Reno, Nevada, is not a huge market, rating somewhere between 127 and
129 over the last four years. In a 75 mile radius of Reno, there are 34
AM/FM radio stations.
Something that happened only three years ago. After AT&T took over
TCI cable, one television station, KDP-55, ended up losing their doors.
They were only an LP-TV 1kW station, who AT&T decided that KDP was
not powerful enough to be allowed on the cable. The local newspapers,
local TV listing and even the national TV Guide would not publish the
station or programming since their signal was not large enough to cover
a wide part of the market area, which caused the station to not be able
to gain enough revenue to stay open since fewer and fewer people even
knew the station existed.
Of the radio stations in the main downtown of Reno, 22 stations are
owned by four conglomerates, and rate more than 85 percent of Arbitron
over the last four periods. Of the remaining stations,three are
religious, three are Spanish/Hispanic, one is an NPR/PRI
non-commercial. The remaining stations of the 34, fall in Carson City,
South Lake Tahoe and Fallon.
The Spanish and independent stations are screaming bloody murder, as,
just like KDP, they are fighting hard to get their call-signs listed in
the local newspapers with their formats but seem to be falling on deaf
They were listed beforehand, before the four ‘major’
players consolidated the newly purchased independents. With the limited
budget they have, they can’t afford to advertise on television
either since they don’t have the buying power of the major
players. They are sweating any change of equipment right now.
Hopefully, you are right in that the FCC will probably not mandate the
rules for IBOC, as the independent stations are afraid to buy any
equipment now with so many different standards just for inside
For video alone ... with eight different storage modes that I’ve
counted ... I have yet to find one DVD/CD style player that will play
all formats. There may be a few units that play enough formats to only
need two players, but at least with the home entertainment equipment
companies I’ve rummaged through in the Reno area, I’d have
to purchase three different players to be able to play all
There are just so many standards, that it makes it very costly to
mix/match equipment to make sure all signals flow. (The debacle of the
C-QUAM AM between the FCC’s extended period to finally chose the
standard; then the “big wigs” ... Clear Channel, AMFM Inc.,
ABC/Disney, Infinity and a couple of others ... deciding they
don’t want AM stereo so they turn off their stuff ... many
manufacturers decide not to support it since the big wigs won’t
spend money on it ... and those independents are stuck with equipment
that is on the air but is no longer supported after the expense they
The local independents I’ve talked to are afraid of the same
thing with radio, that just as they think they have the equipment to
play what is available, that a new format/standard will come out and
they have to change again. Reading your article with all of the fees
that may be accessed, may even bankrupt the smaller stations, should
the FCC mandate the equipment and the fees become reality.
My opinion on IBOC, especially if placed in a vehicle, is that it could
be quite a distraction to the driver, who may want to look at the
information on the display instead of the road and may cause even more
accidents than what already is happening with cell phones, people
talking, eating, etc., while driving in good/bad weather and various
types of congestion. When I listen to radio at home, I do it because I
don’t want to have a distraction while I’m working, or to
lull myself to sleep, or whatever, not needing that temptation to have
to stare at it to see what is scrawling on the display as well. And
there are millions of cars of the vintage era, that should there not be
a backward compatibility to the broadcast, will have their radios
silenced since to put something not within the era into a vehicle, will
ruin the value of the vehicle.
I guess technology will do what it’s going to do, especially if
you’ve got companies that own hundreds of stations and are the
ones who [now] steer what technology will be and can support it, to the
dismay of tight-budget small stations. Hopefully, we won’t lose
the independents because of the deep pocket conglomerates.
Gregg E. Zuelke
Silver Springs, NV
More on the IBOCle
The other shoe dropped in the continuing IBOCcle story with Chriss
Scherer’s reporting in his column [Viewpoint, May 2002] about the
licensing fees to broadcasters proposed by Iniquity. In fact, this
story already broke, like wind when someone cuts the cheese, at a
recent SBE chapter meeting here. At least you would have thought
that’s what happened by the reaction around the room.
Fortunately, we didn’t shoot the messenger who shall remain
nameless here. We appreciated his honesty in volunteering this
information, heretofore unannounced.
