Orban announced the Optimod XPN-Enterprise ecosystem.
The company describes it as a customizable, Linux-based processing platform with capabilities for centralized contexts, particularly broadcast groups that run multiple stations or clusters and/or streaming services.
“It provides Orban’s proprietary OptiCloud processing for up to eight FM and eight HD/DAB+/Streaming processing channels in a 1 RU package and supports AES-67/SMPTE-2110 protocols using an enterprise-class SoftGear server and the appropriate Optimod XPN-Enterprise Nodes,” the company stated.
The XPN-Enterprise server is shipping, as is the XPN-Enterprise AES3 Input/Output Node. Orban said nodes to extend the available outputs and functionalities are coming including DMPX, Kantar and Nielsen watermarking and Orban uMPX.
“Broadcasters worldwide are realizing the benefits of moving operations to centralized — and ideally, virtualized — environments. Many of these customers have high-density needs, with many signals that need to be managed,” it quoted Orban President David Day in the announcement.
Content to be OptiCloud processed is brought to one location using AES3, AES-67, SMPTE-2110-30, Dante or Livewire+, and creates the necessary outputs (FM composite, DMPX, uMPX and DAB+HD) using the appropriate Orban XPN-Enterprise Nodes for distribution to each transmitter site, the company said.
The server also handles processed channels for streaming, sending those outputs to the appropriate streaming devices.
“Each signal coming into the Optimod XPN-Enterprise server can be individually processed, with Orban’s OptiCloud providing precision tailoring of each station’s broadcast or stream to meet the requirements of the audience and delivery method,” it continued.
Features include factory presets for various formats, and “Less-More” controls to simplify “dialing in” a desired sound by combining multiple processing parameters.
Day also highlighted the company’s “Last Mile” solutions including XPN-Enterprise input and output nodes and low-bandwidth solutions.
“This ‘Last Mile’ service is especially important for stations whose transmitter sites may be in locations with less-than-ideal internet access. We make it possible to manage our processing remotely and feed that signal to a site on lines as slow as 500 kbps, with high-quality results. And many nodes are ‘Power over Ethernet’ (PoE) capable, further simplifying installation.”
Pierre Bouvard once again has combed through fresh data from Nielsen and put together a series of positive bullet points about trends in radio, intended to of help to radio salespeople and managers.
Bouvard is chief insights manager of Cumulus Media and Westwood One, which makes him one of the industry’s prominent pitch persons.
Looking at Google data, he said that through September and into October, COVID search volumes have sharply fallen, an indication that pandemic concerns have eased.
American travel miles also are up, which means people are spending more time in their cars.
Further, Bouvard says that marketers and ad agencies continue to “dramatically underestimate the number of Americans that are commuting to work each day.”
And he cites Nielsen data showing AM/FM radio listening recovery continuing in September with Portable People Meter listening up +4% over the prior year.
Below is the latest chart from his post showing month-to-month changes in Average Quarter Hour audience in PPM markets.
[Read the blog post: “Nielsen AM/FM Radio Audiences Grow as COVID Concerns Drop and Vehicular Traffic Surges”]
Jessica Rosenworcel is talking up 6G.
“If you think I’m too early on this one, think again. Much like in the early days of 5G, the scrum for 6G is already intensifying,” she said.
Rosenworcel, acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, spoke Tuesday to the wireless industry’s Americas Spectrum Management Conference. She devoted a good part of her online remarks to the topic “Paving the Way for 6G and Beyond.”
She cited plans or developments that look ahead to 6G in South Korea, Finland, Japan and China.
While no one knows exactly what 6G will entail, she said, “Let’s learn from what came before. Let’s acknowledge here and now that it is time to start thinking seriously about how we can better position ourselves for success with 6G.”
She called for a “6G Solarium” modeled on a recent bipartisan government initiative called “Project Solarium” that resulted in 80 recommendations on how to overhaul the nation’s approach to cybersecurity.
“What we need now is new thinking, broader consensus and more early focus than we had for 5G,” Rosenworcel said. “We need a process for prioritizing and executing on spectrum objectives and for developing strategies to align the ends, way and means for 6G.” She wants to see a similar effort that brings together government, business, the non-profit sector “and the rest of civil society and the public to chart a new course.”
Rosenworcel said that to help, the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council could be charged with “looking beyond 5G and conceptualizing 6G — to help set the stage for our leadership. By refocusing the TAC in this way, the FCC will be able to stay on top of new developments and ensure that the nation can turn the latest scientific research into viable communications technologies that will help power our future.”
Not to skip over 5G, in the first half of her remarks Rosenworcel discussed steps that she said would “reinvigorate the momentum toward 5G.”
She highlighted FCC efforts to provide more spectrum — including the granting of 5,600 licenses in the C-band — as well as her goals of expanding the reach of fiber facilities, diversifying technology that goes into 5G networks, building security and resiliency in supply chains, and participating more substantially in global technology standards-setting.
Telos Alliance has introduced a streamlined version of its Axia Quasar AoIP surface.
The Quasar SR replaces the Axia Fusion in the company’s lineup. Telos also announced a major free system update for users of its original Quasar.
The new Quasar SR is part of the Livewire+ AES67 ecosystem. Telos said it uses the frame, power supply and master module of the original Quasar, but the fader modules are not motorized and there are fewer, larger and easier-to-reach buttons on each channel strip.
“All of these refinements make it easy for any operator to use the SR console, while introducing cost efficiencies that allow SR to be an exceptional value,” the company stated in the announcement.
