|The Headline read –
Broadcasters Raise Red Flag Over FCC’s C-Band Plans.
Sitting just a few feet from FCC Chairman Pai at NAB recently I came
away thinking that he is not anti-broadcast…Then I learned his position
regarding C-Band (3.7-4.2 Gig) Called Mid-Band by the wireless
industry. Once again we are in a defensive position in terms of
spectrum. The wireless industry is not dumb – They want additional
spectrum and they consider any of that is not heavily used fair-game…On
the surface, apparently, our C-Band qualified.
Remember the battle over the 2 Gig spectrum when the wireless industry
set its sights on that band? Broadcasters were scrambling to show
the FCC that we did indeed use the spectrum a lot more than they
thought. The issue was the lack of information regarding the
number and location of receivers. Frankly, we were caught short on
this one…As a result we experienced our first dose of ‘repacking’…(even
if it was not called that). In the end, we lost spectrum.
Then it was deemed that Broadcasters were never going to use all the TV
spectrum they were allocated….and, on top of that, the FCC had done a
poor job of spectrum management with the switch from analog to digital
and the case was made to ‘re-pack’ TV….One more time, we lost ground.
Now the wireless ‘cross-hairs’ are on C-Band. This spectrum has
been used for a very long time for program/network distribution and, in
the minds of many, is un-utilized…..”Wireless Speak’ for ‘We want
it’. Much like the 2-Gig issue, broadcasters have laid back
thinking that the FCC was never going to let anyone else use this
band…Nothing to fear. All it took is for the Wireless crowd to
assert that the band was under-utilized and contend that, at least, it
could be shared by them. IMHO, much of the blame here rests with
Broadcasters, in particular Radio Stations, that have sprinkled
satellite receiving antennas all over the land and not bothered to have
any formal data documenting all this use. This ‘under-counting’ is
proving to be dangerous. Now, all of a sudden there is this
scramble to try and make a case that this is not a suitable location for
shared use. Whether or not we will be successful at beating back
this threat remains to be seen.
History has shown that, when confronted with this kind of a situation,
that we may well be looking for a loss of spectrum in exchange for a
smaller piece of the pie with some protection. Several
organizations are involved in this battle – NAB, NPR, iHeartMedia,
program distributors, networks etc.
Has this has put the FCC in a position that, perhaps, they did not see coming?
On the Wireless side – they are making it clear that they need the
spectrum, and this particular piece is ideal for their new 5G
systems. Seems to me that this pits the desire of new ‘Gee-Whiz’
wireless toys up against old fashioned systems that are frequency hogs
anyway. Let’s face it – 5G is being pre-sold as the do-all,
end-all, wireless system that’s likely exciting to the policy makers
while Broadcasting is being pushed to the rear of the bus as old
We were being told that the FCC would be voting in July on the
proposal….Then we got word that the filing deadline had been extended to
October 17. As a lot of media coverage has pointed out. Our
C-Band systems impact a huge amount of Radio and TV operations. A
lot of fingers are crossed – My Guess – Standby for more
re-packing. See GN Docket Nos. 18-122.
Remember the 103.3 Oak Harbor Station? It was on the air playing a
Country format using the old call letters imported to the Seattle area
from Hood River, KMCQ. The station is now KZNW and part of the
Bustos family of stations airing their Le Zeta format. The Transmitter, operating with 1400 watts, is SE of Mt Vernon. Le Zeta
is the same format they run at their 1210 AM Auburn
Station. I’ve found there are a number of locations in the Everett
area that you can hear both quite well. Now the question is who
will be next to pick up the KMCQ call-letters? As of early June
the only station on the air with it is KMCQ-LP in Salem, Oregon.
Congratulations to Sue Qualls who is retiring from KUOW in Seattle after
32 years. Now she can have time to come to the SBE Chapter
Meetings and make all the working-stiffs feel bad Sue recently posted this on Pubtech –
After 32 years at KUOW it is time to retire. This list has
been oh so helpful (and entertaining!). I will miss my fellow
public radio engineers but who knows I might show up for the PREC some
year! Hard to let go some times. I leave KUOW in the capable
hands of Sam Roffe and Tim Meinig. There is a lot on their plate
but with the help of Dane Johnson and crew nothing they can't handle.
