COVID-19 continues to be the headline maker this past month- Here are some items I selected to share.
On September 7th this was published -
The NAB will require full vaccination of attendees, exhibitors and
its own staff at the NAB Show, Radio Show, and the Sales and Management
Then on 15th of September, we all received this -
To Our NAB Show Community: For more than a year we have worked
tirelessly to bring our industry together safely in Las Vegas at NAB
Show. Unfortunately, the pandemic and surge of the Delta variant has
presented unexpected and insurmountable challenges for our global
community. As we have always kept the best interest and safety of the
industry as our priority, it has become apparent in the face of these
challenges that we can no longer effectively host NAB Show or our
co-located events, the Radio Show and Sales and Management Television
Exchange, in person. NAB Show is the premiere destination for the media
and entertainment industry and we will not move forward with a show that
delivers anything less than the excellence our community has come to
expect and deserves from us. While we are disappointed that we will not
be together again in person next month, we look forward to converging in
Las Vegas at the 2022 NAB Show, April 23-27, 2022, to reignite our
passion for our business and focus on a bright future ahead. Stay tuned
for details regarding virtual options for accessing select 2021 NAB Show
The announcement comes after a number of its largest exhibitors,
including Sony, Canon, Panasonic and Ross all announced that they were
pulling out of the show, citing concerns over COVID-19. The association
said it plans to offer select virtual sessions through its Amplify
For the second time in as many years, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced
the cancellation of The NAB Show. The National Association of
Broadcasters announced that it has pulled the plug on its biggest
conference along with co-located events, the Radio Show and Sales and
Management Television Exchange, all scheduled to take place next month
in Las Vegas.
The announcement from Chris Brown, Executive Vice President and Managing
Director of Global Connections and Events at NAB, cited “unexpected and
insurmountable challenges for our global community” from the COVID-19
pandemic and surge of the Delta variant.
The NAB, as well as many others have been thrust into to completely new
territory with this pandemic. Like a lot of us, we thought that we were
past the worst of it and were starting to make plans, then along came
Delta – and ‘here we go again’.
The NAB show is not the only event to run head-on into the impact of the
Virus.The Audio Engineering Society also cancelled its 2021 event which
makes sense, as it was to be collocated with the NAB Event.
There was certainly a huge impact on the cancellation in a number of
areas. Hitting the ‘Emergency Brake’ this close to an event is tough. A
lot of things were in motion, including many that had hotel reservations
One phrase that seems to be appropriate these days – ‘Don’t count on it’.
Cumulus Media, a large radio station operator was one of the first to announce their COVID Policy-
Cumulus adopted the policy in mid-August mandating that all
employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the company’s
previously announced return to work date of Oct. 11, or what CEO Mary
Berner has called the company’s “grand reopening.” All employees must
have received their full dose of one of the available vaccines by Sept.
27 – two weeks prior to the scheduled return date.
This headline perhaps sums up the situation –
Univision Adopts Vaccine Mandate. More Broadcasters Expected To Follow Suit.
And that’s exactly what they have been doing – on the 16th, Tegna,
operator of KING and KONG-TV in Seattle, told their staff that they have
until November 12th to get the COVID vaccine as a condition of
employment. That seems to be pretty clear to me.
Here are some comments that pretty well sum-up the situation that Broadcasters are facing –
> Small radio companies that employ fewer than 100 workers
aren’t affected by Biden’s new policy. And there will almost certainly
be legal challenges to what some have condemned as “heavy-handed
authoritarianism.” However, if having a vaccinated workforce becomes the
new ‘standard of care’ for businesses defending against lawsuits from
employees claiming to have caught COVID-19 at work, it does put pressure
on all broadcasters, including those with less than 100 employees, to
seriously consider their policies as well.
> With many workforces deeply divided on the issue of
vaccine mandates, the President’s announcement provides some legal cover
for larger businesses implementing mandates. And the four radio groups
that have done so already have permitted exceptions on medical or
religious grounds. “The courts have generally upheld such mandates as
long as these escape valves are in place.”
> The situation remains fluid with new developments on the
COVID front almost daily. And while some station owners want to stay
clear of the controversial issue and are hoping that most of their
employees decide to get vaccinated on their own, that may no longer be
an option. It is becoming increasing difficult for business owners
to stay uninvolved, as there will be employees on both sides of the
issue—those that don’t want to be required to get vaccinated, and those
that are appalled that their employer is asking them to come back to the
studio without ensuring that everyone they encounter there will be
> Staying out of the fray is not possible.
There is one area that Broadcasting is receiving poor reviews. It’s
where radio talk-show hosts are on the air supporting the anti-vaccine
movements. These people frequently quote sources that are in agreement
with their position. Many of these appear to go out on a limb to attract
attention. Unfortunately, there are many that
apparently would rather get their medical advice from someone ‘On the
Radio’ than their doctor, thereby giving radio a bad reputation.