The surface includes a heavy-duty 12.1-inch touchscreen user interface so an external monitor is not required, though one can be used if desired via the external video output.Axia Quasar DSP user interface
The system includes Expert Source Profile controls for power users to set custom logic associated with each source. “The user can program GPIO control, mix-minus routing, talkback and other functions based upon console channel state,” Telos said. “Flexible Record Mode gives complete control of monitors, meters, headphone feeds, program bus assignments, and more.”
Show Profiles allow up to 4,000 console “snapshots” with different settings, layouts and defaults. Automatic mix-minus and automixing are available on all channels. Features include touch-sensitive encoders, faders and user buttons.
The new model also introduces a remote control option called Quasar Soft. “This solution lets broadcasters control the surface from any HTML5 browser. Included as part of the Quasar Soft license, Quasar Cast is a remote monitoring solution that lets users listen to what is happening in the studio and on the air while they operate the console remotely using Quasar Soft.”
In a related development, Telos announced availability of a Quasar V2.0 Major System Update, which converts an original Quasar console to Quasar XR. This is a free system update that adds scalability and modularity to the original console; it also adds Quasar Soft and Quasar Cast, integration with Telos Infinity IP Intercom and support for planned Quasar Accessory Modules. Telos said the update makes Quasar more flexible for applications like working from home.
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Radio Maria, an international network of 77 Catholic radio stations, is now participating in DTS AutoStage.
Xperi says that given Radio Maria’s reach of roughly a half-billion listeners, this is its largest global radio integration to date.
[Related: “Cumulus Stations Support DTS AutoStage”]
DTS AutoStage is a hybrid radio platform that parent company Xperi Corp. is offering in 60 countries and hopes will be adopted by broadcasters and carmakers globally.
Hybrid radio systems combine over-the-air radio with IP delivered content. Xperi is working to make DTS AutoStage available widely in vehicles; it is available in the market so far in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Radio Maria began as a parish radio station in 1983 in Milan, Italy. It now has 77 stations and is also heard on FM-world, a streaming and aggregation platform for radio stations run by 22HBG, which facilitated the integration of Radio Maria with DTS AutoStage.
[Related: “Xperi Has Big Ambitions for DTS AutoStage”]
The announcement was made by Joe D’Angelo, Xperi senior vice president, business development, broadcast, and Vittorio Viccardi, president of World Family of Radio Maria.
DTS AutoStage is based on a large database of broadcast metadata that Xperi highlights for its “large and stunning” artwork, artist and album information, personalization and other functionality.
Music scheduling software developer Powergold has a new edition of its eponymous program.
Called Powergold NXT, the company said “This ground-breaking music scheduling software release is a purpose-built response to the evolving needs of some of the world’s largest broadcasters.”
Powergold CEO/CTO Lance Olvey said, “Broadcasters around the globe were already moving toward technology hubs and decentralized working even before the worldwide pandemic. We observed these shifts and subsequently began to build Powergold NXT a number of years ago.” Adding, “COVID-19 only accelerated the need for a more robust scheduling solution that could accommodate many concurrent users working remotely in less-than-ideal networking conditions. It turned out to be the perfect environment in which to deploy Powergold NXT!”
According to Powergold, NXT is built on a Microsoft SQL database which will provide compatibility with most software and hardware it is likely to encounter in the broadcast plant and through remote operation.
According to Powergold, NXT also has enhanced functionality and flexibility that should give programmers more control over their music scheduling. In addition, rule optimization, schedule snapshots, element merge functions, music research imports, and an improved ‘undo’ function back to any point in time ensures will help users.
Send your new equipment news to email@example.com.
Legislation being considered in the House and Senate could help local media outlets hire and retain skilled local journalists — and the National Association of Broadcasters is asking radio and TV broadcasters to press their Congressional leaders to take action.
Introduced this summer, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act is designed to help local news outlets keep local journalists on staff by providing tax credits to local media outlets that hire local reporters. A recent briefing on the NAB website titled “What Would the Local Journalism Sustainability Act Mean for Your Station,” NAB Executive Vice President of Government Relations Shawn Donilon suggested stations press their members of Congress to support the inclusion of the act as part of the current budget reconciliation package. Such a move would help stations continue to deliver both trustworthy local news and vital investigative journalism to local communities, Donilon said.
The legislation is designed to support local news production through a series of tax credits, including a local news subscription credit, a local newspaper and local media advertising credit and the local news journalist compensation credit — the latter of which is gaining significant traction in Washington, Donilon said. This item is designed to give any broadcast station that employs local journalists — defined as those who do original reporting, design or technology support for their local station and work more than 100 hours per quarter — credit for 50% of an employee’s compensation (up to $50,000) in the first year and credit for 30% of an employee’s compensation (also up to $50,000) in the subsequent four years.
The proposed legislation has a cap of 1,500 employees for any individual company, although negotiations on Capitol Hill are ongoing in regard to the size and scope of the policies, Donilon said.
It’s time for NAB members to reach out to their Congressional members and press them to support the Local Journalism Sustainability Act in the budget reconciliation package, he said. Support for the act already exists by senators like Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), a co-sponsor of the legislation, who has said that local news needs to be supported and protected. “At its core, local news is about holding the powerful accountable,” she said. “The strength of our democracy is based in truth and transparency and local newsrooms are on the ground in our communities asking the critical questions, countering misinformation and telling our stories.”
Passage of this legislation could have a significant impact on broadcasters as they work to keep their newsroom staff on payroll, Donilon said. In addition to a recent blog post by the NAB, Donilon suggested broadcasters voice their supports for the act by emailing legislators prepared text outlining why local radio and TV matter.
