Bob Groome, a former radio chief engineer who went on to a 41-year career in broadcast sales, marketing and technical support, died this month at age 77.
According to his Facebook page, he passed away May 17 at his home in Florida after a long battle with cancer. At his death he worked in sales engineering for RF Specialties.
“Although his working career extended an extraordinary 59 years, he was particularly proud of his technical position in 1963, working on NASA’s Apollo project, as a lead (PWB) technician for General Electric, on contract supporting NASA in Daytona, Fla.,” according to an obituary on his Facebook page.
“But his love of music and technology ultimately led him to the broadcast industry, beginning with his very first job at WOOO radio (1310 AM) in Deland, Fla. in 1961, as chief engineer and DJ personality ‘Bob the Bachelor’ and later, chief engineer at WGCL radio, Fort Myers, Fla., from 1969–76.”
Radio World readers will know him best for his work with numerous prominent equipment and service companies including Audio Associates, Harris Broadcast, Allied Broadcast Equipment, Arrakis Systems, Jampro Antennas, Electronic Research Incorporated (ERI) and RF Specialties.
“As a member of Society of Broadcast Engineers, Bob authored and presented papers at local, regional and national conferences. Bob presented to Mexico’s Ametra, Japan’s InterBEE and Canada’s CCBE meetings. He presented papers and was invited to attend engineering roundtables at professional conferences held by Texas Association of Broadcasters, Broadcasters’ Clinic, Iowa Public Symposium, Tampa’s SBE Symposium, among others.”
According to the obituary, Groome was a spiritual man and a devoted Christian. His interests included technical projects such as building an electric car, computers, collecting music, woodworking, and visiting the traces of the “old Florida” of his youth.
“He loved his wife [Philippa Jeffreys], Krispy Kremes, Rod McKuen poetry, the ocean, and Tina Turner. He watched ‘Young Frankenstein’ at least once a year. Everyone loved his crooked smile.”
Groome maintained a website, the Sweet Old Bob Website, www.bobgroome.us that includes FM and AM formula calculators “to help his radio broadcasting comrades with their work. This site is up and helping others at the time of this writing, and we hope to maintain this website to honor Sweet Old Bob, the wonderful husband, dad, brother, grandfather and friend who touched so many lives and will be dearly missed.”
A family service is planned at a future date.
At Belgian public broadcaster VRT, online music station Studio Brussels launched a new digital channel, Stubru #ikluisterbelgisch, using SmartRadio. Three additional online radio streams from VRT, including ’90s and ’00s from its youth station MNM, were recently launched by VRT, also utilizing SmartRadio.
A cloud- and web-based radio-as-a-service platform developed by Broadcast Partners, SmartRadio provides a software-based product to broadcasters, consisting of microservices that run in a virtualized Windows environment. SmartRadio can operate either online for streaming and other services or can provide production, editing and streaming services to terrestrial broadcasters.
Orban Labs partnered with Broadcast Partners to add Smart Processing capability to this platform. Using Smart Processing, stations can select parameters for processing to create their own custom, unique “sound.” Algorithms used in Smart Processing are comparable to Orban’s Optimod hardware processors.
Radio World welcomes submissions for the Who’s Buying What column from both buyers and sellers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Who’s Buying What” in the subject line.
The post Who’s Buying What: Online Station Studio Brussels Opts for SmartRadio appeared first on Radio World.
Tom LaBarge is CEO of GLxT Holdings and its manufacturing subsidiary GroundLinx Technologies. The company makes a system called Gradiance that it promotes as providing a new approach to electrical grounding.
Radio World: Don’t we know pretty much what we need to know about grounding?
Tom LaBarge: The necessity for electrical grounding has indeed been well known for over two centuries. But well known and well understood are not always synonymous.
The current industry specifications to achieve compliance in a grounding installation are woefully outdated and dangerously anemic with respect to the electronics-rich culture of contemporary society.
