Clay’s Corner – June

Lots of EAS happenings this past month – Here is a quick look –


The test scheduled for June 9th has been rescheduled for June 15th due to the prior date conflicting with the Cascadia Rising exercise.    A couple of things about this –

1)          You will probably want to have your station manned during this event to make sure that all goes well.

2)          Don’t forget that your EAS equipment must be able to respond to the event code NPT and the location code of 000000 (Triple oh, triple oh)


This fall we will have a full national test (using the same Event and Location Codes).  We will be reporting back to the FCC after the test using then new Electronic Test Reporting System.   If you are not familiar with this – The time has come for you to get up to speed.


Every EAS Participant (FCC lingo for FCC Licensee that has an EAS obligation) should have a person that is designated EAS compliance responsibilities.   This person could be the Chief Operator, or someone else.   Being subscribed to the Washington State EAS Remailer should also be a requirement


Speaking of being subscribed to the EAS Remailer – That system recently distributed a number of Washington State EAS Plan updates so that all participants can keep their copy of the State Plan current.  Keep in mind that the FCC wants you to have a current EAS Plan.


A CSRIC Working Group has been toiling to create a new EAS Handbook.   When this becomes available, you will find it to be much improved over the document that you have to have in your control position presently.


The FCC, earlier this year, released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that, if fully enacted, will make some sizable changes to several facets of EAS.   The Washington State SECC (EAS Steering Committee) formed a committee to draft a response.   That response was approved by the SECC at its May 11th Meeting and was filed with the Commission on May 19th.    Thanks to a number of local broadcast engineers for assisting with this project.    You can read it, along with other comments at the FCC’s location for filed comments.


There is always a need for volunteers to help lead our State EAS Activities, especially at the local level.  A key component of our EAS operation is the LECC or Local Emergency Communications Committee.   There are one of these in each Operational Area in the State.   If you are interested, drop me a note and I can provide all the details.   On that topic – Kudo’s to John Price who recently stepped up to lead the LECC in the Mason/Thurston county Op/Area.   John recently retired from Entercom.   Interestingly it was John and the late Jimmy Hocutt that twisted my arm almost 20 years ago to get involved with the, then new, EAS.

If you are here in the PNW (Pacific Northwest) you certainly enjoyed our summer preview in the form of wonderful warm, record setting, weather.   Then, about the middle of May, Mother Nature reminded us of where we live and returned us to cool, moist conditions.  But not before we had a couple early season forest fires not all that far from Seattle.   Now if I can just talk Mother Nature into giving us a bit more of that wonderful stuff during the first weekend in June when I will be in Seaside attending the annual Amateur Radio doings on the Oregon Coast.

I’ve enjoyed a couple of opportunities to take some, out of town, engineers up to West Tiger.   Always interesting to see/hear their expressions.   One fellow, from Atlanta, could not help but marvel at the view from the top.   I told him to think of West Tiger as a 3000 foot tower with the first 2800 feet being dirt.  He explained that Atlanta’s sites are pretty much all tall towers.   Another fellow, from Boston, kept remarking on how green it was.   I reminded him that it was green there too…to which he replied, yes, but not this green.   He was fortunate to have been able to take a route trip ferry ride to and from Bainbridge Island on an 80 degree day….Likely he will never be the same.

Never thought that this would happen – But the end of May starts the long awaited process whereby the Commission hopes to come up with 126 MHz of spectrum in the first round of bidding in its reverse auction.     The revolution has begun.    To be sure, this is a complicated process that will be followed closely by all those that cover the electronic media.   I guess the part I am most interested in is just what will the TV Channel line-up look like when the dust has settled.

Back on May 11th a good sized chunk of Seattle found itself without power in the early morning hours.  Apparently cameras recorded the critter causing the flow of City Lights electrons to stop was a raccoon who, for some reason, was able to scamper away.   You would think, in this day and age, that sub-stations would be more secure….apparently not.   Then on the 25th of May downtown Seattle had its lights go out due to an unknown cause at a sub-station.   What made this interesting is that CNN picked up the story and let the world know about.   Seattle City Light is likely wondering what’s next as these types of events often come in 3’s.