The legislation also has garnered support from state broadcast associations, media organizations like the News Media Alliance and organizations representing journalists like the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and Native Public Media.
The post Sustainability Act Would Offer Tax Credit for Local Journalist Hires appeared first on Radio World.
The author is president of Burk Technology.
If you have transmitter sites to care for, you know each emergency means an engineer on the road and possibly lost airtime.
Remote control systems have traditionally allowed transmitter observations to be made remotely, but modern systems are capable of much more. Here are some tips to improve routine maintenance and reduce emergency calls using the versatility of a modern remote control.Virtual channels add meaning.
Virtual channels can take data from other channels and synthesize new data mathematically. Each virtual channel uses an equation to process this data in real time. These channels can be logged and used for alarms and to trigger macros and notifications just as regular channels. Here are a few classic examples, but you can probably think of more:It’s getting hot!
Knowing the heat rise in your transmitter is important. Two temperature probes can give you a way to measure the rise in temperature in your transmitter. Simply use a virtual channel to subtract the input temperature (or even the room temperature) from the exhaust plenum temperature. Stack probes make it easy to pick up the temperature in a closed plenum. The virtual equation is simply M1 – M2.Is your efficiency sufficient?
A sudden drop in transmitter efficiency means trouble. Look at the other readings to determine a possible cause. If it suddenly gets better, you likely have a faulty meter sample.
The formula for efficiency we are all familiar with is Power Out divided by Power In. The input power is final volts times current, so efficiency simplifies to P Out / E / I. (If this simplification doesn’t make sense, try it on paper.)
Assuming the first three metering channels, Fig. 1 shows the equation.
Set this virtual channel to alarm if too high or too low, and make sure you add it to the log.It’s been a while.
Just how long have those air filters been in there? Set up a virtual channel for each such item and assign it to a timer. Elapsed hours can be accumulated and can trigger a warning if overdue.
As shown in Fig. 2, a command button for each can be used to reset the timers when the maintenance is performed.Straight as an arrow
Ever have a sample that isn’t linear? Here is a fix:
Measure across the needed range and record actual and indicated values. You’ll need at least three points, but more is better.
Now put the actual and measured values in a graph in excel as shown in Fig. 3. Try different degrees of polynomials and pick the lowest order that gives you a good R squared value.
In this case a second order polynomial works well. The equation for Channel M1 becomes:
.0182 * M1 * M1 + 3.864 * M1 – 93.2.
Voila: a transfer function that is linear.APIs add data.
There are many data sources that are not physically connected at the site but are available through an Application Programming Interface (API).
The obvious example is a source of free weather information such as weather.com. This can provide a virtual weather station that represents the conditions in a radius of about 1,500 meters of your site. Good enough to know when to automatically turn on the deicers. Add 0.35 degrees per 100 feet of antenna height. It’s 7 degrees colder at 2,000 feet!
Burk has an app note available that explains how to use APIs.Alarm on low VSWR.
That’s not a typo! Most engineers alarm on high VSWR, as well you should, but there is also a reason to alarm if the meter sits on the left peg. A VSWR indication of near-perfect may look comforting, but it is likely a faulty sample. To assure VSWR protection, alarm if it is too good to be true.Don’t miss a beat.
If you are lucky enough to have an auxiliary transmitter, you should already be switching to it automatically when the main transmitter fails.
It is important to test the aux regularly, but you don’t need to get out of bed to do it. Schedule a flowchart or macro to run the text on a regular basis.
Test on-air with the same sequence as your normal recovery. You will be testing the complete backup chain so recovery in a real failure will be smooth. Let your routine tell you about the test in the morning.Mr. Pearson and his coefficient
Most of us diligently keep transmitter logs, but what do you do with the data? There is a lot of interesting information in there if you dump the log data into Excel and start digging.
Ever wonder if AC line voltage affects power out? Does the STL signal fade on warm days? How does tube age affect efficiency? Those are the kinds of questions that you can answer with a stack of logs and the Pearson correlation coefficient.
In Excel, fill two columns with the values to test and put “PEARSON(Array1,Array2)” in another cell as shown in Fig. 4.
The answer will be between –1 and +1, with zero indicating no correlation and one representing a perfect correlation.Continuous Improvement
If your system has been in place for a few years, there are improvements that you can make to avoid future down time. Call your equipment suppliers or check the web for the latest updates.
The author is general manager and chief engineer of WIHS(FM).
Noncommercial, listener-supported WIHS/104.9 FM is a ministry of the Connecticut Radio Fellowship and broadcasts music plus local and national Christian programming to listeners in Connecticut, Western Massachusetts and parts of Long Island, N.Y.
I had worked at the station from 1985 to 1991, and returned last year as its general manager and chief engineer.
One of my first priorities is refurbishing all three of our station’s studios. The main objective is to update our technology, but also make the studios more aesthetically pleasing.
Phase 1 of the project was the upgrade of our on-air studio, replacing everything from the furniture and flooring to the audio console. At the heart of our technology overhaul was a significant upgrade to our ENCO DAD automation and playout system.
WIHS was a long-time satisfied ENCO customer, but our DAD deployment had not been updated in many years. The software was seven major versions behind the current release, and most of the hardware it was running on was well beyond the viable lifecycle for any computer platform. I felt like we were using the old system on borrowed time.
With our announcers familiar and happy with DAD already, we decided to stay on the ENCO platform for the upgrade. I wanted all of the equipment to come from ENCO so they could fully configure and test it before shipping it to us, making it mostly “plug-and-play” when we received it. We purchased everything turnkey from ENCO, from the mice and monitors to the workstations and network switch.
