Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

Color Television and print-media has brought us a vastly superior way to see the events of the day…at the same time they have un-covered some things that I have issues with.   Think back at how TV and Newspapers were all black and white and how we relied upon the writer, or in the case of TV, the announcer to tell us what color something was.   This was not a problem because our mind will ‘colorize’ for us.     For some reason the fact that we can actually – see- the color – has been lost to those whose words go along with the pictures.   When they don’t agree – I have a problem.   For example….The recent plane that crashed in the Java Sea….Every TV channel has described the search for the ‘black boxes’….and yet when these boxes were recovered…they were NOT black but bright ORANGE.     Who are they trying to fool – AND WHY?

The Mike and Key Club will be holding their 34th Annual Electronics Show and Flea market at the Washington State Fair Grounds in Puyallup on Saturday March 7th with doors opening at 9 AM.   This annual even is often attended by many broadcast engineers…For the last few years, many of us gathered for breakfast in Auburn prior to driving to the event …Perhaps you’d like to join us? – Drop me a note, or give me a call if you are interested in joining us for breakfast …This way I don’t have to give the restaurant a free commercialJ

If you recall a while back I recommended that we get away from some of the terms that we have been using, if for no other reason than the fact that too-many technophobes have been using our terms.

For example – Equipment should be referred to as ‘Apparatus’   Antennas should (again) be ‘Aerials’ etc.

In the interest in improving the verbal skills of Engineers, here are some terms you may wish to add to your vocabulary when conversing with technically challenged people –

 Replace – Wiring with ‘Infrastructure’ or IFL (Inter-facility-link)

  • Refer to negative outcomes as a ‘Kerfuffle’ or a brouhaha. If you are dealing with someone that’s perhaps an English major…You can reach a bit deeper in your tool box and use neurasthenia or psychasthenia
  • Replace CAT-5 or CAT-6 for a while and use another animal names just to see who notices.   DOG-6 has a nice ring to it.   See if anyone notices.

 Going back in time can be loads of fun –

 For TV –

  • Tell them the TV camera is down for ‘orbiter maintenance’
  • Run around the plant asking everyone where they put the Registration Chart

 For Radio –

  • Ask almost anyone in radio today how to back-time.
  • Ask someone what a Radio-Loop is ….or a NEMO.

When all else fails – and some quick wit lines are occurring to you ….you can always use ‘Double-Talk’…Nothing like some bafflegab or gobbliegook .   If you are looking for some material you can always find some gems in the speeches of GWB.

If you have some gems along this line that you are willing to share – drop me an email ….

Recently the Seattle Times in their Smart money column mentioned TV Antennas (always a favorite topic of mine) Allow me to quote –

“Reader seem to love learning more about an old-fashioned – and free – way to get TV programming with an over-the-air-antenna”     A reader wrote in and said “I was unaware of the current technology, I just purchased an antenna for $18”…..”And it works as advertised with excellent reception” The column writer added this gem – “…And the picture is likely to be superior to the one you get via cable or satellite because the signal is less compressed”    

What can I say other than WOW!   This is yet another example of how great technology from yesteryear can resolve issues today.   There is this mentality that assumes if it’s an old technology that it’s automatically inferior.   Hmmm, seems to me that Humans were designed some time back too J

Received a note from Rick Kemp announcing that he is no longer with OTA Broadcasting.   He’s decided to hang out his own shingle (His words)   For more info – Contact Rick at 208-869-6416 or via email at   Good luck Rick – keep in touch.

Older than me – Was talking with Jim Jones the other day down at J-Squared in Grants Pass, Oregon….Nice to know there is someone still working that’s older than me (by even just a little). Ooops…I failed to mention Ben Dawson.   Jim is one of the last of a breed of techs that does component level servicing .   He’s been at it for almost 30 years.

Keeping up with the times…The NAB show this year will feature an Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion that is sure to attract a lot of attention.   I have to ask …..Will those radio-controlled ‘Aerial-devices’ use Aerials?

Got an email from Ron Diotte, CE of Channel 11.   He was reading this column where I mentioned that the owners of the station elected to sell their tower.   Ron reminds us that the tower was first sold by CBS back in 2009 to Richland Tower and again in 2014 to American Tower. Ron, following up on my item about owners of electric cars in some locations in the country are using electricity that’s generated by the burning of coal therefore they are driving a coal powered vehicle., stated that he is now driving an electric car…knowing that a huge part of our power is generated by Hydro.   On that topic, I wonder if VW will come out with a VoltsWagen?

At least one station has announced they will take the money. In this case, it’s KMGM-TV in Atlantic City, N.J.   I wonder who in the Seattle market will take the bait?   Meanwhile, an AM station in the market is going to broadcast a 30 minute nightly newscast to replace the one that will go away on TV.   Obviously it remains to be seen just how many viewers to the cast on KMGM-TV will migrate to an AM Radio station…The video is likely to be pretty weak.

Alpha, who operates a cluster of radio stations in Portland has again whipped out their checkbook and is purchasing stations from Coast Radio Company in California.

KIRO-AM-710 here is Seattle (AKA ESPN Radio) is spreading its wings a bit. They have been simulcasting KJOX in Tri-Cities since 2013 and will now be adding KGA-AM-1510 from 7AM to 4 PM in Spokane.   A mini-network originating on Eastlake Ave in Seattle.   Station engineering honcho, Tom Pierson, reports the Seattle-Spokane connection will be via IP.     The Bonneville facility on Eastlake is no stranger to feeding other stations and markets from KIRO as well as KTTH.

