Radio Currents Online - Feb 14 - Feb 20, 2005

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Radio Currents Online - Feb 14 - Feb 20, 2005

Feb 14, 2005 3:45 PM

Radio technology news updated as it happens.

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Radio Educacion to Commence DRM Tests in Mexico
Mexico City - Feb 18, 2005 - The Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation has authorized the immediate commencement of a national DRM testing project, to be carried out by Radio Educacion, the country's public, cultural and educational network. Jorge Rodriguez Castaneda, the ministry's director general of radio and television systems, made the announcement at Digital Radio Mondiale's first symposium in Mexico City on Feb. 9. As he led the inauguration of DRM at the event, Castaneda presented Dr. Lidia Camacho, director general of Radio Educacion, with the official permit authorizing DRM testing, signed by Secretary of Communications and Transportation Pedro Cerisola y Weber.

More than 80 commercial and non-commercial representatives of the Mexican broadcasting industry heard about DRM from a panel of DRM experts.

The symposium featured a live broadcast of the actual switch of Radio Educacion from analog medium-wave/AM to DRM, as the Mexican testing process began. Radio Educacion prepared a special, 20-minute broadcast for the DRM event.

DRM members Harris and Riz Transmitter were involved in preparations for the symposium broadcasts. Harris installed a DRM modulator board within a Harris DX50 transmitter, and Riz installed a 2W SW DRM transmitter system on 25.62MHz. Symposium attendees heard DRM live on short-wave courtesy of DRM members Christian Vision from Chile; Deutsche Welle from French Guyana; HCJB from Ecuador, RCI from Canada, Radio Netherlands from Bonaire; and TDF from French Guyana.

Nextel Accepts FCC R&O, SBE Supports Transition Plan
Indianapolis - Feb 16, 2005 - On Feb. 7, 2005, Nextel Communications formally accepted the FCC Report and Order (R&O) to improve public safety communications in the 800MHz band and reallocate spectrum at 2GHz for use by mobile satellite service and advanced wireless services. Among the obligations assumed by Nextel under the terms of this R&O is the transformation of the existing 2GHz Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) band, used extensively for fixed and mobile microwave operations, from 120MHz of total bandwidth down to 85MHz while keeping the number of channels at seven.

Reducing the available channel bandwidth by 25 percent or more, while preserving comparable facilities for broadcasters and other incumbent users, will require a massive technological transformation throughout the television industry in less than three years' time. The Society of Broadcast Engineers, recognizing the scope of this undertaking and its impact on the industry, joins with Nextel in committing its efforts to the successful completion of this task. Following the announcement from Nextel, SBE President Raymond Benedict, CPBE said, "Nextel recognized SBE's established reputation in frequency coordination, making this joint effort a natural fit. We expect that our involvement will help smooth what could be a difficult transition."

Owing to its involvement in spectrum policy issues at the national level, SBE has an extensive track record in the 2GHz reallocation matter. Throughout the multi-year history of this proceeding, SBE has defended the interests of broadcasters and their audiences, and to ensure a fair and equitable relocation procedure. When the FCC issued earlier orders that would have had the effect of treating small- to medium-market stations substantially worse than top-30 market stations in the relocation process, the SBE drew on the experience the society's volunteer local frequency coordinators to document how such a plan would disrupt the timely dissemination of local news to portions of the public. In light of such failings of earlier plans, the SBE is pleased to be on record in support of the plan advocated by Nextel and other organizations, which addresses BAS relocation equitably across all broadcast markets while simultaneously alleviating problems affecting some public safety communications systems in the 800MHz band.

Benedict went on to say, "While this project appears to affect only television broadcasters, it is really much more. The general public is affected by the spectrum reallocations through TV service and public safety communications. The plan being implemented addresses many different concerns from the smallest to the largest TV broadcaster."

The SBE is acting as a consultant to Nextel to ensure the smoothest possible 2GHz relocation to the new channel plan - the channel plan that the SBE proposed in its comments, and which the FCC adopted in November 2003 in ET Dockets 95-18 and 00-258, and IB Docket No. 01-185.

