NORTHWEST BROADCASTERS


nwbroadcasters.com

About UsClick here for Recent NewsClick here for the AM Station PageClick here for the FM Station PageClick here for the Digital Radio PageClick here for the TV Station PageClick here for the Digital TV/Subchannel pageClick here for Links to Other Broadcasting Sites

Clay Freinwald

Clay’s Corner for July 2014

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineer's perspective since September 1986



Finally - July has arrived and this means, if all goes well, it’s time for summer - Our shortest season…So with that in mind - It’s time for outdoor activities….For example - Picnics!  The Seattle Chapter of SBE will hold its annual picnic on Vashon Island in the backyard of KOMO-AM .

This month the Seattle Chapter of SBE - and friends ill gather at the KOMO-AM facility on Vashon Island for its annual picnic.  This year, a week earlier than in the past - July 19.  While you are out there enjoying the food and fellowship, be sure and take a look at the beautiful 50 kW, BTA50F RCA transmitter.  You can load up on facts before you get there by going to this site which is full of memories for us old-timers.  The KOMO Transmitter info starts on page 230.  http://americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Catalogs/RCA/RCA-Broadcasst-Equipment-1950.pdf  Word is we will have a special guest at this event.  I’ve invited Barry Mishkind to join us.  Barry is known by many in our industry for his tireless support of what we do.  More recently he has been publishing the BDR.  If you are not a subscriber to that service - You should be - and should go here - http://lists.thebdr.net/mailman/listinfo/bdr

Two weeks later Engineers and their families in the Portland area will gather at the home of Tom Cauthers on the Sandy River east of Portland .

A lot of passages and changes of late in our business, here is a quick summary –
  • Ken Schram - Long time member of the KOMO team - passed away on May 29th.
  • Jean Enerson - Who gave up her anchor seat but will continue doing other things at KING-TV and who continues on even though she turned 70 (Love to see younger people still working).
  • Dan Lewis - Retired from the Anchor Desk at KOMO-TV
  • Casey Kasem - Legendary voice of American Top 40 and countless other things passed away in nearby Gig Harbor.
Another Seattle statistic - According to Tom Tom Traffic’s new results we have some pretty bad traffic in our area. According to these new results, Seattle is ranked 8th worst.  Just to be fair - Our neighbor to the North, Vancouver is worse off than we are with a ranking of #4 …But then again that region is short on freeways.  What about our neighbor to the South?  Portland comes in at #16.  Not sure if that means the traffic mess in PDX is only half as bad as Seattle.  Denver - You guys have it easy with a traffic mess rating of #32.  Worst place to be stuck in a vehicle - Yup - Las Angeles.  Best place?  Kansas City.

Lots of computer changes at the local Entercom radio factory.  Out goes BE’s Audiovault and in comes WideOrbit.  Apparently this is just part of a company wide shift.

Entercom   Wide Orbit 

How do you remove a top mounted TV Antenna that has to be taken apart in pieces when it’s mounted above an FM Master Antenna being used by 6 Stations owned by 3 different companies?  That has been the issue at West Tiger during the KUNS de-installation.  It also underscores the viability of FM’s having back-up facilities that can be used anytime without causing significant reductions in coverage.  There is a huge difference between a station having an Auxiliary Transmitter facility and having an ‘Emergency Backup’.  Over time I have seen this issue come back to bite a number of times.  To major league broadcasters this is, the perhaps, a question of how you define redundancy.  In smaller markets, FM stations are happy if they can have a little antenna and low powered transmitter somewhere in the event of failure of their main transmitter and/or antenna.  In major markets - the goal of many, but not all, stations is to have a high level of redundancy.  In Seattle there are clearly those that look at this issue differently.  Some stations have all their eggs in one basket, at one location, should something really bad happen at their main transmitter site, they are off the air - period…And this includes just about all of our local TV Stations.  Some stations in this market are at the other end of the spectrum with full powered mains at West Tiger and relatively high powered auxiliaries at Cougar.  This is sort of like insurance….Do you insure for full replacement cost, or, something deemed adequate?  Now you again know why I am not in station management.

I recently had a very enjoyable time flying over to Helena, Montana to participate in an EAS workshop.  That state is considerably behind Washington in terms of its EAS system and planning.  Hopefully they will be able to learn from what we have done here so as to not have to re-invent the wheel.  While there I re-confirmed my love for Western Montana…What beautiful country…If only one could make a decent living there.

We achieved a bit of a milestone with the moving of the Washington State EAS Plan from the WSAB Web Site (where it has been for many years) to the Washington State Emergency Management Division’s Web Site…You can find it here - http://www.emd.wa.gov/telcom/telecom_eas_plan.shtml.  A huge thank you to Mark Allen of the WSAB for his contribution to the EAS effort in our State and an equally huge thank you to WSEM team for their contribution to this cause.