Rather than simply replacing the systems in our previous configuration, ENCO’s technical team re-architected our deployment to reduce our hardware requirements. Our old installation did not have a true server, and it had two workstations just running supporting utilities. By deploying a DAD server license on a new file server and consolidating those utilities onto it, we went from eight workstations down to five — a significant savings.
The upgrade went smoothly. An ENCO technician helped us migrate our existing DAD libraries to the new system and came to our station for final refinements and training.
Our staff members vary in their technical aptitude, but everybody has adapted nicely to the new system. We went on-air with our new ENCO deployment June 17, and it has made our playout extremely reliable and less prone to the usual issues associated with aging hardware.
Our station is roughly 60% programming and 40% music, and the DAD platform helps us by making program retrieval largely automated. The combination of the DAD DropBox utility (for watch folder monitoring) and enConveyor utility (for automating FTP and web downloads) lets us efficiently get programs into our system in ready-for-air formats with minimal intervention.
We are also in the process of deploying ENCO’s WebDAD for browser-based remote control of the DAD system. My intention is to be able to operate the station remotely, so I can give our on-air staff time off for major holidays or when we can’t find somebody to fill a shift. With WebDAD, I’ll be able to make any changes from home if needed, without requiring staff to be in the studio.
I have been pleased with both the new system and the upgrade process. The support and level of information we received from ENCO have been stellar, and we have peace of mind that we no longer have to worry about legacy equipment failing. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it again with ENCO.
Info: Contact Sam Bortz at ENCO Systems in Michigan at 1-248-827-4440 or visit www.enco.com.
Radio World User Reports are testimonial articles intended to help readers understand why a colleague chose a particular product to solve a technical situation.
Spotify announced several developments related to its Spotify Audience Network, the audio advertising marketplace it introduced last winter.
The company has made Anchor podcasts in the U.S. eligible to be part of the Spotify Audience network. Anchor is a Spotify hosting platform intended to help creators monetize their podcasts.
Also, Spotify plans to introduce podcast ad buying to Spotify Ad Studio, its self-serve channel, beginning in the U.S. It said beta testers buying ads via Ad Studio include the company Two Men and a Truck.
Spotify also is joining the Global Alliance of Responsible Media, launching the ability to exclude sensitive topics. It says this will give advertisers more control over where their message is heard across the network. Spotify is the first audio company to join GARM.
And the company is adding new controls to allow advertisers to target their messages against relevant podcast topics.
The ad marketplace is now active in the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada.
It posted details on its blog.
In 2019–2020, Florida’s saltwater recreational fishing industry contributed $9.2 billion to the state’s economy. When COVID-19 finally wanes, that industry is likely to revive, as are saltwater recreational fishing industries off ocean coasts around North America.
For a diversification-minded technology company like SiriusXM, recreational fishing offers a natural business supplement to its core listening audience.
For decades, offshore fishing vessels have relied on radio for vital information. Today SiriusXM Marine is able to provide these craft with a Fish Mapping data service to identify areas in the ocean where the fish are most likely to be biting.
As an example of its activities in this area, SiriusXM announced this spring that it is now transmitting its Fish Mapping service to Furuno’s NavNet TZtouch3 line of multi-function displays (MFDs) equipped with BBWX4 SiriusXM Satellite Weather receivers.
“Furuno’s strong product line has always helped anglers get on the fish and catch them,” said Dean Kurutz, Furuno USA’s senior VP of sales, marketing & product planning, in the announcement.
“Now, with the advanced data provided by Fish Mapping, captains will have the ability to locate ideal fishing grounds by targeting specific species and sea conditions, maximizing their time on the water and helping save time and fuel.”“Situational awareness” SiriusXM Weather and Fish Mapping on a boat helm
SiriusXM’s business case is based on providing listeners with a unique broadcast selection of entertainment, music and information audio channels.
Its North American satellite footprint covers from the Atlantic to Pacific coasts and adjoining waters. This is why “SiriusXM has provided key weather information for offshore anglers well beyond the reach of cell or internet signals for many years,” according to Geoff Leech, senior director of SiriusXM Marine Services.
“This information has provided anglers with valuable situational awareness while they are exposed out on the water.”
Initially, this weather service was voice-only. But eventually, under the name of SiriusXM Marine Weather, it was expanded to include weather and ocean data to onboard navigation displays made by Furuno, Garmin, Raymarine and the Navico brands Simrad, Lowrance and B&G.
These full-color displays allow boat operators to “see” the weather around them overlaid on top of their electronic navigation charts. The move made sense: Boat operators were willing to pay to access this data, and SiriusXM had the satellite distribution network in place to provide it to them.SiriusXM Fish Mapping Plankton Front Strength and Sea Surface Temperature Front Strength help locate promising areas to fish.
So how did an information service for boats end up providing offshore fishing recommendations?
“One feature of SiriusXM Marine Weather that anglers value is Sea Surface Temperature data,” Leech replied.
“The areas where ocean surface temperatures change are often where bait fish find nutrients to feed on, and in turn the pelagic species of game fish feed on these bait fish. Knowing that many of our customers were already offshore anglers led us to develop Fish Mapping so we could provide additional fishing information for these valued customers.”
The Fish Mapping service costs $99.99 a month and includes SiriusXM Marine’s Weather information. The service can be suspended at no charge for up to six months each year.The science
Fish Mapping works by identifying the qualities in areas of the ocean that influence the likelihood of finding desirable game fish such as marlin, tuna and wahoo, among others.
