In my column last month I
asked for pictures. This one, submitted by Alex Brewster of a sunset from West
Tiger Mt., and shot from his drone,is
nothing short of spectacular! In the
foerground is the West Tiger-1 Tower. The round things are the antenna bays for
KIRO-FM, perhaps the highest FM in the Seattle market. Top of the tower is 3148 Feet above
To say the least, Drones have changed the way we take pictures of a lot
of things. Combine their mobility with today's high performance
cameras and you have a very useful device. I recently Googled
Drone Pilots and, from the looks of things, this has become an area of
considerable interest. Certainly TV is using them to obtain shots
that were, previously, only dreamed of for news, sporting event and, of
course, creating compelling commercials. I could not help but
notice while thumbing through one of those real estate magazines
recently, how many pictures of houses are not shot from overhead.
Meanwhile back to Tiger Mountain. At the present time there are
two new tower-sites being built on Tiger summits. One of them is
in the location of the former Radio Systems site on East Tiger, and
another, part of a new King County radio system on West Tiger. In
this picture you can see a track-hoe at work. In the background
are the twin-towers of the ATC 7500/7509 Site, home of several Radio and
Looking at the above picture makes
me wonder if those of us that go up there regularly will be dealing with
a lot of snow this winter. Perhaps not this year, as the
predictions are for a warmer than average winter.
Speaking of mountains, the US Geological Survey has updated its volcano
threat assessments. It's the first time that’s been done since 2005.As expected, Mt. St. Helens is listed as a ‘very
high threat’ for eruption. This despite
the fact that it is been very quiet of late. What is, perhaps, a bit more concerning for us in the Seattle-Tacoma
area is that Mt. Rainier is also in that ‘Top Five threat’ category. Rainier is, perhaps, of more concern due to
its proximity to population. One only
has to look at geological history to see that our tallest peak has had major
impacts on this area in the past.
A site that I often visit is https://pnsn.org/earthquakes/recent. If you would like to ‘drill down’ a bit and look
at what’s shaking with our volcanoes go here https://pnsn.org/volcanoes. Looking at this site on the 26th
of October, I could see that Mt. Rainier had 21 quakes compared to St. Helens'
16. Thankfully, most of these are quite
small and below the point where one should conclude that the mountain is about
Of course Hawaii’s Kilauea is number one on the list. Interesting that Mt. Shasta in Northern
California is also in the top 5.
Hurricane Michael did a real number on the Florida Panhandle, Georgia and
Alabama recently, with a lot of radio and TV facilities severely damaged.In one case a broadcast station owner
announced that they were going to surrender their license and not attempt to
rebuild. The wireless industry was
struck hard with many discovering that their cellphones were useless.Combine this with massive power outages and
you get a sense of what it’s going to be like in the PNW when we finally get our
big earthquake. Once again, Michael
proved the ability of radio broadcasting to reach the public with vital
information. Those stations that were
able to stay on the air, or get back quickly, were a valuable lifeline.
We were all shocked this past month with the news that Paul Allen had passed. Obviously Paul has had a huge impact on the
Seattle area. One of the major
questions being asked now is what about his interest in a couple of the area's
sports teams – the Seahawks and Blazers. Guess we will just have to wait and see.
Something else to speculate on are the Fox Sports Channels. It’s
reported that sale of these could run up to 20 Billion Dollars.
Disney is buying over $71 Billion worth of 21st Century Fox, but is
reportedly going to sell the 22 regional sports networks, which leads to
speculation as to who might be the new owners. Some big names are
being mentioned including Rupert Murdoch who is rumored to be
considering buying them back from Disney.
Awhile back Salem announced that it was going to move the
transmitter for AM Station KKOL from Tacoma to a Tri-Plex arrangement on
Bainbridge Island. Then came word that
they were selling the station. Along
the way there were those on Bainbridge that objected to the idea for various
reasons. On October 23rd
the FCC denied the objections and gave the go-ahead. The station now has a relatively short
amount of time to construct the facility. KKOL, as you might recall, used to transmit from Harbor Island in
Seattle as KOL on 1300. Us oldsters can
still hear their jingle – ‘Colorful KOL’, back in the days when they were a competitor to KJR.
