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


The popular legend states – ‘Summer officially begins.…after- 4th of July’ in the Seattle area.  Perhaps not this year !   Seems to me that Summer began, pretty much, per the calendar this year.    After a very long and protracted period of below normal temps and precipitation Summer 2022 arrived with a ‘Heat Advisory’ for temps pushing 90 or beyond for the June 25th.

Out with the not so old and in with the new….When I worked at the KIRO Radio facility on Eastlake area in Seattle, most of the audio consoles were PR&E analog devices that had been in service for many years.   About 10 years ago, all of the analog equipment was replaced with new Telos-Axia, digital, consoles.    Now that’s about to change with the Axia’s making way for new Wheatstone equipment.   Both of these systems utilize a technology called AoIP, meaning Audio over Internet Protocol.   Most of the major radio stations have made this conversion, not many are upgrading so soon.

Which brings me to this item –

We have all been witnessing the move toward ‘Electric Vehicles’…Appears that all the major makers are jumping into this arena (wonder how this will impact Tesla?).  The EU has been so bold as to ban the Internal Combustion Engine in 2035 (13 years from now).    Meanwhile I recently read that ‘Data Centers’ are now consuming some 200 Terawatt-hours of power every year.  Yes, the ‘cloud’ is power hungry!

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration –

Note how Wind is now out-producing  Hydro

U.S. utility-scale electricity generation by source, amount, and share of total in 20211
Preliminary data as of February 2022

Energy source Billion kWh Share of total
Total – all sources 4,116
Fossil fuels (total) 2,504 60.8%
Natural gas 1,575 38.3%
Coal 899 21.8%

It’s been about a year and a half since I retired from leading the Washington State SECC.  Since that time, some great progress has been made.   Here’s a recent announcement regarding what’s called ‘ARS’   Which is a system whereby SECC’s report to the FCC regarding their work with the EAS.

WA-PAWS makes progress with this announcement –

On Behalf Of Ted buehner via EAS-WA via SECC-WA
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2022 10:57 AM
Subject: [SECC-WA] [EAS-WA] ARS Submitted

Your Washington SECC has submitted their Alert Reporting System (ARS) input to the FCC today.  The deadline for all 54 SECCs (states and territories) is July 5th of this year. Hence, your SECC has met that deadline. 

This has been a long process that began well before the pandemic. The FCC adopted ARS back then in revised rules. Our SECC was involved in testing the new ARS software, providing feedback several times to help it become more user friendly and effective. 

With the advent of ARS and becoming essentially an in-house FCC state EAS plan and not really available for SECC jurisdiction use, our SECC needed to shift gears and develop a new state plan that not only included all the FCC required elements of ARS, but also help meet the needs of our public alert and warning partners and stakeholders. They include those who send public alert and warning messages, and those who relay them including all broadcasters statewide. 

The evolution of the former state EAS plan resulted in WA-PAWS – the Washington Public Alert and Warning System Plan, found on the Washington Emergency Management Division webpage. WA-PAWS formally replaced the State EAS Plan in September 2021. If not already done, please bookmark the WA-PAWS webpage and review its contents. The plan is there to serve all of us in our roles regarding public alert and warning. 

Please extend your thanks to all who were involved in this process. WA-PAWS and ARS are living documents, meaning there will be ongoing efforts to keep the information up to date for years to come. So, this process is not over, but this moment is a huge accomplishment to celebrate.

Again, thank you to all involved and see you at the next SECC meeting on July 12th

Ted Buehner Washington SECC Chair

While working at Cougar Mountain recently, a friend found this item outside.  It obviously had been buried for a long time.

Perhaps a sign of the times, a young fellow (perhaps 30) was there and noted it sitting on a table and wondered what it was!    Hard for old folks (Like me) to get our head around the fact that there are many that cannot recognize a Vacuum Tube.

At the end of May, the FCC fined a station in Little Rock, Arkansas, KTUV,  $17,000 for not letting them know they were off the air.   These kinds of things require an STA (Special Temporary Authority).  The stations owners claimed the problem was caused by a ‘catastrophic failure of its transmitter’.    The Commish reminded the owners that when they were off for more than 10 days, they need an STA.   Ooops !

The FCC has announced an effort to shut-down pirate radio stations.  In many previous cases, the pirate claims they can’t afford to pay the fine and lives on for another opportunity to continue their unlicensed operations.  Facing a fine of as high as $2 Million will have little impact on these operators.

Perhaps one place where the FCC may gain some traction is the new law that enables the FCC to expand its enforcement to include landlord, advertisers and others that do business with the pirates.    Congress wants the Commission to conduct sweeps in cities where pirate operations have been a problem, namely, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas – it least once per year.   Additionally, the FCC is hiring 15 new, full-time, employees to tackle the problem.    This will be interesting to follow.

