years of doing this column – This must be some sort of record for this kind of
to thinking about how I went about it back then – A couple of items were
recalled from the musty depths of my mind –
I was typing it on an Apple 2E
Was using a program called PFS
Was sending it to John Forbes
via a dial-up modem at the blazing speed of 300 baud
Later when I got my first PC
(a 286) I continued to use PFS Write (they had a DOS Version also)
Beyond that point I don’t
recall as it did not take place long enough ago for me to remember.For those of you in my age group – You know
EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
suppose I should have added that I’ve been an SBE Member since Feb 2,
1968…Member # 714.
that means I’m coming up on 49 years!
of the big news items this past month had to be the nation-wide EAS NTP.From what I am hearing it went pretty
well.I did hear of one station that was
‘sleeping at the switch’ regarding upgrading their equipment and ETRS.I’m sure there will be more in that
category.What remains to be seen is
how the Commish will deal with what some are viewing as an automatic violation
tip mechanism.I’m sure we will be
hearing more about this issue.Regardless
of how much effort is expended trying to get everyone totally EAS
compliant….There will always be those.
await changes related to the upcoming elections…There have been some changes
taking place on Greenwood Ave in Seattle.Stephen Lockwood is now president of Hatfield and Dawson consulting
engineers.Going forward Erik is now the
Managing Partner with Tom Eckels and David Pinion remaining.From what I understand, this change will
enable Ben to spend more time on fun projects and less time with the admin load
that comes with heading up any organization.Knowing that Ben is a bit older than I ….I can relate.Congrats to these gentlemen.
While I’m talking about old things – How about this item? – The Radio
Club of Tacoma is going to have a 100th birthday party on Oct 16th.The
club, with the call of W7DK, was formed in 1916 and is reported to be the 2nd
oldest Amateur Radio Club in the country.Oh yes, I joined the club in 1973.
Before I leave the topic of Amateur or ‘Ham’ Radio – if you are like me,
you look forward to the delivery of the major magazine devoted to the hobby
every month, QST.And, you are like me
and are getting ‘up there’ one of the first places you check is the listing of
fellow hams that managed to get out of this world before you get to see if they
list anyone you knew.They call an
amateur that has passed a ‘silent key’.In
this month’s list was the name John Black, W7HIL.I first met John many years ago at the
business he ran on Weller Street, just off Dearborn, called Radio Systems.Radio Systems was the RCA land-mobile dealer
– back when there were 3 – Motorola, GE and RCA. Over the years I got to know several fellows who
worked there for John.Names you might
recognize:Jon Marcinko, W7FHZ and I
became friends and were involved with various ham radio related projects.Jon passed a few years ago (he was a year
older than me).Another fellow I had
gotten to know prior to him working at Radio Systems was Arne Skoog, WA7WKT,
who many of you know and some had the privilege of working with.The passing of John Black closes another
chapter of this former Seattle firm.
2016 Marconi’s have been awarded and only one station from the PNW made the cut
this year…KQMV’s morning team of Brooke and Jubal won the category of Large
Market Personality of the year.
the name Tessera ring a bell?Didn’t for
me either – They are in the news for their accquistion of DTS who only recently
acquired Ibiquity, the developer of HD Radio.Wow, that was quick.Just when we
were getting used to saying DTS.Reportedly the deal was worth $850 megabucks.Tessera must be doing OK.
It’s official – the ‘Friends of 88.5’ now own the station.
Certainly a historic move…Listeners taking over the ownership of a
station that had announced it was going to be sold to another
party. Who would have predicted such an activity could take
place…much less in our area? 24,000 donations from 18,000 donors
certainly indicates the depth of support for this operation. Still
hard to believe, after all these years that KPLU is no more….In this
case the call letters are gone but the station survives. From what
I understand they will continue to operate out of the Neeb Center in
Parkland for about the next 3 years, at which time the station may be
moving to new quarters in a location to be determined. Like a
number of other legacy call letters it’s likely that the call – KPLU –
will surface some place in the area.
