Welcome to FALL! For most of you the autumnal equinox is
officially Sept. 22nd…but for those of us in the PNW Labor Day is just
about it. Why else would the Seattle celebration of ‘Bumbershoot’
occur now? Actually we’ve had a wonderful warm and sunshine-filled
summer for which we are all thankful. From this point on our
periods of warm and dry will be replaced by increased periods of cool
and wet. Retailers are putting out their Halloween items
already! As I write this column on Aug. 30th, the sky is back to
its normal light-gray, rain is falling and the air is unbelievably fresh
and wonderful smelling. For those of you reading this in drought
stricken locations…..This is just one of the reasons that I choose to
Remember that KUNS TV Antenna on the tower at West Tiger that they were
trying to figure out when and how to take down? Well the decision
was finally made to do the work on a succession of nights starting Sept.
15th. Not totally sure why it was not taken down during our dry
period. Seacomm will be doing the job.
Meanwhile down in Portland, Oregon…They have had a huge mess at what’s
called the Stonehenge tower. My sincere thanks to Kent Randles of
Entercom Portland for much of the following.
For those of you that are familiar with the towers on the West-Hill of
Portland, you have likely seen this structure, looking much like
Seattle’s Space Needle, without the saucer –
That pointy thing on top is a Jampro, spiral, master FM antenna, very
much like the one at the Ratelco Site on Cougar Mt. near Seattle (Home
of 93.3, 95.7 and 105.3). In Portland’s case, this antenna, first
put on the air in 1991, is fed with a big Shively Combiner which is
connected a considerable number of high powered FM station transmitters.
Despite having a lightning bolt catcher on the top…The antenna became
the ‘connection point’ for a sky-bolt back in July. There is a lot
of hardware that connects that big combiner to the antenna. Now
It’s fed with 9” line, inside the tower’s 6’ diameter center tube
there’s a 3-way power divider with 4” outputs and two “trombone”
phase-matching sections. 4” Heliax feeds 3 power dividers inside
the antenna, one at the top of each bay. There are 2 more,
smaller, “trombone” matching sections for two of the three
spirals. The spirals are grounded at the bottom end. Lots of
parts, but no exposed flexible lines.
It got hit by lightning on Sunday July 13th. After sweeping it they replaced damaged parts feeding the bottom section of the antenna, which took almost 2 weeks.
It was back on the air the 25th and it worked for about 36 hours and then all the high-power users VSWR’d off.
More sweeping, some disassembly then complete disassembly and
cleaning of all transmission lines and power-dividers. They
replaced almost all of the bullets and the center 4” in 3” out 3-way
They have been pulling in almost every available tower worker
in the Northwest, and have been working 6 or 7 days a week on the tower
and 7 days a week on the ground cleaning parts.
When it gets completely back together and sweeps OK they will
replace two of the spirals that have become damaged through the
years. The spirals have de-icing heater elements inside of them.
They hope to have it back on the air by the middle of next week, about 9/3.
Here’s a picture showing a closer view of the antenna with a number of
workers on it. Note the lightning dissipation array on the top (looking
like flowers). The antenna on the left is a single bay antenna
used by one of the stations at the site not connected to Combiner or
During this time all the stations connected to the Master Antenna have
been forced to use side-mounted antennas mounted lower on the
structure. Due to the large size of the tower, their coverage has
been considerably compromised.
Kent sent along a picture of one of the sections of transmission line
that was damaged. UGLY! Takes a lot of power and heat to do
I should note that Robert Rodgers of Broadcast Tower Company has been
assisted by Joe Harrington of Harrington Tower from Seattle in this
This is yet another example of the importance of having not only
adequate, but robust, back up facilities for major broadcast station
transmitter facilities….especially those that use Combiners and Master
Antennas where a lot of ‘eggs’ are in one basket.
More grumbles about the technophobes that give us the news -- Earlier in
the Month someone turned over a bus in Israel….An apparent terrorist
act. Listening close, I came away with yet another example of
where news story writers and reporters are at a complete loss when it
comes to heavy equipment. If it’s yellow and has tracks – Call it a
Bulldozer. If you listen to the story on various networks you get
the feeling that they all are listening to each other as the
description of the machine seemed to evolve over the next few
hours. Some started calling it a ‘Tractor’…..Then I heard the term
‘Back-Hoe’ (They still were not getting it)….One cable network
settled in on ‘Excavator’….However, I never heard the term
‘Track-Hoe’. Reminds me of the description used by this crowd for
something that is used to roll freshly laid asphalt….STEAM ROLLER.