All the best,
Apparently the Retirement Bug is ‘catchy’. I was at Daniels on
South Lake Union recently to attend the Tom Pierson Retirement
Gathering. Tom has changed his email signature to read –
Paul Carvalho is the new Chief Engineer for Bonneville Seattle
You can contact him at Pcarvalho@bonneville.com
The very best to both of you. To be very honest, I too would like
to retire…Unlike these folks, I will likely begin to do this in phases
by cutting back on the amount of work I do. The problem is how to
start the process. I figured by now that it would be ‘others’ that
make the first move.
I attended the 35th annual gathering of Amateur Radio operators in
Seaside the first weekend in June. The weather was
spectacular. Here’s a picture taken from the balcony of our hotel
looking east at the Coast Range. I actually bought a new radio
Unfortunately, on May 31st, another broadcast tower
fell. This time the cause was not related to re-packing but rather
a pilot of a crop-duster clipping a guy wire. The pilot died and
the 1040 foot tower for KTUZ-FM in Okarche, Oklahoma (NW of Oklahoma
City) went crashing to the ground. I am reminded of the time an
aircraft clipped a guy wire on the Channel 13 tower on Gold
Mountain. In that case the tower survived, the plane and pilot did
There is a lot of buzz these days about SFN’s (Translation: Single
Frequency Networks) for TV. Locally Buzz Anderson has been working
on a radio version of this with the addition of a number of
on-frequency boosters for the Bustos Media’s KDDS on 99.3, to my
knowledge the first of its kind in this area. Perhaps he could
come tell us about it at a future SBE-16 Chapter Meeting?
A number of years ago this column started appearing on the Northwest Broadcasters
website. This provided access to my musings to an additional
number of readers. This change meant that I would be receiving
incoming mail from many of them. Often, very interesting.
One of those new readers was named John Ashbridge. John never
wrote about what he did, but would rather make comments about something I
had written. I was saddened recently to receive an email from
Gord Lansdell, the NW Broadcasters webmaster, informing me that John had
recently passed. He passed on his Obit where I learned that he
was the longtime PA Announcer for the Canuck’s in addition to being a
newsman at CKNW. It’s always great to have new readers, but always
hard to lose an old one. He was 71.
On the 13th of June we learned of the Passing of Dick Harris.
Thanks to John Price for coming up with this picture of Dick standing
next to some fellow (on left) who was an obvious shutterbug (a young
Dwight Small). I recall hearing Dick's great voice on KIRO and the
Like many of us in Broadcast Engineering, Dick was a Ham with the Call
of K7VCD. The following is a picture of Dick that he had posted to
He also posted these comments –
Back in the 50’s while working at the RCA plant in Camden, NJ, and
being surrounded at work by a lot of Hams, I succeeded in getting my
first license, KN2MBT and plunged in as a Novice. Not being
satisfied with Novice limitations I worked hard and earned my general in
1955. In 1962 we moved out to Washington State and became
K7VCD. For the next 43 years I was satisfied with my General class
privileges, until March 23rd, 2005. After much persuasion,
encouragement from a friend, N6TZ, and hours of studying practice exams,
I earned my Extra Class privilege and decided to keep my call, K7VCD,
because it has been with me since 1962. My current station
includes a Kenwood TS570, Ameritron AL-811 linear amp, working into an
inverted V fed with ladder-line, a Hy-gain DX-88 all-band
vertical. My Hy-gain 20-10 Triband beam was completely restored
again on Memorial Day weekend 2005, with a lot of help from family and
friends. It's now working better than ever, and is my window to
the world of Ham radio once again. I’ve been in radio broadcasting
since 1949, starting as a board announcer/disc jockey, gravitating over
to the engineering side. Finally retired as fulltime Corporate
Project Engineer with Salem Communications in the Spring of 2003 after
Dick was a warm and wonderful person, loved and appreciated by all that
knew him…and a reader of my column…I know this for he too would
occasionally drop me a note about something I had written. To say
the least, another great loss.
