By Clay Freinwald SBE Seattle Chapter 16Featuring News, Rumors and Views From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources

Clay’s Corner for August 2012

The big story in July had to be the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.  It was interesting to watch all the networks scramble to cover the story….Hopefully we won’t have another one of these.

August has some special meaning for me as it was back on August 1, 1961 that I got my first full-time job in Broadcasting….Looking in the mirror I can understand that this was 51 years ago.   I would have never dreamed that I would still be at it in 2012.   Wished I’d kept that 49 Ford however.

On July 28th – Many members and friends of Chapter 16 again gathered in the ‘backyard’ of KOMO-AM on Vashon Island for the annual SBE Picnic.    Again our thanks to Tim Moore and the crew at KOMO for opening the door to their historic facility and providing a great place for our event.  Thanks also to Shannon Nichols and BSW for again sponsoring this event.   The day started with overcast conditions and drizzle….By the time the first burgers were coming off the grill, the sun was winning the battle.

Did everyone get the EAS Equipment connected to the FEMA/IPAWS Server?   There have been a few wrinkles.   Our State EAS Remailer has been a wonderful tool with this change, especially having as subscribers the major manufacturers that have been quick to offer help. A big thank you goes out to Lowell Kiesow of KPLU for his tireless work of aiding those needing

Help.    By now everyone should have their EAS equipment connected to TWO CAP Servers- FEMA/IPAW – AND – The Washington State MyStateUSA system.    If you don’t – contact Lowell at KPLU (253-535-8758) for assistance.    Before I leave the topic of EAS – Remember that ALL your legacy Monitoring Assignments remain a requirement…These new CAP systems are – in addition to – what you have  been doing.

Weather across the country has been hot and dry with a lot of records set.  So how bad is it?

Water rationing is the law in many areas.   It’s been reported that ‘lawn painting’ is being done in some areas.  Then there is the stress caused to the power grids and, of course.  Let’s not forget the huge wind-storm that caused a massive power outage leaving many who can’t fathom being without A/C….in the heat.  That wind-storm and resulting power failures showed just how frail cell-phones really are.  (The Nisqually quake here proved that to many of us here years ago).  Broadcasting – again- came through and demonstrated how it can rise to the occasion.  Pretty hard to beat point-multi-point distribution systems.   Those that have been calling for having FM radios in cellphones were eager to tell all – See what I mean!

I heard a story on NPR where they interviewed a person that was sick and tired of the heat etc. and was moving to Portland.   This is a real reversal as most folks would never even consider moving to the PNW because they know – it rains ALL the time.    If the truth about our weather gets out we could be in real trouble, especially in light of the new determination that Seattle has the 4th worst traffic in the country.

Here in Western Washington we are enjoying (?) a relatively cool summer.   One thing that was quite unusual was several days of thunderstorms and a zillion lightning strikes.   KGY in Olympia apparently got hit with damage to their main transmitter, have not heard about anything else getting zapped.    Was certainly interesting watching the weather radar and seeing weather coming our way in reverse, i.e., over the Cascades from the East.

We recently lost a historic Seattle TV personality with the passing of Chris Wedes, aka, JP Patches.   He passed on July 22nd after a long battle with cancer.   Thinking about this a bit you need to understand that a huge number of people that never saw, or perhaps heard of JP Patches, Captain Puget, Stan Boreson or Brakeman Bill.   The thought of a major TV station doing programming aimed at children in the middle of the afternoon is complete foreign to them.

At this writing the Olympics are underway in the UK….The Internet is playing a major role this time with many watching the games – Live as opposed being delayed and broadcast at a time more suited for domestic program schedules.  This effort has taken the NBC effort to new levels.

The following picture is of the recently refurbished transmitter building for KVTI in Lakewood.

Hard to believe it’s the same place.   All new metal exterior, porches etc.   The 90.9 station is being operated cooperatively by CPTC and WSU’s Northwest Public Radio.   The red-stuff in the foreground is part of the Lakes High School new athletic field, immediately adjacent to the transmitter facility.

