The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

News Items Archive - 2010 - 2009

2010

December:

  • 12/30/10 - After 37 years with the FCC, District Director Bill Zears retired from the San Diego Field Office on this date. According to information from June Gonzales, Bill has no immediate plans aside from relaxing a bit.

    Jim Lyons is now the acting District Director in San Diego.

  • 12/24/10 - Confused about the FCC's theory of "Network Neutrality?" You are not alone. This contentious Rule has the Communications Bar scrambling to understand it and what effect it will have on broadcasters.

    Here are some highlights that might clarify things. Perhaps if can be summed up this way:

        1. Transparency - ISPs are to publicly disclose what they are doing in terms of management practices and performance of their services.
        2. No blocking - wired ISPs shall not block lawful content. Wireless providers shall not block lawful content subject to reasonable network management.
        
    3. No unreasonable discrimination - wired ISPs cannot engage in "unreasonable" discrimination of lawful traffic, subject to reasonable network management. Wireles providers would not be required to prevent discrimination.
        4. Paid prioritization - this is not forbidden, but discouraged.

    It is important to understand that the Rules will apply to the so-called "last mile" provider and not to the backbone and peering carriers. Another specific exemption is for airlines, coffee shops, and bookstores. And foreign sources are not included.

    BDR Comments: While the hue and cry have started, this is a long way from having real substance. There are a lot of claims and statements using terms like "may" and "might" which invite legal challenges. Entire legal careers have been built on defining "reasonable." Since even the basic FCC authority over the Internet itself is unclear, we can expect this to drag for quite a while.

  • 12/23/10 - Perhaps a key item for your attention over the next two weeks is that the 2010-Q4 Issues & Programs report needs to be in the Public File by January 10th. 

    BDR Comments: This is especially important now, as we are soon heading into the renewal cycle for radio stations. For those of you at clusters, remember the Issues & Programs will be different for each station - especially if the City of License varies among the stations. As some report, failure to do this can result in some nasty fines; the Issues & Programs folder is a place most inspectors check first, as it is pretty easy to determine a Violation. Take the time to do it right.

    In other words, do not just copy one Issues & Programs page and stick it in every folder.

  • 12/21/10 - Intelsat, the owner of the rogue Galaxy 15 satellite which has been drifting in orbit since a solar storm in April with transmitters stuck "on" now reports the satellite lost earth lock and the C and L band transponders have shut down (some telemetry beacons still are running). Intelsat now believes it has regained control, possibly even to the point of eventual recovery of the satellite.

    Galaxy 15 was expected to cross Galaxy 16's position between Dec 24 and Dec 28, so this news should reduce any remaining worries for broadcasters. Current position here. Zoom in to see the "wobble."

  • 12/20/10 - The lame duck Congress passed the Community Low Power Radio Act over the weekend. The Senate passed it unanimously with NAB support after provision to protect existing full power FM stations was inserted.

    BDR Comments: Mostly this loosens the Third-Adjacent protections, but is unlikely to result in any major number of stations in large markets. Still, while making it easier for smaller market stations to start, it will take relaxing the non-comm status of LPFMs and preventing the religious application mills from preventing the desired local participation to truly grow local radio.

  • 12/20/10 - AT&T has purchased the spectrum used for FLO-TV from Qualcomm. The price: $1.93 billion - which should leave a nice profit to Qualcomm, even after the expenses and losses in operations. Qualcomm bought the bandwidth for about $700 million.

    AT&T is expected to use the frequencies as a part of its 4G plans. Widely criticized for poor service, especially in major cities, AT&T clearly hopes this will give it a quick, solid gain in service.

  • 12/16/10 - Radio Broadcast Communications, Inc (William Parris III) is buying WAMD, Aberdeen (Baltimore), for $1.  Sold for $3 million just three years ago, it had been LMA'd to RBC for $3500 a month.

    BDR Comments: A bargain? A steal? $1 to buy any station in the #22 market (and just down the road from the #9 market) might be the buy of the year, depending upon your viewpoint. Salem at least may have gotten its money's worth by lowering WAMD's power so their NYC area station WNYM could go from 5 to 50 kW.  

  • 12/16/10 - President Obama signed the CALM Act (Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation) on Wednesday, just two weeks after (12/3) Congress passed the Act. It mandates that within a year, broadcasters ensure that advertising audio levels will match program levels and not blast viewers' ears.

  • 12/15/10 - Copper thieves stripped a christmas tree in Birmingham, AL, and ended up burning the tree down

    BDR Comments: With copper still at an all-time high, what are you doing to protect you ground system? 

  • 12/14/10 - LPFM advocates gathered in front of the NAB headquarters in Washington, DC on Monday to protest the NAB's opposition to increasing LPFM's reach.

    Organized by the Prometheus Project - a grass roots group seeking to promote LPFM, the demonstration seeks support for an LPFM Bill now before the Senate. Their goal is to get passage of the Bill which could authorize "hundreds of new stations, bringing LPFM to urban areas for the first time.

    BDR Comments: According to Prometheus of the 42 radio stations in the New Orleans area, only four of them survived Katrina and stayed on the air during and after the hurricane - including two LPFM stations. It is clear that LPFM did provide some service. Whether they deserve more latitude of operation is the question. 

  • 12/12/10 - KBIS (1490 AM) and KDBD-FM (96.7) in Forks, WA were heavily damaged by a rare lightning storm on Wednesday, December 9th. At the weekend, station officials and engineers were still assessing the damage.

    Jim Dalke of SBE Chapter 16 noted "The stations are the only commercial radio stations covering the remote Northwest region of Washington State. It is not known how soon the station operations can be restored."

    Dalke further reports "It is not known how soon the station operations can be restored. The lightning not only destroyed the stations tower lighting, FM isolation equipment and ATU, but all of the stations program automation, telephone equipment and computer networking.  Condition of the stations transmitters are unknown, but may be damaged as well. ... The lightning storm also caused a fire that destroyed a nearby home and caused an electrical outage that affected more than 3,000 customers in the Forks area."
    A brief local newspaper article is here.

  • 12/9/10 - In Nevada, workers on a water line severed a fiber optic cable killing reverse 911, Internet, and cellular services in the Reno/Carson City areas on Wednesday. "The 911 was down completely," said a Sheriff's Deputy. A local news story with some more details is located here.

    Finally, some news crews made it to the site of the problem and were able to report about the cause and the ongoing repair efforts.

    BDR Comments: Some will remember that a reverse 911 service was killed recently for over two hours at the height of a major fire in Boulder, CO, proving again that, no matter how much some bureaucrat crows about his new "reverse 911" service, it is broadcast that serves to inform the public in these situations. 

  • 12/4/10 - The FCC has announced another FM Auction. #91, scheduled for April 27, 2011. Applications to participate will run from January 31 to February 10th. An FM minor change freeze will commence at the same time.

  • 12/3/10 - A couple of interesting proposed forfeitures this week:

    1. A $10,000 forfeiture has been proposed for a Pennsylvania station cited for not having a "meaningful management and staff presence." The station was visited and advised of the Main Studio Rule Violation, but did nothing at all. A subsequent visit three weeks later found exactly the same conditions. A "Director and Officer" of the station was contacted - and told the agent "she was not aware of the main studio requirement... "

    The FCC Notice of Apparent Liability is located here.

    BDR Comments: It is never a good idea to fail to immediately respond to direction from the Field Agent. And claiming "we didn't know" just does not cut it at all. In this case, it resulted in almost a 50% upward adjustment in the fine.   

    2. A $6,000 forfeiture has been proposed for an Oregon station that did not lower power at sunset from 1000 Watts to 15 Watts as required. The station owner told this agent that he knew he was required to reduce power under Section 73.1745(a), but "it was too expensive" to do it.

    BDR Comments: Seems like a textbook case of "willful and repeated." Again the 50% upward adjustment probably is cheap compared to what may happen if the station does not correct matters immediately.

  • 12/2/10 - While giving information about the open access initiative he plans to introduce for a vote by Commissioners on December 21st, the FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, has reportedly expressed his support for a metered, pay-as-you-go pricing plan for Internet usage. The proposal met with sharp division among the Commissioners.

    Details of Genachowski's proposal are still not fully known, nor are the exactly boundaries of the main proposal, dealing with "Net Neutrality." While there is a desire to ensure free access to the Internet, Genachowski's proposal appears to be leaning toward giving ISPs come control over bandwidth usage from both sender and receiver.

