Clay’s Corner for January 2016
This past year I submitted a number of items related to the drought we were experiencing…Then, as Cliff Mass said would happen – A switch was thrown and we went from drought to deluge. Finally, after perhaps after wading thru deep-water – the word has come down- The drought is officially over as of the first of the year….Meanwhile we have been enjoying the 2nd wettest December on record!
Don’t you just love it when the obvious becomes published official policy. Weather was supposed to be warmer too – Tell that to the Ski Areas that are getting dumped on. At this writing the road to the transmitter sites on West Tiger are now closed to everything except –over the snow- vehicles. Arthur Willets recently had to snowshoe his way in to the site and spend the night there. Last winter was a no-show and spoiled us that go up there with the ability to drive to the top all winter.
Here’s a picture, courtesy of Ralph Sims of AccelNet (They now operate the former Collins Site on West Tiger) – Note the amount of ice at the top of the tower.
So just how many Starbucks are there in Seattle ? The answer is 104! And, believe it or not, someone has actually rated them – http://www.seattlemet.com/articles/2015/8/17/every-single-starbucks-in-seattle-ranked
Over the years I’ve had various people ask me how far can a certain transmitter transmit. People have asked me that question regarding my Ham Radio equipment at home, or about a broadcast station etc. I’ve never been good at answering this one….I usually say something to the effect that it depends on how good your receiver is…Thankfully, this usually satisfies them….At least until I am able to change the subject. I recently got to thinking about this when reading about the recent NASA success visiting Pluto. Looking at the numbers – Distance – 3 Billion Miles (spelled with a ‘B’) Power – 12 Watts. Obviously what’s left out are minor factors like transmit and receive antenna gain, modulation mode and rate and, of course, path-loss. I can hear it now – Mr. Station Manager will tumble across this information and demand to know why their station can’t be heard or viewed 50 miles away with much higher power. This is much like the old expression -“ if we can put a man on the Moon why can’t we _______! Ahhh…The Laws of Physics J
According to the latest estimates, there are 291,513 solar panel systems in California. That’s about one system for every 130 people. Even in our overcast climate, we see a lot of solar arrays on roof tops.
Finally someone is selling an outside antenna designed for Omni-directional reception for use with AM
and FM (and presumably HD) receivers. A company well known in Amateur Radio circles, DX Engineering has introduced their AFHD-4 which includes a splitter (presumably to feed the AM and FM signals separately. Now to find a recently manufactured receiver with provisions for connecting an external antenna. At one time this was very common, especially with the component system tuners, but that was about it. In the text for the product they do mention HD Radio as an application.
|Last month I mentioned that we now have a radio station in Vancouver (the big one to the north) that’s operating HD Radio –|
To their credit that are going where I have rarely seen a US broadcaster go….
- Ø Advertising that an AM Station is available on an FM’s HD-2. U.S. broadcasters
appear to be scared to death to promote, or (shudder) even mention their HD Radio channels…Apparently out of the fear that this would mean violating the first law of broadcasting (Promoting another station, even if it’s owned by the same company)
- Ø Explaining to their listeners HD Radio is…
We are so excited to let you know that you can now enjoy CKNW in High Definition.
HD Radio stations broadcast a digital signal over traditional radio frequencies. This technology enables your receiver to display song titles, album art, and station information so you get the best listening experience.
- Ø Explaining why they should consider it …
Our HD channel broadcasts in clear digital quality to your local area making radio static, hiss and fuzz a thing of the past. Experience all news, all talk in crystal clear HD quality!
- Ø Explaining how to get the HD station on a car radio…
- Determine if you have HD radio. Best bet is to check your car manual or check out the list of car manufacturers below
- Tune your radio to the FM band and dial up to Rock 101
- Wait about 8 to 10 seconds for HD radio to kick in (you may hear a change in audio when this happens)
- Use your seek up and down/ side to side buttons to switch to channel 2 on your radio – this is where you’ll find us, on HD2
- Add us to your presets so next time listening to CKNW in HD is just one click away
Get 10% off a new HD Radio with promo code: CKNW
Hats off to our neighbors to the North for having the guts to promote HD Radio – Even if they are late to the party.
