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Dielectric shared images of the newly installed DCR-S Series FM radio antenna


RAYMOND, Maine — From Dielectric come these great pictures of a newly installed DCR-S Series FM radio antenna on the 977-foot-high Sutro Tower in San Francisco.

“We chose this Dielectric antenna because we know their designs meet our structural and electrical requirements, which are that the products must be robust, with a decades-long lifecycle,” said Sutro Tower Inc. Chief Operating Officer Eric Dausman.

[Read about KQED’s four-year renovation saga.]

According to Dausman, the DCR-S antenna features broadband and multi-channel capabilities and covers spectrum from 88 to 98 MHz, which enables broadcasters to multiplex signals.

For those unfamiliar with the landmark, it was built in 1973 and is owned by a consortium of four broadcasters. In total, Sutro Tower hosts about 300 antennas. According to the announcement from Dielectric, the the tower is used by four FM stations, 12 TV stations and 35 wireless radio communication users and others to distribute their signals across the Bay Area.

Based in Raymond, Maine, Dielectric LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group. Additionally, Dielectric acquired the RCA TV Antenna Division in 1986 — which manufactured some initial antennas on Sutro Tower and were in use until 2009 when new Dielectric antennas were installed for VHF and UHF television broadcasting.

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The FAA and NTSB are investigating the fatal accident

CANADIAN COUNTY, Okla. — According to local news reports, a cropduster pilot has died after his small aircraft made contact with a Tyler Media 12,000 ft. radio tower north of El Reno, Okla., around 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

According to reporter Kelsy Schlotthauer, the tower then “broke into several pieces and the plane crashed into trees nearby.”

The tower broadcast Oklahoma City Spanish-language station KTUZ(FM) “La Zeta,” which is temporarily airing its programming on sister station 96.5 FM, according to a Facebook post.

KTEN also reports that the pilot has been identified as Andy Deterding of Andy Deterding Ag Aviation.

News 9’s Steve Shaw also writes that Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Mat Conway said the plane landed in a nearby creek bed and caught fire, to which the Okarche Fire Department and Piedmont Fire Department responded.

Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board officials have begun to investigate the incident, with a preliminary report expected in the next week, according to NTSB Spokesman Terry Williams.

Watch a video of the aftermath here.

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Routine maintenance was interrupted and quick thinking was required to get him back to the ground


BILOXI, Miss. — Accidents in the tower industry don’t always have happy endings, but creative thinking and good training helped a tower worker in Mississippi return safely to the ground.

According to WLOX(TV), an unnamed tower tech was performing maintenance on a radio tower owned by Alpha Media when the hydraulic crane ceased functioning, leaving him stuck 140 feet above ground for about three hours.

[Review NATE’s Safe to Climb protocol here.]

Fortunately, the tower was located behind the WLOX studios, and the TV crew used its news drone to deliver lines that enabled the tech to rappel down, according to the article.

Watch a video of his descent on the WLOX website.

NATE and other tower safety advocates will be happy to hear that the tower worker said he had practiced rappeling in training sessions prior to the event.

The Alpha Media Gulfport-Biloxi cluster consists of WQBB(FM), WXYK(FM), WCPR(FM), WTNI(AM), WXBD(AM) and WGBL(FM).

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Peoria Public Radio station is facing a host of challenges


PEORIA, Ill. — The future of a public radio station licensed to Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., is in question, according to an article reported by Steve Tarter for the Journal Star on May 22.

The pending demolition of its studio’s current location and a continued lack of investment have prompted some to ask what will happen to Peoria Public Radio’s WCBU(FM) after 2019.

According to the article, the worries extend beyond a lack of relocation plans (or at least a lack of disclosure of these plans) — significant in and of itself because of the challenges and costs of moving legacy equipment. This was confirmed by Bradley Communications professor Ed Lamoureux, who said that University President Gary Roberts told a University Senate meeting that the numbers for relocation didn’t look good, but alluded to exploration of other options, as well as potential tough decisions down the road.

WCBU is also experiencing the staffing pinch that confronts many other radio stations. Notably, the station’s broadcast engineer Bill Porter has served as the interim general manager for three years, in addition to his engineering duties for WCBU and sister station WTVP(TV). Additionally, the station is down to five full-time employees, after Operations Manager Daryl Scott left the station earlier in May; he had been with the station for 12 years, according to the Journal Star. There has also been turnover among the reporters at WCBU.

Some suggested that the answer to the station’s staffing challenges lies in tapping the student body and perhaps relocating to a building already housing the communications department. However, others noted that even the comms department has already de-emphasized the radio portion of its curriculum, and student labor is not a true replacement for committed and experienced staffers.

It’s important to note that five full-time employees is the minimum number required for stations to be eligible for Corporation of Public Broadcasting funding; what will happen if another employee departs the station? Also, keep in mind that comparable local public stations like WIUM(FM) and WGLT(FM) had 13 full-time staffers, Tarter reports.

In addition, WCBU’s financials don’t look good — the 2017 fiscal year ended down more than $600,000; the station’s operating budget is $1.1 million.