Even “enhanced” grounding systems exclusively rely on a humble ground rod — inspired by Ben Franklin — which, in fact, has only a single point of primary dissipation for fault currents, as well as no capability for high-frequency dispersion.
Regardless, engineers continue to specify not only antiquated technology, but also inaccurate models of grounding performance and on point-in-time resistance-to-ground measurements made with low-voltage, low-frequency test equipment.
“Significant research is now available that shows dissipation of dangerous fault currents can be accomplished very successfully if novel combinations of new materials and electrode structures are employed.” — Tom LaBarge
These meters cannot capture the dynamic characteristics of an entire fault event. Thus, the limitations of basic ground rods, combined with grounding system designs built only to achieve snapshot-quality resistance measurements, result in much less than optimal protection of the broadcasting plant.
However, significant research is now available that shows dissipation of dangerous fault currents can be accomplished very successfully if novel combinations of new materials and electrode structures are employed.
Such designs can properly manage high frequencies in these currents, as well as more efficiently disperse all aspects of a fault pulse over time through better management of differences of impedance in elements of a grounding system.
Existing technology — as discussed within the broadcasting industry for many years — is not able to achieve these essential results, thus causing increasing failures of critical equipment.
In fact, there is a tremendous amount of new information to review and understand with respect to effective grounding — particularly as the financial and operating demands of broadcasters evolve.
RW: You’ve said systems can fail “in spite of their adherence to commonly accepted design standards.” It sounds like the standards themselves need to change, no?
LaBarge: We absolutely advocate for standards to be changed — based on a new understanding of fault current characteristics, dramatic limitations of present grounding technology and the shortcomings of contemporary grounding system analysis techniques.
The quantity and sophistication of electronics required in broadcasting of any type, whether commercial, public safety, industrial or transportation, among many other uses, has leapfrogged the published performance goals of traditional grounding. We seek to be the change agents toward substantially improving protection of expensive equipment, and reduction in injuries and loss of lives.
RW: Your GroundLinx Gradiance system aims to provide a solution. What is it?
LaBarge: Through the use of novel combinations of materials not previously found in grounding devices, these products are capable, first, of non-sacrificially dissipating current frequencies exceeding 60 MHz, the point where copper begins to lose effectiveness, and second, creating an “impedance gradient” that dramatically reduces the possibility of reflection of a fault current, throughout the event, back into systems and devices that a grounding strategy was designed to protect.
Traditional ground rods are not able to offer these protective features. With GroundLinx Gradiance systems we’ve reimagined and redesigned the “business end” of grounding to protect the super-sensitive electronics of the contemporary broadcast plant at a significantly higher level.An image from the GroundLinx Gradiance website. (Click on the image to view a larger version.)
RW: What are the major deficiencies in common grounding systems?
LaBarge: In a nutshell we can group major causes of the significant deficiencies into two megacategories: absence of research and development over several decades, and a general lack of understanding of the physics behind grounding performance overall. Additionally, within the world of traditional grounding, there is little consensus on system design standards.We’ve heard it said that if one puts 10 grounding design engineers in a room, 11 opinions will emerge.
In terms of industry codes, grounding has always been an exercise, necessary to achieve a stated resistance-to-ground target — which is of very limited value with respect to true, full-fault-event dissipation. This rote activity is repeated all over the world. As a result, the U.S. insurance industry alone reports over $1 billion in lightning losses every year. (This excludes fire damage initiated by lightning.) European Union organizations site “billions of Euros” lost annually due to lightning and fault current events.
Due to antiquated modeling, inaccurate representations of fault current behavior and a “We’ve always done it this way” attitude, the use of everything from highly insufficient conductor size or deployment, to exclusive reliance on soil moisture, to creation of “ground loops” that allow fault currents to return to structures and equipment, the range and amount of dangerous errors in grounding system design are rather amazing.