It happens now and then….In this case the Navy is suspected of being the cause of malfunctioning garage doors at a submarine base in Groton, CT.   Apparently, due to their low power, garage door opener transmitters don’t need a license.  Refreshing that the problem is not being caused by Amateur Radio or Broadcast operations.

I know, I’ve been saying this for a long time….But the Tribune bankruptcy could be coming to an end, with it could come the sale of its newspaper and flagship station, WGN, in Chicago.    Tribune, of course, owns 2 TV’s in Seattle.

For years it’s been suspected by the tin-foil-hat crowd that broadcast transmitters or power lines cause cancer.    Now a new study puts ‘light’ on a new suspect – CFL’s….Yep those curled up florescent light emitting devices .    Reportedly the Phosphor coatings on the bulbs wear off thereby causing them to leak high levels of UVC and UVA.   The study noted that old fashioned, power wasting and heat generating light bulbs are safe.

Recent studies have pointed out the aging of broadcast engineers.   Our industry appears to be much like Amateur Radio – Lots of Gray and White hair in our ranks.    Peters Almanac has a saying that appears to fit this situation “Early to bed and early to rise — till you get enough money to do otherwise.”    For the Senior Engineers out there – Think of it this way – You are not an old ____, elderly or a senior – You are just chronologically experienced

Being an official senior….I can’t help from noticing a recent ad in the newspaper for the “McIntosh 50th  Anniversary Edition Gold MC275 Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier” …Something to keep the house nice and warm on these summer days.   Sounds like back to the future to me.

The FCC is out with FY2012 Regulatory Fees for TV stations and wouldn’t you know it…the Commish had determine the amount paid should be based on the stations virtual channel and not the ‘real’ channel they occupy, even if that channel is in the higher end of the UHF band.  I guess that’s logical?

Can you believe that it’s time again for the NAB to call for papers for the next show in ‘Vegas?

In the event you have not marked your calendar, it’s April 6-11, 2013.  The deadline is Oct 19.

91.7, KXOT is now silent, in fact, they are officially silent as of June 29th    My memory of 91.7 goes back to when the station was operating as KTOY from a tower on top of Tacoma Vocational School at 11th and Yakima.  One morning, after a Pacific storm raked the area, that tower ended up lying across 11th street.   The stations transmitter was then moved to Indian Hill using the old KLAY-FM Transmitter and the call letters were changed to KBTC (as in Bates Technical College)    Later, after changing hands, the station made a number of upgrades and became KXOT and was operated by KUOW for some time.     Not sure what will happen to the station, or the plans to move to Gold Mountain.   Not often an FM goes dark in this market, NCE or Commercial.

A couple of names come to mind when I think of 91.7…..  One of the instructors at KTOY there was another broadcast legend in our area, Chuck Ellsworth. Chuck started 102.9 in Centralia (as KGME) that later became KELA-FM and is now known as KNBQ operated by Clear Channel and running the same programming as KJR-AM.   The other name, Terry Denbrook.  Terry spent many hours keeping KXOT on the air from Indian Hill.    Oh yes, one more thing about Indian Hill – that tower was used by KMO-AM prior to the 1360 AM moving to Browns Point.  It was erected in 1973….I know, I was there….and so was a very young Tom Pierson.

July 14th, about 11 AM, WA2MN was on the air on 42.8 (Megacycles) from the Armstrong tower in Alpine, NJ.   Very cool that the Major is still remembered in this way.
This past winter saw the broadcast site at South Mountain (West of Shelton) again sustained damage due to falling ice.    The following picture shows a damaged dish antenna belonging to KDDS.   Note how the feed is bent downward.    This cost the RSL about 20 db.

Speaking of South Mountain.   This site is about to become home to a third FM station with the addition of KANY on 93.7.   The station will operate with 33 kW at 677 Meters AAT using a directional antenna.   The City of License is Montesano, near Aberdeen.

Copper theft is a huge problem for many.    The following signs, on a government installation that’s been the victim of this activity is fighting back…Here are a couple of signs showing how they are dealing with the issue –


This month our Seattle SBE Chapter, working with one of our local utilities, Puget Sound Energy, will have a program dealing with this issue.   Watch the SBE-16 Remailer as well as Web-Site for more info.

