Category Archives: Best of Site

Longer articles featuring the best of SBE36.org. Biographies of local engineers, news event coverage, and “Making Waves” commentary.

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. 

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The FCC Wants Comments on “Franken-FMs”

The Media Bureau of the FCC issued a Public Notice last week seeking comment on whether channel 6 analog LPTV stations should be able to continue to operate after the deadline to switch to digital.

FCC Logo

Even after the 2009 TV broadcast transition to digital, the FCC allowed LPTVs to continue to broadcast in analog until 12 months after the completion of the post-incentive auction repack, due for a July 3, 2020 completion. This means LPTVs would have to make the digital switch by July 3, 2021.

This aural service on TV channel 6 has taken the perjorative term “Franken-FM” due to the distorted analog TV broadcast technology that boosts the power of the FM aural carrier, increases the modulation, sets the pre-emphasis to match that of the FM broadcast band, and usually runs a video slide show or fixed graphic in the visual portion of the signal. This is all done to add an FM station to the market. Venture Technologies, based in Los Angeles, has placed these stations all over the country, including KRPE-LP in San Diego, on Mt. San Miguel. Most home and car radios can receive this signal on 87.75 MHz, and such stations generate marketing materials promoting “87.7 FM.” Venture Technologies leases its signals to third-party programmers.

Comments must be in to the FCC 45 days after the comments solicitation is published in the Federal Register.

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Chapter 36 Survey: What Your Friends Think About Us

A few developments about SBE tend to alarm those of us involved in the organization’s leadership:

  • Chapter 36 SBE member count has reduced from 57 two years ago to 39 this year—a 30% drop.
  • Last week’s Chapter 47 meeting in Los Angeles was canceled due to lack of reservations. Only four people from a chapter with 197 members bothered to RSVP for their dinner meeting.
  • Chapters in Philadelphia, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City and Honolulu no longer hold meetings at all.

So what’s going on?

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KFMB-AM Restores 50 kW Nighttime Power

Making Waves – Commentary 

In case you missed it, the FCC last week dismissed KFMB-AM San Diego’s FCC application to decrease its nighttime power to 10 kW.

Say whaaaat?

KFMB-AM went from 5 kW to 50 kW nighttime power on 760 kHz in 1992 when state highway 52 was built between its towers and the station could leverage the Caltrans displacement funds to up its power. They tightened their peanut shaped antenna pattern with the third tower in order to continue to protect co-channel WJR Detroit. The lower daytime power is a rare case in the U.S. , but with KBRT Avalon short spaced at 740 kHz, KFMB wasn’t allowed to increase its daytime power past 5 kW. In most U.S. locations, stations either lower power at night or change to a directional pattern to protect the signals of stations that came before them.

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