Happy New Year from Radio magazine. We all have those “holiday horror stories” but I hope the end of 2014 was enjoyable and for the most part uneventful around your broadcast plant.
The past year brought a number of stories from all corners of the industry. Many of them touched on regulatory issues under consideration by the FCC, but we''ve also seen an increasing focus on IT security, mobile broadband, and streaming (particularly in cars).
2014 also marks the year that several legacy broadcast equipment companies closed their doors. These included SRS Electronics (where George Marti still occasionally worked on the RPU and STL equipment bearing his name), Energy-Onix (following the death of Bernie Wise late in 2013) and most recently, Dayton Industrial. The fact that these companies are no longer around is a direct reflection of the changing face of broadcast technology and the broadcast engineer. IP codecs are fast replacing RF RPU links and STLs; solid-state transmitters have become far more “modular” and easier to maintain than even the simplest grounded grid designs; and there are new options for facility and signal monitoring on the market. Knowing how to maintain an RF and audio plant continues to matter, but knowing how to maintain the broadcast IT infrastructure is equally if not more important.
Here are a few of the areas we''ll continue to watch in 2015:
- · Audio over IP, including the developing AESx210 standard
- · The increasing use of IP codecs between facilities as program loops, ISDN lines and other legacy services are discontinued by telephone companies
- · HD Radio, including receiver availability in new cars, and possible all-digital operation for AM stations
- · LTE and Wi-Fi Connectivity in cars
- · FM chips in smartphones and the NextRadio project
- · Proposed FCC actions including AM band revitalization, online public files for radio broadcasters, EAS rule changes, broadband availability and net neutrality
- · The changing role of the broadcast engineer in today''s broadcast facilities
If I have one takeaway from 2014, it would be “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Many of these stories sound familiar and have been covered in the past, but they continue to develop and gain importance.
Radio is a medium that many people are passionate about. Despite the grumblings from some about programming becoming “generic” and competition from other media sources, there are still a number of very talented people producing compelling radio content on a daily basis. One of my colleagues used to refer to radio as “a rare medium, well done.”.The technology continues to change and our industry faces many challenges, but the things that make radio unique have not. I look forward to what 2015 will bring for the industry.