In a related matter – Bill Putney, Chief Engineer of KPTZ in Port
Townsend, was filling out his ETRS information, as all stations are
required to do. When he told the ‘system’ that one of the stations
he was monitoring was KNKX it confused the system, so he had to enter
the stations previous call, KPLU. Apparently the FCC’s ETRS system
did not yet have the monitored call letter changed in that system.
Often a market is described by
what’s called it’s ‘Market Rank’. Nielsen, the ratings outfit, has
released a new listing of Local TV Market ranks – Seattle-Tacoma come
in where they have been at Market #14. Interestingly, we are very
close to the size of #12 (Phoenix) and #13 (Detroit). The way the
Seattle area has been growing, I suspect that this rank may be shifting
in the future. While I’m at it – Denver is #17 and Portland is
Congratulations to Jerry Massey who has been elected to serve another
term as SBE President. Also re-elected were the other board
members – VP, Jim Leifer…Secretary, Tim Anderson…Treasurer, Andrea
Cummis. You can find the all the details in the latest SBE Signal
or on the Society Web Site.
Abbreviation time - HDR vs HD-R - HDR is a TV term meaning High Dynamic Range. HD-R is a Radio term meaning H.D. Radio.
Several of us spent some serious time recently at West Tiger Mountain
installing this big gray gizmo on KIRO-FM.It’s a four section band-pass-filter manufactured by American Amplifier
Technologies.In combination with their
recently replaced antenna, and year old transmitter, West Tiger’s first FM
Station is considerably updated.
Perhaps sobering data regarding the fiscal position of the average
household in the U.S.According to the
Federal Reserve the total debt stood at just under $13 trillion.As if that is not bad enough, according to a
Pew Study in 2015, only 20% of Americans carry no debt.To which I say…It’s nice being in the
minority.I wonder how this compares
For years we have been buying things made in China…Sending money from
here to there.As they say…All that
money has to go somewhere.Now that
money is coming here….I don’t mean just the Seattle area, but the entire west
coast.Some areas are reacting to this
with something less than enthusiasm…In fact it’s being reported that Vancouver
BC is imposing a tax on foreign national buyers.This has the impact of shifting the buying
south of the border.Another report
found the period March 2014 to 2015 buyers from China invested over $28 million
into US residential real estate.With
that kind of money flowing is it any wonder that there is pressure to increase
the amount of foreign investment in broadcasting.Makes me wonder about big broadcast companies
that are deeply in debt.When you are in
debt, someone with a lot of money to invest has got to look attractive.
One of the reasons AM radio suffers compared to FM is ‘static’.The noise level in the
AM band naturally goes up in the spring with the increase in thunderstorms.This is the crashing sound you hear on the
legacy band.Here in this area we don’t
have much lightning (thankfully)…not like they do elsewhere.There is a considerable amount of money spent
trying to keep damage caused by these ‘sky-bolts’ (An Arne Skoog term) at a
minimum.So how big can a lightning bolt
be?Reportedly, one was just under 200
miles long back in Oklahoma.The longest
duration was over 7 seconds (That’s a lot of current flow).For more information about this topic – go
here - http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2016/09/15/world-lightning-strike-records/90418046/
Could it be that the FCC is finally concluding that they can’t fix AM
Radio?FCC Commissioner O’Rielly
recently was quoted as saying that the future of AM Radio is in the hands of
broadcasters, not regulators…Adding the ultimate future will be decided in the
market by stations meeting the demands of listeners.This has been my position for a long
time.There are some things that you
can’t do – Nail Jello to the wall, push a rope up hill, herd cats, make the
horse drink….etc. – AND – force people to listen to radio they don’t desire.I still feel that what’s happening to AM
radio is very similar to what’s happened to other products and services…They
lose favor and/or customers find something better.This is a natural consequence of our free
market society.In a few years the
things should balance out between the desire for AM Radio and the number of
stations that provide it.As I have said
in previous columns, perhaps we will see the AM Band look much like it did back
in the 50’s…Some big signal Clear Channels with scattering of small stations
serving their communities.Perhaps the
FCC is thinking the same thing?
Every once in a while an older technology is ‘discovered’ and everyone
is filled with Wow!
