Lots of EAS happenings this past month – Here is a quick look –
REGIONAL IPAWS/EAS TEST -
The test scheduled for June 9th has been rescheduled for June 15th due
to the prior date conflicting with the Cascadia Rising exercise. A couple of things about this –
1) You will probably want to have your station manned during this event to make sure that all goes well.
2) Don’t forget that your EAS equipment must be able
to respond to the event code NPT and the location code of 000000 (Triple
oh, triple oh).
This fall we will have a full national test (using the same Event and
Location Codes). We will be reporting back to the FCC after the
test using then new Electronic Test Reporting System. If you are not familiar with this – The time has come for you to get up to speed.
DESIGNATED EAS PERSON –
Every EAS Participant (FCC lingo for FCC Licensee that has an EAS
obligation) should have a person that is designated EAS compliance
responsibilities. This person could be the Chief Operator, or
someone else. Being subscribed to the Washington State EAS Remailer should also be a requirement.
EAS PLAN UPDATES-
Speaking of being subscribed to the EAS Remailer – That system recently
distributed a number of Washington State EAS Plan updates so that all
participants can keep their copy of the State Plan current. Keep
in mind that the FCC wants you to have a current EAS Plan.
EAS HANDBOOK –
A CSRIC Working Group has been toiling to create a new EAS
Handbook. When this becomes available, you will find it to
be much improved over the document that you have to have in your control
NEW EAS NPRM & FILING
The FCC, earlier this year, released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making
(NPRM) that, if fully enacted, will make some sizable changes to several
facets of EAS. The Washington State SECC (EAS Steering
Committee) formed a committee to draft a response. That
response was approved by the SECC at its May 11th Meeting and was filed
with the Commission on May 19th. Thanks to a number of
local broadcast engineers for assisting with this
project. You can read it, along with other comments at
the FCC’s location for filed comments.
There is always a need for volunteers to help lead our State EAS
Activities, especially at the local level. A key component of our
EAS operation is the LECC or Local Emergency Communications
Committee. There are one of these in each Operational Area in the
State. If you are interested, drop me a note and I can provide all
the details. On that topic – Kudos to John Price who recently
stepped up to lead the LECC in the Mason/Thurston county Op/Area.
John recently retired from Entercom. Interestingly it was John and
the late Jimmy Hocutt that twisted my arm almost 20 years ago to get
involved with the, then new, EAS.
If you are here in the PNW (Pacific Northwest) you certainly enjoyed our
summer preview in the form of wonderful warm, record setting
weather. Then, about the middle of May, Mother Nature reminded us
of where we live and returned us to cool, moist conditions. But
not before we had a couple early season forest fires not all that far
from Seattle. Now if I can just talk Mother Nature into giving us a
bit more of that wonderful stuff during the first weekend in June when I
will be in Seaside attending the annual Amateur Radio doings on the
I’ve enjoyed a couple of opportunities to take some out of town
engineers up to West Tiger. Always interesting to see/hear their
expressions. One fellow, from Atlanta, could not help but marvel
at the view from the top. I told him to think of West Tiger as a
3000 foot tower with the first 2800 feet being dirt. He explained
that Atlanta’s sites are pretty much all tall towers. Another
fellow, from Boston, kept remarking on how green it was. I
reminded him that it was green there too…to which he replied, yes, but
not this green. He was fortunate to have been able to take a route
trip ferry ride to and from Bainbridge Island on an 80 degree
day….Likely he will never be the same.
Never thought that this would happen – But the end of May starts the
long awaited process whereby the Commission hopes to come up with 126
MHz of spectrum in the first round of bidding in its reverse
auction. The revolution has begun. To be sure, this is a
complicated process that will be followed closely by all those that
cover the electronic media. I guess the part I am most interested in is just what will the TV Channel line-up look like when the dust has settled.