As an example, at a recent site inspection at an eastern U.S. larger-market television tower, three chain-link fence posts embedded in concrete were being used as grounding for this tower more than 1,000 feet tall. Not surprisingly, the facility suffers equipment damage exceeding $50,000 annually.
Reviews at smaller-market radio facilities nearly always show major disregard for grounding necessities. As a result, off-air time, or signal disruption events at a minimum, are far too common.
In all cases, the throttling of major fault currents into small ground rods, regardless of quantity, that have a huge disparity in impedance relative to surrounding soils (and possibly amendments) far too often results in completely insufficient dispersal of the fault, and therefore equipment damage, or worse.
We see this situation in well over 90% of the sites we review.
In our experience, U.S. broadcast facilities of all types and applications are generally designed to achieve compliance with the current published standards and codes. They are often tested and certified to comply with specified static/point-in-time resistance-to-ground readings. However, as I said, such measurement is only a snapshot of system performance made with simple test meters — which cannot emulate the performance of a grounding system over time during a major fault event where over 30,000 amps and 250,000 volts at frequencies exceeding 200 MHz may be encountered.
Broadcasters need to up their grounding game, and do so quickly.
RW: What else should we know?
LaBarge: Steep waveforms at the initiation of lightning strikes and fault surges are now understood to contain a simultaneous mélange of frequencies that often exceed 100 MHz. It is the inability to deal with this toxic onslaught that is often to blame for signal loss, equipment damage and worse. Immediate dissipation of the high-frequency barrage — before its reflection back into equipment can occur — is paramount. Unfortunately, copper is only optimally effective up to 60 MHz, and loses effectiveness quickly above that level. Therefore, rethinking of grounding system materials and structures, and overall grounding strategies, is necessary.
Quite simply, the “criticality” of greatly improved grounding in broadcasting operations through attention to fault frequencies and grounding impedance mismatches cannot be overstated. For operating consistency and financial prudence, we encourage radio broadcasting engineers to become far more “acquainted“ with grounding systems of their facility.
Information about the company’s grounding systems can be found at www.groundlinx.com.
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Many community radio stations are hosting virtual meetings for board members, volunteers and staff. It is a new world for many. But how do you avoid Zoom disaster?
Stations have long flourished on the aesthetic of community, which means face-to-face interactions and groups of people gathering together. For many, video conferencing is something their stations have never done before. However, there is no reason to stress out. The etiquette of virtual meetings is not much different than what you’re used to.
At the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, we have hosted weekly video conferences on Zoom since the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as webinars and meetings of various sizes. NFCB has been holding such gatherings for several years. As a facilitator, I have seen many video conference successes and fails. How can you and your organization do Zoom well? Here are a few recommendations.
Turn on Your Video
Little is more off-putting to fellow staff and volunteers than someone who won’t bother to turn on their video, or who has not worked out kinks with their audio and video before showing up. In this pandemic period, where so much is done through online meetings, video is crucial in building trust and engagement. Video also keeps you engaged; people can see you multitasking or being distracted, so consider this your time to give your all to the meeting at hand. Short of your background being distracting or inappropriate, video should be on. Body language, eye contact and rapport still matter.
Set Meetings to Mute on Entry, and Mute Yourself to Start
I once heard that unmute was today’s Reply All. And it is true! If your station is hosting meetings of five or more, your facilitator will make everyone’s day by setting the meeting to mute all initially. We need to remember that people are at all kinds of places when they join these meetings. People’s significant others and families may be in close proximity. Dogs are scampering about. As well, if you are attending a meeting, no one wants to hear your side conversation about breakfast or, worse, an unflattering opinion about someone on your call. Click Mute and save yourself embarrassment and worse.
Private Chat Is Not Private
Related to the above, do not say something in a private chat that you would not say in the public meeting to co-workers or other volunteers at your station. Also, do not be creepy. Those are rules of thumb for life, but apply doubly for Zoom, which permits meeting hosts to get full chat transcripts, including of those that are sent privately between two parties in a meeting. Thus, you will find stories like this one, this, and this one, where people are shocked to discover their meetings were littered with rude, profane or abusive backchannel conversations, and the perpetrators of such soon learn they are in hot water, or out of a job, for violating organizational policies.