One of the latest fads is the GoPro camera. We see these items attached to a larger of variety of things – Helmets of people doing interesting (and stupid) things…Drones…You name it. In fact my new pickup came with a mount for one of these creations so I could record my travels. What I’ve been trying to do is to determine whether or not I should buy one and if I did, what I’d do with it. How many people would like to see me drive to West Tiger or South Mountain? Perhaps our SBE Chapter should have a contest for the best GoPro video of the year? Any thoughts – Let me know.
Top of Form
I recently read that the nut-case that went on a shooting spree in Colorado was telling everyone to install a metal roof so the government could not spy on them. Yikes ! – I have a metal roof on my house…What are my neighbors going to think?
Here are some additional stats about the Seattle area –
- Ø King County (the County Seattle is within for our non-resident readers) is in 64th place nationally.
- Ø Washington States per capita median income if ranked at #12
- Ø Don’t look for good drivers around here….A recent survey has them ranked 184th out of 200.
- Ø Nearly 9% (6 of 66) of experts say Seattle is in a housing bubble. The median home price is $521,400 and values are up 12.7% in the last year.
Some more news from WSAB …. In addition to the retirement of Mark Allen as President and CEO of the organization, Bill Johnstone recently retired at the helm of the Oregon Association (OAB) . Starting January first, the WSAB will –also- be providing management services for the Oregon Association of Broadcasters under the leadership of new CEO, Keith Shipman. Each entity will remain separate and will have their own governing Board of Directors. Both organizations have a long history. The WSAB was founded in 1935 and the OAB in 1940. For more information, contact Keith Shipman at 360-705-0774.
There are two major events that draw many from the broadcast industry to Las Vegas every year. First is the Consumer Electronics Show or CES in January and then the NAB event in April. It has just been announced that the CES will be implementing new security measures including bag restrictions, body screening as well as other increased security measures such as the requirement that everyone have picture ID badges. I have no information to lead me to believe that these measures will be adopted by the NAB for the April show…However, it would come as a surprise if they do. When you look at the size of these events and the number that attend them, such a change will require a lot of additional effort on the part of many. Stay tuned. Oh, by the way….The sponsoring organization for CES is now known as CTA for Consumer Technology Association. CES 2016 will take place in Las Vegas from Jan. 6-9.
The NAB show in Vegas will be April 16-21. Related…The NUG (Nautel Users Group) meeting will take place April 17th from 9 AM to 1 PM at the Flamingo. For many years this popular event was held in the Riviera that is the site of further expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. If you are planning on attending – Obtaining reservations is highly encouraged.
Congratulations to the Washington State University Edward R. Murrow College of Communications for ranking #6 in the recent Newspro- RTDNA Survey of 2015 Journalism School Rankings. There are a lot of grads of this program working in our industry.
Sad news this month is the passing of George Marti at the age of 95– The RPU equipment he developed have only recently been replaced with cellular based devices. All of us that have been in the radio biz for some time have used his equipment and have fond memories of doing so. For me- I started using Marti equipment in 1961….and that is quite a while ago.
WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE DEPARTMENT – #1
I don’t have a GoPro camera…But my smartphone has a dandy that has me looking for interesting items to share with my readers. This month I have another. While at the local grocery store I could not help but to a double take when I saw this item…..RF MILK !!! Gee just when I thought that RF was bad for you…now they have it in milk – Where is the outrage ??
WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE DEPARTMENT #2
Do you recall the little 1480 AM station in Lakewood that lost its site with the towers to be replaced by houses? Before the demise of their AM Transmitter site they operated an FM Transmitter located on the KBTC Tower at 19th and Trafton in Tacoma. Then the station, along with those in Lacey/Olympia and Bremerton were sold to a new owner. More recently the AM station was back on the air with a very in-effective antenna system on top of a single story building in Lakewood. The other day I was in Lakewood and thought I’d see just how well this temporary lash-up was working. I could not find the station on my truck radio. A bit more snooping uncovered information that despite the AM being off the air….The FM Translator is ON!. Seems to me that the way the game is supposed to be played is that an AM can operate a translator, but it can’t operate one without the AM ?? With the shortage of FM Frequencies in these parts …My guess that this type of operation is going to raise a number of eyebrows, perhaps justifiably.
