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Filing window for reserved band stations will open in 2021

The post FCC Plans to Cap New NCE FM Applications appeared first on Radio World.

Radio Milwaukee
There are about 4,200 FM educational stations in the United States, including Radio Milwaukee. The number may be about to increase substantially.

The FCC is expecting a rush next year when it opens a window for applications for new FM stations on the lower end of the U.S. radio band. So it is planning to cap the number of applications per entity and is asking for comment.

The commission confirmed it will open a filing window for new FM reserved band applications in 2021. Dates will be announced later. The reserved band is 88.1 to 91.9 MHz. Individuals cannot apply for NCEs.

[Read RW’s story this week about this planned window, “NCE Filing Window Likely in Early 2021”]

In a 2007 window, the commission capped the number of NCE FM new station applications per entity at 10. That cap was prompted in part by the massive response to a 2003 FM translator window, in which the commission got approximately 13,000 applications, many from “speculative filers.” The commission ended up getting about 3,600 in the capped 2007 window. It said the cap allowed it “to expeditiously process and grant thousands of applications to a wide range of local and diverse applicants, therefore promoting the rapid expansion of new NCE FM service throughout the country.”

Even though almost half of those 3,600 were mutually exclusive with at least one other application, it said that the cap helped restrict the number of MX applications, including “daisy chains,” situations in which proposals contain service areas that don’t directly overlap but are linked into a chain by the overlapping proposals of others.

Daisy chains are where things get really messy. “Applications for full-service stations present a prospect of ‘daisy chains’ of conflicting applications due to the size of the proposed service areas and the interference protection provided to full-service stations,” the commission wrote. “A limit on applications will reduce the number and complexity of such situations.” It wants to avoid a large number of speculative filings and the potential for “extraordinary procedural delays.”

A window in 2010 didn’t involve a cap but that was for a limited number of vacant allotments on the non-reserved band that had been reserved for NCE FM use, and generated only about 300 applications.

[Read: FCC Nixes Call to Tweak NCE Licensing Rules]

The FCC said it is expecting a lot of interest in 2021 for several reasons: There’s no application filing fee; there are no ownership limits in the reserved band; there has not been a filing window for new NCE FM applications for over a decade; and the commission recently simplified and clarified the rules and procedures including how it treats competing applications.

It invited comment on this cap, and added that its goal is to “give interested parties the opportunity to apply for local and regional NCE FM outlets.” Read the details here.

The number of FM educational stations has almost doubled in two decades, from 2,140 in the year 2000 to just under 4,200 at the most recent count. But if there is a rush of applications, they probably will be focused on smaller markets. John Garziglia, communications law attorney for Womble Bond Dickinson, told RW recently that he expects most new full-service NCE licenses will be awarded outside major urban areas.

 

The post FCC Plans to Cap New NCE FM Applications appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Paul McLane
Posted: October 20, 2020, 6:48 pm

New evidence revealed that the translator would cause interference to the signal of a local LPFM

The post Media Bureau Changes Course, Revokes CP Grant for Oregon FM Translator appeared first on Radio World.

A construction permit for an FM translator in Oregon has been rescinded due to issues of interference.

In December 2017, Bustos Media Holdings filed a construction permit for FM translator station K260DK in Portland, Ore. The Media Bureau established a deadline of Jan.10, 2018 for anyone wishing to file a petition to deny. On Feb. 1 of that year, the bureau granted the application.

[Read: FCC Addresses Reconsideration Petitions on FM Translator Interference Rules]

A month later, the Media Institute for Social Change (MISC) filed a petition for reconsideration saying it had only recently become aware of the application and said the bureau should rescind the application grant because the translator would cause interference to listeners of its station KXRW(LP) in Vancouver, Wash.

To support its claim, MISC submitted maps, studies and lists showing the issues of interference. It included maps of the 60 dBu contours of KXRW and the translator, a map showing 10 listeners of KXRW whose addresses fell within the translator’s contour, a map showing listeners outside of the 60 dBu contour who were predicted to receive interference from the translator, a map showing areas where the translator’s signal would cause interference to the signal of KXRW, a list of KXRW listeners, an engineering statement and declarations from 25 listeners of KXRW.

MISC also asserted that Section 5 of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 requires the commission to favor LPFM service in this case.

Bustos opposed the petition, saying the petition was not properly verified.

The bureau responded to Bustos and denied its petition. The bureau found no merit to Bustos’ claim that a subsequent Application for Review filed by MISC did not concisely and plainly state important questions of law. It also dismissed Bustos’ assertion that the AFR should be outright dismissed because the AFR was signed by a nonattorney. But that in itself does not violate the rules, the bureau said.

But the full about-face came from the Media Bureau soon after. It agreed with MISC and said it erred by concluding that MISC did not give enough evidence that the translator would interfere with the reception of KXRW by listeners.

The bureau found that the petition did indeed contain “convincing evidence” that the translator would cause such interference. That included a list of KXRW listeners, a map demonstrating that 10 of those listeners resided within the translator’s 60 dBu contour and proof that a future FM translator would result in interference to reception KRXW by those 10 listeners.

Thus, the bureau found that the company presented convincing evidence of predicted interference. As a result, the bureau granted the Application for Review and rescinded the grant for the construction permit for K260DK in Portland.

 

The post Media Bureau Changes Course, Revokes CP Grant for Oregon FM Translator appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Susan Ashworth
Posted: October 20, 2020, 5:56 pm

Reports to U.S. Sales Manager Tim Jobe

The post Schnelle Joins Broadcast Depot appeared first on Radio World.

Mary Schnelle, Broadcast DepotMary Schnelle has joined the U.S. sales team of Broadcast Depot.

She’s well known to equipment buyers in the radio broadcast industry from her years with Harris, SCMS and Broadcasters General Store.

Broadcast Depot offers products and services for radio, television, IP, OTT and satellite transmission. It was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Miami. Tim Jobe is national sales manager for the United States.

Schnelle began her career in accounting at Harris in 1992. She is a graduate of Culver Stockton College in Missouri and holds an MBA from Quincy University in Illinois.

Send People News announcements to [email protected].

The post Schnelle Joins Broadcast Depot appeared first on Radio World.

Author: RW Staff
Posted: October 20, 2020, 4:11 pm

FM station refurbishes studios

The post WCR Community Radio Uses Sonifex S2 appeared first on Radio World.

Sonifex, Sonifex S2, radio mixers, WCR, Warminster Community Radio
Presenter Pauline Payton-Smith with a Sonifex S2 in Studio 1 at WCR Community Radio.

From our Who’s Buying What page: WCR Community Radio station in Warminster in the United Kingdom is using two new Sonifex S2 broadcast mixers for its refurbished radio studios.

The manufacturer quoted Managing Director Barry Mole saying the mixer’s modularity was an important consideration. The S2 has hot-swappable input and output modules in both analog and digital, and a selection of optional modules for its main surface and meter bridge.

[See Our Who’s Buying What Page]

WCR Community Radio relies heavily on volunteers. It was founded in 1996 as a hospital radio station broadcasting from a backroom at a local theatre. It secured an FM license in 2012, broadcasting on 105.5 MHz.

The station is using an S2-M6SS 6 Way Source Select Panel to handle remote OB inputs, feeds from other studios, a recording computer and other sources.

Send news about new product installations, studio or RF builds and other projects to our Who’s Buying What feature at [email protected].

 

The post WCR Community Radio Uses Sonifex S2 appeared first on Radio World.

Author: RW Staff
Posted: October 20, 2020, 3:36 pm

Glynn Walden takes the long view on “total digitization” of radio

The post Digital Radio as Solution to Both AM and FM Ills appeared first on Radio World.

