All posts by Gary Stigall

KPBS-FM Lights Up on Soledad

After two decades of talk and planning, KPBS-FM finally completed its move to Mt. Soledad, beginning transmissions at 10:30 AM on Monday, October 1, 2012. The new coverage area better matches its listener profile of college-educated, relatively affluent coastal and north county residents.

Leon Messenie, Director of Engineering, said they are using the shared Dielectric make FM antenna known as “Quadzilla” along with host KFMB-FM 100.7 MHz, KIFM 98.1, and KBZT 94.9. The antenna, originally designed to carry 105.3 MHz, had to be replaced by KPBS to handle the lower channel. KFMB’s RF supervisor Rick Bosscher said that they were able to tune one of the combiner ports from 105.3 to 89.5, but came close to losing a tuning slug into the cavity doing so.

Besides the new antenna, KPBS RF Engineer Rockley Curless oversaw the installation of a new Nautel NV-20 transmitter outputting 9.4kW with an accompanying Ibiquity HD signal combined at low level. The station’s new ERP is 26kW non-directional. The station will lose some coverage in the shadows of east county hills, but gain much more coverage in the north county and La Jolla. The west-facing slopes of east county will continue to receive excellent signals.

One of the changes loyal listeners are likely to notice is full-time stereo. Yes, KPBS-FM used daypart scheduling to broadcast a monaural signal during talk programming. This extended their effective coverage area by hundreds of square miles when they eliminated that pesky little 19kHz pilot and L-R 38kHz subcarrier that fools a radio into demodulating it even when too weak, making for a noisy listener experience. For the time being, Messenie says they will keep the stereo pilot on full-time.

Messenie says the quest for a Soledad location began with an application in 1994 that was issued in 1997, but it was to be at the US Navy radio site and the person who granted permission to use the site was not authorized to do so, and permission was withdrawn. XETV in Tijuana fought other efforts to move KPBS, concerned that the FM signal would overwhelm its channel 6 TV signal in San Diego. That fight became moot in 2007 when the FCC ruled in favor of KSDS upgrading to 20kW 88.3 MHz signal at its Mesa College site, saying that there were no specific rules protecting US coverage of Mexican TV channel 6 broadcasters.

Will KPBS-FM will use its old site, where KPBS-TV continues to operate, as an aux standby location? Messenie says they plan to, but will have to install a directional antenna to keep its coverage within the new area.

They don’t have backup power on Soledad, but will work toward that end. The Soledad site has long been served by two electric feeds that switch automatically in the event of an outage on one side of the hill.

Project partners included Wireless Infrastructures for tower work, Juice Electric for electrical wiring, and Hammett and Edison for the RFR study.

October 2012 Meeting: Digital Broadcast Archiving

Our speaker at the October 17 meeting, Arnold Taylor of Digital Broadcast, will discuss the three levels of archiving—online, near line and off line. What purpose does each serve and how are they intelligently managed in a newsroom or master control environment?

Arnold has been with Digital Broadcast for nearly 10 years, first as an Area Manager for the Southwest based in Plano, TX and now a VP of the Western Area including the Southwest and Western Regions. He was a radio CE with a First Class Radiotelephone license, a TV engineer, worked for Ampex for over 13  years as a field service engineer, and later in technical sales for Sony, RCA, and Compact Video. He served as CEO at Quanta and later Rank Cintel.

A New Venue

Join us October 17 at noon at Sizzler restaurant, 3755 Murphy Canyon Road at Aero Drive, I-15 freeway convenient from the Aero Drive exit. This will be conducted in the tradition of Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles chapters as you buy your own lunch. We have the banquet room in the back. Get in line as you come in, ordering a steak or sandwich, or a plate for their enormous salad bar (recommended). They will serve you in the banquet room if you didn’t buy the salad bar.

Making this a regular venue will depend on high attendance, so we would appreciate your making a special effort to join us this month. As always, members and guests are invited.

We should be finished by 1:30PM.

September 2012 Meeting: Harris Studio Design Show

A great meeting September 12 at KPBS as Nick Van Haaster of Harris showed off some photos of recent studio rebuild projects foreign and domestic. Many thanks to Ron Lane of Harris for lunch and Leon Messenie for his tour of recently remodeled studios on the SDSU campus.

Nick gave us a primer on project management for broadcasters and demonstrated some highly professional examples of planning documents and studio sketches.

In chapter business, Chairman Doug Alman told us about the upcoming election, encouraged members to sign up for offices, and mentioned that we will try electronic voting this time.

John Battison Dead at 96

SBE founder and first president John Battison has passed away in Loudonville, Ohio. According to an article written about him by his editor Chriss Sherer at Radio Magazine Online, John had a long, distinguished career as broadcast engineer, both in the U.S. and internationally. He served as staff broadcast engineer, technical consultant, writer, and lecturer. He founded the Society of Broadcast Engineers in 1963 and was honored with the SBE’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

Audio Loudness Seminars Presented by SBE and ATSC

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) and the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) have partnered to offer a day-long seminar discussing important updates in DTV audio loudness standards and the implementation stage of the FCC’s Commercial Audio Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act. The CALM Act becomes effective on December 13, 2012.

Experts from the industry will present FCC rules and updated information on the CALM Act, practical solutions for implementation, loudness measurement and monitoring technology, receiver processing and equipment solutions and an in-depth tutorial on ATSC’s Recommended Practice A/85. Speakers for the seminar include Jim Starzynski, NBC Universal; Pat Waddell, Harmonic; Steve Lyman, Dolby Labs; Tim Carroll, Linear Acoustic; Steve Silva, Fox; and Dave Higgins, Comcast.

The Audio Loudness seminars will be held in Chicago, Ill. on August 23; Los Angeles, Calif. on September 27; and Atlanta, Ga. on November 13. Station engineers, broadcast executives, cable operators, satellite TV providers, the content creation community and other industry professionals will find these seminars of great value and packed with practical information.

Members of ATSC and members of the SBE may register at a discounted rate of $95. The non-member rate is $150.

Details of the September 27 seminar in Los Angeles and the November 13 seminar in Atlanta will be available soon. Attending this seminar at any of the three locations qualifies for one credit, identified under Category G of the Recertification Schedule, for SBE Certifications.

If you have questions regarding this seminar series, contact Kimberly Kissel at SBE via email or by phone at (317) 846-9000. You may also contact Lindsay Shelton-Gross at ATSC via email.