John Price located a prior business card from when Dick was in NYC –
A spy in our midst? That’s what a lot of people were wondering on
learning that the Amazon Echo smart speaker could be listening in to our
conversations….or that someone, somewhere, could be. Many news
organizations jumped all over this one.
In the years that I’ve been around I’ve seen many things come and
go. When I started in broadcasting, back in the last century, AM
was king and FM was something that some experimented with. Now
that has completely reversed. Not long ago, Medium Wave (or so
it’s called in other lands), was also the predominant audio
delivery. Now with AM’s popularity fading all over the world, some
are suggesting that moving from Amplitude Modulation to Digital might
give the medium a new lease on life. In this country our
experiences with HD Radio have been less than stellar….Those that are
advocating Digital Radio Mondiale are viewing things a bit
differently. Regardless of what music lovers will tell you, there
is still an audience for non-music programming – News, Talk, Sports
etc. The latest ratings surge of KIRO-AM-710 is a great
example. The problem with AM is not so much the lack of stereo or
fidelity, but rather the ever increasing noise level that effectively,
progressively, reduces the coverage of AM Stations. Operating with
a different modulation scheme, one that is less subject to noise would
certainly be a move in the right direction. The potential is
likely great. However…There are a couple of minor problems with
DRM....1) No one has a receiver for it, 2) Owners of broadcast
stations are not going to invest money in transmitting equipment to
broadcast to no-one (much less invest in new AM equipment) and 3) You
can’t buy a receiver at Best Buy, Costco, Walmart etc. However,
you can buy one from Amazon… https://www.amazon.in/Avion-DRM-Digital-Radio-DRM-AM-FM-M/dp/B012GIDF1O
The problem here is the classic – Should we do it just because we
can? Can anyone tell me just how we could make a transition from
today’s AM to a DRM system in the US or Canada? In other countries
they have it easy….Just sunset AM and mandate that everyone do DRM.
Oh oh….I forgot – 5G is going to eliminate all broadcasting anyway….What was I thinking?
Appears that KZQM in Sequim has been granted a license by the FCC.
The little station had to deal with the objections of the neighbors on
Dungeness Heights. KZQM is on 104.9 operating with 6 kW ERP with a
directional antenna, providing a broad null to the NNW.
They are not the only station facing objections. Apparently there
are those on Bainbridge Island that don’t like the idea of a 3rd station
at the Salem transmitter site. in this case KKOL/1300. The City
of Bainbridge Island is one of the objectors.
Nice to know that it’s not just broadcasting that’s causing
objections…So is the roll out of 5G. With about 300,000 new
antennas sprouting from all kinds of structures across the land, it’s
not the visual impact that is raising concerns, it’s the old fear that
this new service will cause cancer and this cancer causing emitter could
be on a light pole in your front yard. This is going to be
interesting to watch. New broadcast station transmitters rarely
have a lot of support ….However, with all the hype about 5G there is
likely going to be a lot of pressure to overlook objections. The
old fear that having a transmitter in your backyard will lower property
values may not hold true this time. The fact is that a property
that does not have 5G coverage may well suffer because of it.
July 10th at 9:30 a.m. is the date and time of the next SECC Meeting at Clover Park Technical College.
The SECC is in the process of re-structuring some of its procedures as
our To-Do-List continues to grow and our mission expands. One of
our biggest assignments will be to re-write our EAS Plan. If you
have an interest in working with this group – please do make plans to
attend, either in person, or via telephone conference bridge. To
help facilitate participation we will be adding other methods of joining
the meeting very soon.
On the subject of EAS – This fall we will likely, once-again, have a
National Test. At this time it’s not known whether this will come
via the Internet and the FEMA/IPAWS CAP system or if it will be via the
legacy EAS (Analog) system we’ve had for years. There are some
suggesting that FEMA may ‘stress-test’ the system by surprising us.
If you attend the NAB Convention in Las Vegas, and deal with broadcast
transmitters, you have probably looked at the giant Stratosphere Tower
and wondered how it would work as a broadcast transmitter site.
