All posts by Gary Stigall

KWFN 97.3 Pioneers New FM HD Booster Network

Entercom San Diego, through technical consultants GEO Broadcast Solutions, has built out a significantly advanced Single Frequency Network (SFN) for their 97.3 MHz station, KWFN (FM), “The Fan.” The team added analog-digital hybrid Xperi HD Radio on February 19, 2020 to help KWFN reach an audience that now extends past some significant terrain barriers within their licensed service contour. KWFN, with its sports talk format, hosts the current Padres Radio Network. The SFN includes the booster KWFN-FM1 La Jolla (in the Bird Rock neighborhood), KWFN-FM2 Ramona, KWFN-FM3 San Marcos (from Whitney Peak), and KWFN-FM4 Escondido (from Black Mountain). GEO is working to add the KWFN-FM5 booster in Encinitas that they have an FCC Construction Permit for. 

Continue reading KWFN 97.3 Pioneers New FM HD Booster Network

Steven Sagady Passes Away

Longtime San Diego audio-video systems engineer Steve Sagady passed away February 21, 2020. 

Sagady designed and oversaw the implementation of an impressive list of projects through his years with TV Magic. He led the design and buildout of the XETV “Fox 6” new studio facility in San Diego in 1999. The system featured the first implementation of an all-digital newsroom. When an internal ESPN project stalled, he took over to design the ESPN Los Angeles studios at Staples Center, and later the Network Operations Center at the Trinity Broadcast Network in Santa Ana. 

When TV Magic closed, he teamed up with Bob Anderson, formerly with XETV and TV Magic, and built several municipal council room A/V systems that were remotely controlled by their company PDI. He designed the TV master control room of the Gila River Indian Community in Chandler, Arizona. 

Sagady started his career as an engineer at a sound recording studio in Santa Barbara. 

I had the fortune to work with Steve at TV Magic for two years and got to observe his ability to concentrate and design complex systems with astounding attention to detail. 

Steve was dogged by health problems through much of his adult life, and he succumbed to a heart infection in mid-February. 

Steve will be missed by those of us who loved and admired him. 

FCC Votes to Auction Off a Portion of C-band Satellite

FCC Logo

The FCC voted Friday to auction off the 3.7 – 4.0 GHz portion of the microwave C-band used for broadcast distribution of radio and TV via satellite with 5G telecom providers expected to bid. The plan includes payments for registered downlink users to install filters and for satellite companies to relocate their services. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said they will institute phased deadlines that begin in December 2021 to begin clearing out the bottom portion of the band. More details in this TV Technology article.

Radio and TV stations currently use the spectrum for syndicated and network programming from a variety of satellites due to its lower cost than K-band distribution. Greater use of fiber distribution and more efficient compression techniques is easing the demand for satellite spectrum.

February 2020 Meeting: Actus Digital

Everyone wants clips: stuff your talent said or did on the air, clips of your competition’s material, clips to prove you ran the right commercials at the right time. Clips to share on your station’s website, social media, or through your app. There’s more to the decoding, storage, and retrieval than you might imagine, and the quality varies. Can you retrieve by key words transmitted? In other words, can you have speech-to-text conversion and meta storage going at the same time? Can you compare instantaneous audience measurements to on-air events? How about measuring and logging loudness and alerts upon violations? 

Local sales guy Jay Gedanken of Actus will visit us Wednesday, February 12 at 12 noon at iHeartMedia, 9660 Granite Ridge Drive, San Diego. We’ll have a quick meal, then a presentation about current logging and clip storage and retrieval technology. 

Actus has been around for longer than 15 years, serving clients as small as local independent TV and radio stations and as large as Comcast, SKY, and Fox Networks. Take a look at the possibilities here

Jay Gedanken recently joined Actus as Vice President of Business Development. He had previously served for over 30 years as a technical sales representative for firms developing devices for audio/video compression encoding and decoding.

Letting Go in San Diego Radio

iHeartMedia, TEGNA, and Entercom have each released a number of San Diego employees in January in order to reduce their count and expenses. iHeartMedia conducted a huge, nationwide, layoff earlier in the month. The migration of listeners to an almost infinite variety of online streaming sources has put the free over-the-air radio advertising industry in a slow decline. One media observer in upstate New York noted its local iHeart market group had more radio stations than on-air employees. More programming is coming from syndicated sources outside any given market. 

TEGNA told its KFMB-AM-FM employees they would have their jobs only until February 7 (with the exception of the sales department). Engineering Supervisor Steve Cilurzo, who has been maintaining their radio division equipment, was spared due to his role in TV engineering down the hall. TEGNA sold KFMB-AM and -FM to Local Media San Diego, operators of XHITZ “Z90”, XETRA “91X” , and XHRM “Magic” 92.5, but the employees were not invited to move as a group to the new owners. LMSD will have to change call letters and begin paying for a lease for tower and transmitter space. Included in the layoffs were morning show personalities Chris Cantore and Meryl Klemow, as well as Robin Roth, Rick Lawrence, Brent Winterble, Mike Slater and Mark Larson. 

iHeartMedia in San Diego laid-off IT specialist Casey Frink and Engineer Drew Hougan. Casey had been there for a total of five years. Drew Hougan was in the market two years, previously with Nexgen (now RCS), the iHeart subsidiary that produces the automation that runs its stations. On the on-air talent side, Coe Lewis, Nina “Ruth 66″ Reeba and Jim McInnes of KGB Radio, Chris Merrill of talk radio station KOGO, Chris “Qui West” of Jam’n 95.7 and Steve Kramer of Channel 93.3 all lost their jobs. 

At Entercom, Bob Bolinger lost his job as Senior VP and Market Manager. A.J. Machado and Sara Perry, co-hosts of the A.J. and Sara Morning Show on KXST Sunny 98.1 were given notice on Jan. 22. Dana DiDonato and Jayson Prim of the morning show on KBZT Alt 94.9 were also sent walking.