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The Society of Broadcast Engineers
Chapter 36 - San Diego, California


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KYXY Celebrates 20 Years. In the spring of 1978, John Parker bought the station, put Sam Bass on the air, and started making money. The station had already been easy adult comtemporary with its present call letters, but who's going to question an anniversary cake? Pictured left to right in the foreground are John Q. Lawrence and Kevin Dean, morning news and traffic. Left to right behind them are Yvonne Karlin (evening "Love Songs"), Sam Bass (still middays), O.J. Lawrence (afternoon drive), Ralph Rodarte (nights), and Sonny West and Dayle Ohlau of the Morning Show. KYXY Staff

April 1998 Electronic Newsletter

Next Meeting

@Home with Cox Cable

With our industry firmly entrenched in computer technology, members have shown a lot of interest in cutting-edge servers and improved bandwidth technologies. We're pleased to have Cox Communications volunteer to host our April program. Cox Communications in San Diego, following Orange County, has begun to install new high speed cable modems in selected service areas. We'll be shown some of the facilities that make @Home possible here.

We'll meet at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 15, at the Cox technical facilities on Federal Blvd., but come 30 minutes early for yaks and snacks (uh...social time).

According to their web site, The Cox @Home network can transmit data at speeds up to hundreds of times faster than a 14.4 Kbps analog telephone modem. Typically speeds are in the 1.5 - 3 Mbps range. "With Cox@Home, Web surfers no longer have to sacrifice their telephone line when they go online with a cable modem. Users staying connected to Cox@Home 24 hours a day can enjoy real-time delivery of news and information from around the world and their local communities - at no additional cost."

Like to do a little homework before attending the meeting? Visit their FAQ page .

Reservations Required

For security reasons, reservations are required to attend this meeting. Send us an e-mail message with the name(s) of those attending. Please have picture I.D. ready to show at the door. You're welcome to bring a technically-inclined guest, but not the whole fam damily.

From state highway 94, take Euclid exit. Go north to Federal Boulevard, east to 5159 Federal.

March Meeting

ASC Demos Server at KGTV

Video sales representative Tom Beal of MT/T Group of Los Angeles brought cutting-edge non-linear editing and a disk-based server to the last meeting March 18.

Tom took us for a test drive around the SpotBase server software, describing the hardware. The interface looked approachable, the obvious product of programmers' "good listening" to user input. The Windows NT-based engine uses Fibre Channel RAID drives for great speed and MTBF. With prices better than Betacam decks, I can see the beginning of the end for tape transports.

Steve Cooperman demonstrated the non-linear editing portion of the show. After making a few insert edits, Steve was able to have the finished product aired in fewer than five seconds. Cool.

The 1997 introduction of the VR300 Broadcast Video Server establishes ASC as the leader in video server technology. ASC's patent-pending Fibre Channel technology, the result of development that began in 1995, provides features no other server can match - the greatest sustained bandwidth yet achieved in video coupled with simultaneous shared access to media by multiple users within a facility.


Marge Baldwin, Director of Engineering at KGTV graciously gave a thorough tour of her plant. Recent projects there include on-going conversion of field news tape to Panasonic DVC Pro, upgrade of the newsroom computer system, and daily production on a Tektronix video server.


The Great Radio Debate:


By Gary Stigall

First you have to ask: Is this really a story at all? If there's spectrum available in Southern California for micropower stations, why haven't full power outlets been granted the channels?

And what about the internet? With a little time, won't we have sufficient bandwidth to carry Mr. DJ Anywhere's signals to all corners of the earth? Even wireless to automobiles if desired? And what about the extra spectrum which should open up with digital broadcasting?

Or should we just open up the floodgates and let the signals fall where they may? Biggest P.A. wins, like the broadcasting in the early 20's, or the 20 meters ham band today.

Listen to the proponents. They do have a story to tell. How many radio news sources serve San Diego now? Lets see...Jacor, Shadow, Jefferson-Pilot, and KPBS/NPR by my count. How well does KUPR serve the people with news and information in its licensed community of Carlsbad? How well does KFSD serve its community of license, Escondido? Even if you simply consider music alone to be of sufficient service to the community, how many ways can you slice contemporary adult music? Does diversity count with anybody beyond its commercial market value?

