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

This is the first Column I’ve written on my new computer.   Yes, I finally bit the bullet and purchased something new.   I’ve had a number of wrinkles to iron out, but we are making progress.  The new machine is, strangely, quiet.   The only moving parts are a couple of fans.   The fact that I no longer have to sit and wait for anything is a bit startling…but I’m rapidly getting used to it.   There are a lot of things you have to do to get the new machine up and running the way you want. Thankfully, I only do this about once every 10 years..   Shameless plug for Todd Marvin at US Micro in Bellevue.

Weather wise, January started off causing us to wonder if we were in for a very frigid winter….The passes were closed, and the ski areas were all smiles.   Then the weather warmed, the snow melted and the flooding began.  As we cruised into the middle of the month the snow level went way up and I have bulbs growing in my flower beds.  Then the big surprise…a long stretch of dry, but foggy, weather that’s projected to end, at the end of the month with lowering snow levels and normal winter weather.

The middle of the month saw an unusual amount of construction activity on Cougar Mt as KPLZ installed a new Main Transmitter while KIR0-FM was installing a new Auxiliary.

The change at KPLZ marked the end of the last major station hold-out to install HD Radio equipment.   101.5, under several owners, resisted the HD-Radio wave of 20 years ago, remaining FM only.    They had two Broadcast Electronics (BE) transmitters, one of which was parted out to make room for the new GatesAir FAX-40.  I would not be surprised that Lotus (The new owners) simulcast their 1000AM all news station on one of these channels. Time will tell.

Here’s a picture of the new transmitter at KPLZ, courtesy of Doug Fisher of ComTek Service taken during the installation process. The new Gates Air is in the two racks on the left.   On the right, is their former Main Transmitter.

Both of these station’s older transmitters relied on Vacuum Tubes.    Both of the new ones are all Solid-State.    The number of radio transmitters still using vacuum tubes is slowly but surely becoming the minority.

We recently experienced another ‘wrinkle’ in the roll-out of G5.   Interference with Radio Altimeters.   A number of flights at several airports were cancelled due to the issue.  Apparently they resolved the issue by the end of the Month.

The portions of the radio frequency spectrum used by airplanes and cellphone carriers are different. The problem is that airplane altimeters use the 4.2 to 4.4 gigahertz range, while the recently sold – and previously unused – C-band spectrum for wireless carriers ranges from 3.7 to 3.98 gigahertz. It turns out the 0.22 gigahertz difference between the signals may not be quite enough to be absolutely sure that a cellphone carrier signal will not be mistaken for or corrupt an altimeter’s signal.

The telecommunication industry has argued that the gap of 0.22 gigahertz is enough and there will be no interference. The airline industry has been more cautious.

Now the switch is on….the Carriers are looking at the day when their old 3G systems are retired.  If you have any devices that work on this older technology, you should be making immediate plans to upgrade.  This could involve the vehicle you are driving too!!.   Anyone know what ‘G’ GM’s On-Star uses?    If you find that the Navigation system baked into your car or truck suddenly goes stupid, will the vehicle maker have an upgrade  – without having to purchase a new vehicle??

On the subject of Car Radios …..Did you know that the ‘Car Radio’ is 100 years old?  It was back a century ago – when the Chevrolet Motor Company first attempted to fit a commercially viable, portable radio into a car.  I was not until the 30’s that Paul Galvin really worked to perfect the ‘car radio’…in the process he founded a company called ‘Motorola’.

Today the stand-alone car radio is a thing of the past.   What used to be a car radio is now a center console collection of electronic devices that include navigation-aids as well as systems that integrate the drivers cellphone.   Interestingly, some vehicles no longer include the ability to receive AM Radio stations, perhaps to avoid having to deal with the vehicles other electronic and electric systems that generate a considerable amount of noise that would degrade the AM signal.



March 12, 2022

Pavilion Exhibition Hall Washington State Fairgrounds

110 9th Avenue SW, Puyallup, WA

ADMISSION $10 (under 16 free Yith adult)









Thanks to all the media attention, by now,  you certainly must have heard about the new App for your cellphone that will give you a couple of seconds warning of an earthquake.   The new system, which rolled out during the last week of January is called ‘My Shake’.   I opted  in, perhaps you should too?

The MyShake app is available for free through the Apple App Store and GooglePlay for Android phones.

Users can learn more about the different options available at


Recently the BDR posted this item –

SiriusXM has announced that they will enhance the value of their Preview Channel for EAS with weekly “log only” RWT’s as assurance for those who are taking advantage of this means to receive Primary Entry Point tests and alerts. (Some EAS Participants in the CONUS still cannot reliably monitor a PEP station.) A low cost home SiriusXM receiver with analog jacks will serve for this purpose. (tip of hat to Richard Rudman).

Here in Washington State, we have assigned certain stations to monitor SiriusXM for some time….Especially in areas of the State that cannot, reliably, receive KIRO-AM-710.  This enhancement is certainly a welcome addition.


My Column would not be complete without a beautiful picture from Dwight Small

That’s it for this month, sorry I’m a bit late in getting this one delivered. 

Hope to catch you here next month

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

An SBE Fellow

SBE Member # 714

Since March 1968