A quick look at what brand of radio transmitting equipment has
been purchased the last few years around here tells you that Nautel has a large
market share. Some of the credit should
be given to their regional sales manager, Ellis Terry, who has recently
announced his retirement. Congrats
The matter of Net Neutrality has been in the news quite a bit,
especially in California where they have taken a path different from the
FCC. Always interesting to read the
comments of FCC commissioners:
me write a lot about West Tiger Mountain as this is a place I’ve been
doing work for the past 30 years. There is only one road to
the summit and that begins at what’s known as ‘Tiger Summit’ on State
Route #18 (formally known as the Echo Lake Cutoff). My approach is
from the South, via Auburn. Over the years WSDOT has gradually
improved most of this highway from a two-lane road to a divided
However, the portion where you go over the pass (from Hobart Road to
I-90) remains much as it has been for many years with only the addition
of Jersey-Barrier in places. Those locations – without the barrier
– have been the scenes of horrible crashes and loss of life. It
is my understanding that completing this portion of the highway, which
would include some sort of exit, over-under-pass at Tiger Summit, has
not been funded.
Here is a comment, posted by one of the Broadcast Engineers that travel that highway afterward:
Surely the survivors of the all the lost family members over the years
are now preparing a case based on OBVIOUS neglect. Every day I go
to work I drive past the skid marks, burnt asphalt, and roadside crosses
and wonder if I'm gonna be the next victim.
Congratulations to Jim Leifer
on being re-elected President of SBE. I
should mention that Jim works for American Tower, overseeing their broadcast
sites. Let me not leave out one of
SBE’s newest Board Members, Tom McGinley, who will be chairing the Awards
Committee. Tom spent many years in
Seattle as DOE of the CBS Radio group of stations. Upon retirement, he moved back to Montana
where he is still active in our business.
No news on the fate of the
Tribune Stations that were to become part of Sinclair. However, there are no
shortage of rumors floating about. Would be an expensive process however, as Tribune has a Market Cap of
about 3.3 Billion. Tribune owns KCPQ
and JOEtv in Seattle.
Another shuffle may be in the
works with rumors that Cox may be shedding 14 TV Stations. Not sure if that
would involve KIRO-TV in Seattle.
Gee, and we thought that
Radio was the broadcasthome of the
It’s now official.
KNKX has announced the
location for their future studios will be in the Theater District of
Tacoma in the historic C.N. Gardner Building at 930 Broadway, which is
next to the Pythian Temple and across the street from Theatre on
The 88.5 Pubcaster was founded by Pacific Lutheran University,
with studios in a building adjacent to the college campus in Parkland. After the separation of the two, and the
changing of call letters from KPLU to KNKX, the station had to move.
Perhaps what’s unique about this studio re-location is that the
station's city of license is Tacoma and unlike many other Tacoma licensed
stations, they are not relocating to Seattle. However, KNKX does, and will continue to have
studios in Seattle.
Now the work begins for the station's engineering department
headed up by Lowell Kiesow. The new
location will require a 2-hop STL to reach their transmitters on West Tiger and
The big TV channel shuffle called ‘Repack’ is having an impact
on many FM stations that share towers with impacted TV stations. The only FM in the Seattle area that might
experience some of this could be on Capitol Hill. Fortunately (for the FMs) most of them
moved to higher terrain and off the TV towers. NPR and NAB have been working to come up with funding from the FCC for
those FMs, many of which are Non-Comms.
Commission has announced the following totals for broadcast stations licensed
as of September 30, 2018 in the U.S.
