The middle of April we received what I
often call our ‘April Teaser’, a long period of warm and wonderful
weather. In this case, featuring temperatures that were 20 degrees above
normal. Just enough wonderful weather to make many feel that summer has
indeed arrived. Just to re-enforce the notion, there was a wildfire
near Black Diamond, east of Auburn. This is just a ‘sampler’ to help us
forget the days of overcast and wet. This time around we did set some
records for the two-week long April dry-spell. Remember, in this area,
summer often will begin after the heavy rain on the 4th of July.
Make it three AM’s that are making their move to all digital
broadcasting. The latest to make the change will be WFAS located in
White Plains, north of NYC which has announced that starting on May 24
their AM will become Digital.
“Once WFAS has switched to an all-digital operation, only radios
equipped with HD radio technology will be able to receive and play the
station programming.“ WFAS explains to listeners in a posting on its
website, “WFAS will no longer be available on analog-only AM radios.
Broadcasting in digital will eliminate annoying static and interference,
improve the sound quality to equal FM radio and streaming and extends
the range for clear reception.”
What makes this situation a bit unique is that WFAS does not have a
companion FM Translator so that listeners with 'conventional' AM/FM
radios can continue to listen. Their on-line stream will continue as
Prior to this change, WMGG in Tampa-St. Petersburg made the switch, back
in January of this year. Here, the former AM station is simulcast on an
FM frequency in addition to having a translator on the former AM. Word
is now that another AM in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market is about to
Prior to these changes, the only Digital-only signal on the AM Band has been Hubbard Radio’s WWFD in Frederick, MD.
I have to admit that I’m a bit frustrated by those who insist on calling this – ‘Digital AM’. I have a couple of gripes:
#1 – We need to come up with a universally agreed label for these AM
stations that switch to all-digital to avoid further confusing
listeners. Whereas many new HD receivers can receive them, perhaps a
station making the switch would change from KRUD-AM to KRUD-HD? Perhaps a
more correct term would be Digital Medium Wave or DMW, but that
violates the ‘2-letter’ designation rule (AM, FM, HD, XM, TV etc.)
#2 - There are those who refer to the process of changing from AM to
Digital as a 'chicken and egg problem', saying that you must have demand
before it would be worth building.
If you have been in this business as long as I have (60 years on August 1
of this year) you will recall the VERY SAME argument used for FM.
I was the engineer of a station back in 1966 and tried and tried to
convince the owner of the station to get an FM frequency (back when you
could). He had the same argument. As years went by, he - FINALLY - came
to understand after it was too late for him to afford to buy one. He
ended up selling his AM station for a fraction of what FM's were going
History is full of examples of this argument. We have one of them
operating here in this area. Major retailers were convinced that selling
things on-line was fine for that little book store in Seattle but not
for them. It appears that Amazon was right and they were very very
Those who are willing to chart new territory (with their money) should
be applauded for their courage and foresight. Where would we be if every
new product had to wait for 'demand' before investing in the future?
From Kent Randles in Portland, we recently learned that 1330 KKPZ,
Portland has filed for Silent Special Temporary Authority - looking for a
buyer. Perhaps another indication of the health of AM Radio? KKPZ
operates with 5,000 watts full-time and has good coverage of the entire
Portland/ Vancouver area. Yes, the station also has an FM translator.
On the personal side, I remember listening to 1330 when I was a kid in
PDX. In those days the call letters were KPOJ, which stood for the
Portland Oregon Journal, a daily newspaper back then. The station has a
rich history going back to when it signed on in September of 1925. One
of its early call letters was KALE which you will find on old radios
from that era. The call letters, KALE, later showed up in Tri-Cities.
Perhaps someone will purchase this historic station and put it back on the air running Digital?
The U.S. Supreme Court backed the FCC allowing relaxed rules regarding
media ownership limits. Now we will have to wait and see what this means
in terms of acquisitions, mergers etc. This change also impacts long
standing rules regarding common ownership of newspapers and broadcast
stations. Considering the present state of print media these days, I
don’t see this as having a big impact.