These ocean features include variations in sea surface height (upwellings of nutrients), surface/subsurface temperatures, “weed lines” — floating vegetation where fish congregate to find food and shelter, and where they are hunted by larger predator fish — and plankton concentrations.SiriusXM Fish Mapping recommendations identify areas that oceanographers recommend for zeroing in on six target species.
At SiriusXM Marine Weather, “the data for our Fish Mapping service is provided by oceanographers from Maxar Technologies,” said Leech.
“Maxar is a satellite company that provides Google Earth imagery and other services including information to help find the best fishing conditions. The oceanographers at Maxar compile and analyze data from various sources and send it to SiriusXM to incorporate in our satellite feed for our Fish Mapping customers.”
This feed reaches boats up to 150 miles offshore. A SiriusXM receiver on the boat captures the signal, which is translated into images shown in large-screen format directly on the boat’s navigational display.
“Having onboard fishing-specific data showing the areas of the ocean where pelagic species of fish are most likely to congregate is seen as a true ‘game changer’ by offshore anglers,” Leech told Radio World.
“SiriusXM Marine Weather helps boaters stay away from dangerous weather so they can enjoy their time on the water, and Fish Mapping helps anglers find the best spots to fish, saving time and fuel.”Happy customers
Finding that place where the fish are a-bitin’ is a constant question for fishing enthusiasts. SiriusXM’s Fish Mapping service harnesses science to answer this question, resulting in a lot of happy “fisherpeople,” if not happy fish.
“The ‘Fishing Recommendations’ are my favorite feature,” wrote Captain Greg Weaver of E-Fishing Sea Sport Fishing Charters in a testimonial sent to SiriusXM.
“In a recent trip, I headed out to the areas marked as recommended for wahoo. In addition to catching wahoo, I found that the area was productive with bait and I also caught tuna and marlin. Fish Mapping has already made a huge impact on where I take my charter customers.”
Dave Johnson, Mike Hatcher and Captain Tom Robinson of the fishing craft “Fixed Income” in Naples, Fla., told the company that after looking at SiriusXM’s Fish Mapping Fishing Recommendations feature on their Garmin plotter and seeing several recommended areas for wahoo, they aimed the Intrepid for one of the overlapping “fish bubble” areas about 80 miles offshore.
“We put two weighted wahoo flatlines out well behind the boat and two outriggers with skirts chugging over the wakes and trolled at 8.5 knots. We had our first wahoo on in minutes.”
Given its success in Fish Mapping, SiriusXM is understandably motivated to move into new areas beyond its core audio business.
“We are constantly exploring new and innovative services that would bring additional value to our existing and prospective subscribers,” said Geoff Leech.
This article was originally published in the June 8, 2016 issue of Radio World and posted to the Radio World website on June 10, 2016.
Radio World reported the passing of Paul Schafer earlier. This article is a more detailed story about his life.
Paul Schafer, who is called a father of radio programming automation technology, died this winter in Bonita, Calif., following complications from a fall. He was 90.
Schafer spent virtually his entire life in broadcasting, receiving his first FCC license as a teenager in 1942 and being hired to do on-air work the same year by WJOB in his hometown of Hammond, Ind. The following year he moved on to Fort Wayne’s WOWO where he had a chance to ply his engineering skills. After time out for World War II military service in the U.S. Army’s Signal Corp. division, he joined WANE in Fort Wayne, dividing his time between equipment maintenance, selling time and pulling air shifts. He eventually left Indiana for Virginia, where he was employed as chief engineer and assistant manager at Norfolk’s WNOR.
Schafer’s big career break came in 1951 with a move to California and employment at the network level as a summer relief engineer with NBC’s Hollywood broadcast operation. He worked with some of the biggest movie and radio talent of the day at NBC and later remarked that he had had a chance to be involved in “the last of the golden years in radio.”Schafer poses with one of his transmitter remote control units in a 1950’s photo. Photo: Rob Schafer
Pioneered Transmitter Remote Control
It was during his stint at NBC that the FCC began to relax rules on transmitter operation, allowing certain classes of stations to operate without an operator at the transmitter site, as long as a licensed engineer could control and monitor operations from the station’s studio location. With the assistance of another NBC engineer, Bill Amidon, Schafer soon devised a remote control system that met commission requirements, and installed the first such unit at Oakland, Calif.’s KROW in 1953.
The introduction of this product marked the beginning of the Schafer Custom Engineering business. (Later the name was changed to Schafer Electronics.)
A few years after the launch of the remote control system, the National Association of Broadcasters used it in an extensive field testing program to test the viability of remote control for additional classes of radio stations. The NAB ultimately convinced the FCC to further relax rules governing operation of broadcast transmitters.
First Radio Program Automation
In 1956, Schafer was approached by the owner of KGEE in Bakersfield, Calif., to see if he could devise a system to provide overnight programming content without the involvement of a human operator on duty, thus allowing the station to further economize on operational expenses, as transmitter control and logging had already been remoted by Schafer.
The delivery of a package built around Seeburg jukebox 45 rpm record changer mechanisms and some Ampex reel-to-reel tape decks for playback of commercials and station IDs marked Schafer Electronics’ entry into the program automation business. This first system would be considered crude in comparison to later automation packages delivered by Schafer, but it marked the launch of a completely new technology in the broadcasting industry.One of the Schafer Custom Engineering mobile automation system showcases used to demonstrate the product outside of trade shows. Photo: Rob Schafer
Schafer and his engineering staff went on to develop increasingly more versatile and sophisticated program automation systems, including the Model 903 that appeared in the 1970s and became an industry standard. His name became synonymous with radio automation and his client base eventually grew to more than 1,000, with systems installed at radio operations all over the world.