Glynn Walden
Glynn Walden

The author is a consultant to Entercom and former senior VP of engineering at CBS Radio. He was a founder of HD Radio developer USA Digital Radio and was the VP of engineering for its successor iBiquity Digital.

A rule allowing AM stations to transmit in all-digital will be the most significant “AM improvement” since the allowance of FM translators.

Together they showcase the FCC’s interest in bringing AM radio into the 2000s; and it is happening as we approach the KDKA 100th anniversary of that famous Cox-Harding election coverage broadcast. I feel fortunate to have met the announcer, Leo Rosenberg, from that historic broadcast.

[Related: “The FCC Will Vote This Month on All-Digital for AM”]

From my earliest days of working in AM, I have been concerned about the quality of the AM reception process.

Following Greg Ogonowski’s research identifying AM receiver bandwidth as the choke point of quality in AM transmission systems and the subsequent introduction of pre-emphasis to overcome the limitations of the AM broadcast system, I began looking for technical solutions.

Then came household noise and egregious noise in the environment as the biggest enemy of AM radio. As I began reviewing my texts from my college textbooks, I began to see how advances in solid state that would ultimately lead to inexpensive digital chips for radios can solve both the problems of AM and FM.

The National Association of Broadcasters must also be given credit for bringing the possibilities of DAB to the United States through its interest in Eureka-147, even though U.S. broadcasters would have never been able to gain access to the required spectrum.

In the early 1990s I became a believer in digital radio as the solution for AM and FM ills. The draft report and order brings to the AM broadcaster the ability to offer what FM offers today. However, the total digitization of radio will bring to FM opportunities beyond the capabilities of all-digital AM, and once again leave AM behind — but not left out of the digital world.

 

The post Digital Radio as Solution to Both AM and FM Ills appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Glynn Walden
Posted: October 20, 2020, 1:00 pm

But Edison Research says at-home listening remains higher than pre-COVID

The post Listening Is Shifting Back to the Car appeared first on Radio World.

Edison ResearchAudio consumption in the United States is shifting from home back to the car as quarantine restrictions have lifted in some areas.

Edison Research released a summary of its latest Share of Ear report.

[Read: Removing Car Radios “Puts Consumers at Risk,” Former FEMA Head Says]

“Prior to COVID-19 restrictions in Q2 2020, 32% of all audio in the U.S. was consumed in-car,” the company stated.

“When quarantine restrictions went into place in Q2, erasing many Americans’ commutes and greatly reducing travel in general, in-car listening plummeted by 38% so that it accounted for only 20% of all listening. This caused at-home listening in Q2 to soar from 49% of all listening to 70% of all listening, an increase of 43%.”

Now its latest research, conducted in early September, shows a shift back to the car as quarantine restrictions have eased in some locations and in varying degrees.

“In-car listening grew from 20% in Q2 to 28% today, not quite equal to the pre-COVID number of 32% of all listening,” it stated.

At-home listening levels fell from 70% early in the quarantine period to 59% of all listening today. The company said at-home is still 10 points higher than pre-COVID. “With a U.S. workforce that has seen many employees transition to home office environments, future surveys will bear out whether or not this is a permanent shift.”

Meanwhile, listening at work has “slightly rebounded” over the same period.

 

The post Listening Is Shifting Back to the Car appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Paul McLane
Posted: October 19, 2020, 8:02 pm

Entercom expands its footprint in centennial year

The post KDKA Adds FM Signal appeared first on Radio World.

KDKAA century after its famous election night broadcast, KDKA will now be heard on the FM dial as well as its familiar 1020 kHz AM frequency.

Entercom, owner of the station in Pittsburgh, said, “News Radio 1020 KDKA will simulcast on FM for the first time ever and be heard on 100.1 FM as ‘100.1 FM and 1020 AM KDKA,’ effective Nov. 2.”

The new frequency is an FM translator, W261AX. The hip-hop format that had occupied that slot, WAMO, moves to 107.3 MHz.

[Read: What, Exactly, Was First About KDKA?]

There is already a station licensed with a KDKA(FM) call sign and owned by Entercom, but it carries sports programming.

The announcement that the news format would expand to FM was made by Michael Spacciapolli, senior vice president and market manager of Entercom Pittsburgh. “After serving Pittsburghers on our AM dial for the last 100 years, we are thrilled to expand the reach of historic KDKA on FM,” he was quoted in the announcement.

The station famously aired presidential election results on Nov. 2, 1920, and KDKA has been celebrating the anniversary throughout this year.

 

The post KDKA Adds FM Signal appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Paul McLane
Posted: October 19, 2020, 4:38 pm

Thinks localized geo-targeting broadcasting can increase minority opportunities

The post FCC’s Starks Points to GeoBroadcast Solutions at Conference appeared first on Radio World.

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks addressed the Hispanic Radio Conference on Oct. 15. In a section of his talk he singled out GeoBroadcast Solutions for favorable comments.

He drew attention to the company’s localized broadcasting technology. “The use of this geo-targeted content holds promise as a way for stations to provide hyperlocalized content including alternative language news, weather, emergency alerts, and advertising periodically during the broadcast day. It could provide a way for minority-owned stations to better serve their communities, and open up opportunities for small businesses looking to more cost-effectively advertise to a targeted audience and for FM stations owned by people of color to increase advertising revenue.”

[Read: Should Translators Originate Content? FCC Is Taking Comments]

Starks noted that the FCC can do to promote this. “One proposal before the FCC holds promise to do just that.  GeoBroadcast Solutions LLC has petitioned the FCC to revise the FM booster rule to allow, on a limited basis, geo-targeted content to originate from FM booster stations.”

He added that GeoBroadcast Solutions “has developed an ad revenue sharing model that would help smaller stations install boosters and new technology necessary to use the system without having to come up with up front capital and operational expenses.”

GeoBroadcast Solutions CTO Bill Hieatt said, “We appreciate the commissioner’s remarks and note that our development of a geo-targeting solution for the broadcast radio industry was due in part to help reach underserved minority sub-markets within a station’s signal range.”

He explained, “We believe our technology will level the playing field across consumer media in ways that cannot be done today but can begin quickly to support moves the radio industry in line with today’s technology while also improving the consumer experience in the most widely-used source of news, entertainment, and information.”

 

The post FCC’s Starks Points to GeoBroadcast Solutions at Conference appeared first on Radio World.

Author: RW Staff
Posted: October 19, 2020, 4:02 pm

KRJM in northwestern Minnesota knows the answer to the question

The post What Happens When Lightning Hits? A Case Study appeared first on Radio World.

Radio World congratulates our friend and contributor Mark Persons, who this fall received the Society of Broadcast Engineering’s John H. Battison Award for Lifetime Achievement!

Mark Persons on Lightning KRJM Studio
Studio of KRJM with STL mast adjacent.

It started at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2019, with a thunderstorm. KA-BOOM!

People in the small northern Minnesota town of Mahnomen reported hearing the loudest thunder they could remember. Sean Bjerk, KRJM Radio’s manager/morning man, lives three miles away. He was jolted out of bed and left wondering, “What happened?”

A quick check showed the station was silent. Upon entering the studio building, Sean found thick smoke. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and investigated but found no fire.

The power was out. All circuit breakers had tripped. Resetting them brought on only some lights, but no audio.

The thunder concussion had been so great that two studio clocks were knocked off the wall and onto the floor.

The evidence was clear. Lightning had hit a station-owned utility pole with an STL dish.

Fig. 1 shows that lightning chewed through the top of the pole to get to the STL dish and transmission line.

Mark Persons on lightning Fig. 1 Lightning struck the pole, cutting a deep gouge
Fig. 1: Lightning struck the pole, cutting a deep gouge.