If you are old enough, you remember when Color TV came along. Back in
those days, about the only way to receive TV was via an antenna. Yes,
there was TV before Cable and Satellite!
The makers of antennas jumped all over this opportunity to sell the
masses new antennas implying that you needed a new antenna to get proper
Well….Guess what? It’s happening again, this time with HD Radio.
Winegard, perhaps sensing that this HD Radio thing might be something
they should incorporate in their marketing, are doing so with a new
model. I copied this from the Amazon site recently. Technically, it’s a
pair of crossed dipoles. You can have one for about 30 Bucks.
Winegard HD-6010 HD FM Radio Antenna
No….You don’t need a special antenna to receive HD Radio…😊
Look closely and you will notice that the connection appears to be
balanced. Perhaps they expect you to use ‘Twin-Lead’ …or perhaps a balun
and coaxial cable?
SAY GOODBYE TO ENTERCOM
AND HELLO TO AUDACY
If this news item had been released a day later, I would have suspected
it was a spoof. However, on March 30th it was announced that Entercom is
rebranding itself as ‘Audacy’. If nothing else, such a change will
attract some media attention. The firms that supply business cards and
letterhead will be pleased. David Field, the President and CEO of the
firm said this about the change:
"We have transformed into a fundamentally different and
dramatically enhanced organization and so it is time to embrace a new
name and brand identity which better reflects who we have become and our
vision for the future."
For a long time we have referred to the company by its ‘Ticker Symbol’ –
ETM. That too will be changing to ‘AUD’. I’m sure that many will feel
this is an ‘odd’ move. (Sorry, could not resist.)
Others have commented that they had the ‘audacity’ to make the change.
While on the topic – Entercom….uh…Audacy, has an opening for a Staff
Engineer in San Francisco where they have a seven station cluster. For
I sent a note to the local Chief, Phil VanLiew asking if this changed his email address as well…
Yup ! - That is correct: firstname.lastname@example.org
At least for awhile, there is more than one Audacy. If you Google it, you will come back with:
> Audacy Wireless Controls - Intelligent Lighting -
> Audacy - Crunchbase Company Profile & Funding
> Audacy - Spaceflight
> Working at Audacy | Glassdoor
Apparently having several different users of the same name is not an
issue. Betcha that would not be the case with names like – Amazon,
Boeing, Microsoft etc.
If you just Google Audacy to see what it means you get – Audacity.
There are a lot of things these days that share names. For instance: If
you went into a pet store and asked for a KONG, they would know exactly
what you wanted. Perhaps never giving a thought that KONG are call
letters for a Seattle TV Station.
In last month's column I wrote about how the ubiquitous XLR connector
was introduced before Pin 1 had become the standard for Ground. This
quickly generated interest in the form of the following email:
I was just reading your column. Did you know that, on XLR's, pin 1
is longer on the female, so it mates first? It's why you don't get a
buzz when you plug an XLR into something. Someone at Cannon was
Taking this line a step farther, an RCA ribbon is the one type
of mic that you'd better not plug in with phantom power turned on. Some
of them have a grounded center tap on the output transformer, which is a
rare thing. If pins 2 and 3 don't mate at exactly the same time, which
they are unlikely to do, DC current flows for that instant, causing the
fragile ribbon to experience magnetic force with an unhappy result.
88.5 FM KNKX ● Jazz24.org
Perhaps you never thought about Airbus having an airplane with that name? (Look closely.)
Do you remember? The first operational transistor was declared 70 some
years ago, on December 23, 1947! The transistor is probably one of the
most revolutionary components ever invented. I started experimenting
with them in the late 50’s. I still have a Raytheon CK722 in it’s
original container! It was a germanium PNP. My first NPN was a 2N35. I
recall building a transistor radio in a small plastic box while in high
school in 1956. I used it to listen to the World Series, creating quite a
stir back then. (Yup, getting old!)