This headline should give those that follow that path some pause -
Conservative radio host who spurned vaccines,
mocked AIDS patients dies of covid-19.
Here’s how that story read -
For years, Bob Enyart used his conservative media platform in
Denver to mock those who died of AIDS by name or call for women who
receive abortions to face the death penalty. Recently, the radio
talk-show host — who had successfully sued the state over mask mandates and capacity limits in Colorado churches last year — joined a chorus of conservative voices who have bashed the coronavirus vaccine and vowed to stay unvaccinated.
The Story continued –
Enyart is at least the fifth conservative radio talk-show host to
have died of covid-19 in the last six weeks after speaking out against
vaccinations and masking. The others are Marc Bernier, 65, a longtime
host in Florida; Phil Valentine, 61, a popular host in Tennessee; Jimmy
DeYoung, 81, a nationally syndicated Christian preacher also based in
Tennessee; and Dick Farrel, 65, who had worked for stations in Miami and
Palm Beach, Fla., as well as for the conservative Newsmax TV channel.
Perhaps, in time, we will come to learn how people like this have
influenced their listeners to make bad decisions that led to their
demise? As I have stated in the past, I have to
believe that the legal profession will see opportunities here.
Many things have changed
The Broadcast Industry has, since this all started, made a number of
changes that will change the way things function, perhaps many of them,
> Many Radio Stations have, traditionally, relied on promotion
departments that were engaging listeners with all means of events. The
Pandemic changed all that with this kind of activity being shut down.
> Just like other industries, working at home has become normalized. I
can imagine how some of the managers I’ve worked with, over the years,
handled this one. You know the kind, the ones looking at the time people
show up in the morning etc. Many of them were convinced if they could
not see you, you were goofing off and not working. A very high
percentage of people who have not been going to the office, want it that
> Another winner in this process has been what has been called
Central Casting (or other terms) TV has been doing this for some time
with centralized master control operations have handled multiple
stations. This has resulted in many stations becoming unmanned during
weekday periods and on weekends.
> Radio is doing the same thing, to various degrees. In some cases, a
station may only have a ‘live and local’ morning show, with the rest of
the day being ‘Voice Tracked’ or with the talent located in a faraway
> All of this would not have been possible had it not been for the
internet, and compression schemes, that have permitted audio and video
content to come from afar at a price that stations could afford.
Here’s a look at this issue in various categories -
We are witnessing a lot of ‘you do it first’ taking place….
How the airlines react to this is interesting for a couple of reasons.
This business was severely impacted by COVID as people stopped flying.
They have had to deal with how to get passengers back by requiring
masks. That has not always gone smoothly with some of their customers
with some reacting, at times violently, to the idea that they had to
wear a mask while on board. The result, the fines for being defiant have
Then there is how to deal with their employee. One by one, the airlines
have been ‘ramping up’ their efforts to get their staff vaccinated with
ever increasing pressure. A lot of industries are watching how the
airlines approach these issues with, justifiably, great interest. United
appears to be one of the leaders, recently stating that 97% of their
employees were vaccinated and indicated those that refused would be let
I received this notice on the 15th, underscoring that this issue is not just something that involves private industry.
Subject: Spokane HAMFEST
As folks are beginning to hear last evening the Spokane HAMFEST
committee made the very hard decision to cancel this year's Spokane
HAMFEST and state convention. It was a decision we did not take lightly
and one we felt was the best for all concerned. We will be working hard
and looking forward to seeing folks at the Spokane HAMFEST on Sept. 24,
Efforts in many areas to try and get this thing slowed down
via increasingly restrictive rules, regulations have not been met with
the degree of success that many had hoped.
One thing that is clearly frustrating many is the percentage of people
that don’t want to get vaccinated. These people appear to be standing in
the way of us winning this battle. For a while…incentives were tried
(the carrot approach) and when those efforts fell short, the next
approach (the stick) became necessary. Hence, we are increasingly
hearing the word
Government, at all levels, Federal, State and Local are getting involved
with this issue in ways that, not long ago, would have been seen as
impossible. The question is, what are they going to do with our
hospitals being filled with unvaccinated patients to the point that they
are forced to turn away people suffering from other issues?
Perhaps one of the most followed stories involves the WSU football coach
who is, apparently unvaccinated. It just so happens that he is also the
highest paid person on the State payroll, making more than the
Here we are seeing a growing number of restrictions, rules, regulations and – that dreaded word – mandates. The unvaccinated view this as government over-reach and dictatorial.
This is resulting in individuals, unions etc. suing state and local
governments…and, in some cases, states suing the Federal Government. All
of these leading to having the courts determine what is to happen.