Fig. 2 shows the 1/2 inch Andrew Heliax STL coaxial cable. It was burned as lightning jumped from the cable to the metal siding of the studio building at the point where the line entered.

Fig. 2 Lightning ate into the STL cable
Fig. 2: Lightning ate into the STL cable

What to do now? Contract engineer Jim Offerdahl was 110 miles away. He set out immediately and on arrival found that virtually every piece of electronic equipment in the studio facility was damaged beyond repair.

The KRJM 101.5 FM 25 kW transmitter site, some 12 miles away, was fine. It just needed audio.

Jim used internet streaming audio from KRJB(FM), Ada, Minn., to restore temporary programming by early afternoon. Audio was from one of the dozen stations of R & J Broadcasting, Inc. in northern Minnesota. The format was country, instead of the oldies that Mahnomen area listeners were accustomed to hearing. KRJB added KRJM commercials and IDs to keep the station legal while continuing to make money.

Damage
Fig. 3 shows the wall outlet where the main equipment rack was plugged in. Totally blackened, it was useless.

Fig. 3 A lightning-blackened wall outlet
Fig. 3: A blackened wall outlet.

Fig. 4 shows the wall where an electrician cut into a wall to check wiring to the outlet. After seeing the damage, Jim installed a new outlet elsewhere with new wiring.

Fig. 4 The wall was opened to examine power wiring
Fig. 4: Opening the wall to examine power wiring.

You’ll see a green light on the telephone system. It was lit but the system and its phones were fried as seen in Fig. 5.

Fig. 5 Even the telephone wiring was damaged
Fig. 5 Even the telephone wiring was damaged.

The main computer network switch was history. With that kind of damage, Jim strung new network cables to ensure reliability.

Fig. 6 The network switch was damaged beyond repair
Fig. 6: The network switch was damaged beyond repair.

The automation system at KRJM also was toast except for one of the three hard drives, the only component that survived the disaster. This allowed the automation to be rebuilt and the station to be back to normal programming in two days. Part of the delay was to install a new STL dish and feed line, along with an STL transmitter and audio processing.

All of the studios were down so a temporary one needed to be rigged.

The network connector on a studio computer and a black spot on the wall (Fig. 7) are evidence of fire and smoke created by the event.

Fig. 7 This studio computer was one of the victims
Fig. 7: This studio computer was one of the victims

Fig. 8 is where an unterminated computer network cable blackened a wall where lightning was seeking ground.

Fig. 8 A loose network cable blacked a wall
Fig. 8: A loose network cable blackened a wall.

An insurance claims adjuster shook his head saying, “This is the worst damage I have ever seen.” The insurance claim was paid.

Fig. 9 Station manager Sean-Bjeck showed off some of the damaged equipment
Fig. 9: Station manager Sean-Bjeck showed off some of the damaged equipment

Follow the Lightning
The KRJM studio facility had been constructed in a typical manner and enjoyed 20 years of normal service. There was a ground rod at the base of the STL pole for protection.

You’ll remember I wrote a Radio World article about grounding in the fall of 2017. It discussed how lightning will usually take the easiest path to ground. What we often forget is that ground rods, a standard approach to grounding, are imperfect.

Forensic Analysis

Lightning traveled down the STL pole and ignored the ground rod. Instead, it followed the STL transmission line to an equipment rack in the building.

From there, the lightning found ground through the rack’s 120 VAC power circuit, supplied by the building’s electrical load distribution center (circuit breaker panel). A lot of sensitive equipment was damaged along this path. Think of your broadcast equipment as a “fuse” in a series circuit between the lightning and ground. Poof!

In the final analysis, what was missing was a heavy wire link between the STL pole ground rod and the studio ground. To say it another way, the pole and the studio had two different grounds. They were likely thousands of volts apart during the lightning strike. Almost everything in the middle was damaged.

Lightning protection

The ideal setup is one in which the STL and all other cables enter the building near the electrical power panel. All cable grounds tie to the electrical panel ground and ground rods. It is a “common point” for all facility grounds. This “star ground” has a heavy wire from that point to each studio and equipment rack.

The idea is that studios and racks are “stubs” from the common ground point. Lightning has no reason to travel to a studio if there is no ground at that end to go to. That same thinking applies to transmitter sites, which are even more vulnerable to lightning damage.

Also, I recommend a flexible #12 wire from each piece of equipment to the rack it is mounted in. Don’t be fooled into believing there is a good electrical connection from rack to equipment because they are screwed together. Paint gets in the way of a good electrical connection.

Static Dissipaters
It is a well-known fact that sharp points, directed at the sky, are a good way to dissipate/bleed off static charges, i.e. reduce voltage between the ground and the sky. It happens continuously as storms pass by.

The result is either no lightning strike or less energy in a strike because the voltage is less than it would have been without dissipators.

Static dissipators are typically made of stainless steel to avoid corrosion. The one shown in Fig. 10 is suitable for the wooden pole or any tower under 100 feet. Two dissipaters are even better.

Fig. 10 Nott GS-2-Static Dissipater
Fig. 10: Nott GS-2-Static Dissipater

Dissipaters go as high as possible on a tower, building or a wooden pole like the one in this article, and need a ground wire directly connected to a common point ground. No wire is required on a steel tower because steel is an electrical conductor. Learn more at www.nottltd.com/lightning.html.

Summary
It is experiences like this that get the adrenaline flowing in an engineer’s blood. Jim Offedahl will be telling his grandchildren this story someday from the comfort of his rocking chair.

Comment on this or any article. Write to [email protected].

Visit the author’s website at www.mwpersons.com.

The post What Happens When Lightning Hits? A Case Study appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Mark Persons
Posted: October 19, 2020, 1:00 pm

Opportunities in big markets will be scarce; meanwhile another LPFM window may follow

The post FM NCE Filing Window Coming in 2021 appeared first on Radio World.

Logos of a few of the stations on the NCE reserved band.

This story has been updated with new information.

There will soon be more signals on the lower part of the FM band in the United States.

While 5G seems to be the recent focus of Federal Communications Commission spectrum allocation activities, a new filing window for the noncommercial educational service is coming next year.

Over a decade has passed since the FCC accepted applications for new full-power NCE construction permits. The window will allow non-profit organizations, schools and native tribes to apply for original CPs in the NCE reserved band, which is 88.1–91.9 MHz on the FM dial. Individuals cannot apply for NCEs.

But the commission will not accept applications proposing major modifications to existing NCE FM stations, as an earlier version of this article said it might. An applicant seeking a major mod to an existing NCE FM station authorization would have to apply for a new station instead to replace the old license.

Observers do expect that a window for additional low-power FM stations will follow (see sidebar at bottom of this story).

Coming soon

Chairman Ajit Pai, responding to a congressional inquiry this summer, signaled the commission’s intent to open a full-power NCE window in early 2021.

“Staff anticipates that the new NCE FM window will be opened after our new processing rules for this service are effective later this year,” Pai wrote in a letter to Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) Subsequent to the original posting of this article, the FCC announced it does plan that window in 2021, though it hasn’t set the dates yet, and also said it plans a 10-application cap per entity. It asked for comments on that plan.

Contacted for comment about possible expansion in the number of stations at the left end of the band, National Public Radio said it is always “supportive of opportunities to expand station services when they are presented.”

Observers say most opportunities for new NCE stations would be in less populous parts of the country, considering the number of signals already squeezed into the band where there are more potential listeners.

By the numbers

The number of FM educational stations has almost doubled in two decades, from 2,140 in the year 2000 to just under 4,200 at the most recent FCC count.

The number of commercial FMs increased at a much slower rate, from roughly 5,900 to about 6,700. The category of FM translators and boosters grew prodigiously, from about 3,250 to 8,300; and LPFMs, which didn’t exist before the beginning of this century, now total 2,146 licenses.

