Clay’s Corner for April 2022
Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986
With things going the way they are, we can probably look for more of the old Shortwave facilities being, again, pressed into duty providing coverage of all of Russia. If this situation drags on for years, there may well be a number of new facilities constructed.
As DAB and FM become popular in Europe, they have / are abandoning their short-wave transmission facilities. Very short-sighted, akin to throwing away an old but functional flashlight because the lens is cracked. One issue with short-wave BC is the electric bill. I understand Moscow discontinued their broadcasting and jamming for this reason. Long-live AM radio!
As they say – In other news……
How about the on-line book store, turned mega-giant buying MGM for $8.5 Billion? Certainly, Amazon has been doing more in the world of on-screen entertainment. This is certainly going to help that effort. The deal will give them access to over 4,000 film titles and 17,000+ TV episodes.
On the East Coast, Philadelphia’s Legacy KYW/1060 now sports a new logo, adding 103.9. While on the West Coast, Los Angeles based KNX/1070 is now also heard on 97.1.
Here in Seattle, a few years ago, KIRO shifted their historic news operation from AM to FM. They followed up by adding both of their AM’s to HD2 & HD3 channels on KIRO-FM/97.3
Now that we have ‘Sprung Ahead’ and are on Daylight Time – many are pushing for making this
the new Standard Time. The US Senate has approved the idea, now it’s up to the House. This has signaled the start of a lot of debate – Here are some of the items that I’ve picked up.
- The impact of this depends on your location in a time zone. For example, if you are on the Eastern Edge of a time zone, your sunrise is already likely an hour earlier than those on the western edge. Meaning that the amount ‘later in the day’ daylight will vary.
- It depends on your latitude. The impact of time shifting will be greater the further north you are.
- Those daytime only AM stations will find this change rather severely limiting their morning operations. Example – In this area a Daytimer, in December, cannot sign on until 745 AM (Standard time). A switch to Daylight Time, year around, will mean that station will not be able to sign on until when local clocks read 845 AM. On the plus side, they will be able to stay on a hour later, signing off at 5:15 PM instead of 4:15 PM.
- The impact will be the same for those AMs that change power and/or antenna patterns twice a day.
- Perhaps the most interesting part of this effort is that we did it before, back in the 70s. That time it was determined to be a bad idea and we all went back to Spring Forward and Falling Back.
It’s interesting to look back at the development of the Cellphone. Back in the 1980’s they were new and about to replace the mobile telephones that were available from radio common carriers, including the telephone company. These new devices were about the size of a ‘brick’ and were expensive to own and operate. I love this picture –
Back in the 80’s it was predicted that, perhaps, a million would own them by 2000. That was the year the total number of subscribers hit 108 million. It was further predicted the Cellular phones would never replace local wireline systems. There are a lot of people that have since retired with a lot of money in their accounts that, perhaps, still laugh at that prediction.
Email is another one that’s fun to look back at. Electronic mail was invented way back in 1965 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the first message from computer to computer was sent in 1969 via the US Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). Interestingly, the agency initially dismissed the technology, stating that sending messages between users “was not an important motivation for a network of scientific computers”.
Even during the mid-1990s when email was going mainstream naysayers were dismissive of the technology. In 1994 UK government officials mulling over whether to set up an email account for the then-prime minister John Major claimed that the new method of exchanging messages would likely never catch on.
If you are heading for NAB this month- Be prepared for some really big changes. For those of you that recall attending this event, to the west, across Paradise Road was a huge parking lot and the Riviera Hotel (Which used to host a number of related events). The Riviera is gone (as is the Landmark Hotel) and in its place is the new, huge, ‘West Hall’.
The old Convention Center looked like this – Viewed from the Southwest.
The new West-Hall was constructed where you see the Gray Square on the lower left, above.
Other changes are underground.
The Vegas Loop now connects, in figure-8 form, the new West Hall with a Central Hall Plaza underground transportation station and a similar arrival station at the back of South Hall (near parking lots for cars). The Loop is powered by a network of Tesla electric cars, which are human driven and not autonomous—for now.
