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Tula Mic: Old School and New School

Sat, 10/30/2021 - 12:23
The mic is available in cream, red, black and seafoam.

As children, we are told to not judge a book by its cover. So as adults, when something arrives in the mail packaged in a cool little box with a trendy logo, we are conditioned to pass it off as nothing more than a slick marketing technique.

There are a few occasions, however, when a cool little box with a trendy logo contains an awfully nifty item.

The item in this case is the Tula Mic, from Tula Microphones, a combination microphone and handheld digital recorder.

It fortunately arrived when mobile/remote voice recording hit an all-time peak recently. Radio professionals and podcasters alike find themselves in places nobody ever assumed would become recording studios.

[Read: Movin’ on Up With the Movo UM700]

The Tula Mic boasts a throwback design that is, simply, fun to look at and use.

“Tula” is Sanskrit for “balance,” which speaks to the technological advances that are shrouded in its nostalgic design. Specifically, Tula uses Burr-Brown op-amp circuitry and noise reduction technology from Swedish software designer Klevgrand.

Klevgrand’s “Brusfri” noise reduction plug-in is built into Tula for learning and eliminating environmental noise characteristics.

From a basic design interest, Tula’s lithium ion battery charges via USB. The internal battery charge lasts about 12 hours.

A classy, foldable desk stand allows Tula to sit comfortably on a desk. The desk stand removes easily, and a mic stand adapter can be snapped on for more detailed and critical mic placement.

It’s both a USB microphone and a mobile recorder with multiple polar patterns.

Tula is equipped with cardioid and omnidirectional capsules. The two polar patterns accommodate a single voice session or use with several voices in a group or interview setting.

Via its USB-C cable, Tula can be used as a USB mic for real-time miking and will work properly with any DAW running on Mac or Windows.

Familiar transport, control and volume buttons are situated on the sides of the mic along with a 3.5 mm TRRS jack that doubles as a headphone output or input for another source, such as a lapel mic.

Inside
Functionally, Tula is hardly a complicated tool, but it packs a punch under the hood.

Pressing record does what you’d expect. Plug in headphones and adjust the volume to monitor real-time recording or file playback.

Two LEDs on the front indicate input gain levels and record mode. Use the USB connection to move Tula’s files to a computer or use Tula as an audio I/O device. Pretty simple!

The ultimate Tula “cool” factor is found in its noise reduction function.

When in NC (noise cancellation) mode, Tula records two simultaneous versions of the audio file. One version is raw, with no noise reduction. The other version is recorded with the Klevgrand Brusfri noise reduction plug-in applied.

Brusfri reduces constant noises like HVAC system noise and functions quite well. I found the room noise had completely disappeared and the voice content was kept pristine with no additional artifacts or degradation. The Brusfri noise reduction even eliminated the drone of an airplane that was audible in the studio.

The NC feature works in real time when Tula is used as an I/O device as well.

Tula’s Art-Deco-ish form factor is fashionable and unique, and it travels well. Given that it serves as a portable recorder and a USB microphone, Tula should feel at home with anyone who is on the go and needs to grab audio on the fly or is in the studio and needs to record a quick VO. It records standard 16-bit/48 kHz WAV files.

There was some noticeable handling noise sensitivities, and I detected some “not-quite-large-diaphragm” coloration on vocal reproduction. But Tula offers a clean and bright overall vocal response.

A windscreen or “dead cat” might be needed, as Tula is sensitive to plosives and wind. Tula explains that windscreens that fit a Blue Yeti will also fit the square Tula.

The steel construction is robust and prepared for the bustle and abuse of field reporting or comfortable studio work. Eight GB of internal memory and the lithium ion battery guarantee 12 hours of continuous recording.

Tula is a stylish little device that until you use it for yourself, you didn’t know you wanted.

The author is the owner of production firm Audio Concepts and a Radio World contributor.

Product Capsule

Tula Mic

Thumbs Up: Cool design; built-in digital recorder; built-in noise reduction processing; interfaces with computer DAWs; solid construction

Thumbs Down: Susceptible to handling noise; not compatible with standard microphone windscreens

Price: $229

Info: Tula Microphones at www.tulamics.com.

 

The post Tula Mic: Old School and New School appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Letter: Sept. 11, 20 years ago

Fri, 10/29/2021 - 22:54
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mark Persons is a frequent contributor to Radio World.

Paul, excellent editorial about 9/11 (radioworld.com, “Memories of 9/11 Haunt Me Still”). Thanks for telling your story of that fateful day when 2,996 innocent people died.

We all remember where we were that morning. I heard a news bulletin come over one of our local radio stations. Then to a television to see the horrific event unfold.

It shook me to the core thinking of how our country could be attacked. It is a sad commentary that others would try to gain by destroying so many lives.

This kind of treachery cannot stand. My thanks to our nation’s all-volunteer military for taking up the challenge of avenging 9/11. Many service members died in the process. Ceremonies are held each year in my hometown honoring all Americans involved. It is a sobering reminder that the War on Terror is not over.

Mark Persons 
Brainerd, Minn.
www.brainerdvfw.org

Radio World invites industry-oriented commentaries and responses. Send to Radio World.

The post Letter: Sept. 11, 20 years ago appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Dielectric’s Proposal Is on FCC Agenda

Fri, 10/29/2021 - 14:07

FM antenna manufacturers and users may soon be able to use computer modeling to verify the patterns of directional antennas.

The Federal Communications Commission meeting agenda for November includes consideration of a proposal to do just that. As we reported earlier, antenna maker Dielectric has urged the FCC to take this action.

[Read: Dielectric Expects FCC to OK FM Pattern Modeling]

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel describes the idea as regulatory relief for FM broadcasters.

“When seeking a license, FM radio stations using directional antennas are required to provide physical measurements to verify their directional pattern,” she wrote in a summary of the Nov. 18 meeting agenda.

