nomination had been rescinded:
“Mike O’Rielly has been a sterling public servant for as long as I have had the privilege of knowing him, a span of time covering my years in the Senate and throughout my time leading NAB. He is the consummate professional — smart, diligent, honest, and fair. For these and many other reasons, NAB has been proud to support his continued service at the commission. But for these reasons also, I have every confidence that he will succeed wherever he casts his lot.”
There has been no comment from the FCC or O’Rielly at the time of publication.
Fred Baumgartner and Roland Russell are honored as educators
The SBE’s engineer of the year is probably someone better known to television engineers than radio, but he plays a crucial role in U.S. frequency coordination, and has been helping to revitalize that volunteer program.
RJ Russell will receive the Engineer of the Year Award from the Society of Broadcast Engineers in its upcoming virtual national meeting. The award is named for Robert W. Flanders.
The society also named two recipients of the SBE Educator of the Year award: Fred Baumgartner and Roland Robinson. That award, which is named for James C. Wulliman, recognizes outstanding service and excellence in sharing knowledge through teaching other broadcast engineers.
RJ Russell has been an SBE member for 21 years and has served in several board and committee positions.
After service in the Marine Corps he worked for a number of TV groups, and he was a broadcast engineering manager on the Sprint Nextel Project for four years, assisting TV stations with the 2 GHz repack and reimbursement. He also designed and built a new broadcast center for Brigham Young University and he has been active on the ATSC 3 project station in Cleveland.
“Most recently, RJ accepted the critically important position of SBE frequency coordination manager as an independent contractor through his company, TBSI,” SBE stated in its announcement.
“RJ has a vast and unique knowledge of the frequency coordination process and is the SBE’s major representative to the Department of Defense and its contractors in the SBE-DOD-NAB transition process at 2 GHz,” it said.
“Through the direct involvement of RJ, who is respected very highly by the DOD, FCC and NTIA, the SBE and its members, broadcast licensees, and the DOD have benefited from the careful, meticulous planning that RJ has worked exceptionally hard on to maximize DOD-coordinated use of 2 GHz without constraint on broadcasters.”
He is overseeing preparation of a national database of 2 GHz users to help the work of SBE frequency coordinators. “He has revitalized the program at a difficult time in the history of volunteer frequency coordination,” SBE said.
Last year’s recipient was Charlie Wooten.
The 2020 educators of the year are both longtime SBE members.
Fred Baumgartner has worked for 17 years with the Ennes Educational Foundation Trust, leading Ennes Workshops during the NAB Show and producing the SBE presentation on NextGen TV during the 2019 PBS TechCon.
Roland Robinson is an instructor of classes in broadcasting and video production at Bates Technical College in Tacoma, Wash., and has implemented an SBE-approved certification curriculum in broadcast classes.
“The curriculum was recently renewed unanimously by the SBE National Certification Committee, the members being impressed by the curriculum presented by Robinson,” SBE stated. He is also active in Washington state emergency alerting.
MultiCAM Systems won the SBE Technology Award for its Air Bridge video offering.
SBE Chapter 37 in Washington, D.C., won the Best Educational Event for the NextGEN TV Summit in January, held in conjunction with SMPTE.
The full award list including chapter membership and attendance awards awards is here.
Remembering the Gates Sta-Level and SA-39B
The history of audio processors for U.S. radio stations can be roughly divided into two chapters. The first, when these devices were a compliance tool for FCC regulations regarding transmitter modulation. Their job was to maintain average modulation levels between the required 85 and 100%, and ensure audio peaks never exceeded 100%. The second chapter, after the loudness wars began, when audio processors were used to create a signature sound for a station, and ensure modulation levels were kept as high as legally possible.
The Gates Sta-Level AGC and SA-39B peak limiter belong to the earlier era.
Both were introduced in the 1950s, and enjoyed long service lives. They were designed around conventional textbook circuits with no “black boxes” or deep secrets about how they operated. Both were easy to set up and maintain. They were marketed by Gates throughout the 1960s and early ’70s as the perfect pair for maximum modulation.
