Broadcast Industry News

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Update of Apple’s flagship recording software focuses on creative tools for electronic music production

The post Apple Logic Pro X Gets Massive Update with V10.5 appeared first on Radio World.

Apple Logic ProTaking aim at pros working in electronic music production, Apple recently released a major update to Logic Pro X, packaging the app with a “professional” version of Live Loops, new sampling features and both new and revamped beatmaking tools. Logic Pro X 10.5 is free for existing users, and otherwise runs $199 on the Mac App Store.

Primary among the updates is Live Loops, which lets users create music in nonlinear ways. Loops, samples and recordings can be arranged on a musical grid, then used to try out and build musical ideas. Those in turn can be captured on Logic’s timeline, where they can be further developed using typical production methods. Remix FX brings a selection of effects to Live Loops — gates, filters and more — which can be used in real time over individual tracks or an entire song. Along with this, the newly updated Logic Remote iOS app now can trigger sounds in Live Loops; users can also use the app for browsing and adding loops, or applying Remix FX to a session.

Sampler updates the EXS24 plug-in with new sound-shaping controls, but is still backwards-compatible. Hand-in-hand with that is Quick Sampler which lets users add or record a sound, edit it into shape and then use it as a playable instrument. Sounds for Quick Sampler can be taken from Logic, voice memos recorded on an iPhone or recorded directly into the app.

Apple is also using the latest edition of Logic Pro X to dive deeper into beatmaking with tools like Step Sequencer, a new editor for developing and programming drum beats, bass lines, melodic parts and more, using a pattern-style production interface. Users get control over parameters like note velocity, repeat, gate, skip, playback direction and randomization. Working with Step Sequencer are Drum Synth, a collection of various drum and percussion sounds that can be granularly controlled and edited, and Drum Machine Designer, a tool for building drum kits using sounds from Drum Synth or Quick Sampler.

Info: Apple Logic Prowww.apple.com/logic-pro

 

The post Apple Logic Pro X Gets Massive Update with V10.5 appeared first on Radio World.

Author: ProSoundNetwork Editorial Staff
Posted: May 31, 2020, 6:18 am

The HD Radio developer says it is satisfied by GBS’ plans for testing

The post Xperi Says It’s OK With a Geo-Targeting NPRM appeared first on Radio World.

GeoBroadcast Solutions has secured a supportive recommendation from the developer of HD Radio in its quest to get the FCC to open a notice of proposed rulemaking about FM geo-targeting.

GBS wants to be able to sell its ZoneCasting system to FM broadcasters in the United States. It says the technology, using synchronized boosters, would give stations the ability to add very localized ads, information and alerting during parts of a broadcast hour.

This would require a rule change, so it has asked the commission to open a notice of proposed rulemaking with that in mind.

The NAB has given its qualified support to the FCC taking next steps. But some in the engineering community are dubious that it could work; and several influential companies have said it’s too soon even for an NPRM, expressing concern about interference and listener confusion. They asked the commission to wait, lest it indicate implied endorsement before the idea has been fully tested.

[Read: Large Groups Raise a Caution Flag on Geo-Targeting]

Among companies raising a caution earlier was Xperi Corp., parent of HD Radio. It filed comments saying the FCC should hold off in order to gather specific information on how the ZoneCasting technology would affect the listener experience. At the time it expressed concern with the impact on HD Radio, noting that a key requirement of its digital system is the simulcasting of the analog service on the HD1 digital channel and noting that radios are designed to blend between analog and HD1 digital audio during initial tuning or under weak signal conditions.

But GBS apparently has been working hard behind the scenes with broadcast industry players to advance its proposal. And now Xperi has updated its recommendation to the FCC via an ex parte letter explaining why:

“Since filing our comments, we have engaged in conversations with GeoBroadcast and understand that it is planning demonstrations for how ZoneCasting will be deployed in a digital setting,” Xperi wrote.

“These demonstrations will involve local broadcasters and be overseen by third-party engineering consultants Roberson and Associates. Xperi will work with GeoBroadcast to develop appropriate test plans to provide data demonstrating the ZoneCasting experience on HD Radio stations. Xperi also will provide technical support in implementation of the tests and evaluation of the results.”

It now suggests that the commission “continue with the process to move toward an NPRM. The NPRM process will give all parties ample time to explore these various issues.”

In a statement reacting to this letter, GBS said it “has been continuously refining and simulating the models that will successfully integrate geo-targeting within HD Radio, and look forward to working closely with Xperi in the field and at our headquarter laboratory in Chicago. We are confident that by working closely with the industry our technology will continue to be refined.”

 

The post Xperi Says It’s OK With a Geo-Targeting NPRM appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Paul McLane
Posted: May 30, 2020, 9:08 pm

Bill DeFelice has some questions for Larry Wilkins

The post Begging to Differ on Part 15 Regulations appeared first on Radio World.

The author is former chief engineer at WMMM(AM) and WCFS(AM). He mans the Hobby Broadcaster and Campus Broadcaster website.

I read the recent comments from Alabama Broadcaster Association’s Larry Wilkins concerning LP/Part 15 transmission regulations with trepidation (“Low-Power Transmitter Guidance From Larry Wilkins”). I’m skeptical in regards to the validity of the information he used as reference.

It would appear that the author had taken much of their obtained knowledge from a July 1991 FCC public noticed titled “Permitted Forms of Low Power Broadcast Operation.” This notice cites a maximum coverage area of 200 feet for both FM and AM unlicensed broadcasting.

Wilkins correctly cites the applicable field intensity for Part 15 compliant FM operation as defined in Part 15.239, 250µV/meter at 3 meters. This is an absolute and, as such, the maximum service area would certainly be around the 200 foot mark, depending on the sensitivity of the receiver being used.

However, I believe Wilkins is in error in his statement of “The same is true on the AM broadcast band, where devices are limited to an effective service range of approximately 200 feet (61 meters).” While this appears to coincide with the FCC public notice this is inaccurate.

It is important to understand that the public notice is not the actual Part 15 regulations. Perhaps the 200-foot range might be accurate in regards to Part 15.209, whereas a specified field intensity is defined, which is calculated via a formula defined in the regulation. Its value is dependent on operating frequency.

However, the FCC has afforded two exceptions to this regulation which legally allows a service area greater than 200 feet under the proper conditions. Those would be Part 15.219 and Part 15.221.

Part 15.219 specifically allows a Part 15 transmitter to operate at 100 milliwatts input power to the final amplifier stage but limits the total length of the radiating element (antenna) and any ground lead used to no greater than 3 meters in length. There is no field strength limitation mentioned in this regulation.

Under a FOI request we obtained one of the FCC documents used by field inspectors as reference for pirate radio enforcement, titled “Module II 215: Unlicensed Radio Operation.” While heavily redacted, it’s interesting to note that on Page 5 of this document it specifically mentions that neither Part 15.219 nor the regulation which applies to low-power broadcasting on an educational institution’s campus, Part 15.221, has no specified field strength limitation.

What does this have to do with an alleged 200-foot service limit for Part 15-compliant AM broadcast? Back in 2013 two broadcast engineering colleagues assisted me with my undertaking of “The AM Transmitter Challenge.” The specimen for this side-by-side transmitter comparison consisted of four manufactured, 100 milliwatt, FCC certified Part 15 AM transmitters in addition to a notable Part 15-compliant kit transmitter. All transmitters where tested with their specified antenna, whether it was a 102-inch “CB style” whip antenna, a custom radiating element which was part of the transmitter’s certification and a wire antenna which accompanied the kit device.

