Weekly Tech Reminders: ETRS, Toolbox, Rule Review & More

An excerpt from this week’s Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes.
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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 lwilkins@al-ba.com, and he will add you to the database.


A reminder to all EAS participants: You are required to file Form One of the EAS Test Reporting System today, Aug. 27.

This form is the same as last year and will self-populate a good portion of the information. Filers can access ETRS by visiting the ETRS page of the commission's website at https://www.fcc.gov/general/eas-test-reporting-system. Use the same login information as you did last year.


Will Rodgers once stated, “Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.” In broadcast engineering, a technician that doesn't keep up with the rapid changing technology will soon become useless.

The ABA Engineering Academy was created to not only offer basic training to those interested in learning more about the technical side of broadcasting but to also aid station engineers in continuing their growth in their engineering knowledge.

Our Radio Engineering Class will be held Sept. 24-28. It will include a review of basic electronics, analog and digital audio, RF transmission systems, IP fundamentals and basic station operations (including FCC rules). We will also cover the latest technologies, HD Radio, Audio over IP (AoIP), streaming audio and Digital Audio Workstations.

The Television Engineering Class is scheduled for Oct. 15-19. It includes the items above with special sessions on basics of creating video, Digital Television, Video over IP (VoIP), ATSC 3.0 and a review of the latest SMPTE standards (2110 and PTP).

Both classes are offered at no charge by the ABA and will be held at our training center 2180 Parkway Lake Drive, Hoover, Ala. Online registration is available here.

Make your reservations today for these most informative training opportunities.


Congratulations to Jim Leifer, elected to a second term as president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. Others serving one-year terms as officers, which begin on Oct. 3, are: Vice President Robert “RJ” Russell, Secretary Wayne Pecena and Treasurer Jim Bernier.

Serving two-year terms on the board of directors, which also begin Oct. 3 are: Stephen J. Brown, Roswell Clark, Kirk Harnack, Vinny Lopez, Thomas McGinley and Shane Toven.

The SBE is a national association for broadcast and multimedia technology professionals. Visit their web site at www.sbe.org


The most valuable tool in an engineer's toolbox is probably the one that is used the least. That tool is your ears. Someone once said, “It's what comes out of the speaker that counts.”

How often do you as an engineer take the time to “listen” to your station? I mean listen intently, not just casually. Is there any noise (hum or buzz), is the level between music and voice the same, quality of audio (too bassy or too thin), how does it sound in mono? Most importantly is the audio (both music and spoken word) intelligible?

Quite often we find this problem in locally created audio files (commercials or station imagers) where the production was not properly mixed and the message is covered up by the background music or effects.

I have had engineers tell me that they never listen to their station because they don't like the music....they add if something is wrong someone will let them know.

I suggest engineers create a monitor system with good speakers and a quite area (not the transmitter site) and listen to the over the air signal. One should also have the ability to switch between pre-processor program audio and the OTA audio. Be careful to balance the audio level between the two sources because sound pressure level will trick you up.

The OTA audio should not add or take away anything from the original recording. Your job as the engineer is to identify and remove all distractions to make this happen. I once set up a system that captured a portion of the OTA audio (in a wav format), then got the original CD of some of the songs and compared the two. Wow that was a wake-up call.

I mentioned earlier about having the ability to listen in mono. Phasing problems between sources can create a problem when files are played in mono. Yes, Susie, there are still mono devices out there, especially in offices and amusement parks.


The licensee of each station must maintain a “Station Log” as required by § 73.1820. This log shall be kept by station employees competent to do so, having actual knowledge of the facts required. All entries are required to be reviewed once each week and must accurately reflect the station operation. The chief operator or his designee must sign and date the log, thereby attesting to the fact that the entry, or any correction or addition made thereto, is an accurate representation of what transpired.

Items required to be posted in the Station Log include:

  1. A record of all EAS activity (test and alerts) during the preceding week.
  2. A record of any malfunction or extinguishment of tower lighting.
  3. A record of failure, out-of-tolerance condition, or corrective action (including calibration of automatic devices) made to the transmission system equipment, including monitoring and control devices.

These logs must be retained for a period of two years.