This process is, of course, being followed closely by the media with a
lot of airtime, and ink, being devoted to this topic presenting facts
and not radical opinions.
One by one, the operators of venues where games are played are announcing their regulations.
All fans age 12 and over planning to attend Kraken games, concerts or
events at Climate Pledge Arena will need to show proof they are fully
vaccinated against COVID-19. Fans will also be required to wear a mask.
Exemptions by questionable means
Many of those that don’t want to get vaccinated are looking for means to get out of it.
One of the ways is the Religious Exemption. And waiting to fill the bill, for a price, are pastors of some churches.
This headline came from the Washington Post –
This pastor will sign a religious exemption for vaccines if you donate to his church.
The pastor – Jackson Lahmeyer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here’s a portion of the article in the Post –
Lahmeyer said he is not anti-vaccine, but he has already had the
virus and believes that people who are infected with it can be treated
with medications like ivermectin, which is used to treat parasites in
humans and horses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says ivermectin
should not be used to treat or prevent covid-19.
So not only are people getting misleading information from the pulpit but are able get an exemption for a price.
Then there is the chiropractor that will write you a ‘Medical’ Exemption. Only problem is chiropractors are NOT medical doctors.
Again, the exemptions are very likely to become legal battlegrounds.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey 12 hrs ago
The Insurance Industry
We are now just starting to hear from the Insurance Industry as they
come to terms with the fact that the unvaccinated are, statistically,
more expensive to take care of than a person that chooses to be
vaccinated. This means that the unvaxxed cost the insurance companies
more and may well be paying higher premiums. No different than is the
case with other forms of insurance.
The Print Media
The print media is also doing its part to inform, and, in some cases,
offer opinions that, what I feel, are spot on. Kudos to Danny
Westneat. In the event you don’t read his column, let me share some
portions of one of his recent writings –
In Idaho. Hospitals in northern Idaho are so flooded with COVID-19
patients that the state has declared an emergency, called “crisis
standards of care.” It means when you show up to the emergency room, you
may get treated based preferentially on who is most likely to live.
“If your mother has a heart attack, someone will have to assign
her a point score designating how likely she is to survive,” the Idaho
Falls Post Register wrote, describing the scheme last winter when it was
first being contemplated. “If it isn’t high enough, she might not get
an ICU bed, and a COVID patient will get it instead.
“We will ask the nurses and doctors who’ve broken their backs
trying to save us to make that Sophie’s choice over, and over, and
This past week the 200-bed hospital in Coeur d’Alene had 218
patients — so many it was treating patients in hallways and running out
of oxygen to help them breathe, The Associated Press reported.
“What about the people who need emergency care but, because of
the exploding COVID crisis here, can’t get it?” asked the Coeur d’Alene
Press. “Do we just let them die?”
The answer to that is: “Yes.” Letting them die is actually the
plan. The GOP governor of Idaho said it was “an unprecedented and
unwanted point in the history of our state.” But he made no moves to try
anything else, such as requiring vaccinations for anyone (he earlier
had banned the governmental use of “vaccine passports” in the state).
It’s a red state, and so for the most part they’re letting the virus rip
Remember years ago when a tea party debate audience cheered the
idea of letting someone without insurance die? What’s happening in
Idaho is even worse because it’s so preventable.
Doctors in Idaho have said their COVID-19 patients are almost
all unvaccinated. “We don’t have any vaccinated patients here,” an ICU
doc in Boise told The Associated Press. “Misinformation is hurting
people and killing people.”
Idaho ranks last in the percentage of its population having at
least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, at only 45%. The U.S. is about
63%; Washington state 69%.
The main hospital in Yakima is seeing a record number of
COVID-19 patients, almost all unvaccinated. They’re raising the specter
of rationing care there, too — something the chief medical officer said
has never happened at the hospital.
“I sure hope we don’t get there, but that’s where we’re heading,” he warned in The Yakima Herald-Republic on Wednesday.
When I wrote last week about a COVID-19 skeptic and anti-vaxxer
who had died of the disease, asking whether society should care, I
heard from a slew of readers furious because their own medical care is
being delayed or cut off — a diffuse version of the triage going on in
“Am I angry? You bet I am,” wrote Mike Morrissey, of Snohomish,
who says his cardiac surgery has been put off indefinitely due to a
flood of COVID-19 patients. “My heart is failing without intervention. I
can’t walk a block without stopping. But their choice [to not get
vaccinated] just negated my urgent need.”
Echoed a nurse at a regional hospital: “They’re dying of
stupidity by choice, but at the same time taking up space in the
hospital and displacing stroke, cancer and cardiac patients.”
