Radio Currents Online - May 19 - Jun 01, 2003


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Radio Owners May Avoid Rule Changes


Washington - May 29, 2003 - The ongoing discussions of the FCC's review of station ownership rules has dominated headlines in trade and consumer publications. With the pending decision expected in less than one week, most of the current information has been speculation and the main focus has been on television matters. However, one bit of radio relevance has been included. Local radio monopolies could remain intact if current owners keep them or sell them to women or minority groups.

A proposal, discussed in a closed session on May 28, could affect many small markets where a single company now owns most or all of the local radio stations. Under a grandfathering clause, the FCC won't force current owners to sell stations, but when a market sale is planned, that owner must break the cluster or sell it intact to a minority group or a female owner.

The plan is the idea of FCC Chairman Michael Powell. Democrat Jonathan Adelstein supports the concept. Republican Kevin Martin favors no restrictions on sales.

The plan fits into the FCC's ongoing mission to increase minority ownership in broadcasting. In addition, a bill introduced by Sen. John McCain that attempts to increase minority ownership through tax certificates shows favor with this approach.


Five Radio Automation Companies Face Potential Lawsuit


Fort Worth, TX - May 28, 2003 - On May 9, the law office of Friedman, Suder and Cooke, representing Media Digital Corporation and John M. Connell, filed a complaint in the Northern District of Texas alleging patent infringement. The complaint relates to U.S. Patent 6,101,324, which, according to the patent abstract, covers:

A computerized audio or video signal control system controlled by an announcer and having a display of the available signal sources and scheduled events which can be activated, mixed, faded and cued by the announcer in the scheduled order or in an order the announcer desires. The control system provides the correlation between the displayed source or event name, the devices necessary to air the source or event and the routing necessary to air the event or source and then activates the proper devices to perform the task. The control system additionally logs the events actually activated in order.



While the abstract does not specifically state it, the real issue being covered is the use of a computer touch screen.

John Connell was the owner of Mediatouch from 1984 to 1995. Mediatouch is currently owned by OMT Technologies. Despite the sale of the company, Connell retained the U.S. patent rights because they had not yet been issued, despite the application that was made in 1985. The patent was granted in August 2000. OMT has already secured an agreement with Media Digital for the technology.

The patent itself discusses the method of storing, playing and manipulating audio from a touch-screen computer interface for broadcast use. The complaint filed in the Texas court claims that Radio Computing Services (RCS), Broadcast Electronics, Prophet Systems, Broadcast Software International and Enco Systems violate this patent because of the technology used in each company's respective products.

Media Digital recently reached an agreement with Scott Studios for both Scott and Computer Concepts products. According to Dave Scott, president of Scott Studios, "Scott denies infringing on the Media Digital patent, but a royalty arrangement was worked out." No suit was brought against Scott Studios or Computer Concepts. The terms of Scott's arrangement are confidential, but it states that a royalty payment is due to Media Digital for each system sold that could benefit from the use of a touch-screen controller.

While Scott is not mentioned by name, the cover letter sent to the five companies cites the recent agreement and states that "MDC remains interested in pursuing a resolution to this matter without resorting to litigation." The letter goes on to say that the referenced supplier "is now a licensee of the…patent." The letter closes by saying that the MDC lawyers are willing to discuss a similar agreement with the five companies named and states a June 6, 2003, deadline for a response.

The filing law firm is based in Fort Worth, TX. Scott Studios is headquartered in Texas, and because of the physical proximity was the likely first company contacted. The original complaint filed in the court states that RCS, BE, Prophet, BSI and Enco all may be found in or do business in the Northern District of Texas and the matter can therefore be pursued there.

There are other companies that manufacture systems that could be considered to infringe on the patent. When Radio magazine asked the Texas law firm if other companies would be approached, the response was that they did not want to reveal their legal strategies.

The exact amount of each royalty payment is not specified, but it is likely in the range of a few hundred dollars.

To view the patent, go to
patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/search-bool.html and enter patent number 6101324 in the search field.


NAB Opens Marconi Awards Nominations


Washington - May 19, 2003 - The National Association of Broadcasters has mailed the 2003 Marconi Radio Awards nomination kits to all NAB member radio stations. Named after inventor and Nobel Prize winner Guglielmo Marconi, the NAB Marconi Radio Awards honor the top radio stations and personalities.