The NCE service has not had a window for new applications since 2010, according to the FCC, and that one involved a limited number of existing vacant allotments.

A 2007 NCE window yielded approximately 3,600 applications, of which about 2,700 were mutually exclusive, meaning applications involved geographic or spectral overlap. The FCC in that round granted approximately 1,330 CPs for new NCE service, according to commission data.

There’s no way to know yet how many new NCE licenses the commission might eventually award since it does not identify potential slots. Typically, an applicant identifies a spectrum opening on a certain frequency and names a transmitter site, power and antenna height to fit that spectrum availability.

New processing rules

The commission in late 2019 revised certain rules for processing NCE applications; the measures are intended to simplify and improve selection and licensing and clarify procedures for choosing among mutually exclusive applications.

The changes dealt with specifics such as divestiture pledges and amendments to the governing documents of applicants who claim certain MX point classifications. The FCC also will revise the application form to require each applicant to certify that it has reasonable assurance of availability of its proposed transmitter site.

The FCC included all of the changes to the NCE and LPFM processing rules, including rules governing major tie-breakers for mutually exclusive applications, in a Report and Order in MB Docket No. 19-3 issued last December.

The resolution of competing claims is an important part of the process whenever a new station window opens.

The commission places conflicting applications into MX groups before applying internal processing; it then selects one application for grant from each separate MX group. A point system is applied to each application based on public interest criteria (such as diversity of ownership, localism or technical superiority) and the application with the most points in an MX group is the tentative selectee.

The commission recently dismissed a challenge to the NCE MX process. Law firm Discount Legal had argued that the FCC should set up a secondary grant policy for MX groups, essentially naming “runner-up” applications, but it was unsuccessful.

“No new additional changes to the NCE processing rules are expected before opening a window next year,” the FCC spokesperson said.

Nitty gritty

Applicants in the filing window must propose a facility that meets at least the minimum for a Class A FM station, which is 100 watts (0.1 kW) at 30 meters height above average terrain. Facilities proposed may be up to 50 kW for a Class B or 100 kW for a Class C depending on the proposed station location.

Noncommercial educational FM stations protect all other reserved band full-service stations using contour overlap on co-, first-, second- and third-adjacent channels. However, reserved band stations are not required to protect existing LPFM and FM translator stations.

The FCC expects any new NCE window would be open for one week.

As for when exactly that might be, the commission typically gives several months’ notice of any filing window for new station applications.

One observer, communications law attorney Dan Alpert, said the timing of the filing window is discretionary on the part of the FCC but guided by the winds of political pressure. But he said the window is likely to come while there are still economic unknowns caused by the pandemic.

“There may be fewer parties out there who can afford the time and expense to develop engineering proposals that would be necessary for an NCE filing,” Alpert said.

These filings would not involve a filing fee, he said, since these are for non-commercial facilities in the non-commercial reserved band. “However, there will be substantial costs involved pertaining to engineering and legal analysis.”

The 2007 NCE window limited applicants to a total of 10 applications nationwide. As noted above, the FCC now has announced it again plans such a cap to avoid huge numbers of applications that would be difficult to process and could lead to daisy chains of competing applicants; it is taking comments on that plan.

The FCC spokesperson also noted that many applicants typically are disqualified because they didn’t pay sufficient attention to the filing requirements.

“Our rules spell out in detail our procedures for processing applications for new NCE stations. Those rules provide potential applicants with guidance about what factors will be taken into account to resolve any mutual exclusivity among applicants, and how to resolve mutual exclusivity.”

“Incredibly Crowded”

While the FM band has become quite busy in the 21st century, congestion and interference are generally viewed as greater issues higher up the dial. But that doesn’t mean there are a lot of tasty NCE market opportunities waiting to be discovered, either.

John Garziglia, communications law attorney for Womble Bond Dickinson, expects most new full service NCE licenses will be awarded outside major urban areas.

“The FM band in most areas of the country is already incredibly crowded. It is unlikely that applicants will find either full-power NCE or LPFM opportunities in most non-rural areas. In rural areas, there will be significant availabilities for both new NCE and LPFM stations,” Garziglia said.

Garziglia expects the application processing would take at least a year, which could delay the opening of the LPFM filing window.

“If the FCC opens an LPFM window prior to the almost-complete processing of NCE applications, there is the risk that spectrum space specified by NCE applications that will later be dismissed or denied will foreclose availabilities of LPFM spectrum,” Garziglia said. “So, there may be a significant detriment to LPFM applicants if the FCC does not await a full processing of NCE applications prior to opening an LPFM window.”

Matt McCormick, co-managing member of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, said groups hoping to apply for an NCE license should use the next few months to select knowledgeable consulting engineers and a communications attorney familiar with the NCE selection process.

“There are too many traps for the unwary for an applicant to try to weave its way through the process without a lawyer,” he said.

“The third step is to make sure the applicant’s corporate paperwork in up to date with the appropriate state office, which is the secretary of state’s office in most states.”

McCormick said applicants need to submit the strongest application possible and assume that mutually exclusive applications will be filed; and they should propose technical facilities serving populations that currently have no or only one NCE radio service.

Should interested parties wait for the expected LPFM opportunity?

“Frankly, I think that any non-profit group that wants to get into radio should file in this window,” he said. “If it wants to reach a relatively large geographic area, it can do so with a full-service NCE FM, whereas the coverage of an LPFM is limited to the area it can reach with 100 watts at 30 meters above average terrain.”

In addition, even if a non-profit plans to operate with a low power level at first, a full-service NCE license may allow it to increase power later.

“Moreover, if the group is not successful in getting a full-service NCE FM through this window, it can always file for an LPFM during the window that will follow.”

For those selected to receive new full-service NCE construction permits, the costs involved in building and operating a radio station can be substantial.

REC Networks, a consultancy that is active in the non-profit and LPFM sector, estimates $3,000 to $30,000 for a transmitter to get started, depending on the situation. Antenna size and cost also will vary based on power level, with a simple non-directional antenna at lower power (250 watts or less) around $700 to start, but higher-power and directional antennas, especially those with a custom design, can be far more costly.

New NCE stations are also required to install an Emergency Alert System encoder/decoder, REC notes.

 

Sidebar: What About LPFM?

Scott Flick

An entity eager to apply for a low-power FM license may get an opportunity to apply for one once the FCC completes work on its NCE filing window. LPFMs operate under noncommercial educational broadcasting rules as well.

An FCC spokesperson says the commission doesn’t have a specific date “but we anticipate that will be a priority” once the next window for full-power NCEs is done.

“We want to avoid the situation where we issue new LPFM permits that are subsequently knocked out by new primary NCE stations.”

Some observers think an LPFM filing window could come in late 2021 or early 2022.

The LPFM service was launched in January 2000. LPFM stations are limited to 100 watts effective radiated power. There are 2,146 licenses as of the most recent FCC count. New LPFM applicants would be allowed to apply for one license, according to the FCC.

Scott Flick, a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, answered questions from Radio World.

Radio World:  How should non-profit groups prepare for the next LPFM filing window?

Scott Flick: In terms of preparation, there is no substitute for reviewing the application form used for this purpose by the FCC (Form 318) to see if the applicant can supply the requested information and make the required certifications, or needs to take further steps to be able to do so.

And of course, the applicant needs to make sure that it is the type of entity that can even qualify to apply for an LPFM authorization in the first place. The requirements are narrower than most people realize, and can be found in Section 73.853 of the FCC’s rules. The applicant must also be local to the station service area and, with some exceptions, can’t have an interest in other broadcast stations.

RW: What kinds of things often trip up LPFM hopefuls?