“Do I care what happens to those who won’t take a simple step
to end this nightmare?” asked reader Jon Kraus, who said his
brother-in-law had a surgery to fix a painful back condition put on hold
due to COVID-19 levels. “I’m tired of catering to people who don’t care
about anyone but themselves.”
This is why Gov. Jay Inslee and President Joe Biden suddenly
feel more comfortable mandating the vaccine for groups of workers and
businesses. Yes, the right-wing flank of the GOP will sue, march around
in tri-corner hats and scream at their local school boards. But people
are done. The vaccinated — the majority in most states — have had
Now, as the workplace vax wars rev up, the best point to keep in mind is offered up by reader Michael Andreoni:
“Who I DO feel sorry for are the medical personnel who have to deal with this mess,” he wrote.
It’s the story of our time, how a pandemic that was visited
upon us, through no fault of our own, ended up morphing into such a
self-inflicted wound for America. We willingly did it to
Then there is Media Bias
I don’t mean the type that you may first think of. What I am
referring to is the bias toward running bad news in preference to good
news. As I learned, long ago, if a newspaper only put good news on their
front pages, they wouldn’t sell many papers. Face it, we expect the
media – in all forms – to bring us the bad news first.
Do we see or hear any stories about the zillions of vehicles that travel
our area's freeways…never. But have one wreck (like the recent one in
Auburn with the wrong way driver) and it’s wall to wall coverage.
Do we hear about all the passengers that safely arrive at their
destination via train? (Nope) but that wreck in Montana was a big story.
And so it goes with just about every event – INCLUDING COVERAGE OF THE PANDEMIC!
Do we hear about the ‘Majority’ that have been vaccinated? Nope, just stories about those that have not.
Face it, we like to hear bad news. In the case of Covid-19, perhaps
that’s a good thing as it scares many into getting their shots?
And, of course – There is plenty of Mis-information
How about this headline ?
Ivermectin poison control calls triple in Washington, despite multiple warnings against use for COVID treatment
Demand for ivermectin has increased nationwide, despite
warnings from multiple health agencies about the dangers of consuming it
for non-FDA-approved purposes — which includes using it for COVID-19
treatment and prevention.
Over 88,000 ivermectin prescriptions were reported nationwide
in the second week of August, an amount 24-times higher than the
pre-pandemic figure, the Washington State Department of Health said in a
Since last year, the Washington Poison Center has received a
threefold increase in calls regarding ivermectin, said Dr. Scott
Phillips, the medical director for the center. He attributed the rise in
calls to misinformation.
Most calls were from people asking about ivermectin safety,
though some calls were made from people who were recently hospitalized
or were experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of poisoning, he said.
No severe cases resulting in death have been reported. However,
it is unclear how many hospitalizations or deaths have occurred across
the state in relation to ivermectin use because the Department of Health
does not track that data, and local hospitals are not required to
report those cases, said DOH spokesperson Frank Ameduri.
Though the drug is typically used for veterinary purposes, it
is FDA approved to treat some parasitic worms, external parasites and
skin conditions in humans.
And, finally, some of my thoughts
> Near the end of the month – The Washington Post ran this headline –
YouTube is banning prominent anti-vaccine activists and blocking all anti-vaccine content.
As my readers know….I have been railing against misinformation for some
time. Kudos to YouTube for their action in removing the megaphone for
those that, perhaps, have been spreading misinformation that has
resulted in the deaths of many. Perhaps now is the time to ask the
question – When are broadcasters going to do the same thing? We
need to face the fact that many broadcast stations have been sitting by
and letting misinformation and conspiracy theories continue all in the
name of free speech. Is it time for broadcasters to stop their
contribution to this crisis?
Could it be that those that have been getting their medical advice from
YouTube or radio talk-shows might now be deceased as a result?
> It appears that that those that are refusing to get vaccinated are
the ultimate gamblers willing to put their life on the line,
according to Seattle & King County Public health.
> Those that are unvaccinated are 49 times more likely to be
hospitalized for COVID-19. They are also 32 times more likely to die
from a COVID-19 related illness.
> Some politicians come out with some gems - "The average hospital stay for a case of COVID-19 costs about $17,064. The vaccine is free," said Jayapal in her Aug. 30 Instagram post. Hat’s off to her.
> Why is it that those that are opposed to getting vaccinated (a
medical procedure) are (apparently) wanting a medical team to save them
when they fear for their life?
> Why aren’t there protesters demonstrating against the Anti-Vaxxers
objecting to the fact that they might die from something else due to the
hospitals being clogged with the un-vaccinated? Where are the law suits
when a person dies because they could not obtain medical treatment
because of this mess?
> Has not part of the problem been confusing and often conflicting
information? Looking back, would we in the U.S. been better off had this
issue been handled on a national basis instead of having different
states approach the matter differently? Perhaps with one
organization providing us with information about masking, social
distancing, closures, mandates etc. Think of the confusion where state
lines are very close. Want an example? Look at the difference between
Washington and Idaho in terms of vaccination rates.
