OK…Let’s be honest, who thought ‘Climate Change’ would mean – hotter
dryer summer, more forest fires and choking smoke? Last year we
had some fires in the Washington Cascades that gave us a couple of days
of smoke and falling ash (if you recall I included pictures of chunks of
burned wood on the hood of my truck). This year we’ve been
subjected to the down-wind impact of fires in adjacent areas, leading
UW’s Cliff Mass to use the word – SMOKESTORM.
This graphic showed the extent of the mess (In Red) with the prevailing winds taking the stench to the East Coast of Canada.
Some of the issued statements are worth – requoting –
- Worse Air Quality on Record.
- As bad or worse than many 3rd world cities.
- Unhealthy for everyone.
- Stay inside and keep your windows closed.
- Washington state had the worst air quality in the country.
- Chelan and Wenatchee, the air quality Wednesday reached the hazardous level.
- Chelan County officials to distribute masks.
- The smoke reached levels that were unhealthy for everyone in Seattle and nearby areas.
- According to the National Interagency Fire
Center, 13 large wildfires have burned more than 211 square miles (546
square kilometers) in Washington state this year, while in Oregon, 10
large fires have scorched over 256 square miles (663 square kilometers)
the Seattle Times reported. About 600 wildfires are burning across
- The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said Wednesday that the air quality in Portland and Medford was unhealthy.
And, as this picture shows, the smoke was very visible from space -
The National Weather Service, who operates NOAA Weather Radio, issued reports like this one -
An Air Quality Alert for smoke has been issued by the following
agencies: Olympic Region Clean Air Agency and Puget Sound Clean Air
Agency. Air quality readings across the central and south Puget
Sound region have been in the unhealthy category due to smoke from
regional and local fires. Air quality readings in the unhealthy or
unhealthy for sensitive groups at times category will likely continue
at times through at least Sunday and perhaps beyond. Everyone,
especially sensitive groups, should limit time spent outdoors, avoid
strenuous activities outdoors, and choose light indoor activities.
Children, the elderly, and individuals with respiratory illnesses are
most at risk of serious health effects. If you experience
respiratory distress, you should speak with your doctor. For
current air quality conditions, health precautions, and additional
information on wildland fire smoke...
They would not have likely issued this long a message for blizzard conditions.
As August wore on, we had a couple of breaks, with air moving in from
the Pacific restoring hope that, one-day, the air would be like we all
remember it. Those of us that have lived in this area for a long
time have endured long months of clouds and wet waiting for, what used
to be, the most glorious place on earth during the summer. Now we
are anxiously awaiting a good Pacific rain storm convinced that we’d
much rather be cool and wet!
The U.S. President is known for his book – ‘The Art of the Deal’.
Perhaps the folks at Sinclair can write one titled, ‘How to blow up a
deal’? Certainly the fact that the long awaited merger of
Sinclair (owner of KOMO etc.) and Tribune (owner of KCPQ etc.) was not
going to happen, was a bit of a surprise. The reason that it did
not, was perhaps, even more of one. In the end, former deal
partners ended up on the opposite side of the table with Tribune filing a
$1 Billion (with a B) suit against Sinclair.
It appears that Sinclair assumed that the political affiliation of some
high ranking people would cause them to look favorably on this
deal. Instead, some of those that were, perhaps counting on,
looked at the matter ‘objectively’ and that’s when things started to
unravel on the $3.9 Billion deal that would have had considerable impact
on Seattle (and other market) television. Locals that work for
KOMO and KCPQ, and their sister stations, went from wondering when the
deal would close and which stations would be spun off to whom, to
thoughts of - now what?
It’s very likely that Tribune has been approached by a number of others
who would like to pick up where Sinclair left off, with many big and
familiar names being mentioned.
For Sinclair, the path ahead may well be a bit more rocky than before,
with some now calling into question whether it’s fit to hold a broadcast
license. Certainly their relationship with the FCC has been
soured, with the Commish accusing Sinclair of misleading the agency.
For the folks at KOMO etc., likely status quo. For KCPQ etc., here we go again.
Did we or did we not have a pirate radio station in the Tacoma-Federal
Way area? Several reported hearing something like one on 101.1 in
the middle of the month. Frankly with so many LPFM’s and
translators on the band, it’s hard to determine whether or not there is
an unlicensed station operating. I have to give credit to Stephan
Lockwood of Hatfield and Dawson for coming up with the term ‘Informal
Broadcaster’. One, very cool, part of the Seattle area is the
willingness of many to quickly track-down these operators.