While cleaning out my home-office I ran across an RCA Aural Broadcast Systems Short Form Catalog with Prices from 1982- Thought I would share some items from 33 years ago to show how much has changed.
- Ø A BC-300 Console had 10 rotary faders and listed for $6,570. Mic and Line preamps were additional.
- Ø Cartridge Tape equipment was being sold with RCA clearly slapping their name on machines that were made by other manufacturers. Anyone remember the A, B & C Size Cartridges?
- Ø A 3 speed turntable would set you back $390 adding a pickup arm would add $95.
- Ø The Otari MX5050 Reel to Reel was being sold for $2295. The bigger MTR-10 went for $6450
- Ø Audio processing was crude by today’s standards. You could purchase the BA150 Stereo Digital Overshoot Controller (aka – a clipper) for $1200.
- Ø The Blue RCA racks were being sold. An 84 inch (BR-84U) would set you back $395. Interestingly they were only 24 inches deep
- Ø The Potomac AT-51 test set (analyzer and generator) were selling for $3195
On the subject of looking-back- I recently received a phone call from Alf Anderson, W7ALF. Never met the gentlemen, but we had a great conversation about times long past in Tacoma broadcasting. I am always amazed as who reads this column. Shortly afterward he sent me a copy of a couple of pages from the 1966 Broadcast Yearbook (Pages B-163 and B-164). Wow! That was 50 years ago.
For those of you that are also in silver/white or no-hair club ….It’s time to share some memories from before many of my readers were born. I’m just going to list the call letters and frequencies and Chief Engineers – There have been a LOT of changes in the last 50 years as you can tell –
SEATTLE AREA RADIO STATIONS
KAYO/1150 –Tad Jones
KBBX/98.9 –Robert Gerry
KBLE/1050 – KBLE-FM/93.3 –Ernie Opel
KETO/1590 – KETO-FM/101.5 –John Maxon
KING/1090- KING-FM/98.1- Arthur Shultz
KIRO /710- KIRO-FM/100.7 –Jim Upthegrove
KISW/99.9 –Dean Hickey
KIXI/910-KIXI-FM/95.7 (No CE Listed, however Wally Nelskog was listed as President, GM and PD)
KJR/950 –Gorge Newton
KLSN.96.5- P.H. Davis
KOL/1300 – KOL-FM/94.1 – Richard Smart
KOMO/1000 –C.E. Miller
KRAB/107.7- T. Lansman
KTW/1250 – KTW-FM/102.5 –James Ross
KUOW/94.9- Hal Syrstad
KVI/570 –Dick Velo
KXZ/770 – No C.E. Listed
KZAM/93.5 –KFKF (AM) – No C.E. Listed
TACOMA AREA RADIO STATIONS
KCPS/90.9 –Bill Evans
KDFL/1560- No Chief Listed
KFHA/1480 –Clay Freinwald (WHO?)
KLAY-FM/106.1- Terry Denbrook
KMO/1360 –Peter Policani
KTAC/850- KTAC-FM/103.9 –, Bill Luckhurst
KTNT/1400-KTNT-FM/97.3 –Dick Engh
KTOY/91.7 –Ken Keigley
While scanning these two pages, a couple other names got my attention – Chief at KPQ in Wenatchee was George Frese and at KIMA in Yakima was Dave Hubert. These names brought back a lot of memories for me – Many of these gentlemen I had the privilege of meeting. Golly – 50 years ago !!! In the interest of accuracy – In January of 1966 I was actually working with Jim Ross at KTW in Seattle and in May of that year I went to work for KMO in Tacoma replacing Pete Policani who had taken a job with Boeing. THANKS ALF !