> In the event you think this is a U.S. problem….think again. I was
recently talking with a person in a Canadian province (not B.C.) who
explained they were vaccinated, and their spouse was not. They went on
to explain their decision was based on political rather than medical
Now to end this with some good news!
Merck says experimental pill cuts worst effects of COVID-19 (apnews.com).
Other than COVID related events –
On September 2nd I received the following email from John Price regarding Gary Hart.
‘Gary passed away this morning at 5 a.m. His wife Elaine called. Cause was dementia plus multiple myeloma.’
Many of us have stories about Gary. My turn -
Way back in the last century (when I got started in this business), when
a radio or TV station wanted to broadcast from somewhere other than
their studio, we contacted the Telephone Company to provide them with
the facilities to make it happen. Pacific NW Bell, or PNB comes to
mind. Back in those days I was working in Tacoma radio
and we had a go-to-guy that would, despite the odds and short notice,
always make it happen. His name was Jim Renny. Occasionally
Jim would mention his counterpart in Seattle…A guy named Gary.
Fast forward to the '80s when I made my move to the ‘big city’ to the
north and built new studios for KBSG. I quickly learned of Gary Hart.
Interestingly, the first time I heard his name was from one of the gals
in marketing when ordering a broadcast circuit (called Radio Loops).
When I asked a technical question, they would quickly respond with,
‘I’ll talk with Gary Hart’ and get back to you. These were certainly the
good old days when the telephone company had people who worked in
Seattle and whom you could have lunch with. Some names come to mind
(with perhaps wrong spellings) Betty Carrie, Wilma Kilde, Frank Coffee
and, of course, the guy who took the order from marketing and made it
happen, Gary Hart. After you placed the order, the
matter was in Gary’s capable hands. Often, he would call you to ask a
question about where you wanted the ‘loop’ terminated. Gary understood
what you did with their facilities like no one else. He took each of
these circuits personally and would, in some cases, be on site when you
arrived, just to make sure. Gary knew where every piece of telephone
wire was in the Seattle area (without having to do some research). All
that ‘Plant’ was his baby. His personal touch and vast recall enabled
him to, constantly – pull the rabbit out of the hat and make it happen.
There are legendary stories of his handy work involving the boat races
and many other events.
On the other side of Gary was his love of Amateur Radio. Gary, known to
many as W7WWI was one of first ones to put a 2-meter repeater on Cougar
When Gary retired a few years ago, he left a huge void. The company, by
now, had changed names a few times, was never the same, and became
something cold and distant. Gone was the personal touch by a person that
made the term ‘customer service’ mean so much to so many. Perhaps he
knew that the work he did would be put out to pasture with the advent of
cellular systems and it was a good time to ‘hang it up’.
Gary retired to the vicinity of Rochester (south of Olympia), where he
would continue to have summer picnics to meet his old friends.
Thankfully, John Price lived near by and was able to be of significant
help as Gary’s health declined. A group of us would meet for breakfast
prior to going to the Puyallup Flea Market. Often Gary was there with
that big smile and warmth that made all who knew him, love and respect
him. To say the least, Gary touched many hearts and
left a lasting memory with many.
I know that many have left comments about Gary on the SBE Chapters Remailer. Here are a couple I picked up to share with you:
FROM JOHN PRICE
My longtime friend Gary Hart passed away this morning at 5 a.m.
The cause was dementia plus multiple myeloma. His wife Elaine called me
with the news. Gary had been living at the Hampton Alzheimer’s Special
Care Center in Tumwater since October of 2020. He was born on April 26,
1940 and was a navy veteran. I first met Gary in early 1979 when I
was just starting as CE at KAYO 1150 when it was on 2939
Fourth Avenue South in Seattle. I remember calling him multiple times
over the years saying in jest ‘we’re off the air’ and he’d get a big
kick out of it. I last talked to Gary in May. Elaine said that he didn’t
recognize anyone anymore, and she’s glad he’s in a much better
One of the greatest honors I’ve had was to work with Gary on putting
together and than later driving him up to KIRO TV on October 9,
2019 for a presentation we did together for Chapter 16. We called
it ‘The 4th Network-a conversation with Gary Hart.’ This attached
picture of Gary was taken in September outside his house on Littlerock
Rd. south of Olympia. In prior years Gary and Elaine would have BBQ
cookouts at their place. Gary loved to cook burgers and talk with all
the guests. Topics ranged from his time with the phone company,
collecting and distributing wood for his Church’s wood mission and of
course ham radio. Gary’s call sign in my mind will always be
Rather than have me fill the rest of this post with my memories of Gary, please post yours. Even though
he disliked computers, I’m sure Gary will be glad to read what you have to say.