Use Chat Liberally
Chat boxes are wonderful to share links, insights and other resources others can look back at later. Save your on-microphone time for something you do not wish to type out, or that will resonate more with other volunteers and staff when it is spoken, rather than typed.
There are many tutorials about lighting, headsets and other matters related to video meetings. However, the basic rules of video meetings are not far from in-person success tips. Zoom forward and help enhance your stations as much as possible!
The post Community Broadcaster: Four Zoom Tips for Community Radio appeared first on Radio World.
Petitions filed by G.I.G. of North Dakota, Gray Television Licensee, and Parker Broadcasting of Dakota License Concerning Station DCKPM(TV), Fargo, North Dakota
A station can only be honored with the NAB Crystal Heritage Award after receiving five Crystal Radio Awards for outstanding community service. KCVM(FM) in small-market Cedar Falls, Iowa, is the latest station so honored.
How small is Cedar Falls? If one combines it with the population of the larger nearby city of Waterloo it is still only Nielsen Audio market 237. Yet, Jim Coloff, owner and general manager of KCVM, is able to run that station and three others in his cluster, make a profit and still devote hundreds of hours each year to public service for his communities.
“Yeah, I love small markets,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s more difficult than operating in a large market, but we all do have to wear more hats.”
“We have smaller staffs, we don’t have big budgets, but we sure have a diverse workday because we all do a little of everything. I will say we have fewer employee-type headaches so in that sense it may be easier! But if we’re doing the right job, we might be the only game in town, the only local media voice and the only local access these communities have.”
Magical Mix Kids
Coloff came by radio and public service naturally; his parents Tony and Sue Coloff started a station in 1978 in Forest City, Iowa. Jim joined the company in 1991 and partnered with his parents until purchasing the Coloff Media Group in 2017.Fun at a Magical Mix Kids event.
“My parents, mostly retired at this point, used to work as volunteers for various causes when I was growing up. I was raised with the belief that you support the community that supports your business. So I immediately got involved and now I require the same of my staffs, here in Cedar Falls and in the other markets where we own stations.”
Coloff Media owns stations in other Iowa mini-markets including Britt, Charles City, Forest City, Manchester, Mason City and New Hampton. The group now includes 12 stations, all of which follow the “give back” directive from the Coloffs.
KCVM took its desire to help the community a step further 20 years ago when it began its own charity, Magical Mix Kids, a 501(c)(3) organization.School fundraiser organizers are interviewed on 93.5 The Mix.
“Magical Mix Kids, named after the station’s designation as ‘93.5 the Mix,’ is similar to the national Make-A-Wish, but the difference is that our kids are not necessarily terminally ill,” said Coloff.
“Most of our kids are suffering from chronic and life-shortening conditions as well as terminal conditions. We feel the psychological and financial stress that is put on these families makes them deserving of a respite from their troubles. What better place to send them than Walt Disney World?”
“This is the biggest activity we’re involved in, and every year we send these kids and their families, about 80 or 90 people in all, on that trip. It takes the entire year to raise the nearly $100,000 it takes to accomplish that.”
Getting good personnel is a challenge in any market, and in a small town there’s always the danger that the best people will want to go elsewhere to make more money. Add to that Coloff Media’s special criteria for all employees.Bob Westerman conducts interviews during a broadcast from the site of a flag mural on a local Amvets post in Cedar Falls.
“We’ve had some people who moved on to larger markets, but we scout like everyone else at the college level and we go to the recruitment fairs,” said Coloff.
“We check out the workforce development sites and work fairs, but I tell you, it’s not so much where we look but the kind of people we’re looking for that matters. We want people who need to make a difference in their community,” he continued.
