The popular discussion board, which was started in the mid 1990s has been terminated by it’s current owners, Streamline Digital. It seems that the site was not making any money and thus the plug was pulled.
There are other engineering type discussion boards such as The Virtual Engineer and… Hmm, Anybody?
Where a vacuum exists, nature abhors it. The question is, will anyone step up and fill the void?
One of our clients has or rather had, a BEST FERUPS 18 KVA UPS. It has stopped working and I was given the following report:
Radio guy: The power went out, the generator started, then I heard a bang.
Myself: You heard a bang?
RG: Yeah, a big BANG!
Myself: You heard a big bang.
And so he did:
Best FERUPS 18 KVA control board.
Best FE18KVA control board, MOV destruction
The primary damage is around two MOV’s mounted on the other side of the board. This is the power sense (voltage sample) input to the board. We have attempted to repair it, but alas, it is not repairable. A replacement board runs over $1,400.00 from Eaton Powerware. Since this unit also needs a new set of batteries, it is likely best to replace the entire unit.
UPDATE: I notice that Radio World has a little star rating system on their articles. According to the rating, twenty one people think I suck… That is okay, but when I started looking around at all of the other articles on the website, I noticed most have but one or two votes. It seems odd to me that my little opinion piece would have so many negative votes, especially in light of the e-mails, phone calls and personal interactions I have received supporting my position.
Perhaps a few of you could run over there, read the article then objectively decide what you think… Here is the link: AM Efforts Should Include Tech Solutions
I am deeply immersed in all things networking, yet again. I regret the sparse posts, but there are a few things of note:
- It appears the the WYFR shortwave site in Okeechobee has been sold to the operators of WRMI (Radio Miami International). This is a good turn of events for shortwave broadcasting. WRMI programmed mostly to the Caribbean and were difficult to hear in these parts.
- Nielsen Radio, formerly Arbitron, says it will increase the sample size for the PPM program. This is good, larger sample size means better accuracy and fewer extrapolation related errors and strange rating spikes.
- I published an commentary in Radio World Commentary: AM Efforts Should Include Tech Solutions. What do you think? Should the industry be looking at something other than HD Radio?
- Then, from across the pond there is this:
Which is a digital radio promotion from the BBC. It seems Great Brittan is trying to force an all digital transition. A glimpse of things to come?
- In spite of the lack of posts, the blog continues to grow, averaging 550 to 600 page views per day with about 180 RSS subscribers. As far as content goes, I can assume more of the same will suffice.
As time becomes available, I will post more.
Not related to radio, but interesting nonetheless. Mozilla, the designer of the Firefox web browser has come up with a cool way to see tracking data for any HTTP sessions. It is an add-on called Lightbeam. I tried a little experiment, after installing lightbeam, I surfed around a little bit then looked at the results. A screenshot of the graphical output is below:
Mozilla Lightbeam graphical output
The round circles are the sites that I visited. The triangles are third party sites connected to the visited site. During the real Lightbeam session, a mouse over the icon will show the name or url. It is an interesting exercise. Visiting 27 web sites nets a total of 172 third party sites or approximately 6 third party sites per visited site. Commercial news sites like CNN and NBC seem to have the most connections to third party sites. In this case, it appears to be mostly innocuous advertizing. Even so, it is an enlightening experiment.
Hopefully that title is descriptive enough:
ATT bucket trucks, , mobilized via landing craft to Pleasure Beach
We loaded a couple of ATT bucket trucks on a landing craft and waged an assault on Pleasure Beach. This is to finalize the repair work from Hurricane Sandy last year. The other factor is the construction taking place on the Island. The City of Bridgeport is constructing a park, which involves extensive repairs and renovations to the buildings. Construction vehicles driving under the old lines have ripped them down several times, thus repairing the lines on the new utility poles was necessary.
ATT truck offloading
ATT truck offloading
ATT is the LEC for the Bridgeport area, something they don’t do in most other parts of the country, from what I am told.
Landing Craft Challenger
It took approximately four hours to complete this work and reload the trucks back on the landing craft. The boat itself looks like a slightly modified LCM (Landing Craft, Mechanized), which were produced from 1943 onward. This is an LCM-8.
WICC towers almost in line, I was about one second too late with this shot. This would be “down the bore” of the daytime pattern into downtown Bridgeport.
Another shot of the WICC towers. These were designed to hold up a horizontal T top wire antenna strung between the two of them. At some point in the early thirties, somebody realized that the tower itself could be excited as a vertical radiator and the antenna configuration was changed. Up until the mid 1970′s there was a horizontal wire which supported third wire element hanging between the two towers, making it a three tower directional array. This was removed and it was then that the current phasor and two tower DA-2 system was installed.
All in a day’s work.
Type the call letters for almost any radio or television station in the country into a search engine, and the second or third result will be a Wikipedia article.
This is both an opportunity and burden. Since the Wikipedia articles place so well in most search engine results, it would be a benefit to radio stations to keep an eye on them; keep them up to date, make sure that no one vandalizes them and fix it when they do. Most importantly, keep the station website link and streaming link information up to date. That is the burden but it is relatively small.