“To do this, stations must either build a full-size mockup of the antenna or build a scale model. We will consider a proposal that would allow broadcasters to verify patterns using computer modeling rather than real-world testing. This will decrease regulatory costs and achieve regulatory parity between FM and other broadcasters.”

The Media Bureau has also opened MB Docket 21-422, “Updating FM Broadcast Radio Service—Directional Antenna Performance Verification.”

Read the Dielectric filing (PDF).

Dielectric has said that this would be the first directional FM pattern verification rule change in 58 years. Its petition was written with consultant Merrill Weiss. The company notes that TV stations have been able to do this for the past four years.

Dielectric VP of Engineering John Schadler says simulated antenna modeling will be more accurate, save time, reduce the impact of human error and facilitate the accuracy of designs.

 

The post Dielectric’s Proposal Is on FCC Agenda appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Seven Initiatives for Racial Justice in Media

Fri, 10/29/2021 - 13:10

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council recently sent wrote to the acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission with “seven compelling initiatives” that it said the FCC could take to advance diversity and inclusion in mass media.

It noted that the FCC was the first federal agency to require its licensees to practice employment nondiscrimination, but continued: “At no time since 1968 has it been more important that the FCC immediately affirm that it cares about issues of racial justice … The FCC’s long and malodorous history of minority exclusion should both haunt and motivate all of us. … It is not uncommon for the agency to take 10 or 20 years, or more, to act on a proposal to advance opportunities for multicultural communities and consumers.”

This text is excerpted.

  1. Access to more competitive technical facilities. Broadcasting has been the heritage technology for minority media entrepreneurs, and minority broadcasters have been the voices and conscience of their communities. Yet minority broadcasters generally must compete while using inferior technical facilities, such as AM daytimers, lower-powered outlets and stations unable to cover the full market due to the transmitter’s location in a distant suburb or exurb.

Within the administration’s first year, the commission should act on a host of pending proposals that would advance minority broadcast ownership, including granting an FM booster rule change that would authorize FM radio geo-targeting; creating a new station class (“C4”) that would double the power of hundreds of small FM stations; and repealing the “Rural Radio Policy” that needlessly deprives small broadcasters of the opportunity to improve their signal coverage.

  1. Correct the Deficiency in the Radio Incubator Program. In June 2021, the commission established the Radio Incubator program. However, the program has one deficiency: Incubation of a station in a geographically vast but sparsely populated market with 45 stations would entitle the incubating company to a local ownership cap or subcap waiver in very large markets.

The commission should [allow] … incubation waivers only in similar-sized markets.

  1. Ubiquitous Equal Procurement Opportunity. In 1992, Congress directed the FCC to create the Cable Procurement Rule to ensure that businesses owned by women and minorities would have a fair chance at winning major contracts. The regulation yielded solid results and drew no opposition. …

The commission should issue an NPRM in a fast-track new general docket, encompassing the industries regulated by the Wireline, Wireless and Media bureaus, and propose equal procurement opportunity across all FCC-regulated industries that is modeled after the Cable Procurement Rule.

  1. Tax Certificate and Tax Credit. There is widespread recognition that the 1978–1995 Tax Certificate Policy was by far the most effective vehicle for advancing minority broadcast ownership. In its 17 years of operation, the policy quintupled minority broadcast ownership. Another desirable tax initiative, tailored for small businesses, would provide that a company donating a station to a training institution (e.g., an HBCU or HSI) would receive a tax credit equal to the station’s value.

The commission should request that Congress restore and improve the Tax Certificate Policy and create a tax credit for donating a station to a training institution.

  1. Include Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Impact Statements in all rulemakings of general applicability. …

What gets measured gets done. The commission should seek comment looking toward adoption of a universal policy where every rulemaking of general applicability will contain a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Impact Statement.

  1. Ubiquitous Equal Employment Opportunity. In the first decade of FCC EEO jurisprudence, and under the leadership of Chairman Richard E. Wiley and Commissioner Benjamin L. Hooks, 14 cases were designated for Section 309(e) evidentiary hearings over evidence of employment discrimination. Yet despite the continuing prevalence of low minority representation in influential broadcasting jobs, the commission has not brought a single discrimination prosecution since 1994.

The commission should conclude its 23-year-old broadcast EEO proceeding and start to prosecute licensees that recruit new employees primarily by word of mouth to the friends and family members of their homogeneous staffs … Further, the commission should consider several additional broadcast EEO regulatory reforms that are fully pled and endorsed by 44 national organizations, and ready for adoption. …

  1. Universal Access to Multilingual Emergency Information. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, MMTC and the League of United Latin American Citizens … have repeatedly asked the commission to ensure that basic, lifesaving information in widely spoken languages such as Spanish will be available in the wake of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane that could take down the electric and wireless grids. … It is simply unconscionable that a person’s lack of English fluency can become a matter of life or death in an emergency situation. …

Read the full letter in PDF form at https://tinyurl.com/rw-mmtc-now.

 

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Categories: Industry News

After the Masks Come Off

Fri, 10/29/2021 - 07:06

What will radio infrastructure and workflows will look like when the pandemic is done?

It’s safe to assume that the landscape of radio will never be quite the same than it was before the pandemic. Remote and hybrid approaches will be much more common.

But what does that mean for radio workflow and infrastructure?

We asked a range of engineers to talk about which changes are permanent; how their own organizations have been affected; whether they have projects planned where the pandemic has caused them to change course; whether they are applying cloud solutions or other types of virtualization; and what constitutes a typical “hybrid” radio operation now.

Find out what technical leaders at Audacy, Salem Media Group, Alpha Media, VPM, Cogeco Media, Educational Media Foundation, Second Opinion Communications, Burk, Shively and MaxxKonnect Group told us.

Read it here.