The SA-39B was introduced by Gates in 1957, and replaced the similar SA-38, which was designed in 1948. It was marketed as a solution for AM, FM and TV operations.
The SA-39B’s audio circuit consisted of three push-pull stages: 1612, input; 6SJ7, intermediate; and 6V6, output. The regulated power supply had a 5V4 rectifier, and 6X5, 6SJ7 and 6L6 in the regulator circuit. A 6H6 functioned as the control rectifier. This regulated supply powered the first two audio stages. To ensure low noise, the filaments of the 1612s were run off a separate DC supply.
The theory of operation is simple. The audio output signal is sampled, rectified by the 6H6, and the resulting negative voltage connected to the second control grids of the 1612 input stage. As the output voltage increases, the grid becomes more negative, lowering the gain of the amplifier. Through compression levels up to 20 dB, distortion remained at a respectable 0.05% or less.
Compared to today’s audio processors, there were few adjustments and options to consider when setting up the SA-39B. Attack time was fixed at 0.001 seconds. Release time was adjustable via a six-position switch on the rear panel. Position 1 had a recovery time of 0.2 seconds, and each successive position added an additional 0.2 seconds. Position 3, with 0.6 seconds was the recommended starting point, and could be adjusted faster or slower to suit the format.
A tweak inside the limiter was used to set the front panel meter for 0 dB compression with no input. Then, it was simply a matter of increasing audio input until normal programming showed about 5 dB of compression. This setting allowed sufficient headroom for the occasional intense peak energy.
Output levels could be adjusted to +20 dB. If that was too much, two fixed attenuator pads could easily be inserted into the circuit.
[Read more tech history: Proof of Performance, 1970s Style]
A nice feature of the SA-39B was the six 1/4-inch phone jacks on the bottom of the rear panel which were wired to measure cathode current of the audio stage tubes. With a 1/4-inch phone-to-banana plug patch cable, it was a simple matter to check these currents with a VTVM. Normal currents for each stage were indicated on the schematic.
There were two reasons for regular checks. Cathode current is a good indicator of tube life and when it begins to fall, the end is near. Second, push-pull circuits only work well when the tubes are balanced, and tubes don’t always age at the same rate. Imbalance can lead to increased hum and distortion, and in the case of the 1612s, thumping during low frequency passages.
Maintenance was fairly simple, with the usual tube checks and logging socket voltages. Access via the drop-down front panel gave access to most of the resistors and capacitors, neatly laid out on two circuit boards. Earlier tech manuals for the SA-39B documented component designations, values and voltages, but that went away when the abbreviated four-page manual was released.
A nice feature of the SA-39B was the 20-20 µf 450 volt power supply electrolytic, which was provided on an octal socket. These capacitors were more expensive than the conventional twist-lock style, but made replacement a plug-and-play procedure, rather than a tedious and time-consuming chore.
The Gates SA-39B, and comparable peak limiters such as the RCA BA-6C and Collins 26U-1 were among the first casualties of the loudness wars. When the FCC passed regulations allowing AM stations to increase their positive peak modulation from 100 to 125%, their days were numbered. Asymmetrical modulation called for entirely different circuits for peak limiting. By the mid 1970s, the loudness wars had spread to the FM front. When the Orban Optimod 8000 was introduced around 1976, it revolutionized FM audio processing, and conventional peak limiters began to disappear there as well.
While the SA-39B has largely faded from memory, the Gates Sta-Level has been elevated to cult status as the decades have passed. In fact, software-based audio processors often have a “Sta-Level” setting to emulate its unique sound.
Introduced in 1956, the Sta-Level was in the Gates product line for the next two decades. It had a well-deserved reputation for its unobtrusive control of audio levels. The secret was the GE 6386, a remote-cutoff twin triode. It had a long life, and never seemed to lose its wonderful linearity. A little-known fact is that the Sta-Level was not the first audio processor to use the 6386.