  • 12/1/10 - A new report from industry advisors BIA/Kelsey show quite a few AM stations using FM translators. In a report on revenue forecasts for radio, BIA/Kelsey notes that 400 of the 6000 translators are now relaying AM stations; another significant use is for HD stations to feed analog translators with a multicast channel.
    Some markets now have as many as five AMs on FM translators according to BIA/Kelsey.

    BDR Comments: AM stations have sought help to deal with coverage and sunset/sunrise issues for years. Especially in small towns and counties, the translators certainly could help stations survive.
  • 12/1/10 - Another FCC action - mostly involving TV - is underway. The 5-0 vote is going to try to do three things on the TV spectrum:
    • Auction some TV bandwidth
    • "repacking" TV, so two or more stations share one 6 MHz allocation
    • Permit more power on VHF
    BDR Comments: Overall, the agencies goal is to make more UHF space available for cell phones and wireless broadband. The FCC contends that less than 10% of Americans get their TV over the air, so they see TV as a waste of spectrum they could divert to cell and WiMax.

November:

  • 11/30/10 - Dr. Marshall Leach, Jr. passed away Saturday, November 20th, at the age of 70. Leach, an international authority who taught Electrical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Electronics, pioneered the design of high quality audio amplifiers and public address systems. Leach's recent course load included Op Amp Design,  Low Noise Electronic Design, and Microelectronic Circuits.

  • 11/29/10 - A 25-year-old man fell from KPFA's tower in Oakland, CA, and died on Thanksgiving day. Apparently, he had been climbing at about 4:30 AM and got about 2/3 of the way up the tower before falling. Story from the Berkeley Daily Planet

  • 11/29/10 - It appears the Performance Royalty issue is dead for the moment.

    BDR Comments: The link between the initial royalty payments and mandating FM chips in cellphones is another clue that it sure seems like the industry has lost focus on what is needed to put growth back into broadcasting. You can be sure this will come back in the new Congress next year.

  • 11/23/10 - As was hoped for by many, the FCC today adopted an order to extend the CAP-EAS clock to at least September 30, 2011. The full Order is located here.
    Now all we need is action on the Part 11 changes!

  • 11/22/10 - Amazingly, it has been almost two months into the "180-Clock" - already 1/3 of the six month "Clock"! - mandating the purchase of CAP enhanced EAS receivers and nothing has been heard from the FCC as yet in terms of signaling their intent on this matter.

    In order to press the issue of a need for delay, a group of independent EAS stakeholders, the Broadcast Warning Working Group (BWWG) has filed a petition stressing the need for an extension as well as to get still unaddressed CAP-EAS issues on the record. A summary is posted here.

    BDR Comments: It is amazing to see that two months after an FCC Commissioner said he sees the need for an extension that an Order said to be in front of the Commission for over two weeks has yet to be approved. Something needs to happen to address the anxiety on the part of broadcasters and manufacturers, who are being asked to build and buy gear when the requirements are still not known.

    Perhaps this is the week? Perhaps this is the day?

  • 11/18/10 - Our first set of winners in the Newsletter Subscription Giveaway have been announced. They are:
    Mike Bove` - Calhoun Communications wins a Scott Fybush 2011 Tower Site Calendar.

    Ken Fisher - Golden West Radio is our first new subscriber to get a $100 prize.

    SBE Chapter 18 - Philadelphia also won $100 prize for referring a subscriber.

  • 11/18/10 - Wheatstone commissioned a report, based on a survey of engineers and operations and technical management as to which business models will generate the most revenue for radio broadcasters. That the Internet and streaming are key technologies is not a surprise, nor is the lack of expertise in some parts of the industry.

    You will also find some of the other findings interesting as well, to say the least.
     
    The study "Revenue Generating Radio Technologies - A progress report" can be downloaded at http://wheatstone-radio.com/avalanche/aletheawheatstone-radio-study.html

  • 11/16/10 - The FCC is planning public hearings, including one that will be streamed on the web on December 6th, as part of what they call a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) of the Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) program.

    The purpose is to see what new Rules might be needed to abate what some have claimed is a large negative effect on migratory birds by radio towers. BDR Comments: While environmental lawyers love this stuff, few broadcasters have ever seen the mass killings that are alleged. Still it is important for broadcasters to know what is going on with these hearings. Otherwise, who knows what funny new Rules will pop up to protect the odd birdy?

  • 11/12/10 - Too busy to repair an EAS receiver? In one of the more bizarre NALs (Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture), the EB has tagged a station in Kansas for not having an operational EAS box for somewhere between four and ten years. 

    Yes, you read correctly. According to the response to the FCC, KANR disconnected the power cord to their EAS "sometime between the year 2000 and the year 2006 and had remained inoperable since then." The station had no idea when its last EAS test was conducted.

    The inattention to following the FCC Rules was also noted in their failure to renew the paint on the tower or make the daily observation of the tower lights, which were either dark or not flashing. (The station "offered" an observation was made sometime during the daytime!) And then there is the little matter of a Public File that was missing the required  Issues/Programs lists the past two years.

    BDR Comments: Many radio stations are under pressure in the current economic slowdown, but these long-standing violations posed real danger to the community. A tower that cannot be seen is a substantial danger to pilots. Lack of an EAS receiver puts the community in danger should a civic emergency occur.

    The "reduced" fine of $25,000 is a pretty large fine for an individual station. But the complete disregard for the community calls for a substantial response from the FCC. One might wonder why it took so long for an inspection to find these violations - but surely good engineering and business practices should have mandated fixing these issues long ago. Some might even suggest this owner should not be in the radio business. 

  • 11/8/10 - No, your ears are not deceiving you. Another series of spots are running EAS tones as attention getters - this time on TV and Cable (we've not heard of any on radio as yet). The ads for "Skyline" appear to have a series of tones that hint of a RMT in Pennsylvannia, but no EOM. 
     
    If that were not enough, reports show a Fox Sport Radio program apparently ran a couple of RWTs as a "bit" with an Athens, OH location code.  And, the EAS protocols were also lampooned on a TBS show.

    BDR Comments: This seems clearly to be another violation of Part 11.45, at least for broadcasters and Cable. And, it is getting worse. As we suggested previously, the FCC should issue a definitive statement about this.
     
    Reference: 11.45 - Prohibition of false or deceptive EAS transmissions. No person may transmit or cause to transmit the EAS codes or Attention Signal, or a recording or simulation thereof, in any circumstance other than in an actual National, State or Local Area emergency or authorized test of the EAS. Broadcast station licensees should also refer to 73.1217 of this chapter.

  • 11/8/10 - Some relief for broadcasters worried about the "180-day Clock" appears to be around the corner. An Order circulated to the FCC Commissioners last week would extend the compliance date to at least September 29, 2011 - with an additional extension if the Part 11 re-write proceeding complicates matters.  Stand by for more info as we get it.
     

  • 11/5/10 - REMINDER!  DST ENDS for most of the country this weekend. Set your clocks back and get back into step with Arizona!
     

  • 11/5/10 - Not a good day for broadcast engineers. Bill Weisinger passed away from cancer. Also Frank Roberts was critically injured list night after a chemical explosion at his home in Austin.

     Roberts, part of the Austin City Limits staff and a federally licensed explosive technician, was preparing pyro-technic special effects for a weekend WWII re-enactment when an explosion burned him severely and caused the amputation of his left hand and loss of two fingers and part of a thumb on the right hand.

  • 11/4/10 - November 6th is the 75th Anniversary of Major Armstrong's FM transmissions from Alpine, NJ. To commemorate it, the 42.8 MHz channel will be alive at Noon EDT with transmissions from an experimental station - WA2XMN - in honor of the original W2XMN.

    Although not the original Armstrong transmitter, a replica of a 1946 GE BT-11-B Phasitron transmitter, constructed for the station, will be on the air. Its technology is similar to that of Armstrong's.
    There was a 70th Anniversary broadcast which was received as far away as 100 miles. Listeners who are interested in getting a confirmation of their reception of the 75th Anniversary program will be able to do so at WA2XMN@ar88.net 

  • 11/3/10 - A little known (as yet) group called Engineers for the Integrity of the Broadcast Auxiliary Services Spectrum (EIBASS) continues to file on topics of interest to broadcast engineers.
     