UHF COMMERCIAL TV
VHF COMMERCIAL TV
UHF EDUCATIONAL TV
VHF EDUCATIONAL TV
CLASS A UHF STATIONS
CLASS A VHF STATIONS
FM TRANSLATORS & BOOSTERS
UHF LOW POWER TV
VHF LOW POWER TV
LOW POWER FM
TOTAL BROADCAST STATIONS
As my readers know – I LOVE
PICTURES, especially of broadcast facilities that no one ever gets to
see. The following was taken by Kent Randles looking up inside the
Stonehenge tower in Portland. This is a very large ‘pipe’ that
carries the transmission lines for the multitude of antennas on the
structure. The large diameter one on the left connects the site's
FM station combiner to the antenna at the top. You will find some
great pictures and related stories here: https://people.well.com/user/dmsml/stonehenge/.
there are a number of other Stonehenge Towers in the U.S. – Instead of housing
antennas those structure house people.(Google it and see)
we did it again. Another National Test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) has
come and gone.This one was the first
Alerts (WEA) at the same time.Zillions
of Cellphones went off at the same time, for the first time.Now the process of learning what went right
and/or wrong.Certainly the Feds will
have reports to come.
the topic of EAS:
The next Washington State
SECC Meeting will be on Tuesday, November 13th in the Radio
Conference Room in Building 11 on the campus of Clover Park Technical College. The
meeting is open to all having an interest in EAS.The Committee has been in operation for well
over 20 years and relies heavily on volunteers.
The EAS Plan Revision
Committee is well underway re-writing the State EAS Plan.Their meetings are all via telephone
conference bridge. A report on their
activity will be presented to the SECC at the November 13th meeting.
FCC continues to battle Pirate Radio operations. A bill, pending in Congress, would not only
stiffen fines to as much as 2-Megabucks, but would enable the FCC to go after
those that assist in these illegal operations, such as landlords that rent or
lease space to those that operate the stations, as well as those that advertise
my readers access this Column via the NW Broadcasters Web Site which is
based in Seattle’s big neighbor to the North – Vancouver. I find
it interesting how many people in
the U.S have visited this spectacular city. Both cities are
experiencing similar issues. The following will tell you a lot
of the greatest natural effects on the reception of AM Radio are
thunderstorms.Lightning produces those
loud ‘crashes’ you hear on you AM Radio. The good news for those of us that live in the PNW is that we have just
about the lowest number of these storms of anywhere in the country. Here is a link to a fascinating site that
shows you, in real time, where these storms are located and when lightning is
way to get about the adverse impact of Thunderstorms, and other source of
noise, while making good use of our medium-wave spectrum is to convert AM radio
to Digital. An AM station on the East
Coast is experimenting with just that. Hubbard’s WWFD has received FCC approval to turn off their 820 AM signal
and turn on all digital. The results
will be indeed interesting. Perhaps we
forget all those new car radios being produced today have HD Radios in them,
capable of receiving the all-digital broadcasts. Xperi reports there are already 50 Million
cars on the road equipped to receive these broadcasts. Preliminary reports are
It would be interesting so
see if owners of AM Stations that are suffering from, not only natural noises
(Thunderstorms etc.), but man made ones that have had the effect of reducing
their coverage and chasing their audiences to FM, would be willing to turn off
their legacy modulation method and go for all digital. With the slow but sure process of AM
becoming less relavent and profitable…perhaps the pendulum could swing in this
direction? Could an AM Station that is
now operating an FM Translator that, presumably, has a large share of the
station's audience, be convinced to switch their AM to Digital? Could this become a part of the effort of
revitialize AM Radio?As they say…time
will tell.I have the feeling a lot of eyes are on this
Meanwhile the FCC is trying
to ‘Strike A Balance’in coming up
with new rules related to Translator Interference. The addition of many new FM Translators for
AM Stations has been a major driver in this discussion.
If you have been in
broadcasting, especially Radio, for a long time, you will find this picture a
trip down memory lane. It belongs to a friend of mine who would like to sell it.