Flick: Common problems LPFM applicants have in the planning process include failing to secure the rights to their proposed antenna site — lease negotiations fall through — or discovering that they need to deal with local zoning authorities to be able to use their proposed site.

There is also a pretty long list of FCC rules applicable to LPFM, which can be found in Section 73.801, and applicants should ensure they are familiar with all of them. They also need to be thinking about how they will supply a continuous stream of content to feed the station, as, for example, LPFM stations are prohibited from retransmitting the signal of a full-power station, along with other types of content.

RW: How about the finances?

Flick: Of course the biggest issue is having a viable business plan in place. Since LPFM stations have to be operated non-commercially, it’s particularly important to have worked through how the station will cover the costs of its operation and what those costs will be. Many people underestimate the costs involved and then struggle to stay on air. Operating an LPFM successfully means being able to deal with occasional unexpected expenses.

For example, since LPFM stations are subject to interference objections from full-power stations, an LPFM operator may suddenly find itself having to modify its engineering operations to eliminate interference, or even having to locate a new channel to operate on in extreme cases. Having a budget in place that can withstand the costs of equipment modifications or replacement is a wise move.

RW: Any final tips for potential LPFM licensees?

Flick: It’s worth noting that applying for an LPFM station and getting an authorization to operate one are not the same thing. If the application is incomplete or incorrect, the FCC may reject it out of hand. If the application is perfect in every way, the applicant may still not get a license because other applicants applied during the same filing window for facilities that are mutually exclusive with that application.

In that case, the FCC has processes in place to decide who gets the license, and in some cases, may encourage parties to share the license. As a result, parties should be careful about spending money or making commitments for leases or the like until they know they have a construction permit in hand.

Of course, they need to make sure all equipment meets FCC requirements, as there are plenty of FCC enforcement actions out there against stations that tried to use whatever equipment they could lay their hands on rather than what is required by their FCC authorization, particularly after an equipment failure.

Comment on this or any story. Email [email protected] with “Letter to the Editor” in the subject field.

The post FM NCE Filing Window Coming in 2021 appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Randy J. Stine
Posted: October 19, 2020, 12:00 pm

Microphone line gets three new mics aimed at podcasters and other content creators

The post Mackie Debuts New EleMent Microphones appeared first on Radio World.

Mackie, EleMent, microphonesWhile Mackie first launched its EleMent Series of microphones in January this year, the manufacturer is now expanding the line with five new additions — three new mics, a boom and pop screen. Additionally, the company’s MC-100 headphones, originally only available as part of bundles, are being spun out as a standalone product. All of the products are aimed at content creation such as podcasting, as well as recording and remote meeting use.

Key to the new offerings are three new microphones — the EM-91CU USB condenser microphone, Carbon USB condenser microphone, and Chromium USB condenser microphone.

[Check Out More Products at Radio World’s Products Section]

The plug-and-play EM-91CU USB condenser microphone ($49) sports a cardioid polar pattern, includes a USB cable and shockmount, and has a sample rate of 16-bit/48 kHz. Meanwhile, the Carbon USB mic ($149) features Mackie’s Onyx mic preamp circuitry and five selectable polar patterns — stereo, cardioid, bidirectional, supercardioid and omni. It, too, offers a sample rate of 16-bit/48 kHz and comes with a mic stand and USB-C cable.

As the line’s flagship, the Chromium USB condenser microphone ($199) features a built-in two-channel mixer with instrument and stereo 1/8-inch inputs, as well as four polar patterns — stereo, cardioid, bidirectional and omnidirectional. Equipped with a built-in mixer stand, USB-C cable and a sample rate of 16-bit/48 kHz, the Chromium is intended for recording music, podcasts, live streams and online content creation.

Accessorizing the new microphones, the DB-100 Desktop Microphone Boom Arm ($79) and PF-100 Pop Screen for EleMent Series mics ($14) are also now available. The MC-100 professional closed-back headphones are $29.99.

Info: https://mackie.com

 

The post Mackie Debuts New EleMent Microphones appeared first on Radio World.

Author: ProSoundNetwork Editorial Staff
Posted: October 18, 2020, 10:56 am

Christian Winter explains how we got to this point

The post Audi AG Launches Hybrid Radio in U.S. and Canada appeared first on Radio World.

Christian Winter
Christian Winter

The author of this commentary is with The Car.SW Org, a software subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. He is a former radio and media development engineer at Audi AG and is a steering board member for hybrid radio standardization organization RadioDNS.

Three years after the successful launch of hybrid radio in Europe, Audi is offering this new feature in most of its 2021 vehicles, including models available in North America.

Innovation — what Audi calls “Vorsprung durch Technik” — is an ongoing part of development in the automotive industry. The challenge is always to keep pace with trends and technological advances.

However, it’s unusual that such innovations involve the car radio, which many drivers take for granted — a feature that is “just there,” like the steering wheel.

Hybrid radio is a new innovative feature that is helping radio to stay relevant in the highly competitive entertainment world in the connected car.

In 2012, I wrote my master thesis about hybrid radio for Audi Electronics Venture GmbH, the pre-development department for Audi AG. I spent a whole chapter defining what hybrid radio is.

The term is often used the wrong way — for example to sell kitchen radios that have more than one reception method. Is it a hybrid radio because it is equipped with an FM and DAB tuner and you have to press a source button to switch between modes? To me, hybrid means that both reception methods need to work together somehow. With just two modules inside this is not the case; the kitchen radios in question did not even manage to provide a shared preset list.

Therefore, I argue that hybrid radio is about merging at least two worlds in order to create a better user experience. Back in 2012, the fundamental idea was to combine a conventional broadcast radio with the upcoming internet connectivity in connected cars. This was the next logical step after my colleagues had developed a unified station list with the combination of FM radio and DAB radio together.

The use case of switching seamlessly from broadcast radio to the online stream when the car leaves the reception area evolved into the main feature of hybrid radio.

Metadata is key

In recent years, display resolutions of in-car infotainment systems and the screen itself increased in size. While an FM radio usually shows a frequency and an eight-character RDS name, the hybrid radio uses the whole screen area to display station metadata, e.g. station logos, that it receives via online connection.

DRM Audi dashboard
In recent years, display resolutions of in-car infotainment systems and the screen itself increased in size.

In this way hybrid radio got a more modern, contemporary and appealing look. RadioDNS standardizes how to receive station metadata, and this helps developers to get an easier access to longer station names and online logos (see https://radiodns.org/technical/documentation/ for more about this).

The key to a good hybrid radio experience is metadata. Audi, as a longtime member of RadioDNS, regards the latter’s open approach as the easiest way to support hybrid radio.

Together with RadioDNS, Radioplayer and a few German broadcasters, we wanted to solve the so-called chicken–and-egg problem. They made sure that we can receive the data via RadioDNS or the Worldwide Radioplayer API (WRAPI), while Audi, for its part, developed the first in-car hybrid radio for the European version of the Audi A8 in 2017.

The main feature of the Audi MMI infotainment system is “hybrid radio seamless linking,” which enables the radio to switch from broadcast radio to the internet stream and vice versa whenever necessary, using Fraunhofer Sonamic time scaling technology . Seamless switching works best when the delay between the broadcast radio signal and the online stream is below 15 seconds. The majority of stations in Europe are even below 10 seconds. Support of up-to-date online station logos is an additional feature.

With the premiere of the Audi A7 in 2018, we introduced the feature “automatic radio song identification” to Audi customers, providing answers to the recurring question, “What’s that song?”

Now, the artist and song title of the currently playing song appear on the display along with album art. Needless to say, that process happens in the background so that customers do not even have to press a button to identify a song.

Our automotive partner Gracenote helped us to develop the technology behind it.