If you recall, Congress adopted some new ways to deal with pirate radio.
They increased the fines to as much as $2 million while the Commish
said it would be going after landlords, advertisers and any other
business that does business with pirates. All this was to go into effect
on April 26th. Now we will see if there are any new enforcement
actions. The methods of the FCC will likely involve what are called
‘sweeps’ in major cities were the practice is more common. It’s been a
while since I’ve run across a pirate operating in the Seattle area.
Targeting landlords may prove to be more successful, as many of the
pirates cite the lack of ability to pay and are let off the hook.
Every so often you run across a comment made by someone that brings a chuckle….*If you only have two ducks, they will always all be in a row.*
Bonneville-Seattle (KIRO AM/FM and KTTH) has announced that Josh Harstad
is their new Chief Engineer. Previously Josh worked for Hubbard and CBS
in Seattle. More recently he has been working in Denver. Whereas this
area is home, I’m sure he’s happy to be back
On the Covid-19 front: Despite having a number of vaccines for this
terrible pandemic, we still have a lot of bad news. Here are a few
> On the 18th of April the world-wide death toll surpassed three million.
> Total global infections are over 140 Million.
> The U.S., Brazil and Mexico lead the world in Covid-19 deaths.
> A very large percentage of people say they are not going to get the
vaccine, citing their lack of trust in the process. Perhaps fall-out
from the fact that the issue became politicized?
> The blood clot issue with the J & J vaccine only re-enforced the never-vacciners.
> Voluntary compliance measures have apparently failed to stop the spread of variants.
> Now, younger people, who perhaps thought Covid-19 was an old-folks disease, are getting hit hard.
> We are being warned that we are losing the race between
vaccinations and infections to the point that health officials will have
no choice but recommend that we, again, tighten restrictions.
> The term ‘4th Wave’ is based on solid evidence. Unfortunately, this
is not going down well. It’s easy to blame government and hard to blame
our own behavior.
> There is a lot of debate, and push-back, for the idea of having
some sort of vaccination verification system. Meanwhile major segments
are doing just that with their vaccination requirements.
> Several major schools have announced a policy requiring vaccination for admission.
> Perhaps the most sobering is this fact - “It’s a mistake to think
that we’re going to get to COVID-zero. This is not an eradicable
disease.” Read more here - U.S. COVID-19 cases will dip in summer, rise in winter, experts say | Science News
> Number of reported Washington coronavirus cases is now over
400,000. Thus far 5,474 have died and 22,111 people have been
hospitalized in the state due to the virus. 28.86% of Washingtonians
have been fully vaccinated.
> Washington State University will require proof that students and
staff are vaccinated against COVID-19 before they return to live or work
on campus. WSU is the state’s first public university to announce
vaccine requirements. Two private universities have made similar
announcements, and other higher education institutes may follow suit.
The big question, will this requirement spread to private industry,
i.e., broadcast stations?
The Pandemic has caused many of us to increase our vocabulary via the
introduction of new words and phrases, for example 'Mask Up' or 'Social
Distance'. One of the down sides to all of this has been our ability to
understand others...especially when they are wearing a mask and behind a
large sheet of plexiglass. Another problem is reading a person's
reactions and/or expressions when they are wearing facial covering. This
brings me to a new word for your vocabulary, ‘smizing’ which means
smiling in a way that’s visible in your eyes.
Another look back (and ahead): Remember when phone numbers had less
digits and they had a ‘prefix’ that was a word. I recall my phone number
when I was a kid in Portland to this day, Webster-1265. How about this
one …..SUnset 3-2404? Then along came Area Codes and direct
long-distance dialing. To start with, just about everything in the
Seattle area was area code 206, Oregon was 503 etc. As the area codes
ran out of numbers they added more area codes. Outside of Seattle became
253 or 360. Back in those days you could tell where a call was coming
from by the first 3-digits, or numeric prefix. That worked for awhile,
then it was determined that they needed to shuffle the deck and do what
they called an ‘overlay’ that would permit the phone companies to use
any Area Code, anywhere in the area. This was the end of 7-digit
dialing. Going forward, you would have to dial 10 digits to call the
person across the street.