Here’s what I mean – Qualcomm just announced what they are calling
‘Clear Site’ Dual Camera Technology.The
basis of this is a smartphone camera to have two image sensors…One for color
and the other for black and white.The
stated advantage is that the black and white sensor can absorb more light.Put them together and you have a more
sensitive camera.Gee folks – I seem to
remember early TV Cameras that had 4 image pickup tubes for the same reason – 3
for R, G and B and one, in early models, and IO for black and white.Could it be the folks at Qualcomm did not
know about this?Lets assume they did
and just decided to dust-off an old idea.
There are changes being made in the world to tower lighting to help cut
down on the death of birds.Reportedly
there are 7 million birds colliding with towers every year.Investigations of this issue have turned up
the fact that birds appear to be attracted to the steady burning side lights on
towers more than to the flashing beacons.
So what to do?The FCC, working
with the FAA is revising tower lighting requirements.The new standards will eliminate the steady
burning lights on towers over 350 feet and transition from steady burning to
flashing lights on towers from 150 to 350ft.On the taller towers, the change will reduce energy use, maintenance
costs and, according to the experts, reduce bird strikes by 70%.To make these changes to towers, you have to
run this by the FAA and get their permission.You can do this on-line by going to - https://oeaaa.faa.gov/oeaaa/external/portal.jsp.
Could it have something to do with the presidential election?A recent Gallup poll showed that just 32% of
Americans trust the media, quite a drop from the 40-45% figures over the past
eight years.These percentages were
further skewed if the responding person was aligned with a particular
party.A lot has changed since the days
when there were only 3 TV networks and we got our news from Walter, John or
Repack – By now just about everyone in broadcasting has, at least,
heard about it.It’s all a bit confusing
with forward and reverse auctions, broadcasters deciding whether they want in
or out, wireless carriers willing to pay big bucks for new spectrum, stations
changing channels or sharing channels all with the FCC holding the gavel.At some point this process will end and the
game will end and the race will be on to get it all done in the 39 months the
process is supposed to take.
For many years Orban has been making audio processors for the radio
industry – How old some of this equipment is may startle you a bit - The 9100B,
used by many AM Stations was first released in 1982.Their model 8200 (still in service at many
stations) is 26 years old.To put this
into perspective, while we were replacing that big filter at KIRO-FM, they were
operating their auxiliary transmitter at Cougar Mt.This rig is a historic Collins 831G2 that was
made in the middle 70’s…..Yes, that’s a 40 year old transmitter that we trusted
to keep KIRO-FM on the air for several days of construction at the main
site.Not too many pieces of equipment
that old around.Proving, once again,
that a great product will last a very long time.
I don’t make any claim to be a photographer…However I do carry a camera
with me on my travels, looking for something to share – Every once in a while
you see something at night that is a ‘keeper’. In this case I was coming down the West
Tiger Road and spotted moonrise in the east.
In the category of – We’ve been hearing it, now it’s official – The FCC
has begun closing nearly a dozen Field Offices and moving to a new plan,
whereby they will be consolidating operations into fewer offices and reliance
on what they call a WDC based ‘Strike Force’ to deal with un-named enforcement
actions.Going away are 11 offices,
including the historic one in Seattle.The other office in the PNW, Portland, Oregon will remain in operation
as will the office in Denver.Chairman
Wheeler maintains that the remaining 14 locations will enable the Commission to
respond to any location in the country within one-day.The FCC’s budget request for 2017 will
feature an Enforcement Bureau with a 16% reduced budget, presumably due to the
reduction in the number of field offices.