When was the last time one of these machines was powered by
STEAM? Google is not much better…When you enter Steam Roller you
get pictures of Diesel Powered machines…..Geeeesh!
This, my friends, is a picture of a STEAM roller – Next time you hear
some say ‘Steam Roller’ show them this picture and ask them…”Like this?”
The October issue of Consumer Reports has an interesting piece called – 'Navigating the electronics maze’. Here are a couple of items that caught my attention –
Talking about a survey of what drivers are using in their vehicles - “FM
Radio is still the most popular, with 71% of respondents reporting they
frequently tune in while driving …”
I found it interesting that this piece mentioned a number of other audio
sources: Smartphones, Satellite Radio, CD’s, MP3 Players etc…But the
letters “AM” don’t appear. We’ve long known that it had not been
for the car-radio – Radio, as we know it, would likely have died a long
time ago. Perhaps this is another verification of the apparent
free-fall in the popularity of AM Radio.
In another paragraph they write, “Survey respondents had high praise for
HD Radio, which came as a bit of a surprise to our auto testers.
The vast majority of those who use it said they found it better than a
regular FM radio signal in terms of sound quality and signal
reception. That doesn’t reflect our experiences while driving test
cars, with our staff often reporting unreliable HD Radio signals that
frequently come and go, resulting in echoes and other annoying effects,
even in suburbs near New York City.”
Let me submit that this, perhaps, reflects very unfavorably upon those
that own and operate these radio stations? There are a couple of
solutions that can, and should, be deployed here –
1. The majority of FM Stations can (and should) increase their HD
Power level ASAP. With zillions of new cars coming out with HD
built in, what are broadcasters waiting for? Seems to me that now
is the time to do their part of make HD work the best possible. I
keep thinking about how impressive the HD2 performance is from our local
KMPS-FM…AFTER they increased HD Power. Meanwhile those that have
not taken this step sit on their butt and bitch about the performance of
HD compared to FM (Geeesh!)
2. Echoes??? This is caused by lack of attention to time
alignment between the FM and HD1 signals and is easily corrected.
Perhaps this is a manifestation of a lazy engineering department?
On the topic of HD Radio –
Earlier this week I took my pickup into the dealer for some needed
maintenance. The loaner they provided (a little Scion XD) had a
Pioneer HD Radio. This was my first time to play with a factory
installed HD radio – and I was impressed. Here are a couple pics
of the display - First looking at the KMPS HD-2
And this one, looking at KPLU’s HD-1
My first impressions –
Overall – Quite impressive.
- The display is very quick in displaying all you see when tuning in a station.
- The display of the station call and which HD
Channel is cool – You instantly know if a station is Multicast
(Multicast lights up) and you know how many HD channel there are to
- I did not play with the Tag or Text buttons as I only had it for a short time.
- I did drive from Auburn to South Center and back and the HD was solid (as I guess it should be).
- I did not like the change in EQ when it
switched to HD however. The HD sounded great, but made the FM
sound really bad, perhaps the HD Audio was overly EQ’d.
There has been a thread going on one of the remailers about people
taking their car back when they lose HD2 thinking that the radio is
broken – I don’t know what this radio does in that case. A display
of ‘lost signal’ etc. would certainly help that problem. Again,
if other stations would follow the lead of CBS and increase their HD
Power levels, many more would be able to enjoy HD Radio’s
potential. I guess it’s hard to fathom that any broadcaster would
not want to maximize their coverage…..Oh-Oh…I forgot…This has happened
before with FM. If you are old enough to remember when FM stations
starting coming on the air….Many of them were at relatively low
transmitter sites running modest power. In many cases it took FCC
action to force these broadcasters to move to higher elevations and run
higher power. Come to think of it, we have a number of stations in
this market that never did maximize what their channel would have
permitted…Dare I mention 93.3, 94.9, 95.7, 105.3, 106.9?