You’d think that with the reduction in the number of ‘Land-Lines’ that
there would be plenty of excess phone numbers these days. Guess again!
Apparently the 360 area code is running out of numbers and, once again,
it’s time for another area code. This time, it will be 564. Like the
others, this will be an overlay. We are told that eventually 564 will be
used in the Seattle metro as well. So don’t be shocked if your new
neighbor calls you and your caller-ID shows a 564. It’s just a sign of
progress. By the way, this is our state's 6th area code. The following
map shows how this will work:
This map certainly underscores the population distribution in the
state. Look at the percentage of Washington that still has only
one area code.
Here’s a great word that we don’t use very much in common-speak – KERFUFFLE – a word beginning with a ‘K’ that makes sense.
Here are some definitions I scrounged:
> A kerfuffle is some kind of commotion, controversy, or fuss. If you
read about a scandal in a newspaper, it could be described as a
kerfuffle. Kerfuffle is a humorous-sounding word for a mostly
non-humorous situation: some kind of disturbance, scandal or mess.
> A commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views.
The root of “kerfuffle” is the very old Scots' verb “fuffle”, which
first appeared in print in the early 16th century and means “to throw
into disorder.” The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that the “ker”
part of “kerfuffle” may hare come from the Gaelic word “car,” meaning
“to twist, bend or turn around.
Yes, I do maek mistrakes.
I recently ran a picture that was sent to me by a friend in Arizona in
response to my mentioning to him that Snoqualmie Pass was getting a lot
of snow this year.
‘Eagle-Eye’ Tim Schall (Transmitter Engineer at KING/ KONG-TV) Sent me this note:
Greetings from TV land.
I am currently enjoying your April 2021 ‘Clays Corner.’
However, the picture your friend living in Arizona shared with you is
not, in fact, Snoqualmie Pass. It had been, and it seems still is,
circulating on various social media sites as several different mountain
passes. It is, in fact, “…just North of Manitou Springs, going towards
Ute pass, Colorado, along what's now US 24.”
I refer you to the Facebook page of the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum:
Be sure and take some time browsing this site, a lot of fascinating pictures of days gone by.
Looking at the picture again, shouldn’t Snoqualmie Pass have a lot of
big fir trees in the shot? Appears that I fell for it. I apologize for
not spotting the error. Thanks Tim. Good catch.
Here’s a word to add to your broadcast term dictionary, Trimucast. We
all know what to call a common program aired on two stations in a
market, Simulcast. Trimucast is the term for when it’s aired on three
stations. (At least according to one source.)
I recently chatted with Terry Spring who informed me that he is going to
retire effective June 1st. Terry has been the Chief Engineer at the
local Ion Media (now Scripps) TV station for many years. The writing is
on the wall – I’m going to have to knuckle under and join that club,
sooner or later. The fact is I am winding down. It’s just very hard to
say goodbye to those who you have been associated with for many years.
Another retirement to mention this month. Tom Saylor is retiring from
the Engineering Department at WSU’s NWPB in Pullman. I’ve had the great
privilege of working with Tom for over 11 years and that we’ve shared
the same employers. He is leaving some extremely large shoes to fill and
will be missed by many.
For many years, when it comes to building radio or cellular towers, the term NIMBY, which means Not In My Back Yard. When it comes to things that are underground there is NUMBY…Not Under My Back Yard. Then there is BANANA …Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone. 😊
For the second time in the last year, Seattle has been eclipsed as the
crane capital of the United States. But who beat us this time around
might surprise you.
Construction consultant firm Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) released a
glimpse of their biannual Crane Index rankings of all North American
cities for the first quarter of 2021 yesterday, and found that
Washington, D.C. now leads the nation for the most cranes at 45.
