The above picture was taken in early August at Cougar Mountain.
The fall colors you see are partially a result of the very dry summer we
have been having. For years I have been writing in this column
about summer being our shortest season….This is based on the fact that
it normally is. I recall summers when we barely had a week without
rainfall. This summer is certainly an exception, with a very
long/extended dry period. The last one of these I recall was back
in the fall of 1987. We were busy starting construction of the
facility at West Tiger Mountain, thinking that the monsoons would be
arriving any day. Summer just kept on going into October.
The impact of this is being felt by vegetation. Lawns, normally
green have turned brown. Many evergreen trees are being severely
stressed or are dying. I was recently over in Forks and could not
help but notice the Sol Duc River looks more like a creek. Only
thing that got in the way of our beautiful blue skies has been a couple
of weeks of smoke we had to deal with from the B.C. Fires…Other than
that, it’s been a warm and wonderful summer…one that helped us forget
that last winter was a record wet one.
Ooops!…I did forgot about another event that got in the way of sunshine –
The Eclipse. Yes It was something to see, even if we only got to
about 80% in this area. I was driving at the time, but could not
help but notice that it appears to be twilight, except all the shadows
were in the wrong locations. Spoke with my #2 son in Boise who got
a better experience. He noted how it immediately got
cooler. This is the last one that we will see in the PNW in our
Back when I received the SBE Engineer of the Year Award it was not named
after anyone…now it’s named after Robert W. Flanders. Congrats to
Steve Brown, winner for 2017. Proud to say that I met Steve a
number of times in my travels – Lucky bum!....He recently retired.
Should note that Jim Dalke received an award for his presentation at a
NAB Convention on using VSATS for Broadcast STL’s. Nothing like being
knowing famous people – come to think of it – Jim and I live in the same
Ever have a desire to move to South Dakota? A broadcast group in
Rapid City is looking for a chief engineer for a five station
group. Send resume with work history to Ted Peiffer, General
Manager, Duhamel Broadcasting, P.O. Box 1760, Rapid City, SD 57709 or
email to email@example.com
On the topic of job openings – Another retirement in the news.
November 3rd is the announced retirement date for Don Eckis. Don
has been with WSU’s NWPR for many years, based in Wenatchee. On
the personal side – I will very much miss Don. He is a tremendous
talent and a very nice guy. For the past 7+ years I’ve worked for
WSU, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Don on many occasions.
Great memories – Thanks Don for everything!
For many years the FCC has been issuing fines for those that use EAS
Tones for things other than EAS messages. Recently someone back in
Trumpsville had the bright idea that it would be OK to use tones that
sound-like EAS tones for educational efforts. Here is how the
official word reads:
• Using the Emergency Alert System tones outside
of an actual test or an activation is strictly off-limits. But
the government has released a special set of a “sound-alike” EAS tones
for stations to use as part of the public education effort leading up to
this year’s national test. The Federal Emergency Management
Agency says the audio file
contains “non-functional sound-alike EAS data headers”, which most
critically won’t trigger any station’s EAS receivers. Stations can
create their own public service announcements and use the dummy tones
without fear of running afoul of federal regulations which bar their use otherwise.Federal
law prohibits the use of actual or simulated EAS tones in circumstances
other than an actual emergency, an authorized monthly test or certain
public service announcements. • The national test will occur on Sept. 27 at 2:20 p.m. ET
and it will run about one minute. If there’s any reason to delay
the test from Sept. 27, such as a hurricane impacting part of the
country, FEMA has already announced that Oct. 4 will be the secondary
test date. • The Federal Communications Commission has set Aug. 28 as the deadline
for when stations must file its so-called “Form One” in the EAS Test
Reporting System. That’s the form that gives the agency all the
detailed information about the station including its transmitter
location and what kind of EAS receiver it’s using. On the day of
the national test, broadcasters will have until 11:59 p.m. ET to file
“Form Two.” That’s the day-of-testing form that gives basic
information such as whether the station received the EAS activation and
where it retransmitted the test. And then by Nov. 13 all stations
and other EAS participants are required to file “Form Three.” This
is the detailed report that gives the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland
Security Bureau and FEMA a more granular read on what happened during
the test—including if the station had any technical hiccups. • The FCC has also released a revised EAS Operating Handbook.
The Bureau says the new handbook must be in place in time for this
year’s test and be located at normal duty positions or EAS equipment
locations when an operator is required to be on duty and available to
staff responsible for administering EAS tests.