    According to Co-Chair Dane Ericksen, a Public Notice item in the FCC Daily Digest for July 30, 2010 requested comments on assigning certain frequencies for Maritime Coastal stations - including the entire 161 MHz Band of RPU channels. By August 14, 2010, EIBASS had filed comments noting the potential conflicts with existing broadcast RPU channels. No other group made a filing on this issue, which could have crippled RPU operations in many coastal cities.

    On October 28, 2010, another Public Notice was issued, with the 161 MHz channels used by broadcasters no longer listed as available to Maritime. 

    BDR Comments: Kudos for the eleven volunteers who comprise EIBASS and look out for broadcasters interests.  

  • 11/2/10 - Today is NOT the 90th Anniversary of the start of broadcasting!

    While many textbooks and reference works do tend to follow the oft-told story of KDKA being the "First Broadcaster" or "The First Commercial Broadcaster" or "the beginning of commercial radio" or some such title, a lot of research indicates KDKA was certainly a pioneer, one of the first to be true "broadcasters" in the sense of reaching a vast audience with radiotelephone audio, they likely were not the first. 

    Naming KDKA as the first broadcaster is not as bad as the old Uncle Don myth or the David Sarnoff sitting at a lonely desk when the Titanic went down. However, it does ignore the contributions of Doc Herrold, who broadcast radiotelephone on a regular schedule at least from 1912 - or WWJ (as 8MK) which started in August 1920 - or XWA in Canada in 1919.

    It is true that KDKA was among the first to be granted a "Limited Commercial License." However, whether or not this was a clerical error, "Commercial" meant something rather different than it does today. In the late 19-teens it mean a station operated to sell its services to customers. Radiotelegraph would be a good example. Additionally, although AT&T's house-generated book tried to claim they were the first to run paid advertising on WEAF, this claim too is incorrect.

    Here is a discussion of "Who Was First?"
    Here is a discussion about the early radio commercial advertisements
    And, for those who would like to investigate some of the famous broadcasting hoaxes or myths ... here is a discussion of that.

October:

  • 10/23/10 - A man died and a woman severely burned while apparently trying to steal copper wire from an electical vault in South Gate (LA), California. The police reports an explosion - and they found a screaming woman who was burned when she tried to pull the man away.
     
    Fifteen feet away ... two small children - one is only 3 years old - sat in a pickup truck. Some video is here.
     
    BDR Comments: Copper prices are back near their all time highs. So not think the rash of copper thefts have stopped. Protect your ground systems and air conditioners!

  • FURTHER UPDATE: 10/23/10 - The Alcatel-Lucent Bell Systems Technical Journal site is back up.

    The Public Server was apparently overloaded by all the requests for BSJT files (possibly hundreds or thousands of requests to download the whole site at once). 
     
    10/18/10 -  Alcatel-Lucent have put the entire run of the Bell System Technical Journal on line at http://bstj.bell-labs.com/   The very first article from the first issue in 1922 has several articles that are still of interest.

  • 10/22/10 - The expected resignation of Randy Michaels, most recently CEO of Tribune Co, was accepted this afternoon by the Tribune Board of Directors.
     
    According in the NY Times, it was not an easy week for the embattled, bankrupt company. Initially, Michaels refused to resign until after Sam Zell urged the action, after a series of allegations that Michaels and his staff had created a work environment that offended many people, including pornography, sexual banter, huge bonuses to management while 4200 were laid off and many more went with no raises at all.

  • UPDATE: 10/21/10 - Parts are en route from the factory to repair the power divider at the Empire State Building and repairs should be completed over this coming weekend.

  • 10/19/10 -  The power divider on the master antenna at the Empire State Building failed on Sunday and Monday. Reports indicate stations moved to stand-by antennas, either on the ESB or over at Four Times Square. Eventually the Master FM feed was moved to the old Alford antenna while the power divider was disassembled and inspected.
     
    Some pictures were shared ... and parts are being acquired for repair. In the meantime, the main feed was apparently returned to the top half of the main antenna, for stations that did not transfer to other sites.

  • 10/21/10 -  Finally! Today, as expected - although it took a little bit longer than to happen than it was thought to take - the NAB, along with the SBE, AMST, NCTA, APTS, PBS, NPR, and NASBA, representing about 46 state broadcast associations, filed a petition with the FCC to extend the 180-day clock. There are some serious issues that should be addressed, and it is hoped that the NAB's petition will spark some dialog with the industry. Want to see all the comments since the Proceeding started in 2004 (yes, 2004!)?

    The general word is that there is bureaucratic desire to see this happen.

    As I have been saying: "Don't Panic!"

    It is quite possible that this will permit the manufacturers to take the time to make available the best possible options for broadcasters, and perhaps add some additional features to the system.

    BDR Comments: There has been a lot of anxiety kicked up by the "180-Day Clock." Many folks, including some on the SBE's EAS Committee, have been waving the flag on this issue for months/years. Let's hope the FCC makes a very rapid statement on this, so the manufacturers and stations can put together an orderly and well-designed plan to implement the CAP protocols that have been six years or so in the making. (And let's hope the NAB stays on top of things, making it a priority.)

    The BDR EAS Q&A will be updated with this, and other information as it comes. You are welcome to check it out at: www.theBDR.net/articles/fcc/eas/eas.html 

  • UPDATE: 10/12/10 - KZSF returned to the air today iwith a vintage SX1-A.  KSJX is about to return using a Collins 820D-2. Both stations will operate as 1 kW STA until more complete reconstruction can occur.
     
    10/9/10 - KZSF (1370) and KSJX (1500) in San Jose, CA, lost their transmitter building and 5 kW transmitters to a fire caused by a traffic accident on Highway 101. The car fires lit off the grass, which then hit trees, and finally the transmitter building burned down
     
    The KSJX studio was also burned, but the four towers on site are said to be OK. KSJX is owned by Multicultural Broadcasting, KZSF by Carlos Duharte's "La Kaliente." The fire also threatened a Kelloggs' factory where Eggo's are made. Here's a link to a map of the site. This link leads to a report on the local ABC affiliate.
     
    BDR Comments: Sometimes it is not possible, due to neighbors - or governmental agencies - but keeping an area around the transmitter building (studio, too!) clear of combustibles is worth a thought.

  • 10/8/10 - Reports have emerged that Apple is getting ready to release an iPhone for the Verizon cell network. It is supposed to happen in early 2011.

  • 10/7/10 - CSRIC releases its report to the FCC on EAS, IPAWS, etc.
     
    BDR Comments: Among the 33 recommendations: Extend the clock to at least a year.
    More detailed info and the Q&A is here.

  • 10/1/10 - Trying to offer some clarity: Yes, the "180-day clock" is running on the EAS CAP upgrades. However, there is a growing wave of broadcasters who realize this is not going to work. Even some folks at the FCC PSHSB are worried about this. Expect more than a few filings between now and the October 7th report from CSRIC on Part 11 national EAS recommendations and CAP implementation. Best advice: don't panic.  More to come!  More detailed info and Q&A here.

September:

  • 9/30/10 - FEMA made it official today - they adopted CAP 1.2 ... the announcement is located here. This, however does not start the "clock."  According to FEMA, that is in the FCC's court now.
     
    FEMA's goal is to "reach as many people as possible over as many communications devices as possible, such as radio, television, mobile phones, personal computers and other communications devices."

    Meanwhile, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell told the NAB Show that it would be reasonable to extend the 180-day clock. According to reports, McDowell said "he would support extending the 180 days but can’t guarantee it. He stated that it’s up to the FCC chairman’s office. A manufacturer asked if he should start producing equipment.  He was told to ask the chairman’s office for clarification on when the 180 days actually starts, and everyone was told to direct their concerns to FCC."
     
    BDR Comments: Some sanity from the FCC? Who'd a thunk? Let's hope that McDowell's comments prove true.
     
    From what can be learned, there are some good people at FEMA working hard to provide a foundation for better information distribution. Of course, the major disconnect is not at FEMA this time - it is the lack of local and state coordination in many areas, along with official reluctance to provide information to EAS participants. Coupled with the lack of enthusiasm for EAS by broadcast programmers and managers, the system is still far from achieving its potential - and not much is being done to solve the key problems.

