12/29/11 - ABC News is reporting increased sun activity, with the potential to disrupt radio and cell phone transmissions. Here is a link to the report - and some really nice video from space and of the Northern Lights.
12/27/11 - A West Virginia legislator has come up with a good idea to help solve one of perhaps the two most vexing transmitter site problems: copper theft.
Four fire and rescue teams went to the site after the man's grandson determined his grandfather had become "distressed" and needed help.(Some bystanders had reported he had not moved in four hours). It took the teams four and a half hours to lower the body. The cause of death is not yet confirmed.
The five stations on the tower (two Clear Channel, one Meridian, a translator and an LPTV) were shut down during the recovery.
12/22/11 - One of the five DC BASE jumpers charged with trespassing last week tried again on the Maryland Public Televsion tower at Annapolis, MD. This time he was injured when his parachute did not fully open.
BDR Comments: Since the FCC does not deal with BASE jumpers, and many local jurisdictions merely cite for trespassing, stations are looking for ways to send a strong message to these jumpers. We would like to hear from anyone who has found a legal way to deal with these problems.
12/21/11 - Microsoft announced that this will be their last CES (Consumer Electronics Show) appearance.
BDR Comments: Like IBM and Apple before them, Microsoft may be planning a new hometown "event" each year, to drum up publicity for their products, rather than be a part of a large, expensive Las Vegas showing. Stay tuned.
12/20/11 - AT&T's purchase of T-Mobile is off. Although subject to a $3Billion payment to T-Mobile for not consummating the deal, AT&T suggested there was no realistic way to get approval from US regulators, including the FCC.
12/20/11 - The FCC has made another change. Henning Schulzinne has made the FCC Chief Technology Officer for the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology.
12/16/11 - Those that see a shortage of qualified broadcast engineers may be interested in the new effort by the Alabama Broadcasters Association. The ABA has planned a new broadcast engineering academy at Hoover, AL to begin operations in May 2012. Included will be apprenticeship and internship programs in cooperation with a local career college's Networking and Electrical Engineering programs. Additionally, the ABA expects stations to eventually send employees for continuing eduction.
12/16/11 - A quintet of BASE jumpers was arrested on Wednesday for parachuting off the WETA tower in Washington DC. One of the group was injured in the attempt. WETA's chief engineer says they think the jumpers launched from the plate at the bottom of the master antenna, about 426 feet. He also reported the fifth jumper landed in a tree, but then fell 60 feet, breaking her back, leg and ankles.
12/14/11 - The FCC has released a Order On Remand related to tower construction and lighting. This is a response to the continuing environmental reports about migratory bird deaths and their relationship to broadcast towers.
BDR Comments: Sadly, this will largely play into the NIMBY, BANANA, and NOPE folks. With conflicting studies and anecdotal evidence (including thousands of birds suddenly crashing into a parking lot in Utah), the main effect here might be mostly to increase the time and cost of tower construction. If you are planning any new constuction or replacement towers, this is something with which you and your rigger may need to become familar.
12/14/11 - The FCC Chief of Staff, Eddie Lararus, has been reported as leaving at the end of January.
12/12/11 - A national "occupy radio" effort was said to be underway today. Among their goals: to examine the Public File and see if there are violations that can be exploited against owners. The first target: Clear Channel. Initial reports indicated an underwhelming response.
BDR Comments: The "occupy" theme has been very popular this season, but the reality is that few people really wish to spend their day trolling through station Public Files. It is true that a few folks are likely to be prepared to seek out key documents and could cause issues. However, if stations just follow the Rules, it is relatively easy to keep the Public File up-to-date and avoid problems from the public or the FCC.
12/6/11 - The NAB told the Supreme Court that it must overturn the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decision to allow the FCC Rules to stand. The NAB said consolidation is not dangerous, but allows higher quality reporting. The current Rules "directly harm the public," said the NAB.
The current system of ownership is flawed, the NAB says, with Chairman Genachowski said to be seeking a relaxation of the current Rules.
12/5/11 - AP Users take note: According to the AP, they are extending the end date for their text and pre-recorded content feeds via satellite. Transisition was scheduled to be complete on 12/31/11 - but the date has now been extended to 3/31/12. AP will be sending these services only via the Internet. (Live material will still come via satellite for now.) In any event, stations using a dish to get AP content need to prepare for the change. The AP website is supposed to have transition info for AP members (Password required).
12/1/11 - Unusually high winds (up to 100 MPH) in Southern Califorina wreacked havoc to power lines, even station antennas. Reports say that at least one television antenna was knocked off its tower by the winds on Mt Harvard (next to Mt. Wilson, outside LA).
According to local media, this is the most powerful storm in 10 years - winds of up to 140 MPH are expected in some higher elevations as the storm moves to the East. Power was cut in many places (some reports say 300,000 without power), including the LAX airport and both the main and backup feed to Mt. Wilson. All radio and television stations were reported to be on generator power, with uprooted trees in power lines and roads.
11/30/11 - A DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack on the Navy's NTP server on Tuesday afternoon (1:25PM EST) caused some problems for computers and automation systems that were using it to sync up. There were even reports of some Blackberry and other smartphone reboots.
According to the Navy, the cause was several Asian/Pacific IP blocks which began sending tens of thousands of packets per second. Some computers found that they were being bounced all over the calendar. A few stations were so affected they had to stop the automation and go live on the air, manually. A screen shot of the disruption is here.
11/11/11 - Citibank has sold EMI Music for $1.9 Billion to Vivendi, which currently owns the Universal Music Group. EMI's publishing business went for $2.2 Billion to a group led by Sony. EMI, of course, was the holder of the Beatles library.
11/9/11 - The man who knocked KRPS and KKOW off the air in September (see 9/9/11 below) has been indicted on federal charges. Jeffrey Blake, 39, was charged with one count of attempted damage to a communications system at Weir, KS, and one count of attempted damage to an energy facility.
The US Attorney noted that KKOW was part of the EAS. Blake was also charged with other damage, to a local electrical utility. The potential sentence is 10 years in prison and $250k for the damage to KKOW.
BDR Comments: This could be a warning, but druggies really do not read. So, this is not a reason to let down on efforts to better secure transmitter sites.
11/9/11 - Nautel Ltd has been sold. Company CEO Peter Conlon announced that the original founders of the 42-year-old company, Dennis Covill, David Grace and John Pinks, had sold their shares to local businessmen. According to Conlon, the new owners essentially plan to keep the company as-is and have no active role in running Nautel. Customers are being told they will see no changes in products or service. A local report quoted Conlon saying: "“It has been an orderly transition. Now the company will be run as it always has been run and we are positioned for another decade of stability.”
It was long rumored that the original owners where getting to the point in life where they wanted to close out their ownership, causing speculation as to what form the company would take. The sale, said to be a bit complicated under Canadian Law, reportedly took nearly a year to consummate.
11/4/11 - Just in time for the National EAS Test, Larry Wood has kindly dug out some audio from almost 60 years ago ... PSAs for CONELRAD during Civil Defense Emergencies. There are several of them, you will find interesting. PSA1PSA2PSA3PSA4PSA5PSA6PSA7PSA8 Thanks, Larry!
11/3/11 - The NAB has gone on record opposing proposed changes to the FM Rules. The proposal would protect only the currently built facilities, not any potential increases. This would allow stations in areas shielded by mountains, for example, to increase their signals.