Meanwhile Pirate Radio continues to be a problem.Frankly, it’s hard to see how this problem is
going to get better.The problem today
is our communication systems that enable the pirate operators to share their
techniques for staying one (or more) steps ahead of enforcement.Then there is the issue of equipment
availability.If the FCC totes away your
radio equipment, it can be easily replaced – and purchased on-line.Probably the most frustrating aspect is where
a pirate operator is advised that they have to pay for their violation and then
they don’t and slip back into the darkness to do it another day in another
This problem, in
several major cities has grown from being a ‘whack a mole’ or cat and mouse
game to the point that the Feds are trying to find other ways of attacking the
problem.One technique has the Feds
going after the owners of the buildings where the stations or transmitters are
located.What I find amazing is that in
a country with buildings full of rules and regulations, operators of small
radio stations can continue to get away with it.I can recall the day that there was
significant fear of doing wrong and violating FCC rules…Guess I’m too old to
understand.What I find surprising is
that you don’t hear of a commercial station receiving interference from one of
these jokers and the commercial operator tackling the problem outside of the
FCC. Perhaps some of the problem is
being solved by LPFM.Generally, pirates
look for a quiet frequency to set up their operation.With all the translators and LPFM’s on the
band these days, those days of a quiet frequency are, in most larger markets
becoming a thing of the past.
I love statistics
and study results as they give us a picture of how things are in our town as
well as others.For example – A new
study determined the salary you must earn to buy a home in 27 different
markets.Now, granted house prices are
all over the map in any area.For the
basis of this study I am assuming they are using the average sale price.Looking at the markets where this column is
In Portland, Oregon
you will need to make $73,613 per year to afford that $356,700 house.
In Denver you’d
need to make $72.847 and in Seattle $82,670.You get the picture – Seattle is expensive and prices are likely rising
faster than most salaries.Sounds bad
huh?Not compared to San Francisco where
you’d have to be hauling in over $162,000 to afford the average house and
that’s if you put 20% down.If you only
paid 10% down you’d have to make about $200,000 per year to afford the house
payments.Any wonder why people are
living far away from town and commuting?
The FCC has shocked
many by lowering fees for small stations.Perhaps they are getting the message that their fees are part of the
problem?The Commish collects almost
$390 million from all the communications services it regulates.Radio pays just over 8% of that total.
The business of
determining the ratings of broadcast stations has had some interesting twists
and turns recently.Nielsen taking over
Arbitron.The introduction of the Voltair
by the Telos Alliance that claims to improve the watermark technology used by
Nielsen.Then there were changes made by
Nielsen to ‘improve’ their system.More
recently we have seen a couple of locations where broadcasters have elected to
jump ship and use some other method for determining who is using their
product.One of the issues are the
multitude of new ways that consumers are using to receive audio and video
sources for what used to be strictly over-the-air.There is a degree of secrecy going on out
there. Stations that are using the
Voltaire or other gizmos are very tight lipped.We’ve come a long way from just wondering who was filling out a diary.
Spoze you heard –
Funai Electric, the last maker of a VCR, has stopped making them.No more new VCR’s anyway.I guess we will continue to see these
electro-mechanical tape based devices around for a while longer.Another death nail in the world of
tape-recorders.If you are an old timer,
like me, you witnessed the birth, and death. of tape at the consumer and
professional level for audio and video.Guess we no longer have to wonder if it’s live or Memorex.Just for grins – One more look at one of the
biggest and most complicated tape machines ever built.The RCA TCR-100.
Exploding batteries continue to be an issue.Apparently Boeing and Tesla have resolved
the problem.However recent news
indicates that Samsung may have not, by suspending sales of one of their new
products that were exploding while being charged.We’ve come a long way, very quickly, with
batteries…perhaps in some cases, too fast.
I frequently look at the FCC’s Daily Releases and
found it interesting that an FM Translator was being moved from Astoria, Oregon
to Seattle.What is perhaps more
interesting, is that the FCC calls this a ‘minor change’.You can look up the call letters for more
info – K278BH.The proposed location is
Cougar Mt. to be used to translate Salem’s KGNW 820 AM.This is all part of the move to grant FM
translators to AM stations.This
activity has significantly increased the prices that people are paying for FM
Translators – In one case, it was reported that $700,000 changed hands for a
translator.In the case of the new one
for the Seattle area for KGNW, the price paid was reportedly over $30,000 and
the new FM operation will be operating with very low power and a directional
antenna.I guess I have a hard time
understanding how they figure that it will pencil out.In Albuquerque, New Mexico the owner of
legacy station KOB (Now called KKOB) is paying $425,000 for a translator for
the big AM just to get their programming on FM.What makes this move interesting is that KKOB is owned by Cumulus who is
‘considerably’ in debt.