Back on May 11th a good sized chunk of Seattle found itself without
power in the early morning hours. Apparently cameras recorded the
critter causing the flow of City Lights electrons to stop was a raccoon
who, for some reason, was able to scamper away. You would think,
in this day and age, that sub-stations would be more secure….apparently
not. Then on the 25th of May, downtown Seattle had its lights go
out due to an unknown cause at a sub-station. What made this
interesting is that CNN picked up the story and let the world know about
it. Seattle City Light is likely wondering what’s next as these types of events often come in threes.
As most of you know, I have chosen to continue to work well beyond
customary retirement age. There are a number of reasons why I’ve
made that choice - I love what I do - I have managed to find work that
insulated from politics - my time is quite flexible - the money is
good. A recent study has revealed that 3 in 10 U.S. workers
foresee working past conventional retirement age. 31% of
non-retired workers said they will retire - after age 67. Only 23%
plan on early retirement, or before age 62.
Tim Moore, RF guy at Sinclair in Seattle, recently sent me some interesting items that he found in an attic. The first one is a map of the Columbia Broadcast System radio stations –
How many of you are old enough to remember when CBS used their full-name?
Speaking of CBS – The talk that CBS will spin off its radio operation
gained a bit of news recently when the CBS chairman and CEO Leslie
Moonves recently spoke about plans for what he calls the ‘radio
unit’. He said there were interested investors and strategic
partners and a spin-off is likely in Q-1 of 2017. CBS Radio
operates many stations where this column is read – including 3 FMs and
an AM in Seattle where they also own KSTW-TV. So how big is CBS
Radio? Reports are that it generates 1.2 Billion dollars in
revenue. Sort of gives you an insight into things when they want
to spin off this little radio division….apparently 1.2B does not mean
all that much in the scheme of things?
And, on the subject of CBS, the battle continues over the ailing Sumner
Redstone and who will end up controlling Viacom and CBS. This one
has all the ingredients for a soap opera!
Anyone notice something unusual about the following? Yup…This was
from back when KVI was a Tacoma Station, prior to their moving to
Seattle. Perhaps this was the first broadcast station to
‘jump-ship’ from the City of Destiny?
City of Destiny??? Yes indeed – Here are some links that provide the background –
Congrats to Doug Irwin on his promotion to DOE of iHeart’s Los Angeles
cluster. Doug was the Chief of their Seattle operation a few years
Speaking of radio station memory makers – I found this item, on the
wall, at a local (Auburn) Les Schwab Tire store. This was an
artist drawing of Auburn…In the lower right side was something that
attracted my attention. A radio tower and the call letters
KASY. Again my smartphone/camera captured the image to share with
you. A lot of history with this station. It was put on the
air back in the 50s by Ed Garre operating with 250 watts, daytime only,
on 1220. Later when the clear channels were opened up, they moved
to 1210. The call letters KASY were chosen as Auburn was known as a
railroad town after the American Folk Hero – Casey Jones. http://www.biography.com/people/casey-jones-9357038
The KPLU drama continues with the Seattle Times printing a front page
story on the 15th about some of the background of the KPLU/KUOW
deal. At this writing KPLU has reached their goal of raising
enough money to perhaps purchase the station from Pacific Lutheran
University. Perhaps revelations of how this deal came down will
serve to help the station with that effort?
The matter of how to help AM Radio is still very much in the news, with
comments being filed in response to the FCC’s NPRM dealing with the
issue. One area that I found interesting is the apparent
‘disconnect’ within the FCC involving the role of those AMs that are
involved as Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations and the Emergency Alert
System. Unfortunately the Commission never did fully consider the
fact that these stations, like KIRO-AM-710, reduce power and/or use
directional antennas at night in their planning for the PEP
system. The thought that the nighttime protection of these
stations would be reduced in the name of improving AM appears to me to
be contrary to that mission. Perhaps this is another case where
the left/right hand rule prevails. (Left hand not knowing what the
right hand is doing)?
On the subject of AMs ….Let’s take a look at how AM stations are doing in this market – According to the April 12+ numbers –
- There are 36 Stations listed in the rating results.
- In the top 10 –Non are AM’s
- The highest rated AM is KOMO coming in at # 14 (perhaps assisted by their simulcast FM?)
