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


Daylight saving time is just around the corner. This year, it begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 13, which means later sunsets, longer-days and the biannual hassle of changing the time on old-school clocks.  Why did they tease us into thinking that this bi-annual switch would go away?

The Space Needle –

It’s not often a Seattle Radio gets a lot of attention, sure KEXP has had some recent attention due to them turning 50 years old.   What I’m talking about is the relationship of KUOW (94.9) and some Seattle area owners of Mazda vehicles early in February.

The way I understand it, some Mazda owners were suddenly confronted with the fact that their car radios are locking on 94.9 MHz leaving them unable to change the tuner. The only models affected are 2014–2017 Mazdas equipped with factory-installed HD Radios.

This event caused a number of folks to get involved – The automaker, Mazda, Xperi, the firm behind HD Radio…and, of course, the Engineering Department at the Radio station.

As an indication that the issue may have something to do with these receivers, the auto maker, reportedly, was issuing service alerts to their dealers which is usually a prelude to the arrival of repair parts and/or new computer code etc.   Some have suggested that the Station broadcaster sent image files (computer code that drives the displays in many radios) minus a file extension.

Meanwhile, many other vehicle owners are about to experience some changes that will likely catch them by surprise.  The fact is that all of the major wireless carriers are moving forward with plans to shut down their 3G networks. There are going to be a number of telematic systems out there that will stop working.    These are not just old clunkers, but some pretty new vehicles.  There are going to be a number of vehicle owners that will feel blind-sided by this move and will likely be headed to their favorite vehicle repair shop asking that it be repaired.   Those vehicle systems that relay on 4G, LTE or 5G Networks will be OK, as will those that don’t rely on a wireless system to fully function.

The FCC has been busy updating a number of technical rules for Radio

The order (MB Docket No. 21-263) will update six rules —

Eliminate Transmitter Power Limit Rule For AMs.

Clarify AM Fill-in Area Definition

Update Border FM Rules

Updating Noncommercial FM Community Of License Coverage Rules

New Overlap Rules For Noncommercial Class D Stations

Protections End For Grandfathered Common Carriers In Alaska

FM Translators are a big thing in Radio these days as evidenced by the prices being paid for them.  Recently two of these systems in the Seattle Tacoma market were sold for $875,000 to Iglesia Pentecostal Vispera Del Fin.  One licensed to Redmond on 98.5 and the other in Auburn on 102.1

Washington, D.C. — The National Association of Broadcasters announced the 50 finalists for the 35th annual NAB Crystal Radio Awards. Since 1987, the NAB Crystal Radio Awards have recognized radio stations for their outstanding year-round commitment to community service. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, April 26 at the 2022 NAB Show in Las Vegas.

There are reports that the C-Band re-pack is progressing smoothly.    This process calls for the moving of broadcast and cable systems out of 300 MHz of that band making room for 5G use. I understand the shift will be completed by the end of next year, ahead of the original completion date in 2025.

Looks like we will – really- have an NAB show in Vegas this year.  From what I hear, vendors are eager for the event as this is the premiere event to meet and greet and show off what’s new.  Hard to believe it’s been 3 years!

Even the ‘SeaPac’ Amateur Radio gathering is planning on taking place in Seaside, Oregon this year

                             June 3-5 2022 – On the beautiful Pacific Ocean beach

                                                          Seaside Convention Center 

 Closer to home – The Mike and Key Amateur Radio Club is planning on holding their event this year –

In years past, many of us have gathered for breakfast at Odd Fellas in Auburn at 7AM for some fellowship before car-pooling to Puyallup for the event.  Hopefully, this year, we can do it again!

Cutting the cord is a term that you hear from time to time as people discover that you can actually get Television without paying for it.    The trick is to use an antenna.    If you have been confronted with the question – What should I buy? – Perhaps referring the person to this site can answer your questions –

Antenna Man – YouTube

If you’ve been around this game for a long time …You recall the headphones of old and perhaps the name ‘Koss’.    John Koss was attributed to inventing the modern stereo earphones back in 1958.    The world has never been the same.     John Koss passed away recently, he was 91.

Another passing to announce –  I received a message from Russ Hill on the 5th informing me that Ray Swalley had passed…

Ray was 99 years old at the time of his passing.

For many years Antennas have been designed using computer modeling…However the technique has not always been accepted by the FCC…Now, this might change.    The FCC has a proposal out (MB Docket # 21-422) that would allow stations to use computer modeling to verify the performance of directional antennas used by FM Stations rather than the present method that requires physical measurement.    I should point out that some manufacturers use scale-models while others use full-size antennas for their physical measurements.   Interestingly, the FCC allows computer modeling for AM and Digital TV.   The NAB has applauded the FCC’s move.   One maker, ERI, has expressed concerns.

Well, are you going to do it?   I mean make the jump from Windows 10 to 11?   If you are a Microsoft customer, you have been receiving messages encouraging you to make the change.  Here are some of the highlights of the new O.S. –

  • The roll out will be in phases.
  • They will still support Windows 10 until 2025
  • (Shocker) the ‘Start Button’ will move to the center. (Yes, you can move it back if you want)
  • If you use Teams – this will be integrated into the Task Bar (sorry Zoom users)

On the 24th, Toyota made an interesting announcement.   Going forward, all models will come with HD Radios as standard equipment.  Here in the Seattle area, all but a handful of small Radio signals or rim-shots are running HD.   The same can’t be said for smaller markets where many Radio broadcasters are content to run FM only and remain ‘unconvinced’ of the viability of the mode.

While up at Striped Peak – I shot this looking up one of the towers.   The 3 gray ‘pods’ are the transmit antenna for NWPB’s KNWP.    Below it…the 3 brown ‘pods’ are for KVIX which broadcasts the same programming at KNKX in Seattle.

Ok, I can’t resist – One more sunset picture from my back deck


Hope to catch you here next month

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

An SBE Fellow

SBE Member # 714

Since March 1968