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.

Studying for final exams this week

My apologies to the regular readers here. I have been busy studying, working, and managing family life.  The good news is my last final exam is this afternoon.  Even better news, the next semester is starting on May 22nd, during which I will be taking English 227, which is a Technical Writing course.  It is my hope that you all will be benefiting from my labor.

Old Year SWR

This time of year is when we all sit back and asess things that we did in the past 365 or so days. It is called reflection, which is just a civilian term for SWR (Standing Wave Ratio).

Thus, I though I would take a little time and make a few observations about the business, my part in it, and this blog.

1.  The business of Radio:

Let us be honest, Radio is not what is used to be.  Many times, what it used to be was somewhat of a free for all, wheeler dealer radio station owners cutting corners and making do with less than optimum equipment and staff.  And trade, lots and lots of trade. Only in large metropolitan areas did radio stations make enough money to throw it around, but sometimes not even then.  Radio was by no means a huge money making operation and therefore, those that worked in mostly it did it as a labor of love.  That may or may not have come across on the air.  By far, the funnest station I ever listened to was run from a closet, with a sound reinforcement board and the program directors CD collection.  What made it so much fun was they had nothing to loose, there were no restraints placed on the staff.  Once that on air enthusiasm translated to ratings, then to revenue, the magic was gone and they were just another radio station filling a spot on the dial.

The radio business has fully transitioned from a fun, seat of the pants entertainment operation to a mega money making corporate mentality under the control of mostly non-entertainment types.  Even those stations owned by smaller group owners are forced to rely on the tactics developed by the big two in order to stay in business.

Group owners will continue to extract money in whatever way they can until the money train runs off the rails.  Then, radio will be replaced by something less.

2.  Radio Engineering:

Engineering will continue to grow smaller, with more emphasis on computers, networking, and IT infrastructure.  The future distribution of music and program material will take the form of streaming (live events), pod casts (specialty shows) and subscription services.  Over the air free radio will become less and less relevant as younger “listeners” trend toward new media.  The idea of listeners may be archaic in lieu of “subscribers” or “users.”  Thus, in order to remain relevant, broadcast engineers are going to have to keep their skill sets current.  I would recommend to anyone getting into the business to get current with routers, routing tables, Cisco equipment and whatnot.  The cloud is coming and will rain on all those not adjusted to the new “broadcasting” reality.

3.  My part in the business:

A somewhat superannuated broadcast engineer who’s skill set lies mostly within the RF and heavy duty electrical areas, I am going back to college in January.  Cicso Network Administrator is the degree I am shooting for, for that is where the local jobs, both in and out of broadcasting will be.  Network Administrators are going to be the backbone of cloud computing, those that can configure routing tables will be desired.

That being said, I continue to be involved with larger RF projects and transmitter work.  It is fun for me, most of the time.  Having to drive two hours,one way on Christmas Eve to fix a backup transmitter, not so much, but those situations tend to be the exception, rather than the rule.

All in all, it is great fun to press the high voltage on button, not knowing if the transmitter will cycle on normally, or put on some type of display.

4.  The blog:

This little thing we have here has been fun.  I get good response to most articles.  I welcome all the comments and the off line e-mails that come my way.  My original intent, which is to provoke thought and dialog, remains unchanged.  This year, I have delved into areas not covered by the trade magazines, but do have at least some bearing on radio or radio related arts.  To that end, there have been several negative responses, which is fine.  I don’t pretend to know everything, if you know more, then by all means, speak up.  By and large, however, the majority of responses continue to be positive.

I continue to grow the overseas audience, with roughly 36% of the page views coming from non US IP addresses.  Persons from The UK, followed by Canada, Netherlands, Australia and Germany are the top five non-US readers of this blog.

So, I will continue to post about things in the coming year.  If any of you have any suggestions or requests, shoot me an email of leave a comment.

In the mean time, have a Happy New Year!

Newest Tool in the toolbox

With special thanks to our sponsors, regular readers and those just dropping in for a look see, I was able to buy a new SLR camera.  It took several months to pool my blog earnings, I had to redeem several thousand Amex rewards points and scrape together a little bit of loose change from the sofa cushions and get this:

New Canon EOS Rebel T1i SLR camera
New Canon EOS Rebel T1i SLR camera

To date, I have been using the camera on my HTC Android phone. For the price, it has done yeoman’s work and is always handy.  That being said, there have been several instances where I have been disappointed by a blurry or poorly lit picture.  Several times, this has occurred at transmitter sites or other locations where I will not be likely to return, thus the chance of getting a better shot at a later date is low.  Other times, I have missed first time events; first time turning a transmitter on, first boot up of a fancy console, etc.

Pictures, videos, and diagrams  are a very important part of this blog.  I decided that if this is going to be a semi-serious endeavor I need to get some better equipment and stop loosing key shots to less than optimum equipment.  The HTC Android is a smartphone, it does a good job as such.  The camera and video recorder is a compromise at best.

With the new camera, I can get better close ups, better low light and generally improve the quality of the images in this blog.  I am all about quality. I look forward to trying it out.