The post After the Masks Come Off appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Study Looks at the Power of Impressions for AM/FM Ad Buys

Thu, 10/28/2021 - 21:24

There is power in impressions, particularly for the radio industry, according to a new Nielsen study.

The study, commissioned by the Southern California Broadcasters Association, found that ad agencies are increasingly relying on impressions to evaluate media. According to the study, impressions provide a brand-safe environment for advertisers looking for premium impressions at the local level.

[Read: Local Radio Ad Revenue to “Rebound Somewhat”]

And the interest in impression-based buying is on the rise. The study found that the shift to buying on impressions is accelerating: more than 50% of agency professionals are buying media this way.

The study looked at the benefits of impression-based buying and found that this purchasing style offers more granular, detailed information to those who are trying to evaluate radio advertising and digital buys using a common metric. In addition, the study found that impression-led buying also adds value to more dayparts and offers easier comparison across different markets.

“The importance of combining radio and digital advertising effectively cannot be overstated, and impressions are clearly where the industry is headed,” said Miles Sexton, president of the Southern California Broadcasters Association. “As radio continues to evolve within the digital ecosystem, the building blocks of a successful cross-platform campaign will include impressions.”

According to the study, impressions allow radio to add scale in a cross-platform environment. Impression-based selection also can be used to recommended best practices for converting to cost per thousand impressions (CPM) for radio buyers and sellers. The study also found that buying on impressions not only works regardless of market size but gives buyers and sellers an easier means of comparing one market to another.

More information on the study can be found here.

 

The post Study Looks at the Power of Impressions for AM/FM Ad Buys appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Workbench: Time to Plan for Old Man Winter

Thu, 10/28/2021 - 17:59
It’s cold up there. Plan now to be safe later. (Photo: Getty Images/Apostoli Rossella)

For the majority of our readers, winter is approaching.

I was privileged recently to deliver a Society of Broadcast Engineers webinar. I heard from a number of engineers afterwards who shared some great tips and comments.

One came from longtime Workbench contributor and New England contract engineer Stephanie Donnell.

She noted my suggestion about posting pictures from your transmitter site adventures in the staff break room. She usually shared them via an all staff mailing list; these days you could do so on Slack or the station’s private social media group.

[Read: Workbench: Readers React to Frank Hertel’s “Outtaphaser”]

It’s both amusing and sad that so many station colleagues don’t have any idea what transmitter sites look like, how we keep them running or what it might take just to get there at all.

(Do you have photos of your own transmitter sites that would serve as good examples of images suitable for educating your co-workers? Pix that show what it’s like at the site, and why it can be challenging or fun? Share them with us!)

Keeping an Eye on Things
As the cost of IP-based security cameras have dropped dramatically, Stephanie offered thoughts about the usefulness of these cameras at sites.

First, consider spending the money for cameras that have remote control of pan/tilt/zoom. These features provide a much wider range of viewing. If the model has a built-in a microphone, that’s even better.

Seal any open conduits as part of your winter prep.

One incredibly useful application is monitoring the weekly generator tests. In the office, Stephanie would bring up the camera on the PC and be able to not only see but also hear the generator as it did its initial cranking to start and while it ran.

You may want to rethink being alerted for motion detection, depending on the amount of wildlife around your site. Instead, Stephanie set the camera to store captured images. It has captured lots of deer, a bear and many hikers and hunters. The point is, you’ll have the images if a problem occurs but you’re not getting pinged every time an animal walks by.

On the subject of cameras, Stephanie encourages engineers to purchase a dashboard camera for the company vehicle. This can be a great personal protection tool as you drive to remote sites.

Winter Tips
My SBE presentations have included preparing an RF site for winter as well as how to keep a generator in good health. These topics overlap.

Besides conducting annual preventive generator maintenance before the cold arrives, Stephanie added a simple but important tip: Be sure to top off your fuel.

Depending on where you are located, getting refills after a certain point in the fall may not be an option; and in certain parts of the country, spring fuel delivery may not be possible until the mud dries up.

You’ll also want to keep a quart or more of extra oil around, in case that needs to be topped off following an extended power outage.

I’ve mentioned using Bonide’s “Mouse Magic” packages, which emit a peppermint odor that mice detest; mothballs are also an inexpensive way to keep mice away from generators and transmitter buildings.

Stero Manufacturing Co.’s Sealing Putty, also known as Dum Dum, forms reusable plugs for sealing conduit. It is available from Amazon.

If you use a C-Band dish as an STL, be sure to check the dish heater. Use an AC current clamp to make sure all legs of the heater are drawing adequate current.

One of the strangest things that Stephanie saw to cause a heater to fail wasn’t a mouse, it was tiny black ants. They like to keep warm and dry, just like mice and bees.

Inside the heater control box she found an ant colony. Some of the ants had been crushed on the contacts of the heavy duty relay that supplied power to the heaters. Enough dead ants had built up on the relay contacts so that it wouldn’t fully engage to power the heater.

In another instance, a heater controller showed a GFI fault, most likely from a nearby lightning strike during the summer. Stephanie reset the fault and the heater functioned as needed. But if it had not been checked, it would not have activated when it started to snow.

Also routinely check the dish for signs of cracks, both on the front and rear.

Stephanie once found what appeared to be a .22 bullet hole in a dish. Fall is hunting season, so wear orange when you’re at a site. LL Bean sells a warm orange fleece vest.

It can also come in handy if you break down on the side of the road. But you can avoid those breakdowns by ensuring your vehicle has been serviced before winter arrives.

To find webinars from the Society of Broadcast Engineers visit http://sbe.org/education/webinars-by-sbe. Also check out info about its valuable Technical Professional Training Program at http://sbe.org/tpt.

John Bisset, CPBE, has more than five decades in broadcasting and is in his 31st year of Workbench. He handles western U.S. radio sales for the Telos Alliance and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.