On topic of copper theft – This just in from Kent Randles of Entercom-Portland

Some low-lifes broke into the old round green 1080 transmitter building last night.  There were not a lot of things worth stealing, since almost everything of use has been moved to the new site next door, but they were after anything of value, especially copper.

The obvious items of value were a small Honda portable generator and a Vertex UHF mobile 2-way radio.  For some reason they decided to take a big old Tek scope.  However, one of them knew enough to take the two sets of tubes to my Raytheon RA-1000 which I had been storing there.  A copy of the manual was in the tube box.  One set was wrapped in newspaper, but the other set was new in boxes.

So keep a look out for a group of the following tubes:
If you come across any of the items above and think they may have been stolen, please call or text me at 503-544-4289.

Sirius XM keeps growing with almost 30 million subscribers.   Can’t help but reflect on those that said this was a venture that was sure to fail.  Flush with cash the Sat-Broadcaster has announced they are going to be retiring $186 Million in Debt – Early.   Considering the economic climate the last few years for many firms, this is certainly a bright spot.

The July 8th Seattle Times NW Magazine had a picture in their Then and Now section that caused quite a buzz.   Shown was a staff picture of KRAB (Now KNDD).   Shown in the picture is a considerably younger Ben Dawson.

Another wonderful quote – If it weren’t for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners.  – Johnny Carson

If you are an Amateur Radio buff, or perhaps an electronic experimenter –The Radio Club of Tacoma is putting on its annual Electronic Flea Market – Date is August 11th at Bethel Junior High in Spanaway…For more info, check out

Here in Seattle we know well what it means for a print publication to go on line – Now comes news that Newsweek Magazine may be near doing the same thing.   Makes me wonder if the term  – News Stand –is going to be a short-timer ?

Many stations have been thinking about sustainability and have looked for ways to reduce their energy or carbon footprint.  In one case, which still causes me to smile….a, very non-technical person on the staff who was given the task to lead the charge, asked me to compare the energy use of the stations transmitter compared to a Ford Explorer, he then asked me if the transmitter could be converted to solar power.   Looking at this another way, why not push for greater receiver sensitivity so that broadcasters could turn the power down?   Next time you are faced with those that are looking for energy conservation toss this item their way….It’s been estimated that a single Google search takes about as much power as turning on and off a 60 wall light bulb for 17 seconds.   Explain to them how much power server farms consume and suggest they should be concerned about how much energy they waste surfing the web.

Got a note from old friend John Franz who used to work in this market – Happy to share –

It is with excitement that I tell you that I have accepted the Director of Engineering position with Max Media Montana. I plan to report to work in Missoula some time next week. MMM operates a HUB in Missoula pushing 12 streams (ABC on .1 and FOX on .2) to 6 stations and a stand alone NBC with 2 streams in Billings. Because of the topology of the state, MMM also operates translators and supports community translators in just about every habitable valley in the state. They also serve areas in Wyoming. It a different model than in most markets where all you have to do is feed the cable

Mt Rushmore Broadcasting in Wyoming has set some sort of record with a total of almost 70 Grand in FCC files…All related to lack of the required paperwork filed with the FCC for their STL’s.    It’s not unusual for some small broadcasters to make STL changes without going thru the required steps; in this case, the FCC has come down hard.  Perhaps causing others to scramble to make sure that their systems are operating within the Commission’s Rules.

And…The FCC has not forgotten about CB Radio…especially when a CB’er causes interference to fire department radio communications.    Refusing to let the FCC inspect his station didn’t help his case either.   So….Mr. Jones in Merced California has been fined $7,000

Before I end this month’s column…A big thank you for permitting me to chair the Seattle Chapter of SBE these past two years.    I will still be around one more year on the Board of Directors.  I’m excited about the direction of our Chapters new leadership and wish them the best.

That’s it for this month – Enjoy the rest of summer !

Clay Freinwald, K7CR, CPBE