Ken Crabtree Passes Away

We just learned that broadcast engineer Kenyon “Ken” Crabtree of Vista died January 19, 2021 due to the COVID-19 virus.

Ken Crabtree, engineer

Ken had worked for ViaSat in Carlsbad as a satellite systems engineer from 2012 until 2020.

Previously, he had been part of the Qualcomm team responsible for the rollout of MediaFLO.

Before 2007, he had worked for local broadcasters as a contract engineer with such clients as Finest City Broadcasting (XETRA, XHITZ, XHRM), and International Communications Network (K61GH, now KSDY), and KPRI (FM). He worked with Robert Gonsett to move KKOS (now KSSX) 95.7 to Mt. Soledad.

He was an experienced skydiver. He is survived by his wife Tricia, as well as daughters Taylor Proulx and Rhiannon Kohler and two grandchildren.

Thank you for the tip, Robert Gonsett.

Take the Annual SBE Compensation Survey Today

The SBE needs your help with our annualĀ Compensation Survey. Online now and active through May 17, the independent survey provides a look at the salaries and benefits earned by those in our industry. Results are categorized by radio and television, market size and job titles, and provide useful information to individuals and employers. All survey responses are anonymous. Survey results will be made available in July for free to all SBE members. For the most accurate results, we need to hear from you. It only takes a few minutes.

TAKE THE SURVEY NOW

April 13 Online Meeting: C-Band Satellite Repack De-mystified

The C-band auction is in full-swing but it’s surprising how much there is to know as a downlink manager. For example, did you know that TV stations in the top 46 markets (including San Diego and Los Angeles) need to change filters twice in the coming three years? Did you know most radio stations can install a “blue” filter now?

Doug Watson of LinkUp unwraps all this in a Zoom presentation Tuesday, April 13, at 6:30 PM. This meeting, organized by Los Angeles Chapter 47, is open to all members and the curious. Sign-up here.

Doug joined LinkUp last year as a technical sales engineer. LinkUp is doing a lot of the field work of upgrading dishes with new filters and related services.

KRPE-LP Applies for Digital Flash Cut

San Diego’s remaining analog TV station, posing as an FM station, filed with the FCC to switch to ATSC service. KRPE-LP on Mt. San Miguel operates on TV channel 6 as “Guadalupe Radio 87.7 FM.” The station visually shows an ID slide or live video.

The FCC is requiring all analog TV stations, like KRPE-LP, to cease operating July 13, 2021. That date is coming fast for LPTV station groups that must change transmitters and filters in the next four months. Venture Technologies owns KRPE-LP San Diego and many other channel 6 analog stations nationwide. The application for a flash cut includes a request to extend the Construction Permit to January 10, 2022, allowing 87.75 to continue broadcasting in FM while Venture builds the digital station.

Venture Technologies recently withdrew its application for a channel 14 digital companion channel for San Diego in favor of the digital flash-cut filing for channel 6.

The FCC in 2019 asked for comments on the operation of analog FM carriers on TV channel 6. Venture Technologies joined the Preserve Community Programming Coalition to file comments supporting the operation of an analog FM signal at the top end of channel 6 while using ATSC 3.0 for the remainder of the channel–a technology compromise that would avail the use of 87.7 and 87.9 MHz for FM while making the lower end of the channel for ATSC. They say lab tests have shown that properly made tuners can decode the ATSC signal. EMF is a member of this coalition.

NPR and REC Networks oppose the continuation of so-called “Franken FMs.” NPR appears to be concerned about interference to existing FM stations in the 88.1 to 91.9 noncommercial portion of the FM band in the US. For example, KKJZ Long Beach at 88.1 is potentially vulnerable to an alternate frequency signal at 87.7 MHz. In fact, they have co-existed for years in the Los Angeles market.

NPR also mentions that if diversity is what the FCC wants in allowing 87.7 and 87.9 signals, the FCC should consider opening all of the 82 to 88 MHz TV channel 6 spectrum for the 30 FM carriers it could handle.

REC Networks maintains that channel 6 FMs get an unfair advantage with an exemption from HAAT (height above average terrain) rules that would derate the power of similar FM stations in neighboring spectrum. More broadly, they maintain that the signal contour rules give them a big advantage.

The FCC has yet to make a ruling on the continuation of FM signals on channel 6 TV.

(The author, Gary Stigall, has as clients EMF and Venture Technologies but did not consult with either for purposes of writing this article.)

Fry’s Electronics Closes All Stores

It’s the end of an era, really. KRON-TV reported it first, saying Fry’s Electronics was going to close its doors soon. Then Fry’s made it official on February 24. All stores, including those in San Marcos and San Diego, were officially closed. They have an agent taking care of warranty service issues.

The stores had been limping along since they lost significant inventory in August 2019. They attempted to force consignees to supply all stock at no risk to Fry’s, but few took the bait. With empty shelves and buyers moving to convenient online purchasing, they joined a host of other big box dealers to their death.

It was fun while it last, though. Fry’s had something for everyone in their heyday, from computer parts to electronic components, movie DVDs to major appliances. You could lose an afternoon in the place. They ran attractive ads with real bargains that could attract huge crowds. Their stores were large enough to support a restaurant and product demonstrations.

It’s 7:00 PM. Do I hear an Amazon truck outside?

Society of Broadcast Engineers, San Diego