Unfortunately, WCBU is one of many stations, public and for-profit, to experience these issues. What will it take to reverse the trend? 

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Byron St. Clair, 93, Has Died

He was the “father of translators, LPTV and low-power FM” and the president emeritus of the National Translator Association


DENVER — Dr. Byron St. Clair, president emeritus of the National Translator Association, died May 20 in Denver of brain cancer. He was 93.

St. Clair, who served as president of the National Translator Association for 19 years, is known as the “father of translators, LPTV and low-power FM,” the association said.

He worked to serve those living in the mountainous rural western United States with broadcast service and in so doing created a new class of over-the-air broadcasting, which has grown to more than 4,000 stations that serve millions of people.

“Byron was a friend and mentor to all, a man of immense intellect, wisdom, ethics, kindness and vision,” said NTA President John Terrill.

During his career, St. Clair was director of R&D for Adler Electronics and founded and served as president of EMCEE, a manufacturer and installer of TV translators. In 1967, he founded and was president of Television Technology Corp. in Arvada, Colo., which later became Larcan-TTC.

St. Clair obtained a BSEE in 1945 and a master’s degree in physics in 1949 from Columbia University. He earned a Ph.D in physics in 1953 from Syracuse University.

He was a member of the National High Definition Television Subcommittees, Systems Subcommittee Working Party to Field Test Task Force, a board member of the Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance, a member and active participant in the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers. St. Clair also was a member of the board of directors for Denver public broadcaster KBDI(TV).

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering recognized St. Clair in 2017 with its Jules Cohen Award for lifetime achievement.

The NTA is establishing The Byron W. St. Clair Memorial Scholarship Fund in partnership with the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers for promising undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in a career in broadcast engineering at accredited U.S. universities and colleges.

St. Clair is survived by his wife of 71 years, Julie, and daughter Susan Hansen of Arvada, Colo. A memorial service will be held in June. Details were not immediately available.

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Its servers were hacked by unknown cryptocurrency miners during a fundraising drive


PORTLAND — An Oregon community radio station is still battling the after-effects of an April 28 cryptocurrency attack, according to Katie Shepherd of Willamette Week .

KBOO(FM) Community Radio’s servers were hacked by unknown cryptocurrency miners during the last week of the noncom’s fundraising drive. Because of its website’s 80% slowdown, KBOO reps said the station saw a decrease in online fundraising efforts during this crucial fundraising period.

However, the station did not have any of its files breached — a somewhat dim silver lining, all things considered.

[Read about The Wandering Engineer’s fears of the coming It Apocalypse.]

As of May 11, the station’s website is still down — more than two weeks later — as part of efforts to scrub the system of the malicious code. According to the Willamette Week, the station aims to be back online in the next day or so.

KBOO was far from the only victim of the attack, known as “Drupalgeddon2.” Other affected organizations include Lenovo, the University of California at Los Angeles and the U.S. National Labor Relations Board. The hackers exploited websites that had not updated a patch that fixed a problem in the Drupal content management system.

This is another unfortunate reminder that stations need to pay close attention to cybersecurity protocols at all levels in order to reduce vulnerability, as cybercriminals become increasingly determined and inventive.

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This isn’t the first time Terry Keith Hammond of Alabama allegedly broke the law

JASPER, Ala. — File one this under “reasons why it’s good to have the engineer do transmitter repairs on site.”

WQJJ(LP) Manager Terry Keith Hammond has been arrested and charged with second-degree felony theft of property, Jennifer Cohron reports for the Jasper, Ala. Daily Mountain Eagle newspaper.

The arrest occurred Saturday, May 5, in Clarke County. He is currently held in Walker County Jail on a $25,000 cash bond because he is considered a flight risk, according to the article.

In his latest radio-related crime, Hammond allegedly represented himself as a broadcast engineer working for Broadcast Technical Services and was hired to repair an AM transmitter by a client in Maryland. Once Hammond received the transmitter, he demanded the owner wire $1,150 to a personal bank account routing number and account number in Jasper before he could complete the repair. The initial repair estimate was not cited in the article.

This aroused the client’s suspicions, and Google revealed Hammond’s prior arrests, as well as allegations of fraud related to broadcasting and uncompleted work filing applications on behalf of LPFM stations .

When the owner refused to pay, Hammond said he “seized it under mechanic’s lien laws” and posted the unit for sale on Facebook, according to Cohron’s article.

Hammond also operates several Facebook pages, including Walker County Area News — which he used to get in a spat with the local sheriff’s office investingating the transmitter theft regarding attempts to arrest him.

His rap sheet includes prior arrests in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Nevada, as well as outstanding warrants for failure to appear and for resisting arrest.

In 2002, Hammond acquired Shamrock, Texas, station KBKH(FM) from Turbo Radio Limited Partnership, but lost his FCC license after failing to report a felony coviction in his license renewal application and refusing to cooperate with FCC investigators, according to FCC documents. The felony was “for altering checks received by” KBKH and instead depositing them into a personal account.

In 2009, Hammond’s application for a new station in Hazard, Ky., was dismissed .