“Of course they have to have talent, but we would take someone with less training and experience but who is willing to learn. And most of all they have to have already been involved their community. Some of our people have been with us 15, 20, 25 years, and it’s because they are talented enough but they decided that this community is where they want to raise their families.”
Kim Manning is manager of the Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitors Bureau and a frequent collaborator on promotions with KCVM.
“All we have to do is pick up the phone and call the station, and anyone there will be willing to help us, not just Jim,” she said.Volunteering at a food event to help the needy are station staff, from left, Janelle Rench, Mark Simpson, Lori Payne.
“He has instilled this attitude across his entire staff; and if an event will benefit the community, they are always onboard. For example, we all worked together on Pedal Fest, which is a cycling event we started five years ago. It’s free and this year it’ll be every weekend in September. Jim Coloff attends just about every auction in town, and he’s active in Rotary Club and other service organizations. He’s always there for anyone who needs him.”
The KCVM calendar can be found on the station’s site www.935themix.com, and in normal nonpandemic times is full of events like blood drives, Kiwanis meetings, fundraisers and pancake breakfasts.
Radio stations must still pay the bills and meet payroll. Here is what Coloff says about radio’s viability and how it is tied to his goals for the community.
“I can’t speak for every market in the country or every radio station, but I think if radio is done right, and if the stations are involved in their communities, and make that goal part of the culture of the radio station, radio can be a huge part of its listeners’ lives.”
“Our stations provide a locally connected community delivered via live and local audio, available on every distribution channel including terrestrial radio, mobile/PC stream, enabled devices and even video. I think a radio station can be a driving force in a community’s success in a lot of ways, but you have to be committed to spending time and resources on becoming involved and doing hyper-local programming.”
Ken Deutsch is a former disc jockey and former TV director who also ran a jingle studio for 24 years. In fact, he says he’s now a former almost everything.
The author is Radio Marketing Specialist for Lawo AG.
Radio has always been a vital source of news and information when crises hit. California’s public broadcasters have traditionally been prepared for nearly any eventuality, such as disasters like earthquakes, floods and wildfires. And now they must be prepared to inform listeners during a pandemic as well.KQED’s remote control center at Sutro Tower. The Sapphire mixer on the table is a remote control for the sapphire located in the station’s Master Control Room. The three screens are VisTool GUIs that control all of the mixing and peripheral devices in the three on-air studios used for the “Forum” call-in program.
In San Francisco, NPR member station KQED observed other stations in the U.S. where personnel were unable to access their facilities due to COVID-19 shutdowns, and took action to ensure remote access to their FM‘s Master Control Room and adjacent production facilities.
“We had to ask ourselves what we would do if one of our staff members tested positive for the virus. How would we produce our daily programming if the facilities were off-limits?” says Donny Newenhouse, executive director of broadcast engineering and operations at KQED.
“We knew we would need the ability to run our Master Control Room from a remote location. We also needed to remotely-control the three production studios where our daily call-in program, “Forum,” originates. All of these rooms have Lawo sapphire mixing consoles, so we called Lawo and asked – how can we do this?”
“There wasn’t an off-the-shelf solution to remote-control the sapphire consoles and also control the integrated networked systems, but our engineering staff had some ideas,” says Herbert Lemcke, key account manager/president, Lawo Corp. Americas. “A key aspect of the solution was to use KQED’s spare sapphire mixing surface as a remote for the one in MCR by using CANBus-to-IP converters to connect to and control the station’s console core and Nova73 router.”
KQED’s engineering space at Sutro Tower (the main transmission site for many Bay Area TV and FM stations) hosts the emergency remote setup, a solution already employed by KQED’s television operations, which have a backup TV Master Control at Sutro. Using the sapphire surface installed at the tower site, KQED’s operators can directly control the operation of the sapphire located in the station’s MCR for complete control of all satellite feeds and local programming sources.