The FCC continues to track down ‘Informal Broadcasters’ all over the
country and is ramping up their efforts to involve those that are
affiliated or assist in their operation. The part that irks me, is
that it’s well known that these operators don’t have to pay these big
fines. The fact is, most don’t in this day and age. These
people talk to each other and share ideas on how to do what they want,
despite what the FCC does. Confiscation of their equipment is a
good first step in combating the problem, as this creates actual
financial loss for them. Perhaps, if the rules required paying the
fine with the alternative being mandatory jail time, it would help?
One of our area's broadcast sites is Crego Hill,
located SW of Chehalis. It's long been a location of various FM and TV
operations. My work with WSU’s NWPB takes me there periodically to deal
with KSWS. On August 7th the gate to the site featured this sign,
another example of the impact of our very long hot and dry weather.
While we were choking on smoke, the folks in Hawaii were putting up with
epic amounts of rainfall near the end of the month, thanks to Hurricane
Lane. The first major storm to hit the islands in 26 years.
Mix this with the volcanic activity on the Big Island, they have been
having their share.
The 2018 SBE elections are over. Congratulations to the winners.
- Jim Leifer was re-elected president. Serving with him will be:
- Vice President: Robert "RJ" Russell, CPBE; president, Technical Broadcast Solutions, Inc.; Middletown, Del.
- Stephen J. Brown, CPBE, CBNT; director of broadcast engineering, Woodward Radio Group; Appleton, Wis.
- Roswell Clark, CPBE, CBNT; senior director of radio engineering, Cox Media Group; Clearwater, Fla.
- Kirk Harnack, CBRE, CBNE; senior solutions consultant, Telos Alliance; Nashville, Tenn.
- Vinny Lopez, CEV, CBNT; chief engineer, WSTM/WTVH/WSTQ-TV; Syracuse, N.Y.
- Thomas McGinley, CPBE, AMD, CBNT; president, McGinley Enterprises; Missoula, Mont.
- Shane Toven, CBRE, CBNT; field engineer, Educational Media Foundation; Laramie, Wyo.
Special congratulations go out to Tom McGinley, the third person from the Seattle SBE Chapter to be on the National Board.
I’m a bit late with this one. However, Kudos to Gates Air for stepping up and offering a class in RF Fundamentals.
Over the years there have been many changes in the broadcast industry's
two major branches, Radio and Television. Today the job of
Broadcast Engineer has changed dramatically, with an ever increasing
amount of computer based, IT equipment and disappearance of analog
The one place where you still find a lot of ‘older/more mature’
technology is in the transmitting plant, where digital signals (Video
and Audio) are transformed into radio frequency energy (commonly called
A new person entering this field is much more likely to have been
interested in computers for some time and have an education in those
technologies. To many of them, RF is something strange that they
know little about. If you are interested in advancing your skills
in the world of RF, contact GatesAir for more details.
If you are interested in learning more about RF, outside of the GatesAir
opportunity, I still advocate getting involved with Amateur
Radio. It was my interest in Ham Radio (in the late '50s) that
provided me with the foundation for my interest in Broadcast
Engineering. Occasionally I will receive a call from someone with
questions about antennas or things RF and I will send them to the ARRL http://www.arrl.org/shop/What-s-New.
Don’t let the term 'Amateur' make you think that this organization is
for technical lightweights. Not only will you find publications
about how to get involved with Amateur (HAM) Radio, but you will have
access to an extensive number of publications that will take you as far
into technology as you wish to go.
Before I leave this topic, don’t forget the Society of Broadcast
Engineers, SBE. They too can connect you with a tremendous amount
of material that can help you if you are already employed or are just
starting out. Check out https://www.sbe.org/sections/edu_seminars.php
One thing for sure, technology used in broadcasting is always changing
and the need to stay up to speed is vital. Here is where SBE can
be a tremendous help.
Have you ever been rear-ended in your vehicle? I have, several
times. A couple of times when in the back of a line of stopped
traffic on a freeway by a person driving at freeway speeds. More
recently, I was rear-ended while waiting to make a left turn in a turn
lane. In all three cases, the person that hit me had their vehicle
towed, and I could drive away, albeit with a truck in need of serious
repair. With that in mind I have been seeing a number of newer
trucks on the road with huge letters on the tailgate making me wonder
what the maker was thinking.
