John Battison's 1998 NAB Engineer of the Year Acceptance Speech

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Through John Battison's Eyes

The reason given was compliance with the official Region Two channel spacing and to make room for more AM stations. Another argument was to avoid one kc heterodynes from increasingly powerful AM stations in Europe and the emerging nations. Actually, there were very few “whistles.”

After being in Buenos Aires for about four days, we had succeeded in persuading many other delegations from the Americas that the change was good. Then we suddenly received orders from the FCC to forget nine kc separation! With rather red faces, we had to change horses in midstream and persuade them to switch back to 10kc.

The FCC introduced the “standard” antenna pattern. It replaced the old MEOV that was the consulting engineers lifeboat when a pattern wouldn't come in.

The end of the eighties saw LPTV come into bloom and CPs were issued by the hundreds -- but not all were built.

By this time, engineers in radio stations were a thing of the past. “Five-week wonder” First Class Licenses made DJs into engineers, and remote control took over many of the operations. Automated transmitter operation and reduced FCC logging requirements were introduced, and only high-power and directional AMs had to make log readings every three hours.

I wonder how many remember the days of logging transmitter readings every half hour? Or logging base currents daily? It's quite different today.

So different, in fact, that we don't need licensed operators any more. Unfortunately, the pirate broadcasters think they don't need licenses either!

The AM band has been expanded to 1710 kc and a few new stations and a few new stations are on the air.

We've advanced from the Conelrad system, through EBS to EAS. This still has problems, but no doubt, eventually, it will work as planned.

Perhaps the greatest change has been the introduction of a piece of rare metal contaminated with an exotic oxide -- I'm referring, of course, to the transistor. This little device has changed radio engineering. First came transistor radios plugged into the world's ears. Then came its big brother -- the transmitting transistor. Transmitter manufacturers switched from tubes to transistors as fast as new methods of RF power generation were developed.

The old, single-modulated channel, Class A, triode AM transmitter has developed into multi-channel units like its FM brother. Satellites are offering direct multi program sources and the days of the crystal receiver and headphones are numbered!

When the digital revolution hit radio, its amazing versatility spawned new transmission methods. Almost every day we hear of new ones.

Spread spectrum, once top secret, has given us legally unlicensed STL operation with low power and low costs.

I haven't even touched on Eureka, DAB, RBDS, cell phones, PCS, GPS, wireless services and the dozens of things still to come.

Radio engineering's advances from 1945 through 1998 have been fantastic. Someone will say, “He's forgotten — whatever.” I apologize. Too many things have happened to cover them all.

Speaking as an RF engineer, I still maintain: “Audio is something that messes up a nice, clean carrier.”

NAB, fellow engineers and ladies and gentlemen -- I thank you.

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