Speaking of EAS – The next meeting of the Washington State SECC will
take place on Sept 14th at 9:30 a.m. in the Building 11 Radio Conference
Room of Clover Park Technical College. Hope you can join
us. As you know, EAS in our State is a cooperative and
The joining of Sinclair and Tribune is making a lot of noise.
First from those who are opposed to the deal and more recently by the
proponents that are fighting back. Will be interesting to see how
this plays out, especially here in Seattle where the process of
elimination will see a couple TV signals with new owners.
On the subject of new owners….Over in the world of Radio we are edging
closer to the merger of Entercom and CBS, a process that will find some
well-known local stations with new owners also. Just like with the
Sinclair/Tribune deal – No one knows how this will end up. A
process that is certain to leave a number of employees wondering.
The Entercom deal is supposed to close before the end of the year.
We will have to wait and see what happens with Sinclair.
Over at iHeart, they continue to work to reduce their massive $20
Billion Dollar Debt, where their interest expense is expected to hit
$1.8 billion for the full year.
Now retired, former Entercom Chief, Dwight Small is happily working on
his new lake-front home in Skagit County. Dwight recently
announced that he has been granted a new Amateur Radio Call sign –
K7KG. If that sounds familiar, it was the last call held by Jon
Marcinko. Jon was a very well-known amateur in this area having
worked with Land Mobile system, State DNR and DOT for many years.
Dwight said that he felt privileged to have received it. Jon and
Dwight knew each other.
Signaling a new approach to dealing with Pirate Radio, the FCC is now
going after Pirate operator's landlords. At least this was the
case with a recent FCC action in Hollywood, Florida with the FCC
enforcement team locating the unlicensed broadcaster and electing to go
after the real estate company that owns the home where the operation was
taking place. Apparently the Commish is also planning on going
after those who advertise on these stations. Meanwhile the FCC is
asking Congress for the authority to seize the equipment being used and
increasing the size of monetary penalties. Personally I will wait
and see whether or not this will impact the issue.
The FCC continues to pack more translators into the FM band. For
example, in our area, Radio Hankook that operates the 1450 AM in
Puyallup and 1230 in Everett are trying to put an FM on 102.1. The
numbers speak for themselves. As of June 30th there were 7,453
translators and boosters on the air. One of the down-sides to all
of this activity is the impact on existing broadcast stations. In
several cases, established broadcasters have had go to the FCC to have
the new station's operation terminated to eliminate interference.
Existing stations need to be watching out for themselves because in some
cases the FCC is no longer doing it for them.
For folks in my generation, we often smile when a younger generation
discovers something that we’ve known all along. Here’s an example –
A recent Wall Street Journal story entitled ‘Millennials Unearth an
Amazing Hack to Get Free TV: the Antenna” (you can’t make this stuff
up). Here are some other ‘shocking’ items concerning this
Young people are behind a surge in rabbit ears sales as they "discover" the decades-old technology
Millennials who are shocked to learn that basic TV channels are free with the use of an antenna
"It's been awesome. It doesn't log out and it doesn't skip."
I suspect that these are likely the same people who
are shocked to learn that Milk comes from a cow etc. I can just
imagine the thoughts that run through the mind of a Millennial as he
tries to figure out why the call the antenna ‘Rabbit Ears’.
Back in the dark ages (prior to DTV) we had all memorized the channel
numbers of TV channels that we watched. Many had no idea of the
call letters of these stations…the channel number was much easier.
In Seattle we had 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 (not to mention the U’s).
Then along came DTV and the first ‘channel number shuffle’. TV
station owners, and ATSC, recognized the potential for mass confusion
and came up with the Virtual Channel Number scheme that enable viewers,
and receivers to keep their old numbers after the Analog/Digital shuffle
where stations were, for a time, operating on two channels, one for
each mode. When that shuffle was done, for example, KING-5
(Channel 5) moved to channel 48 and hardly anyone knew that as they were
still able to access KING-TV using the channel 5 number.
Due to pressure for more RF spectrum the FCC dropped another shoe.
Time to shuffle channels - again - this time to compress them into a
smaller portion of the UHF band…A process called “repacking”.
To, hopefully, make this easier to see – Here is a table showing the
‘Seattle Shuffle’ (If you find an error in this, please let me
Note 2 & 3
Note 1 - All three of these stations have elected to continue to use
their historic channel for DTV and are not impacted by the latest
Note 2 - Stations that will not change channels
Note 3 - Station first went on the air on Ch 62 as KTPS moved to Ch 28 in 1982
For many years the business of making TV Transmitting Antennas has been
‘in the dumpster’… Now with re-packing getting underway, things are
ramping up rapidly. An example is Dielectric who is opening a new
33,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Lewiston, Maine to produce UHF
Main and Auxiliary TV Antennas. If I recall, the owner of
Dielectic is Sinclair who purchased the legacy firm knowing that this
day would come.