- The next highest rated AM is KIRO at #21
- Modest power/coverage, Non-Commercial KEXP at #25 out-rates #27/KVI and #28/KIXI
- Seattle School District KNHC at #29 out-rates #33 KCIS, #34/KHHO and #35/KFNQ
- Only Clover Park’s KVTI-(FM) comes in lower at #36
Looking at those #25 or lower ownerships -
- Sinclair owns KVI
- Hubbard owns KIXI
- Crista owns KCIS
- iHeart owns KHHO
- CBS owns KFNQ
I recall, writing in this column, not that many years ago, about how
many of these AM’s were in the top 10. KOMO and KIRO where there
for years. Which makes me wonder if these 5 AM stations were not
owned by firms operating, perhaps, profitable stations in this market
and were stand-alones….would they have been sold off or have had their
plugs pulled? Frankly it’s hard for me to believe that these lower
ranked AMs are going to stay economically viable in the long
term. Am I missing something here? Looks to me like there
are going to have to be major changes to see AM Radio regain its former
glory. Perhaps we should start with the fact that many people
today no longer listen to AM for the simple reason that it’s out of
style and view as a dinosaur?
Are you ready to migrate your public files on-line? The FCC has
set June 24th as the date when the first group of radio stations have to
do so in the Top 50 markets. I remember being the designated
public file person in the past with lots of paper files etc.
Certainly a huge change for everyone. One loss …The fear that
someone would come in and swipe something that the FCC would be in the
next day and want to see. When completed, this change will involve
radio, TV and Cable. Don’t put away the thought of paper files
totally however, as letters and emails from the public will still have
to be saved.
On the subject of the FCC and changes therein – The Commish has launched
something new for your browsing pleasure – An online Consumer Complaint
Data Center. www.fcc.gov/consumer-help-center-data
A quick look at this revealed a large number of complaints involving,
as expected, robo calls etc. Lots of cool sorting functionality is
You don’t hear anyone griping about inflation these days, perhaps other
than the fact that gas prices are going up. How about an increase
in fees charged by the FCC? Under the increases, the Commish has
that a small AM station will be paying 42% more and a big FM 43% more in
2016. Overall their fees are going up 13% over last year.
Meanwhile they close their local offices and reduce their enforcement
efforts. Oh yes, I should mention that the FCC is a profit making
organization that collects more money than it costs to operate to the
tune of almost 95 million …and where does that money go? The U.S.
Treasury. Apparently my old-age is preventing me from
understanding the equation.
Remember when you could simply dial 7 digits and call someone across
town? You’d better record those thoughts as they are about to join
other items in your history bin of memories as a couple of changes are
in the telephone pipe for our area – 1) Starting the fall of 2017 will
be the end of 7 digit dialing – soon it will be 10 only…2) perhaps a
sign of the growth in Western Washington we are about to get another
area code…564. This will be what they call an ‘Overlay’, meaning
that we will no longer be able to tell where the caller is in Western
Washington by glancing at the area code…The reason for all of this –
Area code 360 is running out of numbers. My crystal ball is a bit
fuzzy at the moment…but I can’t help but wonder just how many digits you
will have to dial to reach your next-door neighbor 100 years from
now? If you are like me (older than dirt) you probably remember
the phone number when you were a child – For me it was WEbster
1265. (Portland, Oregon)
Recently Radio World has been doing something interesting – doing
stories on technical workers in the broadcast industry that are under 40
years of age. This is especially interesting in this day and age
of old, wrinkled, gray or missing haired people
Attending any SBE Chapter meeting, you are quickly struck with the
thought that there are employment opportunities. Back to the piece
in Radio World – Much to my delight they featured a story about a young
fellow that many of us know – Alex Brewster, grandson of local
broadcast legend Jim Dalke. Alex is now working for Doug Fisher
out of Olympia. One of their most recent projects was the new
technical facility for Bustos Media in Kent.
