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Byron St. Clair, 93, Has Died

He was the “father of translators, LPTV and low-power FM” and the president emeritus of the National Translator Association


DENVER — Dr. Byron St. Clair, president emeritus of the National Translator Association, died May 20 in Denver of brain cancer. He was 93.

St. Clair, who served as president of the National Translator Association for 19 years, is known as the “father of translators, LPTV and low-power FM,” the association said.

He worked to serve those living in the mountainous rural western United States with broadcast service and in so doing created a new class of over-the-air broadcasting, which has grown to more than 4,000 stations that serve millions of people.

“Byron was a friend and mentor to all, a man of immense intellect, wisdom, ethics, kindness and vision,” said NTA President John Terrill.

During his career, St. Clair was director of R&D for Adler Electronics and founded and served as president of EMCEE, a manufacturer and installer of TV translators. In 1967, he founded and was president of Television Technology Corp. in Arvada, Colo., which later became Larcan-TTC.

St. Clair obtained a BSEE in 1945 and a master’s degree in physics in 1949 from Columbia University. He earned a Ph.D in physics in 1953 from Syracuse University.

He was a member of the National High Definition Television Subcommittees, Systems Subcommittee Working Party to Field Test Task Force, a board member of the Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance, a member and active participant in the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers. St. Clair also was a member of the board of directors for Denver public broadcaster KBDI(TV).

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering recognized St. Clair in 2017 with its Jules Cohen Award for lifetime achievement.

The NTA is establishing The Byron W. St. Clair Memorial Scholarship Fund in partnership with the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers for promising undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in a career in broadcast engineering at accredited U.S. universities and colleges.

St. Clair is survived by his wife of 71 years, Julie, and daughter Susan Hansen of Arvada, Colo. A memorial service will be held in June. Details were not immediately available.

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Its servers were hacked by unknown cryptocurrency miners during a fundraising drive


PORTLAND — An Oregon community radio station is still battling the after-effects of an April 28 cryptocurrency attack, according to Katie Shepherd of Willamette Week .

KBOO(FM) Community Radio’s servers were hacked by unknown cryptocurrency miners during the last week of the noncom’s fundraising drive. Because of its website’s 80% slowdown, KBOO reps said the station saw a decrease in online fundraising efforts during this crucial fundraising period.

However, the station did not have any of its files breached — a somewhat dim silver lining, all things considered.

[Read about The Wandering Engineer’s fears of the coming It Apocalypse.]

As of May 11, the station’s website is still down — more than two weeks later — as part of efforts to scrub the system of the malicious code. According to the Willamette Week, the station aims to be back online in the next day or so.

KBOO was far from the only victim of the attack, known as “Drupalgeddon2.” Other affected organizations include Lenovo, the University of California at Los Angeles and the U.S. National Labor Relations Board. The hackers exploited websites that had not updated a patch that fixed a problem in the Drupal content management system.

This is another unfortunate reminder that stations need to pay close attention to cybersecurity protocols at all levels in order to reduce vulnerability, as cybercriminals become increasingly determined and inventive.

Go to Radio Magazine Online

This isn’t the first time Terry Keith Hammond of Alabama allegedly broke the law

JASPER, Ala. — File one this under “reasons why it’s good to have the engineer do transmitter repairs on site.”

WQJJ(LP) Manager Terry Keith Hammond has been arrested and charged with second-degree felony theft of property, Jennifer Cohron reports for the Jasper, Ala. Daily Mountain Eagle newspaper.

The arrest occurred Saturday, May 5, in Clarke County. He is currently held in Walker County Jail on a $25,000 cash bond because he is considered a flight risk, according to the article.

In his latest radio-related crime, Hammond allegedly represented himself as a broadcast engineer working for Broadcast Technical Services and was hired to repair an AM transmitter by a client in Maryland. Once Hammond received the transmitter, he demanded the owner wire $1,150 to a personal bank account routing number and account number in Jasper before he could complete the repair. The initial repair estimate was not cited in the article.