10/31/11 - Two new Commissioners were nomimated by President Obama to fill vacancies from Meridith Baker's departure and Michael Copps' forthcoming retirement. Named were Senate Commerce Committee Senior Communications Counsel Jessica Rosenworcel and former Federal Communications Commission Deputy General Counsel Ajit Pai. Currently Ajit is a partner at Jenner & Block.
The NAB issued a statement of support for the nominees.
10/20/11 - The US Patent and Trade Office has issued a Detailed Action that has knocked down most the claims by Mission Abstract Data regarding automating music playouts from computer systems. In fact, all the radio-centric claims were dismissed, largely based on produced prior art from Digilink and Dalet. Untouched at this time are several approaches, such as audio on demand over phone lines.
Mission Abstract Data still has 60 days to appeal, but an initial reading of the decisions means radio broadcasters are essentially relieved of any potential liability under patent claims 5,809,246 and 5,629,867. A link to the USPTO decision will be posted as soon as it has been placed on that site. (Claims 1-7, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 21, 24, and 27 were rejected in relation to Patent 5,809,246. And claims 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 were rejected for Patent 5,629,867.)
Nevertheless, on a matter of this significance, it would be wise to consult your communications attorney to be completely certain of all the legal nits involved.
10/18/11 - The FCC issued a notice that is should be of interest to all translator owners. In shutting down a translator for causing interference, the FCC made the point that all regular listeners, even outside the licensed contours, need to be protected from translators.
10/17/11 - The FCC has opened the filing window for the biennual ownership reports. These reports are due by December 1st. More information is available here. Questions are answered there, and there is even a list of the common errors in the last set of filings.
10/13/11 - The NAB has produced some PSAs and a one page check sheet for the National EAS test. Links are here.
10/12/11 - Another sad death from a broadcast tower accident. The Boston Globe and other local media is reporting an Iowa man fell from about 500 feet up a 1260-foot tower owned by American Tower in Newton, MA, (in the Boston area).
10/11/11 - Indiana's OSHA has issued a $91k fine against ERI, in the deaths of two men last April. Ernesto Garcia (29 of Laredo, Texas, and Paul Aliff III (32) of Mesquite, Texas, were working at about the 340-foot level of a 500-foot radio tower when they fell to their deaths.
The Indiana OSHA report, issued in September, generally accuses ERI of unsafe working conditions. ERI has contested several aspects of the report as incorrect, and a revised report is said to be due to be released next week.
BDR Comments: The Indiana bureaucracy aside, ERI has a well-known reputation for competence and safety, and is sought after for many of the most challenging jobs in the industry. (Have you seen the video of Tom Silliman climbing to the top of the Empire State Building Tower at 2AM? It is stunning. ... and he loves the work!)
Anyone who has had Silliman on site or visited one of his other work sites - and that includes your BDR Editor - knows that this is one of the most safety conscious men in the industry. Those who have not had the opportunity to hear Silliman continually call out "Watch your feet," "Watch your head," or other warnings would do well to observe his exceptional working standards.
10/9/11 - It does not seem to matter to some politicians that the cell phone companies say they have enough frequencies and even may sell some. The Citibank study agreed. Nevertheless, Senators John Kerry and Patrick Toomey, and Reps Xavier Becerra and Fred Upton have asked for more spectrum to auction.
10/6/11 - The FCC issued an "Omnibus Enforcement Action" against 20 retailers who were selling as many as 200 various jamming devices. The products, meant to jam cellphones, WiFi, GPS, etc., are major issues with the FCC. Complaints about the inability to reach 911 during emergencies is one of the considerations. With this Action, the Commission now sets itself up to issue fines to the retailers.
10/4/11 - Every so often, some enviromental activist group with nothing better to do claims radio towers are the major cause in killing off the bird population. Interestingly, on the Broadcast [BC] discussion group few engineers have ever seen birds killed by their towers. Possibly, cats may be doing cleanup, but still, if there were dead birds, there should be feathers, etc.
For that reason, it is interesting to note this article, published in the NY Times, that among other things says an estimated 90,000 birds are killed each year flying into the buildings in NYC - a Billion a year - just in the US!
BDR Comments: Could this mean the end of cities? If the activists really wanted to save the birds, just think of what they could do by banning NYC, Chicago, LA, San Francisco and the rest of them. We would go on, but we might get cynical.
9/28/11 - Reports are starting to trickle in regarding the Nevada State EAS Test, a sort of dress rehearsal for the National EAN test in November. The test, sent from Washington via two PEP stations in Las Vegas and Reno, was carried by about 200 stations. A few equipment failures or operator errors did happen, but by and large officials were pleased with the test.
9/27/11 - Let's see if we got this straight: a fire drill is scheduled for the building. A drill. Not a real fire. Yet, no one thought to let the air staff know. What do you suppose was the result? Yep.
9/26/11 - Following on the heels of Clearwire noting they have plenty of spectrum comes this report from Citigroup Global Markets which shows, for example that the wireless companies have some 538 MHz of spectrum, but are using only 192 MHz.
BDR Comments: This sort of undercuts the FCC and Congressional thoughts of raising a lot of money by selling off more of the broadcast spectrum.
9/21/11 - Clearwire, unexpectedly, noted they have more than enough spectrum and might even sell some, if the price is right.
9/16/11 - As expected, Citadel shareholders approved the merger with Cumulus, and it was quickly consummated, as evidenced by email addresses changing immediately (former citcomm.com addresses are now cumulus.com) (See 9/14). According to reports, over a transition period of six months, people and services will be moved around to consolidate the merged companies' strengths.
BDR Comments: Cumulus certainly has done a lot of preliminary work - they own a lot of the software and systems they use in the group. With the new assets acquired, including the former ABC stations, Cumulus' future will hinge on the programming and sales decisions made in Atlanta.
9/15/11 - The FCC will announce an extension to the CAP-EAS Deadline, perhaps as early as tomorrow. News of the extension has come from several legal teams, plus reports of an announcment during the NAB Fall Show. Followup: The announcement was made. The new deadline is June 30, 2012.
9/15/11 - The NAB announced that the Fall Show attracted 2,206 registrations, compared with 1,785 at the 2010 Show in DC.
9/14/11 - The green light was given by the FCC for the Cumulus-Citadel merger. The US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission had already signed off on the deal.
Conditioned on the sale of some 14 stations through a trust (different terms are listed by different agencies, from 9 to 14 stations), the 339 Cumulus stations will be joined by 228 Citadel stations. The $2.4 Billion transaction will create a group of about 570 stations, compared with Clear Channel's over 800. Citadel's shareholders were to vote today to consummate the deal, which would give them either $37 or 8.5 Cumulus shares per Citadel share.
Reports are that stations will be spun off in Nashville, Dallas, Kansas City, Harrisburg PA, Montgomery AL, Fayetteville, AR, Macon GA, Savannah GA, Myrtle Beach, SC, Flint MI, and on Long Island, NY.
9/13/11 - A Public Notice from the Media Bureau has announced that the FCC will now permit AM stations to use technologies designed to reduce power consumption. Modulation Dependent Carrier Level (MDCL) is the general name for the technologies. Several have been recently tested out in Alaska and now the MB is ready to allow MDCL for regular use. The Public Notice is here.
9/12/11 - A Public Auction of FM Construction Permits has been scheduled for March. Auction 93 will include 123 new allotments (16 were previously offered but were either not bid upon in Auction 91, one defaulted from Auction 70). Full details are here.A list of the CPs is here.
As part of the Public Notice, the FCC is seeking comments on the Auction procedures themselves (see Section IV).
