Radio Currents Online - Apr 7 - Apr 13, 2008


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News

NATE Publishes Tower Owner Safety Checklist
Watertown, SD - Apr 7, 2008 - The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) is continuing its campaign to encourage tower safety. The association has issued a tower safety checklist that includes the latest industry best practices and standards that tower owners should follow when building and maintaining a tower. This checklist is based on NATE's 13 years of experience providing the latest safety training and materials to tower climbers and maintenance crews.

From the announcement: "NATE believes that the responsibility of safety is on everyone's shoulders, from tower climbers up to the tower owners themselves. To drive that message of responsibility, NATE is encouraging tower owners and operators to use this checklist and improve the way they build and maintain towers."

The checklist covers hiring work crews, ensuring a safe work environment and general tower integrity. Download the checklist at radiomagonline.com.


Nationwide Cell Phone Alert System in the Works
Washington - Apr 9, 2008 - USA Today reports that the FCC is considering action on developing a national alerting system that would work with cell phones. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile have stated that they would likely participate in the system.

Details at USA Today.


SBE, NFL Announce Agreement for 2008 Season
Indianapolis, IN - Apr 10, 2008 - The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) and the National Football League (NFL) have signed a new agreement for the SBE/NFL Game Day Coordination (GDC) program during the 2008 NFL Football Season. For the past nine NFL football seasons, the SBE and the NFL have worked together to jointly administer a frequency coordination and database management program for football games, to promote an interference-free and harmonious environment for wireless operations, including broadcast radio and television, emergency, game operations, food service and other communications prior to and during NFL football games.

Like preceding agreements, the new SBE/NFL GDC agreement commits the SBE to provide Game Day Coordinators at NFL games and to administer the GDC program during the 2008/09 NFL season. The program operates as an adjunct to SBE's Frequency Coordination program.

The new agreement also begins a transition. Because of the maturation of the GDC program and the increased value that the NFL places on the program as an integral part of game operations within NFL stadiums, the NFL and SBE have decided that after the 2008 season, the GDC program will be administered directly by the NFL. Game Day Coordinators will at that time be retained directly by the NFL.

As part of the transition, the SBE will initiate an educational training program for broadcast engineers in the growing area of event frequency coordination, which will allow the SBE to continue to support the GDC program and other similar programs through training, education and referrals of competent event frequency coordinators to the NFL and other organizations. SBE President Barry Thomas said, "The SBE looks forward to helping the NFL with the natural transition in our successful alliance. We expect that our new educational efforts will offer additional contributions and professional opportunities for broadcast engineers."


Marconi Radio Award Nominations Now Being Accepted
Washington, DC - Apr 9, 2008 - The National Association of Broadcasters has opened the nominations for the 2008 NAB Marconi Radio Awards. The Marconi Awards recognize overall excellence in radio. General managers may nominate their station in the station of the year by market size and/or station of the year by format categories, as well as one of their outstanding air personalities in the personality of the year by market size category. Stations may also submit nominations for network/syndicated personality of the year and legendary station.

Stations must submit their nominations online at www.nab.org/awards/marconis. All nominations must be received by May 2. Finalists will be announced in July. The winners will be announced on Sept. 18 during the NAB Marconi Radio Awards Dinner and Show at The NAB Radio Show in Austin, TX (Sept. 17-19.)

Winners will be chosen by the NAB Marconi Radio Awards Selection Academy. The Academy is made up of general managers, program directors, regional radio executives, owners, programming consultants and former radio executives. Applications for membership into the Academy can be made to Chris Suever at csuever@nab.org or 202-775-3511.


Business

Clear Channel Touts 340+ HD Radio Stations with Itunes Tagging
San Antonio, TX - Apr 7, 2008 - Clear Channel Radio has announced that more than 340 of its primary HD Radio stations are providing the Itunes tagging feature. Itunes Tagging allows listeners to tag songs they like that are broadcast by HD Radio stations. Information about these tagged songs is stored by the receiver and transferred to the listener's Ipod. When the Ipod is connected to a computer, Itunes automatically presents the songs in a new tagged playlist so the user can preview, buy and download the tagged songs. Radio broadcasters can share in the revenue derived from song purchases made by their listeners.