Remember when Satellite Radio came along? Many, at the time, felt that it was nothing but a passing fad and projected its ultimate failure. Guess they are having the last laugh –According to recent reports, back in 2008 Sirius and XM joined forces to become a company with 242 million dollars in annual revenue – Last year that figure was 4.2 Billion. My new truck comes with 90 days of free service (obviously in an attempt to woo me over) Just for drill, I tried it driving the 6 miles down the Tiger Mountain Road the other day – Unfortunately all I was able to get was a message on my radio to the effect there was no signal. Oh well – Back to terrestrial radio…it was working just fine. On that subject – my new truck is missing something – A visible antenna. All there is that little fin on the roof for Satellite Reception….To my surprise I am able to pick up several AM stations from Portland – Wow! Kudo’s to Toyota for actually having a working AM radio in their new vehicles. (The FM Section is good too) …..Now then, where is that antenna ?
We all recall a few years ago the Feds lifted the ownership caps for radio stations. As a result of this some outfits played it cool and expanded in a very conservative manner, while others appeared to explode in terms of numbers of stations. Now comes word that a couple of these firms may not be able to adequately service their mountain of debt. Reports are that I heart (formally known as Clear Channel) has over 20 BILLION in debt with Cumulus in a similar boat. The stock price for these firms, as of Dec 24th, is a good indication of their position. iHeart was trading at $1.05 and Cumulus as at 32 cents. The route out of situations like these include words like – Bankruptcy, massive restructuring, selling of a ton of assets etc. We saw a lot of this type of corporate activity during the recent historic recession impacting a number of industries. The will likely be more on this topic in 2016. iHeart owns station clusters in Seattle, Spokane, Portland etc.
The FAA, in perhaps record setting time, has come up with regulations covering the operation of drones. Certainly there are a lot of applications for these devices in our industry. Video coverage of the damage from the rash of tornados just before Christmas was a great example. These devices are joining VOIP (Video over IP) as new tools in the TV station ENG Toolbox. On the engineering side these platforms
are finding work in the area of antenna pattern determination. An Australian company – Innovative Drone Solutions is putting a compact signal analyzer called a Signal Hound on board and flying about broadcast transmitting antennas. Check out Jason Schreiber’s information at – email@example.com.
Congrats to KEXP on the completion of their new studios in the NW Corner of the Seattle Center. The little station got a lot of press on this move. Their old location on Dexter would be an interesting story in itself. The new facility has a performance studio….Something that not many radio stations have anymore. I’m sure the folks at KPLU have been following this item with a great deal of interest
There has been a lot of talk about Climate Change and the impact it will have on us here in the Puget Sound area. What is not often thought about is the fact that Portland Oregon is impacted by Tides also. A 250 foot increase in Sea-Level could have a dramatic impact on the Portland/Vancouver area as the below map shows. The good news is that not many are predicting that much increase … I found it interesting that this area would gain a 2nd ‘Vancouver Island’.
I can’t help but wonder what a map would look like for New Orleans with an increase in sea-level of 250ft? Likely not much would be above the water line there. Then there is Florida – the ‘Southeast Sand spit’ would be reduced to almost nothing – Then again so would Ocean Shores and the Long Beach area in our State. The good news – at least for me – is that I won’t be around that much longer so it will be someone else’s worry.
Under the category of ‘Discoveries while Christmas Shopping’ I could not help by notice a portable Phonograph…The basic kind that we used to buy for the kids…Comes in something like a briefcase etc. Then I looked at the back. It’s powered by a 9 Volt – WALL WART !!! I guess it’s a sign of the times where just about everything uses these things….just something in me said that this is very wrong!
Here’s a variation on the Glass Half Empty ….
Well it’s finally happening – the move of the ‘Home Team’ to Sodo from their long time home at 333.
I’m thinking a tour for our SBE Chapter is a must for 2016.