Helping others makes you feel good, so why not send your tips to johnpbisset@gmail.com.

The post Workbench: Time to Plan for Old Man Winter appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Fall Protection Equipment Safety Alert Issued

Wed, 10/27/2021 - 19:40

NATE, the tower association, has passed along a warning from 3M, a major manufacturer of safety equipment for the tower industry.

Select runs of the company’s DBI-SALA Nano-Lok self-retracting lifeline with anchor hook are under suspicion. First clue, they were manufactured between Sept. 1, 2020 and Aug. 31, 2021, part/model numbers: 3101218, 3101219, 3101241, 3101198, 3101223, 3101224 and 3101249.

The concern is an improperly formed rivet for the top swivel eye that could work loose and fail. 3M has provided instructions on how to inspect the device. If the rivet is formed correctly and secure the unit is safe and can be used.

Check out the warning issued for specific details and what actions need to be taken.

No accidents have yet been reported.

 

The post Fall Protection Equipment Safety Alert Issued appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

GatesAir Adds Audio Processing to Intraplex Gear

Wed, 10/27/2021 - 12:43

GatesAir announced that 10-band audio processing software from ATC Labs is now part of its Intraplex IP Link 100c hardware codec and Intraplex Ascent cloud transport platform.

“The embedded software innovation … can save Intraplex IP Link customers thousands of dollars in auxiliary equipment,” the manufacturer said.

“Broadcasters who activate this accurate high-resolution audio processing functionality within either product will eliminate the costs and rack space of an external audio processor, while achieving exceptionally bright and open sound.”

[Read: GatesAir Adds Native Livewire Support to Intraplex Ascent]

The announcement was made by Deepen Sinha, CEO of ATC Labs, and Keyur Parikh, vice president of engineering, GatesAir, which will demonstrate the integrated solutions at IBC2021.

Sinha was quoted in the announcement: “Higher-resolution audio processing brings far better control to broadcasters as the technology affects only the specific and targeted audio characteristics. In Perceptual SoundMax, high-resolution audio processing technology is combined with psychoacoustic principles and wide-band perceptual models, which ensures the greatest possible accuracy in tuning the sound quality for each application.”

He said this improves audio quality with consistent loudness and minimizes listener fatigue.

“This processing also inherently reduces the perception of artifacts introduced due to digital compression codecs, which are integral to audio transport solutions.”

 

The post GatesAir Adds Audio Processing to Intraplex Gear appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

New Range Rover Includes SiriusXM 360L

Wed, 10/27/2021 - 12:09

The newly announced Range Rover will include SiriusXM’s hybrid radio system 360L.

The announcement was made by Jaguar Land Rover North America and SiriusXM. The vehicle — the price of which starts at $104,000 — will be available next spring and is the first Jaguar and Land Rover vehicle to offer the 360L platform, but its use in more Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles is planned.

[Read: Maserati Signs on for SiriusXM 360L]

“By model year 2023 SiriusXM with 360L will be standard in Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles equipped with the PIVI Pro infotainment system,” the companies said.

In 2020, BMW was the first carmaker to introduce some models with the new platform, and Maserati was the first to make it a standard feature.

SiriusXM with 360L is one of a new generation of radio listening platforms that combine over-the-air reception — in this case from a satellite — with streaming content delivery. Features include on-demand content, personalized recommendations and Pandora stations.

New vehicle owners in the United States will get a three-month trial subscription to a SiriusXM Platinum Plan.

 

The post New Range Rover Includes SiriusXM 360L appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

The Right Solution Is Often the Simplest

Wed, 10/27/2021 - 10:35
Pushing the reset button is a good place to start, a simple, easy step that just might solve the problem.

It’s no secret that I love all things aviation. There’s nothing better in my view than slipping the surly bonds of earth and launching into an azure sky of still, smooth air and watching the Earth move beneath my wings.

It should be no surprise, then, that I subscribe to a stack of aviation magazines.

In AOPA Pilot a few months ago, columnist Natalie Bingham Hoover, writing about diagnosing and solving problems with general aviation aircraft, hit upon a principle that has great application in broadcast engineering.

The writer asked her aircraft mechanic the secret to his ability to diagnose and isolate aircraft problems so quickly.

[Subscribe to Radio World Engineering Extra]

His response: “It’s simple. Always start with the easiest solution. And if you still can’t figure it out, then go from the known to the unknown.”

Those words just about jumped off the page at me. They describe, in a nutshell, the process I have used for 40+ years in troubleshooting broadcast systems and equipment. Before I’d read that, if asked I would have been hard pressed to describe it so succinctly.

Train Wreck
Years ago, we had a young resident engineer living at the transmitter site of our Los Angeles radio station, which was a three-tower 10 kW directional AM.

This young man had a good head on his shoulders but he didn’t have a lot of directional AM experience … okay, he didn’t have any. But he was willing to live alone at a transmitter site on an island off the California coast and keep an eye on things.

One day he called me and said that the whole directional pattern was screwed up. None of the parameters were anywhere close to correct. It was a train wreck. I could hear the near-panic in his voice as he conveyed the situation to me.

I didn’t know that array well at the time. It was a 1952-vintage system and used a tank-type power divider with jeep coils, something I had no direct experience with. But in an effort to calm the new engineer down, I started asking some questions:

 

Is the station on the air?

Yes, it’s on.

 

What is the common point current?

It’s normal.

 

How is the transmitter behaving? What are the meters telling you?

It looks about like it always does.

 

With that short exchange, I began to get a picture of an array that seemed to be operating normally despite the antenna monitor indications.

I suspected a sample system problem, and because it was affecting the indicated parameters for all the towers, I thought that the problem might be in the sample for the reference tower.

To confirm this, I sent the engineer out with the field intensity meter to look at all the monitor points, not an easy task on that island. This job was a half-day affair with a lot of off-roading to interesting locations.

