Always remembering

Great magazine - but you're making me feel like an old timer! In the August Sign Off you have a picture of our standby transmitter, the Cetec Sparta 603. Ours is actually an Elcom Bauer 603. The headline asks, "Do You Remember?"

Actually we not only remember it, we actually use it once in a while when necessary and it fires up every time. We had it in service as our main transmitter from 1983 until we upgraded to 25kW three or four years ago. I believe one of our competitors still has one in service every day. It is a good rig.
Maynard R. Meyer
engineer/general manager
Madison, MN

Cutting teeth on disks

I had to chuckle at the following, beneath the WLW disc cutter photo in Sign Off in the September: "Radio stations continued to use lathes through the first half of the 20th century."

WCCO, Minneapolis, a super-dominant station for most of its life, was still using the disc cutter in the latter half of the 70's. I'm always amazed at the inertia of some of the giants.

To be fair, they had tried carts fairly early on, and were burned by reliability issues. Back then, one-minute spots on WCCO cost four to 15 times the national average, and there was no room for make-goods, so it had to run reliably.

There actually was something down-home simple about dropping a needle in a groove to play the spot-unless you had the turntable at the wrong speed. And that happened to several of us.
Mark Durenberger
Grand Junction, CO

The Centurion lives on

I find it interesting that you feature the Cetec Broadcast Group Centurion console in Sign Off in the September 2002 issue.

I am an independent contract engineer with clients in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. I am currently in the process of installing two Centurion IIs for a new low-power FM station, WPCA-LP, in Amery, WI. Attached is a photo as seen through the new control room window.

What's even more interesting is that I removed these consoles from service about a year ago while working for stations in Eau Claire, WI. These stations are not connected in any way other than an engineer who had some used inventory and knew the manager of the new station.

One of the Centurion II consoles installed at WPCA.

With lots of contact cleaner, these boards will remain in service for many years to come.

I like your publication; keep them coming.
Marv Olson
Broadcast Technical Solutions
Austin, MN

Appreciating history

I just wanted to write and congratulate you on your article concerning WSUM-FM (written by Victoria Kipp) and the rebirth of radio at the University of Wisconsin that appears in the Studio Spotlight. (Link: I especially enjoyed reading the article since I was the station manager of WLHA-FM from 1991 to 1995.

In the article, Ms. Kipp mentions the stellar work of Dave Black and Dr. James Hoyt, and rightly so: they deserve all of the praise given to them. That said, the management team made up of me, Brian Machart, Mark Halstead, Amit Batra, and Stephen Thompson also worked very hard to put the then WLHA on the path of expansion and the obtaining of an FCC broadcast license. My management team and I were also very important to put WLHA-FM on this road of legitimacy and we made the very wise decision to bring Dr. Hoyt and Dave Black on board at WLHA. Furthermore, through this move, we commenced the most agressive effort to become the outstanding radio station that WSUM has become today. Through all of our efforts, and those of countless volunteers since that time, the rest, as the old adage goes, is history.

I am writing this because I did not want your readers to overlook (and for UW students to forget/overlook) the thousands of hours of work that the group of people working at the station between 1991-1995 (and after) put in to make radio a real (and legal) reality at UW-Madison. Although WLHA-FM was a station that was “low on power,” we were determined to make radio happen at UW, and we worked very hard to make our little station as “real” as possible with the limited resources that we had. So, we tried to broadcast like we had 100,000 watts, and although we weren't as perfect as a full-fledged operation may be, our very strong favorable ratings among UW students and the UW and Madison press at the time (1991-1993), and our attempts at broadcast professionalism (as compared with some of our predecessors) was something that we were proud of concerning our “little station that could.”

Through it all, the WLHA staff from 1991 to 1995 gave birth to a dream, and because of the continuing and never ending hard work of the WSUM staff (with the guidance of Dr. Hoyt and Dave Black) between 1996 and present, radio has become a reality at UW, and something for everyone who has ever been associated with one of the oldest college radio stations in the USA to be very proud of. It is wonderful to know that WSUM is fulfilling all of our ambitions to have a powerful radio voice on the UW campus, and in Madison.

Kudos to you for your coverage of WSUM and the legacy of radio at UW, and may WSUM be blessed with many happy moments and much success in the future. Thank you for your great article.
Dr. Scooter Pegram
WSUM station manager, 1992-1995
Montreal, Quebec

Reflects on the diplex

I just finished reading your article in the September issue of Radio. Very interesting article. I'm considering suggesting a plan to my management to reduce our real estate holdings for our AM sites.

