The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

Quick Takes

Things going on in the Broadcast Industry or elsewhere that might interest you.

9/15/21 - Are you using an iPhone or Mac? A very severe threat has been identified as the Pegasus spyware - something that can infect your gear without you clicking on anything.

The common advice from virtually all sources: "Get the Update NOW!

8/10/21 - Programmers often hope for a big payday - well, we all do, do we not?
Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited as the creator of the source code for the Internet (originally known as the World Wide Web, hence the www in addresses) recently sold the 10,000 lines of source code as an NFT.

The sale, via Sothebys, brought a top bid of just under $5.5 million. You can actually see the code, if you would like, on the Sothebys' web site.

8/3/21 - After a launch on June 6th, the 9th  satellite that Maxar has built for SiriusXM, the SXM-8 - launched by SpaceX - has completed its in-orbit testing and is ready for service. 

SXM-8 is designed for a 15-year service life, and  features 30-foot reflectors to directly serve moving vehicle receivers. 

6/24/21 - Microsoft has announced Windows 11 ... the next iteration of the OS, due out in the Fall. Some note has some changes, mostly cosmetic, but some security issues are addressed and Cortana is gone. On the plus side, there seems to be better integration with Microsoft Teams and speech-to-text features.

The catch? You will have to have the latest hardware, with many Win10 machines unable to upgrade, unless there is an Intel 8th Generation, AMD Zen 2, or a Qualcomm 7 or 8 series CPU.

Further more, Windows 11 will require a new hardware security feature - Trusted Platform Module, or TPM - Version 2.0. (Most computers running Win10 have TPM1.2, but cannot be upgraded.)

More information will appear as the year moves along, but for the moment, about the only thing you should consider is: if you are planning to buy a new computer, get one with the right hardware and chips.

6/24/21 - John McAfee, creator of the Anti-Virus software bearing his name was found dead by suicide in Spain shortly after a court ruled he could be extradited to the US on charges of tax evasion.

5/26/21 - Ready for a new station or personal truck? While today marks 94 years since the last Ford Model T  rolled off the assembly line, the company is in the process of building the new F-150 truck - all electric - and bringing it to market at less than $40k. As a bonus, it can power your home in a blackout!

4/29/21 - Organizers of the "Burning Man" festival, held out in the Nevada desert, have announced this year's event has been cancelled, as it was last year, due to the Covid-19 virus.

4/28/21 - According to Deloitte, more than 40% of your car's cost in 2017 was in electronics, double that of  ten years earlier.  And, we will see more and more electronics, as electric and self-driving cars proliferate.  One example, autonomous vehicles will take $1,200 in chips just for a partly automated feature alone. 

4/15/21 - The cyber security firm KnowBe4 is featuring an on-demand web presentation showing that there are 12 ways hackers can get past MFA (multi-factor authentication). Strategies to protect your solution are offered. 

4/14/21 - Sinclair and Fraunhofer Are planning to integrate DRM into the ATSC 3.0 transmissions. The goal of upcoming tests is to develop small devices that will get the DRM and ATSC3 broadcasts.

3/8/21 - Do you have an Internet streaming radio, like models from C.Crane or Grace Digital? If so, your radio may become a door stop in about six weeks.

Receiva, the aggregator for these - and many other Internet radios - has announced it will shut down at the end of April 2021. It has been reported that the main reason is that it was costing Receiva five figures a month to maintain the servers, amid declining revenues from manufacturers, so the decision was to terminate.

Several manufacturers are releasing new models that function without Receiva - some with deep discounts.  It makes sense for purchasers to understand how access to Internet streams will be accomplished and what can happen in the future.  C.Crane's explanation/information is here. 

3/20/21 - Signs of the times? The BBC has announced a major reorganization of its radio stations, sending many of them outside London.

On the other hand. iHeart is moving WMMS back downtown in Cleveland. 

2/24/21 - It was not a good week for retail electronics stores.

Fry's Electronics abruptly closed today - some 31 stores in 9 states - and the website is gone.

Best Buy laid off 5,000 employees and is planning to close a number of stores, as they shift more to online marketing. 

1/29/21 - Ed Stolz, who has been fighting with the FCC for 25 years over a station he sold in Sacramento, and with the court system over fees due for music licensing, etc, has been ordered to surrender to US Marshalls by February 2nd. The court appointed receiver requested jail time as Stolz is said to be interfering with the court-ordered sale of his stations to pay judgements.  