Concerns are being voiced about the congestion of the FM Band to which I say – DUH!. Just like what happened to the AM Band….The FCC has caved to the pressure of those that want more – Power, coverage, stations etc. etc. On the FM band we have every little space being filled with, first, Low Power stations (LPFM’s) and now we have AM stations wanting a piece of that spectrum for their needs. Here in the West we have really had it good…I challenge you to go to the East-Coast and drive around and listen to the FM band and you will quickly come to understand what I’m saying. There are those that, perhaps rightly, state that the FCC is AM-ing the FM Band. Perhaps the problem in this country is that these agencies are being driven by forces other than good engineering practice. Recently some stations based in Seattle have come to understand what is meant by erosion of their ‘bonus coverage’ or areas, beyond their protected contours where they may have many listeners….fasten your seatbelts…It’s going to get worse. Today there are about 6500 translators and boosters on the air…approx. 900 of them are associated with AM’s ….With over 4500 AM’s, it’s likely that the number of applications will increase with the new rules in place. Contrary to the thinking of many – the size of the existing FM Band is fixed.
I was tooling around the Internet recently and came across this headline –
10 Hot Real Estate Markets To Watch In 2016
Reading more I found that Trulia’s Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin compiled a list – So I went looking for markets in this area. To my surprise – I noted that #10 is – TACOMA ! With the intense building boom in Seattle one cannot help but wonder if Tacoma might, one day, ‘take off’. With a population closing in on 850,000, Pierce County has not exactly been sitting still it’s just barely ahead of Snohomish County…North of Seattle. One thing for sure, property and rental prices are certainly lower than in King County/Seattle.
When I started in this business (0ver 50 years ago) I lived in Pierce County. Back then the cities of Seattle and Tacoma might have well been 50 miles apart. Over the years they have grown together in many ways. During this time all the broadcast stations that were licensed to Tacoma (with only a couple of exceptions) have moved to Seattle to be a part of the bigger city. I call it Seattle worship.
Now even KPLU is likely to leave town for the land where the grass certainly is greener.
Last month I wrote about how there are a reduced number of manufacturers of Tube type transmitters.
Bill Fram, from Boise, wrote – “You did forge to mention BE who for now is still manufacturing high power tube transmitters and up to 20 kw SS FMs. Haven’t heard much about their SS ones tho.”
Thanks Bill – I stand corrected.
Last month I showed a picture of a number of old modulation monitors on their way to be re-cycled. This prompted a response from Bruce Hart –
Are those modulation monitors you showed a picture of in your Clay’s Corner really going to the electronics recycling place? We have a couple of bins down here in the garage at KCPQ that we put dead and obsolete stuff in for electronics recycling, and I’ve pulled some stuff out from time to time and donated it to some of the local Low Power startups (OK, only KVWV in Bellingham so far). Could these be used in one of those facilities? Low Power or full power, modulation still needs to be monitored. I’d be happy to take these off of your hands and do the leg work of finding some facility that could use them if there’s any life left in them. There’s plenty of new LP’s here in town that might be able to use them and if not around here, there’s some new LP’s coming on the air in my hometown of Fargo, ND. Seems a shame to recycle that equipment just because a newer model comes along.
Let me know-
Thanks-Bruce Hart KCPQ-TV
Yes Bruce – They were indeed sent to recycling. Not only were they all in need of repairs, but were quite old. Perhaps a list of items that are wanted by these groups would help us know what not to throw away etc.?
Another legend has passed on – Norman Pickering died at 99 on November 18th. The name Pickering was familiar to many that were involved with Hi-Fi Audio. I have to admit I was one of many that had a Pickering in my stereo tone-arm (You do remember those don’t you?) Norman was 99.
We are used to the FCC issuing large fines for EAS violations or wardrobe malfunctions….But this time – it’s a whopping $718,000 against M.C. Dean (a large electrical contractor) for Wi-Fi Blocking at the Baltimore Convention Center. Apparently they would block access to other Wi-Fi sources and then charge high prices to use theirs. Oops. Apparently the FCC did not find this practice amusing judging from the size of the fine. Interesting that these folks did not consider the fact that the Commish has lower the boom on previous attempts to do the same thing. (Sounds very much use of EAS tones where there are plenty of previous violations to have learned from) Not just Wi-Fi but Cellular has experienced similar issues….Even places of worship, who traditionally don’t like to hear the ringing of cellphones, have tried to block them electronically just to find out that signage would have been cheaper.
