All posts by Gary Stigall

Tom Cox Wins NAB Show ‘Best Paper’ Award

San Diego SBE Chapter 36 member Tox Cox came away from the 2013 NAB Show with an award for the best technical session. His paper title, “Using Public Domain and Open Source Software to Derive Base Drive Voltages for AM Method of Moments Models, “described his presentation about an inexpensive means of deriving these calculations. Tom was given the award at the annual Technology Luncheon at the show.

Tom Cox, courtesy NAB
Tom Cox

Tom serves as Senior Vice President Engineering for Clear Channel Media + Entertainment overseeing technical and regulatory operations for over 150 radio stations in 28 markets in the Southwestern U.S. Tom has been employed in the broadcasting industry for over 35 years, including KFMB AM/FM and Clear Channel in San Diego. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electronics degree from Chapman College and is a Registered Professional Electrical Engineer.

Longtime XETV Engineer Francisco Laurent Passes

Francisco Laurent in front of XETV transmitter, 2009

Francisco Laurent Martinez, who served as engineer and Chief Engineer of the Transmission Department at XETV in Tijuana from 1959 till this month, passed away March 24, 2013 in Tijuana. He saw the facility progress from a single English-language ABC affiliate for San Diego to a cluster of eight Televisa-operated TV stations, all now with solid-state transmitters and antennas on two self-supporting 500 foot towers.

He mentored engineer Humberto Borzani, who told us Francisco was born December 7th, 1930 in Tijuana. He graduated in 1956 as an Engineer with a major in Electronics and Communications in Mexico City. He served as Chief Engineer of the Radio Monitoring Station of SCT (the Mexican equivalent of the FCC) from 1972 to 1987. The SCT sent him to Washington to coordinate cross-border frequency allocation studies in 1979.

Francisco served as professor at the Instituto Tecnológico de Tijuana from 1971 till 1987, and was founder of the associated cultural FM station Radio Tecnológico 88.7 MHz FM from 1987 till 2005.

XETV Tijuana Master Control, 1968, when they were an ABC Network affiliate. Francisco Laurent in foreground.

On a personal note, I worked at XETV’s U.S. operations from 2004 till 2010, but was always warmly welcomed at the Mexican master control and transmission site. I have never seen a transmitter site like the one Francisco led, from the marble floor at the entrance and master control rooms to the spotless transmitter rooms to the twice-filtered air and shiny copper transmission lines. The 1955 GE transmitter was ready for air until just a few years ago. Their UPS and generator backups kept the transmitters going without interruption for years at a time. Francisco was justifiably proud of that facility, and he will be missed.

March 2013 Meeting: All About the High Efficiency Video Codec

Just when you thought your H.264 codecs were about as efficient as possible for transmitting your media files, along comes H.265. This new HEVC is likely to change everything. But how much more efficient is it? What exactly is different about it? How are vendors gearing up for the new codec? When will it be ready for prime time?

Chapter 36 is fortunate enough to bring to our March meeting highly regarded speaker Joel Wilhite from Harmonic.

Be sure to mark your calendar for 6:30 PM, March 28th at the KGTV studios, 4600 Air Way, near where the I-805 and CA-94 freeways meet. Note this special evening time and day. Harmonic will provide dinner at 6:30, followed by a brief business meeting and the presentation. RSVP so that we can get a good count for dinner to rsvp@sbe36.org.

Joel Wilhite has been a Broadcast Solutions Manager for Harmonic for 18 years, designing media compression and storage systems for news and programming originators. He’s frequently called on to update groups like SBE with technology presentations.

March 2013 Member News

James Culligan of El Cajon recently became an SBE Certified Radio Operator.

Ken Tondreau joined Avid Technology as Enterprise Account Manager for the Los Angeles region in January this year. Ken had been a Sales Representative with Grass Valley since 1986. Ken recently renewed as Certified Broadcast Technologist.

Matt Lunati joined a technical team installing and servicing mobile cellular sites for CellularOne in Show Low, Arizona. Matt says they serve a large network in northeast Arizona.

Richard Large Retires From KUSI After 31 Years

Talk about a clean break. Friday, February 1st, McKinnon Broadcasting’s VP of Engineering Richard Large appeared on KUSI briefly as the station celebrated his retirement. The next week he was settling into his new home in Idaho Falls with his wife of 44 years, Edith.

He learned electronics in the Air Force and wisely took courses that would lead to an FCC First Class Radiotelephone license–a ticket to a good job in 1968. He first worked at WBTW (TV) in Florence, SC weekends while still in the Air Force.

After his discharge in 1970, Richard went to work in Decatur, Illinois at ABC affiliate WAND. What he remembered most about his years there was an ice storm in 1978 that took down the tower and destroyed the transmitter building.  He and the other engineers managed to salvage the RCA transmitter and build a new shelter for it, having it back on the air in four days.

In 1980, Tom Wimberly, who had worked with Richard in Decatur, hired him to work at KCST in San Diego. He stayed about a year before moving on to WPHL in Philadelphia.

Richard answered an ad and put KUSI on the air in 1982 with a leased package of gear from RCA that included a TTU-55 channel 51 UHF transmitter, three TK-760 studio cameras, a TK-86 portable camera, and a TK-27 telecine system.

Richard helped the McKinnon family plan and oversee construction of a TV station in Austin to add to the group’s properties in Corpus Christi and Beaumont, Texas. And he was given the title of Corporate Chief Engineer.

In 1990, the McKinnon’s bought out the remaining financial interest of the United States International University, freeing them to invest in a news department. Richard was challenged to create a news facility on Viewridge Avenue in Murphy Canyon and have the news on the air within six weeks. With only his crew, they installed everything including the electrical wiring and had their first newscast on September 13, meeting the challenge.

He was given the title of Vice President of Engineering for the McKinnon group and oversaw the Corpus Christi station move to another site.

Richard saw two fires overcome Mt. San Miguel where the KUSI transmitter is located. During the first one (he doesn’t remember the year), Tom Wimberly of KNSD and he were taken to the top to survey the damage. Neither had lost their building, but neighboring buildings were destroyed. In 2007, he drove up the mountain with Fred Swift through the Harris Fire and found smoke billowing off of the roof. He lifted buckets of water that Fred filled and put out the fire, saving the building and its contents.

KUSI’s trademark has been its low cost but highly watched newscasts, and Richard has always come through with ways to stretch the dollar, most recently with JVC high definition cameras, Bitcentral file management system, and HD production system.

Besides his wife Edith, Richard has two daughters–Laura and Rachael, their husbands and grandkids living in the Idaho Falls, Idaho area. He looks forward to a restful retirement.