Radio Currents Online - Dec 09 - Dec 31, 2002

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NAB Survey Reveals Strong Consumer Support for Local Radio

Washington, D.C. - Dec 30, 2002 - More than three-quarters of Americans believe radio stations regularly provide important news and information relevant to local communities, according to a nationwide poll commissioned by the National Association of Broadcasters and performed by the Washington polling firm The Mellman Group. The poll found that 78 percent of Americans believe local radio stations provide a "very important" or "somewhat important" role in providing valuable news and information. Only three percent of respondents said local radio stations are "not at all important" in providing relevant community news and information.

The Mellman Group national telephone poll of 1,000 consumers was conducted between Dec. 17 and 19, 2002, and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

By a 5-1 margin (65 percent to 13 percent), consumers expressed satisfaction with the overall programming provided by local radio stations. The survey also found that 77 percent of consumers believe their favorite local radio stations provide the music that they like either all of the time, most of the time or some of the time. Only 13 percent of radio listeners believe that local stations rarely or never carry music that they like.

Only 17% of Americans say that local radio stations are providing less variety than they were five years ago. Twenty-nine percent (29%) say that these stations are providing more variety, and 21% say that they are providing the same amount of variety.

FCC Hears Importance Of Auxiliary Spectrum From SBE

Indianapolis - Dec 19, 2002 - The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) presented the Broadcast News and Sports Tutorial to more than 100 staff of the FCC on the Dec. 17. The purpose of the five-hour program was to inform attendees about broadcasters’ use of auxiliary spectrum regulated under 47 CFR Part 74.

Ken Aagaard, VP of sports operations, engineering and production services, CBS Networks (far right) is joined by CBS Sports Director of Engineer Larry Barbatsoulis and Louis Libin of Broad-Comm to discuss use of auxiliary spectrum in PGA Golf tournament TV coverage.

The program included presentations by the SBE, CBS Sports, the National Football League, Broadcast Sports, Media Alert and the Southern California Frequency Coordination Committee. The importance of spectrum availability and coordination of its use was described using real-life examples of breaking news and sports programming. Video clips of breaking news coverage of wildfires, marine disasters and severe weather depicted how broadcasters rely on auxiliary spectrum and wireless communications to report news to the public. The wide use of wireless devices in sporting events was depicted using PGA Golf tournaments, auto races and NFL football games as examples. The important role of the SBE regional and event frequency coordinators was explained.

Moderating the program was SBE frequency coordination director David Otey, CSTE. Presenters, in addition to Otey, included Ken Aagaard and Larry Barbatsoulis of CBS Sports, Ralph Beaver, CBT of Media Alert, Howard Fine, CPBE of the Southern California Frequency Coordination Committee, Jay Gerber, CBT and Karl Voss of the National Football League. Also making presentations were SBE general counsel Chris Imlay of Booth, Freret, Imlay & Tepper, P.C., Peter Larsson of Broadcast Sports and Louis Libin of Broad-Comm. Bruce Franca, deputy chief of the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology, Benedict and SBE executive director John Poray provided opening comments.

Organized in 1964, the Society of Broadcast Engineers is the professional organization for broadcast engineers and technicians with more than 5,400 members in 107 chapters throughout the United States and 30 other countries. The SBE Certification Program is recognized across the United States as the best indicator of a broadcast engineer’s experience and expertise. SBE also provides event frequency coordination services and is an advocate for broadcast engineers on technical issues before the FCC and other government agencies and officials.

FCC Investigates Additional Spectrum For Unlicensed Devices

Washington - Dec 11, 2002 - As part of the ongoing effort to promote efficient use of spectrum, the FCC has asked for public comment on the possibility of permitting unlicensed transmitters to operate in additional frequency bands. Such changes could allow the development of new and innovative types of unlicensed devices. This inquiry examines new and creative ways to use the spectrum resource more efficiently by considering new spectral frontiers for unlicensed use.

In a Notice of Inquiry approved Dec. 11, the Commission stated that the current rules for unlicensed transmitters have been a tremendous success. A wide variety of devices have been developed and introduced under those rules for consumer and business use, including cordless telephones, home security systems, electronic toys, anti-pilfering and inventory control systems, and computer wireless local area networks. The success of those rules shows that there could be significant benefits to the economy, businesses and consumers in making additional spectrum available for unlicensed transmitters. Unlicensed transmitters may be operated under the provisions of Part 15 of the Commission’s rules.