In the months leading up to Nextel's formal acceptance, engineers in more than a dozen major markets have had the opportunity to learn about Nextel's proposal in meetings arranged and facilitated by local volunteer frequency coordinators. Local volunteers are supported in this effort by SBE Frequency Coordination Director David P. Otey, CSTE, who is also the society's primary liaison with Nextel's BAS relocation team. Through the involvement of market-based frequency coordinators, SBE will facilitate communication between broadcasters and the Nextel project team.

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Process Begins to Select New NAB President
Washington - Feb 16, 2005 - Edward Fritts, president of the National Association of Broadcasters since 1982, notified the NAB Board of Directors of his desire to begin the succession process that leads to the selection of a new president for the association. Fritts' contract as president runs until April 2006. The search committee to identify Fritts' successor is co-chaired by Philip Lombardo, CEO of Citadel Communications and NAB joint board chairman, and David Kennedy, president of Susquehanna Media Company and immediate past joint board chairman.

Lombardo and Kennedy will begin the process of retaining an executive search firm to identify potential NAB presidential candidates.

Fritts owned a broadcast company based in Mississippi before being elected NAB president in 1982.

McCain Introduces Broadcasting Reform Legislation
Washington - Feb 15, 2005 - Following the release of survey data on broadcasters'' coverage of the 2004 election cycle, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) remarked on the results and announced the introduction of the Localism in Broadcasting Reform Act of 2005.

From McCain's speech:

"Thank you, Dean Kaplan for your work analyzing another year''s local news coverage of local elections. It is incredible that since you began studying local news coverage in 1988, broadcasters have yet to show marked improvement.

"One of the most startling statistics from the study is the ratio of political advertisements to candidate news stories aired during a half-hour news cast. Reduced news coverage led candidates to spend over $1.6 billion on television ads in 2004 to introduce themselves to voters, double the amount spent in 2000.

"Another interesting finding was that eight times more news coverage went to stories about accidental injuries than local elections. From what I can gather, if a local candidate wants to be on television, and cannot afford to advertise, his only hope may be to have a freak accident.

"Last summer, after hearing similar data, FCC Chairman Michael Powell and I challenged all local broadcast television and radio stations to provide their local communities with significant information on the local political issues facing communities, the local candidates'' campaign platforms, and the local candidate debates during the 2004 election.

"In response to the challenge, many broadcasters sent volumes of material detailing their extensive election coverage and committing to increase their coverage in 2004. To those broadcasters, thank you for serving your viewers.

"To those broadcasters whose dismal performance is captured in this study or whose performance was as dismal as the broadcasters in the study, I question how you are meeting your obligation to use the Nation''s spectrum to serve the "public interest.

"Therefore, I feel it is now time to introduce legislation to bring local back into local broadcasting. Later today, I will introduce the Localism in Broadcasting Reform Act of 2005, which would reduce the license term for broadcasters from eight years to three years, thereby requiring broadcasters to provide the FCC with information every three years on why their licenses should be renewed.

"Additionally, the bill would require the full Commission to review five percent of all license and renewal applications, and would command broadcasters to post on their Internet sites information detailing their commitment to local public affairs programming. The bill also calls for the FCC to complete its open proceeding on whether public interest obligations should apply to broadcasters in the digital era.

"I believe this legislation is a step in the right direction. It will have a small impact on those stations that are currently meeting their public interest obligations, but it should have a large impact on those citizens whose local broadcaster is not meeting its obligation to serve the local community. I refuse to believe that the "public interest" is served by three minutes of campaign coverage and a 12 second sound bite from a candidate during a half-hour local news program. Citizens deserve more from their local broadcaster."

FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein offered a statement that showed agreement with McCain's belief.

"Judging by this study, many broadcasters are failing to fulfill their responsibility to help their viewers participate in an educated way in our democracy. This adds to the growing pile of studies showing TV offers only the most cursory coverage of local elections. This should be an embarrassment for broadcasters who pride themselves on localism.

"Senator McCain, Chairman Powell and I last year called for better coverage at the 2004 election. Apparently, many broadcasters did not heed the call. While voluntary measures are preferable, results like these underscore the need for the government to make sure the public gets more back in exchange for the free use of their airwaves."