  • 9/28/10 - Hot on the heels of the NAB report that people want FM radio in their mobile devices, the Consumer Electronics Association has a survey that shows quite the opposite view: the CEA study FM Tuners for Cell Phones – Measuring Consumer Interest says over 2/3 have no interest in FM in their cellphones and over 3/4 do not support a government mandate to force the inclusion of FM tuners.
     
    The NAB's study, by Harris Interactive, is here
      
    BDR Comments: We all know studies can be shaped by the questions. So, it is quite possible each of these surveys "led" the respondents just a bit. Maybe? And, while there might be some benefit to having FM tuners in cellphones, do we really need another government mandate?  And how does this help AM stations - aside from annoying people trying to listen to FM despite reception issues?

  • 9/24/10 -  An interesting conversation with FEMA folks confirms that they are awaiting on the Press Release to announce they are officially adopting the CAP V 1.2 and the EAS to CAP and EAS to IPAWS protocols. FEMA intends to be finished before the end of September, tossing the ball to the FCC. 
     
    BDR Comments: It was interesting to learn that there will be no mention of the "180-day clock" in the Press Release, as FEMA does not start nor control that. They are aware that there has been a large outpouring of protest to the FCC seeking to delay the start of the clock. As previously mentioned, manufacturers and stations are unhappy if they are forced to to design, develop, manufacture, budget, purchase, and install everything in six months. Do expect there will be a lot more pressure at the FCC to find a remedy to this mess.
     
    On another front, FEMA is now planning another Alaska-only EAN test for the EAS system, likely January 26, 2011, with the National Test pushed back to Q4 ... or perhaps later.
     
    BDR Comments: Will there ever be any sort of report or summary of the last Alaska test? This is not certain, but FEMA has heard the call for some information, and seems interested in finding a way to let everyone know what was good and what went wrong bad in that test. The delay in doing a second test in Alaska is puzzling, but sometimes things move slowly in DC.

  • 9/24/10 - Radio One is notified by the SEC that they again risk delisting on the NASDAQ board because the stock closed under $1.00 for 30 consecutive days again.

  • 9/23/10 - As expected, the FCC voted to allow more and higher powered unlicensed transmitters in the "White Space" in the television band. The FCC goal is to promote more Internet penetration across the country.
     
    The Rules now specify that new devices must contain geo-location and the ability to cross-reference the database of licensed stations in order to prevent interference. A requirement for "sensing" existing transmitters was made voluntary.
      
    Additionally, the FCC set aside specific channels in each market for wireless microphones. Some more info is here.
     
    The NAB says it is looking at the proposed Rules to ensure no interference will be caused to TV stations. As the technical specifications are released, we may know how much protection there is. 

  • 9/20/10 -  The FCC announced this week that LPTVs, translators and Class A stations, will be expected to transition to Digital by a hard deadline in 2012.
     
    BDR Comments: That should bring an end to the so-called "Franken FMs" .. LPTV stations that are essentially nothing but an analog FM signal at 87.9 MHz. It was a loophole that has needed closing for a long time.

  • 9/16/10 -  Microsoft has released the Internet Explorer 9 beta for download. You can see  information about it if you click here.
     
    However, before you go, note that it appears IE9 does not support Windows XP.

  • 9/15/10 -  A combined FCC License database is now on line and searchable at http://fcc.gov/licenseview
     
    Labeled "beta" in the consolidation of data, the FCC says License View combines the CDBS, IBFS, ELS, ULS, and COALS on one site. Entering a facility number, Call Sign, or corporate name should bring up all associated licenses.
     
    BDR Comments: Our initial reaction is that this could become a useful tool, but there are, perhaps as expected, a number of errors and License View does not yet return all station data (power, location, etc), and the search is rather coarse, but it could be the start of a useful tool. According to some of those who have worked on it, more is coming. 

  • 9/13/10 -  Copper thefts continue to bedevil stations around the country. This time it was KKXX in Paradise/Chico, CA.
     
    Reports indicate 22,000 feet of #10 copper wire was taken. Sheriff's deputies estimate the loss at $4400-6600.
     
    Of course, as broadcasters know, replacing a ground system can cost $100,000 or more. This is yet another call to stations to step their security on transmitter sites, especially those remote DAs out in the countryside!

  • 9/10/10 - If you have the ARCO/BP spot that contain the fake EAS tones, you may wish to know that the agency handling the spot has responded to at least one station's request (in Seattle) to approved running alternative ARCO/BP spots. (Update: By the end of the week, the spots had been pulled officially.)

  • 9/9/10 - FEMA has delayed the National EAS Test to the end of 2011. At NAB, the initial FEMA announced plan was to do the National Test early in 2011.
     
    A FEMA representative said this week that they felt there was still a lot to do before trying to schedule a National Test based on the lessons learned in Alaska early this year.
     
    Oddly, FEMA still intends to push the "button" to start the "180-day Clock" by officially adopting the CAP standards later this month. They are not doing anyone a service by starting the clock when they are already so far behind on organizing the first National EAS Test. It seems like there should be some more light on what exactly is going on at FEMA.

  • 9/8/10 - Reports came in from all over about a commercial spot for ARCO/BP that was running in multiple markets. The spot includes the words "This is a test" and a partial set of EAS tones.  An mp3 of the spot is here.
     
    There are two concerns here. First, some EAS receivers are "opening up" with the tones, which appear to be the EOM from a station in the Tampa, FL area. Most of the reports indicate TFT receivers are being affected. (The tones are somewhat frequency shifted, so not all EAS receivers will decode them.)
     
    Secondly, there is an FCC Rule against broadcasting false EAS signals.
    (Section 11.45 Prohibition of false or deceptive EAS transmissions.
    No person may transmit or cause to transmit the EAS codes or Attention Signal, or a recording or simulation thereof, in any circumstance other than in an actual National, State or Local Area emergency or authorized test of the EAS. Broadcast station licensees should also refer to Section 73.1217 of this chapter.
    )
     
    BDR Comments: While one might have thought the NAB or the FCC would have already called BP and requested the spots be altered or stopped, we might wonder if the FCC response will be more along the lines of having the EB issue fines against stations. If we hear about any FCC action or notice, it will be posted here. In the meantime, station management should at least be alerted (pun possibly intended) to the potential for fines.

  • 9/8/10 - This has not been a good year for broadcasters in terms of fire damage. The latest is in Burton (Flint), MI, where WCRL and WCRZ and four other stations were knocked off the air early this morning due to a fire at the studio site.
     
    The stations, which had been operating on generator power for about 36 hours due to local storm damage, reported the generator had failed just before the fire was noticed.
     
    BDR Comments: Sadly, just because the generator is on does not mean all is well. A later report suggested that the fire may have started when a gas leak was ignited by the generator. It is a good thing there was a live person on site - otherwise it could have been a complete loss. 

  • 9/2/10 - Long time Ohio engineer Bill Weisinger is in the Maplewood Care Center in Streetsboro, OH battling cancer. A well-known engineer, Bill went to the doctor in June and never made it back home. If you know Bill - or just want to send greetings to him during this difficult time - you can go to www.getwellbill.com and leave your message for him; he reads them regularly.

  • 9/1/10 - A New Jersey personal injury law firm has begun seeking leads from people who have "been forced to purchase technology that does not work as claimed."
     
    According to the firm's website, the automakers are aware of the problem but most, like BMW, have done little more than sent out Service Bulletins noting the problem, but saying "there was no retrofit or procedure available" to correct matters.

    The lawyers say they are investigating such complaints as:
    • Radio receiver bumping station from HD to analog mode;
    • Echo sound heard when the radio switches between HD and analog modes;
    • Crackling or static sound when HD mode is inactive;
    • Insufficient numbers of HD Radio stations;
    • Loss of signal while driving in valleys or between high buildings;
    • Signal disruption for environmental conditions; and
    • Adjacent channel interference.

  • 9/1/10 - The NAB has joined in an effort to seek government action to mandate FM chips in all cell phones.
      
    Of course, a part of this effort is in the hope is it will promote more listening for FM, But there does seem to be some value in having another source for emergency information, given that the cell phone companies have, but do not use, a text warning capability.
     
    There is more to say on this issue. Please check out my editorial.

August:

  • 8/28/10 - KCBQ and staff were honored with a monument and plaque at the former transmitter site in Santee, California. In addition to many who worked at KCBQ over the years, the mayor of Santee appeared to show his and the city's support, as well.
     