Each tested transmitter was installed identically in a ground mounted Part 15.219-compliant manner and utilized a single 8-foot ground rod with a 0.5 millisiemens per meter ground conductivity. Each transmitter’s field strength was measured using my Potomac FIM-41 and documented for comparison. The highest performing transmitter had a coverage area just short of one mile using a typical automobile receiver.

While I haven’t been able to personally document the effects of better ground conductivity I’ve been informed a small improvement in range is enjoyed with similar installations in areas which have higher soil conductivity.

A church down county from me recently equipped themselves with a commercially available certified Part 15 AM transmitter to allow worship services to be enjoyed by congregants from the comfort of the automobiles in the parking lot.

The newfound interest in Part 15 broadcast obligates us to provide accurate and dependable information to the broadcasters, most of whom have no technical background and little interest in learning it.

Radio World invites industry-oriented commentaries and responses. Send to Radio World.

 

The post Begging to Differ on Part 15 Regulations appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Bill DeFelice
Posted: May 30, 2020, 4:54 pm

Engineers shared ideas about workflows during a special TWiRT episode

The post Broadcast Continuity in a Pandemic appeared first on Radio World.

“Always have a backup” has been a mantra of radio engineers since the earliest days of broadcasting. Much time and energy has been spent developing disaster recovery plans that outline responses to fires, floods, tornadoes and other cataclysmic events.

But the outbreak of COVID-19 required most station employees, including air staff, to work at home for extended periods of time, a contingency that some engineers might wish they’d spent more time considering.

Lessons learned in the first weeks of the pandemic were discussed in an interesting episode of “This Week in Radio Tech (TWiRT),” hosted by Kirk Harnack, senior systems consultant for The Telos Alliance, and Chris Tobin, IP solutionist. They convened a special edition to talk about “Broadcast Continuity in a Pandemic,” sharing experiences in adapting station workflows and technology.

Codecs and Chromebooks
Geary Morrill is regional director of engineering at Alpha Media USA, an early adopter of the WideOrbit 4.0. He said that platform was being used by those working at home for remote access to the station via iPad and iPhone apps, mainly for recording and voice track activities.

Robbie Green, director of technical operations at Entercom Houston, said his employer created a work-from-home protocol for most staff, although air talent was still in the building. Should it become necessary for them to leave, equipment was set up so they can voice track from home. For the sports staff, he purchased a number of Comrex Opal IP Audio Gateways, as well as refurbished Chromebooks to equip remote kits.

Green said that the cluster’s building includes 600,000 feet of rentable space, of which the station occupies half. If someone working there were to become infected, building management would have to close the building for decontamination, so plans were developed for that eventuality.

A challenge facing many broadcasters, including Green, is how to handle the generation of logs. “Our traffic people have been working remotely for over a week, and program directors can also do logs remotely. We have a secure portal where they can dump everything into our WideOrbit system.”

Tom McGinley, chief engineer at KUFM(FM/TV), engineering manager at Townsquare Media in Missoula, Mont., and Radio World technical advisor, said that a global pandemic occurs about once every hundred years. If this outbreak had happened 20 years ago, he said, broadcasters wouldn’t have had the internet and IP connectivity we have today. The challenge would have been much greater for stations merely to stay on the air.

With no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in his area at the time of the podcast, McGinley said buildings were still accessible for talent. Traffic was being managed off-site through an internet connection. Plans were underway to do live shows remotely via Comrex Access gear, along with RCS NexGen iPush and Remote. McGinley added that the stations were already planning an upgrade to RCS Zetta, which has more flexibility for remote broadcast.

“This is What We Do”
Consultant Gary Kline applauded the efforts of broadcast engineers worldwide. Rising to unexpected challenges and having solutions ready before management knows to ask is “what we do,” he said. Kline praised codec manufacturers whose shipping departments worked overtime in March and April to make sure broadcasters got the tools they needed to stay on the air.

He said that while there has been growing awareness in recent years of the need to prepare for disasters, not all contingencies have been addressed.

“Many stations would have emergency generators as well as backup IP and internet facilities,” he said, describing conversations with clients, “but I would ask ‘What if you have to leave your building?’ and they weren’t so sure about that. Next time, we’ll be so much better prepared for something like this, so there is a silver lining to the story.”

“I tell everyone, it’s just a remote broadcast, only from your home.” — Jim Armstrong

Jim Armstrong, director of eastern U.S. sales at the Telos Alliance, has fielded a lot of questions about accessing equipment such as consoles off-site.

“I tell everyone, it’s just a remote broadcast, only from your home.” One aspect that sometimes gets overlooked is that most AoIP consoles can be operated remotely, and routing switchers can also be controlled off-site.

Several software products are available to fill these needs. There’s third-party software from IP Studios in Paris that runs IP tablet software. He discussed Axia SoftSurface, a program that connects to an engine or console to control the mix bus and faders, and Axia Pathfinder Core Pro, a development tool that allows users to create a virtual Fusion console.

He praised radio engineers for their handling of the situation and joked that a person is not really in radio until they’ve slept at the station, a rite of passage.

Bill Bennett, media solutions manager for ENCO Systems, talked about how stations could access and use their automation playout systems remotely.

For some time, he said, automation has meant servers in the studios plus some form of offsite backup. The cloud has experienced explosive growth over the past 15 years. Engineers have gotten comfortable with the idea of the cloud as a place to store data offsite and as part of their backup plans.

ENCO’s current automation playout system has a web interface, the front of which is HTML5-compliant so it can run on a browser. At the same time, the software is running on a virtual machine in the cloud.

Another bit of software keeps the virtual machine in sync with the studio machine over a VPN line.

An important consideration is keeping viruses that might infect the studio machine from reaching the virtual machine in the cloud. Harnack noted that Paravel Systems’ Rivendell 3.0, the open source automation playout system, is capable of running from the cloud during disasters.

With this type of system in place, all that is necessary in emergencies is to access the virtual machine via a laptop, and route a stream to the transmitter.

Also participating in the conversation were Mike Sprysenski, regional director of engineering at iHeartMedia, and Bryan Waters, chief engineer at Cumulus Media, Atlanta. The podcast can be accessed at thisweekinradiotech.com, or you can watch the full episode below.

Chris Tobin had the last word, talking about understanding workflow solutions. Air talent may be accustomed to working in front of a console and a stack of three audio devices and hotkeys to fire things off. They won’t have those at home and may experience initial stress if everything is different. The goal of the engineer should be to know the workflow of your announcers off-site, and try to make it as similar to the studio environment as possible.

Lightning Round
Harnack asked panelists for words of wisdom that could fit in 30 seconds or less.

Bill Bennett — Use two-factor authentication for network authentication and file access. Yes, it’s more complicated and slows things down, but much more secure.

Gary Kline — Ask yourself who is your backup if you become sick or quarantined. Formally designate someone if you need to.

Geary Morrill — Keep an even keel and be patient with staff as they adapt to the unfamiliar. People will feed off your emotional state.

Jim Armstrong — Have essential spares on the shelf. Remember that you don’t really need it until you need it, and then you really do.

Mike Sprysenski — Remember to take care of yourself as you’re taking care of everybody else.

Bryan Waters — Keep it simple. Give people what they need to work from home, but don’t overwhelm or complicate.

Robbie Green — Create documentation that’s written for the non-technical person. Have someone do a test drive with it before you distribute.

Tom McGinley — Look for the silver linings as this situation winds down. Expect a new level of competence from stations as they revise disaster recovery plans.

To watch the full episode, click here.

The post Broadcast Continuity in a Pandemic appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Tom Vernon
Posted: May 30, 2020, 12:30 am

On foreign actors in the noncommercial media world

The post Community Broadcaster: Under the Influence appeared first on Radio World.