The second part of the project — creating a “virtual studio” at Sutro for operators to produce the daily “Forum” call-in program — required a different kind of remote control. For this, Lemcke and Lawo R&D engineer Andreas Schlegel designed a touchscreen mixing console interface using Lawo’s VisTool GUI Building software.
This connects via IP from the Sutro Tower site to KQED’s downtown studios, which should give complete access to all mixing functions and console resources in the station’s three control rooms, including the codec pool, broadcast VoIP phone system, Dalet playout system — even talkback and mix-minus channels.
Lawo engineers were able to give KQED the solution they needed: the entire physical and virtual remote control solution was executed, tested and proofed in under a week’s time, and reports from operators on the virtual studio implementation have been very positive.
“With the combination of hardware remote control of Master Control, and VisTool virtual control of our studio mixing consoles, our contingency plans are in place and ready should we need them,” says Newenhouse. “But we hope we never will.”
Communications attorney Richard Hayes has been busy during the coronavirus pandemic, sending a letter to the FCC with a number of suggestions, many, if not all of which would help his clients survive. See here.
He has now sent a more detailed letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai concerning, temporarily at least, relieving stations of EEO regulations while the coronavirus pandemic continues. This idea was outlined in the previous letter.
Here follows the text of the latest letter.
Everyone in the radio industry appreciates your proactive stance in helping stations survive during this virus by eliminating unnecessary and burdensome rules. Please keep up the good work. There is more you can do and that is the reason for this letter.
I represent about 100 different radio stations across the country. They are struggling more now than they ever have in the 38 years I have been practicing communications law. Station revenues are down 50, 60, 70 and 80%. Many small stations, particularly standalone AM and FM broadcasters, were struggling before the pandemic and the likelihood that some will financially survive is doubtful. If the crisis continues, you can expect to see stations filing Special Temporary Authority requests to shut down until they can operate profitably. Some are already in advanced discussions to go silent.
Here is a big way you might be able to help. From what I have observed, the EEO program, as it applies to broadcasters, is a total waste of time. First, broadcasting is not a suspect industry which requires such monitoring. Second, the EEO program is toothless. What other industry has to jump through these pointless hoops? Suggesting that the EEO program prevents discrimination is not supported by any data and no data has ever been provided to the public to show that the EEO program, as administered by the FCC, is in any way effective.
Widely recruiting for specialized positions is an empty gesture and solves no discrimination problems. Forcing stations to conduct meaningless EEO initiatives is also counterproductive. Before the pandemic, conducting a job fair when the station had no job openings really annoys the public and irritates the radio station. Now that we are facing extreme unemployment, I doubt that any of the EEO initiatives are appropriate. Stations will hire back their furloughed employees. I note that there has been some relief for broadcasters in this regard as the commission has stated that there will be a 90-day window in which stations may hire back their furloughed employees without having to recruit. They planned to do so, anyway. This relief doesn’t go far enough.
Yesterday [May 20], I completed an EEO Public File Report for a small cluster of stations in rural Indiana. That report was 324 pages long! All of those pages were necessary to complete the report. Two months ago, for the same cluster of stations, I prepared a detailed Audit Response. These reports provide nothing regarding the prevention of discrimination. They are composed of page after page of advertising “copy” with hundreds of pages showing the exact times each announcement was aired. The report detailed EEO initiatives with “copy” and exact times despite the fact that the stations have had to furlough employees and drastically reduce expenses just to stay on the air.
The EEO program is a pointless burden which the commission cannot rationally defend (other than politically). That small, rural cluster of Indiana radio stations had to pull one employee from other critical duties for more than a week in order to assemble all of the EEO materials required for the report. Other employees such as news directors and traffic personnel were also required to divert their attention to the EEO report’s compilation. This is a total waste of resources, especially now.
Please consider suspending the EEO rules for the duration of the crisis. It would also be helpful if the entire EEO program was placed under review to determine if it is actually making any difference or if it just squandering limited financial and personnel resources for nothing more than a political benefit.
Thank you for your consideration.