September 1998 Newsletter  
CBT Facility Mockup

Creative Broadcast Techniques Manager Darrell Wenhardt,
and designer Stan Ellington build a foam core mockup of a TV
master control console, circa 1989. CBT hosts this month's meeting

September 1998

--Please Support Our Sustaining Members--

For advanced digital radio transmitters, contact Ed Longcrier at Harris Corporation, 800-315-7285


September Meeting

SBE Election Night
with CBT's "Wizards of Awes"

by Gary Stigall

Getting a new facility to work as a whole is not terribly difficult. The technical building blocks made by the major manufacturers typically perform well together and you can have a nice place constructed in a few months.

What Darrell Wenhardt and his associates at CBT Systems sell is a few cuts above what even the most experienced engineer can usually achieve. Because more than just studio construction engineers, they really are master architects. Given one word to describe what's different about their work, I would tell you that what they sell is serenity. Not that they use the word. But if you are a person who values beauty and order and simplicity, when you see their craft, you are struck with the notion that this would be a very cool place to work.

Darrell takes the business side of business seriously as well. His resume reads like the list of Dow Jones Industrials: NBC, Turner, Gannett, Tribune. I had the honor of working with him through much of the latter 80's at Centro Corporation and later SAIC (twenty of us followed him there). He once calmly announced that we got a contract to make four sports production trailers for NBC and, "Oh, by the way, two of them have to be done in 120 days." They were gorgeous. We finished in time. Champagne flowed.

CBT Systems now has its hands full designing, coordinating and managing several broadcast facilities in Los Angeles including KABC-TV, KCET and KTLA. At the September meeting, you'll see how the KCET plant is coming along, including a working test bed of their digital master control with the Tektronix Profile server, Philips switching, Ampex data tape storage and Louth automation. Darrell will describe the project challenges and progress. You'll come away with some ideas, and, as from a trip to Museum of Modern Art, perhaps you'll come away inspired.

Join us at CBT Systems, September 16 at 7 p.m. with social hour and free food at 6 p.m. Remember that this is election night. Candidates are mentioned in the following story. Bring your voting arm.

If taking I-15: Go to the Carroll Canyon Rd. exit and proceed to the "Scripps Ranch Business Center" (small gray sign at driveway entrance). Continue straight to the rear of the business park. CBT Systems is on the right hand side at 10115 Carroll Canyon Road.

Philips Broadcast Digital Television Systems. Contact Lamont Dorrity, 310-966-2717.

August Meeting

CMBE Drives Us Down the Road to a Better Signal,
SBE Candidates Discussed

by Gary Stigall, KFMB-TV

Chip Morgan Broadcast Engineering's Al Jason showed us how they analyze your antenna performance by sampling reception around your market, plotting GPS location versus signal amplitude over the broadcast band (FM or TV) in question. Especially impressive was the trouble he goes to in order to keep a calibrated receive system.

Further, Al mentioned that a San Diego party would like to share the cost of a market analysis. Contact him through their website.

During the meeting, the upcoming September election was discussed. Members voted to combine the positions of secretary and treasurer during the next term in order to provide better integration of the largely overlapping tasks.

A committee of the current chairs was formed and met briefly afterward to discuss potential nominees for the next term. John Barcroft, current Vice-chairman offered to run again for that office. I have asked for the nomination as Chairman for the next term. Ron Foo has offered to continue setting and distributing the printed newsletter; however, he has decided to step down as Radio Program Chair.

Since the meeting, some members have stepped forward to volunteer for chair positions and to help with our newsletter. Candidates will be mentioned in an update to be issued before the next meeting and after committee members have a chance to confer again. We still have openings for Radio Program Chair and Secretary-Treasurer, though members are welcome to run for any office.



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Another Way to Spend a Weekend...

The Great San Diego Radio Station Swap

It must surely have been one of the most complex radio property swaps ever. In one mid-August weekend, Jacor obtained the two local radio stations divested two. Kevin Douglass claims that their facilities changes were in fact "not a technical tour-de-force," but more a logistical challenge.

by Kevin Douglass, Jacor San Diego Director of Engineering

Jacor acquired all the stations of Nationwide Communications, including KXGL and KMCG here in San Diego. Since Jacor already owned the FCC-mandated limit of eight stations locally, we needed to either sell the new acquisitions, two of our existing stations, or some combination of the above.

This sounds easy until you consider that whatever we did had to pass muster with not only the FCC, but with the anti-trust division of the Justice Department as well. The upshot was the sale of KKLQ-106.5 and the 102.9 frequency then-occupied by KJQY to Heftel Broadcasting Company of Dallas, TX. Heftel is a well-known and respected broadcaster who specializes in the various Hispanic formats.

Making this actually happen started off to be quite simple: Heftel was going to keep the existing Nationwide studios at One American Plaza downtown to operate 102.9 and 106.5. Jacor was going to move the KJQY format to 94.1, and continue to operate from their existing Pacific Highway studios. KMCG was going to keep their 95.7 frequency and relocate to the Kearny Villa Road studios formerly occupied by KKLQ.