What outlet is proposed for people who want diversity? The internet hums with activity about "people's radio." They're all for it, whether representing religious groups because they don't have enough money to buy big outlets to spread The Word, or the far left or right, who aren't represented otherwise, or those who just want to play DJ and play something different. Ironically, the deeper the discussion gets, the more each understands the need for regulation to keep their own frequency from being interfered with.

See <http://pirateradio.miningco.com/msub6.htm>, or the Philadelphia story at <http://tdg.uoguelph.ca/~peak/issues/25/ish2/radio.html>.

So what about the middle ground? Can the FCC set aside some micro channels? Will there be more room in future digital broadcast allocations for free broadcasting, or will they be available only to the highest bidders?

A Petition for Rule Making (RM-9208) from Nicolas Leggett of Virginia proposes AM and FM operation on protected frequencies with "cellular" coverage areas, using transmitters of one watt or less with antennas of 50 ft. or less in height.

See <http://www.bext.com/cgc/microstation.htm>.

A rambling petition by J. Rodger Skinner, Jr. (RM-9242) suggests several classes of LPFM service, from 50 to 3,000 watts depending on locations and freedom from interference. Calling this "micro" might be a stretch. Much of the document touches on the philosophy behind LPFM.

 /p>See <http://www.concentric.net/~Radiotv/>.

Written Comments on each proposal are due at the FCC on April 27, 1998 and Reply Comments are due May 26, 1998.

Would new stations have sufficient spectral purity to avoid interfering with other services? Broadcasters have stringent standards which force attention to keeping interference to a minimum. A pirate station in Sacramento on 101.7 MHz recently closed down after pilots were hearing his drifting output on the 120 MHz aeronautical band. Similar incidents have been reported in Florida and Puerto Rico.

See <http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/1998/db980320/nrci8004.txt>.

What will happen to the current micropower legal limbo? Radio Free Berkeley continues to operate due to a court ruling last year which recognizes citizens' rights to operate on open frequencies. However, the FCC continues to ignore the ruling, enforcing existing laws, likely with the eventuality of testing those laws in court. A Florida jury recently found Arthur Kobres guilty of operating an unlicensed radio station from his home from 1995 through most of last year. His 14 counts could land him in prison for up to 28 years, with $3.5-million in fines.

FCC Chairman William E Kennard, justifying his new budget to a congressional subcommittee March 25, said "...increased use of the radio spectrum and the marketing of new electronic equipment have greatly increased potential interference problems. There has also been an increase in unauthorized 'pirate' radio stations. Overall, it is important for the Commission to adopt a new paradigm for enforcement that relies more on companies to certify that they are in compliance with our regulations, but with increased enforcement for non-compliance. Swift, predictable, and sufficient enforcement is critical as we move toward competition."

See: <http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/1998/db980325/stwek816.html>

What do you think? Contact us at sbe36@broadcast .net.


From the CGC Communicator

Mr. William H. (Hal) Grigsby, former head of the San Diego FCC Compliance and Information Bureau Field Office, is now the Assistant Regional Director for Mexican Affairs covering the border regions of California and Arizona. Jim Zoulek of the Los Angeles field office will supervise the remaining San Diego FCC staff which deals with domestic affairs. 

Media Watch:

Fortune Magazine Speculates About Jacor

Last week's Fortune Magazine featured Jacor Broadcasting among several companies whose stock bears watching. Author Jeanne Lee says that Jacor mogul Sam Zell may be amassing stations to sell them to a larger media group, and hints that the stock may be a speculative buy.

< http://www.pathfinder.com/fortune/pfortune/0330str.html >

A Self-indulgent Memoir, Part 1: Pulling Strings

A Tower in a Valley of Mint

By Gary Stigall

From the walk in front of KRCO, I could hear the careful annunciating of dramatic voices reciting Shakespeare. Someone had built a cozy house of wood, with green shake siding and wall-to-wall carpeting on the edge of a cow pasture along the Crooked River, outside Prineville, Oregon. However, instead of solid interior walls, two rooms in the middle had giant double panes of glass, angled away from each other.