To be considered for a 2003 NAB Marconi Radio Award, general managers nominate stations in the following categories:

  • Station of the Year by Market Size

  • Station of the Year by Format

  • Personality of the Year by Market Size

  • Legendary Station

  • Network/Syndicated Personality of the Year

    All nominations must be received no later than June 4 to be eligible. Finalists will be announced in July. New this year, nominations can be submitted online from the members-only section of the NAB website.

    The 22 winners will be announced during the NAB Marconi Radio Awards Dinner and Show Oct. 2 at The NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia.

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


NAB Radio Show Steering Committee Announced


Washington - May 16, 2003 - The NAB announced the members of the steering committee for the 2003 NAB Radio Show. The committee will direct content for conference programming at the upcoming NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia, Oct. 1 to 3.

The committee, chaired by Joe Bilotta, COO of Buckley Broadcasting, will focus on the business of radio. Bilotta is joined on the committee by the following radio broadcasters:
Programming: Pat Paxton, vice president, programming, Entercom Communications (chair); Bill Bailey, program director, WLHT-FM; Holland Cooke, McVay Media; Kim Johnson, program director, WZAK-FM/WENZ-FM; and Jeff McHugh, program director, WKZL-FM.

Management: Charles Warfield, president, Inner City Broadcasting (chair); Chris Berry, president, WMAL-AM; Rebecca Breeding, vice president, KOOJ/KQXL/WBBE/WEMX/WIBR/WXOK; Steve Kaspar, general manager, KWRE-AM; Jay Meyers, senior vice president, Clear Channel Communications; and Dan Savadove, CEO, Root Communications.

Sales/Marketing: Rosemary Scott, director, research & marketing, Hispanic Broadcasting - San Antonio (chair); George Hyde, executive vice president, training, Radio Advertising Bureau; Weezie Kramer, regional vice president, Entercom Communications; and Mike O'Brien, vice president, sales, Bliss Communications.

The technical portions of the NAB Radio sessions are already planned. Three sessions will be held on each day and include an Antenna Certification Workshop, Digital Radio Certification Workshop and Transmitter Certification Workshop.



Business



Marti and ERI Help Kansas Station after Tornado


Girard, KS - May 29, 2003 - A tornado ripped through Girard, KS, on May 4 and destroyed KSEK-FM’s tower, turned the transmitter building into rubble and carried the transmitter across a field some 70 yards before dumping it in a ditch. When Jerry Tibbetts, the contract engineer for KSEK, arrived at the transmitter site that evening, he found the building in pieces and the transmitter in a heap alongside a road. The exciter was gone. Only the transmitter tube remained intact.

To get the station back on the air, Tibbetts rented a Marti Plug N Play 1kW transmitter and connected it to a single-bay ERI antenna. The station used this system until a new tower could be built and the station could return to full power.

This is the the third time that Tibbets had to make temporary arrangements to get a station back on the air following bad weather. Broadcast Electronics, the parent company of Marti, has supplied the loaner transmitter every time.

Tibbetts rented a Marti 1kW transmitter a little more than a year ago when another station took a lightning hit that charred the inside of the transmitter building, and again when an ice storm took down yet another tower and knocked the station off the air.

The loaner PNP will remain in service at KSEK-FM for another 45 days until construction is completed on a replacement tower and antenna system specified for Class A operation, per a construction permit approved before the tornado struck. The station's new transmitter will be a Broadcast Electronics FM-5T (5kW) transmitter.


LA Sees New IBOC Licenses


Los Angeles - May 28, 2003 - KUSC-FM in Los Angeles is the area's first noncommercial licensee of Ibiquity's IBOC (HD Radio) technology. KUSC is part of a Los Angeles-area public radio network providing classical music and arts programming. Other stations in the same Southern California network licensed for IBOC include KCPB-Thousand Oaks, KFAC-Santa Barbara and KPSC-Palm Springs.

The KUSC site will upgrade its existing Harris Z-20 transmitter. The remaining sites - KFAC, KCPB, KPSC - will have Broadcast Electronics transmitters installed for low-level combining. These sites will also receive new antennas.