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

The 2020 presidential election cycle is certain to be a fractious one. Even if the candidates and issues of the day were not heated enough, embers of foreign interference allegations during the 2016 race still linger. Recent incidents involving international entities in the noncommercial media space should be a reminder that it is necessary to handle particular issues delicately.

This week, PBS SoCal announced an investigation into a film it helped to fund, after PBS said the documentary did not meet the organization’s editorial standards. “Voices from the Frontline: China’s War on Poverty” was produced partly with the support of the CGTN TV network, a subsidiary of the China Media Group, which is supervised by the Communist Party of China’s publicity division.

Current points out funding relationships and conflicts of interest were raised as potential issues. The probe of the film is ongoing.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Four Zoom Tips for Community Radio]

Other recent issues highlight programming and content issues that any station might want to carefully observe.

Earlier this year, media reported on Radio Sputnik, widely regarded as a proxy for the Russian government, is now broadcasting on three Kansas City-area radio stations during drive time hours. “In the United States, talk radio on Sputnik covers the political spectrum from right to left, but the constant backbeat is that the United States is damaged goods,” one story notes. “They find much to dislike in the U.S., from the reporting on the coronavirus epidemic to the impeachment of Pres. Donald Trump, and they play on internal divisions as well.”

The Kansas City cluster told the press the stations carry Radio Sputnik because management thought the programming was good, and because a group working with Rossiya Segodnya, the Russian state media organization that operates Sputnik, is paying them to do so.

Last year, it was revealed in lobbying disclosures that Chinese telecommunications hardware manufacturer Huawei had retained program services from Las Vegas Public Radio, a low-power FM best known for suing CPB for not funding the station. Although the White House had previously shut Huawei out of the U.S. market amid trade skirmishes, the firm appears intent on improving its stature in America. The agreement would provide content to tell a different, presumably more favorable, story to audiences.

Over time, I have heard of similar issues at stations. Many times, the need at a particularly bootstrapped station is filling a proverbial hole. Someone offering reliable content on a daily and weekly basis is music to the ears of many. Sprinkle money into the discussion and it is not surprising that stations might be interested.

The problems are manifest. The perception that a station is airing propaganda can damage its reputation for years to come. Both conservatives and liberals today are worried about foreign interference in U.S. elections, with 72% of Americans believing there is a high likelihood of such occurring. These viewpoints could hurt a community radio organization’s fundraising going forward.

Whether you think these relationships are valuable for noncommercial media, because they tell a story our communities rarely hear, or find them to be problematic for the appearance of bias, such partnerships must go through rigorous review. Community radio can at times miss such assessments. However, stations would be smart to exercise caution, should such opportunities arrive.

The post Community Broadcaster: Under the Influence appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Ernesto Aguilar
Posted: May 29, 2020, 11:24 pm

Document lays out a bunch of good ideas that have application in radio too

The post Planning a Studio Reopening? Recording Academy Has Some Tips appeared first on Radio World.

What considerations should you weigh before reopening your studios?

Helpful guidance comes in the form of a document from the Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing. While it targets recording and production studios, most of the advice has direct relevance to radio as well.

Just a sampling:

  • Evaluate rooms in the studio facility and make necessary adjustments to ensure social distancing.
  • Consider requiring individuals to wear cloth face coverings while inside the entire facility; in some parts of the country, face coverings may be required by law in outdoor areas as well.
  • Have work that cannot be performed with face coverings take place in an isolation room or an otherwise empty studio.
  • Consider limiting studio access to essential personnel or, at minimum, limit the number of visitors.
  • You may choose to require staff or others to have their temperature taken with an infrared thermometer upon entry to the facility.
  • Limit the number of people allowed to use elevators at once and consider requiring face coverings in elevators.
  • Consider disinfecting footwear, or providing booties.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Designate a staff person to be in charge.
  • Microphones should be monitored and cleaned before and after all sessions.
  • Consider HVAC filter cleaning and replacement.
  • Shift staff and/or session schedules where possible to maximize social distancing.

Download the full list.

The post Planning a Studio Reopening? Recording Academy Has Some Tips appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Paul McLane
Posted: May 29, 2020, 10:24 pm

How radio organizations large and small confronted the pandemic and how operations will be permanently changed

The post New Ebook Explores Broadcasting From Home appeared first on Radio World.

A new Radio World ebook reports on how radio organizations around the world responded and modified on-air and production operations when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted business.

In this special, free double-issue ebook, find out how major commercial and public broadcasters responded operationally to the pandemic.

Whether it’s a leading public station in New York, a massive radio network in Spain, a college station in Colorado, a commercial music cluster in California, an international radio news network or more, our sources all told us: Everything has changed.

Learn from them and from our sponsors about how stations solved problems, how manufacturers supported them and how these experts think radio operations have changed for good.

Access the ebook here or click on the cover image.

To watch Radio World’s recent webcast series “Broadcasting from Home” on demand, follow this link or click on the image below:

The post New Ebook Explores Broadcasting From Home appeared first on Radio World.

Author: RW Staff
Posted: May 29, 2020, 5:00 am

Decision finalizes FCC investigation into unauthorized license transfer

The post Ohio Broadcaster Pays $8,000 in Consent Decree appeared first on Radio World.

An Ohio broadcaster agreed to pay $8,000 as part of a consent decree after purchasing two licenses without consent from the Federal Communications Commission.

Earlier this year Media Bureau began investigating the assignment of station WTTF(AM) and FM translator W227BJ from Tiffin Broadcasting to BAS Broadcasting. Beginning in April 2014, Tiffin began the process of acquiring the licenses of the two stations, which were based in Tiffin, Ohio. Tiffin also entered into a Local Marketing Agreement for the two stations with BAS. At the time, it was agreed that Tiffin would retain full control of all operations, programming and personnel.

[Read: FCC Proposes Regulatory Fees for 2020 Amid Uncertain Media Marketplace]

In January 2015, Tiffin and BAS entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement in which BAS agreed to formally purchase the licenses and other assets from Tiffin. BAS began making a series of monthly payments in early 2015. The deal was in December 2019 when payments to Tiffin totaled $608,000.

But all this was done without commission consent, the FCC said.

In April 2020, Tiffin and BAS filed an application with the FCC disclosing the reassignment of the two stations. According to BAS and Tiffin, “[We] mistakenly believed that the ownership change would be implemented through the process of filing the renewal applications.”

According to the rules laid out in the Communications Act, “no construction permit or station license, or any rights thereunder, shall be transferred, assigned, or disposed of in any manner … except upon application to the commission… .”

After an investigation, Tiffin and BAS agreed that they violated Section 310 of the Communications Act and Section 73.3540 of the FCC Rules. As a result, BAS agreed to make an $8,000 civil penalty payment to close out the investigation.

 

The post Ohio Broadcaster Pays $8,000 in Consent Decree appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Susan Ashworth
Posted: May 29, 2020, 1:04 am

Townsquare shines among radio nominees

The post NAB Unveils Service to America Finalists appeared first on Radio World.

The National Association of Broadcasters has announced the radio and TV finalists in their 2020 Celebration of Service to America awards. Of corporate owners Townsquare Media, Gray television and Tegna garnered multiple nominations.

The awards, which are for outstanding community service by local broadcasters, were to have been handed out at a June 9 dinner in Washington but will now handed out via a prerecorded tribute that stations can air sometime in August.