As most of you know, I have chosen to continue to work well beyond customary retirement age.   There are a number of reasons why I’ve made that choice – I love what I do -I have managed to find work that insulated from politics -My time is quite flexible-The money is good

A recent study has revealed that 3 in 10 U.S. workers foresee working past conventional retirement age.  31% of non-retired workers said they will retire – after age 67.  Only 23% plan on early retirement, or before age 62.

Tim Moore, RF guy at Sinclair in Seattle, recently sent me some interesting items that he found om am attic.    The first one is a map of the Columbia Broadcast System radio stations –

How many of you are old enough to remember when CBS used their full-name?

Speaking of CBS – The talk that CBS will spin off its radio operation gained a bit of news recently when the CBS chairman and CEO , Leslie Moonves, recently spoke about plans for what he calls the ‘radio unit’.  He said there were interested investors and strategic partners and a spin-off is likely in Q-1 of 2017.    CBS Radio operates many stations where this column is read – including 3FM’s and an AM in Seattle where they also own KSTW-TV.    So how big is CBS Radio?  Reports are that it generates 1.2 Billion dollars in revenue.    Sort of gives you an insight into things when they want to spin off this little radio division….apparently 1.2B does not mean all that much in the scheme of things?

And, on the subject of CBS, the battle continues over the ailing Sumner Redstone and who will end up controlling Viacom and CBS.   This one has all the ingredients for a soap opera!

Anyone notice something unusual about the following ?     Yup…This was from back when KVI was a Tacoma Station, prior to their moving to Seattle.   Perhaps this was the first broadcast station to ‘jump-ship’ from the City of Destiny?

City of Destiny ???  Yes indeed – Here are some links that provide the background –,_Washington

Congrats to Doug Irwin on his promotion to DOE of iHeart’s  Los Angeles cluster.  Doug was the Chief of their Seattle operation a few years back.

Speaking of radio station memory makers – I found this item, on the wall, at a local (Auburn) Les Schwab Tire store.   This was an artist drawing of Auburn…In the lower right side was something that attracted my attention.    A radio tower and the call letters KASY.    Again my smartphone/camera captured the image to share with you.    A lot of history with this station.  It was put on the air back in the 50’s by Ed Garre operating with 250 watts, daytime only, on 1220.  Later when the clear channels were opened up, they moved to 1210.   The call letters KASY were chosen as Auburn was known as a railroad town after the American Folk Hero – Casey Jones.

The KPLU drama continues with the Seattle Times printing a front page story on the 15th about some of the background of the KPLU/KUOW deal.   At this writing KPLU appears to be getting ever closer to their goal of raising enough money to perhaps purchase the Station from Pacific Lutheran University.  Perhaps revelations of how this deal came down will serve to help the station with that effort?

The matter of how to help AM Radio is still very much in the news with comments being filed in response to the FCC’s NPRM dealing with the issue.     One area that I found interesting is the apparent ‘disconnect’ within the FCC involving the role of those AM’s that are involved as Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations and the Emergency Alert System.    Unfortunately the Commission never did fully consider the fact that these stations, like KIRO-AM-710, reduce power and/or use directional antennas at night in their planning for the PEP system.   The thought that the nighttime protection of these stations would be reduced in the name of improving AM appears to me to be contrary to that mission.    Perhaps this is another case where the Left/Right hand rule prevails.  (Left hand not knowing what the Right hand is doing) ?

On the subject of AM’s ….Let’s take a look at how AM Stations are doing in this market – According to the April 12+ numbers –

  • There are 36 Stations listed in the rating results.
  • In the top 10 –Non are AM’s
  • The highest rated AM is KOMO coming in at # 14 (perhaps assisted by their simulcast FM?)
  • The next highest rated AM is KIRO at #21
  • Modest power/coverage, Non-Commercial KEXP at #25 out-rates #27/KVI and #28/KIXI
  • Seattle School District KNHC at #29 out-rates #33 KCIS, #34/KHHO and #35/KFNQ.
  • Only Clover Park’s KVTI-(FM) comes in lower at #36.