This aroused the client’s suspicions, and Google revealed Hammond’s prior arrests, as well as allegations of fraud related to broadcasting and uncompleted work filing applications on behalf of LPFM stations .

When the owner refused to pay, Hammond said he “seized it under mechanic’s lien laws” and posted the unit for sale on Facebook, according to Cohron’s article.

Hammond also operates several Facebook pages, including Walker County Area News — which he used to get in a spat with the local sheriff’s office investingating the transmitter theft regarding attempts to arrest him.

His rap sheet includes prior arrests in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Nevada, as well as outstanding warrants for failure to appear and for resisting arrest.

In 2002, Hammond acquired Shamrock, Texas, station KBKH(FM) from Turbo Radio Limited Partnership, but lost his FCC license after failing to report a felony coviction in his license renewal application and refusing to cooperate with FCC investigators, according to FCC documents. The felony was “for altering checks received by” KBKH and instead depositing them into a personal account.

In 2009, Hammond’s application for a new station in Hazard, Ky., was dismissed .

According to AL.com , Hammond also has a record as a pirate; he “allegedly violated FCC rules by engaging in multiple instances of unauthorized operation of unlicensed radio stations in California, Louisiana, and Texas.”

[Read about the FCC’s recent efforts to combat unlicensed operators.]

In 2016, Hammond’s wife Bessie Price Hammond (on behalf of North Alabama Public Service Broadcasters) transferred control of WQJJ(LP) at 101.9 MHZ to Teri Danielle Hammond, according to a public notice.

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WMAL(AM) began broadcasting from new Germantown location May 2



Former chief engineer David Sporul addresses the camera prior to shutting down the transmitter at Greentree Road.

BETHESDA, Md. — Cumulus Media station WMAL(AM) 630 transitioned from its 77 year-old Bethesda, Md., transmitter site to a new location in Germantown, Md., on May 1 around 2 p.m. WMAL(FM)’s northern Virginia location remains unchanged.

Former chief engineer David Sproul had the honor of throwing the switch — err, pushing the button — on the Nautel NX10 transmitter. The occassion was filmed for posterity and can be viewed below.

The 1940s era transmitter building was demolished in September 2016 .

View the 7 images of this gallery on the original article

In a phone call with Radio World, Sproul described the 7115 Greentree Road site as “the most conservatively and best-designed AM in the Washington, D.C., market” — apparently a widely held opinion.

Money, not technology necessitated the move. Sproul said that the new site, which WMAL will share with WWRC(AM) 570, will provide less coverage, but even so Cumulus’ economic outlook made a lucrative sale to developer Toll Brothers a logical development.

[Learn more about the development planned for the 75-acre plot.]

Sproul retired in 2014. In the video, he noted that WMAL Radio was his first employer out of college — and the only one throughout his career, despite ownership changes.

After shutting the transmitter down, Sproul became a bit emotional about WMAL’s history and the prospect of the station reaching the milestone of 100 years under the same call letters in October 2025.

“Good luck, WMAL!” Sproul said before signing off.

Go to Radio Magazine Online

This isn’t the first time South Dakota’s Results Radio has lost a tower to the elements

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A late spring blizzard created big headaches for commuters and bigger challenges for two Results Radio —Townsquare Media stations in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The storm knocked down part of the radio tower broadcasting the signals for “Hot 104.7” KKLS(FM) and “The Mix 97.3” KMXC(FM) on April 13, Jeremy J. Fugleberg reported for the Argus Leader . He described the tower as having been “decapitated” when “the top 275 feet of the tower” succumbed to the ice buildup and wind.

According to the article, two weeks later, KKLS is still off the air but is streaming online, but KMXC is again available at a low power. They have remounted antennas for both stations on the remaining 600 foot tower.

This isn’t the first time Results Radio has lost a tower to the elements. In 1996, an ice storm followed by uneven rapid melting felled the previous tower. As a result, the new tower was “built to extreme specs,” according to Results Radio Market Manager and Vice President, quoted in the article. But even those weren’t enough to keep it intact.