    The San Diego market station, which had pulled as much as a 60 share in the "Golden Days" of rock and roll between 1958 and 1978, has long since been sold, changed formats, and moved to another location (the old site now hosts a shopping center, the five-foot-plus monument is located alongside the road by the Kohl's and Lowe's stores).
     
    The  ceremony, orchestrated at 11:70 AM (12:10 PM), was a flashback to one of the station's efforts to brand the 1170 dial position into the minds of listeners. The monument contains a picture of the station in its glory days, as well as a listing of the staffers over the years.
     
    BDR Comments: Although the Internet contains "tribute sites" for many radio stations that no longer are around it is unusual for cities and politicians to permit the installation of a monument like this one. Yet, for many who worked there or listened to the station, the sounds are still fresh in their heads.

    The 300-400 people who showed up to see the monument unveiled on the site of the former monster station's facility demonstrated the strong and long-lasting bond that is created with listeners by a radio station that reaches into the community to touch people's lives.
     
     
    (PS... yes, we know we spelled it wrong on the Newsletter. Please repeat this one after me: K - C - B - Q!)

  • 8/25/10 -The FCC has released news of a couple of fines this week that, if nothing else, offer a few things for stations and engineers to put on their list to "check" for compliance.
     
    For example, a station in Santa Monica, CA was cited for not monitoring the proper stations for EAS purposes. KCRU had apparently changed from the assigned stations, but never checked with the state and local coordinating committees. In another case, a contest was ruled bad because the station, WWEG(FM) had picked a winner before the stated end of the contest - and sure enough, a listener showed up and after not being allowed to enter the contest, filed a compaint with the FCC. The upshot: a $4000 fine. Finally, WWWK pulled an $8500 fine for not having the Main Studio manned during business hours and EAS gear that did not work.
     
    BDR Comments: By the way, did you know the radio license renewal cycle starts again next year. Time now to double and triple check station records, the Public File, etc., so there are no "surprises" as you go through the renewal process (VA, WV, MD and DC get first try in June!). The FCC reports Public File issues continue to be the biggest problems, especially the quarterly Issues and Programs listing.

  • 8/19/10 - Jerry Campbell was apparently electrocuted while working on a transmitter in Greenville, MS. According to reports, Campbell, 73, of Oxford, MS died around noon while working at repairing the WDMS transmitter that had failed earlier in the morning.
     
    BDR Comments: It was reported that Campbell was not alone nor tired. According to a report from another engineer, he had taken a break to think about the problem and apparently got "out of sync" with the transmitter's energized condition. Returning to the problem, he apparently reached to a component that was "hot" and suffered the fatal shock.
     
    Lesson: Even when you have someone on hand, think twice about whether or not there is high voltage BEFORE you extend your hand (the other one is in your pocket, right?)

  • 8/16/10 - KRKO is in the midst of recovering from vandalism.  They have restored their "missing" two towers (picture), knocked down in the middle of the night. (The Story here)     
       
    BDR Comments: This has been a long, exhausting fight for the station. As with the "birds issue" certain groups have used the courts to make things very difficult for what is essentially a small business. Given the vandalism problems in recent years, stations like KRKO and WCSZ have a real hard time. Fortunately, KRKO was able to stay on the air throughout, but WCSZ was not. Nevertheless, with or without insurance, these are costly affairs.

  • 8/12/10 - On this date in 1960, 50 years ago, Echo 1 was launched. The first two-way, live communications satellite made its way up to 1000 miles above the Earth and the opened the era of truly global communication.
     
    The 100 foot giant metallic balloon - or "satelloon" - was the means for the first voice communication by satellite, as well as the first coast-to-coast phone call by satellite.

  • 8/12/10 - George Marti was honored by the Texas Association of Broadcasters with their Lifetime Achievement Award.
     
    BDR Comments: Although perhaps not the first to explore the technology, George Marti made it accessible to virtually any station, turning the Remote Pickup Transmitter (RPU) into such a common item that most people simply call them "Martis" ... as in "Take one of the Martis out to the big remote at 2PM."  Marti also practiced "giving back" to the community.

  • 8/9/10 - The BDR celebrates its First Anniversary!  ...

  • 8/6/10 - Orban processors will continue to be manufactured by the company now based in Arizona. CRL, Inc was put up for sale earlier this year, but now a financial agreement with Bob Orban has apparently kept the majority owners, the Brentlinger family, in place.
     
    The company has suffered along with many during the current economic slowdown and the woes of the large consolidators. It was about ten years ago that it combined Ron Jones' Circuit Research Labs and Bob Orban's eponymous company, acquiring the latter from Harmon International. Since then it acquired Autogram, a console manufacturer. The company hopes this new arrangement will strengthen the the company and allow it to continue selling it popular processors to the radio and television industries, both in the U.S. and abroad.

  • 8/5/10 - WWVA,made it back up by 10:30PM with 5 kW into a 50-foot tower stub of the East tower and some wire strung between the East and Central towers. (For those who desire to know such things, this led to an input Z of 5 -j25 Ohms.)
     
    A video "tour" of the downed towers is here. More pictures of the destruction are here.  Sadly, they were on the last two days of a complete repainting - talk about timing...

  • 8/4/10 - WWVA, Wheeling, WV was knocked off the air when all three of its towers were all knocked down in a storm, leaving nothing available to use as an emergency tower for a non-directional signal.
     
    Engineers for the 50 kW Clear Channel station were hoping to get at least a temporary signal back on the air by tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon. Complicating matters: initial site access was blocked by trees that were blown down.

    A TV report can be found here.

July:

  • 7/27/10 - Univision Radio pays a $1 million fine and agrees to stop "pay for play" with piles of cash bribes being sent around to get certain records played.

    The FCC had charged that Univision Services and Univision Radio were involved in a "conspiracy" to commit mail fraud, the result of the payments for airplay. Univision Services pled guilty in Federal Court in CA, while Univision Radio admitted to the FCC that several of their PDs got money.
     
    It's funny how payola keeps popping back up in the industry, over and over. On the other hand, with more automation and fewer live personalities, some of the big companies apparently figure a few well-placed packets of money is an easy way to influence playlists. This may be one time the Enforcement Bureau got it right.

  • 7/26/10 - The Library of Congress, which oversees copyright laws, ruled that Apple cannot prevent iPhone users from "jailbreaking" their iPhones - in other words, adding software and applications that Apple has not provided nor approved.
      
    While only about 8% of iPhone users try to open up their iPhones to outside software, according to some estimates, there are a significant number of programmers unhappy with Apple's total control of what users can install. They hope to be able to make some serious money from dissatisfied Apple users. Apple, for its part, insists users who do not jailbreak get better, less trouble-free operation with their phones.
     
    This could be a significant crack in the Apple "closed system" of products and software. On the other hand, many people are quite willing to pay a premium to Apple's iStore to ensure they get quality software that works as advertised.

  • 7/21/10 - KNIM-AM/FM, Maryville, MO was knocked off the air this past weekend due to a storm. The storm snapped their 70-foot STL tower around 3AM.
     
    Using a backup tower just recently built, the FM was able to get back up, but the loss of the STL signal kept the AM silent until a link could be set up.

  • 7/21/10 - A reader brought to our attention a Bill slowly working its way through Congress that may be worth your attention, too.
     
    H.R. 2067 (and companion S. 1580) are called the "Protecting America's Workers Act"  Among other things, it is designed to expand OSHA to all government employees. The Act also provides protections for whistleblowers. But the part that the reader mention to us as most worrying was wording that assumes "that company managers discourage a safe working environment, that managers are always opposed to any reports of worker injuries or unsafe conditions, that managers have to be told that they can't punish workers who participate in safety inspections, etc, etc, etc" In other words, OSHA will be pressuring workers to file complaints so they can issue citations.
     
    How this might affect broadcasters is as yet unknown, but given the fixation of some bureaucrats with RFR and other workplace hazards - including noise levels - you may wish to be familiar with the legislation.
     
    Our correspondent writes: "I see this legislation as a measure that fosters an "us versus them" mentality in the workplace and creates a bigger OSHA bureaucracy where none is needed.  ... Our broadcasters are not sweatshops in Bangkok and we're not the Triangle Dress Factory but it seems like the government thinks so."
     
