Category Archives: Commentary

MFJ Enterprises to Quit Manufacturing

Apologies to those of you not involved in the allied field of ham radio, but this news is huge to those who are. The founder of MFJ Enterprises, Martin F. Jue, announced yesterday that the company would cease manufacturing on May 17, 2024, after 52 years of operations. The company, based in Starkville, Mississippi near Mississippi State University, represents a kind of throwback operation. Local Americans manufactured and sold relatively inexpensive accessories, antennas, and amplifiers for the ham radio hobby. Given the labor costs relative to imported goods from China, businesses like this are nearly impossible to keep afloat. Mr. Jue is 80 years old and said he has been looking for a buyer without success and is ready to retire. 

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Are You One of Our Next Leaders?

Tony McDaid as Chairman and Mike Curran as Vice-Chairman took over leadership of Chapter 36 in December 2017. Tony navigated us through the COVID pandemic, setting up online meetings in cooperation with other chapters to attract interesting, timely presenters. Many thanks for their volunteer help.

The current line-up of SBE Chapter 36 officers has been in office since December 2017 and it’s time to pass the torch to a new leadership team.

Continue reading Are You One of Our Next Leaders?

Why Your Car Radio May Prefer 87.75 Over 87.7

Feedback from our article about KRPE-LD’s conversion to hybrid analog FM digital TV:

I read your article in TV Technology covering the Channel 6 ATSC 3.0 with analog FM STA that is being implemented by Venture Technologies. In the article, you mentioned that Venture needed to shift the FM carrier frequency back to the old NTSC aural location at 87.75 MHz rather than using 87.7 MHz to accommodate automotive receivers.

Continue reading Why Your Car Radio May Prefer 87.75 Over 87.7

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 pejorative 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.

Continue reading The FCC Wants Comments on “Franken-FMs”

FCC Proposes Allowing All-digital AM

Making Waves – Commentary

The Federal Communications Commission last week adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that recommends giving AM stations the flexibility to voluntarily adopt all-digital broadcasting.

FCC LogoIt hasn’t been easy to watch AM broadcasting slowly wither as stations go mute after low listenership and sales. It seems like every week we hear of another AM station downing its towers and selling its land to housing developments.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has taken a special interest in doing what he can to prop up AM broadcasters, first with his initiative that gave them some access to low-power FM translator channels, with mixed results that, in fact, did nothing for the actual AM spectrum.

Should AM stations be given the right to adopt all-digital modulation? Continue reading FCC Proposes Allowing All-digital AM