A few hours later, he called: monitor points normal.

That sealed it. The array was fine. We were dealing with a sample issue.

I grabbed some test equipment, caught a flight out to L.A., took a helicopter to the island and within a very short time had found the issue: a shorted (or mostly shorted) sample line to the reference tower.

Fixing the problem took a lot longer than finding it and involved a lot of digging. But we did find the buried lines, identified the one with the problem and spliced in a new piece, replacing a 3-foot section that had gotten waterlogged. After that, all was well on the monitor.

When something like that happens, we tend to think the worst, and sometimes it is the worst. But we have to discipline ourselves not to jump to that conclusion.

[Read More Tech Tips Here]

We have to start with the easiest solution and work our way through to the harder stuff. We must eliminate the things we most easily can first and go from there. And whether or not a particular troubleshooting step identifies the issue, it is not wasted. With each step we remove one variable from the equation.

If, on the other hand, we jump to an unsupported conclusion and start turning knobs, we add a whole bunch of new variables … unless, of course, we get lucky and somehow manage to hit on the cause of the problem by accident. Hey, it happens.

Known to Unknown
But suppose that we have eliminated all the easy stuff and still haven’t isolated the problem. What then?

That’s where the “known to unknown” process comes into play.

If you can find a similar part, device or circuit that is working correctly and compare it to the one that’s not, you may well be able to figure out the problem.

It may be a matter of subbing in a known good part or board to see if that makes a difference. In the case of the directional array problem, it was a matter of comparing the TDR display of a known good sample line to that of the suspect line.

If it’s not possible to compare or substitute components or assemblies, another option is to compare voltages, currents, waveforms or impedances to known good values or examples.

In days gone by, manufacturers would often note such known good values on the schematic or in notes. Experienced engineers, after completing a project, often record such values in a notebook, a log or even a note affixed to the end of a transmission line. Those benchmarks can help isolate a problem.

The point is that jumping to unsupported conclusions or performing troubleshooting steps out of order is a waste of time, effort and a psychological drain.

Going back to the aviation mag column, the writer concluded by saying that “with our airplanes, like so many things in life, the first step in solving a problem is simply believing we are capable. After that, a little common sense helps. And … remember that the right solution is often the simplest one.”

That has certainly been my experience over the years.

The author is director of engineering for Crawford Broadcasting and technical editor of Radio World Engineering Extra.

 

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Categories: Industry News

Inside the Oct. 27, 2021 Issue of Radio World

Wed, 10/27/2021 - 06:00

Buyer’s Guide this time around features a mélange of products for remote control, EAS, monitoring and test, including a story about how WAMU in Washington is using a Burk Arcturus system to monitor its new master FM antenna complex.

Also, Dave Hershberger talks to us about his award-winning career. We caught up with the industry veteran, who recently received the NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award.

Mark Persons reflects on the joys of ham radio. And in Workbench, we learn about a device that its supplier describes as the “ultimate in coaxial lightning protection.”

Read it here.

The post Inside the Oct. 27, 2021 Issue of Radio World appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Apple Launches Logic Pro 10.7

Wed, 10/27/2021 - 01:45

Apple has launched Logic Pro 10.7, an update of its DAW platform, coinciding with the release of its new MacBook Pro laptops based around its new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. The update offers a new set of spatial audio music tools for mixing and exporting in Dolby Atmos for Apple Music, updated onboard plug-ins, and more.

Aiming to advance spatial audio, the DAW now sports a complete set of mixing and rendering tools, allowing users to author their songs as Dolby Atmos music files compatible with Apple Music. Stereo projects can be expanded to the surround channels supported by Dolby Atmos, using new mixer and panner controls.

[Check Out More Products at Radio World’s Products Section]

Reflecting that adoption of Atmos, 13 plug-ins within Logic Pro — including Space Designer, Limiter, Loudness Meter, and Tremolo — have also been updated to reflect possible use with spatial production in mind.

Logic Pro now comes with Producer Packs, introduced in GarageBand this summer. Musicians can use beats, loops, and samples created by Boys Noize, Mark Lettieri, Mark Ronson, Oak Felder, Soulection, Take A Daytrip, Tom Misch and TRAKGIRL. Logic users have access to 2,800 new loops, 50 new kits, and 120 new patches they can use in their own songs, all royalty-free. The update also features the original multitrack project of the song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” by Lil Nas X, including a Dolby Atmos spatial audio mix of the track.

Apple notes that with the announcement of its new MacBook Pro, the laptops can use up to three-times more plug-ins for recording.

Logic Pro 10.7 is available as a free update for all existing users, and for $199.99 for new users on the Mac App Store. A free trial of Logic Pro is available at the website.

Send your new equipment news to radioworld@futurenet.com.

Info: apple.com/logic-pro

 

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Categories: Industry News

Quick Take: Movo-MA5L Lightning Microphone

Tue, 10/26/2021 - 19:32

From the people who brought you inexpensive microphone solutions, now Movo introduces their MA5L, a miniature condenser mic for Lightning port devices such iPhones, iPads and iPods.

It couldn’t be any easier to use.  Simply plug it in and use your favorite software to record or use it as a live mic for CleanFeed or other live streaming services.

The advantage is it sounds better than what is built-in and provides a bit more control over the pick-up. The mic is omnidirectional and frequency response isn’t bad, listed at 50 Hz to 18 kHz. It can be pivoted, has a foam windscreen, and includes a very nice hard-shell carrying case.

On testing it, the pattern was clearly an omni, and it sounded like a decent inexpensive microphone. For just under $45 (street price), it probably would work nicely for a reporter using an iPhone for capturing live sound and events. Remember, that since the pattern is omnidirectional, it’s probably not best used in a noisy environment.

