February 2013
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My appologies for the lack of posts

Two reasons for this; first, I am deep into the IP networking curriculum and time is at a premium.  That being said, I am rather enjoying myself in school, which is always good.  Secondly, and related to the first part, I have not been spending too much time these days doing Broadcast Engineering work.  Thus, the subject matter and various topics have not been jumping out at me as they normally do.

My busy schedule not withstanding, there are some interesting things going on in the realm of Radio Engineering:

  1. On the LPFM front, the FCC has dismissed over 3,000 translator applications from the great translator invasion of 2003.  This is great news and now potential LPFM applicants can use the FCC LPFM search tool to get a good idea of what is available in their neck of the woods.  Other search tools include Recnet and Prometheus Radio project.  Filing window is October 15, 2013, apply now or forever hold  your peace.
  2. Chris Imlay has some good ideas on AM revitalization. His suggestion is to have the FCC enforce and strengthen its existing rules regarding electrical interference. I notice two letters are missing from his list, those would be “h” and “d.” While the ideas are technically sound, it seems unlikely that the FCC can or would be able to enforce stricter Part 18 rules.
  3. Lots of EAS shenanigans going on with zombie alerts and hijacked EAS systems.  Really people, default passwords?  Secure your equipment and networks or pay the price for complacency.  Nearly all new equipment has some sort of web interface, which can be a great time saver.  They can also be easily exploited if left vulnerable.  Fortunately, this was not as bad as it could have been.
  4. Something happened in NYC that hasn’t happened in quite a while.  Country music filled the air on a station that is generally receivable in the five boroughs.  This may not seem like big news to the rest of the country, but in market number one, it is big news.  Further, Cumulus has registered “NashFMxxxx.com” for every FM dial position.  National country channel in the works?  I’d bet yes.  A look at recent trends shows that Cumulus is standardizing formats on many of its AM and FM stations, making them, effectively, part of a nation network of over the air repeaters.
  5. Clear Channel has put more effort into iHeartradio, for seemly many of the same reasons as Cumulus’s standardized formats.

Where is this all going?  There are several trends evident including; AM will eventually be declared DOA and switched off, transition to national based music formats, an emphasis on IP (internet) based delivery systems, an eventual phase out of local programming, smaller staffs concentrated on local sales and little else.

The single bright spot could be LPFM.  Only time will tell if this new crop of LPFM licensees will keep the faith and tradition of local radio.  If one looks at the natural course of evolution, under times of extreme stress, species tend to get physically smaller in response.  The larger species cannot sustain themselves with the necessary energy intake and die off.  See also: Dinosaurs.  I certainly would call this prolonged, nearly dead economy stressful on the broadcasting business.  Perhaps, when all is said and done, it will be the small, volunteer LPFM still on the air and serving the community.

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3 comments to My appologies for the lack of posts

  • Dewey Jacks

    Paul,…on Item number 1 where you say that the FCC has dismissed over 3,000 translator applications,I take that to mean that any larger station that has filed an application has been turned down,…am I correct in my assumption? And that also opens the door to LPFM stations applying for LPFM licenses? Can you explain a little further what that could mean for the smaller volunteer ran LPFM station? Thank You!

  • Paul Thurst

    @Dewey, not necessarily. In 2003, the FCC received more than 13,000 applications for new translator licenses in response to a filing window. Many of these were filed by speculators, hoping to get a license, then turn around and sell it for a quick buck. The price for a translator varies depending on market size, however, most fetch between $10-35K once they are built. There have been a few that have sold for over a million, just to give you an idea.

    The FCC sat on the problem until recently, when they needed to take action and make some room for LPFM stations required by the local community radio act. Thus, they have come up with a compromise and dismissed many of the still pending applications.

    If you want to apply for an LPFM license, you need to be a non-profit organization, school, or government entity. Community organizations interested in this should check into Prometheus Radio Project, which has the most complete information that I can find. There are others as well.

  • I also noted that at http://recnet.com, if you search through the news broefs, you can see
    how many applications for translators were dismissed, and which ones still are pending.

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