Schafer’s automation systems were marketed by Collins Radio, Gates (later Harris and now GatesAir), RCA and others, as they had no similar products of their own. Schafer Electronics’ latest creations were a big part of the NAB Show for many years. However, Schafer was aware that not all broadcasters were able to attend such trade shows and outfitted several busses and motor homes with his systems and went “on the road” to demonstrate the value of program automation to management and engineering staff at smaller stations across the United States.
Schafer sold Schafer Electronics in 1968, but launched a new business the following year, Schafer International. In the mid-’80s he founded a third business, Schafer Digital, which was involved in the development of PC-based program automation and traffic systems.
Stereo FM Validation
Schafer was tapped by the FCC in the 1960s — when AM radio was still king — to assist the commission in proving the worthiness of FM to broadcasters through some intensive field testing of the newly-adopted U.S. FM stereo broadcasting standard. (Part of the testing involved transmission of a stereo audio pair by satellite.)
According to Schafer, the NAB also had a hand in the testing and demonstrations, as that organization believed that the U.S. FM stereo standard should be adopted worldwide.
He was honored with the NAB’s 2002 Engineering Achievement Award and authored a chapter on remote control for one of that organization’s Engineering Handbooks. Schafer was also the owner of a number of radio stations. His family included five children
A private ceremony to celebrate Schafer’s life is planned for June 18.
Here’s a story of interest to those who follow emergency alerting in the United States:
The FCC has now published the list of questions that it asked major wireless companies about the recent national test of the Wireless Emergency Alert system.
Answers from the companies to the questions were already available on the FCC website, but those answers make more sense now that the original questions are also publicly available.
The national WEA test was held in August concurrently with the national EAS test that involved broadcasters. The test would have been seen only by mobile users who had opted in on their devices.
The commission had sent letters to Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T ahead of time asking them to file voluntary comments about the performance of the test on their networks. (Read the letter.)
Among the questions it asked each to answer were: Did the carrier receive the nationwide test message and transmit it to its subscribers in all geographic areas where it offers WEA coverage? At what time, to the closest millisecond, did its gateway receive the alert from FEMA IPAWS, and when did it transmit the alert to subscribers? Were there complications with alert processing or transmission? What differences were noted in WEA performance between 3G, 4G and 5G networks?
The carriers’ responses are public; the links below will open or download their filed replies:
AT&T is confident the alert was transmitted to all geographic areas. The company said alert transmission to subscribers started 40 seconds after it received it from IPAWS. AT&T had employees in 37 cities enabling the test alert on a variety of Android and iOS devices and found a 99% completion rate, though apparently the test alert was received twice by some users. “We believe we understand the reason and are working with the vendor to confirm the cause of this duplication,” it wrote.
Verizon cited a 55-second turnaround time. It said it saw several cell sites restart at various times during the alert, so those sites were late to broadcast the alert, but it said customer impact would be minimal due to coverage redundancy. “The device would ignore the later alert broadcast of the restarted cell site as a duplicated alert because the devices had already received the same alert earlier from other available cell sites.” It also noted that it received anecdotal reports that some consumer handsets didn’t receive the alert, but said some users may have misunderstood how to opt into the relatively new State/Local alert category on their devices.
And T-Mobile said it had more 50 devices monitoring the test and that it had experienced no issues, even though real WEA alerts were issued in some parts of the country during the test. T-Mobile redacted some of the information in the public version of its letter, citing security reasons.
Office of FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington has made a pair of personnel announcements.
Marco Peraza will join the office as a wireline advisor and also advice on signal security issues. He previously served as a law clerk to Judge Michael B. Brennan on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Peraza also worked as a software engineer with Microsoft before going to law school. He will replace Carolyn Roddy who is joining the FCC International Bureau.
Erin Boone will take over the chief of staff position along with maintaining her position as a wireless advisor.
Send news of engineering and executive personnel changes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From our Who’s Buying What page: Inovonics reported that the new FM 90 Radio Unity in India chose the 719N DAVID IV FM Broadcast Processor.
The community radio station is in the tribal Narmada district.
“The station launch is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s long-term vision for India to promote the empowerment of tribal youth,” Inovonics said in its announcement.
“System Integrator and Inovonics’ partner BECIL [Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd.] chose the 719N DAVID IV FM Broadcast Processor to integrate with the installation because of its audio processing capabilities and unique feature set.”Inovonics DAVID IV 719N
BECIL provides radio and TV project consultancy, system integration and turnkey installations.
The station was launched on India´s 75th Independence Day. Inovonics noted that the station is near the 582-foot statue of statesman Sardar Patel, the tallest statue in the world and almost twice the height of the Statue of Liberty.
Inovonics’ Regional Sales Manager is Mukesh Chaudhary.
Suppliers and users are both welcome to send news for Who’s Buying What to email@example.com.
The Best in Market Awards nomination deadline has been extended to Oct. 13.
The program is open to manufacturers of professional radio, TV and AV products and solutions, regardless of exhibitor status at major events. This program this fall serves in place of the “Best of Show” Awards that would have run at the NAB Show.
The Best in Market awards will be judged and presented by Future brands Radio World, TV Technology, TVBEurope, Next, Mix, Broadcasting & Cable and Sound & Video Contractor.
These awards are intended to honor and help companies promote outstanding products launched or launching in 2021.
Nominations can be submitted via the award form page, which also includes answers to frequently asked questions.
The post Nomination Deadline Extended for “Best in Market” Awards appeared first on Radio World.