    As with much legislation, this may just languish and die in this Congress. But there are some implications here of which broadcasters should be aware, so they are not taken by surprise if this Bill starts moving. (The last recent action was in late April.)

  • 7/21/10 - Dell Computers has announced that malware was found on some of its server motherboards.  The PowerEdge R410 (and R310 and R510 and T410) Rack server apparently has spyware embedded. More information here.

  • 7/19/10 - The FCC has published its Public Notice to begin an inquiry into data collection and use. The Docket Number is 10-103.  
        
    Using three Public Notices, the FCC has indicated they want to "... improve the way the Commission collects, uses and disseminates data," so that they can "eliminate unnecessary data collection while ensuring that the FCC has the information needed for sound analysis and policy making."
      
    Broadcasters are invited to read the Public Notice and comment between now and August 13th. The individual bureau notices (and a spreadsheet of the data under review at the Media Bureau) are available here.

  • 7/13/10 - A three-judge panel from the US Second Court of Appeals ruled against the FCC in New York today calling the FCC's indecency policies "unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here."
     
    The challenge came from the major broadcast networks, who claimed the "no-tolerance" enforcement of one-time or so-called "fleeting" expletives was unfair and violated their rights under the First Amendment.
     
    The FCC's viewpoint is here.
     
    While any number of college station announcers were "cheering" the ability to say anything on the air, the reality is not quite so much that the barn door is now open, as that the FCC will be forced to take another look at the issue of how and what content they can regulate. 
     
    Look for this one to generate a lot of noise, heat, and lawyers' fees. And, yes, Congress will likely be highly visible in the process.

  • 7/12/10 - Perhaps bowing to the marketplace - and the large number of users that bought Vista computers and downgraded to XP, Microsoft has announced that their support for downgrading Vista or Windows 7 to XP Pro has been extended until 2020.
     
    Users - and new sales of XP Pro will end in October 2010 - will need to update to the XP Service Pack 3, but it would appear that security and other patches will continue to be available for quite a while to come - making Windows XP one of the longest-lived versions of the operating system.
     
    Some more information that may help clarify things can be found here.  Another article is here.
     
    To find out what Service Pack you should have, try this link.

  • 7/9/10 - The inventor of the Audimax and Volumax, among other technology, Emil Torick, passed away on June 19th. The former CBS Labs head was 78.

  • 7/8/10 - National Public Radio has decided to change its name to just NPR.
     
    In jettisoning the full name it has used since the 1971 start, NPR quietly has affirmed a change that has been underway for some time now - taking its news, information, and music programs to other platforms, including the Internet.
     
    NPR's head, Vivian Schiller calls it making NPR "more modern and streamlined."  Last month, Schiller told an audience that broadcast listenership was going to be replaced by Internet delivered radio in the next five to ten years, and that NPR wanted to position itself now to take advantage of the coming  changes.
     
    Not all affiliates of NPR - which supply something like $62 million of the NPR's $154 million budget - are happy with the national organization using their money to bypass broadcasters. 

  • 7/5/10 - The well-known engineering firm Hammett and Edison has been acquired by Pacific Venture Investments, led by CEO Gary Lawrence.
     
    The firm, founded in 1952, will continue to operate under the name Hammett and Edison.

June:

  • 6/22/10 - Planning on going to the Fall NAB Radio Show? The NAB and the RAB (Radio Advertising Bureau) are combining to put on this year's show. Reports seem to indicate that exhibitors will be limited to groups of tables. This show is stacking up to be different from previous shows, both in terms of the exhibitors and sessions.

  • 6/15/10 - Commentators on the FCC's efforts to change Part 11 (EAS Rules) via Docket 04-296 seem to be lining up on asking for more time than 180s days to update the system once FEMA and PSHSB get their final proposals published.
     
    Comments can be found here
     
    Reasons range from the need for manufacturers to test and ensure their systems work before shipping, for stations needing to budget for the purchase, for government agencies needing time for their fiscal years, and for needed training.
     
    One aspect that might change the timing would be if the Federal Government actually paid for and supplied the new equipment. However, manufacturers still say that time will be needed to do it correctly.
     
    On another issue, there were a number of comments regarding foreign languages and the need for some mechanism to meet that need.

  • 6/16/10 - Curious as to what the NAB Radio Board is working on? A recent information indicates their primary focus is on the Performance Tax and what some call the latest FCC "bandwidth grab."  Additionally, the NAB Press Releases show interest in the how to handle the "Lowest Unit Charge" for political advertising, as well as the effects of LPFM on the membership and efforts to include FM radios in cell phones.
     
    At their recent meeting (June 15 & 16), Caroline Beasley (Beasley Broadcasting) was voted Chair of the Radio Board; Don Benson of Lincoln Financial is the new Vice-Chair.

  • 6/15/10 - Miss the deadline to check and retire those 700 MHz microphones? The Enforcement Bureau has not forgotten. They issued an Enforcement Advisory last week, reiterating that wireless microphones are no longer permitted on the 700 MHz band.
      
    Here are links to the text:
    http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-1053A1.doc
    http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-1053A1.pdf
    http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-1053A1.txt

  • 6/11/10 - At a Community Radio Conference in St. Paul, MN yesterday, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn advocated possibly using TV channels 5 & 6 for Radio - including LPFM, AM and other non-commercial users.
     
    Clyburn said that low VHF has proven to be less than effective for digital television. She said that it is worthwhile for the Commission to "take a serious look" at whether or not "channels 5 and 6 may be a good home" for radio services.

  • 6/10/10 - The FCC held a conference today regarding the status of EAS and CAP, and the broadband initiatives. The event was streamed live, and will be available on the FCC's site.

  • 6/3/10 - The FCC reminds stations that wireless microphones in the 700 MHz band must be retuned or replaced by the end of next week.
     
    The Public Notice of the FCC Order to clear 700 MHz, and ban wireless microphones there as of June 12th, includes a list of microphones affected.

  • 6/2/10 - Bob Doll passed away yesterday at the age of 77.

  • 6/2/10 - In recent weeks, many of the major broadcast companies that filed Chapter 11 over the past year have started to come out of the process. In most cases, they have eliminated a lot of debt, especially shareholder equity, and kept the banks and investment funds more or less "happy."
     
    As June begins, NextMedia's reorganization plan is in place, and, as with other companies, appears back to "business as usual."  Unfortunately, in most cases, the new "usual" often means very few jobs on the programming side, and increased pressures on sales and tech. Perhaps the one bright side for many stations is the political windfall (election) due later this year is stacking up to be a big one, with many contentious races. Perhaps some rehiring will happen.

  • 6/1/10 - Jerry Lee, owner of WBEB, Philadelphia, has decided to auction off an Aston Martin Lagonda DB5 that he purchased back in 1969 from the producers of the James Bond (007) movies Goldfinger and Thunderball.
     
    The car, bought for $12,000, is expected to bring as much as $5 Million for a the Jerry Lee Foundation. Sale date is October 27th, if you want to bid on it. (RM Auctions/Sotheby's are the agencies involved.)

May:

  • 5/25/10 - According to an announcement today, Emmis Communications Corporation has an agreement to be taken private by Chairman Jeff Smulyan and his company JS Acquisition, LLC. The money is supposed to come through affiliate Alden Global Capital, under the agreement. Current stockholders will received $2.40 a share, preferred stockholders will have a different transaction.
     
    (UPDATE: In September, it was announced that this deal had fallen through. One thought was that the cash burn rate was too high for the potential investors.)

  • 5/25/10 - The FCC has opened another inquiry - to look into the media ownership Rules.  In its fifth "quadrennial" review of the Broadcast Ownership Rules, the FCC is asking for comments on various aspects, including ownership caps and "localism," was well as whether to measure the "satisfaction" level of "local end users."

  • 5/25/10 - EAS changes continue to slowly shuffle down the federal pipeline. At a meeting on April 13th, the OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) Emergency Management Technical Committee approved CAP Version 1.2 as a Committee Specification Draft, and voting on adoption has begun.
     
    Next, the OASIS standard is expected to be approved sometime after June 30th, at which point formal testing will begin, possibly in July, at the earliest. Depending upon how the testing shakes out, FEMA still intends to announce IPAWS adoption of CAP V 1.2 later this year. More information is available here  and here

  • 5/21/10 - Citadel Communications is getting closer to emerging from bankruptcy. The judge accepted the reorganization plan data and projections of the current management, valuing the company at around $2 Billion. It would appear current management will continue.
      
