The following is excerpted from the Alabama Broadcasters Association’s weekly e-newsletter, Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes. Thanks to Larry Wilkins, who puts together the content and has shared it with Radio magazine readers. To subscribe to the newsletter, send an email to email@example.com, and he will add you to the database.
TODAY’S RADIO PRODUCTION ROOM:
There was a time when a radio station production room included a large console, tape machines (both reel and cartridge), turntables, plus various processors and effect equipment.
The production room of today often consists of a lap top and digital interface...oh... and a microphone. Production personnel no longer have to stand in line or book time in the production room. It can be done at their desk or even at home.
Multi track Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software has changed the way stations produce content for the station. Equipment and software cost are minimal (some DAW software is actually free).
Understanding the principles of digital audio/recording is a must to assure the product is top quality. One of the top recording and mastering engineers Bob Katz said, “The problem we see in digital production is the engineer fails to understand what is ‘under the hood’ of digital audio. As a result they make fundamental mistakes that result in the finished product only being a B when it could have been an A+.”
NATIONAL EAS TEST:
Not to sound like a broken record, but we want to remind you again about the National EAS Test scheduled for Sept. 27 at 2:20 PM Eastern Time. Engineers and operators should take a few minutes to verify that their EAS equipment is still programmed correctly to receive the National Test.
This test will be originated and distributed via IPAWS only; the same manner as the 2016 National Test. The test will be sent with the event code NPT for National Periodic Test. All stations are expected to receive the NPT message from IPAWS or off-air and then to relay the NPT message on-air using their normal studio EAS equipment. The message will be sent with both English and Spanish language text and audio.
- Make sure your EAS equipment is operational (powered on and operating properly).
- Verify each EAS unit has the correct time displayed. We have seen a number of units that are off by several minutes or on the wrong time zone. Equipment should be programmed to automatically synchronize to an internet time source. Even if it is set to a time server, check the clock for the correct time.
- Verify you have a local incoming filter programmed to receive the NPT code, and it is set to automatic relay and not log only. The originator should be set to Primary Entry Point, and the event should be set to National Periodic Test (NPT).
- Verify your station is receiving the IPAWS Required Weekly Test (RWT) on Mondays at 11 a.m. local time. This will assure your equipment is polling the IPAWS national server correctly.
- If your station plans to rebroadcast the alert in Spanish, verify that the correct settings are programmed to access the Spanish version of the message. Since the procedure varies among equipment, contact the support number for your EAS unit.
- Engineers should (if possible) be on site for the test on Sept. 27. This way you can verify firsthand the proper reception and relay as well the quality of the audio transmission.
SO YOU WILL KNOW:
Although not an engineering item, it is good for you to keep up with things that effect the station operations overall.
The FCC on Sept. 1 postponed the due date for the submission of 2017 biennial broadcast ownership reports to the FCC until March 2, 2018. Biennial ownership reports are required to be filed every two years by all commercial and (starting this year) noncommercial AM, FM, TV, Class A and LPTV stations and entities holding attributable ownership interests in those stations. This year's reports had initially been due to be filed by Dec. 1.
The start of the filing window was postponed, according to the FCC, “... to provide sufficient time to properly implement the electronic versions of the revised Forms 323 and 323-E in the Licensing and Management System (LMS)” and to work around upcoming holidays.
WEEKLY FCC RULE REVIEW: POSTING OF STATION LICENSE
Stations have often asked where the station license should be kept. FCC rule 73.1230 Posting of station license indicates:
(a) The station license and any other instrument of station authorization shall be posted in a conspicuous place and in such a manner that all terms are visible at the place the licensee considers to be the principal control point of the transmitter.
(b) Posting of the station license and any other instruments of authorization shall be done by affixing them to the wall at the posting location, or by enclosing them in a binder or folder which is retained at the posting location so that the documents will be readily available and easily accessible.
In days gone by, stations would frame the license and hang it on the wall in the control room. Today the recommended way is to put the original in the authorization folder of the public file and if desired to display, make a copy and place on the wall. Good engineering practice is to keep a copy at the transmitter. In order that the license and other documents kept at the transmitter don't turn into a buffet for various “critters,” place them in a plastic container.
Don't forget that the latest license renewal must be kept with the original license!
On a side note, the station license usually can be located on the FCC website; however a number of older AM station licenses that were not filed electronically are not available on the FCC site. As a result it is a good idea to scan the AM license and save as a pdf. This will be necessary as radio stations move their public files on the FCC hosted web site early next year.