The Death Star strikes again

Death Star
Death Star

No, not that Death Star, this one:

Harris Dexstar HD Radio exciter
Harris Dexstar HD Radio exciter

Because Hey! It’s digital, therefore it must be better!

I found this faulted HD Radio exciter on my weekly site visit for WFAS-FM.  I have no idea how long it was in the fault condition.  The radio station received zero calls about the HD Radio being off.  When I looked at the fault log, it stated that it was unable to ping something or another.  However, the reason for the exciter shutting down was… wait for it… the fault log was full.

I rebooted the unit, it came up without problems and there appears to be no lingering communications issues.

At least these things weren’t terribly expensive… Oh no, wait, they were.

Well, at least people are getting enjoyment from their wonderful sounding digital radio, except, no:  People don’t seem to know about it, or care.

So, the radio stations must be making tons of money on this thing, right? What? No?

I am confused, why are we doing this again?

Unabashed self promotion

Once per year, I celebrate the creation of this blog. Thus, three years ago today, I unleashed Engineering Radio with the idea that not too many other people were telling the story about technical aspect of radio broadcasting.  At the time, Radio World, a fine publication by any standard, seemed to be moving away from technical details, anecdotes and other useful bits of information.  I felt that is was something that people would like to read, and I was correct.

Without further adieu, here is my observations from the past year:

  • We have taken on sort of an international flavor, this last year.  A slightly greater percentage of visitors are coming from overseas, which I welcome.  According to my flag counter, approximately 62% of visitors are from the US, the other top five countries are; UK, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, and Germany.  I have also fixed the translator plug-in for word press.  In Russian the blog is translated as: Радиоинженерия, (thanks Geoff in Oz) which translates to Radio Engineering.  I am not sure “Engineering” can be rendered as a verb in Russian.
  • Also, I have noted that of the 195 recognized countries in the world, 183 have visited this blog.
  • I posted 162 stories last year, an average of 14 per month, making the total post count 470.
  • There are 1,441 legitimate comments and 175,108 spam comments.
  • There are about 120 subscribers to the RSS feed
  • I receive an average of 438 page loads with 62 returning visitors each day
  • Total reach of ~143,000 page views from ~93,000 unique visitors
  • Busiest day of the week is Thursday, I don’t know why.
Visitors 2012
Visitors 2012

I did some housekeeping, cleaning out some no longer relevant stories and other such things, therefore the story count is slightly off from last year.  No matter.

This year, I have greatly enjoyed meeting fellow radio enthusiasts like Mike Fitzpatrick and Scott Fybush among others.  The blog is a constant learning experience and I enjoy greatly all of the personal interactions; blog comments, facebook posts and off line emails.

Thus, it has been a good year.

With my return to school last spring, the time constraints have somewhat reduced the quantity of posts, while hopefully not the quality.  As I have said in previous years, this is a labor of love and I will continue to write as long as you guys (and girls) continue to read.

Bumper Stickers

I found this box of bumper stickers at a transmitter site the other day. And you might say “A box of bumper stickers, wow.” which would be nearly identical to the reaction I had. But then I started looking through them and realized that many were from the eighties and early nineties.

It is sort of like a way back radio promotions time machine.  On the back of most of these bumper stickers there is some type of offer; 10% off, $2.00 off, etc  from different local businesses.  You remember those things; tire repair shops, miniature golf, non-chain restaurants and fast food places, retail stores that aren’t WalMart, and so on.  There were several that had bumper sticker spotting contests, including one, where if the bumper sticker was spotted covering another radio station’s bumper sticker, they would stop you on the spot and give you $1,500.00.  Now that is exciting!