9/10/11 - What does a station do when flood waters (or other problems) take out the studio? Many stations just lie down and die - they do not even bother to have a generator ready. On the other hand, WEBO, Owego, NY just kept improvising. And, over the past four days or so, has been in the process has been doing the vital Public Service for which radio has become known.
BDR Comments: The BDR is all to familiar with group-owned radio stations that will do anything to keep the automation and commercials running (sometimes not even being audible in the city of license) so as not to hurt the bottom line. However, WEBO deserves a standing ovation for what they are doing - and how they are doing it!
Curiously, it seems at least one thief got caught by a homeowner about 10 miles away. Sheriff's deputies arrested a man held at gunpoint, and found materials that appeared to be related to the radio station incident.
BDR Comments: While it took only about an hour and a half to apprehend one of the crooks, the damages to the station and utility pole were many times the value of the copper taken. Unattended sites continue to be viewed by thieves almost as an ATM machine.
9/8/11 - FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said it was time to start talking about putting FM chips in cellphones. Speaking at a workshop on network reliability and outage reporting, Copps noted all the recent emergencies and weather issues that have created problems in getting information to the public. He called "for a thorough, calm and reasoned discussion about FM chips in handsets."
BDR Comments: Although in most places radio was there when the power and cell towers went down - and a great way to promote radio's reach - it may take more than a chip to get reliable FM on a cellphone handset. Where will they put the antenna?
9/2/11 - Four stations in Hutchinson, KS are without a home today, after their studio building burned to the ground. The fire apparently broke out at about 2AM, when no one was in the building. KSKU, KXKU, KNZF and KWHK, owned by AD ASTRA PER ASPERA BROADCASTING, all are off the air while they regroup. The owner, Cliff Shank, plans to stay off the air while starting to rebuild the studios and offices within the next couple of weeks. Investigators are still trying to determine whether the fire was caused by arson or other reasons.
9/2/11 - The FCC has made a statement of interest to those trying to move translators: in a case at Effingham, IL, the Media Bureau permitted the move of a translator that otherwise would either have been denied - or accomplished by the "hop" method. By being up front with the Commission as to their intentions, and the savings in staff time by now pushing repeated "hops," the applicants got a wavier and permission to use the translator for AM rebroadcasting.
9/1/11 - September got off to a bad start for Emmis Communications. Despite its completing the $130 million sale of three stations in New York City and Chicago, the company's stock has slipped to 66 cents a share, prompting NASDAQ to warn of delisting (30 consecutive days under $1.00 is the trigger).
The economic hassles reach into some of the smallest communities. The owners of WRGC, Sylva, in southwestern North Carolina, abruptly shut down on August 31st with unknown plans for the future. The station was in the midst of a move from 680 to 540, but apparentlycould not afford to continue. A regional TV report is here.
8/24/11 - A earthquake in Virginia, registering 5.9, gave another look at why radio can do what most other media cannot: reports were that for up to an hour and a half, cell phones were unusable throughout the region due to overload.
BDR Comments: Those stations that made the effort and took the time to do more than relay news from elsewhere showed their listeners that they cared - and will reap rewards over time.
8/24/11 - A familiar name returns to the field of electronic projects: Heathkit. With their first new release due out this month, the company hopes to rekindle the market for do-it-yourself kits.
8/23/11 - FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski delivered on a promise to delete the Fairness Doctrine from the Rules. Along with 82 other obsolete regulations, the deletions are supposed to make dealing with the FCC easier. (The Fairness Doctrine goes all the way back to 1949.)
8/24/11 - A pre-packaged bankruptcy was rejected by Inner City Broadcasting (ICBC) president Pierre Sutton, leading creditors to file for involuntary bankruptcy. The operators of WLIB and WBLS in New York City, KBLX in San Francisco, and others, owed some $254 Million according to the filing.
ICBC was found by civil right's attorney Percy Sutton, who was not only the longest serving Borough President in Manhattan, but also known for representing Malcolm X and owning the Apollo Theater for some time. When Sutton bought WLIB, he turned it into the first Black-owned radio station in New York City.
8/19/11 - Peter Dahl, well-known for designing and supplying custom-wound transformers, his willingness to help anyone, and his activities as a Ham (K0BIT), passed away this week, at the age of 71.
8/16/11 - Tulsa tower guy: They brought him down! Six days, plusa - 127 hours/40 minutes. Pretty much a record, considering he hadn't eaten in four days. According to police, he has not had food or drink since Friday...
8/14/11 - A man who climbed onto a tower shared by Clear Channel and Fox TV23 in Tulsa, OK is still on the tower over four days later. He is reported to have waved off rescue efforts - after the fourth attempt, the fire engines left the scene on Saturday.
According to the reports, the man, identified only as William," was recently released from prison, and suffers from a history of mental illness. He has weathered wind, rain, and lightning as he climbed up and down from about the 70 to 200-foot levels, but has shouted that he might be there for a week. (Another link)
8/12/11 - Although it ran into roadblocks - few applications and a fear there would be a lack of widespread acceptance - it was 30 years ago today (1981) that the IBM PC (aka Model 5150) made its debut ... and changed the computing world forever.
The first PC featured an Intel 8088 microprocessor, 40k of ROM and 16k of RAM. With keyboard and video output, it ran $1,565. Monitor, disk drives, more memory, applications, printer ... all were extra. On the other hand, the PC was capable of more than a $9 million computer IBM had sold 20 years before, taking a quarter of an acre of air conditioned space and a staff of 60.
BDR Comments: Back in 1980, few stations had more than a Radio Shack TRS-80, or a Wang Office Computer. The PC changed things. It also made many software developers very rich - and Microsoft a giant.
8/11/11 - Relatively quietly, Townsquare has become the fourth largest consolidator/owner of radio stations in the US, perhaps because of its focus on small to mid-size markets. Backed by majority Oaktree Capital, Steven Price's company just signed to buy another 26 stations, from Double O. This will bring Townsquare close to 200 stations in about 40 markets.
BDR Comments: In case you missed it, Townsquare was the product of the Regent Broadcasting bankruptcy last year, which was reported to have left the original shareholders with about 12 1/2 cents on the dollar.
8/8/11 - The FCC issued their latest list of EEO audits on August 1st. The randomly selected stations are expected to give the FCC a fuller report than was is required for the station Public File.
8/5/11 - In a dramatic demonstration of the dangers of tower work - especially during a summer heat wave, a tower worker in North Texas suffered heat exhaustion 760 feet above ground. It took firefighters some seven hours to rescue the man, who apparently was so disoriented he took off his safety harness.
BDR Comments: Do we really have to say it? Anyone climbing a tower in excessive heat needs medical attention. Nothing up there is worth a life.
8/5/11 - New York State joined Florida in making it a crime (Class A misdemeanor) to operate an radio station in NY without a license. The NY State Broadcasters' Association hailed the new law, which permits state and local law enforcement to take action.
BDR Comments: Pirates are a problem in many areas, yet enforcement by the FCC varies by region. At least NY is trying to do something.
8/1/11 - We have heard from several sources that Radio Shack is discontinuing most or all of its HD radio lines. If they are still in stock at your local store, they are on clearance - as low as $30 for the Auvio tuner and $18 for in iPod dongle.
8/1/11 - The NAB has released a final report on a study done by ibiquity that uses a synchronized Single Frequency Network (SFN) plan for digital boosters to fill in areas with coverage problems from IBOC transmissions. The current study, in Boston, follows one last year in Baltimore.
7/28/11 - Spotify has announced entry into the US market. This is a service said to have as many as 15 million songs available, some even at 320 kbps. The service has three levels, free, $5, and $10 a month. The premium charges get rid of ads and allow access even on mobile phones.