The board of directors for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has re-elected current Chair Bruce Ramer and Vice Chair Laura Gore Ross to one-year terms.
Ramer has a background Southern California and entertainment/media law. He has also been on the board of KCET(TV) along with numerous boards at the USC Annenberg School of Communications.
Ross is a retired lawyer from New York who has also served on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Send news of engineering and executive personnel changes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Broadcasters Foundation of America announced a succession plan for its presidency.
Jim Thompson has held the position since 2009 and will retire at the end of next year.
BFA announced a succession plan in which he and Tim McCarthy will serve as co-presidents starting Nov. 1 of this year and extending through 2022. Thompson will then “move into an active consultancy role.”
“The search committee unanimously chose McCarthy as the best candidate for the position, and the board of directors unanimously endorsed him and the succession plan,” the organization said in an announcement from Scott Herman, chairman of the organization.
Chairman Emeritus Phil Lombardo worked with the search committee both times.Tim McCarthy
McCarthy most recently was with ESPN/Walt Disney Co. as senior vice president and general manager of audio play-by-play and general manager of New York and L.A. Radio. He joined ESPN in 1998 as general manager and president of WABC/Radio Disney/ESPN, and began his career in radio at WABC Radio in 1990.
BFA cited his philanthropic efforts for organizations like The Epilepsy Society of New York and The Voice of 9/11 Dinner.
Thompson was president of Westinghouse Broadcasting’s Radio Division, president and co-owner of Liberty Radio Group and general manager of KYW(TV) Philadelphia.
Thompson was quoted: “I cannot think of a more worthy task then helping our colleagues in their darkest moments.”
The foundation distributes money to broadcasters who have lost their livelihood through a catastrophic event, debilitating disease or unforeseen tragedy. It grew from the original broadcast pioneers, founded by H.V. Kaltenborn.
The author is editor in chief of Radio World.
Proving yet again that being of Irish extraction carries no immunity against Murphy’s Law, I signed off on your previous issue of Radio World, right, including its preview of the NAB Show, on Sept. 7 — only to learn on Sept. 15 that the National Association of Broadcasters had cancelled their event in the face of a resurgent pandemic and the pullout of major exhibitors. The collocated Radio Show and AES Show also were cancelled.
This news broke on our issue’s cover date but before many print readers would have read that show preview.
We knew of course that this might happen; but for weeks up to our deadline, the association insisted that the show was a “go,” and we proceeded on this assumption. I trust that attentive readers understood why they received an issue with a preview of an event that wouldn’t take place!
The inconvenience to me is minor. Harder hit are companies that intended to exhibit and had already shipped equipment to Las Vegas in anticipation; conference planners who designed sessions and panels; and broadcasters who had booked travel and were looking forward to doing some in-person networking again.
It was always an aggressive plan on the part of NAB to try to have a trade show this fall (plus another one six months later). But when it created the plan back in the early months of the pandemic, the chance that things would be well on their way back to normal by now seemed a safe bet.
Obviously that’s not the case, with the variant causing cases to spike again in late summer and with Americans still arguing over sensible health precautions like masks and vaccines.
In trying to have a show this fall, the association also no doubt was influenced by the fact that the loss of the 2020 show cost it a considerable amount of revenue. The annual convention is an engine that helps fuel NAB’s work as a lobbying force and broadcast advocate. So the decision to cancel a second time must have been particularly painful.
Yet few people would be well served by a lightly attended event with many empty booths. And I confess to being relieved that I won’t have to sit in an airplane or mingle in exhibit aisles just yet. Thankfully, the situation seems to be improving now in early October.nation
Radio World believes in a strong technology marketplace. NAB Shows play a vital role in that. So here’s hoping that by springtime, you and I can start meeting in person safely again.
It’s sobering to realize this though: When we do meet in April, it will have been three years since our industry last met in Las Vegas. Wow.
DJB Radio was founded in 1995 with what was then a DOS-based radio automation system. Led since 2012 by automation innovator Ron Paley, its lineup now includes award-winning automation, logging and content retrieval software offerings.
Adam Robinson is the vice president of corporate operations of DJB and former operations manager and director of engineering and IT for the Evanov Radio Group.
Radio World: The basic question of the last year and a half: How has the pandemic experience changed workflows for your clients?
Adam Robinson: Change, for the most part, has been remote control, remote access and remote workplace. DJB was well positioned for that, given that our software has always been designed for “unattended use.”
We’re seeing hybrid models everywhere; some are using the studio, some are working from home; in some cases, you’ve got half of a morning show in the studio, half at home. The software is there to help them work together in a common workspace.
It’s fair to say that most automation systems had the ability to do some remote functionality. But we really got tested when users themselves started coming up with unique scenarios. Instead of asking us, they came back and said, “Hey, just so you know, we’re using your software like this.”
RW: Can you provide an example?
Robinson: Sure. WBGO — one of our biggest customers, their transmitter is in New York City — is a listener-funded jazz station. They came to us last year and said, “We need a solution to replace everything, because we need to be able to manage this remotely.” This was our dearly departed friend, engineer Chris Tobin.
We got them turned over in about eight days. We were anticipating a hybrid model, some people in the studios, some working from home and some at the transmitter site; and we would set it up so that all the elements in the background could talk to each other.
But the staff all started working remotely. They took shifts for who logged into what machine when; and they built a whole model that has no studio, no physical plant outside of three computers running at the transmitter site.
The programming people, the traffic people, the on-air staff, the producers — everybody does their work and then logs in remotely, uploads it and off it goes.