end of August it was announced that an AM station in Salisbury, North Carolina
would be going dark.Perhaps what makes
this interesting is the fact that the station had been on the air since 1939
and had been broadcasting a Sunday morning church service, from the same
church, for over 75 years.The station
operates on 1490 which is a frequency that receives a lot of night time
interference and is unable to make any technical improvements.Chalk up another AM.There will be more stories like this to come.Speaking of which – According to recent
ratings of radio stations in the Seattle area…You have to go down to #17 to
find the highest rated AM, KOMO.KIRO-AM
comes in at #19.
Yet another indication of how the Seattle area is
growing is the growth at Sea-Tac Airport.The old Bow-Lake airport is reportedly the fastest growing large airport
in the country for the last 2 years.Passenger
growth was up 13 percent in 2015 and is on track to come close to that this
year.The problem is they need more
gates, etc.A $550 million expansion of
the North Satellite was announced recently that will increase the size by
another 180,000 square feet.Likely the
continued expansion of our local airline – Alaska – is fueling a lot of this.From what I have seen, it appears that the
North Satellite will be all Alaska.Guess this is more appropriate than having Alaska at the South
Satellite?To put these size numbers
into perspective…the average Costco store is just over 144,000 Square feet!
Oregon Office of Emergency Management is moving forward with a system that will
enable Broadcasters to be part of what they call their ‘first informer’ access
program.This is very good news for
those broadcasters that are responsible for keeping stations up and running
during times of emergency.My fingers
are crossed that this will come to Washington State as well.Let me give you an example -Around the 8th of September there
was, once again, a nasty wreck on highway 18 between the Issaquah Hobart Road
and I-90. (Unfortunately this happens too often).The Washington State Patrol deals with issues
like this by closing that section of roadway.Unfortunately this cuts off access to the Tiger Pass area which is where
the only access road to the broadcast sites on West Tiger Mountain starts.Some years ago I was headed to the mountain
to do some work and encountered this situation.A very nice, but firm, State Trooper told me after I explained that I
did not want to go near the scene of the wreck, but rather would be turning off
before there to go up Tiger Mountain.His response was something to the effect of – I don’t care what you are
god of…You are not going up there!!If I
had just some sort of identification that would be recognized by law
enforcement, that would have been a great help. In times of emergency, when roads are closed
by police…A broadcast station could well be out of operation and unable to
provide the public with vital information.This has been a long standing issue.Hopefully the WSAB and others can come together to provide broadcasters
with something like this in this State.The NAB estimates that about a dozen states now have something
similar.Whether this program would
provide us access to Tiger Mountain for when there is a wreck causing the
closure of Highway 18 remains to be seen.
mentioned earlier, I love great photography.Here’s one that was recently taken by Dwight Small who has, obviously,
time, now that he has retired.A
beautiful sunny day on Puget Sound.
Looks like more translator shuffles in the wind – I
see where K238CA in Twisp is being sold to Saga Broadcasting who operates a
cluster of stations in Bellingham….Just a guess you understand.Sometimes my dot-connecting is accurate – but
As we all recently remembered 9/11, it was
announced that TV antennas are about to be installed on the new World Trade
Center in NYC.We all recall the
pictures of the roof top antennas falling to the ground and the loss of life of
several broadcast engineers.
Thanks to Mike Brooks at KING-FM for this excellent
example of creative writing –
From the category – Things I have always
is the third hand on the watch called the second hand?
a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would we ever know?
Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?
do we say something is out of whack? What
is a whack?
does "slow down" and "slow up" mean the same thing?
does "fat chance" and "slim chance" mean the same thing?
is it called "after dark" when it really is "after light"?
"expecting the unexpected" make the unexpected expected?
are a "wise man" and a "wise guy" opposites?
do you press harder on the buttons of a remote control when you know the
batteries are dead?
come abbreviated is such a long word?
do they call it a TV set when you only have one?
Enough news and nonsense for this month – Remember
that Christmas is not far away….In case I forget – Happy New Year.