From the Editor – January 2012

January 8, 2012

Jim Dalke, CPBE AMD 8VSB CBNT

Out with the old and in with the new: Happy New Year!  The year 2011 is now history and the year 2012 is now the future.

2011, Looking Back

On my list of the biggest news for broadcast engineers for in 2011 were the changes in our EAS system. We came face-to-face with the new Computer Aided Protocol (CAP) and the its delayed  implementation requirement.  We experienced the first ever EAN National test in November with generally good results here in Washington, and less successful results for broadcasters to the South in Oregon and elsewhere in the country.

Fisher Broadcasting completed the sale of Fisher Plaza for $160 million.  Fisher Broadcasting is now a tenant in the building owned by Hines Global.  Fisher put the property on the market back in 2008 but faced a declining real estate market and a subsequent battle with the company’s shareholders about how to handle the sale.

In local “people” news for 2011, Kris McGowan retired after 25 years of service in the FCC Seattle District Office.  Long time chapter member Marty Hadfield returned to the Seattle Market as Director of Engineering for the Seattle Clear Channel market radio cluster after serving a successful stint in Portland with Alpha Broadcasting.  We also lost Chapter Member Terry Denbrook who served as Chief Engineer for KUOW and helped with many Puget Sound area radio stations.

Harold Camping of Family Radio failed twice in 2011 with his predictions of the end of the world.  When the apocalypse failed to occur on May 21, he recalculated the date for October 21.  Meanwhile, Camping suffered a stroke and subsequently retired as head of Family Radio and is now out of the prediction business.  Family Stations around the country, including their local outlet, KARR Radio on 1460 kHz continue broadcasting the Family Radio message.

After 14 years of battling the environmental lobby and tower vandalism, Andy Skotdal is broadcasting with two 50,000 HD AM signals from his new Snohomish transmitter site.  Andys KRKO 1380 kHz, and KKXA 1520 kHz, are broadcasting from the multi-tower site along the Snohomish River east of Everett.

2012, Looking Ahead

There will be many improvements in CAP enabled EAS equipment ahead of the delayed June 2012 CAP deadline.  We should see the FCC release the rewrite of Part 11 of the FCC rules that govern the EAS system.  The rewrite will include the CAP protocol EAS monitoring assignments and include a system for the FCC to do compliance testing on the new EAS equipment.  Expect the Part 11 rewrite to include a clarification of the “governor must carry” messages as well.

We will see the continued encroachment of our traditional over-the-air television spectrum with the new wireless data services, utilizing “White Spaces,” those channels not presently being used by licensed TV broadcasters.  In late December, the FCC approved Spectrum Bridge’s television white spaces database system.

The FCC also approved a device by Koos Technical Services as the first wireless product allowed to operate in the white spaces.  The new system will be first installed in the Wilmington, NC area.  The system will be deployed nationally pending process for protection of unlicensed wireless microphones at event venues.  The FCC voted a year ago to formally open the spectrum up to wireless data devices after granting initial approval back in 2008.

Over-the-air radio will be facing growing competition from wireless data providers.  Will this be the year over-the-Internet replaces traditional over-the-air radio?  Playing music from the iPod in the car has been increasingly popular, but more and more programming is available from streaming sources on 3G and 4G wireless data services.  Internet music services like Pandora, Slacker and Last.fmare being integrated with car stereo systems.  Streaming broadcast services like Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio are offering hundreds of radio streams.  More and more after-market car radios are offering built-in wireless services and some automakers like Ford are offering integrating Internet services in some models of their new cars.

Late last year, the FCC released a proposal to require all television broadcasters to post their public inspection files online.  A few broadcast stations already maintain their public files online but doing so is somewhat cumbersome and considered by some broadcasters as being “too public.”  It is interesting, because all broadcasters are already required to post their most recent EEO reports on their website if they have one. If television stations are required to put their public files online, it is certain that radio will be required to do so as well.

Well, that is the view from your editor as we look at where we have been and where we are going as we enter another New Year.

Happy New Year and 73

Jim Dalke W7PB