Sales Call
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Stream Guys is partnering with Chicago Public Radio to provide enterprise-level Web audio services for Chicago Public Radio productions, from local content to national programs such as This American Life and Sound Opinions. Stream Guys works alongside Chicago Public Radio to offer both live and on-demand services -- defining, troubleshooting, and scaling them as necessary and advising on emerging technologies, while allowing the station to grow at its own pace.

Comrex Corporation’s UK distributor, Vortex Communications, has signed a major equipment-supply deal with UK traffic and travel news provider Global Traffic Network (GTN) to supply Comrex IP Audio Codecs and accessories. Each of GTN's affiliates within the UKRD group will be using a Comrex Access Voice over IP codec to receive its travel reports.
LKCM Radio Group, the parent company of multiple Texas-based country music stations, has selected Internap Network Services Corporation's ad delivery service and content delivery network (CDN) to reach a larger audience and increase revenue from its online presence through sponsorship and advertising. LKCM Radio Group owns nine Texas and Oklahoma-based radio stations, including country station 95.9 The Ranch and classic country station 92.1, and has been streaming radio online for approximately five years. It recently adopted robust Internet business solutions from Internap, including ad delivery technology and a custom media player.
Public broadcaster Radio Suisse Romande (RSR) is using V4x Sequencer for Flash to produce and publish interactive content. V4x Sequencer for Flash is an integral part of RSR's trial efforts to develop new methods to produce interactive content for delivery to the web and new media platforms such as mobile and DAB.

BE and Ka You Reach Local Markets with Satellite Networked Automation
Quincy, IL - Apr 10, 2008 - Expanding the local outreach of religious broadcast groups and other cluster stations, Broadcast Electronics (BE) and Ka You Communications are collaborating on a solution that teams IP addressable satellite delivery with smart, Tivo-like automation.

The program lowers the cost of entry of satellite-delivered content and is a first to address audio delay issues associated with voice-tracking over satellite. It consists of Ka You Communications' 24/7 distribution services and IP-ready system, a satellite router with high-speed data delivery and BE's Audiovault digital media system with centralized storage at the main studio and self-automated Audiovault units at each remote location.

A successful implementation of satellite networked Audiovaults took place at Family Life Network in Bath, NY, in January 2008, for automating programming and voice-tracking news, traffic and other local content from a main studio to multiple transmitter sites throughout New England. Satellite delivered content from a central studio expands the religious broadcaster's programming reach and saves real estate costs and operational expenses such as insurance and utilities, plus other expenses associated with maintaining separate studios for each of the stations.


TC Electronic, Gibson Merger: No Deal
Nashville and Risskov, Denmark - Apr 9, 2008 - Gibson Guitar and TC Group, the parent company of TC Electctronic and Tannoy, have discontinued discussions regarding a potential merger between the two companies. The two firms worked to consummate the deal within a targeted timeline, but a number of issues remained unresolved, and both Gibson and TC agreed that it was best that the merger proceedings not continue.


People

Randy Michaels Named to NAB TV Board
Washington, DC - Apr 7, 2008 - Randy Michaels, chief executive officer for Tribune Company, has been appointed to the NAB Television Board. Michaels, who was appointed by NAB Television Board Chairman Alan Frank, fills the at-large seat left vacant when board member Bob Lee of Schurz Communications retired last December.

Michaels was named CEO for Tribune in December 2007. Prior to taking the post at Tribune, he was the chief executive for Local TV, a company created through his work with Oak Hill Capital Partners.

Michaels previously served as president and co-COO for Jacor Communications, which owned more than 200 radio and television stations, until its purchase by Clear Channel Communications in 1999. Following Clear Channel's purchase of Jacor, Michaels became president of Clear Channel Radio, where he was later named chairman and CEO.


Neural Adds Johnston as Chief Scientist
Kirkland, WA - Apr 7, 2008 - Neural Audio has appointed James D. "JJ" Johnston as its chief scientist. Johnston joins Neural Audio from Microsoft, where he was audio architect.

Johnston has been called the father of perceptual audio coding for his pioneering contributions to digital audio. His accomplishments during a 26-year career at AT&T Bell Labs among other achievements allowed for the distribution of digital music and digital audio over the Internet. As a technology leader at AT&T Research Labs, Johnston invented a number of basic techniques used in perceptual audio coding, especially in MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (MP3), MPEG-2 Part 7 and MPEG-4 Part 3 Advanced Audio Coding (AAC). He also was responsible for creating the standards used for coding audio-visual information in movies, video and music formats in a digital compressed format.