The finalists are listed below:

Service to Community Award for Radio Small Market
Bryan Broadcasting, KNDE(FM), College Station, Texas — 103 Charities
Townsquare Media, WKXW(FM), Trenton, N.J. — New Jersey Judges
Townsquare Media, WKXW(FM), Trenton, N.J. — Feel Better Bears
Milner Media Properties, WYUR(FM), WVLI(FM), WIVR(FM), WFAV(FM), Bourbonnais, Ill. — Serving the Kankakee River Valley

Service to Community Award for Radio Medium Market
Alpha Media, WSGW(AM/FM), Saginaw, Mich. — Sharing Hope Radiothon
iHeartMedia, WRVE(FM), WGY(AM/FM), Albany, N.Y. — 2019 Cares for Kids Radiothon

Service to Community Award for Radio Major Market
Bonneville International, KIRO(AM), Seattle — 710 ESPN Seattle and Coaching Boys into Men
Hubbard Broadcasting, KRWM(FM), Seattle/Tacoma — WARM 106.9 Community Activation
Cox Media Group, WSB(AM), Atlanta — 2019 WSB Careathon

Service to Community Award for Television Small Market
Gray Television, KVLY(TV), Fargo, N.D. — Homeless Kids Need Help
Gray Television, KWQC(TV), Davenport, Iowa — 2019 Flood Relief
Gray Television, WJHG(TV), Panama City, Fla. — Remembering the Forgotten

Service to Community Award for Television Medium Market
Gray Television, KWTX(TV), Waco, Texas — Food for Families
Tegna, WBIR(TV), Knoxville, Tenn. — The Reality of Suicide
Gray Television, WNDU(TV), South Bend, Ind. — Never Again: Preventing Bus Stop Tragedies
Tegna, WTOL(TV), Toledo, Ohio — 11 Investigates: Guilty Without Proof

Service to Community Award for Television Large Market
Sinclair Broadcast Group, KABB(TV), WOAI(TV), San Antonio — Show Me Your Bill
Hubbard Broadcasting, KOB(TV), Albuquerque, N.M. — Protecting Our Enchanting Environment
Nexstar Media Group, KXAN(TV), Austin, Texas — Save Our Students: Solutions for Wellness and Safety
Nexstar Media Group, WDAF(TV), Kansas City, Mo. — FOX4 Band of Angels
Graham Media Group, WKMG(TV), Orlando, Fla. — Driving Change: Florida’s Texting and Driving Law

The post NAB Unveils Service to America Finalists appeared first on Radio World.

Author: John Eggerton
Posted: May 28, 2020, 6:50 pm

In Capitol Hill appearance, he cites local ad revenue as being "currently on life support"

The post LeGeyt Reiterates NAB Opposition to Performance Fees appeared first on Radio World.

National Association of Broadcasters Chief Operating Officer Curtis LeGeyt

A music performance fee would not only be “unjustified as a matter of policy,” but is “financially untenable for local radio broadcasters of all sizes.”

That’s the message from National Association of Broadcasters Chief Operating Officer Curtis LeGeyt testifying at a Senate Judiciary IP Subcommittee staff briefing. The topic was music rights within the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA.

LeGeyt reiterated several arguments that broadcasters have cited for years in this debate, and brought them up to date to include ramifications of the pandemic.

“Without reliance on subscription fees like our streaming and satellite competitors, local radio is supported by advertising alone,” LeGeyt said, according to his prepared remarks, released by NAB.

“With local businesses – including restaurants, retailers and car dealers – ravaged by this pandemic, that advertising revenue is currently on life support and further illustrates the policy interest in keeping broadcast radio’s costs down. For these reasons, Congress has repeatedly considered the recording industry’s arguments and chosen not to impose a performance royalty on free, local radio.”

LeGeyt said that radio’s place in American culture is not accidental. “It is the product of policy choices and a resulting legal framework that enable broadcast radio to remain completely free and dedicated to communities.” Among those, he said, is the DMCA. That copyright law, he said, may be in need of review, but “its music licensing reforms are an incredible success story.”

LeGeyt said the DMCA “enabled the growth of lawful music streaming to the benefit of recording artists whose revenues hit record highs in 2019, all while preserving a free and local broadcast radio model that continues to benefit those same performers and serve the public interest.”

He thanked lawmakers who have expressed support for the Local Radio Freedom Act, which opposes performance fees for broadcast radio.

“The recording industry is also well aware that NAB stands ready to continue discussions around alternative music licensing frameworks that could increase total royalties to performing artists while allowing broadcasters to expand our own streaming footprint,” LeGeyt also said. “However, any piecemeal terrestrial performance royalty unilaterally imposed on local radio stations is not justified as a matter of copyright policy and will further stress the economics of the current free and local broadcast model.”

The post LeGeyt Reiterates NAB Opposition to Performance Fees appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Paul McLane
Posted: May 27, 2020, 6:54 pm

Radio and TV are among essential entities identified by Pai and Krebs.

The post FCC, CISA Ask Governors to Support Communication Networks appeared first on Radio World.

The heads of two federal agencies are asking the nation’s governors to provide necessary access and resources to communications workers during the pandemic.

Radio and TV broadcasters are among the essential entities listed. Other networks include those related to 911 calls, telehealth, distance learning and telework. (The full list is at the end of this story.)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs sent the letter, describing communications networks as “a lifeline during this challenging time.” CISA is a relatively new entity, established in 2018 and responsible for protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats.

The letter asked the states to follow guidance from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency updated earlier this month, specifically: Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce and Guidelines for Executives: 911 Center Pandemic Recommendations.

Among other recommendations it also asked the governors to “consider prioritizing the distribution of personal protective equipment to communications personnel when availability permits’: to understand that communications retail customer service personnel at service centers are critical for helping customers, especially low-income families and veterans; and to facilitate maintenance and repair of communications infrastructure by providing more online access to relevant government functions such as the permit process.

[Read the letter.]

Below is the list of infrastructure and entities that the FCC and CISA asked governors to treat as essential to COVID-19 response efforts:

  • Businesses and personnel that provide communications support to medical and healthcare facilities, assisted care and living facilities, and people with disabilities;
  • Radio and television broadcasters, cable operators, and Internet Protocol television (IPTV) providers;
  • Telecommunications relay services providers and closed captioning providers;
  • Public safety communications infrastructure (e.g., land mobile radio, broadband, Wi-Fi, high frequency radio, microwave, wireline, satellite voice, video, Radio over Internet Protocol, paging, data communications systems), including infrastructure that is owned, operated or maintained by commercial service providers in support of public safety and infrastructure in support of Emergency Communications Centers;
  • Internet access service providers, telephone carriers, interconnected VoIP providers, mobile wireless providers, undersea cable operators, content delivery network operators, service integrators, and equipment vendors;
  • Satellite operators; and
  • Companies and individuals involved in the construction of new communications facilities and deployment of new and existing technology to address unprecedented levels of customer usage and close the digital divide for Americans who are sheltering at home.

The post FCC, CISA Ask Governors to Support Communication Networks appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Paul McLane
Posted: May 27, 2020, 5:47 pm

What major broadcast organizations had to say about proposed "zoned" programming for FM stations

The post Inside the May 27 Issue of Radio World appeared first on Radio World.

Should the FCC allow “zoned” programming for FM stations in the United States? Read what major broadcast organizations had to say about this in our latest issue. Also: IP studios for managers; making connections during a business crisis; and using privacy slats to deter vandalism at your transmitter site.

Read it online here.

Prefer to do your reading offline? No problem! Simply click on the digital edition, go to the left corner and choose the download button to get a PDF version.

The post Inside the May 27 Issue of Radio World appeared first on Radio World.

Author: RW Staff
Posted: May 27, 2020, 5:32 pm

Also, learn the interesting history of the MacKenzie Program Repeater

The post Let Your Dryer Work Out the Kinks appeared first on Radio World.