It should be noted that the design of the base of the mic (closest to the Lightning connection) is a little larger, so some phone cases may prevent a snug fit.

Info: www.movophoto.com

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Categories: Industry News

Call Sign Deleted, Permit Revoked After LPFM Construction Snafu

Tue, 10/26/2021 - 15:11

Life is feeling a bit less beautiful for a permit licensee in California who had its construction license revoked after building at an unauthorized site and operating without FCC approval.

It was back in 2015 that Foundation for a Beautiful Life obtained a permit to construct a new a low-power FM station in Cupertino, Calif., with an antenna mounted on an existing electric distribution tower operated by the local gas and electric company. The bureau gave FBL until May 19, 2018, to complete construction on KQEK(LP). One day before the deadline, FBL certified that the facility had been constructed as authorized.

[Read: Felony Conviction Leads FCC to Consider Revoking Station License]

But several individuals submitted petitions stating that no LPFM communications equipment had been installed at the site. It turned out that the constructed facilities were actually located at a private residence in Saratoga, Calif., about 3.5 miles from the approved site. In addition, the facilities varied from the specifics approved in the permit, which called for using an existing 30-meter tower at a tower height above average terrain (HAAT) of 93 meters and with an effective radiated power (ERP) of 0.01 Watts. Instead it turned out that FBL installed a new 6.1-meter pole at the Saratoga site with a HAAT of 358.3 meters and an ERP of 0.001197 Watts.

FBL said that the discrepancy resulted from a miscommunication with its engineers. It then filed a modification application that sought to formally move the location to the Saratoga site. The Media Bureau denied this request, however, due to noncompliance with a second-adjacent channel distance separation rule.

FBL sought reconsideration of that decision; again the bureau demurred by dismissing both the license application and the modification petition. FBL compared its situation to another station, KM Radio of St. Johns, in which the commission waived rules specifying permit expiration, issued a monetary penalty and allowed the applicant to correct a construction error.

In the KM Radio case, however, a simple surveying error resulted in construction of a facility that was only about 900 feet away. That’s not the case with FBL, the bureau said, since FBL built its facilities 3.5 miles away — and with a different tower height and operating power than were approved by the bureau.

“The bureau found the [FBL case] to be more like cases in which permittees did not merely miscalculate but, rather, took affirmative steps to construct facilities not specified in an existing permit,” the commission said in its order. “Those cases had resulted in automatic permit forfeiture in accordance with governing commission rules, statute and case law.”

Even though FBL said that its programming would provide a critically needed resource for the Asian-American community, the permit was automatically forfeited on May 19, 2018, because the authorized facilities had not been built as specified. “The potential diversity benefits of FBL’s intended programming for Chinese-American listeners did not warrant a different outcome because all applicants, including those with diverse audiences, must comply equally with our rules.”

[Read: FCC Paperwork Confusion May Cost R.I. Broadcaster]

FBL continued to file reconsideration petitions and supplements, including a request for special temporary authority (STA) to broadcast pandemic-related information in Mandarin. One of those supplements revealed that the station went ahead and broadcast from the Saratoga site before receiving permission from the Media Bureau. FBL also asked the bureau to apply newly revised rules LPFM technical standards to its case and shared letters from the local community expressing support for the station’s operations.

But the commission sees broadcasting without authority as a significant error and the bureau ordered FBL off air on April 16, 2020, with a cease order and several reminders: the request for the STA is defective and FBL did not have the right to broadcast; FBL would have to show that it operated without authority on any future LPFM applications (effectively disqualifying FBL from LPFM service); and for the next 10 years, any principal of FBL would need to inform the bureau that it had been handed a cease order.

The station was taken off the air on April 20, 2020, while FBL continued to argue its case, asking the bureau to delay the cease order and contending that the order didn’t actually require FBL to stop broadcasting.

That’s when the Media Bureau sent the case to the commission for review. The commission responded by dismissing FBL’s supplements and denied its applications for review.

The commission said the Media Bureau was right to pull FBL’s license application after learning it constructed facilities at an unauthorized site. The commission also said that it would not apply newly revised LPFM rules to this case (since the commission stated in that rulemaking that the new rules would not apply to cases in which the agency had already issued a decision). The commission chastised FBL for operating before it had authority and dismissed FBL’s request that the commission delay implementation of the cease order. “FBL was operating as a pirate,” the commission said.

While the commission acknowledged FBL’s claims that the station would bring critical programming to the Chinese-American community and that pandemic-specific broadcasts would provide Mandarin speakers with important health information, “[these claims] do not outweigh our statutory responsibility in preventing unauthorized broadcasts,” the FCC said.

As a result, the commission dismissed and denied all applications for review, all supplements and the motion to stay — effectively cancelling FBL’s permit application and deleting the call sign of KQEK.

 

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Categories: Industry News

Biden Renominates Jessica Rosenworcel to FCC, Gigi Sohn Also Gets Nod

Tue, 10/26/2021 - 14:11
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel

President Joe Biden has announced his intention to renominate acting Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel as a member and chair of the agency, and to add Gigi Sohn as the third commissioner.

Sohn’s appointment is a breakthrough nomination as the first LGBTIQ+ member of that agency.

“From fighting to protect an open internet, to ensuring broadband access for students caught in the Homework Gap through the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund, to making sure that households struggling to afford internet service stay connected through the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, she has been a champion for connectivity for all,” the White House said of Rosenworcel. “She is a leader in spectrum policy, developing new ways to support wireless services from Wi-Fi to video and the Internet of Things. She has fought to combat illegal robocalls and enhance consumer protections in our telecommunications policies.”

Sohn was hailed as a defender of “fundamental competition and innovation policies that have made broadband Internet access more ubiquitous, competitive, affordable, open, and protective of user privacy.”

The White House also pointed out that if she is confirmed, as she is expected to be “the first openly LGBTIQ+ commissioner in the history of the FCC.”