There has been a lot of press recently about two of the major players in
the Radio industry, Cumulus and iHeart (formerly Clear Channel), both
of whom are struggling with massive debt. iHeart alone is almost
$21 Billion in debt….A figure that is very hard to get your head
around. As happens, those who own that debt are getting
restless. A couple of actions are in the news – They have hired a
firm to help them re-structure and now some of the decisions are being
made in court. I would think a lot of apprehension is the
result. Some have expressed the concern that all of this is
hurting the brand, especially since the ‘B-word’ is being used.
The problem is that if they go that route, the creditors may receive
less than if they figure out a way for the company to survive and,
eventually, pay them back. The firm owns a number of radio
properties in the Seattle area.
Meanwhile – On the sunny side of the street – another radio broadcaster
appears to be doing well….Entercom. They are basking in the recent
news that Moody’s has raised their ratings on the company.
Entercom, who owns clusters of stations in Seattle, Portland, Denver and
other markets appears to be doing well with revenue increasing.
Speaking of Entercom – as of this writing, they have still not filled
their Chief Engineer's position in Seattle created by the retiring of
Dwight Small. Uniquely they have been rotating personnel from
other markets through Seattle while the process
A number of new items were shown at the recent NAB that got my
attention. One was that long time manufacturer of AM Radio
components, Kintronic Labs, has announced they are making devices that
would be used with FM Broadcasting such as – combiners, filters
etc. Could it be that they have seen ‘the writing on the wall’
regarding the future of AM Radio and decided rather than go down with
it, to branch out? That is certainly a conclusion that is
supported by what they were showing in Las Vegas. One thing
is for sure, it is likely that a whole lot less money is being spent on
AM projects these days.
Matt Green is to become the new Chief at Entercom’s radio cluster in
Seattle. Matt has been in this business for 42 years, the past 6
with Bicoastal Media where he traveled between Hood River, Longview and
Chehalis from his home in Portland. Matt would be filling the
shoes of Dwight Small who exited for retirement land and the pleasures
of Lake Cavanaugh, where he is building a new home.
Recently I was going thru a bunch of old catalogs that had been saved
and in doing so I ran across some pictures that brought back a flood of
memories. Told myself that I had to share these with you.
The first one will be familiar to any of you that recall the latter days
of 2 inch tape in TV. Radio had long been putting ¼ inch tape in
plastic boxes and using these ‘cartridges’ in automation
equipment. TV was not so lucky. Spots were still being
played on reel-to-reel machines that had to be manually loaded…Something
that radio had managed to get away from. Then along came RCA with
a solution…The TCR-100. The following was found in an old RCA
Doing a quick search, there is a lot of information about these wonders
on-line. I worked with them at the then new broadcast facility for
KSTW in Tacoma. It was an mechanical wonder – a melding of
electronics and pneumatics that made sounds like you had never heard
before. Here’s a link to a picture of one of these creatures at
KIRO-TV in Seattle http://www.oldradio.com/archives/hardware/TV/rca-tcr(kiro).jpg
Local software vendor, Microsoft, has admitted it was not the smartest
move and sold Nokia for 350 Million. (Add this one to the list
that included Vista )
Another old catalog had this picture – Remember the acoustic telephone modem that ran at the blazing speed of 300 baud?
A lot of concern being voiced over the coming changes to television broadcast plants –
- Shortage of tower crews to make antenna/tower changes
- Shortage of new antennas and related hardware
- Impact on other services that share the same tower
We will have to just wait and see how this impacts us all…Interesting times we are in.
If you did not make it to the NAB convention - The Engineering Conference Proceedings are now available at the NAB store (NABStore.com) for $99. Comes on a USB drive.
Talk about German Engineering…..the city of Augsburg became concerned as
to why pedestrians were ignoring traffic signals. A bit of
research turned up the reason…They were busy looking down at their
smartphones. The solution – embed traffic signals in the pavement
so those that are constantly looking down will see them. A survey
conducted by U of W here in Seattle found that one third of people in
this country are busy texting or other smartphone activity at dangerous
road crossings. I can see it now…In addition to rainbow pedestrian
crossings, they could be sporting red, yellow and green lights too.