Bill Fike writes in to say that quite often he will receive, with a new piece of equipment, a power or audio cable or some other special connection cable. More often than not, the cable has been folded and tightly tied with a cable tie. Even after removing the tie, some of these cables will remain kinked indefinitely.

Bill has read that a heat gun can be used to warm up the cable and remove the kinks; but that’s a lot of work to go over the length of a long cable. Bill also worried about the risk of melting the inner conductors; some heat guns can get very hot.

Bill came up with an easy alternative method to relax the cable so it can be coiled or wrapped. His clothes dryer has a rack for drying sweaters, sneakers or other items that can’t be tumbled. He places the cables on the rack in the dryer, sets the dryer to high and runs it for about 10 minutes (Fig. 1). Some cables may need longer dryer time.

Fig. 1: A dryer rack holds cables as the dryer removes kinks (fabric softener sheets optional)

When you pull out the cable, it’s warm and relaxed. It can then be coiled or wrapped properly, and it won’t have kinks.

The first time Bill did this, his wife asked why the drying rack was out. When she heard the answer, she just slowly shook her head and walked away. Some people don’t appreciate a good idea when they see one.

By the way, Bill is an Audible Approved Producer. Audible defines this as “a master of the craft, the best of the best; they excel in audiobook production, performance, generate positive customer reviews, and provide the Author and Rights Holder with a professional and smooth production experience. They typically submit audiobooks that do not require a resubmission by QA, and their titles are not terminated for reasons related to the production or their professionalism. Audible Approved Producers are hand-selected by the ACX team for their skill.”

***

Engineering consultant Frank Hertel is always solving problems. Recently, he found an interesting link while searching for an older two-lead virtual ground IC.

The link takes you to a 2000 Engineering Application Note by Bruce Carter of Texas Instruments. Titled “A Single-Supply Op Amp Circuit Collection,” it is ideal for those engineers who still fabricate special devices, instead of buying something “off the shelf.”

This in-depth article provides useful information regarding the design and use of op-amps, especially in single voltage supply applications. The author explains that one of the biggest problems for designers arises when the circuit must be operated from a single voltage supply rather than a dual ±15 VDC supply. The application note includes working circuits that should be helpful.

The full article can be accessed at www.add.ece.ufl.edu/4924/docs/TI_SingleSupply.pdf

***

Speaking of op amps:

Dan Slentz writes that though he is far from the best bench tech, he has replaced his share of op amps over the years. At WHIZ in Zanesville, Ohio, the AM/FM studios were in a different building, and Dan had a static or ground issue where he was constantly replacing op amps.

Dan alleviated the problem by adding an odd diode to the input/output of the op amp. This didn’t affect the audio, but did discharge anything over 1V to ground. This greatly reduced the replacement of op amps in his distribution amps.

Fig. 2 The Sparkos Labs website offers some interesting finds.

As Dan was researching the issue, he came across “discrete op amps” that sounded interesting. A video associated with the site describes these devices as being better sonically. The company is Sparkos Labs; they use layered surface-mount devices mated to the familiar eight-pin DIP (Dual In-line Package) to create an op-amp alternative. In addition to a full data sheet, there’s a white paper on why discrete op-amps are superior to ICs.

PS: Dan keeps an eye via social media and enjoys seeing what “cotton-headed ninny muggins” are up to. (If you don’t know that phrase, watch the movie “Elf.”)

Today’s award winner is a hobbyist who built an FM transmitter powered by the 12 VDC of a car. With that kind of power, there’s small chance of this individual’s transmitter causing an interference problem. But what caught Dan’s eye was his closing statement, seeking referrals for upgrading to a higher-power transmitter!

***

We’ll wrap up this column with a little history lesson that Dan found.

Prior to the advent of the tape cartridge machine was a device called the MacKenzie Program Repeater. As one of the first designs of continuous loop tape playback devices, the MacKenzie Program Repeater was used by top 40 radio stations starting in the late 1950s.

Fig. 3: Read about the MacKenzie Program Repeater at the ReelRadio website.

The MacKenzie Model 500 featured five decks stacked — though other models included up to 10 — all with a common capstan. Two independent tracks per magazine deck gave a total of 10 messages that could last up to 14 minutes. Tape was contained in mounted metal magazines.

Read about it at the ReelRadio website, which includes a drawing of how the tape was wound in the magazine. Visit www.reelradio.com/reports/mackenzi to read more.

Though the repeater found its way into top 40 radio, according to the article it was used initially at Disneyland and in Hollywood filmmaking. Louis G. MacKenzie, inventor of this device, received a technical citation for developing a selective sound effects repeater at the 1962 Academy Awards.

Contribute to Workbench. You’ll help your fellow engineers, and qualify for SBE recertification credit. Send Workbench tips to [email protected].

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 Let Your Dryer Work Out the Kinks appeared first on Radio World.

Author: John Bisset
Posted: May 27, 2020, 1:36 am

Engineer was a longtime member of radio’s technology supplier community

The post Bob Groome Dies at 77 appeared first on Radio World.

Bob GroomeBob Groome, a former radio chief engineer who went on to a 41-year career in broadcast sales, marketing and technical support, died this month at age 77.

According to his Facebook page, he passed away May 17 at his home in Florida after a long battle with cancer. At his death he worked in sales engineering for RF Specialties.

“Although his working career extended an extraordinary 59 years, he was particularly proud of his technical position in 1963, working on NASA’s Apollo project, as a lead (PWB) technician for General Electric, on contract supporting NASA in Daytona, Fla.,” according to an obituary on his Facebook page.

“But his love of music and technology ultimately led him to the broadcast industry, beginning with his very first job at WOOO radio (1310 AM) in Deland, Fla. in 1961, as chief engineer and DJ personality ‘Bob the Bachelor’ and later, chief engineer at WGCL radio, Fort Myers, Fla., from 1969–76.”

Radio World readers will know him best for his work with numerous prominent equipment and service companies including Audio Associates, Harris Broadcast, Allied Broadcast Equipment, Arrakis Systems, Jampro Antennas, Electronic Research Incorporated (ERI) and RF Specialties.

“As a member of Society of Broadcast Engineers, Bob authored and presented papers at local, regional and national conferences. Bob presented to Mexico’s Ametra, Japan’s InterBEE and Canada’s CCBE meetings. He presented papers and was invited to attend engineering roundtables at professional conferences held by Texas Association of Broadcasters, Broadcasters’ Clinic, Iowa Public Symposium, Tampa’s SBE Symposium, among others.”

According to the obituary, Groome was a spiritual man and a devoted Christian. His interests included technical projects such as building an electric car, computers, collecting music, woodworking, and visiting the traces of the “old Florida” of his youth.

“He loved his wife [Philippa Jeffreys], Krispy Kremes, Rod McKuen poetry, the ocean, and Tina Turner. He watched ‘Young Frankenstein’ at least once a year. Everyone loved his crooked smile.”

Groome maintained a website, the Sweet Old Bob Website, www.bobgroome.us that includes FM and AM formula calculators “to help his radio broadcasting comrades with their work. This site is up and helping others at the time of this writing, and we hope to maintain this website to honor Sweet Old Bob, the wonderful husband, dad, brother, grandfather and friend who touched so many lives and will be dearly missed.”

A family service is planned at a future date.

 

The post Bob Groome Dies at 77 appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Paul McLane
Posted: May 26, 2020, 5:30 pm

Belgian public broadcaster VRT launches new streams with the platform

The post Who’s Buying What: VRT’s Studio Brussel Opts for SmartRadio appeared first on Radio World.

