Category Archives: News

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.

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.

John Barcroft Steps Down as Frequency Coordinator

After at least twenty years of coordinating broadcasting auxiliary frequencies below 1 GHz, John Barcroft is passing on those duties to Gary Stigall. Fred Swift of KUSI coordinates channels above 1 GHz.

Those wishing to submit frequency coordination requests should use the form posted on the SBE 36 Coordination Page. There are links posted there for NFL and Southern California Frequency Coordination Committee that handles coordination outside of San Diego County.

Barcroft was KGB (FM) and KPQP (AM) Chief Engineer for decades before leaving in 2006 and was quite active in the SBE during his radio career. He and Ron Foo produced the SBE Chapter 36 newsletter until 1997.

Remembering Jack Rabell

Jack H. Rabell, 88, died January 2, 2020, a resident of Alpine and long-time San Diego broadcast engineer, on-air personality and car aficionado. His obituary in the San Diego Union-Tribune mentions that he moved from New York in 1946 and worked for 27 years at KOGO. He then worked at numerous stations, including KSON as a country radio personality and engineer with Dick Warren, then as an engineer at KSDO AM/FM, and later at various stations including KPRI-FM 102.1, helping to move the station to Mt. Soledad.

According to his printed obituary, “While working, he chased his passion for cars on the weekends as a classic collector, rallyist and restoration artist. His restoration talents are world-renowned and include credit for Mel Torme’s 1936 Jaguar SS-100 now on display at Peterson Museum in Los Angeles. When not working or playing with cars, Jack could be found with his family at his mountain cabin, camping around the southwest, cruising the oceans or soaking up the Mexican beaches with a cold beer in his hand.”

Services will be private.