Stortz was arrested by US Marshals but released the next day - and promptly filed another appeal over the sale of his stations by the Court. 

1/26/21 - Backhoe fade of a Verizon FIOS cable caused major Internet disruptions on the East Coast Tuesday. Aftereffects are still being resolved.

On the West Coast - a severe storm in Northern California caused power and Internet outages, especially near Sacramento and Santa Cruz.

12/4/20 - The large radar astronomy dish at Arecibo, Puerto Rico is completely destroyed.  James Bond will not return. Here is the actual collapse.
Also, This is a video closeup and analysis.
And this video is from the head of telescope operations, Angel (WP3R).
More information and pictures of the destruction.

9/23/20 - The SBE chose James Ragsdale as their new Executive Director, effective January 1, 2021.

Mr. Ragsdale, a business manager and financial analyst at several companies and universities, comes from the Vice President for finance position at Anderson University.

8/13/20 - Salem Media Group admitted today they have joined the ranks of stations and groups affected by malware. They said that a ransomware attack happened on some of their systems on August 7th. FTP operations were among those disrupted. (a partial list of victims)

7/13/20 - Multiple station owner, Ed Stolz, has had three of his FMs placed in receivership due to his loss in lawsuits from ASCAP and other music copyright holders. The dispute, now over 8 years in length, resulted in well over $1 million in damages and lawyers fees.

7/8/20 - Mood Media - the parent of the Muzak service - filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy this week, not long after announcing there were no problems at the company. Some $650 million in debts are involved. (Hat Tip: Bob Cauthen, SCMS)

4/15/20 - The Las Vegas Convention Center is spending some $980 million to construct 600,000 more square feet for exhibitions. The new "West Hall," entry lobby, and meeting rooms are under construction where the West Parking Lot and Riviera Hotel used to be. A new tunnel system featuring electric vehicles will allow attendees to move around - making it much easier and quicker to go from the west end to the southeast part of the South Hall.

3/31/20 - Townsquare Media's WGBF-FM in Evansville IN, lost their tower to a tornado. While repairs are being made, transmission is coming from another site.

2/13/20 - The McClatchy Company, the third-largest newspaper publisher in the U.S. by circulation - with 29 daily newspapers - has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At one time McClatchy was a broadcaster with stations including KFBK, Sacramento CA.

1/14/20 - Microsoft has official retired Windows 7 as at End of Life. No support nor further security updates are to be made available. However, several sites indicate you can upgrade to Windows 10 without charge.

12/17/19 - It is now 30 years for "The Simpsons" ... and the series has been renewed through the 32nd season - a record.

12/16/19 - The FCC has proposed using 988 as the National Suicide Prevention & Mental Health Hotline.

12/15/19 - >Newly elected UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that his government will "withdraw engagement" from a popular BBC Radio news program and consider ending rules that make payment of television user license fees mandatory. Johnson claims the BBC has shown a bias against his political party and the decision to exit the European Union. Meanwhile, the BBC warns that ending its licensing fee would reduce its programming budget by $267 million.

12/14/19 - WNCU in Durham, NC reported they were hit by ransomware, and have been scrambling to recover. The source of the infection is not currently known.

Meanwhile, a current report from Verizon shows that four out of five breaches from hackers came from either stolen and/or weak passwords. And Microsoft released a statement urging that ransom demands not be paid - not only can they be expensive but there is no guarantee a working key will be delivered. Microsoft recommends backing up data, tightening network access, update software and develop good email protocols.

We also recommend Ron Castro's look at what has worked for his stations.

12/3/19 - Casey Kasem's family settled their competing "wrongful death" lawsuits against each other (the children vs Casey's second wife, Jean). The strange odyssey saw Kasem moved from LA to Washington State and, in the end, his body ended up in Oslo, Norway. A sad end for a man who was famous for his work on the air in Radio and Television. His uplifting signature signoff: "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."

11/20/19 - Sadly, another tower worker death in the broadcast industry - the eighth in 2019. An 80-foot fall took the life of a 43-year-old rigger in Mississippi working on a 380-foot self-supporter.

11/18/19 - The BDR has had some reports that folks trying to sign up for the one-time-a-week Newsletter had gotten a "security risk" display in some browsers. This has been determined to be an effect of moving things to the secure https URLs. Apparently Mailman - the list server - using an undeclared subdomain of "lists," ran afoul of some of the browser architects. This issue has now been fixed. Opt-In subs can be accessed here.