Since all the stations have 950 MHz STLs, coordination was relatively straightforward. The goal was to let everyone keep their existing frequencies and equipment wherever possible. This is pretty much what happened in practice. The only major deviations were that Heftel will need to rechannel their former KXGL system to use from One America to Emerald Hills, (106.5 tx), and Jacor bought a new STL to use from Kearny Villa to Mt. Soledad. (As a side note, the One America-to-Emerald Hills and One-America-to-Mt. Miguel, (102.9 back-up tx site), STL systems require the design, fabrication and installation of another antenna mount on top of the One America building. This is under development, but is not yet operational.)

So the plan was approved by all the parties involved and a target date set by higher management. We'll have everything ready to go with a simultaneous switch at midnight on this date. No problem. Using a combination of STLs, telephone audio circuits, T-1 and ISDNs we would simply mix and match so that the actual changeover would be done by flipping a switch at each transmitter.

Then the changes started...

After a series of frank, intense discussions, it was decided that it would be more logical from an operational standpoint to move KMGC to Pacific Highway and KJQY to Kearny Villa Road. OK, we can do this. It's not really a big deal.

Next, once a date for the changeover was decided, we wanted to move our listeners from KKLQ over to our other CHR station KHTS-93.3. To do this, KKLQ was "programmed" with a CD set up to continually repeat the same song with legal IDs and announcements to the audience as to where they could find the music formerly found on KKLQ. This cd was changed on a sporadic basis, growing more and more obnoxious as the date of the transfer grew closer. The ultimate expression of this was the last few days where there were entirely different songs playing on the left and right channels, with the announcements and legal IDs in mono.

Once the CD was running, I had what I thought was a really good idea--since the control room was empty, this was a great time to clean out the room physically and electronically. Since the studio had been in 24-hour use since it was moved from the old Gibbs Road facility in 1994, this was long overdue. Once all the superfluous wiring, equipment and other doo-dads which accumulate in studios were removed, we would then completely re-do all our documentation.

Well, it seemed like a good plan.... John Barcroft, Ron Foo, Miguel "Tree" Roundtree and Mike Prasser tore into the studio with a vengeance. An amazing amount of wire, chassis boxes, switches, etc. came out, and NOTHING in the basic operation of the room changed. Hmmm.

Anyway, we've got the room in pieces all over the place when Programming has another brain storm--since the studio is empty, let's move KJQY up to Kearny Villa so the Pacific Highway studio, (which is about a year old), can be reconfigured the way the PD wants it. Great. Since Jacor is a product driven company, this kind of request is more like a command.

This looked like a slam dunk- no problems with an STL path, we go to Mt. Soledad already, (KIOZ), and we'll use an existing frequency, so no coordination problem! Call UCSD, the landlord and explain what we want to do- a temporary receive antenna for a few days. No problem. So off I go to the UCSD site, temporary yagi and transmission line in hand. Get up on the roof, hang the antenna, turn around to point it, and discover a grass-covered knob with a tall metal structure directly in the way. Oops. Ok, it's a digital STL and works down to -90dBu, maybe I can get enough signal. Nope, not even close.

Bill Thompson saves the day when he suggests that we run the temporary STL from Kearny Villa to Mt. Miguel, and use the existing hop from Miguel to Soledad. Since the path from Kearny Villa Road to Miguel is exactly the same bearing as the existing Murphy Canyon-Miguel path, we're home free. Put a 6' dish on the roof at Kearny Villa, send Dean to Miguel to be sure we can hit the receiver and turn it on. No problem. That night, Move KJQY to Kearny Villa and Bill Lipis goes to Soledad to make the switch. Done.

Meantime, Heftel has had 15 KHz circuits installed to Emerald Hills with an ISDN backup. The 15 KHz circuits are tied into the Optimod at the transmitter while the CD-formatted KKLQ continues to run on the STL. When the time comes, select channel x on the remote control and push "lower".

At KXGL-94.1, Bill Eisenhamer is normally operating on T-1 with STL as backup. With his cooperation, a new Moseley 9000-series non-compressed digital STL is installed from Kearny Villa Rd. using the existing KXGL STL frequency. In an abundance of caution, KYXY, (adjacent channel, same polarization), is provided with a bandpass filter just to make sure that we don't cause them any grief. It proves unnecessary, but I would much rather be safe than sorry... An ISDN circuit is installed as a backup to the STL.

Back at the UCSD site shared by 102.9 and KMCG 95.7, preparations are underway as well. Both stations have 950 MHz STLs. 102.9 Has 15 KHz circuits and KMCG has an ISDN backup. Bill Lipis and Julian Vega work with Pacific Bell to make sure that everything is where it needs to be for the big switch.