FROM DAVE RATENER
I’m sorry for your loss John. I also knew and liked Gary he was great. Rest in peace Gary.
FROM ARTHUR WILLETTS
I had the pleasure of having Gary install a circuit for me a little over
15 years ago. I knew of him prior, but you never get to know a fellow
until you work with them. I was impressed by his good nature and
congeniality. A true asset to the Northwest's broadcasting history, as
he knew what it took to get a station’s signal to travel over POTS. I
did not know he was suffering. I will remember his big smile, high
spirits, and friendly attitude.
FROM TIM SCHALL
This hit me like a gut punch. I am so very sorry to hear it.
KING5 will be flying the new antenna for our ATSC 3 station on our Queen
Anne tower sometime tomorrow. I’ve written the following on the base:
Gary Hart, W7WWI/SK
April 26, 1940
September 2, 2021
A friend to Seattle
The same antenna will also be carrying a memorial to my own Father who
passed away last February and, like Gary, provided me with encouragement
and mentorship early in my career. It is our honor to fly a small
memorial to Gary on our new antenna.
FROM JON KASPRICK
I seem to recall first meeting Gary around 1978-79 when Green River was
setting up lines for sports remotes around the area. Over the years,
we'd chat about various technology. I always enjoyed his stories.
Eventually, I came to realize how spoiled we had become to have such a
supportive and dedicated technician/engineer providing telco support.
Weather-wise we had one of the longest and hottest, and driest summers
on record. Hard to believe we only had .13 inches of precip. in 3
months. Unlike those to the south of us in California, we can count on
our famous rain to return. And indeed, that’s what happened. Around here
we know that Fall is a shortened version of ‘Rain-Fall’. About the
middle of the month, right on cue, wham! It was windy and wet. Near the
end of the month, I took the drive out to Enumclaw and was amazed at how
wonderfully green things had again become.
Back to the topic of rain - Hurricane Ida did a real number (again) on
New Orleans knocking out power to the city for quite a long time along
with forcing a number of broadcast stations off the air. In some cases,
it took down some towers as the following clearly shows. If you are a
broadcast engineer and venture out to the transmitter site to find out
why things are not working properly, this is something that you don’t
want to see! In this case the storm removed all but about 150 ft. of the
One of the reasons why broadcast stations are so important in times like
this is because of the damage done to the Cellular Telephone systems.
Here is a map from August 31 that shows the impact.
Most cell sites (towers) have generators with a relatively small amount
of fuel. Then there is the fact that cellphones need to be periodically
charged, after which the become useless. With power outages
running many days, broadcasters, especially radio, is the lifeline to
information. One more time, WWL-AM came to the rescue as it did during
Michael Patton operates a broadcast engineering service in that area and
posted some insightful comments about IDA on a national remailer -
The only power to the NOLA area right after the storm was what
individuals, businesses, and government facilities were able to generate
on site. I'm told that today Entergy, the Deep South's main power
utility, got a couple of small power plants in or close to the city
online and are able to supply some power to critical infrastructure like
hospitals, etc. That is a major sore subject locally, but that's
another story. Entergy has crews here from as far away as Indiana
(I talked to them); they say they have 20,000 pairs of boots on the
ground. Still, I imagine there will be some serious grilling at
the Public Service Commission meetings when this is all over.
This storm came up thru the largely (relatively) uninhabited
swamps between NOLA and Baton Rouge. As bad as it is, if the path
of the eyewall had been 20 miles to either side, the damage would have
been truly catastrophic, dwarfing what we are dealing with now. We
got lucky. Damn lucky.
New Orleans is almost an island; in addition to being bisected
by the largest river in North America, a mile wide and as deep as 300
feet at places (and dredged to be 65+ feet deep in the channel all the
way to Baton Rouge, 60+ miles upriver), it is surrounded by water: Lake
Pontchartrain on the north, and swamps on all other sides. Well
over half of modern New Orleans sits on land reclaimed from the swamps
by levees and pumps, and only kept dry by that system. The pumps
have their own power generation and distribution system, old and creaky,
but running the pumps as I write this (and their engineers worked
non-stop to get the crucial but ancient Turbine #6, which had been
offline for ages, spinning with only hours to go Sunday - true
heroes). All the power used in this major city (about 50th in
population, the size of Nashville, Memphis, and Louisville, for
comparison) is generated elsewhere and brought in via EHV lines that run
from power plants across the lake (30+ miles) or across the river from a
nuclear plant that's 20 miles upriver from downtown, plus other smaller
coal- and NG-fired plants. Most of you have heard by now of the
failure of the EHV tower crossing the river; that is a serious stain on
Entergy's stewardship of their system.