Another news item in the world of EAS is the release of an NPRM by the FCC. 
http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2014/db0626/FCC-14-93A1.pdf
This action by the Commish again proves that EAS is not a static situation but rather a system that continues to evolve with repeated changes.

A reminder - We are always looking for volunteers to work at various levels of the EAS in our State.  The local (Operational Area) committees (LECC’s) as well as the State EAS Committee (SECC) is always looking for volunteers.  If you would like to do some ‘Giving-Back’ - Please consider EAS as a great way to do just that.  If you’re interested - Please contact me for more information.

Oh yes, our next State EAS Committee will be meeting on July 9th at 9:30 a.m. at the WEMD facility at Camp Murray.  Additional information about the meeting as well, as call in information, will be posted on the Washington State EAS Remailer.  If you are not a subscriber - You can join us by going to - http://sea.sbe16.org/mailman/listinfo/eas-wa.  A huge Thank You to Hatfield and Dawson for their contribution to our State EAS system by providing this system.

If you are like me, you have been following the changes in the world of motor vehicles and the growth of hybrids and the introduction of all electrics.  Recently the legendary maker of motorcycles, Harley Davidson announced that they are going to start making electric bikes.  If you look at what made all this possible you come to understand that advancements in batteries has changed everything.  It was not that long ago when we were thrilled with NiCads.  Driving this (no pun) is likely the explosion of hand-held electronic gizmo’s.

Just about everyone knows that a ‘HAM’ is - right?  It’s something that you eat, or a term used to describe someone that’s involved in Amateur Radio, i.e., HAM Radio.  Time to learn a new definition…A HAM is now – also short for a ‘ Hog Annihilation Machine”.  From the way understand it…Feral Hogs are a big problem in some areas of the country causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage.  The challenge has been how to deal with the Hogs and not, in the process, kill other animals.  Enter the HAM…A solar powered machine that is triggered by the sounds made by the wild hogs that provides access to bait that will kill the hogs and yet not respond  to animals that you don’t wish to kill….Things I learn by reading the paper!

Speaking of reading the paper - Did you see the picture in the Seattle Times on the 22nd, of the big vacuum tube guitar amplifier?
Vacuum Tube Amplifier

Boy did that ever catch my eye - I instantly recognized the familiar shape of 6550’s.  Now a bit of back ground….My first encounter with the 6550 tube was in an Ampex Video Tape Machine where they were used in what was called Motor Power Amplifiers to drive some of the motors in that big 2 inch, Quad, VTR.  (Yes I know this is back in the early 60’s).  Over the years I would occasionally run across these tubes in high powered amplifiers.  This tube was a high powered cousin of the legendary 6L6, EL34/6CA7, KT88 family that was used for years in high powered PA systems before the advent of transistors.  In this day and age tubes like these, that can produce 100 watts of audio per pair, are still in demand for guitar amplifiers for those musicians that find that the sounds produced by solid-state devices to be inferior.  Interestingly a small company, based here in Seattle, Verellen, still builds tube amplifiers with lots of demand.  The one in the picture uses 6 of these bottles, which go for about $35 each, produces 300 Watts for those guitar players that have learned they can use their amps to peal paint at a ¼ mile and make ears bleed (Kidding of course).  Another Seattle success story indeed.

So what comes out of a broadcast station belongs to a broadcast station and you cannot take it and use it for business purposes unless you pay the broadcaster a fee?  Well something like this was decided in the recent court ruling regarding Aereo.  Perhaps another example is a retail business that plays a radio station for their customers and does not pay the music licensing organizations?  The court siding with broadcasters in this case is going to have an interesting impact going forward.  I get the feeling that this ruling will have impacts not yet imagined by many.  The term ‘public airwaves’ has, perhaps, been re-defined for years to come?  The question is - now what?  I have to think that the wheels are turning in the minds of many that will figure a way around this one.  At least, in this case, the court is on the side of broadcast television, even if another branch of the Federal Government appears not to be.  Meanwhile - Aereo announced that it was shutting down.

On June 6, 7 and 8 many of use made the trek to Seaside Oregon for the annual Amateur Radio activity there.  According to reports just received, there were nearly 3000 in attendance.  Sitting through the prize drawing on Sunday we were amazed at the number of winners that were of the female gender and young too.  As the MC kept noting …This is the future of Amateur Radio.  Seems like the corner has been turned on what was once viewed as an old-man’s hobby.

Here’s an item for you old-timers - The following is a picture of an AM Station here in Western Washington.

AM Tower

Zooming in to the top of the tower you can see a ‘device’ mounted on the top of the tower.

Tower Top 

As you can see this tubular ‘device’ is mounted on the top of the tower with the beacon mounted on top of it.  Note that the device is made of screen, as you can see the blue sky through it.

Can anyone identify this ‘device’ - For extra credit, name the location in Eastern Washington where
A similar device is located.