On the big day, Bill Eisenhamer and myself are at the KXGL site on Mt. Soledad, Dean and Mike are at KMCG and 102.9, Bill Thompson is at 106.5, Julian is at One America, Bill Lipis is at Pacific Highway and John, Ron and Tree are at Kearny Villa. Shortly before noon on Monday, August 17, several hours after the revised target of AM, the word finally comes and the switches are made. A real anti-climax...

San Diego now has two new stations targeted to the large Latino audience: 106.5 and 102.9. KMCG is now operating from Pacific Highway. KJQY has changed frequencies to 94.1 and studios to Kearny Villa Road.

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Silent Key

Steven Sellman, Past Chapter Chairman

by Gary Stigall, KFMB-TV

Steven Michael Miller Sellman, 49, died Thursday, August 27, at his home in San Diego. He had been a radio engineer for 30 years, was an SBE Certified Professional Broadcast Engineer and chairman of San Diego Chapter 36 from 1995 till 1997. The Clairemont (San Diego) Mortuary has said repeatedly since Steve's death that a memorial service "is pending."

John D. Strahler writes (via Bob Gonsett):

He started his career in Broadcast Engineering while a student at UCSB, where he (received a BA degree and) served as Chief Engineer of KCSB for many years. He has mentored many of our fellow broadcasters.

Steve was employed by stations in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and, most recently, San Diego counties. He was active in the San Diego SBE chapter.

He is survived by his son, James K. Sellman of Idaho Falls, and mother, Lynn Sellman of Camarillo.


Silent Key

Jerry Man, FCC San Diego, Retired

From Hal Grigsby via the CGC Communicator:

Jerry Man, 71, an Agent with the FCC San Diego District Office from 1984 to 1995, passed away on August 24, 1998 in his sleep. He had been seriously ill for several weeks. The interment will be held on Wednesday, September 2, at 1 pm at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Catalina Boulevard, Point Loma, in San Diego. All of Jerry's friends and ex-coworkers are invited.

Cards may be sent to the family's residence at 33362 Via de Agua, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675-4913. Telephone 949-661-1555.

In 1994, Jerry received FCC's Catherine Forster Public Service Award for using sophisticated direction finding equipment to assist the U.S. Coast Guard in saving the lives of two persons on a sinking vessel approximately 100 miles off the California coast.



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DBS Stations Blocked

Network Affiliate TV Stations Flooded With Calls

by Gary Stigall, KFMB-TV

If you're at a network affiliate TV station, you've probably been taking more than your share of phone calls from irate viewers lately. Callers all want the same thing: An exemption from you to let them watch a network affiliate from another market via satellite. Within days of receiving written notice from DSS service providers, the local stations were besieged. KGTV has set up a phone tree route to record the calls.

When people are signed up for DirecTV and other Direct Broadcast Satellite services, providers have been tiptoeing around the truth--that they have no right to bring out-of-market network stations into your living room. Viewers and networks themselves are victims of history. Networks started and continue as a pool of stations using local advertising to subsidize the cost of producing and distributing shows. If you start leap-frogging signals around the country as the DSS folks would like to do, networks get the same audience, but suddenly local advertising is worth less, rates go down, and local stations might just as well drop their network affiliations. The payment system just works in sharp contrast to the cable/DSS network distribution system, which gets money from its distributors without much dependence on local ads.

You can forget the issue of "How will you get the local news"? Dish owners don't care. It's a non-issue, and is seldom mentioned in any stories on the current controversy.

A Miami station sued to keep PrimeTime 24, the network signal-to-satellite wholesaler, from distributing signals in "foreign" TV markets in violation of the Satellite Home Viewer Act (SHVA). The judge decreed a preliminary injunction against the company, and forced it to cut off service to many suburban subscribers. In fact, the injunction deals with Fox and CBS feeds, and only those who hadn't signed up for network service before March 11, 1997; however, NBC and ABC report that their feeds were cut off as well. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta refused to stay the Miami court's injunction. The Miami trial is underway.

Stations must wade through the calls to determine their eligibility for waivers. Viewers from Valley Center and parts of Ramona may indeed NOT receive broadcast TV from San Diego or Los Angeles. On the other hand, DSS owners have been calling from Mission Beach, Chula Vista, and Rancho Penasquitos, wanting the waivers as a matter of convenience of not having to put up antennas. KNSD uses NBC proprietary signal prediction software to determine eligibility.

Viewers are organizing with the Satellite Broadcasters and Communications Association (SBCA) to reform the SHVA to bypass the copyright issue. An FAQ page has been set up.

Interestingly, the Dish Network is taking another approach, adding affiliates to its satellite services in order to legally serve more viewers. They now carry network stations from Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas, and are adding Phoenix. San Diego is not on the list. Stay tuned.

For more updates on satellite communications, visit:


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Murphy's Corner

Evans' Law

If you can keep your head when everyone about you is losing his, then you just don't understand the problem.

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Edited by Gary Stigall. Updated 31-Aug-98.