7/21/11 - 26 sets of comments were filed with the FCC regarding the FNPRM for Part 11 (the "re-write." Currently reply comments are due by August 4th. To see the filings, you can go here.
7/21/11 - Apple has released its new OS, Lion. Priced at $29.95, one license covers all personal Macs owned by a user. The OS basically is available by download. It is 3.5GB, so if you do not have wideband, you can go to the nearest Apple Store and get it there.
7/19/11 - KBHW, Loman, MN lost their 650-foot tower early Sunday morning, apparently related to the storms. Fortunately, the falling tower missed the transmitter building so the loss was contained to the tower, antennas, feedline, and lighting system.
7/16/11 - Utilities are starting to become more aggressive in dealing with copper theft. Noting that over 48,000 thefts occurred at utility substations, Puget Sound Energy has announced a new video motion detection security system to try to get police to sites before the damage is done.
The other site was shut down for a while, with unknown damage, but that mast is still standing, with stations now operating at reduced power. Of additional interest to those who have written off the AM band, the national 747 kHz transmitter is now running the national news/talk network.
7/12/11 - The FCC focused on LPFM and translators during its open meeting and, not surprisingly, created both anticipation and disappointment by potential operators, as it sought to balance the demands of the 6500 translator applications pending since 2003 (and frozen since 2005) with the Congressional demands of the Local Community Radio Act (LCRA) to foster more LPFM stations. The result is a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (Third FNPRM), seeking comments on parts of the LCRA, while deferring some others.
Among the issues for which the FCC is currently seeking comment are:
on changing the manner of processing translator applications to a "market specific" approach in larger markets - and dismissing all translator applications in those larger markets.
speeding up translator applications in rural areas.
allow more opportunities for LPFM and translator licenses yet preventing the trafficking of translator permits.
allowing more opportunities for AM stations to use FM translators.
to assist women and minorities to gain licenses.
The Commission announced plans to open an LPFM Window in "Summer 2012." Commissioner Copps applauded the move toward "Low Power to the People," noting, for instance, in the top 50 markets, translators currently outnumber LPFMs by 607 to 86 and that two companies now control 74% of advertising revenue. He and Commissioner Clyburn spoke as advocates of "robust, local community radio broadcasting."
BDR Comments: The Commission is taking a long-needed move to do more than benign neglect of LPFM in the face of competition from those thousands and thousands of translator applications. While complete changes in technical Rules and discussion of impact of LPFM on full power stations is being deferred, those who have been unhappy with the way the translator service has progressed may find positive direction. Will the "satellator" issue be addressed? We will see.
7/7/11 - FEMA released a "Best Practices Guide" for the National EAS Test scheduled for this coming November 9th. The pdf is available here.
7/7/11 - The US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that affected the FCC's 2008 planned loosening of ownership limits of broadcast facilities. This was the second time the same Court, in Philadelphia, has looked at the issue in seven years - the last time was in 2004.
On the other hand, the Court said that the FCC needed to review current restrictions on broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership, at least in the top 20 markets, telling the FCC had not given proper time and notice for commenters.
The FCC is in the middle of a regularly scheduled review of its ownership rules and the Court essentially directed the FCC to give special attention to several aspects.
Meanwhile, just up the state a little bit, the WWKR (94K-Rock), Hart and WMLQ (Coast FM), Manistee studio site in Ludington was hit and all sorts of gear from satellite receivers to routers to consoles got hit. One station is back up, while the new satellite receiver is expected shortly.
7/1/11 - KMRY, Cedar Rapids, IA, is a fulltime AM station now duplicating its format on an FM translator, purchased for $25,000 and moved about 23 miles. Owner Rick Sellers has worked quite hard to serve his community. He even pulled his transmitter and moved it to the studio on a longwire antenna to overcome losing his transmitter site to the floods in 2008.
6/27/11 - The National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations (NASBA), along with individual State Broadcasters Associations, filed comments with the FCC urging the Commission to suspend enforcement of the Public File Rules, pending the current FCC plan to update and revise those rules and how they are enforced.
BDR Comments: NASBA's actions are to be applauded. Nearly every broadcaster has expressed annoyance at the hours and hours it takes to build and maintain the Public File, which may never be visited by a member of the Public. More detailed information and an opinion is here.
6/24/11 - John Aegerter, a former Milwaukee broadcast engineer who ran a communications company and was a tower landlord, was found dead yesterday (Wednesday) morning in his garage. Two people have been arrested in the matter.
6/22/11 - The 1952 book Radio Antenna Engineering by Edmund LaPorte is currently available on lulu.com at no charge for the download. A printed copy is $15.00.
6/20/11 - The FCC has announced its Agenda for the July 12th open meeting will include a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making to get comments on the impact of the Local Community Radio Act on the future licensing LPFM and FM translator stations.
6/20/11 - The NAB has joined the effort to push back on a company demanding royalty payments for using digital audio storage. Specifically, the NAB has requested that anyone finding a user manual for an automation system prior to 1994 forward it to the legal team fighting the action.
6/16/11 - "It was 20 years ago today" - times five! - when IBM got its start. The company responsible for many advances in computing, some of which led directly to major changes in broadcasting, along with other industries, began as the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation. The company became IBM in 1924.
The main products at the company's beginning were "punch clocks" for workers, scales, and other machines. Among the products pioneered by the firm were magnetic strip tech and bar codes. Punch card "computers" had their beginning in the 1930s and IBM dominated the "heavy metal" computing business in the 50's to the 70's, when they began to make the IBM PC in 1981. Since they company really didn't see a major market for the "toys," they allowed an "open architecture" for the systems (unlike Apple), where anyone could supply peripherals. Unfortunately, the company also passed on the Operating System offered to them by a small startup company called Microsoft. (Geeks probably consider this smart ... but rip IBM for not using CPM.)
6/13/11 - Thieves hit a Clear Channel transmitter site in Florida, taking some equipment, including an Audemat Relio (S/N 100256). A surveillance picture shows the bad guy, but not in full face.
BDR Comments: Where are those CSI-Miami guys when you need them, with software that quickly reveals the whole face and identity? Seriously though, we have said over and over that site security is going to be a larger and larger issue - both in scope and budget - than many station owners want to believe. Plan now to protect your increasingly valuable copper and more.
Want proof? Check out this video from the San Francisco Bay area. In one city, 300 power poles have been knocked down in less than six months - an average of close to two a day! Notice that they indicate that it takes an average of $500 to repair what the crooks sell for a buck or so. Does that not indicate it is worth your while to pay for some security?
6/9/11 - As anticipated, the first ever National EAS Test was announced today. It will be on Wednesday, November 9th, at 2:00 PM EST. The test, announced by FCC's Chief Of Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Jamie Barnett, is expected to take up to three and a half minutes. All stations in the US are expected to take part - and report the results of the test back to DC for analysis. The FEMA News Release is here.
Of special interest are two aspects of the test: First, this test is only of the legacy EAS system, not the CAP enhanced system that is being run out this year. Secondly, there will be more tests - eventually including the CAP receivers - ongoing on a regular basis (at least annually).
6/8/11 - Reports are saying the National EAS Test will likely be announced tomorrow (Thursday) by FEMA and the FCC during the FCC's meeting. The working date: November 9, 2011 at 2:00PM EST.
BDR Comments: Broadcasters have been told this is coming for some time. While the date/time is subject to adjustment, at least there is now something to point towards.
