Big Catalina Fire Originates at KBRT

(From the CGC Communicator) A fire that started at the KBRT(AM) transmitter plant on Catalina Island near Los Angeles apparently ignited the 4,200- acre wildfire that ravaged the island’s interior and threatened Avalon, the resort’s main town. One home and six industrial buildings were lost but no one was seriously injured. The fire is expected to be fully contained by Tuesday evening.

According to a published report supplemented by information from the island, a tower contractor hired by KBRT had been warned against using a cutting torch because of dry brush fire danger.

While the station’s transmitter engineer, Bill Agresta, was inside the transmitter building and temporarily away from the work site, the contractor used a gasoline-powered circular saw to cut metal, and sparks from the blade apparently ignited the brush.

Bill reportedly said he saw a small blaze when he went outside the transmitter building. Then he ran back inside to call 911.

By the time he went outside again, the fire had moved several hundred feet downhill and engulfed the contractor’s tool truck – the blackened hulk of which remained at the site as of Saturday.

Commercial power and telco lines feeding the “KBRT Ranch” (as the transmitter site is known) were destroyed in the fire. The station resumed operations Sunday using its own power generator and CDs hand-carried to the island for programming. Joel Saxberg is reportedly at the site attempting to set up a Ku-band satellite downlink as an STL, but is said to be having trouble acquiring the satellite. As of 9:30 AM Monday, the station was off the air again, but this time voluntarily until the program feed bugs are resolved.

Meanwhile, Bill Agresta is nursing some fractured ribs suffered when one of the construction workers commandeered his tractor and accidentally ran into him during the fire melee.

May 2007 Meeting – Taste of the NAB

Larry Bloomfield brings his famous Taste of the NAB roadshow to San Diego Tuesday, May 22 at noon at TV Magic. Come see wares from some your favorite vendors and win a door prize.

Exhibitors this year:

  • Omneon media servers
  • Leader Instruments test gear
  • Blackmagic Design edit system media I/O cards
  • ESE timekeeping and interface products
  • AJA video interface and terminal equipment
  • Telecast fiberoptic transmission equipment
  • InPhase Technologies holographic storage
  • Network Electronics fiber, terminal, and compression gear
  • Henry Engineering interface devices
  • Telecast fiber systems
  • Clark wire and cable
  • DSC Labs test charts
  • SMPTE standards publishing
  • Verbatim blank media
  • ADS Tech video capture devices
  • Key Digital computer cables
  • Canon lenses

Plan to eat a free lunch provided by Canon. Lucky engineers will walk away with one of multiple door prizes donated by the roadshow sponsors. Larry’s giving away polo shirts, DVI cables, capture devices, CD media, gift certificates, and standards CDs, and other goods at the show.

Those attending will also be entered into a national drawing for prizes that include a Fluke multimeter, Burst Electronics digital video switcher, Coaxial Dynamics RF wattmeter, a copy of VidCAD software, a Radiosophy HD table radio, and a genuine Chuck Pharis Indian Head TV test pattern.

Members and guests welcome to TV Magic, 8112 Engineer Road, May 22 at noon.

CBS and Clear Channel Partner on Soledad Antenna Project

A new multiplexed FM antenna on KGTV’s Mt. Soledad site is open for business and radiating. John Rigg, San Diego market Director of Engineering for Clear Channel Communications says that his stations KMYI 94.1 MHz, KIOZ 105.3 MHz, and CBS Radio’s KSCF 103.7 MHz have been on the 4-port system since April 5 of this year.

ERI designed and built the system, an SHPX-10AC-HW center-fed 10-bay half-wave spaced array with approximately 5 dB gain. John says “ERI was chosen because their SHPX series antennas present less weight and wind load than comparable antennas from other manufacturers. Their combiner is more modular and easier to install in tighter places, specifically the attic space above the transmitters.”{mosimage}

Clear Channel and CBS have partnered before on a similar project on the site.  KIOZ and KSCF have been combined on an adjacent tower for several years. The main tower owned by McGraw-Hill Broadcasting now hosts the new community antenna. Two site developments motivated the participants to build the antenna: the need for a reduction in RF radiation at ground level due to a new residence to the west of the site, and the steep rise in rent at neighboring towers owned by Midwest Television, KFMB-FM/TV.