Shortly after General Electric introduced the 6386 tube, its broadcast products division introduced the 4BA9B1 Uni-Level to take advantage of it. The Uni-Level was a stripped-down AGC amp built for a low price-point. Input and output levels were controlled by fixed resistive pads, there was no compression level meter, and minimum parts count. The tube lineup was a 5Y3 rectifier, 6386 push-pull input/control, 6AL5 control rectifier, and (2) 6V6 push-pull output. They started selling like hot cakes.
Gates wanted a piece of the action, but they didn’t want to run afoul of GE’s application patent on the Uni-Level circuit. The challenge for Gates engineers was to design a device that utilized the 6386, but was sufficiently different to dodge a patent infringement. They did this by putting an OB2 regulator for the 6386 plate supply as well as adding a 12AT7 between the 6386 variable-mu stage and the 6V6 output stage. It was totally superfluous, and all the extra gain was swamped out by negative feedback. But it did keep the lawyers happy.
One of the underground mods for the Sta-Level was to remove that 12AT7 and couple the plates directly to the 6V6 grids with 0.5 µf mylar capacitors. The result, less noise distortion and heat, better sound. But many engineers didn’t stop there.
Back when stations used to build their own equipment, the Sta-Level’s schematic was the jumping off point for far more elaborate devices. Precision resistors, high-quality audio transformers, audio attenuators and other high-end components were often used.
While the Sta-Level used an OB2 to regulate power to the 6386, many home-brew designs regulated everything, often using a 6AS7 with a 6SJ7 DC amplifier and OB2 VR tube as a reference.
Some stations went all out with the metering circuit, adding a rotary or pushbutton switch to select dB compression, audio output VU, cathode current of the audio stages, DC filament voltage for the 6386 and balance of the two push-pull stages. A few circuits also included indicator bulbs for expansion, compression and when the gain was frozen. They were not terribly useful, but fun to watch.
[Read more fun radio history from Tom Vernon: The Time Has Come to Talk of Many Things]
TV stations often had problems with the quiet passages in films, when the AGC would suck up all the background noise up to program level. The solution was to modify the Sta-Level circuit with a pot to control the DC bias on the cathode of the 6386. That would establish a platform which would limit the range overs which expansion would occur.
Setup and maintenance of the Sta-Level was straightforward. Once it was connected to the console output and being fed normal program level, adjust the input level control till the meter indicates around 15 dB of compression. Adjust the output control to properly feed the following device. At many stations, this was the phone line connecting the studio to transmitter, where the peak limiter was presumably located. Finally, set the recovery time for single or double.
As shipped, the Sta-Level’s recovery time for 2/3 level was 7 seconds, and 90% level in about 28 seconds. By changing the values of R36 and 37, that could be increased to as fast as 2.25 seconds for 2/3 level and 10 seconds for 90% level. This was a common mod for top 40 stations. Want to slow it down instead? Then 11.25 seconds for 2/3 level and 45 seconds for 90% might be more to your liking if you had an easy listening format.
Sta-Level had a tweak for balancing the cathodes of the 6V6 output stage. The manual called for matching the voltages, but a more precise method was to adjust for minimum distortion at 1 kHz. That was about it for adjustments.
Due to its simple design, reliability and great sound, the Sta-Level was used lots of places besides the air chain. If you purchased a Gates automation system in the 1960s or ’70s, it often had a pair of Sta-Levels on the audio output to even out the levels between different sources. Stations used them in production room for the same reason. Some were wired into a patch panel so they could be deployed for sports remotes, which had notoriously erratic levels. Talk stations were known to use them on phone lines.
While both units enjoyed a long service life, advancing technology eventually caught up with them. In 1975, Gates/Harris introduced the Solid Statesman line of audio processors. This included the M-6543 AM limiting amplifier, M-6631 FM limiting amplifier and M-6629 automatic gain control amplifier.
The Sta-Level and SA-39 pictured with this article were found while cleaning out transmitter buildings during the contract engineering days of the 1980s. The SA-39 dates from the late 1950s, while the Sta-Level was manufactured in 1967. They were cleaned up and returned to good operating condition. Both are now enjoying their retirement as objects of affection in my own personal home museum of oddities.