6/8/11 - A letter from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to two Representatives (Upton and Walden) says he supports deleting all provisions relating to the Fairness Doctrine from federal code.
The Fairness Doctrine was ruled unconstitutional in 1987 but has remained in the federal code and, more importantly, has been a political football in the past couple of years, as some politicians have advocated restoring and enhancing it. This may indicate a formal end to it.
6/7/11 - A Clear Channel Emergency Response Team got KCAD and KZRX back on the air pretty quickly. Headed by Erik Kuhlmann, the engineers swung into action when shifting ground caused a guy anchor to come loose and kill the tower. Pictures and more info here.
BDR Comments: It sure seems like student stations are dropping like flies this year. All student advisors and student broadcasters should make sure their university knows how valuable their asset is - as a reflection of the university - rather than a quick "budget fix."
6/6/11 - TFT's model 3320 has now passed its IPAWS-CA assessment. All the major manufacturers now have products that meet the FEMA standards. The comparison grid was updated.
6/6/11 - Another hole on the dial is reported in Portsmouth, OH. WPAY-AM (1400) was left adrift when the WPAY-FM license was sold off. The station President, Doug Braden, said he would take the station silent last Friday afternoon, after 86 years on the air.
First licensed in February 1925 as WHBD, a 20-Watt station for the Chamber of Commerce in Bellefontaine, OH, WPAY moved twice over the years, ending up in Portsmouth, OH, after passing through a series of owners, including a church and a newspaper, among others.
6/3/11 - There is a hole on the dial in Chattanooga, TN this weekend. WDOD (1310) the oldest station in Chattanooga is no more. From its first sign-on April 13, 1925 until June 1st, it essentially had only three owners, the last of which was the Cy Bahakel family, which bought the station in almost 50 years ago in 1962.
WDOD, at one time "The Dynamo of Dixie" had operated at 5 kW days since 1935 and with a directional antenna after moving to 1310 in the Great Frequency Shift of 1941. In recent years, it ran a series of satellite-delivered formats. According to local reports, the station's 22 acres of land were sold to a school for $600k and the license turned back to the FCC. The GM suggested the equipment pretty much had reached the end of life.
6/2/11 - The storms in ND have taken another tower. According to reports, the tower that held antennas for KCAD and KZRX "fell when saturated ground shifted and released an anchor cable."
5/26/11 - The Media Bureau and Willam Lacy signed off on a Consent Decree that essentially ended the life of five translators that Lacy was moving slowly from the Florida Keys toward Miami since 2003. The Consent Decree is here.
BDR Comments: ever since computer apps have taken over and made "what if?" easy, a whole sub-set of station owners have worked hard and often succeeded in moving facilities from small markets to larger ones - walking right up to the line of what the Rules permit. It certainly appears the FCC has known about and allowed these loopholes for a long time. One wonders why it chose this case to pounce upon?
5/26/11 - The NPRM for Part 11 is now out! One hundred ten pages long, it has a few surprises. A link to the pdf. Some comments and a summary will appear here.
BDR Comments: At NAB, they announced they wanted to "fast track" it, so this might be a good time to get your plans in hand for acquiring the new required CAP/EAS boxes. An updated comparison grid is available to show the products here. How they are going to handle the short time left on the "clock" is still a toss-up. The FCC sure has made this a bigger mess than it needed to be.
Some of the violations include a tower site missing fencing for "about a year" and another where the remote control system had failed for over a year. Public File and EAS violations also figured in this pile of fines. And one company managed to rack up $49k alone for ignoring several Rules - including having no Public File since 2008.
BDR Comments: With License Renewal coming up this year for many stations, the wise choice is to fix these things now - before the cost a lot of money and create hassles during renewal.
5/11/11 - Al Resnick, PE, a Past President of the AFCCE (Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers) has passed away in Manassas, Virginia at the age of 66.
The former ABC Radio Director of Engineering has been a broadcast consultant for many years, most recently with Carl T. Jones, Resnick (K3PXR) has been involved in many projects, including the Kinstar low-profile antenna system. Picture and more info here.
5/11/11 - You have to see this one. Towers come down for many reasons. Sometimes weather causes it, sometimes deterioration requires it. Most of the time, the tower companies bring the steel down with out incident. But here is a video of a tower drop that goes wrong. According to the demolition company an undetected crack was the culprit.
This was not a broadcast tower and, fortunately, no one was hurt (although it was pretty close). But it is a reminder that dropping at tower is an art. Take a look. Newspaper article here.
5/10/11 - Microsoft announced that it is buying Skype for something like $8 billion.
5/7/11 - KWAM in Memphis, TN is the next to be facing high water from the Mississippi. 46 feet yesterday, and more coming. Some pictures, including what seems to be a very lonely tower! There was also a nice article in today's Wall Street Journal on how Clear Channel cleared the boards in Tuscaloosa, AL, and went wall to wall disaster coverage. Fortunately, the 12 employees of the four stations got help from corporate.
Clear Channel engineers diplexed WDIA onto sister station WREC by 7 PM Tuesday evening.
5/1/11 - WYTH, in Madison, GA returned to the air after a lot of work over the weekend. A tornado that came through destroyed the mechanical integrity of the tower. It was dropped on Friday and, on Saturday 4/30/11, the station returned to the air from a temporary tower under STA.
5/1/11 - Twelve rounds of bidding have been completed in the FM Auction (#91), with one CP bid alone accounting for nearly 20% of the $6.8 million bid for 144 CPs.
5/1/11 - In Cincinnati, police are trying to piece together what happened when parts of a body were found scattered around the WLWT tower. WLWT's web report is here.
4/29/11 - The $505 million sale of 17 stations in DC, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati from Bonneville to Hubbard closed on this date.
4/28/11 - And now it is Alabama's turn to get slammed by the severe storms. Reports are of at least two towers knocked down by tornados and other high winds. Local stations are regrouping and devoting a lot of time and effort to bringing information to the listeners. Cox Radio's WAGG (610) in Birmingham lost a tower, as did WTXT (98.1) Tuscaloosa. Other stations like (WNPT 102.9) were simply left dead without power. Debris was blown as far as 100 miles away.
Meanwhile, the rising Mississippi River has a number of stations worried. The current level is less than one foot from submerging the base insulators at some stations. The record high crest endangers other operations.
BDR Comments: This is yet another situation where broadcast is the warning and information source for so many. Reverse 911 does no good if the house is gone. Cell phone towers that are overloaded or without power also accomplish little. Reasons why broadcasters and local emergency managers must find ways to cooperate.
4/26/11 - A study commissioned by the NAB found that the "Spectrum Shortage" claimed by some wireless companies was only a ploy to leverage more frequencies from broadcasters during a difficult time in the industry.
According to a study, "Solving the Capacity Crunch: Options for Enhancing Data Capacity on Wireless Networks," by former FCC official Uzoma Onyeije, which questions the FCC's National Broadband Plan. Ozuma said the FCC used "preconceived assumptions ... to achieve a particular result" - pushing the need for grabbing frequencies. He said the proof of an alleged spectrum shortage is "underwhelming," the result of "insufficient analysis and reliance on faulty information."
4/25/11 - In a repeat of what we have seen in many markets when weather or other disasters hit on the weekend, St. Louis had some radio stations stepping up their live coverage to meet the needs of the market after the tornado hit, while others simply played the automation through the weekend.
KMOX, in particular, received a lot of praise locally for immediately becoming the news and information center, even shunting aside a baseball game to a sister station. Other stations seemed stunned by the events, unable or unwilling to bring personnel in to even acknowledge the tremendous damage suffered.
