Category Archives: National

FCC Allows AM/FM Simulcasts

The FCC last week issued a Report and Order eliminating prior rules (section 73.3556) that kept co-owned stations from broadcasting the same programming on both their AM and FM stations simultaneously. It was a rule intended in 1964 to begin pushing broadcasters to have more “voices” in a given community.

FCC Logo

However, the competitive climate of broadcasting has changed. There are infinitely more voices in a a given community due to the introduction of cable, satellite, HD subchannels, and now internet broadcasting. AM broadcasting struggles now with NRSC bandwidth limits, lack of stereo, electrical noise, and all that competition from better sounding sources.

The FCC R & O said that simulcasting will facilitate AM stations transition to digital broadcasting by allowing them to simulcast on FM or other AM stations until they can stand on their own feet as AM digital radios become more common. AM digital, when well implemented, can fill in gaps in rough terrain and cover longer distances.

The rule also allows duplication of FM programming even when coverage contours overlap. For example, a major ownership group could create a network of stations in adjacent markets that all have the same programming 24 hours per day much like EMF’s “K-Love” and “Air1” formats.

The change takes effect immediately.

Sprint Has Left the Room

Sprint Nextel Corporation, the communications company with the iconic yellow and black marketing appearance, is no more. As of this week, the name was discontinued by T-Mobile after the two merged in April 2020.

Most people don’t know that the name SPRINT began decades ago as the Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Network Telephony, having evolved from the Southern Pacific Communications Company, which had its origins in the telegraph era of the 1800s. Railroads and gas pipelines make good utility rights-of-way, so they were the beginnings of several telecom companies.

Brown Telephone Co., which started in 1899 and became United Telephone, later merged with Sprint, so they get partial credit for the early history of the combined company, as well.

You likely remember that Sprint Nextel bought the spectrum at the bottom end of the 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary band for its CDMA network in the early 2000s. This forced itinerant ENG users to go digital and smoosh together with much smaller channels.

T-Mobile similarly bought large chunks of the 600 MHz band of spectrum from UHF-TV channels 38 – 51 and have begun using it for their consumer LTE communications network nationwide.

SBE Cancels National Meeting

[From SBE National Headquarters] The 56th SBE National Meeting, planned to be held in Syracuse, NY on Sept. 22 and 23, will now be conducted via the internet. The event was to be held in conjunction with the SBE Chapter 22 Broadcast & Technology Expo. Chapter 22 has announced that this year’s event has been canceled due to restrictions imposed by the state of New York due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. SBE will hold a combined Annual Membership Meeting and National Awards Presentation via the internet at 4:00 p.m. PT on Wednesday, Sept. 23. Details on how to watch the on-line program will be shared soon via the SBE website, SBE-news email newsletter, and social media.

Is Your Mom’s Flip Phone Still Working?

Chris Aamodt, former senior engineer at KFMB Stations, recently sent a message saying that his elderly mother’s phone suddenly stopped working. After some time with Verizon customer service, he learned that they were no longer supporting their CDMA network in his rural Romona neighborhood.

Samsung Verizon Flip Phone – Good as a Brick?

It turns out that Verizon and AT&T are working to update their systems toward 5G and retiring the old 3G CDMA tower systems. These networks have issued warnings of impending obsolescence, but in the meantime, if a legacy 3G system fails, they seem to be replacing them with a new 4G LTE transceiver.

Sprint recently merged with T-Mobile and that’s a whole other mess, with Sprint’s legacy CDMA and T-Mobile’s legacy GSM networks working to update to LTE and 5G.

While broadcast engineers may be working with a backup data hotspot served by one of the major mobile telecoms, it’s most likely LTE and not ready to fail. That said, we recommend checking just to make sure. And check on your parents’ old phone while you’re at it.

Sage EAS Users: Update Your FEMA Certificate

[Sage ENDEC Press Release] This message is from Sage Alerting Systems regarding your Sage Digital ENDEC model 3644. It applies only to users in the United States.

Action required before October 28, 2020.

A signing certificate used by FEMA to validate CAP alerts will expire on Oct 28, 2020, at 14:05:29 UTC. Sage has released a free firmware update that you must install to permit your ENDEC to continue to receive EAS CAP alerts from FEMA after that date.

This release also updates the SSL root certificates that your ENDEC must have in order to download alert audio files from state or county alert originators.

You must already be running the Rev95 release. Users without Rev95 stopped validating CAP alerts in November 2019, and have been unable to connect to the IPAWS server as of July 6, 2020.

Please read the release notes. The installation process is straightforward as described in the release notes. Installing this update will not change any of the settings on your ENDEC.

If you have any questions regarding this update, please email us at support@… or call 914-872-4069 and press 1 for support. If you get voice mail, please leave a message and we will call you back.