Johnston retired from AT&T Labs in 2002 and joined Microsoft in Redmond, WA, as audio architect, where he designed and implemented all audio post processing functions for the Windows Vista operating platform.

Johnston is an IEEE Fellow, the recipient of the 2006 James L. Flanagan Speech and Audio Processing Award and a co-recipient of the IEEE Donald G. Fink Prize Paper Award. He also is a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society, has published more than 50 technical papers, and has been awarded more than 20 U.S. patents. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, both in electrical engineering.


Full Compass Adds Wenzel as Director of Sales
Middleton, WI - Apr 10, 2008 - Full Compass has added Roxanne Wenzel as its new director of sales. Wenzel joined the company in early March.
She began her career at age 23, when she started her own real estate rentals business. This was followed by a second business with a focus on sales of home improvement products. After selling her second business to pursue other opportunities, Wenzel held a number of high-level positions, including chief operating officer at Cascade Asset Management, president of Scotty Ernst Productions and vice president of sales at Parts Now. During this time she also earned an executive MBA from the University of Wisconsin School of Business.


Lawo North America Appoints Mueller as US Sales and Marketing Manager
Toronto, ON - Apr 7, 2008 - Lawo has appointed Michael H. Mueller to the position of U.S. sales and marketing manager. Based in Ridgefield, CT, Mueller joins Lawo after sales positions with Audio Techniques, Scharff Weisberg Associates, Siemens Audio/AMS-Neve, SSL and Fairlight USA. Prior to joining Lawo North America in January, he was vice president, sales and marketing for Mediagear of Los Angeles.

In his new capacity with Lawo, Mueller will be responsible for the further development of the Lawo brand identity throughout the United States and will also be charged with increasing sales of the company's numerous products.


Products

Audio Science Redesigns PCI Tuner Adapters
Newecastle, DE - April 2, 2008 - Audio Science has announced the new ASI8921 line is a smaller version with the addition of RDS/RDBS metadata monitoring.

The ASI8921 is a half-length PCI card, much smaller than the ASI8700 series, and can be fitted with one or two tuner modules as required. Currently available modules provide either four channels FM+RDS or four channels of AM/FM+RDS. Added functionality includes AM and FM de-emphasis, which is software selectable, using Audio Science’s ASI Control mixer application. An F connector feeds RF signal from an external antenna to all tuners on the ASI8921. On the AM/FM module, each tuner may also be fed from an external antenna input per tuner. An HD50 connector makes available the mono or stereo line level audio of each tuner output.

The silicon tuners used also reduce the power consumption of the ASI8921 series. The ASI8921-2200 with eight AM/FM tuners consumes less than 10W compared to almost 20W of the previous generation ASI8702 AM/FM adapter.

There are four versions of the ASI8921 available:

  • The ASI8921-1000 has 4 channels of FM+RDS
  • The ASI8921-1100 has 8 channels of FM+RDS
  • The ASI8921-2000 has 4 channels of AM/FM+RDS
  • The ASI8921-2200 has 8 channels of AM/FM+RDS

Up to eight ASI8921s can be placed in one system, and Windows XP, Server 2003, Vista and Linux software drivers are available.


PCM Memory: One Step Closer
Geneva - Mar 31, 2008 - Numonyx, a joint venture of ST Microelectronics and Intel, is working on making a nearly 40-year-old concept a reality: Phase change memory (PCM). Samples of the company's efforts in memory technology were released earlier in March. PCM provides very fast read and write speeds at lower power than conventional flash, and allows for bit alterability normally seen in RAM. PCM also uses less power. PCM chips can survive tens of millions of read-write cycles.

CNET explains that PCM chips heat a microscopic bit on a substrate to between 150 degrees and 600 degrees Celsius. The heat melts the bit, which when cooled solidifies into one of two crystalline structures, depending on how fast the cooling takes place. The two different crystalline structures exhibit different levels of resistance to electrical current, and those levels of resistance in turn are then read as ones or zeros.


Tascam Updates USB 2.0 Interfaces
Montebello, CA - Apr 8, 2008 - Tascam has updated its US-122L, US-144 and US-1641 USB audio interfaces with new drivers and Steinberg's latest workstation software, Cubase LE4. The 1.01 drivers support the Mac OS X Leopard operating system and improve performance at 88.2kHz and 96kHz sampling rates.