For some time I have been asking our States EAS Steering Committee to come up with a new person to Chair the SECC.   Due to lack of any visible action on that front, I announced that the January meeting of the ground that 2015 would be my LAST YEAR as SECC Chair.   I’ve been doing this now for about 18 years and feel it’s time that someone else step forward and fill this chair.   I stressed that now would be a better time that waiting for me to expire…. At least now I can help get this person up to speed so that 1-1-16 the transition will be smoothly completed.     If you have an interest – now is the time to speak up.

A while back we were informed by NWS that this winter was going to be mild….Looks like the NWS Dart-Board was right on, at least thus far.   We’ve only had a couple of snows as West Tiger where I was glad I had my M/T’s on the truck.   The forecast for this coming weekend (Jan 24/25) calls for temps near 60!

Hope we get some winter, not just for the skiers, but for the snow-pack that we depend on for water this coming summer.   Anyone remember when Seattle had water rationing due to lack of mountain snow?   Unlike California, we are getting plenty of rain ….In fact too much.   The lack of snow could bite us in the future.   We have been warned this would start happening.

In the category of passages, we recently lost Bill Boeing Jr, the son of the airplane makers founder. Bill was 92.

Bill Boeing

What many don’t know, or recall, was that Bill was also a Broadcast Station owner here in Seattle back in 1959.     I recall 101.5, then called KETO and that little concrete block building on Cougar Mt being associated with the name Boeing back when I got started in this business.   Following Bill, in 1976, came Gene Autry and then, in 1994 Fisher. Today 101.5, now KPLZ, is owned by Sinclair who also operates KVI as well as KOMO Radio and TV

The FCC keeps telling folks not to run EAS Data Bursts for anything other than EAS…but for some reason the temptation to do what’s wrong overcomes many….And it’s becoming evident that these folks don’t have anyone in management that is warning them that the Feds will be in a ‘snit’ if you do it….So here we go again.     The FCC has fined ESPN $280K and Viacom 1.12 Million Bucks for EAS Abuse. Go ahead and call me stupid…but I just don’t get it.   What are the Feds to do to get the point across that this is a no-no?   Perhaps a 60 during the Super Bowl would work? And, of course, A Viacom spokesman deemed the response by federal authorities “unwarranted” and said they were considering their next steps

We all recently learned what happens when a wind-storm causes a power bump that trips circuit breakers on the NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter on Cougar Mountain during a Federal Holiday……The Answer?   Nothing.   Apparently NOAA does not repair these things during holidays.   Broadcast Engineers should be so lucky with our 25/7/365 jobs.   The bottom line is that if your assigned Monitoring Assignment calls for 162.550 in the Seattle Area you did not receive the test that they did not send.   Some stations in this area switched over to monitoring Capital or Miller Peak during this time…Proving that some broadcast engineers don’t get MLK day off.

Dwight, always watching his back, Small found this one –

If someone were to monitor my keystrokes as I write this column….They’d have a side-ache from laughing, not at the content, but at the mistrakes.

From Don Peters at Wazzu comes this –

We currently have a Telecommunications Systems Supervisor position open (university Title: Broadcast Chief Engineer). This is based in Pullman and supports Television, Radio and College of Communications. It supervises two classified staff currently. More information can be found at:

We will shortly have a Broadcast Tech II position opening. The emphasis of this position is Television studio operations. People can contact me about this position.

You can reach Don at

Looking at the latest, 12+ Radio Ratings for Seattle a couple of things of interest (to me anyway)

  • For the first time in quite a while a stations ratings were in double digits, in this case the #1 station, KRWM at a 10.7 -Likely due to their all Christmas Format.
  • The ONLY AM in the top 10 is KIRO – Perhaps….just maybe….Due to the Hawks?
  • The next AM on the list is KOMO ranking #19
  • KING-FM is doing very well ranking #8…Perhaps the lack of commercials?
  • The other Non-Comm’s are doing well with KUOW at #7 and KPLU Tied with KMPS
  • The Wolf appears to have won the Country Music wars ranking #6 compared to #17 for KMPS

Here comes Tablet TV which hopes to have service in the top TV markets by the end of 2016.   This is a really clever little gadget that receives OTA TV and transmits to a tablet via Wi-Fi.   Have to wonder why something like this has taken so long to come to market.   Roll out of the device is in San Francisco.   What I especially like about this is the recognition that broadcasters legacy point-multi-point system is much more efficient than an internet based delivery one where the bandwidth needs of everyone down-stream must be accommodated.   Just like antennas – It takes a while for better technology to be adopted for the simple reason that it’s been around for so long.

A bit of a time-out for a Dog update.   As you know we lost Taylor back in November. In early December our dog groomer, who is also involved with pet rescue, called telling us she had a rescued a year and a half old Yorkie that we should see.   We did and quickly adopted the fella.   The story of his name is interesting.   I have often thought if I got another male dog I would name him Yagi.   When we ask what this fellows name was they said ‘Shaggy’.   Wow, that’s close….When I bent down and called him Yagi…he came right to me….DONE!     Yagi is a wonderful, loving and outgoing pup that will certainly be spending a lot of time with me as we visit the various transmitter sites in the future – I hope you get to meet him.   Here’s his picture, with a dirty face after working to catch that backyard Mole.

Clays doggie

The story of his ID Tag is interesting. My Wife was looking at ID Tags at our Vet and ran across this one…A dog house with an antenna….Of course the antenna is a Yagi – PERFECT!

Dog Tag

I love to close with some phunnies…Here are some items sure to bring a smile –

*When chemists die, they barium.

*I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.

*This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.

*I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I can’t put it down.

*Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.

*The Energizer bunny arrested and charged with battery.

*The old man didn’t like his beard at first. Then it grew on him.

*Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?

*I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me!

*What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.

*I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.

*Velcro – what a rip off!

*Earthquake in Washington obviously government’s fault.

*I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.

Well, that’s it for this month- Hope to see you in most of these same places next time-

73, Clay, K7CR & CPBE