This saddens me a little bit. Apparently, the Village of Valatie, NY is seeking repayment of a $500K loan from Transmitter Manufacturer Energy Onix. Since the passing of Bernie Wise, the company has basically folded.
The village may foreclose on the building if necessary, said Mayor Diane Argyle.
Located at 1306 River St., Energy-Onix was founded in 1987 by broadcast pioneer Bernard Wise, who is known for bringing the “grounded grid” to radio broadcasting. The company designed, manufactured and sold radio transmitters and tubes.
Sadly, there goes support for many Energy Onix and CCA transmitter still in the field. I know of several of those old CCA transmitters that are still cranking away, 40 or more years after they rolled out of the factory in Gloucester, NJ. I have tried, several times, to call Energy Onix since Bernie passed last year and the phone goes unanswered. I wonder if we could pick up the the field support and service for these units. I wonder if there are any spare parts left at the old factory building?
WGHQ was donated by Pamal Broadcasting to Tri-State media over the New Years Holiday. Originally signed on in 1955 as WSKN in Saugerties, NY, WGHQ had been struggling to hang on over the last few years. The station had been on a syndicated satallator automation format with the only local show being Kingston Community Radio, airing weekday mornings from 6-9 am. In the end, it was either go dark or donate the station.
Tri-State Media is the owner/operator of WHDD AM/FM and WLHV, which are NPR affiliates. They also simulcast on WBSL-FM, owned by Berkshire High School, when the students and faculty are not on the air. A look at the program schedule shows a variety of music, local and national news and talk.
Over the last five years or so, several AM stations have been donated to community oriented groups and organizations, most notably the MMTC. Often, these stations are in rough to very rough technical condition and many are silent. It is noted that WDTW no longer has a transmitter site and KWHN was suffered severe damage due to flooding. Those stations donated to the MMTC often find themselves LMA’d to a local group to run for a while before ownership is transferred.
City of License
Pentecostal Temple dev
New Kensington, PA
Pentecostal Temple dev
North Augustsa, GA
Ft. Smith, AR
There may be other stations that were donated to various other groups, but this is all I could find using Google. I notice several of them are on the current list of silent stations. I wonder how many are currently on the air and successful. Are they being locally programmed? If so, how has the reception been in there respective communities? What remediation was required for the technical facilities and how much did it cost?
AM; it has a future or not? I cannot make up my mind sometimes. As some AM stations can and do make a profit, many others do not. Truth be told, the engineering effort that goes into an AM directional antenna is becoming a black science. And some people may say, “oh, but that gives you job security,” but that is not usually how it works. Instead of paying somebody more money (or any money) to maintain something, the business philosophy these days seems to be to chuck the baby out with the bath water. Because after all, if not AM then FM right? Yes, of course! Except, the very thing that happened to AM is happening to FM too. Increasing noise floors, jamming signals into every possible nook of the frequency spectrum, no thought toward technical facilities and infrastructure, and horrible, horrible programming will result has resulted in the decline of listening for FM too. Mark my words and the date; FM broadcasting will suffer the same fate as AM if current trends continue.
How will it end? I would hazard with more of a whimper than a bang. I imagine something like this:
One day, in the not very distant future, at an AM station somewhere, the transmitter faults and goes off the air. Chip, the computer guy, goes in the back room, moves a bunch of cleaning supplies, cases toilet paper, a garbage can and the remote gear out of the way so he can reach the ON button on that box the old guy told him about. The big box makes some clunking noises and comes on for a second, but then the fault light called “VSWR” or something comes on and the transmitter shut off again.
Chip, the computer guy, remembering what the old guy said about that big tall thing behind the building, pushes the back door open. What used to be a field is now completely overgrown with weeds, brush, and trees. He follows the pipe from the back of the building, through the prickers until he comes to an old fence, which is falling down. He pushes on the locked gate and it falls off the hinges. Inside the fence, there is a rusty tower and a white box. Finding the box unlocked, he opens it and sees a baffling array of metal coils, copper tubes, and black round things. He sees that one of the black round things is cracked in half and black goop is coming out of it. The computer guy takes a picture with his cellphone and emails it to the market manager/vice president of sales.
A few minutes later, the the market manager calls back and Chip tries to explain what is going on, stating the the transmitter went off and the black thing in the box by the tower looks broken. The market manager/vice president of sales asks “Has anyone called and complained?” Chip says no, not that he is aware of. The market manager says, “Eh, fuck it leave it off.”
In almost every broadcast company I have ever worked for, there is always some communications dysfunction between management and the technical staff. It is perhaps, inevitable given the different cultures. Most managers come from a sales background, where everything is negotiable. The engineering field is fixed in the physical world, where everything has two states; right/wrong, on/off, true/false, functional/non-functional, etc. Try to negotiate with a non-functional transmitter, let me know how that works.
Engineering eggheads often couch their conversations in technical terms which tend to confuse the uninitiated. While those terms are technically correct, if I said “Радио генератор инвалида.” You’d say “Huh?” and rightly so. If the receiving party does not understand the terms used, it is ineffective communication.
The other mistake I often see, which irritates me beyond reason, is long rambling e-mails or other documents that fail to come to the point, directly or otherwise. Time is a precious commodity, waisting other people’s time with long needless diatribes is ineffective communications. Likely, the recipient will not read the entire thing anyway. If a person gains a reputation for generating huge amounts of superfluous verbiage, then it only becomes so much background noise to be filtered out. When I was in the service, I went to a class called “Message Drafting.” This was back in the day when everything was sent via radio. The gist is to get the complete idea across to the recipient with as few words as possible. Think: “ENEMY ON ISLAND. ISSUE IN DOUBT.” Clear and concise, six words paints the picture.
The key to effective communications is to know your audience. If you are writing a white paper for a bunch of MIT graduates, use all the appropriate technical terms. More often than not, however, as a broadcast engineer, our intended audience is more likely station management and/or ownership. Their backgrounds may be sales and finance.
In order to get those technical ideas into the heads that matter, a good method is to use the lowest common denominator. If the general manager is a former used car salesman, car analogies might work. The transmitter has 200,000 miles on it, the tower is rusting out like a ’72 Pinto, and so on. Almost anything at a transmitter site can be compared to a vehicle in some way. Find out what the manager’s background is then figure out what language he or she speaks and use it. You may say, “But he is the manager, it is up to him (or her) to understand this stuff.” You are not incorrect, but that is not how the world works.
Secondly, use brevity in communications. Managers are busy, engineering is but one aspect of the radio station’s operations. If written, provide a summary first, then expound upon it in follow up paragraphs if required. If you are in a meeting, give a brief presentation then wait for questions. Always have a high ballpark figure in mind when the inevitable “How much?” question comes along.
Don’t assume that the manager will follow through with your ideas up the chain of command, always follow up a few days later. If it is important, continue to ask, in a friendly way, if there is any progress on the issue.
There are so many ways to communicate these days that failure to communicate is almost unfathomable. One additional thought, if you find yourself out of the loop, find a way to get back in or you’ll find yourself looking for a new job.