The US-1641 is a 16-in, 4-out audio interface with eight mic ins and six line ins. It is USB 2.0 compatible. The US-122L also uses USB 2.0 and adds additional monitoring and a pair of S/PDIF digital inputs and outputs.


Sky Clix Introduces Interactive Broadcast Radio
San Diego, CA - Apr 9, 2008 - Sky Clix has launched Pound Sky in Los Angeles and San Diego. Pound Sky allows mobile consumers to identify on-air content and advertisers from radio stations by dialing #SKY (#759). There is no fee to use the #SKY service. It is an ad-supported service that enables consumers to link with radio advertisements, communicate directly with radio stations, identify songs and broadcast content, share with their friends and automatically post to Facebook. The universal number, #SKY, works with FM radio stations in the major metro areas of California.

Using Sky Clix Pound Sky service, consumers dial the number, hold the mobile phone up to the speaker of the radio or television for about 15 seconds, and within one minute, the consumer receives information on whatever they were listening to. Consumers can then act on the information by downloading a coupon, calling the advertiser, mailing the DJ, entering a contest and more.

Broadcasters can use Pound Sky for promotions, value-add to advertisers and data collection. Additionally, advertisers are signing up for the service as it simplifies direct-response.

Service is currently available on AT&;ampT, Sprint, Nextel, Alltel, Helio, Dobson Cellular, Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile with other carriers being added in the coming weeks. To access Pound Sky on carriers not yet offering the service, simply dial 1-87-POUNDSKY (877-686-3759).


BE Upgrades Message Management System
Quincy, IL - Apr 9, 2008 - Broadcast Electronics (BE) is stepping up nontraditional revenue and relevant text endeavors with new features and upgrades for its text automation system. At the heart of The Radio Experience (TRE) upgrade is a new modular architecture that streamlines message generation and scheduling for text readout on RBDS, HD Radio and Internet streaming tuners.

With more flexibility and greater programmability, BE's The Radio Experience now addresses a growing interest in radio text opportunities as HD Radio and RBDS become staples in major-market stations and as traditional ad revenues level off overall.

Opportunistic insertion of text ads for high-impact exposure plus online text plug-ins from weather, sports and other information providers are among the benefits. The Radio Experience is targeted to broadcasters expanding their text operations beyond 'now playing' song and title information.


Zephyr/IP Now Shipping
Cleveland - Apr 9, 2008 - Telos Systems is now shipping the Zephyr/IP, an IP codec optimized for operation over the public Internet and mobile phone data services. Zephyr/IP utilizes ACT (Agile Connection Technology), which combines loss detection and concealment with dynamic buffering and auto-varying bit-rate functions to continuously adapt to network conditions, minimizing the effects of packet loss, varying bandwidth and jitter that occur on real-world networks. Z/IP also works directly with high-speed mobile phone data networks; a PC card slot accepts standard mobile data cards. Z/IP also includes the AAC-ELD coding algorithm.

The Z/IP family includes a studio codec and a PC-based server that addresses firewall and NAT (Network Address Translation) issues. Firewalls and NAT devices often found at the edges of LANs can prevent audio streams from flowing, but Telos Z/IP Server solves this by keeping track of users' online status and IP address information so that making connections is as simple as selecting from an on-screen list.


Day Sequerra Adds Apple Buy Button Diagnostics to M3 HD Radio Tuner
West Berlin, NJ - Apr 10, 2008 - Day Sequerra has added new features to its soon-to-ship M3 model. The M3 contains three separate AM, FM and HD Radio tuners in a single 2RU enclosure.

Each of the three tuners included with the unit will include the ability to display the Apple UFID Buy Button data, a function that many HD Radio broadcasters have already embraced. The Buy Button, on consumer HD Radio receivers properly equipped, allows the unique identifier of a song to be saved at the push of a button.

Day Sequerra is first to include Buy Button diagnostics in its line of professional HD Radio modulation monitors and tuners, and will display the M3 at the NAB Show. The M3 is scheduled to ship in May 2008.


Orban Introduces Free Loudness/Level Metering Software
San Leandro, CA - Apr 10, 2008 - Orban has released the first public beta of Orban Loudness Meter software for Windows XP and Vista. It is available as a free download from www.orban.com/meter.