The wondering is over as Beasley now has a 250 watt translator there
(translator for their 720 AM). Reports are that it works very
well, nearly the same as the higher powered stations on Black Mountain.
Here’s a view that you don’t often get of a tower. In this case,
we are looking down on the top of the original broadcast tower at West
Tiger Mountain, all thanks to Martin Gibbs and his UAV. The
elevation of the top of this tower is 3148 ft (or about 960 Meters)
above sea-level which helps explain why FM stations located here cover
such a large area.
- The Black items at the top of frame is the
transmit antenna for KIRO-FM-97.3. 97.3 was the first station at
this site, some 30 years ago. Below the KIRO-FM Antenna, and not
visible in this view, is the Master FM Antenna used by 7 other stations
at the site.
- The white ‘round thing’ in the middle of the tower is one of the 3 TV ENG receive antennas.
- The transmitter building is the rectangular item below the tower.
- The red item on the right is my pickup truck.
The Headline read –
What salary do you need to afford a Seattle-area home?
This was followed with this question -
How much do you reasonably need to be earning to afford a
median-priced home in the Seattle-area compared to the rest of the U.S.?
The following information comes from Lending Tree, who made the following assumptions about the borrowers -
- Secured a mortgage with a 4.5% interest rate
- Had a 10% down payment
- Paid a private mortgage insurance premium of 0.25%
- Had a debt-to-income ratio of 28%
Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue, Wash. - Median home price: $410,000 - Monthly mortgage payment: $1,870 - Salary required: $97,554
Portland/Hillsboro, Ore., Vancouver, Wash. - Median home price: $348,050 - Monthly mortgage payment: $1,587 - Salary required: $83,311
Denver/Aurora/Lakewood, Colo. - Median home price: $360,000 - Monthly mortgage payment: $1,642 - Salary required: $81,157.
If you think that buying a home in Seattle is expensive….We are far below San Francisco…But that is another story.
On a personal note – I just received my Official Property Value Notice
from King County…My 2018 to 2019 change is $50,000. A friend
of mine in Seattle had his valuation increase just under
$100,000. We can only guess the impact this will have on the
property taxes we will be paying next year. Is it any wonder why
retiree’s look to move out of the area?
XL Media has announced they are buying KZIZ/1560 and KKDZ/1250 for
$850,000. For those old-timers in the area, KKDZ/1250 started back
in the 1920’s as KTW.
Local, Seattle area, station KNKX uplinks it’s program streams to a
Satellite. Recently that system went down on June 9th sending
Lowell Kiesow on a mission to discover what happened. The cause
was quite unique. Apparently a local high school was holding their
graduation nearby and let loose a number of balloons. A bouquet
of metalized, Mylar balloons stuck in front of the uplink feed horn
which is 14 feet off the ground.
Look closely at the feed on the antenna - As Lowell said…’It’s a first for me’.
Perhaps a new term – ‘Balloon Fade’??
I’ve written, in past columns, about ‘parking of call letters’.
This is a common practice by big companies who feel the need to change
call letters in a market but don’t wish to give up letters that they
feel have value. iHeartMedia recently did this with KUBE, likely
knowing that a lot of other broadcasters would love to have them
(pronounceable call letters are very hard to come by) so they changed
the call of a co-owned AM in California to KUBE. Now, after some
format shuffling, KUBE is back in Seattle on 93.3. I recently
spotted a billboard reading ‘KUBE 93.3 is Back’.
Apparently AM stations that are operating FM Translators, in some cases,
have discovered HD Radio. Whereas many of these translators are
operating with very low power or highly directional arrays. It’s
not likely that a station owner will make the investment in the
equipment required. However, some of them, with 250 Watts and a
decent location have. Could it be that some of these operations
might even devote some time and energy to their HD and HD2’s?
HD Radio certainly has grown, with some 2200 Stations now broadcasting
with HD. Radio's version of Multicasting is growing also,
with almost 1500 stations operating HD2 (a second program channel) and
close to 500 operating HD3 (a third program channel).