They now occupy a position just below the tower top, below the KGTV channel 10 antenna, but sharing the aperture of the KGTV-DT UHF array. John says that they did extensive modeling before construction to assure little interaction between those antennas. In fact, the modeling resulted in the fabrication of antenna mounting brackets out of non-conductive materials.

The quest for the master antenna began after completion of a new home two lots away, adjacent and northwest of the neighboring fire station on Via Casa Alta. Hammett and Edison studied ground level radiation at the home and determined a particular hot spot at a steel column that wasn’t going to go away unless a substantial rearrangement of radiators took place. RFR laws state that any contributor of more than 5% of the maximum permissible exposure (MPE) is equally responsible for mitigating the problem regardless of the contribution percentage. Since KFMB and its tenants KIFM and KYXY were farther away and had just completed their new combining array with low downward radiation values, they were let off the hook. Two other Soledad FM broadcasters using the UCSD-owned tower, KUSS 95.7 MHz, and KLQV 102.9, have had to temporarily decrease power to meet the public RFR guidelines.

In February of 2006, the FM broadcasters on the KGTV and UCSD towers agreed to decrease power temporarily by 25% each. The one exception was Super Class B grandfathered, normally 100 kW, KMYI 94.1 (“Star 94”), which due to a null at the site in question did not have to decrease power at all. KMYI was added to the combiner system to allow the new antenna to be installed on the KGTV main tower removing its weight and wind load contribution to the overall tower loading.

Each of the Clear Channel and CBS stations obtained construction permits in mid-2006. ERI delivered the antenna system in late March this year, and crews were waiting to erect it immediately.

John Rigg reports that their expectations regarding both the increased performance of the antennas and their decreased downward radiation have exceeded expectations. They’ve now got KMYI at 77 kW ERP and he’s happy with the coverage. He says the new antenna is higher and the pattern is cleaner than before, so they need less power now to reach their licensed contours.

For his part, Mike Prasser, San Diego Market Director of Engineering for CBS Radio, appreciates John taking the role as project leader. “He should be commended for how smooth the project went. As for the results of the project, I am extremely pleased.” He’s satisfied that they’ve mitigated the RFR issues and says that he is now working hard to get KSCF broadcasting in HD-radio, which should be up in June.

KPBS-FM Applies for Move to Soledad

KPBS-FM 89.5 MHz filed with the FCC an application to move their transmitter to Mt. Soledad and increase power to 26 kW ERP from their current 4.4 kW.

The application names the KFMB-FM-TV transmitter site as its new home, but does not address two sticky issues about the site. First, RF radiation at the site can be increased only with very careful modeling, coordination, and measurement due to the proximity of homes. Second, the current community FM antenna was specified and built with a low frequency limit of 94 MHz, and the tower is considered fully loaded. KFMB RF supervisor Rick Bosscher said they are discussing with KPBS a plan to overcome those obstacles.

San Diego State University and the KPBS Foundation have long wanted to move to Mt. Soledad for its obvious increased coverage in North County and northern suburbs where a high concentration of its affluent demograhic resides. In fact, KPBS-FM currently runs most of its informational programming with the stereo pilot off to help boost its coverage.

The FCC recently cleared the way for the relocation when it rejected filings by Televisa, owners of XETV channel 6, against the power increase application of KSDS. In that case, the FCC said that international treaties did not specifically address FM-to-TV channel 6 TV interference, so KSDS was free to raise power regardless of affects to U.S. reception. Exhibits filed with the KPBS application cite that FCC ruling to support their increased channel 6 interference zone.

Disclosure: The author is Director of Engineering for Bay City Television, a U.S. subsidiary of Televisa and the marketing and news operations arm of XETV.

March 2007 Meeting – Dielectric

Thanks to all for attending. 20 local radio group engineering executive and friends ate a fine lunch and heard a few words from Al Jason of Dielectric on their RF Scout and tower LED beacon products. Craig Caston of Salem Communications won the Sangean HD-Radio provided by SCMS. Thanks to Doug Tharp for the lunch and radio!

Society of Broadcast Engineers