Under the headline of 'Changes at the top at Nautel' comes word that
Peter Conlon has been replaced by Kevin Rodgers as CEC of the
company. Kevin has been with Nautel for a very long time as
customer service manager and his move to the top spot is interesting in
that, generally, folks in the sales department are the ones that get
that chance. I’ve had a lot of conversations with Kevin over the
years and even was his sponsor for SBE Certification. I sincerely
wish him the best.
Another change coming, this time closer to home. Mark Allen, who
for many years has been the Washington State Association of Broadcasters
(WSAB) president and CEO, has announced he will be retiring Dec. 31,
2015. Talk about giving a lot of notice! I’ve had the
privilege of working with Mark on our SECC (EAS Steering Committee)
since the beginning of that work. Found it interesting how Mark
got his start….Working at KASY in Auburn.
The recent earthquake in California presented (to some) another
wake-up-call. Unfortunately, to others, another reason to snooze
as they deny what is predicted to certainly take place. Take a
look at this map – The Orange Area means that we are very likely to have
a severe quake in this area.
In the aftermath of this event, citizens of this area are going to be
seeking information and, unfortunately, I fear that broadcasters will
not be there to provide it for the simple reason that they don’t
consider providing post- earthquake information a priority….After all
who can sell spots during that time anyway. Business restoration
is a very unused concept in broadcasting. My challenge to the SBE
Chapter in Seattle – Form a committee of Radio and TV broadcasters to
educate station management on what they need to do to survive this
It is interesting to note that a relatively new earthquake warning
system was tested with the Napa Valley event. However it only
provides a few seconds of warning. But here’s the big question –
How to you translate a very short, let’s say 10 second warning, into a
public warning message that everyone would receive. Just what kind
of system would that require. WEA, EAS? I doubt it, as
there is way too much through-put delay.…What then? And, of
course, who is going to pay for it?
Here’s another area where many of our broadcast operations are asleep at
the switch – Copper theft. The day will certainly come that a
broadcast operation will be put out of commission due to the fierce
demand for this stuff. Once in a while, someone gets caught – and
only because the owners of the place were prepared. (Hint-Hint).
Recently a dispatcher for SNOPAC 911 in Snohomish county noticed
something out of place on one of their security cameras….A man with
bolt-cutters. Fortunately, surveillance cameras had been installed
following a number of break-ins in the County. She was in the
right place, as it was easy to dispatch officers to the scene and take
into custody two dudes caught on TV breaking into a communications site
used by several fire, police and military agencies. According to
the story, scrap metal thefts cost about a billion dollars
annually. Now I ask you…How many broadcast facilities have taken
precautions to prevent this from happening to them?
When you get older a couple of things start happening –
Thankfully, while chatting with some folks at the
recent celebration of life for Gary Engard, it occurred me that getting
older is a real blessing, especially in light of those that will not
have the privilege. As if it were planned, I received an email
from a friend who sent me this –
- You get more questions asking when you are going to retire.
- People start making remarks about aging (as if it will never happen to them).
- Your friends and co-workers start departing.
The advice of – take care of yourself – is ringing loud and clear.
Just how long that old car will last has a lot to do with its design
and so it is with us when you consider the role genetics have on our
life-span. In the same way – the older that rig gets the more
important preventative maintenance is required…aka tests and
checkups. The bottom line is that life is finite…Make the best of
it while you are here.
Looks like we will have some new LPFM’s coming to the area. 94.1
in Bellingham running 80 watts. Just enough to clobber the bonus
coverage from Seattle’s KMPS who is co-channel. And then a new
one, on one of pirate radio's favorite frequencies – 100.3 in
Kent. Meanwhile another Seattle station will have a new co-channel
neighbor with the CRTC approval of a new 107.7 to be located in
Surrey….and a First Adjacent to KING-FM on 98.3 in Vancouver.
Neither of the BC stations will be very high.
Dwight Small submitted this item – International Rectifier, who has
given us many great products over the years, has been purchased by the
German semiconductor company, Infineon for the tidy sum of $3
Billion. IR has been around almost as long as I have – started
back in 1947.
Speaking of large amounts of money. We’ve all seen large antenna
systems associated with broadcast systems…But what about a boat-load of
money on an antenna devoted to Amateur (HAM) radio? A friend put
the answer in the form of an mathematical formula –
Ham Radio + Insanity + Infinite Wealth = http://www3.ocn.ne.jp/~kan1/newmonsterantenna2.html
New List Server – For several years we have had a list server (aka
Remailer) dedicated to those that maintain things at West Tiger.