From 2013 to 2016, Sohn was counselor to former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, where she evangelized for network neutrality rules based on Title II of the Telecommunications Act, classifying them as telecommunications services subject to regulation.

Before joining the FCC, Sohn was co-founder and CEO of Public Knowledge. She was also executive director of the Media Access Project.

“Chair Jessica Rosenworcel and commissioners Geoffrey Starks and Gigi Sohn will create an FCC ‘dream team’ that can implement a progressive telecommunications policy agenda for the coming decades,” said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior counselor, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society and a former colleague of Sohn’s at Media Access Project. “As Gigi’s colleague for a decade, I may be accused of being biased, but that proximity also gives me confidence that the team of Chair Rosenworcel and Commissioners Starks and Sohn are likely to make major advances in promoting widespread and affordable wireless and wireline broadband deployment, media diversity and an open internet … Jessica has carefully and successfully met the challenge of managing a divided FCC over the last nine months [and] Gigi will be able jump right into the job, and the Senate should confirm her right away,” he said.

 

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Categories: Industry News

Bizet Joins Dielectric

Tue, 10/26/2021 - 11:45

Antenna and RF systems manufacturer Dielectric has announced the appointment of Daniel Bizet to international sales manager.

Bizet was most recently with Broadcast Electronics as a Latin America sales manager.

[Visit Radio World’s People News Page]

His focus at Dielectric will reflect his past life and work experience by centering on Latin and South American sales. Bizet spent much of his life in Venezuela.

Send news of engineering and executive personnel changes to radioworld@futurenet.com.

 

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Categories: Industry News

Bring Back Local News

Tue, 10/26/2021 - 11:31
Voice of Alexandria in Minnesota was developed in 2013 in order to “provide a much broader voice for all that is happening in the Alexandria Lakes Area.” It is associated with three Leighton Broadcasting radio stations in West Central Minnesota.

Not long ago, the term “survival” was a distant thought. Now it’s difficult not to think about it several times daily. We must continually consider how we survive this terrible pandemic both physically and financially. We must plan carefully now for the future.

Being local is no longer an option for terrestrial radio. The choice is to be local or to risk irrelevance. As listening habits continue to shift toward more time spent with Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, podcasts and other choices, being a radio station without localization is a long-term losing proposition.

Where’s the local opportunity?

[Read: Take Time to Renew Relationships]

The most obvious is in news, talk and information. It may be difficult for programmers under 40 years old to remember local news on anything other than an actual full-time local news station, since consolidation has unsparingly wiped out local news on music stations.

For the most part, these had been inexpensive news operations; often the “news department” was one dedicated staff member and a few part-timers.

Super-serving New Jersey with relevant news is part of the ethos at New Jersey 101.5.

When they were eliminated, local newspapers initially filled the void. But then so many newspapers folded that it left hundreds of towns — especially those without TV stations — with little to no local news.

However, some local news websites, often based on formerly printed publications, survived; and we have seen radio stations partner with or buy these local news websites and then promote and sell advertising in combo.

This is a great plan if you’re able to replicate it.

There is an opportunity in many cities to bring local news back to radio, especially during drivetimes. There is no reason why your :60– to :90–second local newscasts can’t be recorded slightly in advance of use to maximize your sole reporter’s time.

Another strong option continues to be the talk/news hybrid with local hosts. If you don’t think the talent is out there, I refer you once again to the relatively new “Clubhouse” app, where thousands of hosts are honing much of the same skill set required for local talk radio.

When a radio station pursues a news, talk or information agenda, it is a gathering place for community. This leads to loyalty, which is any station’s key to success. Another understated benefit is that when people listen to spoken-word programming — even when it is part of a music station — it is not usually heard as mere background; rather, it engages actively, a huge benefit to local advertisers who are counting on people to hear their messaging.

What makes WTOP so profitable? The answer is at the top of its homepage: News. Traffic. Weather.

Who is consistently the top-billing radio station in America? It’s WTOP, the all-news station in our nation’s capital. Other success stories include Trenton’s NJ101.5 in the talk/news format since 1990, when Walt Sabo not only innovated localization, but also convinced ownership that it belonged on FM.

And for those who think this can’t work in a small- to medium-size town, check out KXRA in Alexandria, Minn., with a county population of 36,529. The “Voice of Alexandria” has local news and sports, a daily updated event calendar, an on-air “Swap Shop” and a strong, locally focused website. And it’s all supported by enthusiastic hometown advertisers.

To be clear, this is not about positioning statements. If you say “we’re local radio” but don’t actually deliver the goods, you will not win fans. This proposition is for courageous programmers and owners who realize that it’s past time for radio to return to its roots in localization.

 

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Categories: Industry News

U.K. Review: AM Should Go, FM Stay Until 2030

Mon, 10/25/2021 - 17:26
Photo: Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Planning to shut down British AM (MW) radio should begin, while analog FM services should stay on air until at least 2030. These are some of the key recommendations in the just-released Digital Radio and Audio Review, which was commissioned by the U.K. government in February 2020.

Declining audience share is the reason for ending British AM. According to the Review: “AM — which according to estimates calculated for the Review now accounts for just 3% of all radio listening — has reached the point where the BBC, commercial radio and Ofcom need to prepare for the retirement of national services. However, traditional radio, including FM services, is valued by many listeners — particularly those who are older or vulnerable, drive older cars or live in areas with limited DAB or broadband coverage. On current trends, therefore, the Review’s conclusion is that FM will be needed until at least 2030.”

[Read: Swiss FM Shutdown Reverts to Original 2024 Date]

This being said, research conducted for the Review by the strategic advisory firm Mediatique estimates that analog radio “will account for just 12–14% of all radio listening by 2030.” As a result, the Review’s suggested reprieve for FM is time-limited: “the U.K. radio industry should begin preparing the ground for a possible switch-off of analog services at some point after 2030,” it said.