The notice seeks comments on whether unlicensed operations should be permitted in additional frequency bands. Specifically, it seeks comments on the feasibility of allowing unlicensed devices to operate in the TV broadcast spectrum and locations and times when spectrum is not being used. It also seeks comment on the feasibility of permitting unlicensed devices to operate in other bands, such as the 3650MHz–3700MHz band, at power levels higher than other unlicensed transmitters with only the minimal technical requirements necessary to prevent interference to licensed services.

The Commission noted that there have been significant advances in technology that may make it feasible to design new types of unlicensed devices that are able to share spectrum in the TV bands without causing interference to licensed services operating in those bands. Advances in computer technology make it possible to design equipment that could monitor the spectrum to detect frequencies already in use and ensure that transmissions only occur on open frequencies. The low cost of GPS equipment could allow a device to determine its location and use information from a database to determine whether there are any licensed operations in its vicinity. Equipment can be designed that is frequency agile, with the capability of changing frequency as needed to avoid interference to licensed users.

OET Docket No. 02-380

New England Station Wins Zoning Dispute in Court

Lebanon, NH - Dec 12, 2002 - After a long court battle, Koor Communications won its case in the New Hampshire Supreme Court over zoning restrictions in the town of Lebanon, NH, that precluded the licensee from constructing towers on a new site for WQTH-AM, a 50kW station on 720kHz licensed to Hanover, NH.

The dispute centered around a zoning restriction that prohibited towers taller than 42 from being erected. The Licensee’s construction permit specifies towers to be 266 feet tall. The final ruling of the state’s Supreme Court provides a preemption to the licensee in the matter that showed the local and federal elements to be in conflict.

The complete court report can be viewed at the New Hampshire Supreme Court website by following this link:


XM Announces $450 Million Financing Package

Washington - Dec 23, 2002 - XM Satellite Radio announced a set of definitive financing agreements totaling $450 million - consisting of $200 million in new funds from strategic and financial investors and $250 million in payment deferrals and related credit facilities from General Motors. The $200 million in new funding is in the form of 10 percent Senior Secured Discount Convertible Notes due in 2009, and a small concurrent common stock sale. Purchasers of the notes include American Honda Motor, Hughes Electronics, The Hearst Corporation, Columbia Capital LLC, AEA Investors, Eastbourne Capital Management LLC, BayStar Capital II and other parties. The notes are convertible into common stock at a price of $3.18 per share. Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes.

In the other major element of the financing package, General Motors, which is currently factory-installing XM radios in 25 different 2003 vehicle lines, has agreed to defer or finance up to $250 million of payments through 2006.

In addition to the financing package, the company will commence an exchange offer on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2002, for all $325 million of its outstanding 14 percent Senior Secured Notes due 2010 in exchange for new 14 percent Senior Secured Discount Notes due 2009, warrants and cash. The financing package is contingent on at least a 90 percent participation threshold of the outstanding Senior Notes participating in the exchange offer, which can be waived by the company with the concurrence of the investors in the 10 percent Senior Secured Discount Convertible Notes and General Motors.

"With this financing package, we believe we have achieved full funding through cash flow breakeven," said Hugh Panero, XM's President and CEO. "The financing also removes a major roadblock to our company being valued based on its marketplace progress, business plan execution and future economic potential," he added.

Based on sales-to-date and projections through year end, XM expects to have more than 350,000 radios (retail and OEM) sold and ready for activation by Dec. 31, 2002. The actual year-end activated subscriber total (sales that have resulted in activations) is expected to be between 340,000-350,000. A major reason for the range is the recent increase in the number of XM radios not activated at the time of retail purchase (currently, about 24,000 units), which XM attributes to the many XM radios being purchased as holiday gifts.

Full Compass Systems Celebrates 25 Years

Madison, WI - Dec 16, 2002 - Full Compass Systems was founded in 1977 by Jonathan Lipp in a small office next to Full Compass Sound Studios. His mission was to provide a better way to give customer service.

To celebrate the silver anniversary, the company owners threw an "ice fishing party" on Dec. 10. The party started when 114 flannel-clad employees and another 200 invited guests took over Madison’s Essen Haus restaurant for traditional Wisconsin dinner of spaetzle (a German noodle), corn on the cob, 'taters, and a fish fry. After dinner, the troupe attended a private performance of the ice fishing classic Guys on Ice performed by the Madison Repertory Theatre. Equipment manufacturers and representatives flew in from all over the country to join in the celebration.