Now with the news that AM IBOCcle should be shut down at night, it
seems its fate should be sealed. I write this prior to the NAB
convention and can hardly wait for the reports of the reaction there,
assuming the reaction is accurately reported. Reaction from those
closely associated with Iniquity, including anyone working for those
companies which provide financial backing to it, should be taken with
the appropriate grain of salt, or discarded altogether. After all,
those companies won’t be taking as much risk since they’ll
be effectively paying the ridiculous licensing fee to themselves. The
latest BE Radio deals with the license fee issue in a column but also
includes a one page article from someone associated with Iniquity which
is pretty long on promises and pretty short on specifics. Looks like a
sales piece to me.
It speaks of how we could (emphasis mine) have interactiveness IF there
is a way to send back info from your car’s back seat, etc. Where
is the hardware for this pie-in-the-sky scheme? Talk about selling the
The various misspellings, as well as additions to well known acronyms,
were intentional and meant to infer my opinion of the whole impending
Mike Shane, CBRE
Your Viewpoint on IBOC in the April issue of BE Radio was the most
honest summary I have read to date on the subject. There has been some
seriously negative editorializing in publications on IBOC recently. The
technology may not be perfect but it keeps getting improving and the
new PAC coding scheme should even be better. Digital radio is going to
happen in the U.S. If not IBOC, then the FCC will find a separate band
and broadcasting as we know it will change forever.
Susquehanna Radio has been purchasing IBOC-ready transmitters for
several years and has capital money designated for the new technology
rollout. Your editorial mentioned the costs and from a financial
standpoint there will be little R.O.I. for IBOC as receivers are
several years away from being plentiful. We will have increased power
bills along with capital equipment costs while few people are listening
to the IBOC signal. Radio has faced competition from 8-tracks,
cassette, CD and in-vehicle video. We are now facing another new
technological competition with digital satellite radio. I have listened
to satellite and the lack of multipath interference is impressive.
However, IBOC audio sounds better to me than satellite. Radio also has
the advantage of mostly locally originated programming. That along with
improved audio will keep radio viable into the future. Radio needs to
migrate into an IBOC format to improve signal quality and remain
competitive in the digital age.
director of technical operations
Susquehanna Radio Corporation
Another view on streaming
I’ve just been reading the April issue, and have one comment:
the do-it-yourself option for streaming doesn’t require two
seperate machines for encoding and serving. they can be the same
The author, Stephanie Snyder responds:
It would be possible to use the same machine for both live serving
and encoding, but it would not be recommended. We often tested that in
R&D at my old company and it just isnt a stable solution for
someone who wants a 24-hour-a-day stream for thier audience.
Mr. Harrison noted that he is doing this for a one hour show once a
week. He also mentions that he sets it up to encode and then post the
stream, so it doesnt sound like he is using it in a live
Serving streams places a heavy load on the processing power of a
machine. Older machines simply do not have the processing power
required to perform both features in live real-time applications. They
will lock up often, taking own the streams for all users. Newer
machines with higher processing speeds can do both—up to a point.
A machine that can successfully encode and stream five or ten streams,
will often start to reach it’s limit at 15, 20, or more users
(depending on the specific hardware being used). Degraded performance
will go through a few stages. First, the streams (of all users) will
start to buffer more frequently. Next the encoder’s performance
will be less stable and will slow down dropping packets, so the station
wont sound as good. Finally the machine will lock up or blue screen,
taking down all users.
This is not something I would reccomend to a station trying to set up
its own always-on webcast.
Great magazine, but you’re making me feel like an old timer.
In the April 2002Sign Off you have a picture of our standby transmitter
, the Cetec Sparta 603. Ours is actually an Elcom Bauer 603. The
headline reads Do You Remember?
Actually we not only remember it, we use it once in a while when
necessary and it fires up every time. We had it in service as our main
transmitter from 1983 until we upgraded to 25kW four years ago. I
believe one of our competitors still has one in service every day. It
is a good rig.
Maynard R. Meyer
Details on WTAQ
The That was Then portion of the April Sign Off showed the studio of
WTAQ. We could not identify the console, the turntables or the
tonearms, but you certainly did. We were flooded with repsonses. The
mixer was made by Sparta. Many readers told us that it looked like the
AS-15, except that the AS-15 had five rotary pots. The mixer at WTAQ
only had four pots. Becasue of this, it was pointed out that it had to
be an AS-100.
The turntables and tonearms were a little more difficult in determining
a single answer. Most readers think that the turntables are Rek-o-cut
G-2, BH-12 or K-33 models with Gray Research tonearms. Some felt that
the turntables are from Gates. Thanks to everyone who submitted their