For those of you in the Seattle area, you likely know about how Amazon
has become a major player in today’s world. The growth of this
firm has been nothing short of outstanding. Their new building
complex in Seattle is changing the skyline of our city in a big
way. One of their triad of new buildings has a most unique name –
‘Doppler’. The Seattle Times must have a writer with some
understanding of the term, as the headline read ‘Doppler Effect’.
Like many other Seattle success stories, it was not long ago that the
word Amazon – ONLY – meant a river in South America.
While visiting Cougar Mountain recently (on a clear day) I took this
picture of Downtown Bellevue. Amazing how fast this little
‘East-side shopping center’ has grown up. If you look closely, on
the left, you can see more high-rise buildings under construction.
The local battle over who is going to be operating KPLU appears to be
about over with the news that fund raising efforts toward keeping the
station from being sold to KUOW have been successful. I’m sure
there are a number of things that have to be accomplished before a
formal announcement is made, as is the case in these kind of
things. I get the feeling, considering the relationship between
the station and long-time owner Pacific Lutheran University, that would,
perhaps, expect a change of call letters. Will it become KPJZ or
whatever will be determined?
For the benefit of those not familiar with this station – some quick facts –
- Pacific Lutheran has owned the station for about 50 years.
- First transmitter location was on the campus.
- Later moved to the old BN Tower at View Park (south of Port Orchard) and went full power.
- Moved to West Tiger Mt in 1988 where they operate via the Master Antenna.
- Later installed an Aux Transmitter at the then Entercom site on Cougar.
- They also operate an extensive network of other transmitters and translators in Western Washington.
- Their Streaming operation has made them one of the most popular with 100,000 weekly users.
- They operate two program streams – On FM Jazz and NPR news, On HD2 Jazz 24.
- Studios are in a relatively new, stand alone, building on the PLU Campus that was built for this purpose.
- Also operate a studio/news gathering operation in downtown Seattle.
- Their first Chief Engineer, David Christian, has been retired for some time.
- Their second Chief, Lowell Kiesow, is still employed, his assistant is Nick Winter.
Every wonder what would happen should the GPS system go down? In a
relatively short time a whole lot of things we now take for granted
would stop operating. Zillions would be taking their gizmo back to
where they got it wanting It repaired. Why did I think of such a
thing…Well, once in awhile some vendor who relies on their GPS Nav-Aid
will call me asking how to get to either Cougar or West Tiger (the
places I go, at least, once a week). Recently a fellow said he was
north of I-90 somewhere trying to find West Tiger. I could not
help myself…so I asked if he had a map
There was this long pause and proceeded to give him directions.
Like a lot of technology these days we have become so over dependent on
it that if it were to go down we’d be hard pressed to function.
With that being said, the whole GPS system will, one day, be the target
of those who get their thrill by doing wrong. So, just in case,
tell me where I can find a gas station that has maps.
For many the term ‘Big-Johnson’ brings a smirk. I just want to set the record straight…
Not sure what Impact it will have on our industry, however a new rule by
the US Department of Labor may mean a pay raise for many who work in
broadcast stations. According to the DOL, 385,000 broadcasters may
be in line for additional compensation. One of the major changes
is the fact that the new rules will impact some that are not currently
getting overtime for working long hours etc. As you might suspect,
not all of this is going down well with some in the industry,
especially those small operations that are struggling to stay
afloat. Some who are presently salaried may find themselves hourly
and perhaps not working over 30 hours at that. Fast food has been
doing it for years.
I recently received the following from Jim Stevens who retired some years ago with some sad news –
I am tardy in congratulating you on your 30th year of Clay's Corner.
Your steadfast reporting for all those years has been, and is, a great
contribution to the history of our profession in the Northwest. Your
column in the Waveguide is what I read first every month!
Also, thank you for your kind citation
in your February 2016 column of my improvised metric, "kilowatt feet",
for illustrating the advantages of high elevation transmitting sites,
such as was provided by your pioneering efforts at West Tiger Mountain.
On a sad note, I regret to inform you
of the passing of our mutual friend and colleague, Stan MacLafferty.