Mike Toney welcomed me inside the control room. He had little to do that fall afternoon in 1972 but occasionally change tape reels and run breaks. Instead of living room furniture, the middle room contained the huge streamlined tower of two-toned gray metal and glass, with glowing orbs from within-an object seemingly from the evil castle in one of those early Superman comics. I knew about Collins transmitters already from ham radio, but this 1949 model 20T was a beaut. It faced a green and gray metal desk with a Gates Yard console on top, two Gates transcription turntables to the side of the desk, and an RCA 77DX microphone hanging by two lengths of braided wire from the ceiling. The room was lined with tens of thousands of records, from 78's to modern LP's, all catalogued.

When the station's owner, Robert Matheny, came to high school to ask for cheap help for the longer spring and summer operating hours, I jumped in with both feet.

Bob Arnott showed me the ropes that winter. I could never hope to have his beautiful voice. He was a burnout case from WCCO in Minneapolis-"gem of the Columbia," he would explain, meaning that it was a CBS O&O, and he hadn't liked management's daily critiques. So he settled in this one-stop-light town in the west. When he wasn't on the air, he worked embalming corpses at the local funeral parlor.

One afternoon he got up to rip some news and use the bathroom and would I be all right running the next break. In fact I was horrified, but did it. The next song was Frank Sinatra's "My Way." It lasted about thirty seconds, because at precisely the end of the first stanza, I bumped the tonearm reaching for another record, and the needle came down at the very end of the song, just where Sinatra sings, "...I did it myyyy waaaaaaaaaay." I started another record and never said a word about this.

The duties expanded as the daylight hours increased and the grass greened. They had a huge lawn, nearly an acre, that I had to mow. After five p.m., "Sunset Serenade" filled the air with the dulcet tones of Montivani and Ray Conniff singers and Dave Brubeck. They wanted me to play music over the voice-only commercials, but I had too much respect for much of the music and was only seventeen, so I did it my way. I would also burn damaged records with the rest of the trash. Sometimes I would come inside from the burner barrel to hear the record skipping back over and over.

(By the way, for many listeners, Sunset Serenade continued all night. When we signed off, XETRA boomed in from Baja, with their easy listening music and constant promotion of their Kahn system independent sideband stereo AM.)

KRCO would put just about anything on the air. Mr. Matheny was a golfer, so he would narrate an occasional golf tournament on the air if he could get a sponsor. One of the first times I was solo on a Saturday afternoon and we were preparing for golf, the transmitter started snapping loudly. The finals would glow cherry red. I was scared out of my wits. I called the boss. "A thunderstorm is coming. Just grab the string," he explained.

"What string?"

"The one in the record slot in front of you. Just tie one end to the Plate switch and pull it whenever you go off the air."

Indeed, it was during the news that the storm went overhead. "President Nixon today..." SNAP. Click. Transmitter off. Pull the string. Back on. "...traveled to California to look at flood-damaged regions...." SNAP. Click. Pull. And so on.

I learned a couple years later during college that the lightning choke needed to shunt the static DC to ground had long before fused and simply needed to be replaced.

They didn't hire us to do technical work, though once the other trainee and I spent a late night cleaning all the cigar smoke out of the transmitter, ending with a whole bucket of very brown-green water. Once when CBU and/or XETRA were in their Sunday night stop periods, we would send modulated Morse Code tests to waiting National Radio Club members listening thousands of miles away. The owner's son Collin liked to load his 160 meter rig into the 300-foot tower.

Part two next issue: "Reading the news."

Do you have a first-person story about your past in broadcasting? Share it!



Murphy's Corner

28th Law of Technology: A complex system that doesn't work is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that does work.

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SBE Chapter 36 Newsletter ©1998.

For more information on how to become a sponsor, or to make suggestions, contributions, or comments, e-mail sbe36@broadcast.net . This newsletter was written and edited by Gary Stigall, but I appreciate your contributions. You're free to redistribute or quote, but please attribute our original material, as you would have us attribute unto you, even if you're just clipping for BMail. Updated 4/3/1998.

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