4/25/11 - The FCC is holding another auction starting Wednesday. Auction 91 contains 144 FM station CPs - including 37 that were not sold in the last auction (#79). Some of these allocations have attracted more than 20 bidders each. Information on the CPs, bidders, etc, is here.
4/20/11 - WCVC, Tallahassee was broken into and put off the air last week. The station's satellite receiver and and control panel were reported stolen, a deliberate attempt to silence the station, according to WCVC employees.
4/20/11 - An email circulating this week refers to a company, Mission Abstract Data, that has been contacting broadcast companies over the past couple of months seeking to enforce a patent against those companies (radio stations) using hard drives to store and play music. According to them, their Patents 5,629,867 and 5,809,246, filed in 1994 and 1997, cover music storage and selection for airplay.
BDR Comments: This sounds like that deal where a company claimed to have a Patent on the underlying technology for SAME alerts. It will be interesting to see what the lawyers do with this one.
4/20/11 - David Ensor, former White House correspondent for ABC and national security correspondent for CNN, has been named as Director of the Voice of America. The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) made the selection to replace Danford Austin, who has been Director for the past four and a half years. Ensor, now in Afghanistan, will take over the VOA position in June.
4/20/11 - A resolution in the House of Representatives is aimed to oppose requiring FM receiver chips in mobile devices. The Bill, "H. Con Res. 42" sponsored by Reps Issa (R-CA) and Eshoo (D-CA) is part of a push-back by a half dozen consumer electronics and mobile phone industry trade groups.
In response, the NAB has launched a radio campaign to say that having radios in mobile devices is a major benefit and how it provides "critical lifesaving information even when cellular service is disrupted," according to Gordon Smith, NAB President.
4/19/11 - According to Salem Radio Networks (SRN), Citadel Satellite has announced plans to end the use of the Starguide receivers for its affiliates as of June 30th. Most of the programs affected are moving to the XDS receivers.
4/18/11 - Spanish Broadcasting System announced that they had failed as of April 11, 2011 to lift their stock price over $1.00 for 10 consecutive days. This "deficiency," since September 2010 means that NASDAQ could delist SBS (trading as SBSA), subject to an appeal. As of this posting, SBSA stock - which had been as high as $2.20 in 2010, and did peak over $1.00 briefly in March - was trading at 78 cents a share. Management is seeking a reverse split to cure the problem.
4/16/11 - The tornados racing through the US mid-south have caused a number of issues, including the loss of a tower (pictures) for Capitol Broadcasting's WCLY (1550), and its tenant Curtis Media's WQDR (570).
4/13/11 - Trilithic's EASyCAST receiver has passed the FEMA Conformance Assessment tests and joins products from Digital Alert Systems, Monroe Electronics, and Sage as meeting the CAP tests conducted at Eastern Kentucky University.
4/13/11 - Two tower climbers died today in Lafayette, IN when they fell from a tower. Paul Aliff (32) of Mesquite, TX, and Ernest Garcia (29) lost their lives in the accident. One report indicated the possibility of a platform on the upper half of a 500-foot tower may have come loose.
4/11/11 - Over the past weekend, NRSC-4-B was adopted by the National Radio Systems Committee. The new standards mainly affect RBDS, the US version of RDS. The new NRSC-4-B standards are scheduled to be posted on the NRSC website toward the end of April.
4/11/11 - The NAB has released information that 92,708 were registered for the Spring Show this year, up from 88,044 last year - 25,691 (28%) of the attendees were international.
BDR Comments: On the floor, it did seem that there were more folks attending, especially after a brief lull on Tuesday. Many of the international folks came from South America, perhaps signaling a major sales opportunity before the next Olympics, scheduled for Brazil. We will have more on the NAB week as things calm down and sort out. There is a lot to tell ... so check back for more reports!
4/7/11 - Two manufacturers have announced that they completed the FEMA IPAWS Conformance Assessment testing. Digital Alert Systems and Sage have both said their products passed the FEMA and IPAWS standards, as administered by Eastern Kentucky University.
The reports should be released within the next three weeks and then entered on the FEMA RKB site (Responder Knowledge Base). According to the vendors, the Digital Alert Systems' DASDEC-II, Monroe Electronics' R189 One-Net, and the Sage Digital Endec all met the FEMA and IPAWS standards.
4/6/11 - A new study by Harker Research concludes that interest in HD Radio continues to wane, after peaking at the end of 2007. The study, using Google Trends to compare HD Radio to Pandora, is not the prettiest picture.
BDR Comments: Studies and statistics can be interesting. The upcoming availability of HD Radio in cars may provide a boost. On the other hand, one also has to ask why Pandora has such a profile. Is it something broadcasters are doing - or not doing?
4/6/11 - Some of you may consider this a sort of weird mixture of reality, government life, and something left over from April 1st: there was a suggestion that the FCC might be ready to issue the first GMC alert on the EAS this week - "Government Must Close."
BDR Comments: Laugh if you will, but remember: if the Government closes, there will be a rather empty FEMA booth at the NAB show. Watch your receivers (CAP enabled or not) for updates.
BDR Comments: If you want to see how the FCC sees itself, take a look. You can also leave a comment or vote on a previous comment.
4/4/11 - With its typical penchant for giving plenty of notice, FEMA announced that they are going to have a web presentation on Wednesday at Noon EDT. Topic: the preparations for the National EAS test, scheduled sometime in the future. The presenter scheduled is Manny Centeno (IPAWS PMO) Info here.
BDR Comments: With copper prices staying high, we will expect to see more and more. A summary page, "Security Watch" has been set up here, to provide examples of the seriousness of the issue.
4/3/11 - Muzak - best known since 1934 for background music that no one is supposed to really hear, was sold to Mood Media, a Canadian company, for $345 million late last month. The new owners plan to maintain the offices in Ft. Mill, SC. Muzak is fresh out of bankruptcy, hoping to to change the current satellite delivery to using the Internet.
4/1/11 - No joke - today is the day stations in MD, VA, WV, and DC must air their first renewal pre-filing announcement. Information and help here.
3/31/11 - The FCC announced its 2011 EEO Audits and the stations - picked at random for EEO compliance audits. Information is available on the FCC web site, including the Public Notice, Audit Letter, and the list of stations affected. The link is here.
3/29/11 - It was on March 29, 1941 that many AM radio stations had to "pick up and move" to another channel, in the biggest band realignment is US history. At the same time, the AM band was expanded - 540 to 1600 kHz. More info here
3/29/11 - KSL in Salt Lake City is among the latest stations to be hit by thieves looking for copper and other valuables. You can watch the surveillance video as two men break into the transmitter site and take what was estimated by a station engineer as $30k in wire, tools, etc.
3/29/11 - According to the most recent BIA/Kelsey report, WTOP in Washington, DC was the top billing station in the nation last year, grossing over $57 million. KIIS, Los Angeles came in second at $54 million and, to complete the top 5, WCBS, New York ($49 m), KFI, Los Angeles ($46 m), and WLTW, New York ($44 m).
BDR Comments: No matter how you look at it, there is a lot of money flowing in the broadcast industry. The top 10 billing stations grossed almost a half a billion dollars in 2010. Some may wonder why we still see so many career-killing staff reductions. This is, indeed, a good question.
3/25/11 - A Hawaiian station on 550 dropped its 450-foot tower on purpose this week and is replacing it with a top-loaded 180-footer. KMVI Radio's tower in Wailuku, Maui, was only 15 years old, but had enough corrosion problems at the top that station management decided a shorter tower would last longer, cost less, and not need to be lit. The new tower's signal coverage was said to be "almost the same." Video of the drop here.