    On the other hand, pending any successful appeals or other actions, common shareholders will be left with ... nothing. (Citadel stock had been on a slow steady drift downward since 2003, and although trading at about four cents recently, there is no value - those Disney shareholders who got and held Citadel stock are holding an empty sack.)
     
    The 165 FM and 58 AM stations in 27 states and 50 markets will have creditor relief, but at lot of jobs appear to be gone for good.

  • 5/20/10 - Fritz Sennheiser, founder of the famous microphone and headset company, died on May 17th at 98.

  • 5/20/10 - A complaint to the FCC regarding HD interference. In Los Angeles, Willie Davis alleges that the KRTH (101.1) digital signal is causing "destructive interference" to KATY (101.3). KATY has been among those stations complaining for the past three or four years about adjacent channel problems, especially with grandfathered super-power FMs.

  • 5/17/10 - The NAB and six other organizations have submitted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the FCC with recommendations for the protection of migratory birds as part of its Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) process.

  • 5/13/10 - Microsoft announces Office 2010. The new features include an Internet-based interface, so the software and files can reside "in the cloud." How businesses will react to the potential legal issues of having material reside on someone else's server is not yet clear. However, the applications can still be loaded on individual computers.

  • 5/12/10 - Intelsat announced that they had lost control of Galaxy 15, apparently after a solar storm. It is due to cross paths with AMC 11 later this month, although officials say there should be little or no interference with AMC 11 services.

  • 5/3/10 - Flooding in the South has crippled many stations. WSM's radio studios and the WTVF-TV newsroom were rapidly inundated with water. A rough radio studio was set up at the WSM transmitter site.




Other stations that have been off for some time during the flood include: WQSV-790 Ashland City, WMGC-810 Murfreesboro, WYFN-980 Nashville, WCRT-1160 Nashville, WNQM-1300, and WVOL-1470 Nashville, plus WWCR (a shortwave station). The river was said to have crested finally on Tuesday afternoon the 4th.
 
 
               At the Opryland Hotel and shopping mall

Nashville Public Radio was down for about a day, after a mud slide took down power lines and then the generator failed. The road had to be cleared for the repair folks to gain access.

April:

  • 4/26/10 - KMBC became the latest station to succumb to copper thieves. As the price of copper resumes its move back up to the mid-$3 range, the bad guys are back at it, attacking any exposed copper at transmission sites.
      
    In KMBC's case, it was the cooling system for their transmitter that got cut and a large section of two-inch tubing was stolen. In addition to the loss of all the coolant, damage estimates range from $20,000 to $100,000. While repairs are made, cable customers were mostly still able to receive the station.

  • 4/26/10 - The FCC has some plans to update the Part 11 (EAS) Rules and how it is handled. If you want to comment, you are encouraged to do so. Comments to the FCC are due by May 17, 2010, and reply comments are due by June 14, 2010.

  • 4/23/10 - FEMA Estimates CAP adoption date. According to DHS Assistant Administrator Damon Penn, FEMA estimates the CAP adoption date, which would start the 180-day clock for broadcasters to buy CAP equipment, will be in "September of 2010”. 

  • 4/20/10 - The FCC has been busy! In addition to the current request for comments on fixing Part 11 (EAS) and about the proposed CLS (Consolidated Licensing System), the FCC is now proposing a Rulemaking to make changes to the Part 17 (Tower construction, lighting, and marking) Rules. You can read the Public Notice here. It looks like some good changes and clarifications are proposed - and you can tell the FCC what you think!

  • 4/19/10 - While we were at NAB, the FCC finally released the new Form 323 - the bi-annual Ownership Reports. Due by July 8th, stations should report ownership as of November 1, 2009. The Public Notice is here

  • 4/15/10 - The FCC often provides a little "gift" to the broadcasters at each convention. It seems this spring it is the existence of a Petition for Rulemaking to allow many AM stations to begin PSA operation at 5 AM. (Public Notice given on March 27.)

  • 4/12/10 - NAB. The NAB welcomed some 88,000 attendees to the Spring Show (vs. 82k reported last year). More details here.

  • 4/7/10 - A bomb threat  was received at the FCC building, which was was emptied this morning. Among other events, the CLS workshop was cancelled, to be rescheduled for another day.

  • 4/2/10 - Don Jones, long-time owner of RF Specialties of Texas in Amarillo has announced his retirement. Don is selling his company to Dan Sessler right after NAB.
     

March:

  • 3/31/10 - The FCC has initiated another outreach for comments. This time it is for updating their licensing system, including the CDBS - which contains a lot of information, but is not always easy to navigate, depending upon what information you need.
      
    The CLS - the Consolidated Licensing System - is currently under development to combine the CDBS, ASR, ULS, IBFS, ELS, and the COALS. The FCC is asking for comments on its
    "Reboot" site
    . If you have ideas on how to make the system easier to navigate and provide information needed, you can comment right there, online.

  • 3/31/10 - According to the Milwaukee Journal, a radio station operated by students at the University of Wisconsin - Parkside was shut down by the FCC for operating without a license.
      
    "WIPZ" apparently had been broadcasting an unlicensed low-powered signal for nearly 20 years, but landed on the FCC's radar this year after moving its location and increasing power.

  • 3/15/10 - At the recent Great Lakes Broadcast Conference, Ed Trombley was awarded the Carl E. Lee Radio Engineering Award for 2010.
      


    Trombley, a well-known and well-liked Field Engineer for Munn-Reese, Inc in Coldwater, MI, has been involved in solving problems and building beautiful facilities for some 30 years. He is also a collector of broadcast gear and history, which he often uses to help stations and engineers - and often entertains them in the process.

  • 3/15/10 - Information released on Friday indicates the FCC is planning to implement a new broadband policy. Included is taking back about 108 MHz of spectrum from broadcasters to give to the wireless Internet industry, saying that wideband Internet everywhere is their goal.
      
    FCC Chairman Genachowski was further reported to be working on making such wireless Internet free or at least discounted everywhere.
      
    The way the FCC gains control over the Internet is said to be by declaring it as a part of there telecom regulation mandate.
      
    Another part of the initiative may include an attempt to get broadcasters, especially TV stations to consolidate transmitter facilities, freeing more spectrum to be "auctioned."

  • 3/11/10 - More financial news: Entercom has been involved with creditor restructuring. No bankruptcy on the horizon at this time, but stricter terms on keeping debt in check. Also, Sirius-XM is a crossroad: they needed to finish today about $1.00 per share to prevent delisting on Nasdaq. They did not.
      
    Talk of Sirius seeking credit debt swaps and/or a reverse stock split is appearing in many of the financial publications and web sites.

  • 3/10/10 - Congress moves introduce the "FCC Commissioners' Technical Resource Act"; Senate Bill S.2881"  - and a similar Bill in the House of Representatives. This would authorize an engineering staff person for each of the five FCC commissioners.
      
    The SBE is quite enthused about this. Will the Commissioners actually use this to add an engineer? A good question, since they have never been prohibited from doing so in the past.

  • 3/1/10 - WJFK was scheduled to become the first FM station to run four HD channels at -14 dBc, and increase of 6 dB over the digital carriers in use to this point. With WFAN, WJZ-FM, and WIP from New York City, Baltimore and Philadelphia, WJFK installed a new transmitter over the past week. Since all three sub-channels are from out of town, no one can say they are just duplicating the locals.

  • 3/1/10 - The NAB announced today that Telos Systems founder Steve Church will receive the Radio Engineering Achievement Award during the NAB Engineering luncheon in April. Credited with major advances in digital audio technology, Church's inventions, such as the Telos 10 telephone hybrid and its many successors, have changed broadcasting - from making telephone talk show audio much better to IP codecs that have moved programs out into the field all over the world.

  • 3/1/10 - In yet another broadcast-related, pre-packaged bankruptcy, Regent Communications filed for Chapter 11. Acccording to Reuters, $87 million in debt will be erased by the restructuring. While common stockholders will not be totally wiped out - they get just under 13% of the company - majority control will go to Oaktree Capital Management.

February:

  • 2/25/10 - The FCC has extended the deadline for commenting on the proposed EAS Rule changes. Comments are accepted until March 15th, reply comments until April 13th.
       
