Radio World has awarded Paul Brenner its 2012 Excellence in Engineering award. Brenner, the senior VP and chief technology officer for Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications, has been the industry’s latest point-person regarding innovations involving HD Radio. He’s led the development of a prototype smartphone with FM-HD reception capability as well as an application that melds radio reception with “value-added” content delivered over the cellular network.
Brenner’s also president of the Broadcaster Traffic Consortium – an alliance of some two dozen radio companies who, along with NPR, are exploring ways to use digital radio signals to deliver real-time traffic information. Brenner estimates that there are about 12 million navigation devices in use that utilize radio to receive traffic data, and that figure’s growing by about 1-2 million per year. Continue reading “HD Radio's Latest "Killer App" Isn't Radio”
Last week, the FCC approved significant rule changes to the low-power FM radio service; this week the agency formally released the text of those changes.
There’s a lot of good things in the latest Report and Order. LPFM stations have finally achieved something close to technical and legal parity with FM translator stations. LPFM rules have been refined to provide a substantive preference for those who actually plan to focus on live and local programming. And the next filing window for new LPFM stations will open in the fall of next year. Continue reading “LPFM vs. Translators: A "Resolution"”
This crowdsourced funding call to build a new community radio station crossed my tweet-stream Tuesday. The Media Institute for Social Change, a non-profit media literacy/empowerment group in Portland, Oregon, has apparently secured a “rare opportunity” to build a new radio station in town. The goal of its campaign is to raise $3,500 by November 16. As of today, $2,220 has been pledged.
“We have accomplished perhaps the hardest part – we have acquired an FCC license, an incredibly rare commodity,” writes the Media Institute for Social Change’s executive director Phil Busse. “Your donation, quite literally, will be the nucleus around which the radio station is built…. Continue reading “Crowdfunding Community Radio?”
On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission announced further rules designed to expand the LPFM radio service. This is likely to be the last significant opportunity for budding community broadcasters to obtain an LPFM license. Radio Survivor’s Paul Riismandel has an overview of the FCC’s action, while REC Networks Michi Eyre has written a thorough synopsis of its nuts and bolts.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway is the FCC’s proposed handling of a flood of applications for FM translators. More than 6,000 applications for translators are pending from a 2003 filing window (when more than 13,000 applications were tendered). This run on translators has already scarfed up lots of FM spectrum that could have gone toward an LPFM expansion. Continue reading “FCC Outlines LPFM Expansion”
The abuse of FM translators continues unabated, and may be more insidious than anyone realizes – including (and especially) the FCC.
First there was Clark Parrish, the mastermind who swamped the FCC’s license-application system during a 2003 filing window for new translators. He applied for thousands of stations under the guise of two shell corporations – Radio Assist Ministry and Edgewater Broadcasting – with the intent of selling them off to other broadcasters so that he could build his own full-power religious radio empire with the proceeds.
The FCC, in response to outcry over such blatant sentimentalizing, froze a goodly portion of his translator applications in 2005. The entire mess remains unresolved today, though the FCC must untangle it before moving forward with an expansion of the LPFM radio service. Continue reading “Completing the Cycle of Translator Abuse: Hopping Madness”
From the new-lows-in-translator-abuse-department: HHawaii Media, owner of nine stations throughout the island chain, has begun quadcasting in HD on its adult-contemporary station, KORL. The three additional subchannels are smooth jazz, Korean pop, and Japanese pop.
KORL owner George Hochman launched the multicasts exclusively for feeding analog FM translators, and each HD subchannel already has its own translator. Continue reading “HD Radio Scene Report: Hawaii”
They make their bread and butter on access to the public airwaves, and for decades they have agitated against newcomers and ne’er-do-wells vying for a piece of the dial. But a skirmish between two commercial broadcasters over interference caused by an FM translator suggests that some radio broadcasters see over-the-air transmission slipping in importance as the primary conduit for their content.
Fortunately, the FCC does not. Continue reading “Cracking the Lid on Pandora's Box”
Reply comments in the FCC’s ongoing rulemaking to expand the LPFM service are due on September 27. REC Networks‘ Michi Eyre has written an excellent (and wonky!) summary of comments filed in the proceeding to date by those who have focused on the elephant in the room – the troubled relationship between LPFM and FM translator stations.
Over the last twenty years, the use of FM translators has evolved dramatically. Once a secondary service, such stations are now being deployed as stand-alone outlets around the country. Following the creation of the LPFM service, broadcasters made a run on spectrum for FM translators which has resulted in seven translators going on the air for every one LPFM station over the last decade.
The FCC is now attempting to “level the playing field” so that the explosive growth of translators does not suffocate any LPFM expansion. Continue reading “FCC Mulls Fine Print of LPFM”
Clear Channel is the nation’s largest commercial radio broadcaster. Educational Media Foundation is one of the nation’s largest religious radio broadcasters. Both companies have an affinity for FM translators – and now, they’re working together for mutual enrichment at the expense of others on the dial.
EMF operates the K-LOVE and AIR-1 Christian music networks. It owns several hundred FM translators around the country; during the Great Translator Invasion of 2003, when more than 13,000 new translator applications were filed, EMF tendered paperwork for 875 new translators.
Clear Channel owns more than 700 full-power radio stations, and over the last few years it has also acquired or leased FM translators to rebroadcast some of its “beleaguered” AM stations as well as to simulcast otherwise-unheard HD Radio programming in analog form. Continue reading “Unholy Alliance”
This week the FCC released another Notice of Proposed Rulemaking designed to expand the LPFM service, with special emphasis on the placement of new LPFM stations in cities. The primary point of contention is how the agency should treat LPFM stations with regard to FM translators.
(A quick overview: LPFM stations broadcast with 100 watts or less and must be live and local, while FM translators can broadcast with up to 250 watts and may not originate their own programming.)
The spectral conflict between LPFM and translator stations is a big one. On purely technical grounds they are essentially equivalent services, but by rule translators may be sited closer to neighbors on the dial than LPFM stations can. In addition, since the first round of LPFMs were licensed a decade ago (of which 829 are on the air), several thousand FM translators have begun broadcasting in the intervening years. Continue reading “FCC Considers LPFM Expansion”