Looking at those #25 or lower ownerships –

  • Sinclair owns KVI
  • Hubbard owns KIXI
  • Crista owns KCIS
  • iHeart owns KHHO
  • CBS owns KFHQ

I recall, writing in this column, not that many years ago, about how many of these AM’s were in the top 10.   KOMO and KIRO where there for years.   Which makes me wonder if these 5 AM stations were not owned by firms operating, perhaps, profitable stations in this market and were stand-alones….would they have been sold off or have had their plugs pulled ?    Frankly it’s hard for me to believe that these lower ranked AM’s are going to stay economically viable in the long term.     Am I missing something here?    Looks to me like there are going to have to be major changes to see AM Radio regain its former glory.   Perhaps we should start with the fact that many people today no-longer listen to AM for the simple reason that it’s out of style and view as a dinosaur?

Are you ready to migrate your public files on-line? The FCC has set June 24th at the date when the first group of radio stations have to do so in the Top 50 markets.    I remember being the designated public file person in the past with lots of paper files etc.   Certainly a huge change for everyone.   One loss …The fear that someone would come in and swipe something that the FCC would be in the next day and want to see.    When completed, this change will involve radio, TV and Cable.   Don’t put away the thought of paper files totally, however as letters and emails from the public will still have to be saved.

On the subject of the FCC and changes therein – The Commish has launched something new for your browsing pleasure – An online Consumer Complaint Data Center.  A quick look at this revealed a large number of complaints involving, as expected, robo calls etc.    Lots of cool sorting functionality is included.

You don’t hear anyone griping about inflation these days, perhaps other than the fact that gas prices are going up.   How about an increase in fees charged by the FCC?    Under the increases, the Commish has that a small AM station will be paying 42% more and a big FM 43% more in 2016.  Overall their fees are going up 13% over last year.   Meanwhile they close their local offices and reduce their enforcement efforts.   Oh yes, I should mention that the FCC is a profit making organization that collects more money that it costs to operate to the tune of almost 95 million …and where does that money go?   The U.S. Treasury.  Apparently my old-age is preventing me from understanding the equation

Remember when you could simply dial 7 digits and call someone across town?   You’d better record those thoughts as they are about to join other items in your history bin of memories as a couple of changes are in the telephone pipe for our area – 1) Starting the fall of 2017 will be the end of 7 digit dialing – soon it will be 10 only…2) perhaps a sign of the growth in Western Washington we are about to get another area code…564.    This will be what they call an ‘Overlay’ meaning that we will no longer be able to tell where the caller is in Western Washington by glancing at the area code…The reason for all of this – Area code 360 is running out of numbers.     My crystal ball is a bit fuzzy at the moment…but I can’t help but wonder just how many digits you will have to dials to reach your next-door neighbor 100 years from now?   If you are like me (older than dirt) you probably remember the phone number when you were a child – For me it was WEbster 1265.  (Portland, Oregon)

Recently Radio World has been doing something interesting – doing stories on technical workers in the broadcast industry that are under 40 years of age.    This is especially interesting in this day and age of old, wrinkled, gray or missing haired people    Attending any SBE Chapter meeting you are quickly struck with the thought that there are employment opportunities ‘.   Back to the piece in Radio World – Much to my delight they featured a story about a young fellow that many of us know – Alex Brewster, grandson of local broadcast legend Jim Dalke.    Alex is now working for Doug Fisher out of Olympia.   One of their most recent projects was the new technical facility for Bustos Media in Kent.