WWL has a very impressive array of backups. First, at
their main site, a mile on the west side of the levee about 10 miles SW
of downtown, they have a 50 KW main and a 10 kW backup TX. That
site has not one but two generators, and a fuel tank large enough to run
the plant at full power for a month. At that site, in addition to
the DA array, consisting of twin 500 ft towers with huge anchors
(rebuilt/replaced after Katrina's winds literally dragged the old ones
out of position by several feet(!), either of which can be switched to
run Non-D, they have a longwire that can handle 10 kW. Then they
have an EMP-hardened 10 kW backup site, just completed, that is diplexed
in with their sister station WWWL (no, that's not a typo), located just
across the river from downtown. This site has its own backup generator
and large fuel tank, as it's designed to outlast the end of the world
(as we know it) for at least a month, so we all have plenty of time to
kiss our xxxx goodbye. Unlike most if not all of the other
EMP-hardened backup facilities FEMA has been sprinkling around the
landscape (with some help from us and others), WWL cut a deal to be able
to use this site if they need it. At the other FEMA backup
facilities, the local station has no access to the hardened backup for
commercial purposes, only after the apocalypse.
WWL-TV, not co-owned, is another impressive transmitter
facility. Located on the West Bank a few miles upriver from downtown, it
is almost a fortress, complete with backup generators, studios, and
even living quarters for the staff. The whole thing is elevated,
and it can sustain its crew and broadcast facility with zero outside
infrastructure for a month, as long as the air remains fit to breathe.
"We finally taught her, that it takes a lot of water, to wash away New Orleans"
The FCC operates a Disaster Reporting System where Broadcasters
and Wireless Carriers can report on their status after major storms like
Ida. They are now considering making use of the system mandatory as the
following from Bloomberg explains -
As Hurricane Ida in the east, wildfires out west and severe winter
weather in Texas have demonstrated, there is no shortage of natural
disasters that challenge the nation’s communications system. The Federal
Communications Commission is poised this month to open a rulemaking
that would look at ways to improve the reliability and resiliency of
communications networks during emergencies.
While the focus is primarily on the wireless networks and the
9-1-1 infrastructure, the FCC is also examining is its Disaster
Information Reporting System (DIRS). The voluntary system is often
activated during a natural disaster to give the FCC and other emergency
response teams a status report on where things stand. But the FCC thinks
improvements could be made. That includes looking for steps that could
be taken to encourage broader voluntary participation during disasters.
In a draft of the proposed rulemaking (PS Docket Nos. 21-346),
the FCC says one of the ideas that it is looking at is making filing
DIRS reports mandatory. It is a change that it acknowledges would be
significant. “We recognize that a proposed requirement to file in DIRS
must be balanced against additional burdens on service providers,
particularly as DIRS reports are filed in the midst of disasters and
other emergencies,” it says. The FCC says it would need to explore
whether it has the legal authority to require DIRS filing, what the
benefits of doing so would be, and what penalties it could use to
enforce any failure to do so.
The proceeding also looks at whether local radio and television
stations have a larger role to play in helping communities prepare for
natural disasters, such as through the airing of public service
announcements. That includes potential requirements that wireless
carriers make better use of local media to help consumers prepare ahead
of a disaster, and to keep their customers updated after an incident
knocks service offline.
“With wildfires still raging in the American West and Hurricane
Ida’s historic devastation from New Orleans to New York, the need for
resilient communications infrastructure has never been more apparent,”
said Acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel. “Today, the rain has stopped,
the winds have subsided, and the storm surge has receded. But Mother
Nature’s wrath is sure to visit us again. That is why we are
fundamentally refreshing our playbook for disaster preparedness and
resiliency,” she wrote in a blog post.
Filing reports with DIRS has not been a top priority for radio
along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Ida. The FCC’s daily
reports have only included updates from fewer than 50 stations about
whether they were on the air or not.
Interesting story about Delilah, who is heard here locally on
94.1, purchasing radio station KDUN on the Oregon Coast where she got
her start. The station is an AM operating on 1030.
According to published stories, the physical plant was upgraded in the
process. Just good to hear of someone having interest in investing in AM
radio these days.
While I’m writing about AMs….I was driving through Everett on Sept. 10th
and noted that 1230 was not on the air. Anyone know what’s
happening there? This station has long been broadcasting Korean
programming. I believe they simulcast on 1450 in Puyallup.
ZoneCasting is hoping to get the FCC to approve their Single-Frequency
Network system, whereby FM Boosters could broadcast certain items on
their own. Geo-Broadcast Solutions have been around a while. Bustos
Media has been using their system with a number of boosters in the
Seattle area on 99.3 for their KDDS. Not everyone is in favor of the
proposal, including NAB and several state broadcaster associations. Many
eyes are watching this one.