But Seattle wasn't far behind, tying for second with Los Angeles with 43
cranes each. Los Angeles had previously inched forward to beat the
Emerald City in the count last year at the beginning of the pandemic,
and the new findings show that the two West Coast cities are still neck
But look at Toronto - WOW!!
Seattle didn't add any cranes since the last report issued in
September 2020. Residential construction projects still amount for a
majority of the cranes in Seattle followed by transit work, according to
the Daily Journal of Commerce. Seattle has also slipped in the rankings
of hot housing markets from #1 to #2. The new leader is Phoenix with
San Diego at #2.
Travel Trivia will occasionally send me something that I am compelled to
follow, like this one: “Rainiest States in the U.S.” If you have lived
in this area any length of time you have likely run across someone that
wonders how you could live in a place like this with all the rain, etc.
So how does Washington stack up compared to other states? Georgia (50.22
inches) - Hawaii (50.33 inches) - Tennessee (51.85 inches) -
Florida (54.73 inches) - Alabama (56 inches) - Mississippi (56.48
inches) - Louisiana (59.15 inches).
Washington State was not even close. Of course, thanks to the Cascade
Mountains, a good portion of the Evergreen State is ‘Everbrown’.
So what’s the rainiest city in the U.S.? Mobile, Alabama with an average rainfall of 67 inches and 59 rainy days per year.
Now about Seattle: On average, we get 38 inches of rain per year.
Interestingly, the U.S. – AVERAGE – is 38 inches. Our reputation comes
from the fact that we have – more days – with rain, or, more-frequent
rain…but less total amount of the stuff.
Now with that behind us, how about our neighbor to the North?
What’s the rainiest city in Canada? Here’s what I found:
Annual Inches Annual mm
Abbotsford, British Columbia
So why does it rain more in Vancouver than in Seattle? Just like the
Cascades make Eastern Washington dryer, the Olympic Mountains to the
West of Seattle provide a shadow on their east-side. This is
demonstrated by the fact that Olympia receives 53 inches per year and
Aberdeen gets 76 inches. The Olympic rain-shadow is well demonstrated in
Sequim where their annual rainfall is only 16 inches, about the same as
Los Angeles, California.
Ever wonder about the, perhaps, over-use of the word ‘Mount’ in a city name? Example:
Mt Pleasant, Texas – Elevation 404 ft
Mt Vernon, WA – Elevation 180 ft
The FCC periodically publishes a list of station totals. This time
around, surprisingly, the FM Station total is down…and, as expected, the
number of AM’s is down as well with that total approaching 10% less
than there were in 1990. As you might expect, the number of FM
translators and boosters is up 30% from five years ago.
For those of us living in the Seattle area, we are very close to the best country in the world!
For my readers in Canada, you are living in it!
This all according to a Best Countries report in U.S. News and World
Report’s annual rankings recently released. Canada ranked #1 in Quality
of Life and Social Purpose and is seen as a stable and safe society in
which individuals can develop and prosper and is open, fair and
Here are the rankings from their survey:
The Top 10 Countries in the World:
6. United States
7. New Zealand
8. United Kingdom
The 10 Lowest-Ranked Countries in the World:
77. El Salvador
You’d think that with all the political news and a pandemic that
indecency would not be a big issue, but it was. In fact in 2020 the FCC
had more than 1,000 indecency complaints filed. Interestingly many of
them were related to pirate radio broadcasters. Apparently, some of
these folk's broadcasts are offensive. Overall, the FCC had some 4,768
complaints about Radio last year.
Here’s a chart showing what people had a beef about Radio:
Time to, once again, take a look at the 6+ Radio Ratings for Seattle-Tacoma.
> Hanging on to the #1 spot is KIRO-FM, with KISW close behind.
> At #3 is KUOW.
> Surprisingly little KEXP is now #4. Perhaps proving that you don’t need a big signal to be popular?
> KOMO-AM is hanging in there at #5. Granted they do have an FM that may well be helping.