With FCC Commissioners behind it, the McCain-proposed legislation has a strong chance of being accepted.

The Kaplan study did not include radio coverage of the elections.

FCC Gets $2.25B for Wireless Spectrum
Washington - Feb 15, 2005 - In an auction that ended Feb. 15, the FCC raised $2.25 billion for wireless spectrum. Verizon and a partner collectively own 63 of the 242 licenses with almost $697.4 million in bids. The licenses cover many major cities. Some of the licenses were restricted to bids from small groups, so some larger carriers formed partnerships or made other arrangements to gain access to the bidding.

The highest bid went to a license in Los Angeles: $374.5 million. It was offered by Royal Street Communications, a partner of Metro PCS Communications. Reuters reports that this company was the single biggest bidder, offering $387.4 million for six licenses.

In all, the auction attracted 35 bidders.


Axia Audio Adds Pippin Technical in Canada
Cleveland - Feb 17, 2004 - Pippin Technical, based in Saskatchewan, Canada recently became the official Axia representative in the Great White North. Pippin Technical started as a broadcast technical services company in the 1970s, and has since grown from providing technicians to install studio systems to supplying hardware and software.

For Sale: Solid State Logic
New York - Feb 15, 2005 - Solid Sate Logic (SSL), a manufacturer of large-format audio consoles, is for sale. According to a statement from the company's headquarters in Oxford, UK, the decision to sell SSL and its subsidiaries came following a dispute between stakeholders over development funding. The statement added that SSL Holdings Group hoped for a sale by March 31 and had received several offers. Existing shareholders may rebid for the business under a new financial structure. Grant Thornton UK has been retained as professional advisers by the shareholders of the group to assist and advise them on the sale of all the group''s share capital.

A confidential Information Memorandum is being issued to a restricted number of potential purchasers. The company continues to manufacture its product line.

Audemat-Aztec Collaborates with Clear Channel to Customize HD Radio Monitoring Units
Miami - Feb 15 2005 - Clear Channel has placed an order for 49 Goldeneagle HD FM modulation monitors and 14 Goldeneagle HD AM modulation monitors. The Audemat-Aztec monitors were specifically designed and customized to meet the needs of Clear Channel.

"We chose Audemat-Aztec to supply our HD Radio modulation monitors because we have had great success with the Audemat-Aztec RBDS encoders and other Audemat-Aztec products," said Steve Davis, senior vice president, engineering and capital management for Clear Channel Radio. "Of significant value was the ability to customize the units, adding a spectrum analyzer display, frequency agility, and the ability to monitor multiple audio streams," said Davis.

Goldeneagle HD is a monitoring unit dedicated to the permanent monitoring of the quality and continuity of HD Radio signals, FM/AM signals, PAD and RBDS data. An embedded spectrum analyzer is available as an option to monitor power of the sidebands and other parameters. Goldeneagle HD has an embedded Web server and SMTP server for alarms notification as well as a touchpad screen on the front-panel. Installed on the transmitting site, it can also be used as a remote control unit, depending on configuration. Goldeneagle HD can monitor several stations on one market.

Ultrasone Named Exclusive Headphone for SAE
Franklin, TN - Feb 15, 2005 - Ultrasone headphones have been named the exclusive headphone for the School of Audio Engineering (SAE) Institute worldwide. Ultrasone will fully equip SAE''s facilities in 19 countries worldwide with its proprietary listening and monitoring technology, including the Proline series headphones.

SAE is a privately funded recording and multimedia technical education institution.

Harris Tapped by Communications International During Florida State of Emergency
Cincinnati - Feb 15, 2005 - Broadcasting and microwave systems from Harris were used to restore the emergency communications infrastructure of Florida's Indian River County following the devastation caused by two hurricanes in September 2004. Harris supplied four Intraplex Digital Crossconnect Systems (DCS) for T1 line redundancy and the Aurora Spread Spectrum digital microwave radio to Communications International (CII). The redundant system was shipped and delivered in less that five days and the overall replacement project, which usually takes one to two months, was accomplished within the week, with CII completing the remainder of the installation.