Installing HD Radio systems for a station is a matter of receiver
penetration. According to Xperi – 51% of all cars sold in 2018
came with HD Radio. Breaking this down further…There are 40 brands
with 253 different models that come with the mode. Penetration
bottom line – over 16% of all cars on the road have HD Radios or a total
of 45 million vehicles, a figure that is growing at the rate of about
10 million vehicles per year. That’s a pretty compelling reason
for broadcasters to get on the band-wagon. The owners of 107.7 in
Vancouver are the latest in SW B.C. to jump on the bandwagon.
I recall when HD multicasting was just being talked about. Back
then broadcasters were excited to have a multicast channel, as they
considered it to be ‘another radio station’ they could make money
with. Then the reality of the matter sunk in. They were
fearful of putting on compelling programming or cross promoting the new
system for fear it would mean moving listeners away from their FM
station that was paying the bills. Many made it clear – If it
can’t make money on day-one…they were not interested.
Then there is the problem of educating consumers. An owner of a
new vehicle may stumble across the fact that their car-radio can receive
content that they like, but have never heard about and have little
chance of getting additional information. Most HD program streams
do little to explain how it works. Auto dealers are, generally
clueless. You would think that broadcasters in a given market area
would have a printed hand-out that comes with every new vehicle that
explains how HD Radio works and promotes the content that is
available. Nope – Not happening. My ‘technical mind’
obviously operates on a different plane than those that could really do a
lot more to make HD Radio into the money maker that we all want.
Again this is so much like the roll-out of FM many years ago. Then
AM Station owners, not realizing the advantages and potential for FM
were afraid to promote it for fear it would hurt their AM
operations. Sure it had better fidelity, Stereo, less noise,
worked in places that AM would not, etc. FM finally had to almost
make it on its own…and that it did. In many cases consumers were
the leaders and station owners were the followers.
I am beginning to have hope that attitudes are changing with young and
more techno-savvy managers taking the reins that HD Radio and other new
technologies will be embraced rather than being feared.
Speaking of new things – No, not Smart Speakers ...Podcasting.
So what is a Podcast? According to Wikipedia:
A podcast, or generically netcast, is an episodic series of digital
audio or video files which a user can download and listen to. It
is often available for subscription, so that new episodes are
automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user's own local
computer, mobile application, or portable media player.  It is
very similar to, and may overlap with, Internet radio, though perhaps
distinct in revolving around topics personalized exactly to listener
preferences,  plus podcasts are often able to be streamed or
downloaded on demand.
Some broadcasters are very much Involved with Podcasting…Especially
those stations that have non-music content. Some podcasts are,
essentially, recordings of previously aired programming. NPR and
their affiliates are naturals for this mode as they do more long-form
content that lends itself to becoming a podcast. In some respects
this reminds me of being able to access old-time radio shows.
Meanwhile iHeartMedia is working on its own Podcasts. These will
be scripted episodes targeting teens. There is nothing like a
great story, in audio form. As a kid I grew up listening to
wonderful stories on the Radio. The mind can paint pictures just
as good as you can find on TV or in the movies. Interestingly
there has been a huge gap between the days when Radio was the story
teller and today when Podcasting is catching on as something ‘cool and
new’. If you have a story about some locally produced Podcasts –
Let me know.
Many were wondering if Cumulus Media would be parted out and sold off as
part of their re-organization. Sounds like they did exit a few
properties, but not as many as some suspected. The major change
was to cut their debt load by about a Billion Bucks.
Time to look at the highlights of the latest Seattle Radio - 6+ - numbers…
- KISW has grabbed the #1 Spot.
- Apparently KIRO-AM did not get the memo that AM Radio is dead showing up at #8.
- KIRO-AM’s sport format appears to be dominating the competition with the other 2 AM Sports-Talkers way down the list.
- The spread between the two FM country stations is getting narrower with KKWF at 3.6 and KNUC at 2.8.
- Looking at the Christian CHR format, locally owned Crista/KCMS is leading that race with a 2.6 compared to EMF’s KLSW with 1.1.