There has been a lot of talk about ‘cutting the cord’…and there has been some action too – A recent study suggests that in two years 21% of US households will no longer be paying for traditional TV. The reason stated for this change is the rapid adoption of digital video services. This is probably the reason why the big cable companies have been pouring money into their ability to deliver VOIP and Internet services that gives them an edge over their competitors. Personally I recently dropped my 25 year connection to the local cable company in favor of an overhead distribution outfit. Unfortunately the cable company kept increasing prices and did not increase video quality. Now I have multiple receivers with superior resolution and pay less money for it. Granted they don’t carry local Radio Stations…for that I still have OTA.
A note was recently posted to the Washington State EAS Remailer by Tim Schall underscoring the effectiveness of WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts) and the Amber program. He mentioned that an Amber Alert was sent during his company Christmas Party that set off 38 cell phones in the room at the same time- Each with a bit different ring …He explained it this way – “You should have heard the cacophony of tones. “. A similar thing situation occurs in an SBE Chapter meeting – One phone goes off and everyone in the room is suddenly searching for their phone to find out it its there’s that’s ringing.
I was flying back from Pullman recently and while waiting for my flight at the PUW Airport I could not help but notice all of the students that were in the process of going home for their Christmas Break were all holding their ‘communicators’ with their thumbs rapidly in motion….Then I received the following –
Wonder what your high school typing teacher would have thought if she knew that one day……
- Ø Typewriters would all be tossed in the trash
- Ø Keyboards would be electronic and connected to a word processor that would automatically correct your mistakes
- Ø Keyboards would then be made to fit in the palm of your hand and you would type with your thumbs
Taking this a bit further – –
I wonder if, in the future, we will see equipment designed for those that don’t do old fashioned keyboards that have little ‘entry devices’ that are specifically designed for operate with a person’s thumbs?
Unless you have been living off the grid and are allergic to all things electrical – You know that Web Advertising is on the rise. You get teasers that take you directly to an ad….or in middle of reading, or watching something….Zap an ad. (Wonder where they learned that??) As more and more people migrated to on-line gizmo’s for their information and entertainment, the more advertising money will be joining them….In fact, predictions are now that Web-Ads will overtake Television by 2018 (2 years away) According to Zenith media- by 2018 the advertising pie will be split about like this –
Internet ads – 36.6% – Up from 29% now
TV ads – 34.8% – Down from 38% now
Radio ads – 5.9% – Down from 6.5% now
Here’s another prediction – By 2018 mobile marketing will overtake Desk-top marketing (I assume you are getting your share of advertising on your hand-held-gizmo already.
The only elements of good news in all of this are the facts that we are entering a political cycle with a lot of money to be spent.
Wise broadcasters have realized that their transmitter is just one way to reach their customers (Listeners and/or viewers) and that method is declining in use and popularity (no need to tell the owner of an AM Radio station that one). Today our Radio and TV stations are becoming product providers and, if we are to survive, need to derive our revenue from all the devices and systems that get our product to our consumers. Personally, I watch a lot less local TV news than I used to and, therefore, an not seeing the spots I used to. However, I do view the news content created by my local TV stations via their web-site where I get exposed to ads that their sales department have sold. This is all part of the new-normal that continues to evolve.
I am very pleased to note that David Layer has received the Excellence in Engineering Award from Radio World. David is senior director of advanced engineering for NAB in Washington. I can tell you, based on the occasions that I worked with him in the past, He is truly a great guy and very much deserves the award he has received.
As usual, I like to leave you with something to ponder and/or smile …This item courtesy of old friend Jerry LeBow –
ARAPROSDOKIANS are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence is unexpected.
(I will have to admit that #17 hit me pretty hard)
- Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.
- Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
- If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
- War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
5 Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
- They begin the evening news with ‘Good Evening,’ then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
- To steal ideas from someone is plagiarism. To steal from many is called research.
- In filling in an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency’, notify: I put ‘DOCTOR.’
- I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
- Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they look sexy.
- Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
- A clear conscience is the sign of a bad memory.
- I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.
- Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. Nor is there any future in it.
- Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
- Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.
- Finally: I’m supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now.
- I am not arguing with you, I’m simply explaining why you are wrong.
That’s it for this month – May 2016 be the best for you and yours.
Clay, CPBE, aka K7CR