Results Radio Townsquare Media also owns KYBB(FM), KSOO(AM/FM), KIKN(FM) and KXRB(AM/FM).

Check out photos of the downed tower here.

Go to Radio Magazine Online

An excerpt from this week’s Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes

The following is from the Alabama Broadcasters Association’s weekly e-newsletter, Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes. Thanks to ABA’s Larry Wilkins. To subscribe to the newsletter, email lwilkins@al-ba.com.

NEWS FROM LAS VEGAS

The Las Vegas Convention center sits empty today after over 100,000 broadcasters filled the halls last week at the annual NAB Convention. Some 1800 vendors displayed their products and services for all to see in full operation.

IP was the buzz word this year for both audio and video. ATSC 3.0, the next generation television broadcasting (which is an IP stream) was an extremely hot topic in the television halls. On the radio side, audio over IP was everywhere, with AES 67 being one of the major topics at the booths.

You always see new items — Two that caught my attention were the ATSC 3.0 converters by Airwavz. These unit will demodulate ATSC 3.0 television RF and output to HDMI for use on non ATSC 3.0 television sets.

Audinate introduced the Dante AVIO which is a dongle converter for Dante. Units are available to convert analog, USB or AES3 audio to Dante.

NEWS FROM WASHINGTON

As rumored for several months the FCC publicly released a Report and Order last week eliminating TV stations’ annual obligation to report whether they have provided fee-able ancillary or supplementary services on their spectrum during the past year

unless they have actually provided such services.

Normally all television stations had to report by December 1st whether they had provided fee-able ancillary or supplementary services in the past year., what those services were, and then submit payment to the government of 5% of the gross revenue derived from such services.

The order amends Section 73.624(g) of the FCC’s Rules to require that only TV stations actually providing fee-able ancillary or supplementary services need file the report in the future.

DITHERING???

Most engineers involved in digital audio or video have heard the word dithering, but few understand it completely.

Dither is an intentionally applied form of noise used to randomize quantization error, preventing large-scale patterns such as color banding in images.

Dither is routinely used in processing of both digital audio and video data, and is often one of the last stages of mastering audio to a CD.

Most often is low volume noise, introduced into digital audio when converting from a higher bit-resolution to a lower bit-resolution. The process of reducing bit-resolution causes quantization errors, also known as truncation distortion, which if not prevented, can sound very unpleasant.

Go to Radio Magazine Online

An excerpt from this week’s Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes

The following is from the Alabama Broadcasters Association’s weekly e-newsletter, Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes. Thanks to ABA’s Larry Wilkins. To subscribe to the newsletter, email lwilkins@al-ba.com.

ERIC SMALL

We are sad to report that Eric Small, co-developer of the Optimod FM processor, founder of Modulation Sciences Inc., and holder of several patents, is dead at the age of 71.

On March 15, Small was leaving a Publix grocery store in Delray Beach, Fla., around 5:09 p.m., when the driver of a car lost control and accelerated towards the store. The car struck Small first and then crashed into the Publix, according to the Palm Beach Sheriffs Office report. The driver and Small were transported to Delray Medical Center, where they both died from their injuries.

WIRELESS USE ABOVE 600 MHZ

We mention last week about the discontinuance of use of frequencies above 600 MHz for wireless use. The Federal Register published a rule late last week that requires consumer disclosure, including specific consumer alert language, regarding changing requirements for selling wireless microphones operating in the 600 MHz band. 

The mandated alert message is written to advise consumers that wireless microphone users must cease operations in the 600MHz band no later than July 13, 2020, or earlier if their use could interfere with wireless operations in the band.

This rule will become effective April 11.

[Read: Was the Incentive Auction Necessary?]

FM TRANSLATORS FOR AM UPDATE

AM stations that filed for FM translators in the January 2018 window, who were deemed to be”singletons,”i.e. their applications are not predicted to cause interference to any other translator applicant, must file their “long-form” applications (form 349) during a window from April 18th through May 9.

