Weekly Tech Reminders: NIST Cuts, ETRS Forms & More

An excerpt from this week’s Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes
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The following is from the Alabama Broadcasters Association’s weekly e-newsletter, Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes. Thanks to ABA’s Larry Wilkins. To subscribe to the newsletter, email lwilkins@al-ba.com.

THE TIME AT THE TONE IS...

Most all engineers are familiar with WWV in Colorado and WWVH in Hawaii. These two shortwave stations operate on several frequencies which give the correct time, derived from an atomic clock every minute. They also served an accurate frequency standard that can be used to calibrate counters, oscillators and other devices. They operate under the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which was founded in 1901 and is now part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

However, those familiar words “at the tone, 14 hours 00 seconds Coordinated Universal Time” may not be around much longer. Word is out that in the 2019 Federal Budget, funding for NIST may be cut, which could mean no more WWV or WWVH.

Stay tuned film at 11 hours 00 seconds Coordinated Universal Time.

ETRS FORM ONE

As reminder all broadcast, and cable operations are required to file form one of the EAS Test Reporting System) on or before Aug. 27.

The 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.

Use the same login information as you did last year. Form two will be filed on the day of test (Sept. 20). Form three will have to be filed no later than Nov. 5.

All EAS Participants — including Low Power FM stations, Class D non-commercial educational FM stations, and EAS Participants that are silent pursuant to a grant of Special Temporary Authority are required to file.

C-BAND SATELLITE DOWNLINK REGISTRATION

As most engineers are aware, the FCC is moving to open the 3.7–4.2 GHz band for shared use with wireless operators. The Commission has opened a window for C Band operators with existing downlinks to register their antennas to reduce the likelihood of harmful interference being created in the band.

One of the hold backs for stations has been the $435.00 registration fee. Now satellite service provider SES has indicated it will reimburse broadcasters for the cost of the registration. The company has also created a guide for filing out the required document which available at their website.

You may contact SES directly for further information at (609) 987-4300.

RADIO AND TV ENGINEERING CLASSES

The ABA Engineering Academy will present two classes this fall to aid those with an interest in learning more about the technical side of Radio and Television operation. These classes are also a great "refresher course" for seasoned engineers, plus offers valuable information on new technologies.

The Radio Class will be held the week of Sept. 24–28 and the Television class will be held the week of Oct. 15–19. Location for both classes is the ABA Training Center, 2180 Parkway Lake Drive, Hoover, Ala. Visit the ABA website to learn more and register online. You may also contact the Academy Director Larry Wilkins for additional information. There is no cost for the classes, the $50 registration fee is fully refunded upon attendance.

Encourage anyone in your operation or community that has an interest in broadcast engineering to attend.

IMPROVING PRODUCTION ROOM QUALITY

If you feel that the quality of audio coming out of your production room doesn't quite meet the standards it should, it may have nothing to do with the talent or equipment. It may be the room itself.

Room tones and resonant buildup are absolute tone killers, because they artificially boost or cut narrow frequency bands, resulting in tonal imbalances you simply can't fix.

Most production rooms have some type of wall covering that minimize the effect of the room. But too much of the treatment will make the room sound to sterile. You want the room to have some feel of being live.

In most cases, a small amount of acoustic foam to break up parallel walls can work wonders.

Another item that most engineers often overlook the need to block out low-frequency noise. Low-frequency noise, such as vibrations from passing cars, HVAC systems, and adjacent production and control rooms that can completely destroy low-end definition, turning your recordings into mud.

An exposed hardwood floor can act like a giant speaker, transmitting the rumble of traffic or monitors in another room into the kind of deep vibration even a top-quality shockmount can't block out. Thick carpeting can often do the trick.

You can also use baffles or diverters on the A/C supply vents to change the direction of air flow if it's disturbing your mics.

All stations now are using Digital Audio Workstation for creating material for air. But you still need an area to lay down the actual voice track, so review the physical layout of your production room and make any changes that can make the material move up a letter or two in quality.

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