When I prepare this column, I frequently note just
how many ways the Seattle area is exceptional in terms of growth. One
statistic grabbed me this past month. There are now 65 of those huge
tower cranes putting up buildings in the Seattle area, more than any
other city in the country. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/washington/articles/2018-07-18/seattle-tops-nation-for-third-year-with-65-tower-cranes
Late word is that the operators of these huge
machines have gone on strike, certainly something that has the potential
to put a dent in the construction boom. Hard to believe they actually
built big buildings without them in the past.
The firm known as GatesAir today, used to be called Harris, and before
that Gates. This name change has caused a number of issues for all
involved, especially around the time that the names were changed.
A product may have one name on it while the instruction manual
another. The other day, in referring to one of their products, I
got a bit tongue-tied and out came a new word. I had to stop and
laugh and, as I thought about it, it made sense. I simply put a G
in place of the letter H in Harris and came out with Garris. Oh
well, it could have been worse.
I recently received a note from Kris McGowan, who, as you know, used to
head up the Seattle office of the FCC. She noted that she has been
under the weather, but is now on the mend. Her husband Ken
recently received a new hip. I recall presenting a tearful Kris
with an award at a past SBE Christmas party. She is very much
loved and missed by all.
Saga Communications, owners of a cluster of stations in Bellingham, are,
as they say in the trade, moving to the Big Board, meaning their stock
will be traded on Nasdaq under the symbol SGA. Saga owns or
operates broadcast properties in 26 markets with 75 FM and 33 AM
stations, in addition to a number of translators.
Now here is news I did not expect – According to a new study, earbuds or
headphones are now used by 77% of U.S. adult broadband users, with
penetration up 20%. It's perhaps due to the increase in on-line
sources and the ever-rising noise level?
I often carry a camera with me. Most of the time to document
equipment, and, as you have seen, catch interesting scenes that I like
to share with my readers. Not often do I take pictures of people
(although I should do more of it). Recently I was able to observe
two engineers working on KNKX equipment. That’s Lowell Kiesow on
the left, Nick Winter on the right.
It’s official, Bonneville, owners of Seattle’s KIRO-AM/FM and KTTH are
buying eight stations in Sacramento and San Francisco from
Entercom for $141 Million. This is part of the Entercom/CBS
transaction that required the new company to spin off some of their
Reports are a number of broadcast stations lost their transmitting
facilities in the Carr fire Northern California. I don’t have a
lot of details. It’s certainly easy to understand how it could
take place. Broadcast transmitters are typically on the top of the
highest location possible to maximize coverage. Fire,
unfortunately, likes to ‘race to the top’ of these locations, creating a
very dangerous place for equipment. I’ve often thought about the
equipment at West Tiger and what would happen should that place have a
forest fire. The buildings up there are all non-combustible,
however the heat and smoke would certainly create a serious
problem. Hopefully this year we have escaped natures wrath.
Good news for Radio – Pew Research has shown that the audience for every
major sector of U.S. news media went down in 2017….except for
Radio. Local and network TV were down 7%, cable news was off
12%. Circulation for newspapers was off by 11%. NPR and
Public Radio held steady with impressive numbers. Perhaps proving
the continued viability of our legacy radio broadcast industry.
For one, I have never understood why there are not more women involved
in the technical side of this industry. Getting young girls
involved with STEM is a great first start. Saw this T-Ssirt the
other day. It made me think of it.
Here’s another Seattle headline from this past month:
Passenger traffic is outpacing Sea-Tac Airport development
The statistics are interesting:
- Passenger traffic – Up 6.1% for 2018 thru June
- Up 7.3% over last year
- For the past 5 years, Sea-Tac has been the fastest growing airport in the U.S.
- Over the last 5 years, passenger numbers are up 43%
As you know, if you’ve been at the airport lately,
there is a lot of construction going on, just trying to keep up.
What makes this interesting, is that Seattle is in the corner of the
country, not in the middle with flights going in all directions.
The Radio Ratings are out and with that, some interesting observations of Seattle-Tacoma Market #12’s 6-Plus numbers.