There has been a lot of press recently about two of the major players in the Radio industry, Cumulus and iHeart (formerly Clear Channel) both of whom are struggling with massive debt.   iHeart alone is almost $21 Billion in debt….A figure that is very hard to get your head around.   As happens, those who own that debt are getting restless.    A couple actions are in the news –  They have hired a firm to help them re-structure and now some of the decisions are being made in court.    I would think a lot of apprehension is the result.   Some have expressed the concern that all of this is hurting the brand especially since the ‘B-word’ is being used.   The problem is that if they go that route, the creditors may receive less than if they figure out a way for the company to survive and, eventually, pay them back.

The firm owns a number of radio properties in the Seattle area.

Meanwhile – On the sunny side of the street – another radio broadcaster appears to be doing well….Entercom.    They are basking in the recent news that Moody’s has raised their ratings on the company.   Entercom, who owns clusters of Stations in Seattle, Portland, Denver and other markets appears to be doing well with revenue increasing.

Speaking of Entercom – as of this writing, they have still not filled their Chief Engineers position in Seattle created by the retiring of Dwight Small.  Uniquely they have been rotating personnel from other markets through Seattle while the process continues.

A number of new items were shown at the recent NAB that got my attention.   One was that long time manufacturer of AM Radio components, Kintronic Labs, has announced they are making devices that would be used with FM Broadcasting such as – Combiners, filters etc.    Could it be that they have seen ‘the writing on the wall’ regarding the future of AM Radio and decided rather than go down with it to branch out?    That is certainly a conclusion that is supported by what they were showing in Las Vegas.   One thing is for sure, it likely that a whole lot less money is being spend on AM projects these days.

Matt Green is to become the new Chief at Entercom’s radio cluster in Seattle.   Matt has been in this business for 42 years, the past 6 with Bicoastal Media where he traveled between Hood River, Longview and Chehalis from his home in Portland.  Matt would be filling the shoes of Dwight Small who exiting for retirement land and the pleasures of Lake Cavanaugh where he is building a new home.

Recently I was going thru a bunch of old catalogs that had been saved and in doing so I ran across some pictures that brought back a flood of memories.   Told myself that I had to share these with you –

The first one will be familiar to any of you that recall the latter days of 2 inch tape in TV.    Radio had long been putting ¼ inch tape in plastic boxes and using these ‘cartridges’ in automation equipment.   TV was not so lucky.   Spots were still be played on reel-to-reel machines that had to be manually loaded …Something that radio had managed to get away from.    Then along came RCA with a solution…The TCR-100.   The following was found in an old RCA Catalog.

Doing a quick search, there is a lot of information about these wonders on-line.    I worked with them at the then new broadcast facility for KSTW in Tacoma.   It was an mechanical wonder – a melding of electronics and pneumatics that made sounds like you had never heard before.     Here’s a link to a picture of one of these creatures at KIRO-TV in Seattle –

Local software vendor, Microsoft, has admitted it was not the smartest move and sold Nokia for 350 Million.    (At this one to the list that included Vista  )

Another old catalog turned had this picture – Remember the acoustic telephone modem that ran at the blazing speed of 300 baud?

A lot of concern being voiced over the coming changes to television broadcast plants –

  • Shortage of tower crews to make antenna/tower changes
  • Shortage of new antennas and related hardware
  • Impact on other services that share the same tower

We will all have to just wait and see how this impacts us all…Interesting times we are in.

If you did not make it to the NAB convention- The Engineering Conference Proceedings are now available at the NAB store ( for $99.   Comes on a USB drive.

Talk about German Engineering…..the city of Augsburg became concerned as to why pedestrians were ignoring traffic signals.    A big of research turned up the reason…They were busy looking down as their smartphones.   The solution – embed traffic signals in the pavement so those that are constantly looking down will see them.   A survey conducted by UofW here in Seattle found that one-third of people in this country are busy texting or other smartphone activity at dangerous  road crossings.   I can see it now…In addition to rainbow pedestrian crossings, they could be sporting red, yellow and green lights too.