I picked a few of the more interesting examples out:

Radio Station bumper stickers
Radio Station bumper stickers

Being an engineer and coming upon new, unknown data, I decided to quantify it.  Therefore I made a spreadsheet of all the different radio stations and any other information I could find on the back of the bumper sticker:

Call Sign or Identifier Frequency Location Date
92 MOO 92 FM ?? ??
94.9 ZHT 94.9 Mhz Colorado 1998
B.Rock 97.7 MHz ? ?
B96 96 FM Chicago, IL 1990
CFX-95 95 FM Central Michigan ??
FM 96 96 FM Montreal, QC 1985
Groove 103.1 103.1 MHz ?? ??
KAKS KISS 108 108 FM ?? ??
KATD 95.3 FM ?? ??
KAT-FM 92.9 MHz ?? ??
KATT 100.5 MHz Oklahoma City, OK 1988
KBBY 95 FM ?? ??
KBOO 90.7 MHz Portland, OR 1986
KBPI 105.9 MHz Colorado ??
KCFO 102 FM ?? 1984
KCFX 101 FM Overland Park, KS ??
KDKA 1020 KHz Pittsburgh, PA 1986
KEDG 103.5 MHz Las Vegas , NV 1993
KENO AM Stereo 1460 KHz Las Vegas, NV 1988
KEGL 97.1 MHz ?? ??
KFMG 107.9 MHz San Diego 1983
KGBX 1260 AM ?? ??
KHIP 93.5 MHz San Francisco, CA Early 80’s
KHTR 103 FM St. Louis, MO 1983
KIIS 102.7 MHz Los Angeles, CA 1988
KISS 108 FM 108 FM Medford, MA 1992
KLBS 1330 KHz ?? ??
KLZX 93 FM ?? 1989
KMEL 106.1 MHz CA? ??
KMEL 106 FM CA? 1990
KMET 94.7 MHz ?? ??
KMGX 104 FM ?? ??
KMJI 100 FM Englewood, CO 1986
KNCI 98.5 MHz ?? ??
KOMP 92.3 MHz Las Vegas, NV 1986
KOUL 103.7 Mhz ?? ??
KPXI 100.7 MHz ?? ??
KRKO 1380 KHz ?? 1990
K-Rock 1310 AM Stereo Albuquerque, NM 1989
KRQR 97.3 MHz San Francisco, CA ??
KSHE 95 FM St. Louis, MO ??
KSHE 95 ? St. Louis, MO 1995
KTAR 620 KHz Phoenix, AZ ??
KTYD 99.9 MHz ?? 1984
KUFO 98 FM ?? ??
KVIL 103.7 MHz ?? ??
KXOJ 100.9 MHz ?? 2000
KXXX 105.3 MHz Kern County ? 1990
KYMS 106.3 FM CA ?? 1986
KYNK 1430 AM ?? ??
KYST Radio Alegria 920 KHz ?? ??
KZOK 102.5 FM ?? ??
KZST 100 FM Santa Rosa, CA ??
KZZP 104.7 MHz ?? 1989
Pirate Radio 100.3 MHz ?? ??
Pirate Radio 100.3 100.3 MHz ?? ??
Power 104 104 FM Huntsville, AL 1986
Power 106 FM 106 FM Los Angeles, CA ??
Q-105 & 1380 AM 105 FM/1380 AM Tampa, FL ??
Q-106.5 106.5 Mhz St. Louis, MO 1989
Q-94 94 FM Cookeville, TN 1983
Rock 103 103 FM Memphis, TN 1984
Rock 105 105.9MHz Nashville, TN ??
Rock 107 107 FM PA 1983
Top 106 FM 106 FM ?? ??
TV-69 Channel 69 Gainesville, FL 1986
WAAF 107 FM ?? ??
WAIL 99.5 FM Key West, FL 1987
WALK 97.5 Mhz Long Island, NY 1992
WAPE 95 FM Orlando ??
WAZY 96 ½ 96.5 MHz ?? 1990
WBAP 820 Khz Dallas, TX 1986
WBFG 97.7 MHz Effingham, IL 1987
WBT 1110 KHz Charlotte, NC ??
WCBW 105 FM St Louis, MO ??
WCCC 106.9 Mhz Hartford, CT ??
WCKX 106.3 MHz ?? ??
WCNX 1150 KHz Middletown, CT 1984
WCUZ 101.3 FM/1230 AM Greenville, SC 1987
WDVE 102.5 MHz Pittsburgh, PA ??
WGN 720 KHz Chicago, IL 1986
WHHU Y-102 102 FM ?? 1988
WHLY 106 FM Orlando, FL 1986
WHTZ Z-100 100 FM New York, NY Early 90’s
WIYY 98 FM ?? ??
WIZN 106.7 Mhz Burlington, VT 1990
WJMX 106 FM ?? ??
WJZM 1400 AM ?? ??
WKLH 96 FM ?? ??
WKVT 92.7 Mhz Vermont 1992
WLIZ 98.7 Mhz Detroit, MI 1985
WLLZ 98.7 FM ?? ??
WMAS 95 FM Springfield, MA 1990
WMAS 1450 AM Springfield, MA 1990
WMJQ 102 FM Gainesville, FL 1993
WMLI 96.3 Mhz Dane County ? 1989
WMMQ 92.7 MHz Lansing, MI 1985
WMMS 100.7 MHz ?? ??
WNEW 102.7 FM New York, NY 1989
WNFI I-100 100 FM Ormond Beach, FL 1984
WOVR 103 FM ??
WPSC 88.7 (TV-6) Wayne, NJ ??
WQUT 101 FM ?? 1986
WQXM 98 FM Tampa, FL 1983
WRKT 104 FM/1300 AM Broward co, FL 1984
WRO 95 FM ?? ??
WRQK 107 FM 1986
WRRO 1440 KHz ?? ??
WRSI 95.3 FM Greenfield, MA 1985
WRX 103.7 Mhz ?? ??
WSHO SHO Radio 98.3/103.5 FM Schenectady, NY 1989
XX FM 95 95 MHz Honolulu, HI 1986
Y-95 95 FM St. Louis, MO 1988
Z-100 100 FM New York, NY ??
Zeta 94.9 94.9 FM ?? 1987


