Clay’s Corner for February 2023         Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986


So much for long-range-forecasting – Back in November California was supposed be having below normal precipitation …And look what happened!

HD radio is in the news again.  This this time, with Hubbard announcing they are activating an HD5 at their WDC area station.   Apparently to accommodate other broadcasters that are looking for additional coverage and who cannot put on an FM Translator of their own.

I’ve always wondered why smaller FM’s or AMs don’t seek out wide-area coverage HD Channels.   Think about it.   KIRO-AM can be heard on KIRO-FM’s HD-2.   KWKN can be heard on KPLZ’s HD2.  Is there a rule prohibiting a broadcaster from leasing an HD Channel to another broadcaster?  Anyone know the answer this one?

To come up with the needed bandwidth to make this possible, Hubbard turned on what’s known as MP11 Mode.  This yields additional bandwidth for the additional HD’s at the expense of the parent FM signal.    I suspect that some FM Receivers will see their noise level increase as a result.    It’s all about trade-offs.

The FCC is after a Pirate Radio Station in Florida.    In this case, the Commish is going after the property owner where the station is located.    The FCC has been talking about doing this for some time. It will be interesting to hear whether they are actually successful.  According to published reports – the Enforcement Bureau took 38 actions against alleged operators of unlicensed stations, including issuing 21 notices during 2022 to property owners.

– My thoughts –

Catching pirates, or identification of the property owner where the offence is taking place is one thing…Getting them to pay a fine is quite another.   The FCC has been a pretty poor bill-collector.

From the ‘I learned ‘Something New’ Department

My Cellphone recently started making caller’s sound severely distorted.   As I dug into getting it repaired I came to learn what the folks in that business call these things ….It’s an EAR-SPEAKER.  I guess that makes sense…Just that, in the 60 years I’ve been in this business, I’ve never heard someone call it that.

From the ‘Good News’ Department

The two perps that caused $3 million in damages to electrical substations in Pierce County recently were caught and have been charged.    The pair were from Puyallup and, apparently, thought by causing a power failure they could get away with other crimes while the power was out.    Perhaps they did not figure that the FBI would be involved and would quickly identify the suspects.

I suspect there will be moves toward increasing the security of these facilities.  Obviously, just a chain-link fence is not going to stop many bent on causing damage.

Looks like there is a lot of support for efforts to hike the HD Power Levels.   One reservation has come from NPR who has asked that such a move come with a notification requirement prior to a power increase.    We need to remember that the HD Radio Signals are, actually transmitted on the station’s adjacent channels

Shown here is a (sorry about the reflection in the picture) shot of the spectrum display at KING-FM.  Here you can see how this actually looks.  In the case of KING-FM.  Their lower digital power level is 10 db below the FM, while the upper is 14 db below the FM.    This operation is termed ‘experimental’ by the FCC and requires an annual report be sent to the Commission.  Hopefully, if these changes are approved, this type of operation will be ‘permitted’ for all.

The amount of HD power that a station can operate and not interfere with stations on their adjacent channels is easily determined thanks to an ‘HD Power Calculator’

Back in the last century Radio is where you discovered new music.   Stations were anxious to play the latest recordings and record companies were anxious to get those records on the air.   It was a partnership where everyone benefited.

The concern about AM Radio continues to be a topic of concern for many.   Adding to the concerns is the fact that some of the new vehicles, especially EV’s, are coming without AM receiving capability.   There are a couple of reasons for this  – 1) Issues involved with electrical interference within those vehicles and, 2) Belief by many that AM does not exist anymore.  Yes, there are those that have not listened to an AM Station, perhaps ever, and consider it to be something akin to Black and White TV or Phonographs.

Sure, the FCC has tried to help out by granting FM Translators to AMs, however, those facilities are typically low power with limited coverage – If  you can get a frequency!  What generally happens when an AM gets that FM Frequency is that they stop promoting their AM with their ‘Brand’ becoming the FM. Example – A 1340 AM with a 101.7 FM translator simply becomes 101.7 FM.