Copper theft continues to make news.  In a recent case a number of PSE’s customers power went out about 4:30 a.m. at the same time many in the vicinity of a sub-station heard an explosion.  Apparently the fact that the copper wire that a thief saw was not coupled with the knowledge that the ‘wire’ had sufficient energy to transport him to the hereafter.  Firefighters took the thief to Harborview in critical condition with 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 60% of his body.  Electric utilities all over the country are increasing their security …But you can only go just so far trying to prevent stupidity.  Then there is the Seattle City Light caper where the only ‘shock’ that took place was when the utility discovered that they had been ripped off by a fast talking pair who claimed they needed scrap copper wire for an Indian charity.  This was not just a small con-job…But rather turned out to be a 20 Ton Heist.  The good news is the dudes were caught and the folks at City Light that should have known better have been exposed.  Perhaps the bottom line to this one is that stupidity can be found everywhere.

For years many of us have thought about the names given the little range of mountains to the East of Seattle often called the Issaquah Alps.  Cougar Mt. works as there have certainly been cougars sited there.  Squak Mt. is a tough one, apparently coming from a Native American word.  Then there is Tiger Mt.  I think we all understand that there are no tigers in this area….Then to the east is Rattlesnake Mt…and (thankfully) there are no snakes of that type in this area.  The other day, while at East Tiger Mt. - I had my first - Tiger Sighting….If you look closely at the following picture, just above the elevation sign you will find him - CUTE !
 
Cute Tiger

The FCC has been at work in Bay Shore, New York where they have proposed a $25,000 fine against a Drew Buckley for interfering with local fire communications with chants and heavy-breathing.  Geesh!  Then there is the $12,000 fine against WWCS-AM in Canonsburg, PA for failing to have effective fences around their AM towers.  The biggie of the month is the planned fine against a Chinese retailer for signal jamming devices CTS Technology…This is the biggest fine in the FCC’s history - $34,912,500 - That just short of 35 Million Dollars!!!  Signal jammers or devices that jam or block any FCC authorized system are strictly forbidden.  I’ve heard of devices like this in the past where building owners and organizations don’t want to hear any phone ringing etc., in fact, I just did a Google Search for Jammers and found that plenty are available - some from Seattle’s own Amazon….However after this FCC action, likely not for long.  That same search turned up FCC statements on their legality and their enforcement.  Just for drill I looked to see if you could still purchase high powered CB amplifiers - Yep - still can.  It appears the desire to make a buck and satisfy the demand for these items is strong, despite the action of the Feds…However a few 34 Megabuck fines will - perhaps - help.

Ever wonder why folks head for the beach, or sunny locations instead of staying here and enjoying our legendary weather?  A new study has turned up the fact that the sun has a similar effect on the human body as heroin and is highly addictive.  Technically UV Rays from the Sun stimulate the production of endorphins (feel good stuff).  Doctors, armed with this info, will now be better able to help those that are driven to excessive sun exposure that leads to skin cancer risk.  Another related item was in the news recently that cautioned people living in the area of gray skies that they too can get over-exposed and thereby increase their skin cancer risk.  In the event you wonder where I get this stuff…I am referencing the Harvard Medical School.  Just to be fair - another study out of the University of Rochester Medical School in NY has found an interesting relationship between Air Pollution and mental disorders such as autism and Schizophrenia.  Perhaps this would explain some of the mysteries of Southern California?

Phil Johnson - retired from the USCG and KIRO Radio - and Chair of the Central Puget LECC contributed this item about a little known ship that played a role during the cold war.  Those of you that are broadcast engineers will find the power levels they operated interesting.  http://www.uscg.mil/tcyorktown/info/History/Cutters/courier.asp

The Swiss have chosen 2024 as the date when that country will officially switch from analog to digital radio.  I still find it amazing that in our country we still are trying to find solutions to the demise of AM Radio and have a number that are strongly opposed to any digital radio system.  Why are these other countries looking forward while we continue to look backward?  Can someone explain this to me?

I received a nice note from John Franz recently.  He is working in Billings, Montana and stated that he would love to come back this way.
   
Before I close this edition - a pretty sunset picture I took from West Tiger - That’s the sun reflecting off of Lake Washington.
 
West Tiger Sunset

As usual, I like to leave you with something to bring a smile - This month - some terms that will expand your necessary knowledge base -

Administrivia (noun): trivial and mundane administrative tasks conducted by managers designed to increase the overall ineffectiveness of an organization.  Useless paperwork generated by a bureaucracy.

Adminisphere (noun): the levels of management, where big, impractical and counterproductive decisions are made.  The administration thought it'd be a good idea to replace all 700 of our servers with three mainframes as a way of speeding things up.  I'm telling you, their brains don't get enough air in that adminisphere.
 
Adobify (verb): to transform an electronic document into an Adobe PDF document.  Let's adobify those documents so that everyone can read them.

Till next month –

Hope to see you at the Picnic!  Have a great summer.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE etc.