Once again, the Hackers are at work, this time with a cyber attack
from Russia against Marketron, who operates systems used by many
One of the more difficult things for a broadcast engineer to explain is
the Coverage Map. The FCC allows you to use certain signal levels in
creating these maps, depending on whether the station is AM, FM or TV.
The problem is that many look at these lines (called contours) and, from
them, develop expectations as to how any given receiver will perform.
For example –
- Why can’t I receive the station where the map shows there is signal?
- Why can I receive the station outside of the area shown?
- How far away can you receive the station?
Over the years I’ve had to explain that
there are a number of variables in play here. Not sure that it helps,
but the FCC has come out with something that addresses this issue.
They simply state, ‘RF propagation maps don't stop at the contour line, and the contour line doesn't guarantee reception’
A bit dated…I found this email from Jack Ondracek back on August 10th
while clearing out my Junk Mail folder. None the less – Interesting to
those that maintain transmitting equipment and what can happen should
someone decide that they wanted to steal some copper.
2 nights ago, an attempt was made to pull the coax, sample lines
and control cables out of the entry ports at KDYK, Union Gap. The
effort resulted in pulling over the transmitter, control rack and
phasor. They were found, leaning against the wall at a 45 degree angle.
The transmitter was found in this position, still running.
It was probably a good thing the equipment was that close to
the wall. If it had gone completely over, I expect the damage would have
been much more severe.
Other than the wiring, the worst of it appears to be to the
phasor control panel. As the cables were being yanked out, they tried to
extract the panel backwards through the rack. We had new panels stamped
by Kintronic, and it looks like that will be the extent of repairs to
The perpetrators tied a tow strap to the cables and pulled them
out of the building with a Suburban, destroying the entry ports, some
concrete blocks and damaging the door frame.
They pulled 100 feet of the cables out, going toward the towers
before being stopped by a satellite dish pole. Were it not for the
pole, the next obstacle in their way would have been the guy wires,
supporting 2 of the 3 towers.
We're now replacing everything...RF, sample, power and control lines. This time, everything will be buried!
The following signs come to mind –
Appears the 97.7, KOMO-FM-1, booster in Tukwila for KOMO-FM is no-more
with it’s license and call letters deleted. I assume this is part of the
change in ownership of KOMO Radio to Lotus. That deal closed the last
week of the month. Time will tell what the new ownership
will mean for these legacy stations.
Here's a factoid for yah – The Earth Isn't Exactly Round. It’s actually
shaped like an Oblate Spheroid (test your kids with that one).
The Country Music Association, CMA, has announced their awards finalists. A Seattle station made the cut -
Radio Station of the Year Finalists included in the category Major Market:
• KNIX Phoenix (iHeartMedia)
• KNUC Seattle (Hubbard)
• KYGO Denver (Bonneville)
• WNSH New York (Audacy)
• WXTU Philadelphia (Beasley Media Group)
• WYCD Detroit (Audacy)
While browsing around recently I ran across this item -
Starting with the Call letters that are now gone-
Above the line – KQIN, KASY, KAYO, KING, KZAM, KTNT, KBLE and KZOK.
Below the line – KXA, KTAC, KYAC, KMPS, KMO, KDFL, KBRO, KGAA and KUPY. Anyone have a guess when this was accurate?
Then there is this listing from a local newspaper for KRSC (now KING) from 1948.
When was the last time you could find TV program listings in the
newspaper? When was the last time you could find a listing for a Test
Pattern? When was the last time KING-TV signed off, much less at 1030
p.m.? Note how there were no programs on Monday and Tuesday!
The FCC was not happy with a little LPFM station (WAWL-LP) in Grand
Rapids Michigan that was running underwriting announcements that sound a
bit too much like full blown commercials. The Commish asked them to
contribute some $17,500 for that one. So how did the FCC learn of this?
They were tipped off by a commercial broadcaster in the market.
I recently received an email from WDFW Public Affairs. At first, I
thought it was a broadcast station. Reading on I discovered it was the
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. I did check and could not
find WDFW listed as an AM, FM or TV Station. This is in the same
category as KCLS which is the King County Library System.
Yes I do get mail. Here’s one -
I can't remember if I sent this to you previously. I thought
you and your waveguide readers would enjoy this attached pic of one very
dedicated tech I met in Las Vegas.
This month I’m going to do something a bit different – a quiz…
This item was found by a friend. Can you tell me what it is?
While over at KWSU in Pullman recently I got this one of Jim Boothby in
front of a legacy RCA transmitter that was once on the air there. Yes,
those are vacuum tubes inside!!
And in time for Football season -
If you are un-vaccinated...you know what you should do.
Hope to catch you here next month.
Clay, K7CR, CPBE
A SBE Fellow
SBE Member # 714
Since March 1968