PIRATE OPERATORS — BE READY FOR MORE FINES

Pirate Radio operators continue to operate with disregard to FCC rules. The current $10,000 maximum fine for operating an unlicensed station isn’t a big enough deterrent. Now Congress is taking the first steps to boost the maximum fine for pirate radio to as much $100,000 per day, per violation with a maximum fine allowed by law of $2 million.

Under the proposal, the FCC would be required to conduct at least twice-a-year enforcement sweeps in the top five radio markets — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas — for the purpose of “identifying, locating, and terminating such operations and seizing related equipment.”

And as for the rest of the year, Congress would direct the FCC that it wouldn’t be allowed to “diminish regular enforcement efforts.” And as for any equipment seized from alleged pirates, the law would give the Enforcement Bureau the authority to destroy it within 90 days from the date that it was taken away from an unlicensed broadcaster.

Go to Radio Magazine Online

Names him as the 2018 Carl E. Lee Broadcast Engineering Excellence Award

LANSING — The Michigan Association of Broadcasters presented Tom Bosscher with the 2018 Carl E. Lee Broadcast Engineering Excellence Award during the Great Lakes Media Show on March 7.

Bosscher is chief engineer of Grand Rapids Christian Radio’s WSCG(FM).

According to MAB’s announcement, Bosscher received his first amateur radio license when he was in grade school and obtained his FCC Radiotelephone 1st class license in high school. He began started his official broadcast career at WION(AM) in Ionia, then worked for WOOD(AM/FM) stations in Grand Rapids at age 18. He later went on to WLAV(AM/FM) in Grand Rapids, where he installed a Pirod 400-foot tower, FM antenna and transmitter for the Class B upgrade.


2018 Carl E. Lee Broadcast Engineering Excellence Award honoree and WSCG(FM) Chief Engineer Tom Bosscher and Midwest Communications SVP MAB Chairman Peter Tanz (right).   

In 1995, he was hired by WCSG. Among his first projects was the installation of a 25kw Continental transmitter and FM DA antenna and installing Broadcast Electronics AudioVault systems. Bosscher has helped WCSG expand to four on-air stations.

Bosscher is credited for designing the Grand Rapids Area Information Line, a “one phone call” school closing system that served for 12 years. He also developed a mobile remote setup using three receiver sites, three vehicular repeaters, two communication grade repeaters and ran 300–400 remotes a year for Federated Media Grand Rapids stations, WCUZ and WCUZ(FM).

He has served as the SBE West Michigan frequency coordinator for 1 GHz and down and is a member of the MAB’s Engineering Board and serves on the LEPC for Ottawa County. Bosscher is also the host for a for Christian Radio Technical forum on crtech.org.

The Michigan Association of Broadcasters represents more than 300 radio and TV stations.

Go to Radio Magazine Online

The Golden State joins 17 other states with similar legislation in the works

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — New legislation supporting the “right to repair” has been introduced in the California State Assembly this week by Assemblymember Dr. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), according to her website .

The California Right to Repair Act “would require manufacturers of electronics to make diagnostic and repair information, as well as equipment or service parts, available to product owners and to independent repair shops,” according to the press release.

California joins Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia, which have already introduced similar legislation.

“The bill is critical to protect independent repair shops and a competitive market for repair, which means better service and lower prices. It also helps preserve the right of individual device owners to understand and fix their own property. We should encourage people to take things apart and learn from them. After all, that’s how many of today’s most successful innovators got started,” Electronic Frontier Foundation Senior Staff Attorney Kit Walsh said in the announcement.

Go to Radio Magazine Online

WATCH: Engineers in Action

Broadcast engineers don’t have it easy, but the work is critical to keep listeners in the loop

PORTLAND, Ore. — Have you ever had someone ask you what you do for a living, and been at kind of at a loss for words to describe the work?

Well, with the ubiquity of smartphones, you can always play this video, produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting , about the work their transmitter engineers do. And, as a benefit, enjoy some great scenery! 

View the original article to see embedded media.

OPB broadcast engineers maintain 84 towers, translators and transmitters, which service the nearly 100,000 square miles of Oregon and parts of southwest Washington, according to the pubcaster. 

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