According to AL.com , Hammond also has a record as a pirate; he “allegedly violated FCC rules by engaging in multiple instances of unauthorized operation of unlicensed radio stations in California, Louisiana, and Texas.”

[Read about the FCC’s recent efforts to combat unlicensed operators.]

In 2016, Hammond’s wife Bessie Price Hammond (on behalf of North Alabama Public Service Broadcasters) transferred control of WQJJ(LP) at 101.9 MHZ to Teri Danielle Hammond, according to a public notice.

Go to Radio Magazine Online

WMAL(AM) began broadcasting from new Germantown location May 2



Former chief engineer David Sporul addresses the camera prior to shutting down the transmitter at Greentree Road.

BETHESDA, Md. — Cumulus Media station WMAL(AM) 630 transitioned from its 77 year-old Bethesda, Md., transmitter site to a new location in Germantown, Md., on May 1 around 2 p.m. WMAL(FM)’s northern Virginia location remains unchanged.

Former chief engineer David Sproul had the honor of throwing the switch — err, pushing the button — on the Nautel NX10 transmitter. The occassion was filmed for posterity and can be viewed below.

The 1940s era transmitter building was demolished in September 2016 .

View the 7 images of this gallery on the original article

In a phone call with Radio World, Sproul described the 7115 Greentree Road site as “the most conservatively and best-designed AM in the Washington, D.C., market” — apparently a widely held opinion.

Money, not technology necessitated the move. Sproul said that the new site, which WMAL will share with WWRC(AM) 570, will provide less coverage, but even so Cumulus’ economic outlook made a lucrative sale to developer Toll Brothers a logical development.

[Learn more about the development planned for the 75-acre plot.]

Sproul retired in 2014. In the video, he noted that WMAL Radio was his first employer out of college — and the only one throughout his career, despite ownership changes.

After shutting the transmitter down, Sproul became a bit emotional about WMAL’s history and the prospect of the station reaching the milestone of 100 years under the same call letters in October 2025.

“Good luck, WMAL!” Sproul said before signing off.

Go to Radio Magazine Online

This isn’t the first time South Dakota’s Results Radio has lost a tower to the elements

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A late spring blizzard created big headaches for commuters and bigger challenges for two Results Radio —Townsquare Media stations in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The storm knocked down part of the radio tower broadcasting the signals for “Hot 104.7” KKLS(FM) and “The Mix 97.3” KMXC(FM) on April 13, Jeremy J. Fugleberg reported for the Argus Leader . He described the tower as having been “decapitated” when “the top 275 feet of the tower” succumbed to the ice buildup and wind.

According to the article, two weeks later, KKLS is still off the air but is streaming online, but KMXC is again available at a low power. They have remounted antennas for both stations on the remaining 600 foot tower.

This isn’t the first time Results Radio has lost a tower to the elements. In 1996, an ice storm followed by uneven rapid melting felled the previous tower. As a result, the new tower was “built to extreme specs,” according to Results Radio Market Manager and Vice President, quoted in the article. But even those weren’t enough to keep it intact.

Results Radio Townsquare Media also owns KYBB(FM), KSOO(AM/FM), KIKN(FM) and KXRB(AM/FM).

Check out photos of the downed tower here.

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An excerpt from this week’s Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes

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.

NEWS FROM LAS VEGAS

The Las Vegas Convention center sits empty today after over 100,000 broadcasters filled the halls last week at the annual NAB Convention. Some 1800 vendors displayed their products and services for all to see in full operation.

IP was the buzz word this year for both audio and video. ATSC 3.0, the next generation television broadcasting (which is an IP stream) was an extremely hot topic in the television halls. On the radio side, audio over IP was everywhere, with AES 67 being one of the major topics at the booths.

You always see new items — Two that caught my attention were the ATSC 3.0 converters by Airwavz. These unit will demodulate ATSC 3.0 television RF and output to HDMI for use on non ATSC 3.0 television sets.

Audinate introduced the Dante AVIO which is a dongle converter for Dante. Units are available to convert analog, USB or AES3 audio to Dante.

NEWS FROM WASHINGTON

As rumored for several months the FCC publicly released a Report and Order last week eliminating TV stations’ annual obligation to report whether they have provided fee-able ancillary or supplementary services on their spectrum during the past year

unless they have actually provided such services.

Normally all television stations had to report by December 1st whether they had provided fee-able ancillary or supplementary services in the past year., what those services were, and then submit payment to the government of 5% of the gross revenue derived from such services.

The order amends Section 73.624(g) of the FCC’s Rules to require that only TV stations actually providing fee-able ancillary or supplementary services need file the report in the future.

DITHERING???

Most engineers involved in digital audio or video have heard the word dithering, but few understand it completely.

Dither is an intentionally applied form of noise used to randomize quantization error, preventing large-scale patterns such as color banding in images.

Dither is routinely used in processing of both digital audio and video data, and is often one of the last stages of mastering audio to a CD.

Most often is low volume noise, introduced into digital audio when converting from a higher bit-resolution to a lower bit-resolution. The process of reducing bit-resolution causes quantization errors, also known as truncation distortion, which if not prevented, can sound very unpleasant.

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