The Obama administration’s hunger for wireless broadband spectrum reminds me of a junkie seeking their next fix – they’ll do anything to get more.
In addition to freezing applications for rural low-power DTV stations and threatening to appropriate spectrum from the General Mobile Radio Service (think two-way radio applications, such as those used by industry and public safety agencies), a new proposal would trim the spectrum allocated to weather satellites.
Those of you living east of the Rockies this week got a taste of a “megastorm” which swept the country; the pressure-center of this continental weather-maker was “one of the deepest…ever observed in the continental U.S., outside of a hurricane.” Fortunately, it transited a land mass; if it were over water, this weather system would have qualified as a Category 3 storm. Continue reading “Faster Facebook or Accurate Forecasts?”
Community radio stations are strange animals. While they all have paper-missions to be inclusive, alternative, and oriented toward citizen access to the airwaves, the reality is that they often have poisonous internal politics, can get caught up in their own legacies to the detriment of their futures, and – like many volunteer-driven organizations (but ironic for a radio station) – don’t necessarily communicate well amongst themselves.
My current home for radio-catharsis, WEFT, is not immune to this. I’ve served a year on the Board of Directors and came away completely frustrated. Fortunately, many community radio stations – if the volunteers are detached from the baggage, empowered with a sense of collective responsibility and left to do their thing – can almost run themselves. This applies to WEFT as well. Continue reading “Props Out of Nowhere”
What is LPFM?
LPFM stands for Low Power FM radio broadcasting. In the United States, the lowest minimum wattage a licensed FM radio station may have is 100 watts. There are lower-power FM transmitters in use, though, by some stations who want to increase their coverage area by extending their signal. These are called translators or boosters.
While these may only have a wattage measured in a range from dozens to hundreds, they are not true broadcast stations by the FCC’s definitions – they do not originate their own programming. They rely on a “parent” station to provide what they air.
Ham (amateur) radio uses a similar system called a repeater; people don’t broadcast from it. They shoot a signal into it, and then it gets re-broadcast to an area larger than what ham operators might reach with their own gear. In a nutshell, translators and boosters are the repeaters of FM radio.
LPFM is the common term used to define an FM broadcast station that originates its own programming but has the power of a translator or booster. Under current FCC rules, operating such a station is simply not allowed. You may also see LPFM referred to by other terms – like “LPRS,” “microradio,” and “mini-FM,” but they all mean the same thing. Continue reading “The History of LPFM”
It’s not quite going in that direction – yet – but another law firm has opened an inquiry into “defective” HD Radio receivers in high-end automobiles. The first firm on the scene, Keefe Bartels, is now soliciting consumer complaints about problems with HD Radio reception.
Details are few, but there’s always the chance – if a lawsuit is filed – that the plaintiffs could push for class-action status. Both firms appear to be working in concert. Continue reading “The People v. HD Radio”
There is now a mini-library of published books available on the subject of digital terrestrial radio broadcasting. Two are domestic and technical; the other two are more globally-oriented and critical. (I’m writing the domestic-critical book!)
First up is the oldest: The IBOC Handbook: Understanding HD Radio™ Technology is a must-read for any broadcast engineer saddled with the task of implementing HD on a broadcast station. Published by the National Association of Broadcasters and authored by David Maxson, the book is an excellent technical overview of the protocol as well as its potentials and pitfalls. (It’s also the only one of the books I’ve actually read yet.)
HD Radio Implementation: The Field Guide for Facility Conversion was written by Thomas Ray III, WOR’s chief engineer and (until recently) a very staunch proponent of HD Radio. If you’re a broadcast engineer faced with HD, this is the second book you should read – Maxson’s book explains the theory, while Ray’s book looks at the issue from the applied angle – how to not only just install, adjust, and maintain an HD signal, but also how to optimize the entire station’s air chain to accommodate it. Continue reading “Digital Radio Books of Note”