After launching, we received very positive feedback from the industry as well as major European markets, extending their coverage of RadioDNS metadata from almost zero to 80% in only three years.

The biggest driving force that enables many stations for hybrid radio is Radioplayer Worldwide. Almost all car lines from the Audi A1 to A8 and the Audi Q3 to Q8 followed the pioneers A8 and A7 and eventually introduced hybrid radio.

Additional brands within the Volkswagen Group added hybrid radio to their models as well. For example, VW brought it onto the market with the Touareg in 2018 and Porsche with the Cayenne and Taycan.

Coming to America

It has always been one of our priorities to launch hybrid radio in the U.S. and Canadian markets.

From a technical point of view, many of the challenges were solved with the European release; we only needed to adapt our seamless linking engine to cooperate with HD Radio.

However, we needed support from the U.S. and Canadian radio industry. Without them offering station data in the RadioDNS service information format, hybrid radio would not be possible.

We presented hybrid radio to the industry at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in 2018 and 2019, as well as at the fall Radio Show in 2018. This year, I participated at the NAB Show 2020 Express and showed radio stations how important hybrid radio is for them.

On this display WILD is being received online, as indicated by a small box to the right labeled “Web.” It’s a small visual that indicates, among other things, a dramatic expansion of a station’s ability to reach listeners beyond its OTA footprint

The connected car offers many entertainment options beyond broadcast radio, such as streaming, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or SiriusXM with 360L. In the past, these entertainment options were difficult to use and not as convenient as radio; they were not even the standard equipment.

Today, the connected car makes it easier to use these entertainment options. It allows an app-like experience with additional features, such as voice input. Over the radio, customers can select from a variety of streaming audio services that provide unlimited content.

Hybrid radio is helping to create new business opportunities for broadcasters because it ensures that radio has its place in the connected car of the future.

Here is a list of reasons why broadcasters should use hybrid radio, excerpted from my presentation for the NAB Show Express 2020:

  • Extending the coverage area for your station
    • Listeners stay longer on the station, even if they leave the reception area
    • Seamless linking experience helps when the FM signal is distorted
  • Analytics from streaming radio sessions
    • By tracking the user agent during hybrid radio streaming, the session lengths can be a good index of how good the broadcast coverage is
    • For example, short sessions can indicate that the core reception may have issues in some areas where the signal is not strong enough, the consequence being that a customer would most likely switch the station
  • Shaping the radio brand in the dashboard of the car
    • Radio can be visually on par with streaming services again
    • Metadata is an enabler of possible future functionalities such as easy access to the podcasts of the playing station

I am delighted to note that upcoming 2021 Audi models with hybrid radio are on sale now in the U.S. and Canada. iHeartMedia will provide RadioDNS support for hybrid radio in Audi cars. In addition, Radioplayer Canada supports us with data from more than 350 Canadian radio stations.

I am looking forward to seeing more stations offer hybrid radio data in the RadioDNS service information format so that customers can enjoy a great radio experience in their new Audi vehicles.

Comment on this or any story. Email [email protected].

The post Audi AG Launches Hybrid Radio in U.S. and Canada appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Christian Winter
Posted: October 17, 2020, 11:00 am

This old-time radio production, produced as a modern day podcast offering, honors the work of Edgar Allen Poe

The post Library of Congress to Archive “Poe Theatre on the Air” appeared first on Radio World.

Poe Theatre on the AirPoe fans, unite: The Library of Congress has informed The National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre that it will begin archiving all “Poe Theatre on the Air” podcast episodes both onsite at the library and through its website.

For nearly 18 months, “Poe Theatre on the Air” has been producing original radio drama adaptations of the works of Edgar Allan Poe on Baltimore National Public Radio affiliate WYPR(FM), as well as on NPR.org and other streaming platforms.

[Read: Listen to These on a Midnight Dreary]

The announcement by the Library of Congress was welcome news to Alex Zavistovich, founder and artistic director of The National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre and a former editor of Radio World. “We’re very happy the Library of Congress has recognized the significance of what ‘Poe Theatre on the Air’ is doing,” he said. “The theatre sees itself as a preservationist organization, so to have the library preserve our own work speaks highly of the value of ‘Poe Theatre on the Air’ for future scholars, researchers and the general public.”

An official letter by the manager of the Library of Congress’ Podcast Preservation Project informed the Poe podcast team that it considered the podcast to be an important part of the cultural and historical record. “With your permission, the library would like to acquire the podcast, add it to library collections, preserve it, and provide public access to it, including online,” the letter said.

Audio files of the “Poe Theatre on the Air” episodes will be available to users of the Library of Congress’ collection through its proprietary audio file player. Offsite users can access “Poe Theatre on the Air” episodes through the library’s website. The programs will be discoverable to users searching the library’s online catalog, which would include a link to The National Edgar Allan Poe website as well.

Each episode of “Poe Theatre on the Air” guides listeners through a mental hospital, where every cell houses Poe protagonists waiting to thrill audiences with dramatic accounts of familiar stories, including “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” “The Cask of Amontillado” and the well-known “The Raven,” with musical underscore and sound effects to add suspense to the retellings. “The Raven,” one of Poe’s most well-loved tales, is a 1845 poem that tells of the anguish of a distraught lover who is plagued by a raven foretelling that his anguish will be distinguished “nevermore.”

It has been exciting to watch the group as they have honed their production skills and created some terrific podcast episodes, said LaFontaine E. Oliver, WYPR president and general manager. “We look forward to seeing the continued growth of this old time radio production in a modern day podcast offering.”

 

The post Library of Congress to Archive “Poe Theatre on the Air” appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Susan Ashworth
Posted: October 16, 2020, 8:01 pm

Long-in-the-works move finished, but don’t visit yet

The post FCC Officially Moves into New Headquarters appeared first on Radio World.

FCC headquarters
Photo: SmithGroup

Update your address books, the FCC has a new home. The commission has announced that it has officially moved its headquarters from 445 12th St. SW to its new location: 45 L Street NE in Washington.

The new space is likely to remain empty for the time being, as most FCC staffers are continuing to work from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The address change also does not impact the FCC’s current prohibition on delivery of hand-carried documents to FCC headquarters, again because of COVID-19. Nor does it change other ongoing COVID-19 restrictions or instructions regarding access to FCC facilities. Filers are encouraged to keep using the FCC’s electronic comment filing system.

With its new address, the FCC is now closer to Congress, the headquarters of NCTA–The Internet & Television Association and NPR. The move is expected to save more than $100 million over the lifetime of the lease compared to its previous location, according to reports.

The FCC announced that it was planning on moving its headquarters in 2015 when the lease at 445 12th St. SW expired.

 

The post FCC Officially Moves into New Headquarters appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Michael Balderston
Posted: October 16, 2020, 6:18 pm

Video conferencing can be used by a station to boost relationships, engagement and ratings

The post Zoom as a Radio Research and Promo Tool appeared first on Radio World.

Zoom meeting Getty Images Leo Patrizi
Getty Image/ Leo Patrizi

Life goes by in a f-l-a-s-h. One minute, I’m changing diapers … the next, my daughter is getting married! The June wedding, planned pre-pandemic, was moved to September with some hope for safer conditions. Of course, now we truly understand that we can’t predict when the virus will be vanquished.

We have our own new life partner and it is spelled Z-o-o-m.

Okay, maybe you prefer Go To Meeting, Google Meetings, or Skype; but whichever brand platform you prefer, video conferencing/webcasting has had a massive impact on our lives and is here to stay as part of our daily landscape.

As if sitting at my dining room table for hours every day for Zoom calls weren’t enough to convince me, I am now completely certain of Zoom’s ubiquity; many more people watched my daughter’s wedding online than were able to attend in person. And they loved it, really feeling the spirit and joy of it all.