Audion Labs adds RAM North American Sales Channel

Seattle - Dec 11, 2002 - Audion Laboratories has entered into a wholesale channel sales contract with RAM Broadcast Systems. All Voxpro PC and Voxpro PC network customers can use RAM Systems American and Canadian resellers to evaluate, trial and purchase Voxpro PC editing and network products.

Almost a dozen new features come with the Voxpro PC 3.1, including the ability to manage disk space by team, user and location, export unlimited files at one time, personalize waveform size and speed, link two or more Voxpro PC workstations, and undo or redo unlimited times.

STMicroelectronics Ships One-Millionth XM Chipset

Geneva - Dec 9, 2002 - STMicroelectronics has shipped its one millionth XM Satellite Radio chipset to XM's radio manufacturers. These chipsets integrate the key receiver functions into two custom-designed system-on-chip products. ST is the sole supplier of these chipsets.

The one million XM Radio chipsets have been delivered to equipment manufacturers including Pioneer, Alpine, Delphi, Sony, Clarion and Audiovox for vehicle and home receiver products that also include AM and FM radio capability. ST began production shipments of the XM chipset in July 2001.

Avis to Offer XM

Parsippany, NJ, and Washington - Dec 9, 2002 - Avis Rent A Car System will offer XM Satellite Radio to its rental customers nationwide beginning in the first quarter of 2003. Service will be offered at an introductory cost of $2.99 per day.

Avis is adding as many as 50,000 select General Motors vehicles with factory-installed XM radios to its fleet. Avis customers may request the XM-equipped vehicles in advance, or when they arrive at Avis locations throughout the country.


Change in SBE Board of Directors

Dec 18, 2002 – Indianapolis – During a conference-call board meeting, the Society of Broadcast Engineers board of directors ratified the appointment of Dave Hultsman, CSRE to the board. Hultsman, domestic channel manager for Continental Electronics, assumes the unexpired term of Donald Driskell, CSTE CBNT of Jackson, MS.

Driskell elected to step down from the board for personal reasons and has expressed his hope to serve on the board in the future.

Hultsman's term will expire in the Fall of 2003.

Bottorff Joins Dielectric

Raymond, ME - Dec 18, 2002 - Dielectric Communications has appointed Warren Bottorff as regional sales manager for the western states. Bottorff comes to Dielectric from SpectraSite, where he served as director of sales. Previously he was with Harris for 15 years, and has held engineering positions at local TV stations.

TC Electronic U.S. Restructures

Westlake Village, CA - Dec 16, 2002 - To better align the company for future growth, TC Electronic Worldwide has named named John Maier to the newly created post of vice president of sales, North America. Also announced as part of this new company structure, long-time TC Electronic U.S. managing director Ed Simeone has been appointed to the Board of Directors and now holds the title of president.

John Maier is an 18-year veteran of the pro audio industry and most recently was the pro audio buyer for Guitar Center Management. Before that Maier held several positions at Alesis Studio Electronics including director of marketing communication and national accounts manager. The prior 14 years were spent as a retailer and an independent representative. Maier will be in charge of all operations of the U.S. office and will be responsible for sales results in the United States and Canada.

Ed Simeone founded TC's U.S. distribution company and is a 30-year veteran of the audio and music industries. He has toured with groups such as Journey, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt and Toto to name a few.

PPW Names New Executive Director

McLean, VA - Dec 6, 2002 - The Partnership for Public Warning (PPW) has named Kenneth B. Allen as its first executive director. This action was taken at the PPW board meeting held in early December.

From 1997 until 2001, Allen was executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Newspaper Association, the largest such association in the United States, representing more than 3,000 community newspapers. Before that, Allen was president and senior vice president of the Information Industry Association, a group representing more than 800 of the world's leading high-tech information companies, including electronic publishers, telecommunication providers, and technology companies. He has also been a management consultant and newspaper publisher. In addition to his management experience, he has extensive experience working on the infrastructure issues associated with the information society. From 1976 until 1985, Allen was a senior policy analyst with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President.

Incorporated last January, PPW ( ) is a not-for-profit partnership set up to promote and enhance effective, integrated dissemination of public warnings & related information that will save lives, reduce losses and speed recovery from acts of terrorism, accidents and natural disasters.