SmartRaio, SmartProcessing, Orban, VRT, Studio BrusselsAt Belgian public broadcaster VRT, music station Studio Brussel launched a new digital channel, Stubru #ikluisterbelgisch, using SmartRadio. Three additional online radio streams from VRT, including ’90s and ’00s from its youth station MNM, were recently launched by VRT, also utilizing SmartRadio.

A cloud- and web-based radio-as-a-service platform developed by Broadcast Partners, SmartRadio provides a software-based product to broadcasters, consisting of microservices that run in a virtualized Windows environment. SmartRadio can operate either online for streaming and other services or can provide production, editing and streaming services to terrestrial broadcasters.

Orban Labs partnered with Broadcast Partners to add SmartProcessing capability to the SmartRadio platform. Using SmartProcessing, stations can select parameters for processing to create their own custom, unique “sound.” Algorithms used in SmartProcessing are comparable to Orban’s Optimod hardware processors.

Radio World welcomes submissions for the Who’s Buying What column from both buyers and sellers. Email [email protected] with “Who’s Buying What” in the subject line.

The post Who’s Buying What: VRT’s Studio Brussel Opts for SmartRadio appeared first on Radio World.

Author: RW Staff
Posted: May 25, 2020, 6:30 am

LaBarge says industry suffers from antiquated modeling and outdated assumptions about grounding

The post Grounding: GroundLinx Advocates for New Approach appeared first on Radio World.

Tom LaBarge, CEO of GLxT Holdings

Tom LaBarge is CEO of GLxT Holdings and its manufacturing subsidiary GroundLinx Technologies. The company makes a system called Gradiance that it promotes as providing a new approach to electrical grounding.

Radio World: Don’t we know pretty much what we need to know about grounding?
Tom LaBarge: The necessity for electrical grounding has indeed been well known for over two centuries. But well known and well understood are not always synonymous.

The current industry specifications to achieve compliance in a grounding installation are woefully outdated and dangerously anemic with respect to the electronics-rich culture of contemporary society.

Even “enhanced” grounding systems exclusively rely on a humble ground rod — inspired by Ben Franklin — which, in fact, has only a single point of primary dissipation for fault currents, as well as no capability for high-frequency dispersion.

Regardless, engineers continue to specify not only antiquated technology, but also inaccurate models of grounding performance and on point-in-time resistance-to-ground measurements made with low-voltage, low-frequency test equipment.

“Significant research is now available that shows dissipation of dangerous fault currents can be accomplished very successfully if novel combinations of new materials and electrode structures are employed.” — Tom LaBarge

These meters cannot capture the dynamic characteristics of an entire fault event. Thus, the limitations of basic ground rods, combined with grounding system designs built only to achieve snapshot-quality resistance measurements, result in much less than optimal protection of the broadcasting plant.

However, significant research is now available that shows dissipation of dangerous fault currents can be accomplished very successfully if novel combinations of new materials and electrode structures are employed.

Such designs can properly manage high frequencies in these currents, as well as more efficiently disperse all aspects of a fault pulse over time through better management of differences of impedance in elements of a grounding system.

Existing technology — as discussed within the broadcasting industry for many years — is not able to achieve these essential results, thus causing increasing failures of critical equipment.

In fact, there is a tremendous amount of new information to review and understand with respect to effective grounding — particularly as the financial and operating demands of broadcasters evolve.

RW: You’ve said systems can fail “in spite of their adherence to commonly accepted design standards.” It sounds like the standards themselves need to change, no?
LaBarge: We absolutely advocate for standards to be changed — based on a new understanding of fault current characteristics, dramatic limitations of present grounding technology and the shortcomings of contemporary grounding system analysis techniques.

The quantity and sophistication of electronics required in broadcasting of any type, whether commercial, public safety, industrial or transportation, among many other uses, has leapfrogged the published performance goals of traditional grounding. We seek to be the change agents toward substantially improving protection of expensive equipment, and reduction in injuries and loss of lives.

RW: Your GroundLinx Gradiance system aims to provide a solution. What is it?
LaBarge: Through the use of novel combinations of materials not previously found in grounding devices, these products are capable, first, of non-sacrificially dissipating current frequencies exceeding 60 MHz, the point where copper begins to lose effectiveness, and second, creating an “impedance gradient” that dramatically reduces the possibility of reflection of a fault current, throughout the event, back into systems and devices that a grounding strategy was designed to protect.

Traditional ground rods are not able to offer these protective features. With GroundLinx Gradiance systems we’ve reimagined and redesigned the “business end” of grounding to protect the super-sensitive electronics of the contemporary broadcast plant at a significantly higher level.

An image from the GroundLinx Gradiance website. (Click on the image to view a larger version.)

RW: What are the major deficiencies in common grounding systems?
LaBarge: In a nutshell we can group major causes of the significant deficiencies into two megacategories: absence of research and development over several decades, and a general lack of understanding of the physics behind grounding performance overall. Additionally, within the world of traditional grounding, there is little consensus on system design standards.We’ve heard it said that if one puts 10 grounding design engineers in a room, 11 opinions will emerge.

In terms of industry codes, grounding has always been an exercise, necessary to achieve a stated resistance-to-ground target — which is of very limited value with respect to true, full-fault-event dissipation. This rote activity is repeated all over the world. As a result, the U.S. insurance industry alone reports over $1 billion in lightning losses every year. (This excludes fire damage initiated by lightning.) European Union organizations site “billions of Euros” lost annually due to lightning and fault current events.

Due to antiquated modeling, inaccurate representations of fault current behavior and a “We’ve always done it this way” attitude, the use of everything from highly insufficient conductor size or deployment, to exclusive reliance on soil moisture, to creation of “ground loops” that allow fault currents to return to structures and equipment, the range and amount of dangerous errors in grounding system design are rather amazing.

As an example, at a recent site inspection at an eastern U.S. larger-market television tower, three chain-link fence posts embedded in concrete were being used as grounding for this tower more than 1,000 feet tall. Not surprisingly, the facility suffers equipment damage exceeding $50,000 annually.

Reviews at smaller-market radio facilities nearly always show major disregard for grounding necessities. As a result, off-air time, or signal disruption events at a minimum, are far too common.
In all cases, the throttling of major fault currents into small ground rods, regardless of quantity, that have a huge disparity in impedance relative to surrounding soils (and possibly amendments) far too often results in completely insufficient dispersal of the fault, and therefore equipment damage, or worse.

We see this situation in well over 90% of the sites we review.

In our experience, U.S. broadcast facilities of all types and applications are generally designed to achieve compliance with the current published standards and codes. They are often tested and certified to comply with specified static/point-in-time resistance-to-ground readings. However, as I said, such measurement is only a snapshot of system performance made with simple test meters — which cannot emulate the performance of a grounding system over time during a major fault event where over 30,000 amps and 250,000 volts at frequencies exceeding 200 MHz may be encountered.

Broadcasters need to up their grounding game, and do so quickly.

RW: What else should we know?
LaBarge: Steep waveforms at the initiation of lightning strikes and fault surges are now understood to contain a simultaneous mélange of frequencies that often exceed 100 MHz. It is the inability to deal with this toxic onslaught that is often to blame for signal loss, equipment damage and worse. Immediate dissipation of the high-frequency barrage — before its reflection back into equipment can occur — is paramount. Unfortunately, copper is only optimally effective up to 60 MHz, and loses effectiveness quickly above that level. Therefore, rethinking of grounding system materials and structures, and overall grounding strategies, is necessary.

Quite simply, the “criticality” of greatly improved grounding in broadcasting operations through attention to fault frequencies and grounding impedance mismatches cannot be overstated. For operating consistency and financial prudence, we encourage radio broadcasting engineers to become far more “acquainted“ with grounding systems of their facility.