I have some thoughts –

  • Seems to me if an AM gets an FM Translator and, essentially becomes an FM Station with an AM Translator….AND – That station wishes to turn off his AM and surrender the license, they would be able to do so. Perhaps this will enable another AM station, should they choose to do so, increase their power, relax their directional antenna etc. and, in the process make that AM more viable.
  • Similarly, an AM Station should be able to ‘move its business’ to an available FM HD Channel. This would, of course, require a business relationship with the parent FM who could, rightfully, be concerned that his new tenant could hurt his own business model.
  • There needs to be a recognition that the number of AM listeners is only a fraction of what it used to be and that the Laws of Supply and Demand are not likely to be altered by FCC actions. (I don’t see the FCC having the ability to increase demand) Less demand with the same amount of supply is going to cause the pain we see today.
  • All Digital AM needs to be more seriously considered. Today, we don’t have ‘In-home’ radios.    (When was the last time you saw a Clock-Radio on a retailers shelf?) In home listening has become something you do on a ‘Smart Speaker’, or some streaming device, that does not depend on an AM Radio Transmitter.     Radio exists, perhaps, only because of the receiver in a vehicle?   And, almost all, of today’s vehicles are coming with HD Radio capability.    It is inevitable that AM Radio will come to the point where the number of AM listeners (and perhaps advertisers) dimmish to the point that going to all Digital will make economic sense (I can hear the cries of the AM forever crowd now).
  • With All-Digital AM, perhaps the makers of vehicular receivers will reconsider their move to eliminate AM from their new EV’s?
  • Then there is the FCC who is complicit in this mess due to their refusal to enforce their own rules regarding RF noise pollution. A chore for the owners and their organizations is to make it clear that the FCC has been a part of the problem and they need to do more than just permit applications for FM Translators.

My $.02

Time to make plans for the NAB Convention in Las Vegas.

  • The recently completed CES had over 3200 exhibiters and over 115,000 attendees! This tells us that COVID is over and to look for the crowds at NAB to return.
  • This will be the 100th anniversary of the NAB event.
  • The newly enlarged LVCC is – HUGE!
  • Dates this year are April 15-19

Time to make plans for the Annual Mike and Key Clubs Electronics Swap Meet in Puyallup

  • This is their 41st
  • Location is the Pavilion Exhibition Hall at the Washington State Fairgrounds
  • Ticket Sales open at 8AM; Doors open at 9AM
  • If you wish to sell at the event – Check out their website-
  • For many years a group of us gather for breakfast at Odd Fellas in Auburn at 730AM

(102 West Main Street – Just north of the Sounder Station) and car-pool from there.

Hope you can joins us !

The FCC recently announced they are fining Fox $504, 000 for EAS Violations.     According to the Commish – Fox ‘willfully violated’ Commission rules on transmitting EAS Tones during regular programming.   In this case, during an NFL promotional segment aired on Nov 28th.

  • If the fine is upheld, it would be the biggest ever fine issued by the FCC for misuse of EAS tones.
  • The FCC says its proposed fine is based on Fox’s admissions and its review of a video recording of the promotional segment.
  • The FCC said – “we conclude that a proposed forfeiture of $504,000 is appropriate in this case for Fox’s apparent egregious violation.”
  • The Commission noted that Fox reported revenues of $4.44 billion in the relevant quarter…Stating “Fox clearly has an ability to pay, and there is nothing in the record that would indicate that the penalty is otherwise excessive”
  • Fox told the Commission that “all personnel involved in creation and review of the Nov. 28 segment … lacked full understanding of Fox’s policy against use of EAS attention signals.”
  • Fox now has 30 days to either pay the fine or to appeal, including seeking a reduction in its size.

I was recently reviewing some pictures of a home for sale when this got my attention.   I doubt that it actually works, however, it certainly a conversation piece.   Wonder how many have no clue on how to operate it?  (It does look like it’s plugged in however)



Inside more information about the original RCA connector.    Here is was simply called a Phono Tip Plug.    Old timers (Like me) Encountered a lot of these over the years.  Yes, they required soldering skills.  The only screwdriver required was to mount the connector to something else.

Of course, I have a picture from Dwight – Love the reflection from the Winter Sky

Honey, it’s your bathroom….You can use what ever kind of cabinetry you want….





And, from Dwight Small –


That’s it for this month –

Lord willing, I’ll see you here next month.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

SBE Member # 714

Since March 1968