3/23/11 - NAL Watch: KWTS-FM, Canyon, TX, managed to get the EB to cancel a fine for filing their renewal application six months late in 2005 on a technicality: the Statute of Limitations had run out. But the ever vigilant EB was not to be denied. They also tagged the station for $3,200 for operating without an STA between August 1, 2005 and when they remembered to get an STA in March of 2006.
3/23/11 - A broadaster's nightmare: Burglars carted off WCYC-LP's studio gear early Monday in London, OH. However, the station was back up in less than 48 hours after police, investigating a pair of stolen vehicles, were led to an apartment where the $3,000-4,000 of broadcast gear was taken.
3/22/11 - WIBG Ocean City, NJ had some folks ready to grab their ground system. A good neighbor saw it and reported it to police, who arrested a couple of would-be thieves. The station GM wrote to us and said: "Fortunately State Police said they were thwarted before they completely even started their damage. Fortunately, the tower is in a residential area and the neighbors watch very carefully. The two dudes were criminally charged."
BDR Comments: Unfortunately, there was some damage to the ground system before the thieves were caught, but it didn't kill the whole station. As we look ahead, you will see more information about this problem - and solutions - on the BDR. Perhaps a good question is: "What is your relationship with your neighbors?"
3/20/11 - An NIST survey is being conducted on the web for users of WWV and WWVH. It would appear they want to know how popular the time service is these days. The survey is here if you would like to particpate.
3/19/11 - The BBC has announced the end of World Service broadcasts on 648 kHz from Ordfordness, England. The 500 kW transmitter ran on five towers to send to Europe. A discussion about and a link to a tribute video of the site, including a history of the site and its predecessor, Crowborough - site of the Aspidistra 500 kW, a sister to the WLW 500 kW transmitter - is here.
BDR Comments: Your Editor recalls staying in touch with the world during his time in Spain in the 1970s by listening to the BBC World Service on 648 (especially during the time Generalissimo Franco was alive and dying).
3/19/11 - Art Constantine, long time broadcast salesman for companies from Fidelipac and ATI died Saturday morning at the scene of an accident involving police car. According to reports, Constantine was on a motorcycle with a passenger said to be his wife when the accident happened in Southampton, NJ (About 10 miles east of Philadelphia). He was 64.
Constantine was well-known in the industry, having worked for a number of broadcast-related companies over the years.
3/18/11 - The NAB has worked out an arrangement with the LV Monorail system. A seven-day pass, which is not available at the pay machines is available to NAB folks here. The normal $65 price is even discounted to $50. There is a also slight discount on the three-day pass.
3/17/11 - A vote in the House of Representatives today passed a bill to defund NPR. The bill is not likely to make it to the floor of the Senate. On the other hand, supporters on both sides suggest the funding fight is not over.
3/16/11 - The fallout (no pun intended) from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan continues to build. Texas Instruments says they will not be able to resume production at normal rates until September, and Sony has closed or is operating minimally in at least eight plants, which product CDs/DVDs/Lithium Ion batteries/and other products.
Analysts suggest that prices for flash memory will start going up, along with some of the other products.
3/15/11 - NAL Watch: Translator operator Ace of Hearts Disc Jockey Service of Cape Canaveral, Florida, has received an NAL for $13k for running overpower on the translator and using an antenna different from the licensed model. Limited by license to 61 Watts, the FCC calculated the output at 172 Watts.
The fine was adjusted significantly upwards due to the fact the FCC had inspected and found translator W277AN overpower previously.
3/14/11 - The FCC has released some changes in the procedures and the 303-S form for license renewal. Information and links are posted on the FCC Rules page. (You can bookmark this for when your renewal comes up!)
3/13/11 - Here is an interesting obit on an interesting man: Reg Moores, who invented the wireless microphone and more.
Adding Citadel's stations to the Cumulus stations would create a huge national footprint of some 600 stations, and bring Cumulus to a number of larger markets where it has not been strong. The company will control a lot of stations and advertising income. Bankers seem to be cheering. The guys at the top will cash out with a lot of money. But will this deal bring good or bad news to local staffers?
3/8/11 - A National EAS Test is now "allowed" by the FCC, as part of their Report and Order issued last month (see February 3rd, below). Whether there will be one later this year is still being debated. The feds do say they will not do it during hurricane season, and will give at least two months notice to the public, in an effort to prevent panic.
BDR Comments: Although FEMA is still promising a report on the results of the Alaskan EAN test, the FCC will be requiring a report within 45 days, details still to be worked out..
3/7/11 - The FCC has issued a Report and Order, and NPRM, in Docket 11-41, related to improving broadcast facilities for the Native American Nations, to further codify and provide a basis for Native Nations to apply for and operate stations.
2/28/11 - NAL Watch: WWIZ, Mercer, PA, has received an NAL for $10k. The forfeiture is for a Public File that did not have the last nine quarterly Issues and Programs lists.
2/25/11 - The next license renewal cycle for radio stations begins in 2011, with the pre-filing announcements in April and May, followed by the renewal applications due June 1st for stations in DC, MD, and VA. The FCC information page on renewals is here.
BDR Comments: This is a good time for all stations to get on top of the Public File and other logging requirements. Each cycle a few stations forget to file on time, and in the past cycle, the FCC did not just fine the late-comers - some licenses were reported as cancelled.
2/23/11 - Time for a DST alert: we are just over two weeks from the start of DST in most of the US - March 13th. Stations should consider what clocks from EAS receivers (be very careful with these!) to automation schedules need adjusting. Plan now to avoid panic later!
2/22/11 - Bob du Treil of du Treil, Lundin & Rackley (DLR) has been named the recipient of the 2011 NAB Radio Engineering Award for the Spring NAB Show.
The former owner and president of DLR is perhaps best known for his contributions to international discussions on medium wave (AM) directional antenna technology in the early 1980s. He continues to serves as a consultant to the firm.
2/17/11 - This is turning into a month the FCC Enforcement Bureau apparently is trying to make a statement of some sort. This time another $25k fine was issued, to the Spanish Broadcasting Systems WZNT, San Juan, PR, for broadcasting two prank phone calls without the recipient knowing and giving consent.
One of the reasons given (paragraph 7) for the relatively high fine is that this is not the first time SBC has been before the FCC for this reason. WXJD, WSKQ, and WCMQ also have received fines for similar infractions. The footnote 36 shows how the fines have escalated from the base $4k in a violation going back ten years.
BDR Comments: The prank phone call has been banned for years, and some stations apparently started to consider the fines a "cost of doing business." Perhaps this fine will get some attention.
But a larger issue remains under deregulation: the FCC has permitted far more stations to be owned by an entity than can be adequately supervised. This is a symptom of that policy. The fine should be increased much further - and perhaps a station license pulled. Certainly if KIKX, Tucson could be stripped of a license for one event (a faked news report about a kidnapping of a staffer), should not repeated events like this attain the same result?
2/17/11 - There are reports filtering out that Cumulus has made an offer to buy Citadel that is being seriously negotiated. $37/share or $30-32 cash seems to be the most often cited number.
Together, it would be a combination of about 600 stations (approximately 225 Citadel and 377 Cumulus stations), representing the biggest consolidation since the early 2000's.
2/12/11 - The FCC is serious about making sure tower lights are on and the ASR number prominently displayed. A $25k fine was amassed by a Texas company for failing to follow these Rules, plus notifying the FAA about extinguishment and the Commission of changes in ownership.