Now, thanks to the efforts of Stephan Lockwood at Hatfield and Dawson,
we have a new system for email communication for those involved with
Cougar Mt. For more information , contact Stephan at H&D -
In a recent column I wrote about the demise of KKDZ (ex KTW) on 1250. Andy, of KRKO fame, submitted the following –
KTW (now KKDZ) is one of only five radio stations in the Puget
Sound region still in continuous operation since 1922…perhaps not for
long. KGY was first, KJR (on different frequencies than now), KMO,
KTW, and KFBL (now KRKO) were all licensed in 1922 in that order.
As for AM radio being ‘dead’…when a radio station is given zero
marketing, zero local air staff, has virtually no local sales force,
and engages in no promotions with the community, you might as well plan
to kill it. ABC laid the blueprint for station execution and
followed the plan into a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Audio fidelity aside, the chicken and egg argument still
exists…and I would argue the current challenges facing the senior band
are largely self-inflicted (without reference to all the mistakes the
Commission has made along the way to flood the marketplace with
frequencies, diminish protections, etc.). Music is what most
people want. They can also be passionate for a
person/personality. All the music moved to another band.
Most groups ceased promoting or caring about the content on their
AMs. An AM that is cared for and that has a committed core staff
can work, though the economics will be more difficult than FM.
Culling the herd may be the greatest benefit to the AM band. I’d
love to see 50% or more of AM signals go away entirely.
What …A new CB Band? - Reports that the comment period for establishing a
new citizens band radio service at 3.5 GHz has been extended. The
new band would be between 3.550 and 3.700 MHz. The Commish is
thinking more about networking computers than ‘working DX’. Not
likely to see this gear in a Kenworth on the Interstate….But then again?
Alan Robinson whose snow-cat had transported many of us up South and
Tiger Mountains has retired. The little Imp and related equipment
now belongs to Wiztronics.
Well time for few questions to keep those gray cells active –
1. Johnny's mother had three children. The first child was named April.
The second child was named May. What was the third child's name?
2. There is a clerk at the butcher shop, he is five feet ten inches tall
and he wears size 13 sneakers. What does he weigh?
3. Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?
4. How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet?
5. What word in the English language is always spelled incorrectly?
6. Billy was born on December 28th, yet his birthday is always in the summer. How is this possible?
7. In California, you cannot take a picture of a man with a wooden leg. Why not?
8. If you were running a race, and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?
10. Which is correct to say, "The yolk of the egg are white" or "The yolk of the egg is white"?
11. If a farmer has 5 haystacks in one field and 4 haystacks in the
other field, how many haystacks would he have if he combined them all in
Here are the Answers:
1. Johnny's mother had three children. The first child was named April
The second child was named May. What was the third child's name?
Answer: Johnny, of course.
2. There is a clerk at the butcher shop, he is five feet ten inches
tall, and he wears size 13 sneakers. What does he weigh? Answer:
3. Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in
the world? Answer: Mt. Everest. It just wasn't
discovered yet. [You're not very good at this are you?]
4. How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet? Answer: There is no dirt in a hole.
5. What word in the English language is always spelled incorrectly? Answer: Incorrectly
6. Billy was born on December 28th, yet his birthday is always in the
summer. How is this possible? Answer: Billy lives in the Southern
7. In California, you cannot take a picture of a man with a wooden
leg. Why not? Answer: You can 't take pictures with a wooden leg.
You need a camera to take pictures.
8. If you were running a race, and you passed the person in 2nd place,
what place would you be in now? Answer: You would be in 2nd.
Well, you passed the person in second place, not first.
9. Which is correct to say, "The yolk of the egg are white" or "The yolk
of the egg is white"? Answer: Neither, the yolk of the egg is
10. If a farmer has 5 haystacks in one field and 4 haystacks in the
other field, how many haystacks would he have if he combined them all in
another field? Answer: One. If he combines all of his haystacks,
they all become one big one.
That’s it for this month – enjoy Autumn – Catch you a month closer to Winter –
Clay, K7CR, CPBE