- Hubbard’s KQMV is quite firmly In the #1 Slot
- IHeart’s KJR is at #2
- #3 has two stations tied – Entercom’s KISW and Non-Comm KUOW
- Entercom’s country station, The Wolf has put a bit of light between them and challenger, Hubbard’s The Bull. KKWF pulling a 3.9 with KNUC at 3.0
A number of other ‘Ties’
- KIRO-AM and KJAQ-FM with a 3.5
- KNKX and KNUC at 3.0
- KHTP and KUBE at 2.8
- KCMS and KTTH at 2.4
How is AM Radio doing?
- KIRO-AM with a 3.5 is #10
- KTTH-AM with a 2.4 is #16
- KOMO-AM with a 2.3 is #17
Probably the biggest surprise this time around is that KNKX’s HD-2
channel showed in the ratings. To my knowledge, this is the first
time that an HD-2 channel has been listed. In my view, this is a
considerable accomplishment and a testimony to the station and their
format called Jazz-24. With the ever increasing number of
vehicles on the road with HD Radio – the up-side for these HD Channels
is considerable. Some call them ‘Side Channels’ or other
names. The problem remains that there is little effort being
expended on instructing radio consumers on how to tune in these
One item that makes you think – HUH? The same Nielsen survey lists
KNWR with a Point-One. KNWR is a NWPR station in Ellensburg.
If you want to look at how a broadcaster could, or should, provide
instruction for using their HD Channels, you need look no further than
CKNW Vancouver's website -
What’s HD Radio?
We are so excited to let you know that you can now enjoy CKNW in High
Definition. HD Radio stations broadcast a digital signal over
traditional radio frequencies. This technology enables your
receiver to display song titles, album art, and station information so
you get the best listening experience.
Why switch to HD?
Our HD channel broadcasts in clear digital quality to your local area
making radio static, hiss and fuzz a thing of the past. Experience
all news, all talk in crystal clear HD quality!
How to get CKNW in HD:
1. Determine if you have HD radio. Best bet is to check your car manual or check out the list of car manufacturers below
2. Tune your radio to the FM band and dial up to Rock 101
3. Wait about 8 to 10 seconds for HD radio to kick in (you may hear a change in audio when this happens)
4. Use your seek up and down/side to side buttons to switch to
channel 2 on your radio – this is where you’ll find us, on HD2
5. Add us to your presets so next time listening to CKNW in HD is just one click away
Meanwhile, Hubbard continues to lead the way with HD Radio in this
market as they make plans to add another Nautel GV10 to their Auxiliary
Transmitter line-up at Cougar Mountain. This is their second
station with a West Tiger Main and a Cougar Mountain Auxiliary to
operate FM and HD. According to Chief Engineer, Dave Ratener,
their HD power will be -10 dBc.
Kent Randles was recently in town to take a tour of the Entercom
transmitter facilities. Whereas we both had cameras, it was only
natural that we would take a picture of each other. Yes, that’s me
behind my Lumix.
Perhaps by the time you read this, the FCC will have made its decision
regarding a new class of FM’s called C-4’s. This would raise the
power of present lower-powered Class A stations (not LPFM’s). Not a
slam dunk, with many opposed, citing the fact that the FM band is
Perhaps the headline for this item could be ‘Pai High’?
Recently FCC Chairman Ajit Pai learned what it meant to be a tower
climber while visiting Colorado. The Chairman tweeted about his
Whew! Climbed to the top. Thanks to @NATEsafety,
EasTex Tower, and SBA for letting me get a literal bird’s-eye view at
the top of this 131-foot cell tower. Wireless infrastructure is
essential for mobile broadband services; great to see firsthand what it
takes to make it happen.
Gotta hand it to him! How many FCC Chairman have done this?
Sign of the times? I love this warning sign.
On the lighter side – some more paraprosdokians:
A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a
sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the
reader or listener to reframe or re-interpret the first part. It
is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing
There are some real gems here – I’ll bet you will use a few of them.
I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.
We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then
proceed to tell you why it isn't.
To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity,
they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw
I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted pay checks.
A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don't need it.
Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says "If an emergency, notify:" I put "DOCTOR".
I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?
Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America ?
A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!
Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.
Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.
When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
You're never too old to learn something stupid.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.
Well, my friends, that’s it for this month. Thanks for reading my
stuff. Lord willing, see you next month in most of these same
Clay, K7CR, CPBE
SBE Member for over 50 years, #714