Suddenly it occurred to me that even if there weren’t a pandemic going on, it still makes sense to have a Zoom feed available for those who can’t attend personal events. Then I started thinking about other Zoom uses for a station to boost relationships, engagement and ratings.

Focus Zoom

How do listeners feel about your station? Traditional focus groups are expensive, time-consuming and not always conclusive because it’s impossible to do enough sessions to detect trends.

What if you started doing them in a format people are now accustomed to using, like Zoom? You could solicit volunteers with a simple message: “We’d like to hear your thoughts about our ‘Joe in the Morning Show.’ The first 20 people who Zoom with us tonight at 7 p.m. get free pizza from Jerry’s. To sign up, just text your email address to 004445.”

While it may be a challenge to host focus groups on your own, it can be done well. Like anything else, it takes practice.

Come up with 10 questions you want answered. Ask the same questions of each group. Encourage everyone to participate.

Record five sessions. Compare the answers. If each unconnected group says the same thing, you’re onto something to explore further.

Happy Hour Zoom

Want to build relationships face-to-face with your listeners? How about a Zoom happy hour once a week?

Be prepared to join with topics, music videos to share on screen, maybe movie clips — fun things to kick around. Most importantly, let your listeners talk and get to know you as a real person; they’ll feel like they’re getting to know others on the call as well.

Remember that you can mute your group and set it up so that you call on people when they want to speak. Word will spread fast, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you had to start limiting attendance.

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Got a special live or pre-recorded performance to share? A special one-time-only premiere on Zoom will be remembered.

Run a contest for a “backstage pass” to hang on Zoom with a band in your format, or to meet a newsmaker or celebrity.

A word to the wise: Be sure to invest in a Zoom paid account. It’s not that pricy to increase time and attendance limits.

Haters will say that driving people to Zoom instead of listening to radio won’t do a thing to increase ratings. I am not at all suggesting you’ll be driving tens of thousands to Zoom. You won’t be that lucky.

The purpose is to create memories and loyalty that will spread gradually and consistently over time. Creating personal connections both during and after COVID is something stations of all sizes can accomplish.

Virtual relationships aren’t exactly like those that happen in person, but “being there” from a distance will still create many smiles — just like a wedding!

Reach the author at [email protected]. Read more great promotion and management articles from Mark Lapidus.

 

The post Zoom as a Radio Research and Promo Tool appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Mark Lapidus
Posted: October 16, 2020, 12:00 pm

Dynamic mic intended for radio broadcasters, podcasters, YouTubers and live streaming

The post PreSonus Launches PD-70 Broadcast Microphone appeared first on Radio World.

PreSonus, PreSonus PD-70, radio broadcast microphonesPreSonus has launched its new PD-70 Dynamic Broadcast Microphone, intended for podcasters, radio broadcasters, YouTubers and live streaming.

As a dynamic end-address mic with a cardioid polar pattern, the PD-70 offers a 20 Hz to 20 kHz (±3 dB) frequency range. Onboard features include an integrated windscreen to reduce plosives, and an integrated hard mount.

[Check Out More Products at Radio World’s Products Section]

Designed with an aim to reduce mechanical noise and breathiness, the mic is claimed to offer solid off-axis rejection, allowing mic owners to use it as a part of portable recording setups.

The mic is available now at a U.S. street price of $129.95.

Info: www.presonus.com

 

The post PreSonus Launches PD-70 Broadcast Microphone appeared first on Radio World.

Author: ProSoundNetwork Editorial Staff
Posted: October 15, 2020, 8:56 pm

Stations’ diversity puzzles may require fresh thinking

The post Community Broadcaster: Taking Chances appeared first on Radio World.

The author is membership program director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. NFCB commentaries are featured regularly at www.radioworld.com.

Radio World has recently hopped in at the right time by leading some important conversations related to radio. In covering the strains that stations face in diversifying their workforces as well as tensions in noncommercial media over dozens of diversity scandals, fresh discussions with readers like you are starting.

Hiring and leadership development among early-career and diverse voices we want to bring in to our stations is one of the more perplexing matters. One reader said it best: we tried, but had a hard time finding the right person with the right skills. This leg of the journey stymies many well-meaning managers. How do we overcome the obstacle?

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Inclusive Service Is the Future]

It is important to approach recruitment with an eye to what you want to see. If you are looking to expand your pool of candidates, you may need to expand your methods for finding them. While personal references, traditional networks and ads in the usual places can be helpful, keep in mind that the people you’re looking for may not have access to the contacts you have, or know yet about the networks you do. A new college graduate, a person of color fresh to the industry or someone whose skills could strengthen your station may simply not have access to the colleague networks we do.

Here’s one idea: have you thought about circulating job postings to groups like the University Station Alliance or College Broadcasters Inc., or reached out to a local university or community radio station? Many university licensees and student-run college radio stations have a steady stream of students who get radio training in many facets of the organization. Those campuses hand out diplomas to seniors each year, and those seniors go into an uncertain workforce. Having talked to many students at CBI’s conferences, I can tell you a lot of them would love to have a career in radio. They just do not realize it is a possibility, so they look elsewhere.

Finding early career and diverse talent for your station may also require you to think deeply about your organization’s needs and screening. Each applicant should get the same questions about the role and be asked to perform tasks required for the position. You might want to be open to skills that translate well to jobs you’re hiring for. In addition, for entry- and mid-level positions, you may be open to more on-the-job training.

Similarly, leadership development is as much about who the candidate is, as it is about the manager identifying an employee’s strengths and helping them cultivate leadership abilities with appropriate mentorship. Those not traditionally associated with radio may not understand the nuances we do, and it takes an astute manager to see how a candidate or new employee’s talents translate to our work. That may not be simple, but it is rewarding.

Of course, some of the big-picture issues may be out of our hands. Owners and our own bosses need to give attention to recruitment and retention organization-wide, as well as helping staff as a whole to be culturally competent in our ever-changing workplace, where five generations now meet. We as well-intentioned managers play a role in being advocates and sounding boards to the higher ups on diversity as well.

Evolving our stations to meet the needs of our communities is exciting work. Those of you thinking about diversity and the cultural shifts we are seeing deserve praise. Just as someone long before took a chance on us, we are in a position to change someone’s life by creating opportunities.

The post Community Broadcaster: Taking Chances appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Ernesto Aguilar
Posted: October 15, 2020, 7:32 pm

How to design better broadcast workflows in the aftermath of COVID-19

The post The Advantages of Software-Defined Infrastructure appeared first on Radio World.

Benjamin Lardinoit of On-HertzThe author of this commentary is CEO and co-founder of On-Hertz.

As Radio World has reported, the pandemic has caused many radio organizations to pause cap-ex spending and to rethink their facility planning and workflows.

On-Hertz thinks that the industry, in general, is going to need to move more actively towards more agile workflows and operations to survive in the new media landscape.

Concretely, that means accelerating the transition to a fully digital, software-based, live production ecosystem.

We must stay humble: No one could have anticipated a global crisis like the one we are facing. The impact on our industry is severe and, unfortunately, there is no magic bullet.

At the same time, COVID-19 has put in full light some of the challenges that broadcasters have already been facing for some time:

  • How to compete with the new on-demand and over-the-internet players?
  • How to do it while maintaining the levels of quality and reliability that the audience has come to trust?
  • How to stay relevant to our audience and embrace the new ways people consume content?
  • How to address the changes in our organizations and production teams when budgets are going down but the demand for content explodes?
  • How to shape our operations to stay (become?) profitable while we know that the speed of change is only going to increase from here?

Once again, COVID-19 has highlighted a key element: legacy dedicated hardware infrastructures are just not flexible enough. Worse: They play(ed) against us when trying to ensure business continuity!