Once again, another job opening at OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting). Here are the details-

Chief Engineer, Western Region

Application instructions for this and all current OPB employment opportunities are available at OPB’s careers page.

NextGen TV continues to grow with word that it’s now deployed in 68 Markets reaching half of all U.S. Homes according to data released by the FCC –

  • ATSC 3.0 stations have been licensed to operate in 68 markets, though in some cases it may be a single low power television station,” the FCC said. “Furthermore, most markets with 3.0 deployments have a single 3.0 `lighthouse’ facility licensed to provide ATSC 3.0 service. According to S&P Global, Next Gen TV now reaches nearly 66.3 million unique households, or about 51.1% of total U.S. households. “

 The FCC noted that at least one full power TV station has been licensed to provide ATSC 3.0 services in 54 DMAs. 

 They call the change of leadership at Kintronic a ‘Passing of the Baton’.   Stepping down is Tom King who has led the firm since 1983.  Stepping up is his Son, Joshua.  Here’s a picture of the two at NAB

One of my favorite things to do is ‘Repurposing’.   Defined as –

  • To adapt or utilize (something) for a new purpose.
  • To give a new purpose or use to…
  • To useor convert for use in another format or

There are many times I have hung onto a piece of equipment being removed from service thinking, one day, I could ‘repurpose’ it to fill a future need.  I learned this principle from my Grandfather that had an extensive collection of items in his basement in Portland.   When I asked him about it…He would explain …”you never know when you might be able to put it back to work”

Just recently I did just that with a piece of equipment I constructed for use at KBSG back in 1993.    This device will be installed, shortly, at an NWPB Station where it will continue on resolving a new issue.

What is the use of AM radio anymore? Why is it still in the cars?  

Personally,  I’m amazed that AM exists anymore and wish that the stations move to FM, Sirius/XM AND live streaming on the web.

Unfortunately, the comment expressed here is all-too-common these days.   One of the answers posted was this one –

AM is about the most inefficient method of broadcasting – it’s power requirements compared to FM are huge and it requires components that are not easily miniaturized. Ironically, it became popular because AM receivers could be built very cheaply in the 1920s leading to the proliferation of radio.

The inability to miniaturize the AM radio components has meant that the availability of new AM radio receivers (except in cars) has essentially dried up. If you want to listen to AM in your home you’re going to have to find a grandparent with an old radio that still works or hope that they live stream (without charging for it).

The real reason why I’m still surprised that AM radio is still a thing is that a least 20 years ago I heard that the technicians who were familiar with maintaining AM stations were dying out and the components were getting increasingly hard to get new – although Russia was a source of the high power tubes required.

 Perhaps he does have a point, those that know how to maintain AM equipment are, indeed, decreasing in numbers as are the number of manufacturers that make transmitters.   If an AM station wishes to purchase a new transmitter, they, basically, have one choice – Nautel.

 I vividly recall building an AM Radio in a small plastic box when I was in high-school using a circuit much like this one.    One would be hard pressed to do this for FM 😊

On the ‘Technical Side’.  We recently experienced a power failure at West Tiger Mountain that impacted all the sites.  What happened is the Power Company, PSE, was installing some new underground cables related to some road construction between Tiger Summit (on SR18) and the Sub-Station.   When the power was turned off, the Auxiliary Power Generators took over the responsibility of generating power for all the stations and other communications services on the site.   When the power was turned back on – Some equipment worked, while others did not.

Identification of the problem was done remotely thanks to the installation of a panel that enables us to not only remotely read the voltage on each of the THREE Phases, additionally we will get an alarm if –

  • Any of the Phases is missing (This happens once in a while and causes the Generators to start supplying power)
  • If the Phases are in the wrong sequence.

In this case, the fact that we could tell the power was on, however, we had an alarm that PSE really did get their wires switched.     3-Phase power is very common in industrial situations and having these 3 wires connected in the correct order (in the power-world called Rotation) is critical for such devices as electric motors that will not operate with the wrong rotation.   This was what was happening here.    Stations that had transmitters that used 3 phase motors refused to operate, while those that do not, like many of the more modern ones, were OK.

When I spoke with PSE I told them what was happening and what was likely the cause.   I was met with disbelief and had to explain that I could determine what was wrong without being on site.

I’ve placed these at several transmitter sites over the years where they have proved their worth, many times.

Here is what it looks like ‘inside the box’


With Gas Prices zooming higher by the day – Some (Hard to find) related humor –


If you have a picture to share- Please send it my way !!

Hope to catch you here next month

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

SBE Member # 714

Since March 1968