Information about the company’s grounding systems can be found at www.groundlinx.com.

Radio World welcomes comments on this or any story. Email [email protected] with “Letter to the Editor” in the subject field.

The post Grounding: GroundLinx Advocates for New Approach appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Paul McLane
Posted: May 23, 2020, 6:43 am

Our social distancing does not need to be completely distant

The post Community Broadcaster: Four Zoom Tips for Community Radio appeared first on Radio World.

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

Many community radio stations are hosting virtual meetings for board members, volunteers and staff. It is a new world for many. But how do you avoid Zoom disaster?

Stations have long flourished on the aesthetic of community, which means face-to-face interactions and groups of people gathering together. For many, video conferencing is something their stations have never done before. However, there is no reason to stress out. The etiquette of virtual meetings is not much different than what you’re used to.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Remote Forever]

At the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, we have hosted weekly video conferences on Zoom since the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as webinars and meetings of various sizes. NFCB has been holding such gatherings for several years. As a facilitator, I have seen many video conference successes and fails. How can you and your organization do Zoom well? Here are a few recommendations.

Turn on Your Video
Little is more off-putting to fellow staff and volunteers than someone who won’t bother to turn on their video, or who has not worked out kinks with their audio and video before showing up. In this pandemic period, where so much is done through online meetings, video is crucial in building trust and engagement. Video also keeps you engaged; people can see you multitasking or being distracted, so consider this your time to give your all to the meeting at hand. Short of your background being distracting or inappropriate, video should be on. Body language, eye contact and rapport still matter.

Set Meetings to Mute on Entry, and Mute Yourself to Start
I once heard that unmute was today’s Reply All. And it is true! If your station is hosting meetings of five or more, your facilitator will make everyone’s day by setting the meeting to mute all initially. We need to remember that people are at all kinds of places when they join these meetings. People’s significant others and families may be in close proximity. Dogs are scampering about. As well, if you are attending a meeting, no one wants to hear your side conversation about breakfast or, worse, an unflattering opinion about someone on your call. Click Mute and save yourself embarrassment and worse.

Private Chat Is Not Private
Related to the above, do not say something in a private chat that you would not say in the public meeting to co-workers or other volunteers at your station. Also, do not be creepy. Those are rules of thumb for life, but apply doubly for Zoom, which permits meeting hosts to get full chat transcripts, including of those that are sent privately between two parties in a meeting. Thus, you will find stories like this one, this, and this one, where people are shocked to discover their meetings were littered with rude, profane or abusive backchannel conversations, and the perpetrators of such soon learn they are in hot water, or out of a job, for violating organizational policies.

Use Chat Liberally
Chat boxes are wonderful to share links, insights and other resources others can look back at later. Save your on-microphone time for something you do not wish to type out, or that will resonate more with other volunteers and staff when it is spoken, rather than typed.

There are many tutorials about lighting, headsets and other matters related to video meetings. However, the basic rules of video meetings are not far from in-person success tips. Zoom forward and help enhance your stations as much as possible!

The post Community Broadcaster: Four Zoom Tips for Community Radio appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Ernesto Aguilar
Posted: May 23, 2020, 2:48 am

Coloff Media station is chosen for the NAB Crystal Heritage Award for service

The post KCVM Is Part of Life in Cedar Valley appeared first on Radio World.

KCVM, NAB Crystal Radio Awards, Jim Coloff
Jim Coloff, right, accepts a donation from Diya Pradeep of Cedar Falls, who for her 10th birthday asked friends to donate to the charity instead of giving her a gift. She raised $1,000.

A station can only be honored with the NAB Crystal Heritage Award after receiving five Crystal Radio Awards for outstanding community service. KCVM(FM) in small-market Cedar Falls, Iowa, is the latest station so honored.

How small is Cedar Falls? If one combines it with the population of the larger nearby city of Waterloo it is still only Nielsen Audio market 237. Yet, Jim Coloff, owner and general manager of KCVM, is able to run that station and three others in his cluster, make a profit and still devote hundreds of hours each year to public service for his communities.

“Yeah, I love small markets,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s more difficult than operating in a large market, but we all do have to wear more hats.”

[Read: Crystal Radio Awards Winners Announced]

“We have smaller staffs, we don’t have big budgets, but we sure have a diverse workday because we all do a little of everything. I will say we have fewer employee-type headaches so in that sense it may be easier! But if we’re doing the right job, we might be the only game in town, the only local media voice and the only local access these communities have.”

Magical Mix Kids

Coloff came by radio and public service naturally; his parents Tony and Sue Coloff started a station in 1978 in Forest City, Iowa. Jim joined the company in 1991 and partnered with his parents until purchasing the Coloff Media Group in 2017.

KCVM, NAB Crystal Radio Awards
Fun at a Magical Mix Kids event.

“My parents, mostly retired at this point, used to work as volunteers for various causes when I was growing up. I was raised with the belief that you support the community that supports your business. So I immediately got involved and now I require the same of my staffs, here in Cedar Falls and in the other markets where we own stations.”

Coloff Media owns stations in other Iowa mini-markets including Britt, Charles City, Forest City, Manchester, Mason City and New Hampton. The group now includes 12 stations, all of which follow the “give back” directive from the Coloffs.

KCVM took its desire to help the community a step further 20 years ago when it began its own charity, Magical Mix Kids, a 501(c)(3) organization.

“Magical Mix Kids, named after the station’s designation as ‘93.5 the Mix,’ is similar to the national Make-A-Wish, but the difference is that our kids are not necessarily terminally ill,” said Coloff.

“Most of our kids are suffering from chronic and life-shortening conditions as well as terminal conditions. We feel the psychological and financial stress that is put on these families makes them deserving of a respite from their troubles. What better place to send them than Walt Disney World?”

“This is the biggest activity we’re involved in, and every year we send these kids and their families, about 80 or 90 people in all, on that trip. It takes the entire year to raise the nearly $100,000 it takes to accomplish that.”

KCVM, NAB Crystal Radio Awards
School fundraiser organizers are interviewed on 93.5 The Mix.

Smart Hiring

Getting good personnel is a challenge in any market, and in a small town there’s always the danger that the best people will want to go elsewhere to make more money. Add to that Coloff Media’s special criteria for all employees.

“We’ve had some people who moved on to larger markets, but we scout like everyone else at the college level and we go to the recruitment fairs,” said Coloff.

“We check out the workforce development sites and work fairs, but I tell you, it’s not so much where we look but the kind of people we’re looking for that matters. We want people who need to make a difference in their community,” he continued.

“Of course they have to have talent, but we would take someone with less training and experience but who is willing to learn. And most of all they have to have already been involved their community. Some of our people have been with us 15, 20, 25 years, and it’s because they are talented enough but they decided that this community is where they want to raise their families.”

Kim Manning is manager of the Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitors Bureau and a frequent collaborator on promotions with KCVM.

“All we have to do is pick up the phone and call the station, and anyone there will be willing to help us, not just Jim,” she said.

KCVM, NAB Crystal Radio Awards
Bob Westerman conducts interviews during a broadcast from the site of a flag mural on a local Amvets post in Cedar Falls.

“He has instilled this attitude across his entire staff; and if an event will benefit the community, they are always onboard. For example, we all worked together on Pedal Fest, which is a cycling event we started five years ago. It’s free and this year it’ll be every weekend in September. Jim Coloff attends just about every auction in town, and he’s active in Rotary Club and other service organizations. He’s always there for anyone who needs him.”

The KCVM calendar can be found on the station’s site www.935themix.com, and in normal nonpandemic times is full of events like blood drives, Kiwanis meetings, fundraisers and pancake breakfasts.