Contact me for more details.
is a complete listing of 2018 Marconi awards winners:
Legendary Station of
KKBQ-FM, Houston, TX
AC Station of the
KSTP-FM, St. Paul, MN
Personality of the Year
Dan Patrick, Premiere Networks
CHR Station of the
KNDE-FM, College Station, TX
Personality of the Year
Angie Martinez, WWPR-FM, New York, NY
Classic Hits Station
of the Year
KRTH-FM, Los Angeles, CA
Personality of the Year
Joe Kelley, WDBO-FM, Orlando, FL
Country Station of
KCLR-FM, Columbia, MO
Personality of the Year
Pat Kerrigan, KSRO-AM, Santa Rosa, CA
News/Talk Station of
WTOP-FM, Washington, D.C.
Personality of the Year
Brian Byers, WSOY-AM, Decatur, IL
of the Year
WPSC-FM, Wayne, NJ
Major Market Station
of the Year
WSB-AM, Atlanta, GA
Religious Station of
KLTY-FM, Dallas, TX
Large Market Station
of the Year
WDBO-FM, Orlando, FL
Rock Station of the
WMMR-FM, Philadelphia, PA
Station of the Year
KSRO-AM, Santa Rosa, CA
Spanish Station of
WKAQ-AM, San Juan, P.R.
Small Market Station
of the Year
WWUS-FM, Sugarloaf Key, FL
Sports Station of
WEEI-FM, Boston, MA
Urban Station of the
WWPR-FM, New York, NY
Did you notice anything missing??
Only stations on the Left-Coast are in Red (2 of them)
No stations from our neck of the woods.
I mentioned TV Repack earlier. Here are some pictures of
happenings at KTNW in Tri-Cities, WA as the station, part of WSU’s NWPB,
take delivery of a new Rhode & Schwarz transmitter. The site
is known as Joe Butte or Jump-off-Joe and is SE of Kennewick.
Another outdoor picture from
the camera of Ted Beuhner of the tower on Striped Peak west of Port
Angeles.Two broadcast stations, KVIX
and KNWP, share this site with a host of governmentservices.
Edison Research is out with new data regarding radio. Hoping I don’t get in trouble for doing it, here is the whole thing:
Broadcast radio may
still reach more than nine out of ten Americans, but how they’re
receiving those broadcasts is changing and with that comes a potential
warning for the industry. While the vast majority of Americans
still own a traditional radio receiver, Edison Research reports the
number who doesn’t has increased seven-fold during the past
decade. “Broadcast radio has a hardware problem,” Edison Research
VP Megan Lazovick said.
The idea that
traditional receivers are disappearing may seem somewhat far-fetched
considering one in ten Americans surveyed by Edison still has four or
more radios in their house. And 60% said there are one to three
radios in their home. But Lazovick told the RAIN Summit in Orlando
on Tuesday that the growing number of homes without a radio can’t be
ignored any longer. “One of the basic assumptions of the radio
industry is that if we put that content and our signals out there,
people will naturally have a device on which to listen to it,” she said.
“No one ever discusses an utterly essential question, what do they
listen to that content on?”
The research shows 29%
of households overall have zero radios in their home. That
compares to just 4% who said that in 2008. The shift is led by
younger demos. Among 18 to 34-year-olds Edison found 50% said
there’s no dedicated radio in their home. That’s an increase from
6% reported in 2008. And among the half that said there is a radio
in their house, most counted one to three receivers.
Even as the number of
receivers in the home is in flux, one factor that will mitigate any
changes is the fact that the car remains the top listening location for
audio. Edison’s Share of Ear study shows during any given day, 70%
of Americans will hear audio while in a car. That’s three points
higher than those who listen at home.
“The good news for the
radio industry is that the device that gets the most listening today is a
radio -- 42% of the time that consumers listening to all types of audio
that Americans have available today is listened to on an actual radio,”
Lazovick said. Yet 24% of all audio listening is on a phone, 14%
is on a computer, 2% is on smart speaker and 2% on an internet-connected
TV. Taken together those four digital devices now have a combined share just as large as traditional radio receivers.