The opportunity comes from the ability to document the history of individual radio stations. In the grand scale, the history of any individual radio station is like a grain of sand on the beach. It is only pertinent to those who care. But then there are those who do care and for some of us, reading a well written, well sourced article about some station we are familiar with is interesting. To be sure, there are many crappy radio station articles on Wikipedia. Some of them read like advertisements, clearly written from non-neutral party. Others do not have sections, have poor grammar, improper or no source citations, etc. Those poor articles should be fixed.
In my time as a broadcast engineer, I have found radio station to be like ships; they all have a certain personality. It is difficult to explain how an inanimate collection of equipment and buildings can have personality, but they do. Of course, with time, format and ownership changes those personalities change. Documenting operating histories, formats, unique occurrences, famous past personalities, incidents, accidents, and technical discoveries in one place takes a little bit of time. Having that information available for fellow radio people to read about is valuable service. The one thing that I notice about most radio station Wikipedia articles; there are no pictures. There should be more pictures.
I receive quite a few off line emails from my readers. I hope that I get to them all. At the end of the day, after coming home from class, I can be pretty bleary-eyed and may make a mistake or two when parsing the inbox for relevant subject lines in and amongst all the other flotsam and jetsam that occupies my e-mail. Truth be told, I am often working on this thing in the 9-11:30 pm hours, which is not my sharpest time of day.
And so it is tonight.
Why do I expend so much time and effort on a blog? For that, I would like to relate a little story.
A couple of years ago, I received an email from a woman in Russia. She had somehow come across this blog and asked if I wanted to be her pen-pal for a while, as she needed to practice her English writing skills. I was intrigued by the idea but had one condition for her; she must treat me like a Russian person. Her response was something along the lines of: “So, you want to be treated like a Russian person do you? Fine, you asked for it.” What followed was one of the most interesting and informative exchange of ideas I’d ever had. At some point, we managed to exchange a few photographs and her comment on mine was “That is a terrible picture, you like like the worst sort of KGB agent.” I laughed so hard my stomach hurt because it is true; I look terrible in almost any picture ever taken of me. What made this exchange so interesting was the truth that was told. There was no expectations or preconceptions, just two virtual strangers telling it like it is. People love the truth and know it when they hear it.
That reminds me of why I do this. I would like to give some idea of what it is like to be a broadcast engineer in the United States. I can say that the company I work covers the area in and around NYC all the way up to the Canadian boarder. We see the operations of stations in small, medium and large markets everyday. What I see in the day to day operations of the radio business are likely very different from the versions printed in the trade magazines. The truth that I know and a lot of my readers know too, is one of slow decay over the years, cuts in operating budgets, reduced employees, declining programming quality, reduced or non-existent maintenance, suffocating bank notes, and so on. And it is not just the mom and pops.
Radio will only exist for as long as it is relevant. Crappy, bland, monolithic programming, stations on autopilot during an emergency, poor technical quality, prolonged off air periods; those sounds precede the sound of the off button being pushed. It matters not the band or modulation scheme either. If radio is going to be a viable business, the programming must get better. Otherwise, the ride is over; time to collect up our things and move on. And that would be a shame.
I am sure that this has happened in more places than one. WZAD 97.3 MHz was licensed around 1990 as part of the 80-90 drop ins. The 80-90s were the beginning of the end for viable douopoly operations is smaller markets and triggered the huge wave of consolidation that began a few years later. WZAD started out as a community oriented station, with a free-form format. DJ’s often brought their own records to the studio and spun anything from classic rock to jazz to disco or whatever. As such, the station never really caught on. Listeners would tune in to hear their favorite Led Zeppelin song but here “Ernie’s Classic Polka Show” instead.
A few years later, the station was sold to somebody that changed formats to a satellite oldies format.
The station was sold again and again and again before finally ending up with a major consolidator.
There is a lesson there for all the would be LPFM applicants: Nail down your programming ideas now, float ideas out among the community and see what will work and what people are interested in.
This is the WZAD studio now:
WZAD studio, Wurtsboro, NY
When was the last time anyone from the station was here or set foot anywhere near the community of license? The front lobby of the studio is full of garbage and an old dot matrix printer. It looks like there has been a leak and all the ceiling tiles have fallen down.
The station is being programmed out of the Poughkeepsie studio cluster with an automated country format called “The Wolf.” There is a live morning show, or at least there used to be, I don’t know anymore. How is this station serving as a public trustee?
Some guy posted this picture on Reddit:
Small Office network
In the comments, he gets blasted for being too neat and using wire ties. I know a lot of IT guys that are not very neat with their work and document nothing. This is a big problem in the industry and does not, contrary to popular belief, promote job security. I have walked into some very messy situations in wiring closets and rack rooms over the years. My solution is always the same; run some temporary wires for critical machines/functions, then get out the big wire cutters and start chopping.
I saw this at the WIZN transmitter site in Charlotte, VT:
WIZN FM25K transmitter log
Somebody went through quite a bit of trouble to chart the transmitter readings from April of 1987 through about February of 1992.
A closer view:
WIZN transmitter log
I have not seen this at any other transmitter site, so I though it was an interesting way to keep a transmitter log. It also seems to be time consuming and a bit obsessive. Over the years, I have found my fellow broadcast engineers to be a somewhat strange group sometimes.