Strong, for Now
According to the Review, 89% of the U.K.’s population listens to radio every week, “a figure which has remained remarkably consistent in the last decade,” it said. These listeners have access to 333 analog (AM/FM) and 574 DAB stations, plus “over 300 analog community radio stations which collectively reach over 1 million listeners every week,” the Review reported. As well, a third of U.K. adults own smart speakers, with live radio accounting for 64% of audio they’re listening to.

The downside: Radio’s dominance in the U.K. market is expected to decline over time.

“While it is impossible to make entirely accurate projections too far into the future, the Review’s conclusion is that live radio will still account for over 50% of U.K. audio listening in the mid-2030s,” the document said. “Live radio dominates in-car listening, accounting for 82% of all in-car listening hours. However, the growing availability of connected audio services in cars (via phone mirroring or natively) represents an increasing challenge to the prominence of radio in the car as streaming services are presented alongside or even more prominently than radio services.”

The Review projected this decline in U.K. radio listenership based on the current audio source preferences of different U.K. age groups. “Among 15–24 year olds smartphones are the first choice, accounting for 38% of audio consumption, with DAB accounting for 22% and FM/AM radios just 11%,” it explained. “Among 25–34 year olds, smartphones account for 27% of audio consumption, against 26% for DAB radios and 19% for FM/AM. In contrast, among listeners aged 55 and over, DAB radios account for 41% of all audio consumption and FM/AM radios a further 31%, with smartphones accounting for only 5%.”

DAB Slows, Smart Speakers Surge
Since the launch of digital radio in 1995, more than 27 million DAB sets have been sold in the U.K., with two out of every three households claiming to have a DAB radio for in-home use, said the Review.  As well, “Around 40% of all radio listening, in-home and in-car, is now via a DAB device.”

Falling DAB receiver costs have helped to drive sales. “This trend is particularly apparent over the past 10 years, as the DAB module cost has reduced costs for manufacturers while module capabilities have improved — for example, in terms of signal attenuation and energy use,” the Review said.

The bad news: “In spite of the evident demand from listeners for the services delivered on DAB, recent years have seen a decline in radio device sales and a slowing of DAB take up,” said the Review. Worse yet, “Mediatique forecasts that the proportion of households that regularly use DAB will fall gradually year on year from 40% currently to 32% in 2035.”

“Estimates prepared by market research consultancy Futuresource Consulting show these trends from a different perspective,” the Review continued. “According to Futuresource projections, ownership of DAB radios has now plateaued and may start to decline as new sales fail to maintain the installed base, implying that some owners will not replace their device when it reaches the end of its working life. Futuresource’s five year forecast up to 2025 shows the annual market for DAB domestic radios will fall to 570,000 per annum.”

In contrast, the Digital Radio and Audio Review predicted a rosy future for smart speakers. “According to Mediatique’s forecast, smart speaker penetration will grow to 62% by 2035,” it said. “Futuresource has forecast that the market for smart speakers will be sustained, with shipments continuing at a rate of over 5 million units per year.”

In reporting these numbers, the Review acknowledged that this trend poses a potential threat to all U.K. radio broadcasters. “Traditional radio including DAB is being challenged by new forms of IP-based listening, including on connected audio devices,” it said.

The good news is that “there are steps which can be taken to address this,” said the Review. “There are, for example, significant benefits from strengthening the partnerships and cooperation between U.K. radio (and through partnerships with European radio broadcasters) with radio device manufacturers and with retailers (traditional and online) to promote the benefits of radio and the increased choice of services available.”

One thing is clear: Joint government/industry action is needed ensure the future of U.K. radio.

“Without a coordinated approach and support from U.K. radio,” the Review warned, “there is a risk that retail support — which has been critical to the success of DAB — may diminish, resulting in a slow but inevitable withdrawal of DAB radio devices from retail.”

 

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Categories: Industry News

NATE Calls for Public Comment Period on Proposed Federal Vaccine Mandate

Mon, 10/25/2021 - 12:02

As different organizations work to implement the latest federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the tower organization NATE is requesting that its members have the right to publicly comment on the issue.

On Oct. 20 NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association sent a letter to Pres. Joe Biden requesting the organization be able to make comments on the vaccine rule implementation being proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

[Read: NATE Sets Membership Record]

The move comes after Pres. Biden signed an executive order in September requiring employers with more than 100 employees to either mandate their employees be vaccinated or conduct weekly testing of unvaccinated employees. The president also ordered that all federal contractors working on federal property be vaccinated (with no testing option).

But NATE expressed concern that the temporary emergency standard that OSHA is expected to follow as a result of the federal mandate does not allow for public comment. The organization said that 85% of NATE members believe that some staff would resign if they are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and a full 30% indicated they would lose more than half of their workers.

Photo: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM

“Like many other industries involved in the skilled trades, NATE members have struggled to recruit skilled workers,” the organization said in its letter to the White House. “The possibility of losing a significant number of tower technicians is a serious concern for NATE members, and the potential of losing workers could come at a time when America is investing billions of dollars in broadband projects.”

“Simply put,” the letter said, “NATE members fear that if we do not implement federal vaccination goals in a responsible manner, then they could lose a significant number of workers who are vital to building and deploying broadband services to rural, unserved, and underserved communities.”

[Read: COVID Doesn’t Care About Trade Shows]

Instead, a public comment period would allow for OSHA staff to hear directly from NATE members so they could get a clearer understanding of how a vaccine mandate could impact workers.

“We urge President Biden and OSHA to open a public comment period so the administration can hear directly from NATE’s small business members and gain a better understanding of how vaccine mandates would impact their workforce and the country’s ambitious 5G and broadband deployment goals,” it said.

 

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Categories: Industry News

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