11/14/19 - Looking for some protection from ransomware? One group found Heimdal Security's product to solve their problems.

10/24/19 - Ransomware hit Bicoastal Media in Oregon. The five station cluster in Hood River and The Dalles OR had been crippled by ransomware on the 22nd (Tuesday). A week later, it is fortunate that all seems to getting back to normal. But, as we have discussed many times, all it takes is one click on a fishing email and your entire station(s) can go down. Dare we repeat: training of staff is more essential these days than ever.

10/20/19 - WPFA, Ft. Payne AL, was evicted from their offices/studio for failure to pay rent. Even their tower was dismantled, although the station has a new site and plans to build the new tower there.

9/14/19 - It seems clear now that Entercom has joined the number of broadcasters suffering from an apparent major network system attack over the past weekend. The company will not confirm, but reports seem to indicate the entry point was a programming side computer. One report says a ransom demand for $500k has been received.

At last report all Entercom email is slowly being restored (resolution is unclear - employees are told to use personal email for necessary communications). Internet is marginal, IT personnel have been telling people not to connect laptops to the networks. One report displayed what appears to be an internal memo, describing the situation and telling employees not to say anything outside the company. So far as we know, the phones still work.

9/9/19 - WJOI (1230) and WNOR (FM) in Norfolk, VA are going to get a new tower - not due to destruction from the recent hurricane, but Saga Communications is replacing the 540-foot tower, built in the 1970s, before weather, erosion, rust, and salt air did cause a collapse. The replacement tower, said to cost around $1 million, will take about four months to erect. 

8/28/19 - Two FM translators using the same frequency in Chicago just sold for $3.5 million. "Clubsteppin" is aimed at the African American audience in Chicago.

8/27/19 - KBBG-FM in Waterloo IA apparently is in big trouble. Since March, the station reports their transmitter, digital STL, audio processor, music files, and data files have all died and need to be replaced.

8/14/19 - The roll call of stations (see 7/19/19 below, and at bottom) hit with ransomware continues to grow. KNEO in Neosha MO was hit with a demand for $100,000 which the station did not pay. GM Mark Taylor says the station will overcome the hack,  the station has stayed on the air while IT people sort through the damage. Some good reminders on protection are here. Food for thought: Here

8/14/19 - Ever get to the car/truck and realize you forgot the keys? A Tesla owner, realizing she did not even get a key with her car, had a novel solution: a chip in her arm.

8/12/19 - It took 72 years, but KQTY Radio in Borger TX is signing off for the last time on August 16th. The station, which debuted as KHUZ on January 8, 1947 was a victim of reduced coverage, listenership, and advertising income. The owner is turning in the license for the station, but will continue to operate the co-owner FM station.

8/7/19 - You probably have read about Equifax loss to hackers of millions of people's information. Some reports say you could get up to $20,000 by filing with Equifax if your data is compromised - or get some years of free credit monitoring. Two things, 1) Millions of people already have filed for part of the $31 million set aside to compensate people. 2) check to see if your data might be compromised and make you eligible for the credit monitoring.

8/6/19 - Think payola is old history? According to Rolling Stone, the broadcast industry is as bad as ever.

7/17/19 - WMNF, Tampa, reported getting hit by a ransomware demand. In this case, years of archived programs and data may be lost. Fortunately, the station says no financial (donor/payroll/etc) information was hacked. While help has been sought from a data recovery company, results are not guaranteed, but are expensive.

7/9/19 - Reports say Samsung has fixed the problem with the Galaxy Fold screen failures, although an exact release date is yet to be announced. The phone, to be competed with by the forthcoming Huawei Mate X, is expected to have a price of - are you ready? - $1980.

6/23/19 - A 25-year-old man was electrocuted Sunday while trying to steal copper in Dallas.

6/1/19 - Tower collapse takes KELK, Reno NV, down. The cause was a semi that hit a guy wire, dropping the 198-foot tower. The accident also damaged power lines, a restaurant, and three cars. The station plans to rebuild.

5/28/19 - Jon Levine, a TV Weatherman in Dayton Ohio, responds to twitterers who were complaining about storm/tornado coverage interrupting a reaity show. How vapid can viewers be? (Thanks, Adrienne Abbott)

>More broadcast ransomware victims:

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