From the Chair – April 2024

Brian Walker

Brian Walker, Chairman of SBE Chapter 16, Seattle

Before we begin, it is with great sadness that I must share that Tom Eckels of Hatfield & Dawson has passed away.  If you needed to figure out how to keep data flowing constantly and reliably via RF to light rail trains or vehicles in an airport, Tom was your guy.  Our sympathies to the Eckels family and to Tom’s family at Hatfield & Dawson.


It’s April and time to turn our attentions from ignoring the shop bench that hasn’t been cleaned since the Nixon Administration to ignoring the tower bases that were installed by Marconi himself.  The application of a weed-eater, weed-killer (get the long-lasting stuff) and removal of all unauthorized vegetation is a very good idea right now.  Pro Tip:  If you can create a vegetation-free path 18-24” wide around the transmitter shack, that will do a lot to reduce the critters that want to move into the building for an extended stay.  I remember firing up a generator at a Class A FM site I had just taken over and the mouse condo that came flying out of the horizontal exhaust pipe was something to behold.  A couple of very startled and somewhat annoyed rodents were in the wad of debris.

Speaking of site maintenance, it’s that time of the year when plans start getting made for those upgrade projects.  If there’s an upgrade for your transmitter site, don’t forget to call a tower crew for a full inspection of the tower(s) and antenna(s).  If you have an AM site, now is a good time to get a tune-up on the tower or array and knock out the NRSC measurements.

Get the tower and antenna right and everything will come together much more easily.

Yes, NAB is just a couple of weeks away.  I think the big splash at NAB this year will be Artificial Intelligence.  From content creation to delivery to revenue, AI is going to reshape the broadcast, media and entertainment industries.  A lot of people will be exploring the latest advancements, impacts, opportunities and challenges AI is making throughout the production pipeline. There will be a lot of talk about tools and efficiencies, disinformation and deep fakes, content security and cyber security issues.  Engineering needs to be deeply involved with management, programming and sales in the roll-out of this new technology.  My biggest concern is that AI has no rules and no guard rails right now.  Those without ethics will quickly go places that we will regret.

In March, SBE16 met at the Studios of KING-FM in Seattle.  Many thanks to Mike Brooks for hosting the Chapter meeting and to Brad Fisher of Revelux LED Video Walls for his presentation.  Later that week, KDOV hosted the Medford Chapter meeting.  SBE chapters need to get out more this year.  Maybe a tour of the Seattle Kraken’s facilities at Climate Pledge Arena would be an interesting meeting.

Let’s talk next month.

Brian Walker

Seattle SBE16 Chapter Chair

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