    From last week:
    The FCC has issued a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding national EAS testing. Comments are invited, dealing with issues such as TV captioning, foreign languages, and how the EAN should be handled. Now, if only the EB could learn what "testing" means! 

  • 2/25/10 - The FCC has also been proposing changes in the ex-parte processes - which relates to communication with the Commission and Staff on matters under consideration. 

  • 2/23/10 - The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) has announced that it will shut down, a victim of differing goals - largely the gap between TV and cable - who pays whom. The 80-year-old CAB will be gone by June 1st.  One possibility: a new organization to serve the radio industry alone.  Anyone here remember the NAFMB?  

  • 2/19/10 - If the financial gyrations of so many broadcast companies were not enough to make your head spin, there is apparently now a class action law suit being pursued against Cumulus. Said to be filed on behalf of a former salesman in San Francisco, the lawyers are now seeking additional participants. What remains to be seen is how many of the things the corporations did to cut staff and expenses may be found to have violated employment law.

  • 2/18/10 - It is getting hard to keep up with all the financial gyrations in the industry. Chapter 11 filings continue and the latest "adjustment" is NextMedia. Their December bankruptcy now has an "exit plan." Common stockholders are still left out, although Management has arranged to stay on, and receive about one-seventh of the new common stock. Industry stabilization is still in the future.

  • 2/17/10 - WHLR, Lavonia, GA, which had its tower collapse on January 29th, returned to the air with an assist from WRAF, Toccoa Falls College. They are using the WRAF backup transmitter. Police investigation of the 284-foot tower collapse continues. Police have been asked to look into what is described as a "deliberately cut" guy wire. No weather related factors seem to be involved. 

  • 2/11/10 - This has been a real "weather" couple of weeks! With all kinds of snow almost across the country - and more than a few broken records. Here is a picture at the tower base of KTIC-FM, thanks to Rod Zeigler. (As he said "I never did find the 1000 gallon propane tank out there. I suppose it will show up in the spring sometime.") Just before, we had a real rash of  tower failures - both due to weather as well as vandalism. Early 2010 has not been good for broadcasters.

  • 2/10/10 - IBIQUITY "ADJUSTS" THEIR FEE for installing digital exciters on broadcast stations. A contract now costs $10,500, with a one-year payment option at $2,000 more (we'll let you calculate the interest percentage).

  • 2/10/10 - ANOTHER CHAPTER 11 - Penton Media, publisher of over 100 titles, including Radio Magazine, has filed a "pre-packaged" Chapter 11 Reorganization Plan. The goal is elimination of some $270 million in debt. Penton's statement is here. 

  • 2/4/10 - PHONE FINES - The FCC issued fines to WSKQ-FM, New York ($16k) and WAAW, Williston, SC ($4k). 
         
    WSKQ, owned by Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc., has now been tagged twice for failure to get permission before broadcasting a phone call or recording a phone call for broadcast. The station tried to weasel around the Rules by hiring an "independent contractor" to make the calls. The FCC rather pointedly noted this was not legal and, in paragraph 10, advises the licensee that a repetition will bring a very large fine.  
       
    WAAW, owned by Rejoynetwork, was fined for allowing staff members to call local airport officials and put them on the air - but again, without proper permission. 
       
    The lesson here: it is no longer the free-wheeling 70's. Section 73.1206 of the Rules should be studied and understood by all air personnel.

  • 2/4/10 - CHAPTER 11 FOR CITADEL - Citadel Broadcasting filed their reorganization plan today. The 3rd largest broadcast consolidator in the US (over 220 stations) hopes to wipe out $1.4 Billion in debt. (It still leaves $762.5 million.) The largely pre-negotiated bankruptcy pretty much wipes out existing common stock shareholders, and gives 90% of the equity to the senior lenders.
        
    According to the Wall Street Journal, there is a net change in ownership, requiring FCC permission for the plan to take effect.

  • 2/3/10 - IBOC POWER INCREASE - The FCC has issued an Order permitting an increase in FM digital power. The Media Bureau action means most FM stations can increase their digital carriers by 6 dB (fourfold) immediately, and can apply for up to 10 dB of increase, to 10% of the analog carrier power.

January:

  • 1/24/10 - JAMES QUELLO - The passing of James Quello is interesting in that it brings to mind the esteem many had for the man, along with his practical experience as a broadcaster, something clearly lacking in the current Commission. 

  • 1/21/10 - CHAPTER 11 FOR AIR AMERICA - The Air America radio network pulled the plug again. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the network is running recorded programming until Monday evening, when the net goes dark.
         
    Air America's statement.     NY Times article          Washington Post article
        
    Air America, home to Al Franken, Rachel Maddow, and others, had previously filed for Chapter 11 in October 2006; it was sold for $4.25 million at the start of 2007.

  • 1/21/10 - LA STORY - The broadcasters in LA are scrambling to stay on the air during a tremendous downpour, mudslides, and lack of access to Mt. Wilson.

  • 1/17/10 - WIRELESS MICROPHONE BAN - The FCC Adopts Order to clear 700 MHz, and ban wireless microphones there as of June 12th. A list of microphones is in the FCC Public Notice.

  • 1/14/10 - BE SOLD - Broadcast Electronics has had what was described as a minor change in ownership. BE is owned by several private equity investors and and two banks. Recently, GE Capital sold their stake to First City Crestone, who also bought out Audax, the previous majority owner. 
        
    BE's CEO Joseph Roark stated that the main effect of all the financial manipulation was to reduce their debt service and help them concentrate on business.

  • 1/14/10 - Black Crow Media of Daytona Beach, FL, files for Chapter 11 after being sued by GE Capital. The owner of around 20 stations in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama says the bankruptcy protection will allow it to reorganize and serve their markets.

  • 1/14/10 - A angry 58-year-old man walked into KBEZ in Tulsa, seeking a personality. Police were called and shot the man.       

  • 1/10/10 - An Actual EAN Test was conducted in Alaska this past week, and deemed a relative success. The test was a cooperative venture with the Alaska Broadcasters Association, the DHS, FEMA, and the state SECC. 
       
    The head of the Alaska Broadcasters Association said: "In spite of the AP Headline (below) the test has been called a success by both federal and state EMS/DHS officials. It was received at 10:01 and it ended approximately 3 minutes later when the EOM was sent. No stations were left with continuous alerts or interrupted signals. There were a few reports of tests running twice." The only equipment oriented problems seem to center on DASDEC gear. 
          
    A further summary of some of the things that happened/were learned should be available soon. One thing is clear, Part 11 has not kept up with the realities of EAS on the ground.
        
    A true nationwide test - the first - can be expected later in 2010.

  • 1/7/10 - A sub-contractor has been ordered to pay some $16 million dollars as a result of a May 2007 fire at KRBT, Avalon, CA (Catalina Island - off LA). Gary Hunt was apparently using a torch to cut tower cables, when a 4000 acre fire was started. In addition to the restitution orders, Hunt was sentenced to five years probation, plus jail time or community service.

  • 1/7/10 - A new study seems to show that cell phone waves may prevent or reduce Alzheimer's Disease in mice. This is very preliminary, but is going to be of interest to many, both from the aspect of the potential therapeutic effects, as well as the other side - RF is not as bad as some environmental groups would have you believe!

2009

December:

  • 12/26/09 - Percy Sutton passes away. The Founder of Inner City Broadcasting Corp. started with WLIB in 1971, the first black-owned radio station in NYC - and was a major force in local politics.

  • 12/23/09 - The FCC Delays Ownership Reports AGAIN!
    Don't worry about the January 11th date. It is on "temporary hold" for a third time. But keep working on the data, if you have not filed. Although there will be a 90-day "Window," the FCC says only data as of November 1, 2009 is needed.

  • 12/23/09 - More financial stuff: Radio One approves "reverse split and Regent get notified it is in danger of delisting - it has 90 days to get its stock over $1 per share.

  • 12/21/09 - NextMedia files bankruptcy After unsuccessful negotiations with bondholders, the company, with 36 radio stations, files Chapter 11. Shareholders are wiped out.

  • 12/20/09 - Citadel files bankruptcy 
    Company says it will re-emerge in approx. 300 days. 
    Who Killed Citadel? Common shareholders are wiped out.

  • 12/17/09 - WCSZ, in the Greenville, SC market, was stripped of most all their equipment by thieves. The transmitter - an MW-50 - was gutted, as was the co-located studio.

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