The company says that this is the first of a family of Orban meters. Future paid versions will offer upgraded features including logging, surround monitoring, and oversampled peak measurements that indicate the peak level of the audio after D/A conversion. This software simultaneously displays instantaneous peaks, VU, PPM, CBS Technology Center loudness, and ITU BS.1770 loudness. All meters include peak-hold functionality.

The software accepts two-channel stereo inputs. The VU and PPM meters are split to indicate the left and right channels. The PPM meter also displays the instantaneous peak values of the L and R digital samples. The CBS meter is a short-term loudness meter intended to display the details of moment-to-moment loudness with dynamics similar to a VU meter. It uses the Jones and Torick algorithm developed at the CBS Technology Center and published in 1981 in the SMPTE Journal. Created using Orban-developed modeling software, the DSP implementation typically matches the original analog meter within 0.5dB on sinewaves, tone bursts and noise.

The Jones and Torick algorithm improves upon the original loudness measurement algorithm developed by CBS researchers in the late 1960s. Its foundation is psychoacoustic studies done at CBS Laboratories over a two-year period by Torick and Benjamin Bauer. After surveying existing equal-loudness contour curves and finding them inapplicable to measuring the loudness of broadcasts, Torick and Bauer organized listening tests that resulted in a new set of equal-loudness curves based on octave-wide noise reproduced by calibrated loudspeakers in a semireverberant 16' x 14' x 8' room, which is representative of a room in which broadcasts are normally heard. In 1966, they published this work in the IEEE Transactions on Audio and Electroacoustics, along with results from other tests whose goal was to model the loudness integration time constants of human hearing.

In 2006, the ITU-R published Recommendation ITU-R BS.1770 Algorithms to measure audio programme loudness and true-peak audio level. Developed by G.A. Soulodre, the BS.1770 loudness meter uses a frequency-weighted RMS measurement intended to be integrated over several seconds - perhaps as long as an entire program segment. As such, it is considered a long-term loudness measurement because it does not take into account the loudness integration time constants of human hearing, as does the CBS meter.

Orban's BS.1770 loudness meter uses the Leq(RLB2) algorithm as specified in the Recommendation. This applies frequency weighting before the RMS integrator. The frequency weighting is a series connection of pre-filter and RLB weighting curves. The Orban meter precisely implements equations (1) and (2) in this document by using a rolling integrator whose integration time is user-adjustable from one to 10 seconds.

Additionally, the Orban meter offers an experimental long-term loudness indication derived by post-processing the CBS algorithm's output. This uses a relatively simple algorithm that attempts to mimic a skilled operator's mental integration of the peak swings of a meter with VU-like dynamics. The operator will concentrate most on the highest indications but will tend to ignore a single high peak that is atypical of the others.

Researchers have long been curious about the Jones and Torick meter but been unable to evaluate it and compare it with other meters. Orban developed this software because the company believed it would be useful to practicing sound engineers and researchers and also because Orban is using it in its new Optimod 8585 surround audio processor.

The Orban software runs on Windows XP and Vista computers having 1.5GHz or faster Intel Pentium 4 or Intel-compatible processors that implement the SSE2 instruction set. While the software can be driven by any installed Windows sound device, monitoring playback from an application such as Windows Media Player requires the sound hardware to support Windows Wave I/O.


EYE ON IBOC

Nautel Adds HD Radio Transmitter Power Boost
Las Vegas - Apr 11, 2008 - Nautel has introduced a new technology that will allow HD Radio broadcasters to increase digital transmitter power while improving efficiency. Nautel calls this technology HD Power Boost, which will be available on its new transmitters introduced at the NAB Show.

Nautel Research Engineer Philipp Schmid will discuss the company's patent-pending technology in a session during the Broadcast Engineering Conference. IBOC signals require a widely varying signal envelope. The peak power compared to the average power in the signal is defined as the peak-to-average-power ratio (PAPR). According to Schmid, "The ideal IBOC signal exhibits a PAPR of more than 12dB, requiring significant input back off, seriously limiting the transmitter's output power capability and efficiency."

By using advanced algorithms, peak power requirements are reduced, allowing new Nautel transmitters to transmit higher digital power levels while at the same time achieving greater transmitter efficiency. Nautel notes that this effect is even more pronounced at higher digital carrier injection levels.




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