Radio stations must still pay the bills and meet payroll. Here is what Coloff says about radio’s viability and how it is tied to his goals for the community.

“I can’t speak for every market in the country or every radio station, but I think if radio is done right, and if the stations are involved in their communities, and make that goal part of the culture of the radio station, radio can be a huge part of its listeners’ lives.”

KCVM, NAB Crystal Radio Awards
Volunteering at a food event to help the needy are station staff, from left, Janelle Rench, Mark Simpson, Lori Payne.

“Our stations provide a locally connected community delivered via live and local audio, available on every distribution channel including terrestrial radio, mobile/PC stream, enabled devices and even video. I think a radio station can be a driving force in a community’s success in a lot of ways, but you have to be committed to spending time and resources on becoming involved and doing hyper-local programming.”

Ken Deutsch is a former disc jockey and former TV director who also ran a jingle studio for 24 years. In fact, he says he’s now a former almost everything. 

 

The post KCVM Is Part of Life in Cedar Valley appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Ken Deutsch
Posted: May 23, 2020, 1:37 am

Station puts contingency plans in place for the future

The post Lawo, KQED Ready Remote Radio Master Control appeared first on Radio World.

The author is Radio Marketing Specialist for Lawo AG.

Radio has always been a vital source of news and information when crises hit. California’s public broadcasters have traditionally been prepared for nearly any eventuality, such as disasters like earthquakes, floods and wildfires. And now they must be prepared to inform listeners during a pandemic as well.

KQED’s remote control center at Sutro Tower. The Sapphire mixer on the table is a remote control for the sapphire located in the station’s Master Control Room. The three screens are VisTool GUIs that control all of the mixing and peripheral devices in the three on-air studios used for the “Forum” call-in program.

In San Francisco, NPR member station KQED observed other stations in the U.S. where personnel were unable to access their facilities due to COVID-19 shutdowns, and took action to ensure remote access to their FM‘s Master Control Room and adjacent production facilities.

“We had to ask ourselves what we would do if one of our staff members tested positive for the virus. How would we produce our daily programming if the facilities were off-limits?” says Donny Newenhouse, executive director of broadcast engineering and operations at KQED.

“We knew we would need the ability to run our Master Control Room from a remote location. We also needed to remotely-control the three production studios where our daily call-in program, “Forum,” originates. All of these rooms have Lawo sapphire mixing consoles, so we called Lawo and asked – how can we do this?”

“There wasn’t an off-the-shelf solution to remote-control the sapphire consoles and also control the integrated networked systems, but our engineering staff had some ideas,” says Herbert Lemcke, key account manager/president, Lawo Corp. Americas. “A key aspect of the solution was to use KQED’s spare sapphire mixing surface as a remote for the one in MCR by using CANBus-to-IP converters to connect to and control the station’s console core and Nova73 router.”

KQED’s engineering space at Sutro Tower (the main transmission site for many Bay Area TV and FM stations) hosts the emergency remote setup, a solution already employed by KQED’s television operations, which have a backup TV Master Control at Sutro. Using the sapphire surface installed at the tower site, KQED’s operators can directly control the operation of the sapphire located in the station’s MCR for complete control of all satellite feeds and local programming sources.

The second part of the project — creating a “virtual studio” at Sutro for operators to produce the daily “Forum” call-in program — required a different kind of remote control. For this, Lemcke and Lawo R&D engineer Andreas Schlegel designed a touchscreen mixing console interface using Lawo’s VisTool GUI Building software.

This connects via IP from the Sutro Tower site to KQED’s downtown studios, which should give complete access to all mixing functions and console resources in the station’s three control rooms, including the codec pool, broadcast VoIP phone system, Dalet playout system — even talkback and mix-minus channels.

Lawo engineers were able to give KQED the solution they needed: the entire physical and virtual remote control solution was executed, tested and proofed in under a week’s time, and reports from operators on the virtual studio implementation have been very positive.

“With the combination of hardware remote control of Master Control, and VisTool virtual control of our studio mixing consoles, our contingency plans are in place and ready should we need them,” says Newenhouse. “But we hope we never will.”

The post Lawo, KQED Ready Remote Radio Master Control appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Clark Novak
Posted: May 22, 2020, 12:00 pm

Attorney Richard Hayes asks FCC to suspend Equal Employment Opportunity regulations

The post Today, EEO Rules Are Harming Stations appeared first on Radio World.

Communications attorney Richard Hayes has been busy during the coronavirus pandemic, sending a letter to the FCC with a number of suggestions, many, if not all of which would help his clients survive. See here.

 He has now sent a more detailed letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai concerning, temporarily at least, relieving stations of EEO regulations while the coronavirus pandemic continues. This idea was outlined in the previous letter.

 Here follows the text of the latest letter.

Everyone in the radio industry appreciates your proactive stance in helping stations survive during this virus by eliminating unnecessary and burdensome rules. Please keep up the good work. There is more you can do and that is the reason for this letter.

I represent about 100 different radio stations across the country. They are struggling more now than they ever have in the 38 years I have been practicing communications law. Station revenues are down 50, 60, 70 and 80%. Many small stations, particularly standalone AM and FM broadcasters, were struggling before the pandemic and the likelihood that some will financially survive is doubtful. If the crisis continues, you can expect to see stations filing Special Temporary Authority requests to shut down until they can operate profitably. Some are already in advanced discussions to go silent.

Here is a big way you might be able to help. From what I have observed, the EEO program, as it applies to broadcasters, is a total waste of time. First, broadcasting is not a suspect industry which requires such monitoring.  Second, the EEO program is toothless. What other industry has to jump through these pointless hoops? Suggesting that the EEO program prevents discrimination is not supported by any data and no data has ever been provided to the public to show that the EEO program, as administered by the FCC, is in any way effective.

Widely recruiting for specialized positions is an empty gesture and solves no discrimination problems. Forcing stations to conduct meaningless EEO initiatives is also counterproductive. Before the pandemic, conducting a job fair when the station had no job openings really annoys the public and irritates the radio station. Now that we are facing extreme unemployment, I doubt that any of the EEO initiatives are appropriate. Stations will hire back their furloughed employees. I note that there has been some relief for broadcasters in this regard as the commission has stated that there will be a 90-day window in which stations may hire back their furloughed employees without having to recruit. They planned to do so, anyway. This relief doesn’t go far enough.

Yesterday [May 20], I completed an EEO Public File Report for a small cluster of stations in rural Indiana. That report was 324 pages long! All of those pages were necessary to complete the report. Two months ago, for the same cluster of stations, I prepared a detailed Audit Response. These reports provide nothing regarding the prevention of discrimination. They are composed of page after page of advertising “copy” with hundreds of pages showing the exact times each announcement was aired. The report detailed EEO initiatives with “copy” and exact times despite the fact that the stations have had to furlough employees and drastically reduce expenses just to stay on the air.

The EEO program is a pointless burden which the commission cannot rationally defend (other than politically). That small, rural cluster of Indiana radio stations had to pull one employee from other critical duties for more than a week in order to assemble all of the EEO materials required for the report. Other employees such as news directors and traffic personnel were also required to divert their attention to the EEO report’s compilation. This is a total waste of resources, especially now.

Please consider suspending the EEO rules for the duration of the crisis. It would also be helpful if the entire EEO program was placed under review to determine if it is actually making any difference or if it just squandering limited financial and personnel resources for nothing more than a political benefit.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

The post Today, EEO Rules Are Harming Stations appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Richard J. Hayes, Jr.
Posted: May 22, 2020, 3:18 am

 

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