BDR Comments: Although the company that bought the tower was planning to pull it down and exit the cable business, the FCC wants the lights on now.
2/11/11 - What do you suppose is the FCC's answer to a daytime station whose GM says he "thought the station was authorized to operate at night" and had been operating overnight for "several years?" Yep... a nice fine. Combined with a Public File missing some key items (including the Station Authorization), the cash register rings in at $14,000 for KGLA, Gretna, LA, on this one.
BDR Comments: Apparently this guy misheard the old line "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" and interpreted it a little differently than most do.
BDR Comments: Another apparent case of the new generation where managers make policies for their convenience, rather than to follow the Rules. While it is true that stations have more security concerns today than in past years, it is not like hordes of people seek to view the Public File each day. Perhaps the person who came up with this policy should be made to pay the fine by himself and required to actually read the Rules for operating a broadcast station.
2/7/11 - Audio and video of the Alaskan EAS test are posted online. If interested, you can see it here.
2/4/11 - During the NASBA/NAB web event, Damon Penn, assistant administrator of the National Continuity Programs Directorate for FEMA said certification for CAP-compliant equipment is in full swing. He anticipates a list of compliant equipment will be finalized and posted in March.
Jamie Barnett, chief of the FCC's Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau, said the commission is now "involved in the lessons learned" from last week's test in Alaska. A draft of Part 11 changes is being reviewed, he said.
BDR Comments: It would really be nice if the PSHSB actually releases a report this time, so we all know what the issues are. A web event on the Part 11 draft is said to be set for March 10th.
2/3/11 - In a sort of glass half-full, the FCC voted to pass a Third Report and Order, setting for Rules for a national EAS test later this year, using the EAN protocols. On the other hand, no date was set. More information is here.
2/2/11 - The State of New York is working to pass a law like that in Florida, making it a criminal offence to operate a pirate radio station and giving authority to state agencies to locate, arrest, and fine unlicensed operators.
BDR Comments: In some districts the FCC has largely given up control of the pirate community. Many stations report that even when they document such operation, the FCC (especially that EB bunch) prove to be uncooperative, uncommunicative, and unsupportive. While there may be legal reasons for not divulging everything, the complete lack of communication with the industry is unnecessary and arrogant
2/1/11 - A triple play for those of you who like broadcast history. Thirteen rare and previously unpublished photographs from Cincinnati radio history are included in the 2011 Cincinnati Broadcast History Calendar. Even better, it is cheap; the triple play is you help a good cause: Originally $15, the calendars are now available for $5, plus $2 shipping and handling. All the money goes the Media Heritage Museum of Broadcast History, located at the VOA museum in West Chester, OH
To get this calendar, just send a check or money order for $7 (or more, if you wish) to: email@example.com or Phone: 513-777-7891
1/31/11 - Even as FEMA mulls the Alaska EAN test, the FCC EB issues a $10k fine against WWRR Scranton, PA. It seems this station had no EAS receiver from 2006 until well after an inspection - despite a note in the maintenance log in 2008 noting the non-compliant status of the station. The FCC NAL is here.
1/30/11 - As reports come in on the Alaska-only EAN test last Wednesday, it appears that the results did not surprise anyone. Some of the problems from last year were resolved, some were not. At least one LP station failed because they had not installed the new receiver to replace one that failed last year. Another reported a wall wart failure.
One of the reports concerned the lack of an EAT, which was explained by "no stations in Alaska were found to be non-participating." That and other similar situations show the lack of adjustments in Part 11 to reflect lessons learned over the years, continues to be confusing to stations.
Further discussion of the test results, questions, and answers can be found on the new EAS Forum, set up by members of the Broadcast Warning Working Group (BWWG) at https://eas.radiolists.net The group is composed of people who have been involved in the EAS and working with the various committees and government agencies for the past decade or more. More information on the BWWG and the EAS Forum is here.
1/27/11 - Continental Electronics purchased the weather radio part of Crown Broadcast, including an order for 42 fully redundant 300 W and 1 kW systems.
The Crown FM transmitter/support division is not part of the sale.
1/25/11 - The British Government has made some deep cuts - about 20% - in funding for their BBC World Service as part of the government spending cuts in the UK. Service to five language groups is to be cut, along with shortwave transmissions to India, China, and Russia, possibly affecting 30 million current listeners. A total of 650 jobs will be eliminated.
According to one report, the BBC says they hope to restore some of the transmissions when they take over the World Service financing from the Foreign Office in three years. Meanwhile, a number of comments and accusations from both the journalists union and government spokesmen were traded.
BDR Comments: It is sad to see cutbacks in the BBC's venerable World Service. We also have seen the IBB cut Voice of America transmissions here. However, in both the UK and US, governors assert their Internet sites are receiving huge increases in attention, while the over-the-air programming is losing listeners. Yet, as with the EAS issue, the question always comes back: what works when local power and/or Internet doesn't?
1/21/11 - Those interested in the progress of DRM and its newest applications will want to see a web presentation on Tuesday. Details and registration are here. A review of DRM is located here.
Exactly what will happen in the area centered east of the FL/GA border - and potentially affecting receivers as far as Alabama and Virginia - is not spelled out, other than "During testing, GPS will be unreliable and may be unavailable."
1/20/11 - Hubbard Broadcasting has purchased 17 stations from Bonneville International in Washington, DC, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. The $505 million purchase includes top-rated WTOP-FM in Washington and WUBE-FM in Cincinnati. Others include: WTMX, WDRV, WWDV, and WILV in the Chicago market; WFED, WWFD in DC; WKRQ and WYGY Cincinnati; and WIL, WARH, and WXOS St.Louis.
Although Hubbard is largely known today for television and satellite operations, the company began in Minnesota with Stanley Hubbard's KSTP (WAMD+KFOY) and held other major stations over the years, including KOB, Albuquerque, NM.
BDR Comments: It is interesting to note the quote from Ginny Morris: "We believe in the radio business." Let's just hope the belief is in the radio as much as the business. At least Hubbard does not have the reputation of some companies that buy stations and begin firing the core staffs.
Repairs got WROD back on the following day. WHKO moved to operations from their auxiliary site. Not long after, police arrested several people, as they tried to sell the transmitter at a scrap yard.
BDR Comments: While it is unclear exactly which transmitter the vandals took, it is clear that the bad guys are ready to sell anything to the scrap yards. Site security should be one of the big concerns at every facility this year. Have you checked the current copper price lately?
1/17/11 - Mike Dosch is named the CEO for The Telos Alliance, as Steve Church affirms what has been the case for the past few years: Church has been focused on inventing new technology while putting Dosch in place to run the Telos/Omnia/Axia operations.
The formal promotion was announced in a newsletter to the company employees and dealer network earlier this month.
1/17/11 - KTVT switches to a new digital TV antenna, mounted a few weeks ago. There is a nice video from KTVT as they used an Air-Crane to lift and install tower and antenna at the Cedar Hill (Dallas), Texas antenna farm.
1/12/11 - Citing the time required for the upcoming Part 11 rewrite, equipment certification, and other issues, the heads of the Texas and Maine associations of broadcasters filed a petition at the FCC requesting another delay in the clock for EAS/CAP implementation.
Ann Arnold and Suzanne Goucher said they were concerned that not further extending the deadline would cause significant problems for the industry.
1/9/11 - CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, is in Las Vegas this week. My impressions and thoughts are located here.
1/4/11 -The President signs the LPFM Bill. The ball is now in the FCC's court to set the Rules.
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