Currently we have three AM sites, one of which is a four-tower nighttime directional on 910kHz. The other two are non-directional and operate on 550kHz (5kW day, 1kW night) and 1230kHz (1kW day/night).

Is it worth pursuing in your opinion to diplex the 550 and 1230 signals into an existing four-tower array?

We're stuck with the location of the four-tower. That's not something you move easily. But the other two are sitting on fairly prime real estate.

From your article, the 1230 should work, and the 550 may work. The towers on 910 are all quarter wave.

Thanks for your opinion.
Dave Sanford
chief engineer
Phoenix, AZ

John Battison responds:

Your suggestion is very interesting. I have never heard of it being done before. Although there is probably no reason not to do it except that it might be rather expensive and difficult. Let's consider what happens in a four- tower DA. The four towers are reasonably close together but parasitic effects will be canceled by the fact of driving these towers. If one of these towers should operate on a different frequency one could expect parasitic effects from the other three towers because they have not been grounded, floated or tuned out by means of a base to ground circuit.

Therefore it would be necessary to provide a method of floating, grounding or tuning out these three towers. If you try to use two towers on two different frequencies out of your four-tower DA, the problem would be tremendously increased.

Also consider the possibility of internal cross modulation and the possible number of sum and difference frequencies potentially produced by 550, 910 and 1240kHz carriers. We all know that that multifrequency DAs are used, but in these cases all the towers are used in the directional antenna.

If you're thinking of trying this I suggest you contact one of the well known consulting professional engineers. In these days of computerized mathematics some of them will probably have a program that could answer your question economically.

Thanks for writing, I appreciate your interest and I wish you luck in your project. I'd like to hear how it goes.
John Battison

I realize that Radio magazine is focused primarily at engineers and GMs. Too often through the years whenever the production side of radio was dealt with in the magazine it was as the poor cousin; an expense to be controlled and not the revenue generator. With consolidation and voicetracking, production is increasingly the only difference between a handful of similar sounding stations.

Finally, production gets accurate coverage in Radio magazine! The Clean & Elegant Production (September 2002) piece was exactly right! Don't have your production studio set up as an on-air studio, it's counter productive to the results you want out of that room. Position the core technology of the production room (the DAW), in the prime listening location. Yes have a separate voice booth (I've had to do it both ways). Most importantly, yes ask the people who are actually going to be working in the room what they think it needs. Perfect! I couldn't have said it better myself.

To point out from past experience, it's a whole lot cheaper to use MI equipment — which is better suited to production use — rather than trying to adapt broadcast equipment for production, and occasionally failing miserably. You wouldn't but a production console on-air, so why would you put an on-air console in production?

The one thing that you glossed over a little was the Internet Yes files are coming via email, FTP, and Internet services, however there are a boat load of other reasons to have it in the studio: user forums to learn DAW software better, upgrades to DAW software and freeware plug-ins, are three quick ones off the top of my head.

With all the work that is increasingly being done over the net, it does make sense to have the highest connection speeds possible. Dialup is an absolute last resort. Why pay someone to wait around babysitting the dialup, when all your material can be received and put into the playback system, and your producer going on to service other paying clients in the same time? Best of all, e-mail MP2 and MP3 files go directly into the studio so the dub in never lost behind that crack in the reception desk.

Mitch Todd's overview of available DAW's was similarly well done. They are all really just fancy hammers, and when it comes to (audio) carpentry, one hammer will pretty much do what any other hammer will do. Some are cheaper than others, some have contour grips, some have metal or fiberglass handles, but they are all just hammers.

Although with that being said, and with a corporate goal to keep expenses down, I don't see how a stand alone DAW works when you still need a computer for other tasks. Money is better spent integrating DAW, word processor, and Internet in my view. That and I find that software DAWs are more open ended than hardware units to change as needs change.

Lastly to the article on archiving. This is not necessarily a new phenomena. Even in the tape days material wasn't saved long enough as the tapes were gone through and bulked for reuse. Just because we are using digital media doesn't lessen the need for backing up data. Personally I use my old Alesis ADATs to back up my DAW. One tape holds Gigabytes of material, the machines were on hand and paid for as were the tapes. I have enough tapes on hand to store material for years. When a tape is going to be reformatted and reused, I can skim through and save the backups to a comp tape and store that for even more years. Works great for me.

Once again, good job, and thanks.
Craig Jackman
production supervisor
Ottawa, ON, Canada

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