How that is already
shaking up listening to AM/FM may be Edison’s biggest wake-up call to
broadcasters descending on Orlando for the annual Radio Show.
Lazovick said so far how much AM/FM listening is done on digital devices
when that content sits alongside a variety of other digital options
suggests broadcasters need to do more to compete. “To date when
people are choosing what they want to listen to on the infinite dial
they are simply not spending a ton of time with streams of AM/FM radio,”
Edison data shows just 6% of time
spent listening on a smartphone goes to AM/FM radio. The numbers
are better for smart speakers where 21% of listening is to AM/FM
content. “This is a device that is designed for listening so it
makes sense radio does better here,” Lazovick said.
In order to reverse the current trend lines, Lazovick suggested the
radio industry address what some see as a less than desirable user
experience whenever someone tries to replicate the over-the-air
listening experience online. “We’re taking something marvelous--an
environment of preset buttons, scan, seek and simple easy switching to
preferred content--and made it difficult at best,” she said.
Lazovick said that includes offering a variety of apps, which she
believes is slowing listening to station webcasts. She thinks the
industry should unite around a single technology and instead compete on
“Millions of people across America are loyal to the content radio
produces--the favorite morning show, the music, companionship, news and
information, and sense of place that radio content provide to them,”
Lazovick said. “But no one cares at all about the method by which
the content is transferred to them.”
From the File labeled ‘Head Scratching’….
We all know that we measure the power of a broadcast station using the
unit ‘Watt’. Yet, James Watt invented the term ‘horsepower’ as a
marketing ploy for his engines. While I’m at it...
The formula for Horsepower is: 1 HP = power needed to lift 550 lbs. 1 foot in the air in 1 second.
Real horses actually only produce about .7 HP, based on the official calculation for horsepower.
There was a survey
published recently listing 25 professions that are dying and you should avoid
..Of course one of them was- Broadcasters. They stated:
One in 10 of the nation's
33,202 radio and television announcers are expected to see their jobs disappear
by 2026. Consolidation in the industry, as well as increased use of syndicated
content, is fueling the decline. There's also the explosion of streaming music
services. More and more listeners prefer that over their local, drive-time disc
Throwing in the Towel - WDCD in
Albany N.Y. has surrendered its license. The station was, as you
might have guessed an AM operating on 1540. In recent years the
station tried to downgrade to less power in an effort to curb
expenses. In the end, the station was silent. The station went on the air in 1948.
Having worked for Viacom when they changed 97.3 KNBQ to KBSG, I can’t
help but be interested in when those call letters crop up again.
This time the call KBSG-FM are used by a 90.1 440 Watt operation in
Raymond. Yes, the old Seattle based KBSG is now KIRO-FM.
Every once in a while there is a ‘thread’ or conversation on a
particular topic that comes along that gets my attention. In this
case, on Pubtech. The conversation has been about the best way to
use a microphone to record or broadcast the sound produced by a piano.
One of the participants wrote:
…you hit on a pet peeve of mine for years... and then I go and blow
it!! I detest the term spelling 'micing'... like what cats
do. Then there's 'miking' of which the root microphone has no
'k'. So if we have to live with micing, then it should be mic'ing. And I
muffed it. Or is it muff'd?
KNKX’s Lowell Kiesow responded with this -
Mic'ing would be a contraction of the word microphoning. "When
microphoning up a trombone, put it a few inches in front of the bell."
I'll quote the comments of the late Brad Weber, a very bright mind in
the audio industry. "This very topic came up in a pro sound forum
and the general view seemed to be that while "mic" has come to be a
somewhat widely accepted contraction of microphone, other related terms
like "micing" or "miking" are colloquialisms and industry jargon.
Basically, they are made up words with no defined or formally accepted
application or spelling, so you can't be right or wrong with how you
apply or spell them. And when addressing people outside the
industry, you placed a microphone on someone or you are putting a
microphone on someone or you are addressing microphone technique and
The theater production forum, ControlBooth.com, did a small poll on this. The results were: