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
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 –
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.
- 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.
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.
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
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
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.
This action by the Commish again proves that EAS is not a static
situation but rather a system that continues to evolve with repeated
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
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?
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.
Zooming in to the top of the tower you can see a ‘device’ mounted on the top of the tower.
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 !
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 -
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.
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
Till next month –
Hope to see you at the Picnic! Have a great summer.
Clay, K7CR, CPBE etc.