For those of you in the Seattle area you likely know about how Amazon has become a major player in today’s world.    The growth of this firm has been nothing short of outstanding.   Their new building complex in Seattle is changing the skyline of our city in a big way.   One of their triad of new buildings has a most unique name – ‘Doppler’.    The Seattle Times must have a writer with some understand of the term as the headline read ‘Doppler Effect’.   Like many other Seattle success stories, it was not long ago that the word Amazon – ONLY – meant a river in South America.

While visiting Cougar Mountain recently (on a clear day) I took this picture of Downtown Bellevue.

Amazing how fast this little ‘East-side shopping center’ has grown up.  If you look close, on the left, you can see more high-rise buildings under construction.

The local battle over who is going to be operating KPLU appears to be about over with the news that fund raising efforts toward keeping the station from being sold to KUOW have been successful.   I’m sure there are a number of things that have to be accomplished before a formal announcement is made, as is the case in these kind of things.    I get the feeling, considering the relationship between the station and long-time owner Pacific Lutheran University, that would should, perhaps, expect a change of call letters.  Will it become KPJZ or whatever will be determined.

For the benefit of those not familiar with this station – some quick facts –

  • Pacific Lutheran has owned the station for about 50 years.
  • First transmitter location was on the campus
  • Later moved to the old BN Tower at View Park (south of Port Orchard) and went full power
  • Moved to West Tiger Mt in 1988 where they operate via the Master Antenna.
  • Later installed an Aux Transmitter at the then Entercom site on Cougar.
  • They also operate an extensive network of other transmitters and translators in Western Washington .
  • Their Streaming operation has made them one of the most popular with 100,000 weekly users
  • They operate two program streams – On FM Jazz and NPR news, On HD2 Jazz 24.
  • Studios are in a relatively new, stand alone, building on the PLU Campus that was built for this purpose.
  • Also operate a studio/news gathering operation in downtown Seattle.
  • Their first Chief Engineer, David Christian, has been retired for some time.
  • Their second Chief, Lowell Kiesow, is still employed, his assistant is Nick Winter.

Every wonder what would happen should the GPS system go down?    In a relatively short time a whole lot of things we now take for granted would stop operating.   Zillions would be taking their gizmo back to where they got it wanting It repaired.    Why did I think of such a thing…Well, once in while some vendor who relies on their GPS Nav-Aid will call me asking how to get to either Cougar or West Tiger (the places I go, at least, once a week.   Recently a fellow said he was north of I-90 somewhere trying to find West Tiger.    I could not help myself …so I asked if he had a map    There was this long pause and  proceeded to give him directions.   Like a lot of technology these days we have become so over dependent on it that if it were to go down we’d be hard pressed to function.     With that being said, the whole GPS system will, one day, be the target of those who get their thrill by doing wrong.  So, just in case, tell me where I can find a gas station that has maps.

For many the term ‘Big-Johnson’ brings a smirk.        I just want to set the record straight…

Not sure what Impact it will have on our industry, however a new rule by the US Department of Labor may mean a pay raise for many who work in broadcast stations.    According to the DOL, 385,000 broadcasters may be in line for additional compensation.   One of the major changes is the fact that the new rules will impact some that are not currently don’t get overtime for working long hours etc.

As you might suspect, not all of this is going down well with some in the industry, especially those small operations that are struggling to stay afloat.    Some who are presently salaried may find themselves hourly and perhaps not working over 30 hours at that.   Fast food has been doing it for years .

I recently received the following  from Jim Stevens who retired some years ago with some sad news –

Hi Clay,

I am tardy in congratulating you on your 30th year of Clay’s Corner.  Your steadfast reporting for all those years has been, and is, a great contribution to the history of our profession in the Northwest. Your column in the Waveguide is what I read first every month!

Also, thank you for your kind citation in your February 2016 column of my improvised metric, “kilowatt feet”, for illustrating the advantages of high elevation transmitting sites, such as was provided by your pioneering efforts at West Tiger Mountain.

On a sad note, I regret to inform you of the passing of our mutual friend and colleague, Stan MacLafferty. Stan died on April 15th in College Place (Walla Walla area). Here is a link to Stan’s obituary:

Stan and I had kept in touch after he moved back to the Walla Walla area from Seattle. I last visited with Stan at College Place in January. He’ll be missed. Stan was 86.