You don’t hear about fires impacting broadcast operations very often…But
that’s what took place recently at the CN Tower in Toronto on the 16th
of August. The fire was within the 3 foot diameter tube that’s
used as a conduit for transmission lines serving the multi-station
site. From what I have read, it sounded like insulation on
semi-rigid coaxial cable was burning or melting. No word on what
caused the fire. A number of stations were impacted.
There was posted recently a list of the top 25, privately held,
companies in the U.S. Coming in at #14 was Cox enterprises. I
did not realize just how big Cox is. They have 60,000 Employees
and reported 2017 Revenue of over $20 Billion. In addition to
owning KIRO-TV in Seattle they own cable systems, newspapers, radio
stations, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book etc.
I often write about firms that are based in the Seattle area – Boeing,
Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon etc. For some reason I fail to
mention Bellevue based T-Mobile. This cellular operator recently
was in the news for getting its first 600 MHz LTE network up and running
in Cheyenne, Wyoming. T-Mobile also announced that they will be
soon rolling out a new 600 MHz Site in Northwest Oregon.
As I have reported, Entercom is no longer occupying the Metropolitan
Park West Tower. After many years operating their 4 FM stations
from the 15th and 16th floor of the ‘Spam-Can’ looking structure on
Olive Way, they are now settling into new digs on the 14th floor of 800
5th Ave. Watching the crews demolish the former facility at 1100
Olive Way was a bit hard, especially when you saw systems that you
installed and maintained be put into a dumpster. Crews working on
taking everything apart were a bit taken aback by the weight of the
studio doors. I was in the building as crews were attempting to
take apart one of the studio floors using hand-tools. They later
came back with equipment better designed for the task. In the
following picture you can see the corner of one of the floating
floors. This was a completely isolated concrete slab sitting in
spring isolators (Red Arrow) on top of which were constructed the walls
and ceiling of the studio….Literally, a box within a box. I assure
you, they don’t build them like that anymore.
Right across the street from Met Park I caught this image of a
construction crane. Just one of many that are rapidly transforming
downtown Seattle into a forest of big/tall buildings.
A lot of eyes are on the FCC these days as they deal with what they are
calling modernizing media ownership rules. This is especially
being watched in light of the pending Entercom/CBS and Sinclair/Tribune
deals. Should Entercom be able to own 7 FM’s and Sinclair 4 TV’s
in Seattle? As expected, there is a lot of pushback from those
that fear the evil of too few owners. A huge amount of money is on
the line. Fasten your seatbelt.
Meanwhile, the FCC has pulled the plug on an owner of several stations
in the NE part of the U.S. The owner in question here, Brian
Dodge, has agreed to pay a $100,000 fine for not playing by the
rules. The latest salvo from the Commish is to cancel the owner's
licenses. Always someone who feels they can get away with it.
Shorter than normal column this month as 'tis the season for other
things. Before I leave you, I would disappoint many if I failed to
leave you with some smile material -
If you attempt to rob a bank you may not have
any trouble with rent/food bills for the next 10 years, whether or not
you are successful.
Do twins ever realize that one of them is unplanned?
What if my dog only brings back my ball because he thinks I like throwing it?
If poison expires, is it more poisonous or is it no longer poisonous?
Which letter is silent in the word "Scent," the S or the C?
Why is the letter W, in English, called double U? Shouldn't it be called double V?
Maybe oxygen is slowly killing you and It just takes 75-100 years to fully work.
Every time you clean something, you just make something else dirty.
The word "swims" upside-down is still "swims".
Intentionally losing a game of rock, paper, scissors is just as hard as trying to win.
100 years ago everyone owned a horse and only the rich had cars. Today everyone has cars and only the rich own horses.
Your future self is watching you right now through memories.
The doctors that told Stephen Hawking he had two years to live in 1953 are probably dead.
If you replace "W" with "T" in "What, Where and When", you get the answer to each of them.
Many animals probably need glasses, but nobody knows it.
If you rip a hole in a net, there are actually fewer holes in it than there were before.
That’s it for this month. Be thankful for our extended Summer..
Catch you next month in most of these same locations. Hard to
believe, I’ve been doing this for 31 years!