Category Archives: News

Ken Crabtree Passes Away

We just learned that broadcast engineer Kenyon “Ken” Crabtree of Vista died January 19, 2021 due to the COVID-19 virus.

Ken Crabtree, engineer

Ken had worked for ViaSat in Carlsbad as a satellite systems engineer from 2012 until 2020.

Previously, he had been part of the Qualcomm team responsible for the rollout of MediaFLO.

Before 2007, he had worked for local broadcasters as a contract engineer with such clients as Finest City Broadcasting (XETRA, XHITZ, XHRM), and International Communications Network (K61GH, now KSDY), and KPRI (FM). He worked with Robert Gonsett to move KKOS (now KSSX) 95.7 to Mt. Soledad.

He was an experienced skydiver. He is survived by his wife Tricia, as well as daughters Taylor Proulx and Rhiannon Kohler and two grandchildren.

Thank you for the tip, Robert Gonsett.

Take the Annual SBE Compensation Survey Today

The SBE needs your help with our annualĀ Compensation Survey. Online now and active through May 17, the independent survey provides a look at the salaries and benefits earned by those in our industry. Results are categorized by radio and television, market size and job titles, and provide useful information to individuals and employers. All survey responses are anonymous. Survey results will be made available in July for free to all SBE members. For the most accurate results, we need to hear from you. It only takes a few minutes.


KRPE-LP Applies for Digital Flash Cut

San Diego’s remaining analog TV station, posing as an FM station, filed with the FCC to switch to ATSC service. KRPE-LP on Mt. San Miguel operates on TV channel 6 as “Guadalupe Radio 87.7 FM.” The station visually shows an ID slide or live video.

The FCC is requiring all analog TV stations, like KRPE-LP, to cease operating July 13, 2021. That date is coming fast for LPTV station groups that must change transmitters and filters in the next four months. Venture Technologies owns KRPE-LP San Diego and many other channel 6 analog stations nationwide. The application for a flash cut includes a request to extend the Construction Permit to January 10, 2022, allowing 87.75 to continue broadcasting in FM while Venture builds the digital station.

Venture Technologies recently withdrew its application for a channel 14 digital companion channel for San Diego in favor of the digital flash-cut filing for channel 6.

The FCC in 2019 asked for comments on the operation of analog FM carriers on TV channel 6. Venture Technologies joined the Preserve Community Programming Coalition to file comments supporting the operation of an analog FM signal at the top end of channel 6 while using ATSC 3.0 for the remainder of the channel–a technology compromise that would avail the use of 87.7 and 87.9 MHz for FM while making the lower end of the channel for ATSC. They say lab tests have shown that properly made tuners can decode the ATSC signal. EMF is a member of this coalition.

NPR and REC Networks oppose the continuation of so-called “Franken FMs.” NPR appears to be concerned about interference to existing FM stations in the 88.1 to 91.9 noncommercial portion of the FM band in the US. For example, KKJZ Long Beach at 88.1 is potentially vulnerable to an alternate frequency signal at 87.7 MHz. In fact, they have co-existed for years in the Los Angeles market.

NPR also mentions that if diversity is what the FCC wants in allowing 87.7 and 87.9 signals, the FCC should consider opening all of the 82 to 88 MHz TV channel 6 spectrum for the 30 FM carriers it could handle.

REC Networks maintains that channel 6 FMs get an unfair advantage with an exemption from HAAT (height above average terrain) rules that would derate the power of similar FM stations in neighboring spectrum. More broadly, they maintain that the signal contour rules give them a big advantage.

The FCC has yet to make a ruling on the continuation of FM signals on channel 6 TV.

(The author, Gary Stigall, has as clients EMF and Venture Technologies but did not consult with either for purposes of writing this article.)

Fry’s Electronics Closes All Stores

It’s the end of an era, really. KRON-TV reported it first, saying Fry’s Electronics was going to close its doors soon. Then Fry’s made it official on February 24. All stores, including those in San Marcos and San Diego, were officially closed. They have an agent taking care of warranty service issues.

The stores had been limping along since they lost significant inventory in August 2019. They attempted to force consignees to supply all stock at no risk to Fry’s, but few took the bait. With empty shelves and buyers moving to convenient online purchasing, they joined a host of other big box dealers to their death.

It was fun while it last, though. Fry’s had something for everyone in their heyday, from computer parts to electronic components, movie DVDs to major appliances. You could lose an afternoon in the place. They ran attractive ads with real bargains that could attract huge crowds. Their stores were large enough to support a restaurant and product demonstrations.

It’s 7:00 PM. Do I hear an Amazon truck outside?

Soledad FMs Moving Across the Street

[Updated] The FCC in late February and early March granted Minor Modification applications for all of the iHeartMedia FM stations atop Mt. Soledad to consolidate at the historic KFMB-TV site, moving from KGTV’s antenna across the street. iHeart’s KMYI 94.1 and KIOZ 105.3 will join current master FM antenna partners KPBS-FM 89.5, KBZT (FM) 94.9, KXSN (FM) 98.1, and KFBG (FM) 100.7. The move will require a new 12-bay master antenna to handle the high input power. The current 8-bay antenna has been known locally as “Quadzilla.”

At the same time, EMF’s KLVJ (FM) 102.1 Encinitas will move its main transmitter from the UCSD tower site to the new master FM antenna.

iHeartMedia’s KSSX (FM) 95.7 Carlsbad will also move from KGTV to KFMB-TV, but their allocation requires a separate, directional antenna to be mounted on a tenant tower at KFMB-TV. The signal has some light reduction in signal toward Mexico to the southeast.

he FCC granted a Minor Modification application for iHeart Media to move K277DH, the KLSD (AM) translator on 103.3 MHz, from a KGTV-owned tower to the KFMB-TV tower. The CP specifies a vertically polarized Kathrein yagi with an east-west orientation at 250 watts ERP.

Since the KFMB Stations were sold to TEGNA, InSite has been managing the site for income and there have apparently been some reductions in site leasing costs. American Tower Corp. recently acquired all of the InSite properties and management contracts and will take over management of the KFMB-TV property.