> HD-2 signals from KING-FM and KNKX are both listed this month.
In a past Column I mentioned the total audience share of the top Radio
stations in the News/Talk segment. San Francisco (Market #4 with 6.7+
Million) has a couple of interesting market leaders. At the top is a
Non-Commercial station (KQED-FM) with a 10.6 share. #2 is KCBS-AM with a
7.5. That’s an 18.1 share between them. Yes, you read that right...the
#2 station is an AM!
In past years, for my April Column, I would talk about our ‘annual trek
to the desert’ for the NAB Convention. Obviously the Pandemic got in the
way last year, and will again this year. In it’s place NAB will,
however, be hosting a bit on-line/ virtual event April 12-23 for a
number of award presentations and new product launches. This will
include a deep-dive into HD Radio. For those of you who long for an
in-person show, that will be Oct. 9-13 at the Las Vegas Convention
Center. The Radio Show will be at the same venue, Oct. 13-14.
Perhaps you can explain the connection? Since the start of the pandemic,
UFO sightings are up 50% in the U.S. and Canada. When local TV Stations
show images of UFO’s – That will be big news.
Here’s one of those interesting questions you see pop up on-line. What salary do you need to live in Seattle? The answer is $72,092.
If you rephrase it and ask, what is considered a good salary in Seattle you get - A person working in Seattle typically earns around 100,000 USD per year.
How about - What is the average annual pay in Seattle? You get this:
Top Earners - $97,704
75th Percentile - $80,334
Average - $66.834
Not sure what to make of all of this, but it is interesting. What we do
know is Seattle is an expensive place to live and if you want to live
there, your income is a big factor.
One economic indicator that’s doing well is home sales, with some areas
showing around 30% increases over last year. I recently received a
note from Zillow that showed my house value increasing over 32% in the
Back in the early 90’s, engineers from the various FM stations at West
Tiger would routinely have a lunch meeting at a place in Kent. They had a
conference room that we could use, good food and coffee and it was not
too far out of the way. Over the years, and especially after
consolidation, the routine was discontinued. In later years, I would
meet friends there for lunch etc. Apparently they are one of those
places where the Pandemic and its shut-downs was the last-straw. Mitzels
in Kent is no more. Even the signs were removed from the building.
Old guys love looking at pictures of things that are not as old as they are. For example:
And a classic groaner from Dwight Small…Yep, Spring is right around the corner.
None other than Allen Hartle. Nice to see others with beards that color. 😊
Anyone old enough reading this column remember when Allen was the Chief at KZOK?
So what do automakers and computer makers have in common? They both use
computer chips. Was not that long ago that car makers did not have any
computers. Now, most have several. The fact is everything today employs
‘chips’, vehicles, computers, TV’s, household appliances...and the list
goes on. So what happens when the demand for the little critters exceeds
supply? Makers of these products have to slow down producing them to
match the supply.
Recently Apple announced the chip shortage would (are you ready for
this?) take a bite out of Apple and make It harder for you to get that
new device. Likewise, some automakers are being forced to shut down
production lines awaiting delivery of these little critters. Likely you
would not purchase a vehicle these days that did not have them, as in
days of old!
The FCC recently released an NPRM that will make a number of changes to
the EAS. Some of this is designed to institute changes whose need was
brought to light in the fall missile attack on Hawaii a few years ago.
The Washington SECC responded to this action. If are wondering what we
had to say, you can find our filing on the FCC’s Web Site. We will
likely also discuss this in the next SECC meeting on May 11th at 9:30
a.m. These bi-monthly meetings are open to all and are held via Zoom.
Invitation and agenda are posted on the EAS-WA Remailer.
That’s about it for this month, my friends. Lord willing, I will be back next month at most of the usual locations.
Until then, get vaccinated, stay safe and continue to wear your mask…and
that means cover your nose too. The ‘All-Clear’ is getting closer.
Clay, K7CR, CPBE
A SBE Fellow
SBE Member # 714
Since March 1968