| Clay’s Corner for November 2022 Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986
One thing I have learned after living in this area for a very long time, is that you can depend on rain. The annual ‘Wet’ was projected to start as abruptly as summer began on the 21st of October with forecasters saying that we have a number of, classic, weather systems staging to march through our area.
Looking waaaaaay back. On Oct 12th I was listening to KNWN on my way to Mt Vernon and heard a story they ran about the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 and how it took place – S I X T Y – years ago. I was quickly hit with a flood of memories. They say we are likely to remember where we were during a significant event (The Kennedy shooting etc). This was no exception. I was employed at a little radio station in Lakewood (KFHA)…Having started there a year earlier. The station did not have a generator and did not get its power back until shortly after noon at which time we had collected a lot of damage reports from the Lakewood area that was particularly hard hit due to it’s large quantity of tall evergreens. I was ‘jolted’ to think about the fact that I have been doing this ‘broadcast stuff’ now for over 61 years! This must be some kind of record?
It got hot on the 16th with Seattle setting an all time record high of 88 degrees. We’ve never had temperatures like this in October before.
Then, as predicted, on October 21st, the winds shifted, the clouds rolled in and IT RAINED. And it got a lot cooler. Instead of being in the 80’s we were in the low 50’s. The forecast was then calling for snow in the higher passes
If you were like me – you elected to save a lot of money and not try in keep your lawn green though all of this. If you are looking at an alternative – How about clover? Clover doesn’t need much water or mowing, stays green and fertilizes itself! https://www.marthastewart.com/8322420/clover-lawns
Audacy has been among the radio broadcasters most aggressively pushing into podcasting. But facing financial pressure, the company is reportedly exploring a potential sale of its biggest podcast asset. Audacy has hired the investment firm Evolution Media Capital to shop Cadence13 according to Axios, which cites three sources familiar with the process. But what is reportedly not for sale are the other Audacy-owned podcast studios.
The RTDNA recent conducted an online survey among 2,000 weekly local news customers this question – ‘Can local radio’s newscasts, and new of talk programs, be trusted?’
The answers were interesting –
- 51% of listeners to a local radio stations newscasts or programs said they trust the source ‘a lot’…..41% said somewhat
- 58% trust local TV newscasts ‘a lot’
Another AM Radio headline came from California where San Francisco’s KGO ditched their long running news/talk format for something to do with Sports Betting. Their new slogan is ‘The Spread’ (Don’t think they mean Mayo) Before 820 became populated by a local station, you used to be able to hear KGO very well in the Seattle area after dark. This was due to their great transmitter site located in the south end of San Francisco Bay with 50,000 Watts and north-aimed directional array. Going to be interesting to see how this new format works out.…Certainly there are a lot of eyes on it.
Xperi (the company behind HD Radio) and Hubbard (Who own a cluster of stations in the Seattle market) have just completed testing some modifications to the FM version of HD Radio. Reportedly they are doing this by increasing the bitrate of the data stream that’s used for HD. From what I read, this will not add more music or wide-band applications, like HD2 & HD3 but rather increasing the ability of HD Radio to carry digital information that could be leased to data customers. I’m sure there will be more out on this in the trades. When HD first came out, it was thought that ‘data-casting’ was going to be the major user of the excess capacity. As it turned out, adding a 2nd audio channel turned out to be more viable and popular.
Digital radio stations could get their first, fully authorized, power increase in more than a decade if the Federal Communications Commission goes along with a proposal from HD Radio developer Xperi and the NAB. In a joint filing, the two entities are asking the FCC to adopt an updated formula to determine FM power levels. They say the revision is based on “real world operational experience” that has been gained since the FCC last approved a power increase in 2010.
In a filing heavy on engineering jargon, Xperi and NAB say during the past 12 years concerns have developed about the current approach for power measurement. As currently written, FCC rules allow all digital FM stations that meet certain guidelines to operate at ten percent of analog power. The rules do allow some stations to exceed that on a case-by-case basis, as long as they are armed with evidence that the power boost does not cause interference to adjacent channel analog signals.
“The current formula overstates the potential for digital interference and has constrained stations from increasing power, which has constrained digital service,” Xperi and NAB say. The companies argue that the past decade has shown that the formula is “too restrictive” and overstates the level of protection analog stations require. They also say the approach assumes symmetric rather than asymmetric digital sidebands. “The use of symmetric sidebands for all calculations eliminates a viable path for many stations to increase power on at least one sideband, which would improve digital coverage,” the companies say.
To prove more power can work, Xperi and NAB worked with engineers at Audacy and iHeartMedia to examine a number of short-spaced stations. They found several cases where digital stations were already operating at the power level now being sought, and despite their elevated power there have been no well-documented reports of interference by any of those stations.
When you hear about the Society of Broadcast Engineers, perhaps, you think of an organization comprised of members living in the U.S.? This news item may change your thinking –
The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) has announced that the SBE Board of Directors have approved the creation of a new chapter serving Eastern Europe. “While specific systems and broadcast rules vary around the world, broadcast engineering skills in general are common regardless where one works,” said SBE president Andrea Cummis, CBT, CTO. “The SBE has had a chapter in Hong Kong for several years, and we welcome our newest members in Eastern Europe.”
Perhaps another ‘sign of the times’ – Homeless setting up camp at a transmitter site – in this case, Pigeon Point in West Seattle – (Picture courtesy of Stephan Lockwood – Hatfield & Dawson)
And, from the funny sign department –
Hope to catch you here next month…
Clay, K7CR, CPBE
SBE Member # 714
Since March 1968