Did you ever think that someone would develop a device like a UAV or
Drone?...Obviously advancements in computers and electronics have made
these devices not only possible but common. The earlier picture of
the top of the West Tiger tower would have required a big helicopter
with a pilot and camera operator in the past. Now, with something
that can be stored in a small case, you can launch your camera in
minutes, for a fraction of the cost. TV news has certainly
discovered the usefulness of these devices, so has spot or commercial
generation. A recent look at one of those real-estate magazines
showed aerial views of a lot of properties. Fire fighters are
using them to locate hot-spots in wildfires. Ranchers are using
them to keep track of their cattle. Farmers are using them to look
over their crops. The list goes on. With any kind of device
like this there are going to be those that fly them where they should
not…and there are those that don’t want to be snooped on.
And of course, you will find this sign -
And the Headline read…
WiFi Now Available at Potholes State Park!
I suppose you could ask – Why would someone want a park named after a hole in a road?
Wonder how many others noticed that in Washington State, Pot has another, and popular meaning? (Canada is not that far behind.)
At least there is Wi Fi there!
What’s happening to KUIK in Hillsboro, OR (West of Portland)?
Recently I received a list of equipment that was for sale at the
station…Could it be that it was off the air and selling parts and
pieces? Apparently this is the case. I ran across this
The following U-Tube video gives you a look around the station on their
last day of broadcasting. Note how their studios were at the
According to the FCC, KUIK was first licensed in November of 1954.
It appears they were operating with 5 kW Non-Directional Day and 5 kW
Directional at night with 4 towers. There are rumors that they
lost their lease at their transmitter site. Others report the station was sold and will be back, in some form.
The bottom line appears to be that yet another AM will become nothing
more than history. Sadly, I suspect the trend will continue.
To wind up my column for this month….Some miscellaneous, off the top,
ramblings, all of which will likely confirm what many of you have
suspected for a long time…
Have you ever noticed how we have a habit of asking the wrong question ? Let me give you an example –
You have just arrived at your hotel. You walk up to the desk and
the person there asks you, “What brought you here today?” My
typical response – ‘I drove’ – at which point the clerk is clearly set
back. If they had asked – What is the reason for your visit here
today, that would have been a better question. Why do we do this?
Another favorite of mine is when in a restaurant many servers will
ask - “Can I grab something else for you?” What!! Did
they really mean to ask if they could bring me something else?
How about that question on a form at a medical provider's office – "In
case of an emergency who should be called?" I like to write
‘Ambulance’ .. Just to see if anyone actually reads those things.
Some questions are just an invitation to have a little fun. For
example when at the checkout of the grocery store they will often ask
"Did you find everything OK?" Responding with something like
"I couldn’t locate the Pickup Trucks" will often stop them cold, leaving them with no idea of what to say.
Responding with a totally unexpected answer is also fun – Example – When
people see a cat’s litter box they will often ask if you have a
cat….Responding with, "No, that’s for company" is certain to generate an
I’m among the few that have no middle name. Often, when filling
out a form, I am asked to complete my name at which time I write
NMI. Occasionally someone will ask me how I pronounce it.
Thinking about this a bit more I have concluded that I am a very lucky
follow. I determined long ago, the only reason people have middle
names is so a child will really know they are in trouble when a parent
I recall, several years ago, I was on my way to, or from, an Amateur
Radio event. I stopped at a grocery store while wearing a little
pin on badge that looked like this.
The checker kept looking at me ….and finally she took
a deep breath and said, "How do you pronounce your last name?" (She was
When you reach my age you have come to the point in life that you have
no choice to accept what the passing of time has done. A lot of
people have trouble admitting how old they are and will try and hide it,
or will subtract a few years from the actual number. I have a lot
more fun approaching this differently. I like to ADD about 10
years to the actual number. The response is amazing….People will
often remark about how good you look. Hard to get compliments at
Well that’s it for this month. Thanks for permitting me to share
these items with you. If you have a thought – feel free to drop me
a note – always happy to know that someone, somewhere is reading it.
Have a wonderful Summer. Remember, at this latitude, it is our shortest season.
Clay, K7CR, CPBE
SBE Member for over 50 years, #714