Indian River County, located about 100 miles south of Orlando on the Atlantic coast, was in the path of destruction during the 2004 hurricane season. Hurricane Jeanne was the second of four storms to sweep through the state that year, resulting in damage that amounted to $6.5 billion. The E911 system - a fiber network linking the county's fire, police and EMS agencies - was destroyed by Jeanne, leaving the area with limited communication and disabling emergency response efforts. Working with CII, Harris assembled a modular and fault-tolerant system that ensured line protection with connectivity via microwave or fiber.

Sales Call

  • Wheatstone has sold a Generation/Bridge system to Family Life Communications in Tuscon, AZ. The system includes three Generation 4 digital control surfaces, three satellite cages, two Bridge routers and four rack controllers along with Wiremax studio pre-wiring. Delivery is scheduled for May 2005.
    PeopleSchecter Named CE of JP San Diego
    San Diego - Feb 18, 2005 - The San Diego cluster of radio stations of Jefferson-Pilot Communications has named Eric Schecter as the director of engineering for the market. He will oversee technical operations of KSON-AM/FM, KSOQ-FM, KIFM-FM and KBZT-FM. Schecter will report directly to Darrel Goodin, VP/general manager of JPCC Radio/San Diego.A 1979 graduate of the University of Arizona, Schecter served as Phoenix engineering manager for AM/FM before joining Infinity Broadcasting as engineering manager for Phoenix stations KMLE-FM, KOOL-FM and KZON-FM. Schecter''s move reunites him with Goodin, who had served as director of national sales for AM/FM in Phoenix in the 1990s.Schecter will begin his new duties on March 7.OMT hires Dixon as Imediatouch Sr. Account Manager
    Winnipeg, MB - Feb 17, 2005 - OMT has added Obie Dixon to the Imediatouch sales team as a senior account manager. Dixon is no stranger to the broadcast industry. Starting his radio career in 1978, he has worked as an on-air personality, radio salesman, sports director, play-by-play announcer and marketing director at several stations. For last 15 years, Dixon has worked in several sectors including sales positions for traffic, billing and automation systems manufacturers and radio consultant to stations. He worked for Computer Concepts as the southeast regional sales manager for 13 years. He also held positions with Turnkey Media Systems and Pristine Systems.American Country Countdown Promotes Halford to Producer
    Dallas - Feb 17, 2004 - American Country Countdown has promoted Chief Engineer Ken Halford to producer. In his new position, Halford will work directly with Executive Producer and Host Bob Kingsley on the weekly show, his daily America's Music Maker and the annual Bob Kingsley Presents holiday specials.Trask Promoted to DE of JP Atlanta
    Atlanta - Jan 27, 2005 - Scott Trask has been promoted to director of engineering of Jefferson-Pilot Atlanta radio stations WSTR-FM, WQXI-FM/AM. He succeeds Tom Giglio, who will continue to oversee technical operations in all five JPCC radio markets as corporate VP of engineering.Trask first came to WQXI-AM as a board operator 10 years ago. He also served as a sports reporter for WSTR-FM and worked in traffic/continuity before training to become an engineer in 1999. In 2004, Trask was promoted to assistant director of engineering.Trask begins his new duties immediately.Internet WatchStaco Presents Online Store
    Dayton, OH - Feb 17, 2004 - Staco's website,, offers variable transformers and a full complement of replacement parts. Customers can purchase the company''s UPS system, the Unistar Sx, directly from the factory. The site also allows users to easily find product information that is specific to their industry. Downloadable technical information such as product guide specifications, engineering drawings, users'' manuals and its UPS specific monitoring software are also available.ProductsImediatouch Expands NPR Content Depot Support
    Winnipeg - Feb 11, 2005 - OMT''s flagship Imediatouch digital audio and broadcast system expands its NPR''s Content Depot capabilities with the new Imediaimport Module. While the Imediatouch production software already supports Content Depot audio, Imediaimport simplifies the process and automatically places the audio into Imediatouch.Click here to receive the Radio magazine Currents Online Weekly E-mail.