Well, if anyone is interested in any of these, contact me off line.  There were some other, generic stickers like “Good times, Great Oldies” that did not have any identifying information.

Of popular trees and telephone poles

This picture reminded me of something that happened early on in my radio career:

WDCD three tower array, Albany, NY
WDCD three tower array, Albany, NY

This is another view, looking across from the roof of the transmitter building before the former studio building was removed:

WFLY STL antenna
WFLY STL antenna, circa 1992

The story dates back to 1990 or so.  In the second picture, one can see two Scala PR-950U Paraflector antennas.  These are the STL and TSL antennas for WFLY.  They are on wooden utility poles because of the WPTR 1540 KHz antenna system is behind the poles, out of the picture to the left.   As you can see in the second picture, these poles were immediately behind the studio building, known as the “Gold Studio, ” the name itself being pure propaganda.

Also, in the second picture you can see behind the poles, a pair of poplar trees.  The reason for the second, taller pole was because across the street, out of the picture to the right, there was a stand of poplar trees which were growing up into the path of the WFLY STL system.

When this was noticed, then General Manager, John Kelly, tactfully approached the property owner and asked if the radio station could cut the “popular” trees down.  Of course, the property owner wanted much money to do this.  There was many telephone calls and discussions on how to kill the “popular” trees and other, not so ethical solutions to this growing problem.  Finally, it was decided that it would be simple and less expensive to install the taller utility pole.

Thus, Northeast Towers found the utility pole and came to install it.  In this area of Albany, the soil is a sandy loam, which required much hand digging and back bracing in the hole before they placed the pole in the ground.  As it is a seventy foot pole, a good 12 feet was placed in the ground and the hole was back filled with concrete.  That is why the pole still stands today.

Naturally, all of this work is taking place on the hottest day of the year.  Also, it stands to reason, the guy in the hole doing the manual labor is the oldest, most out of shape person on the crew.  After lots of grunting and swearing, our man comes out of the hole looking whiter than the driven snow and sweating profusely.  He kind of staggered into the back door of the building and collapsed on the floor just inside the back door.  At this point, he was in full cardiac arrest.  The promotions director, who’s office was closest to the door, called the ambulance.

Fortunately, the board operator on WPTR was an EMT with the local fire department.  After his pager went off, he ran out to his car, got his EMT bag and arrived on scene within seconds.  He was able to start CPR quickly.  In the mean time, a crowd had gathered out in the hallway.  John (the General Manager), hearing the commotion, storms out of his office and down the hallway.  He gets to the edge of the crowd and yells:


The good news is, the guy survived, thanks in no small part to the quick action of the board operator.

Anyway, tales of radio when it was fun.