I’ll be 77 on July 6th; how about you Clay?  I’ve been retired since 1999; is that in your future soon? We old guys need some time to rest and recreate. You’ve certainly earned yours. – 73, Jim Stevens,KL7FIR

We all know that things are a whole lot more complicated today than in days past….Education is trying to ramp up our educational system with more emphasis on STEM.    Yet today we have high school graduates that can’t balance their checkbook ….ooops – I forget with a charge card you don’t have to worry about it…..and who uses checks anyway !!.    Then there are those younger folks that don’t know how to tell time with an analog clock.     In the retail world, they have to not make things too complicated….The following is an example I ran across recently –

This reminds me of this item –

We had to have the garage door repaired.

The repairman told us that one of our problems was that we did not have a ‘large’ enough motor on the opener.  I thought for a minute, and said that we had the largest one the company made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower.  He shook his head and said, ‘Lady, you need a 1/4 horsepower.’ I responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4. He said, ‘NO, it’s not.’ Four is larger than two.

Or perhaps this one-

I handed the teller at my bank a withdrawal slip for $400.00

I said “May I have large bills, please”.

She looked at me and said “I’m sorry sir, all the bills are the same size.”

When I got up off the floor I explained it to her.

Ever notice how call letters once associated with stations in the Seattle area seem to be picked  up by others?    For example….KBSG, once the call letters of 97.3 in Seattle are now in use on the Coast.   KLSY, once the call letters of 92.5 in Bellevue is now in use from South Mountain on 93.7 as a Latino Christian Station.    KNBQ,  the call on 97.3 prior to KBSG is now heard in Central Park, near Aberdeen.   More recently the call used by the 104.5 that moved to the Seattle area from Hood River, Oregon, KMCQ will be used by a new station near Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.

Thanks to long time Seattle area Engineer, Buzz Anderson for this item –

For those of you that read this column, you know that I often write about happenings here in the Seattle area.   Seattle is a large market, ranked #13.   It’s pretty easy to forget that not far away from Seattle are little markets that are not ranked and where you can’t receiver any OTA signals from any Seattle station.  One of them is, perhaps the smallest market in the state with an AM/FM Broadcast station.  I’m talking about Forks, in West Clallam County.   Forks is really small with a population of just over 3500.    Driving into town you can hear about 5 radio signals – 3 of them are NCE’s and 2 are the local Forks commercial station.     This little facility has been there for many years.  More recently, thanks to the talents of people like Mike Gilbert, the little station has made great strides in how it sounds on the air.   In a recent column I noted that they were running multiple channels of HD on their FM, KDBD.     Now comes the news that they have moved their FM antenna from their AM tower in town to a much higher elevation location going from -23 meters AAT to +484.   The new site, at Ellis Mt,  significantly improves their coverage in all directions and brings with it the potential for a lot more listeners that are scattered around the NW corner of the US.     Thanks Mike for the following pictures –

Transmitting Equipment rack and antenna system

In closing out this month’s ramblings – I know that you are all anxious for the coming elections…with that in mind, I offer you the following quotes. –

If God wanted us to vote,   He would have given us candidates – ~Jay Leno~

The problem with political jokes is they get elected -~Henry Cate, VII~

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office – ~Aesop~

If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these State of the Union speeches, there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven – ~Will Rogers~

Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river –

~Nikita Khrushchev~

When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I’m beginning to believe it -~Clarence Darrow~

Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel – ~John Quinton~

Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you -~Author unknown~

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other – ~Oscar Ameringer~

I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them – ~Adlai Stevenson, 1952~

A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country – ~ Tex Guinan~

I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians -~Charles de Gaulle~

Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks – ~Doug Larson~

There ought to be one day — just one — when there is open season on Congressmen – ~Will Rogers

That’s it for this month.   Lord willing I will be (mostly) back in some of these same locations.

73, Clay, CPBE, K7CR