Andrew Names new CEO

Orland Park, IL - Dec 11, 2002 - The Andrew board of directors intends to name Ralph E. Faison as CEO of Andrew at the company's 55th annual meeting of stockholders to be held on Feb. 11, 2003. Faison will succeed Dr. Floyd L. English, who will continue as Andrew chairman until February 2004.

English, 68, is widely credited with growing Andrew as a global company. Since joining Andrew in 1980, the year the company went public, and becoming CEO in 1983, he has continued the pursuit of international expansion. Andrew now has more than 4,000 employees in 28 countries around the world to provide global support for the world's major wireless operators and OEMs as they expand their services. During his 20 years as Andrew CEO, the company's sales have grown at a 10 percent compounded annual rate.

Ralph E. Faison, 44, became COO of Andrew in June 2002 after his company, Celiant, was acquired by Andrew. Before Celiant, Faison was a vice president in Lucent Technologies' New Ventures Group, in charge of creating businesses from the wireless and multimedia technologies of Bell Laboratories. Before that, Faison successfully launched Lucent's award-winning brand advertising campaign as VP of advertising and brand management. Prior to Lucent, he held positions in sales, marketing, business unit management, and manufacturing for AT&T, including VP and general manager of AT&T's wireless business unit and manufacturing VP for its Consumer Products unit in Bangkok, Thailand.

Internet Watch

Sennheiser Launches RF Finder Online

Old Lyme, CT - Dec 9, 2002 - Digital television (DTV) is getting closer. During the transition period from analog to digital, stations will operate on two channels, adding more congestion to the already crowded airwaves. To help RF specialists through the UHF maze, Sennheiser has launched a new website that offers tools and resources for finding available frequency bandwidth anywhere in the United States. Available at, the resource is under the Quick Links section and is called RF Frequency Finder.

The site includes recommended tunings for Sennheiser Evolution Wireless and 3000 and 5000 RF Series systems for situations that require the re-tuning of factory presets or where multi-channel requirements exceed the system's factory presets. An easy-to-follow, three-step guide allows audio engineers to download Sennheiser wireless equipment stock frequency and available custom grouping guides, cross-referenced to TV channel orientation, for study during tour pre-production or while on the road. A 50-state grid provides links to Adobe PDF downloads with comprehensive listings of the current analog and DTV frequencies in use in the major cities, including bandwidth allocations for future DTV transmission.

RF engineers may use the guides to select the wireless frequency range with the least number of TV signals and choose the Sennheiser wireless frequencies applicable to their particular RF system that fall within the unused TV channels for their tuning requirements. DTV facilities are coming online regularly, and broadcasters may petition the FCC for their DTV frequency assignments to be reallocated, so the website also includes a link to the FCC, where DTV spectrum allocation is continually updated.


Sennheiser Upgrades Evolution 609

Old Lyme, CT - Dec 23, 2002 - Sennheiser Electronic Corporation is introducing one of the first mic upgrades in the Evolution Wired Mic Series, the E 609 Silver. Building on the company's experience with the Evolution 609 and MD 409 dynamic microphones, Sennheiser has re-engineered the E 609's capsule. The E 609 is recognized for its side-address design, supercardioid pickup pattern and unique timbre that has been described as a low-mid growl.

The new features include a modified tonal character to more closely match that of the original MD 409 and a cosmetic change to the front grill, which is now silver. The frequency response of the E 609 Silver is 40Hz to 18kHz; sensitivity is 1.5mV/Pa; and nominal impedance is 350 ohms.

Enco Releases Phonetic Search System

Southfield, MI - Dec 16, 2002 - Enco Systems has released Phonetica, a phonetic-based search system for digital audio, targeted to the broadcast industry. Phonetica is available as an integrated module in Enco’s DADpro32 Digital Audio Delivery system. The module allows users to search through a library of audio files containing spoken material and find specific words or phrases simply by typing them. The Phonetica product contains underlying technology licensed from Fast-Talk, an Atlanta-based software company.

The product is designed to allow fast searches even in massive libraries of news actualities, programs or other spoken material. It offers the potential to save the user hours or days when searching for audio material. Enco sees Phonetica as an asset to news, talk and sports radio formats.

Phonetica is currently available from Enco Systems. For pricing, contact Enco sales.

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