FCC Allows AM/FM Simulcasts

The FCC last week issued a Report and Order eliminating prior rules (section 73.3556) that kept co-owned stations from broadcasting the same programming on both their AM and FM stations simultaneously. It was a rule intended in 1964 to begin pushing broadcasters to have more “voices” in a given community.

FCC Logo

However, the competitive climate of broadcasting has changed. There are infinitely more voices in a a given community due to the introduction of cable, satellite, HD subchannels, and now internet broadcasting. AM broadcasting struggles now with NRSC bandwidth limits, lack of stereo, electrical noise, and all that competition from better sounding sources.

The FCC R & O said that simulcasting will facilitate AM stations transition to digital broadcasting by allowing them to simulcast on FM or other AM stations until they can stand on their own feet as AM digital radios become more common. AM digital, when well implemented, can fill in gaps in rough terrain and cover longer distances.

The rule also allows duplication of FM programming even when coverage contours overlap. For example, a major ownership group could create a network of stations in adjacent markets that all have the same programming 24 hours per day much like EMF’s “K-Love” and “Air1” formats.

The change takes effect immediately.

Online Chapter 36 Presentation: STACO Updates the UPS

I picked up a new UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) the other day that had been shipped to me and to my surprise, it was quite lightweight. Turns out the premium manufacturers are now installing LiIon batteries and it might just save your back! What about Lithium Ion batteries? Are they safe to install in your facility? Do they hold a charge as well? How long do they last versus the traditional gel lead-acid cells? Can you simply swap the new batteries in place of your old gel cells?

Join Chapters 9 Phoenix and 36 San Diego on August 26 for a presentation from Chuck Berry of STACO Engineering on the modern UPS. If you’d like to join us, we’ll have more information here on the web or in our newsletter. Brought to you by STACO rep Doug Tharp of SCMS.

KFSD 1450 Escondido Files for Sale

IHS Media of San Diego filed with the FCC July 28, 2020, to transfer the license of KFSD Escondido for $150,000 from North County Broadcasters, the Astor family that has owned the station since 1996.

IHS Media principals are associated with the Catholic broadcasters KCZP-LP San Diego and KCJP-LP El Centro.

KFSD Escondido returned to the air May 20, 2020, with its adult standards music format, just under a year after going silent in June 2019. The station, owned by the Astor Group, had been looking for a buyer to take over the station since Art Astor passed away in 2016.

Dave MacKinnon is Leaving KNSD

NBCUniversal San Diego’s VP of Technology and Operations since 2008, Dave MacKinnon announced recently he’s leaving the station on September 1, 2020. I asked Dave about his years at the station and his goals.

Dave MacKinnon
David MacKinnon

Q: You were hired to lead the Engineering Department at KNSD though you had come from a non-broadcast background, right? That speaks highly of your impressing the hiring staff. What had you done before taking that job?

A: I worked for the Dept of Defense. This was my first job in TV. I had to learn a lot very quickly, but I was helped by an amazing team at KNSD, an industry changing to look more like IT, and similarities between broadcast and DoD standards.

Continue reading Dave MacKinnon is Leaving KNSD

Sprint Has Left the Room

Sprint Nextel Corporation, the communications company with the iconic yellow and black marketing appearance, is no more. As of this week, the name was discontinued by T-Mobile after the two merged in April 2020.

Most people don’t know that the name SPRINT began decades ago as the Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Network Telephony, having evolved from the Southern Pacific Communications Company, which had its origins in the telegraph era of the 1800s. Railroads and gas pipelines make good utility rights-of-way, so they were the beginnings of several telecom companies.

Brown Telephone Co., which started in 1899 and became United Telephone, later merged with Sprint, so they get partial credit for the early history of the combined company, as well.

You likely remember that Sprint Nextel bought the spectrum at the bottom end of the 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary band for its CDMA network in the early 2000s. This forced itinerant ENG users to go digital and smoosh together with much smaller channels.

T-Mobile similarly bought large chunks of the 600 MHz band of spectrum from UHF-TV channels 38 – 51 and have begun using it for their consumer LTE communications network nationwide.

Society of Broadcast Engineers, San Diego