Then they started figuring out ways to automate. For instance, using our Radio Spider program, they’re able to put all of their information into a shared drive. Spider grabs it, pulls it out and pushes it to the automation system.
RW: What automation system is WBGO using?
Robinson: They’re using our DJB Radio platform, our workhorse. They’re going to upgrade to our latest platform, DJB Zone later this year; but just using our tried and true DJB Radio software platform, they were able to accomplish all of this.
RW: What capabilities may come as a result of experiences of the pandemic?
Robinson: We’re in the process of developing apps that are going to allow for more users to access things remotely. You should be able to work from anywhere; and you shouldn’t have to use a different interface because you’re working remotely. We’re creating an environment where you’re using the same interface no matter where you are, bringing everybody together in a centralized or virtualized server space.
RW: You said the buzzword of the year, virtualization. What does that mean for a company like DJB?
Robinson: The sky’s the limit. Once we get our heads out of the physical radio space, we stop thinking in terms of tactile user interfaces, about control rooms and consoles and touchscreens, and we start thinking about radio as more of a virtual environment.
I wrote last year in an article in Radio World that we have the ability to take our automation systems and push them into the cloud. We just need a server, then we have all these apps that go on top of that to allow users to be able to remote into it.
Had this pandemic happened five years ago, it would have been a different situation; but we were already in the process of doing this centralization model, to find ways to remove the brick and mortar side of a station and make it so that clients could broadcast from “anywhere.”
RW: When you talk with clients, what concerns do they raise?
Robinson: The biggest is the reliability of public internet connections, because no matter where you are, you’re at the mercy of whatever connection you can get.
If you are in a major market, a Chicago, New York, L.A., Phoenix, you’ve got internet up the wazoo; but if you’re in a little town in middle America, you might not have the infrastructure. Because it all comes down to bandwidth.
So we’re trying to create systems that don’t rely so heavily on big bandwidth usage — to rationalize the amount of bandwidth available and create processes that allow people to experience the same level of complexity that you would in a major market, but in smaller markets.
RW: We hear a lot that this is part of a larger migration that was coming but accelerated by the pandemic.
Robinson: We were given the mandate from the biggest users of automation that they wanted to centralize and virtualize as much as they possibly could, so we were already moving in that direction.
But how do we make it so that virtualization doesn’t destroy the core of radio? How do we keep it so that your station or cluster still has that live, local feel?
A lot of that is up to the talent, but we have to provide them with tools to do that, whether that’s cameras that show the Main Street of whatever town they’re broadcasting from, or software that provides them with current weather updates from their environment. Our automation comes with built-in weather software that allows users to put in the ZIP Code and it will tell you the forecast and the current temperature and the highs and lows in whatever city you’re working in.
RW: There are free or low-cost software products that might appeal particularly to buyers with smaller budgets. Is there an argument against those?
Robinson: It comes down to two things: support and the engineering behind these programs.
I’m not going to speak ill of any of them, but these are apps that were created by software developers, they weren’t built by radio people. DJB’s software is built by radio engineers for the radio industry, and we have a whole bunch of price points that we sell at so that we can tailor our software for the smallest of broadcasters to compete with those free or very inexpensive products. And we have stuff that competes with the big guys for major market or multiple market scenarios plus virtual offerings.
RW: Tech support is something readers often ask me about.
Robinson: The level of tech support we offer is, as far as I’m concerned, everything that you need to be able to keep your radio station on the air 24/7.
Our support packages are tailored to our users. You buy a manageable annual support package from us. That includes updates; that includes 24/7 off-air support, it includes access to our ticketing system and our online resources. We’re a full-service company and we pride ourselves on our relationships. Our customers are our partners, not just people who buy stuff from us.
RW: What do you see coming as far as joint development between automation companies and manufacturers of other devices? Whether it’s a surface or anything else?
Robinson: I think that’s a natural next step. It’s the evolution of broadcasting, it’s the evolution of where we’re going. The hardware companies are building more software; and we’ve talked to all of the major manufacturers about synergies, about cross-platform development.
All of our automation products, both Radio and Zone, work really well with driver support for Wheatstone and Axia. We’re in the process of building support for SAS consoles and routing systems.
There’s going to be more commonality. If somebody asks me, “Hey, I really like Product X, can you talk to it?” Well, yeah, we probably should.
RW: Are there big improvements yet to be made in automation?
Robinson: Absolutely; but I think we’re at a point where a lot of our customers just want something simple that works.
We have “realized the dream” of automation software; and now the communication infrastructure, the rest of the world, is starting to catch up. Everything is internet-based. I’m on a cellphone, and you’re talking to me on a hosted VoIP system using a server in who-knows-where. We’ve realized the dream of being able to work from anywhere, do anything anywhere, have access to anything from anywhere; now we just need to refine it.
We also have to ask, “How many of the features that are already offered are customers actually using?” You’d be surprised to find out that for a lot of them, it’s less than 50%.
So we are looking at finding ways to make things smaller, faster, easier to use. We’re probably looking at fewer features rather than more these days.
RW: Anything else to know?
Robinson: DJB is an up-and-coming software company. Our big plusses are our support, our partnerships with our customers and the ability for us to be able to pivot quickly.
In terms of innovation, are we looking at AES67? Is that the future? Or are we looking at SIP-based servers and the Opus codec for being able to transport audio from place to place? Is virtualization going to app-based or does it continue to be core programs running on established operating systems that we create interfaces for?
These are the questions circling around our development meetings, and the only way to find the answer is to give it a shot. We have a catchphrase: “Yeah, we do that!” That’s kind of the mantra for DJB.