Fast Channel Delivery Tops 9,000 Radio Stations


Boston - May 29, 2003 - Fast Channel Network announced that its Traffic Channel delivery service surpassed 9,000 radio stations online. Fast Channel Network's Traffic Channel offers a single source for secure management of the entire trafficking and delivery process for broadcasters, publishers, advertisers and agencies. The Traffic Channel service features Web-based flexibility, real-time access and integrated and automated send and receive features, as well as instant send-and-confirm ad delivery to unlimited destinations. A single user interface offers any authorized user the ability to simply and quickly distribute advertising in all media from a desktop or laptop, and from any location in the world.


ERI, Shively Awarded Contract for NYC Tower Project


New York - May 27, 2003 - Electronics Research (ERI) has been awarded a contract by The Durst Organization to design, manufacture and deliver a 385ft. tower to be mounted on the 4 Times Square building in New York City. The building is a 48-story office tower located at the corner of 42 Street and Broadway. In addition to the design and manufacture of the steel structure, the contract also includes site supervision related to the erection of the tower. ERI will also supply the gin poles used to erect the new structure, and provide the structural engineering services associated with the installation. ERI will also provide structural analysis services needed to support the modification of the existing 75ft. tower installed on the building so that the roof can be made to accommodate the new tower.

Shively Labs will provide the FM antenna and coaxial transmission line for the expansion of the broadcast facility. The facility is already home to eight New York-area FM stations with WKCR recently signing on in the number nine spot. The expansion at 4 Times Square will alleviate already overcrowded broadcast facilities at Empire State Building. The new Shively Model 6016 Master Panel antenna system will replace an existing Shively Model 6016 analog-only panel antenna that has been in use since 1999.

The new 4 Times Square FM antenna will be the first major multistation facility designed from inception to handle both IBOC and analog signals. The antenna is capable of handling 19 stations broadcasting simultaneously and features a low windload design that is of critical importance to the self-supporting tower design being used on top of the building. Shively Labs will work with Myat of Norwood, NJ, to supply both the analog and digital transmission lines.

Shively Labs has already supplied a Model 6017-1/4 single level Lindenblad style antenna for use during construction by the 8 stations currently on site.


Toko to Offer IBOC Decoder Modules


Columbia, MD and Warren, NJ – May 22, 2003 - Toko, a manufacturer of electronic components and modules, has received performance certification from Ibiquity for its IBOC decoding module. Toko, one of Ibiquity's original development partners, supplies tuner modules to many of the world's largest automotive receiver manufacturers, as well as portable radio manufacturers. This certification will enable manufacturers of HD Radio-branded receivers to speed time-to-market and reduce engineering costs.

The Toko Group is a multinational manufacturer of electronic components, subassemblies, and systems with worldwide operations encompassing 19 sales and service centers and 12 manufacturing and R&D facilities. Employing more than 9,000 people, Toko is one of the world's largest manufacturers of miniature RF/IF inductor and filter products.



People



TM Century Adds to Special Projects Division


Dallas - May 19, 2003 - TM Century has appointed Eve Mayer Orsburn to the newly created position of director of special projects. Orsburn rejoins TM Century after a 30-month hiatus. Her duties will focus on new projects in development, group sales, network/syndicator relations and will interface with domestic and international sales. Orsburn will report directly to President David Graupner.

Orsburn is originally from Louisiana. In 1997, she graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications and a minor in business. She hosted the afternoon drive show at KEZP in Alexandria. She joined TM Century 1998, first in customer service, followed by a position in sales, and then she was promoted to director of sales and marketing for the Comedy and Music Division. Orsburn left TM Century 30 months ago to handle the corporate sales for IBM in San Francisco. After a short stint in Louisiana with Time Trend Computers, Orsburn has returned to TM Century as director of special projects.



Internet Watch



AOL Enhances Radio@Aol


Dulles, VA - May 28, 2003 - Following the launch of AOL for Broadband 8.0 Plus earlier this spring, America Online has unveiled the latest enhancements to its Radio@AOL services, which include improved sound quality and more programming. One key change is the AOL conversion to its proprietary Ultravox streaming media platform. The platform promises downloads that are twice as fast, which nearly eliminate the transition time between songs.

A new relationship with Infinity Broadcasting brings select Infinity station streams into the Radio@AOL service. This marks the first time that this network's popular stations will be available to an online audience.