It’s my understanding that the South Hall will not be used for NAB, just the West, North and Central.
Here are some links to some videos that will help you better understand and appreciate the changes
The new West Hall is extremely impressive –
- 600,000 square feet. (That’s about 3 times the size of the biggest Costco)
- Within the new building is a 328,000 square foot – column free- area the largest of any facility in North America. The columns are 270 feet apart.
- The floor is equally impressive – 10 inches thick. This to handle huge mining machines that are shown there.
- And to handle the show equipment – There are 41 loading docks.
- 80 meeting rooms ranging in size from 700 to 18,000 square feet.
- Want to show things outside? They said the parking lot, immediately west of the new West Hall (location of the former Riviera) can be converted to almost 200,000 square feet of outdoor exhibit space.
Podcasts have come a long way in a short period of time! According to Edison Research the 4th quarter of 2021 shows the mode now holding an 11% share of listening. As an oldster that grew up with Radio programs ranging from children’s programming to soap operas. Podcasting almost sounds like radio of yesteryear. Do you recall – Talking Books? You used to be able to purchase them on Cassettes and listen to them in your car. The bottom line is it shows the viability of the spoken word.
The FCC recently suggested Cumulus Media be fined $32,000 for EEO and iHeart Media $20,000 for contest violations. Indicating that this is an area that all US Broadcasters need to take a close look at to make sure they are not in violation.
In Chicago, the FCC fined the owner of an FM Translator $8,000 for having it off the air for several months. The Comish wants these things to be operating, and if not, get permission to go silent.
The world of Wireless is abuzz with 5G. According to one of the big-3, Verizon, they expect 5G to cover 175 million people by the end of this year.
I recently ran across an interesting article about tower construction. As we all know, towers are a vital part of every broadcast station, whether AM, FM or TV. Towers have been, historically, made of steel, for perhaps obvious reasons. In recent years, aircraft makers have been moving more toward composite materials. Now a company is doing the same with towers.
A company based in Orem, Utah have founded ‘Iso Truss Industries’. To date, they have more than 40 patents for the design and manufacturing process for their composite process. The are a number of impressive aspects of their products like – eliminating issues with rusting while reducing weight.
They have, in service, a 200 foot tower holding a wind-generator that’s been in use for some time. Now, several large tower companies have shown interest in using their products. Who knows, this could be the future?
Here’s a picture of one man holding up a 20 foot section of tower. Something you could not do with steel!
The FCC is – once again- considering making changes to the EAS. This time creating what they are calling ‘Designated Hitters’ to ensure EAS reaches Non-English Speakers.
The FCC in December launched a proceeding which aims to make the Emergency Alert System more accessible. It also opened the door to bigger changes. The National Association of Broadcasters believes that includes a move to formalize a process in which stations would partner with a non-English station in their market and step in to provide information during an emergency if the non-English station is knocked off the air.
The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) is urging the FCC to embrace the so-called designated hitter system. If, for instance, all the Spanish-language stations go dark during a hurricane, a general market station would flip to Spanish programming.
This remarkable shot came from Dwight Small looking at an unusually low arc rainbow in his backyard.
The following also came from Dwight, taken from the same location. I love the blue sky and white clouds with great reflections.
Looking out my bedroom window the first morning of Daylight Time on March 13th. Below, in the fog is Auburn, the steam plumes are from the Boeing Facility. During mornings like this, the fog is moving from left to right. I live just north of the junction of Green Valley and the, much larger, Green River valley. The fog forms in Green Valley, heads west and then it makes a right turn heading north. We call it ‘The Fog Machine’
Someone submitted this gem to KOMO-TV of Seattle looking across Elliott Bay at low tide. An incredible picture.
If you have a picture to share- Please send it my way !!
Hope to catch you here next month
Clay, K7CR, CPBE
SBE Member # 714
Since March 1968