The Adaptable Survive

It is not surprising that codec suppliers have seen a large increase in demand for their equipment: Suddenly, distributed operations are the norm rather than the exception.

It is not surprising either that we have all seen and heard many shows trying to carry on using publicly available applications like Skype, Zoom and the likes — often at the expense of quality, unfortunately.

On the other hand, shipping codecs to everyone at the start of the pandemic and trying to replicate the hardware-based infrastructure of the studio have proved to be logistically impossible, not to mention eye-wateringly expensive.

So, are there alternatives?

Evolution is not “survival of the fittest,” it’s “survival of the most adaptable.” At On-Hertz, we believe that involves a shift from legacy hardware-based infrastructures to modern virtualized ones.

We don’t want to “simply” swap out hardware for software, though; we believe the shift towards software-defined infrastructures will bring us three significant advantages: modularity, interoperability and better user interfaces. Combined, these characteristics open the way to better workflows.

This evolution needs to come with a few mandatory pre-requisites like maintaining or even improving the level of reliability, quality and functionality that our industry demands.

We must also capitalize on the tremendous amount of expertise and knowledge that we have collectively built over the last decades. Virtualization isn’t about turning everyone into IT geniuses but offering more opportunities to capture our audience’s imagination.

Modularity will then help us deal with the changing world: It doesn’t matter anymore if you have an X-channel mixers or Z number of codecs. With software, you can simply select the number of channels you need at any moment. If you need more or fewer channels the week after, you can scale accordingly. Likewise, find out what works and what doesn’t much faster than ever before.

Hitting two birds with one stone, modularity also comes with a cost advantage. You don’t need to scale your infrastructure for peak demand anymore. You can scale for the content you want to produce and make sure your cost structure follows your revenue.

The UX is paramount

Interoperability remains one of the major pain points of technical teams today. Who hasn’t heard a story or two full of dongles and converters?

There is no good reason for it. Outdated, insecure, proprietary algorithms and protocols should be things of the past. Instead, offering open (web) APIs allows for easier interconnection between solutions, less customer lock-down for a manufacturer and a lot less unnecessary support for your teams.

In other words, we can rely on technology that is already used at a massive scale by many other resilient industries to provide much greater convenience.

Finally, users, and therefore user interfaces, are of paramount importance. If teams are being reduced, if the speed of change increases, if the complexity of operations increases, shouldn’t we make sure that we focus on getting the best out of the tools we use to produce the best content?

Can we hide complexity in some cases? Can we automate operations that only have low added-value, that are tedious and potentially error-prone? Are we bound to physical interfaces for every input on the system or only by some of them? How do we embrace distributed operations?

Our philosophy is that engineers engineer, developers develop and producers produce, and that’s how it should be. So let’s make sure our user interfaces reflect that reality.

The pandemic has caused many radio organizations to pause cap-ex spending and to rethink their facility planning and workflows. These emergency measures might well be their safety board for the future too, thanks to the opportunities opened by software-defined infrastructures!

Comment on this or any story. Email [email protected] with “Letter to the Editor” in the subject line.

For more on this topic, see the new Radio World ebook “Virtualizing the Air Chain”.

The post The Advantages of Software-Defined Infrastructure appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Benjamin Lardinoit
Posted: October 15, 2020, 11:00 am

Key to handle ad and affiliate sales and marketing

The post Bloomberg Radio to Work With Key Networks appeared first on Radio World.

Financial news service Bloomberg Radio announced it has entered into an exclusive agreement with Key Networks to manage all of Bloomberg’s network advertising sales, affiliate sales and marketing for the radio company’s global 24-hour business radio network.

Key Networks is a syndication company focused on radio programming, syndication and marketing that will work on growing Bloomberg’s radio business and work to create new opportunities to benefit listeners, advertisers and stations, a release said.

[Read: How Bloomberg Radio Put Remote Mixing Into Action]

As a provider of radio business news in the United States, Bloomberg Radio’s “Daybreak” shows cover the morning hours of each part of the world from Bloomberg’s studios in New York, San Francisco, London and Hong Kong. Bloomberg Radio also delivers in-depth coverage of the financial markets throughout the day coupled with interviews with newsmakers, analysts and company executives. Bloomberg says its shows and short form reports are heard on more than 300 top radio stations across the United States. It can also be heard on SiriusXM satellite radio, via the Bloomberg Radio+ mobile app and through live streaming.

“Bloomberg is undeniably the gold standard in business news, and we are thrilled to deliver access to Bloomberg’s unmatched global business news resources to radio stations across the U.S,” said Rob Koblasz, CEO of Key Networks.

 

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Author: Susan Ashworth
Posted: October 14, 2020, 7:26 pm

One-day event looks at DAB advances and new partners

The post WorldDAB’s First Virtual General Assembly Approaches appeared first on Radio World.

WorldDAB, DAB, DAB+, WorldDAB General Assembly

The author is communications manager for WorldDAB.

This year’s WorldDAB General Assembly will be fully virtual, making it easier than ever before for industry stakeholders to attend the event on Nov. 3. The live-streamed event, which will be held in a condensed format over one day — as opposed to the usual two — will address all the latest and upcoming developments related to DAB+, both from Europe and beyond.

Last week saw the launch of Germany’s second national DAB+ multiplex, marking the beginning of a new era. Joe Pawlas, CEO of Antenne Deutschland — the company that is operating the multiplex —will highlight how this launch will positively impact Germany’s radio landscape and give new impetus to the advertising market.

[Read: WorldDAB Highlights Its Advances]

In 2021, France will be holding a double celebration — 100 years of radio on the one hand, and the launch of national DAB+ on the other. Nicolas Curien and François-Xavier Bergot from the French regulator CSA will explain why DAB+ is at the heart of France’s radio strategy and provide more detail on France’s long-term plans for DAB+, with a particular focus on listeners in cars.

The Swiss radio industry has agreed to switchover from FM to DAB+ during 2022–2023. Iso Rechsteiner from Switzerland’s Digital Migration Working Group will present an overview of the DSO process; Bernard Maissen, Director of OFCOM, will outline the ways in which the Swiss confederation is supporting the radio industry in the FM switch-off; and Jessica Allemann from the Swiss Broadcasting Corp. will highlight the latest usage figures from the Swiss market.

Norway was the first country to switch off national FM in 2017 — but how does the radio listening landscape look today? Ole Jørgen Torvmark, who oversaw the DSO process, will catch up with NRK’s Radio Manager Cathinka Rondan and Director of P4 Group Kenneth Andresen to find out how healthy the radio industry is looking three years down the line.

The U.K. was one of the pioneering DAB markets. Today, almost 60% of all listening is digital, which has prompted the government to launch a review of digital radio and audio. Digital Radio UK’s Yvette Dore will provide an overview of the U.K. radio market and Ian O’Neill from the U.K. government will share an update on the progress of the review.

The WorldDAB General Assembly will also highlight the latest updates from other parts of Europe including Spain and the Czech Republic, as well as status updates from Australia, the Arab states and parts of Africa.

A session dedicated to digital radio in the car will feature an update on the EECC directive from WorldDAB Pres. Patrick Hannon, as well as discussions around metadata, service following and the future of audio in the car.

The last session of the day will be dedicated to the distribution of DAB+, looking at DAB’s place within a multichannel distribution strategy, the energy consumption of DAB compared to other transmissions forms, as well as small-scale, regional and national DAB.

Don’t miss the only industry event dedicated to DAB digital radio — register now and confirm your place at this year’s virtual general assembly.

 

The post WorldDAB’s First Virtual General Assembly Approaches appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Aris Erdogdu
Posted: October 13, 2020, 2:22 pm