Stan died on April 15th in College Place (Walla Walla area). Here is a
link to Stan's obituary:
Stan and I had kept in touch after he
moved back to the Walla Walla area from Seattle. I last visited with
Stan at College Place in January. He'll be missed. Stan was
I'll be 77 on July 6th; how about you
Clay? I've been retired since 1999; is that in your future
soon? We old guys need some time to rest and recreate. You've
certainly earned yours. – 73, Jim Stevens, KL7FIR
We all know that things are a whole lot more complicated today than in
days past….Education is trying to ramp up our educational system with
more emphasis on STEM. Yet today we have high school graduates
that can’t balance their checkbook….ooops – I forget with a charge card
you don’t have to worry about it…..and who uses checks anyway!!
Then there are those younger folks that don’t know how to tell time with
an analog clock. In the retail world, they have to not make
things too complicated….The following is an example I ran across
This reminds me of this item -
We had to have the garage door repaired. The repairman told us
that one of our problems was that we did not have a 'large' enough motor
on the opener. I thought for a minute, and said that we had the
largest one the company made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower. He
shook his head and said, 'Lady, you need a 1/4 horsepower.' I responded
that 1/2 was larger than 1/4. He said, "NO, it's not. Four
is larger than two."
Or perhaps this one -
I handed the teller at my bank a withdrawal slip for $400.00. I
said, "May I have large bills, please?" She looked at me and said,
"I'm sorry sir, all the bills are the same size." When I got up
off the floor I explained it to her.
Ever notice how call letters once associated with stations in the
Seattle area seem to be picked up by others? For example….KBSG,
once the call letters of 97.3 in Seattle are now in use on the
Coast. KLSY, once the call letters of 92.5 in Bellevue is now in
use from South Mountain on 93.7 as a Latino Christian Station.
KNBQ, the call on 97.3 prior to KBSG is now heard in Central Park, near
Aberdeen. More recently the call used by the 104.5 that moved to
the Seattle area from Hood River, Oregon, KMCQ is being used by a new
station near Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.
Thanks to long time Seattle area Engineer, Buzz Anderson for this item -
For those of you that read this column, you know that I often write
about happenings here in the Seattle area. Seattle is a large
market, ranked #13. It’s pretty easy to forget that not far away
from Seattle are little markets that are not ranked and where you can’t
receive any OTA signals from any Seattle station. One of them is,
perhaps the smallest market in the state with an AM/FM Broadcast
station. I’m talking about Forks, in West Clallam County.
Forks is really small with a population of just over 3500. Driving
into town you can hear about 5 radio signals – 3 of them are NCE’s and 2
are the local Forks commercial stations. This little facility has
been there for many years. More recently, thanks to the talents
of people like Mike Gilbert, the little station has made great strides
in how it sounds on the air. In a recent column I noted that they
were running multiple channels of HD on their FM, KBDB. Now comes
the news that they have moved their FM antenna from their AM tower in
town to a much higher elevation location going from -23 meters AAT to
+484. The new site, at Ellis Mt, significantly improves their
coverage in all directions and brings with it the potential for a lot
more listeners that are scattered around the NW corner of the US.
Thanks Mike for the following pictures -
Transmitting Equipment rack
New antenna system
In closing out this month’s ramblings – I know that you are all anxious
for the coming elections…with that in mind, I offer you the following
If God wanted us to vote, He would have given us candidates - Jay Leno
The problem with political jokes is they get elected - Henry Cate, VII
We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office - Aesop
If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these State
of the Union speeches, there wouldn't be any inducement to go to heaven -
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river - Nikita Khrushchev
When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it - Clarence Darrow
Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel - John Quinton
Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you - Author unknown
Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and
campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the
other - Oscar Ameringer
I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies
about us, I will stop telling the truth about them - Adlai Stevenson,
A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country - Tex Guinan
I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians - Charles de Gaulle
Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks - Doug Larson
There ought to be one day -- just one -- when there is open season on Congressmen - Will Rogers
That’s it for this month. Lord willing I will be (mostly) back in some of these same locations.
73, Clay, CPBE, K7CR