The AOL Radio@ network encompasses AOL's first integrated radio, Radio@AOL, and Radio@AOL for Broadband, as well as Radio@Netscape and Spinner.



Products



APT Plug-in Added to Cool Edit Pro


Belfast, Ireland - May 27, 2003 - Launched at NAB2003, the APT plug-in that permits Apt-x audio encoding and editing in Syntrillium's Cool Edit Pro is provided as an off-the-shelf product. It is available as a download from APT’s website at http://www.aptx.com/pro-soft-cooledit.asp.

Syntrillium’s Cool Edit Pro editing software has seen wide acceptance in broadcast and post-production facilities. WDBA-FM, Philadelphia, was one of the first stations to purchase the plug-in.

According to Jerry Meloon, WDBA chief engineer, the station bought the plug-in because it was more cost effective than buying APT ACE100 PRO and D cards, which are becoming scarce. The station needed a way to continue working with the Apt-x format without having to purchase hardware for encoding and decoding. The plug in provided the answer. Using Cool Edit Pro (CEP), the station opens and edits Apt-x-based Scott Studios SND files.

The plug-in allows Apt-x users to import and edit files directly, eliminating the need to decode and re-encode audio files. The CEP plug-in is compatible with Cool Edit Pro 2000 (not lite version), 1.2a, 2.0 and 2.1, and also with Scott Studios, Computer Concepts, Barrcode, The Management and generic Apt-x files (.DSS, .SND, .DAF, .CUT, .AUD).


Mackie Announces d8b Version 5.1


Woodinville, WA - May 23, 2003 - Mackie Designs has release operating software version 5.1 for the Digital 8·Bus (d8b) recording console, bringing more features and refinement to version 5.0 software that was released last January.

The new features of version 5.1 include:


Using the APT PCAU for Reliable Stereo


Panama City, FL - May 22, 2003 - The Clear Channel company creed states that Clear Channel believes in "providing superior value to customers through high quality, technologically advanced, fairly priced services designed to meet customer needs better than all the possible alternatives." In keeping with this philosophy, the company recently installed new Audio Processing Technology PCAU-based stereo program circuits to serve six radio stations in the Panama City, FL, area. To ensure guaranteed phasing of the left and right channels, Chief Engineer Charlie Wooten specified circuits based around the APT/Pulsecom Program Channel Access Unit, a high-quality channel audio card that uses APT’s audio data compression algorithm, Apt-X.

Clear Channel’s Panama City stations use an analog 15kHz program circuit, which was installed several years ago by the local telephone company, Bell South. The circuit is used to feed programming material from Clear Channel’s studios to its WDIZ-AM (590kHz) transmitter site.

Wooten said, "One could ask why I didn’t just install a conventional microwave system to feed the programming, rather than a program circuit furnished by the telephone company. The reason I didn’t do this is simple: I couldn’t mount any additional antennas on my three-tower directional array, or build another tower to support those antennas, without having to re-engineer the directional antenna array. Given the nature of this problem, the PCAU was the perfect solution."

Wooten read about PCAU in the broadcast press and when Bell South said it couldn’t guarantee stereo phasing with its existing analog circuit he began to research PCAU with the hope that it would enable him to install a stereo programme circuit that Clear Channel could rely on.

"We ordered two circuits for stereo and these were installed in about 30 days. It took Bell’s engineers a few days to figure out how to install them because they had never seen them before, but once they were in they worked brilliantly. They sound absolutely great and far exceed my expectations. I’m now installing a backup transmitter site for two of our FM stations and I’ll be ordering another stereo pair of PCAUs and a single monoaural circuit later in the year when the new transmitter project is completed."

Since announcing their joint venture in 2001, Belfast-based codec manufacturer APT and U.S.-based Pulse Communications (Pulsecom) have delivered more than 200 units to customers in the United States.

The PCAU incorporates APT’s Apt-X data compression algorithm and is configured as an encoder or decoder to support 5, 7.5, 8 or 15kHz tariffed telco services over 64kb/s or 128kb/s links, enabling broadcast quality audio from any D4, DLC or NGDLC carrier system. The Apt-X algorithm is implemented on boards incorporating Pulsecom’s unique ISDN U interface and network standard loopbacks. The cards are sold through Pulsecom’s sales channels to all telecommunications companies in the United States.




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