Tag: "Tom Ray III"

The Sad State of Broadcast Engineering – Part 2

| December 4, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President
TALKERS
Technical Editor

raytomNEW YORK — Around Labor Day, I wrote an article that asked, “Where have all the broadcast engineers gone?”  I was inundated with responses, which is why it has taken me so long to write a follow up article.  Obviously, I hit a nerve with everyone.  I have heard from Australia, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Ireland.  Obviously, this is a universal topic and I have been overwhelmed.  That, and I’ve been working on a large project with not much time to put electrons to the screen.

Additionally, I was both surprised and not surprised at the bitterness in many of the responses.  Broadcast engineers are a unique group.  It’s difficult, though not impossible, to find a more dedicated group of people in any business.  We take it personally.  The station becomes part of us and is what we do.  And once that is disrupted, even if the person is in a much better place, it is taken personally.  I can relate.

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Just What the Heck Is a Codec?

| September 11, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President
TALKERS
Technical Editor

NEW YORK — Got a call recently from someone inquiring about IP codecs and looking for an explanation as to exactly what they are.  I was puzzled at first because to me, it’s an easy-to-understand topic.  But not everyone is as tech savvy as I am.

So first, let’s look at our old friend ISDN – you know, the thing that’s eventually going away (in New York at present, you cannot order an ISDN line from Verizon – they are no longer installing them).

We use the term ISDN to describe…an ISDN codec.  These are devices that have two main parts – the audio coding section and the transport section.

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DISTURBING TREND: Where are all the radio engineers?

| September 5, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President
TALKERS
Technical Editor

NEW YORK — Being that Labor Day has just passed, I was thinking about a disturbing conversation I had with a colleague last week.  He is an Engineer and had been looking for an assistant.  I noted recently that he was no longer running his ad and assumed he filled the position.

He and I had occasion to chat the other evening.  I asked how his new assistant was working out – and who he found.  His response?  “I pulled the ad because I could not find anyone!  There is no one out there!!”  He ended up hiring someone with IT skills who had an electronics background and is training him.

This tends to be a trend in the industry – a disturbing one.  If there are no engineers, who will be taking care of our broadcast facilities?

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CASE STUDY: How to Launch an Independently Syndicated Talk Show

| July 24, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President   
TALKERS
Technical Editor

NEW YORK — I’ve been promising for a while the story of “The Little Engine That Could.”  As many know, I work with an independently syndicated radio program, Ron Ananian: The Car Doctor.  This is the story of how and why we took it into independent syndication.  You could do this, too.

Car Doctor logoThe Car Doctor was a program offered on the WOR Radio Network.  With the acquisition of WOR by Clear Channel on December 20, 2012, The Car Doctor program was bounced from the schedule and was immediately taken into 30 day reruns to fulfill contract obligations.

Ron Ananian, program host, called me on Christmas Eve.  Obviously, he was upset – as was I.  Ron runs R/A Automotive in Waldwick, New Jersey.  He has been on the air for over 20 years as The Car Doctor.  He wanted the program to continue, and asked how we would go about doing that – if I wanted to get involved.  Yeah, I did.

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Listen to Your Syndicated Show on an Affiliate and You’ll Learn Something

| June 21, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President   
TALKERS
Technical Editor

NEW YORK — As I have mentioned in this column previously, I am involved with an independently syndicated program, Ron Ananian: The Car Doctor.  The program airs live on an independent network on Saturdays from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, with some affiliates delaying the show until Sunday to broadcast.  The story of putting this together and making it work when The Car Doctor show was bounced from the WOR Radio Network lineup when Clear Channel purchased WOR is an article in itself.  And yes, that will be another article, because it is entirely possible to take a program into independent syndication and make it work.

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More on Alerts: Useful Weather Warning App

| June 20, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President   
TALKERS
Technical Editor

NEW YORK — You may remember a few weeks ago, I wrote about a set of PSAs released by FEMA that used the Emergency Alert System two tone attention signal.  I also stated that warnings on your cell phone were something I didn’t ask for and there is no way to get rid of this app.

Well, I just found an app that is a helluva lot more useful than what FEMA has mandated on your cell phone in regards to weather warnings.  And, it has great potential to be a tool for your broadcast operation, whether you’re on the street reporters, newsroom, or just the announcers and jocks are equipped with it.

The app is available for iPhones and Android devices, and is called Alert FM.

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My Professional Opinion: Do NOT Run the FEMA/Ad Council PSA!

| June 3, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President   
TALKERS
Technical Editor

Ad CouncilFEMANEW YORK — You may have seen my warning in Friday’s edition regarding a PSA that was released by the Ad Council, under the auspices of FEMA, extolling the virtues of the emergency alerts the public can now receive on their cell phones.  A great idea.  Worthy of getting the word out.  Even if the PSA promotes a service available on cell phones.

Only one problem.  The PSAs (there are several, and they are also available for television) use the EAS two-tone alert tone as part of the message.

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Crud and Other Stuff

| May 24, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President   
TALKERS
Technical Editor

First the Crud

NEW YORK — So I was working on this transmitter today.  Seriously – I know this starts off like a joke.  Problem was actually a bad air switch.  All transmitters have a way to sense air flow.  If there is no air flow in the transmitter, if, for example, the blower motor quits, it will shut down.  In the case of a tube transmitter, this is to prevent the final amplifier deck from melting down and starting a fire.  In a solid state transmitter (which also uses temperature sensing in the final amplifier), it prevents the transistors from self destructing causing a fire and/or other severe damage to the amplifier.

Anyway, this isn’t related to the air switch, but it could be (the air switch in this case was 33 years old – it simply had enough).  The air filters on the transmitter were caked with crud.

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Lighting Up the Stick (and Painting it Too)

| May 10, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President   
TALKERS
Technical Editor

NEW YORK — This week, I was going to write about a computer program that stations could use to experiment with IP codec transmission.  And possibly actually use it on the air.  Problem is, I ran into a snag with it and haven’t been able to get it to work correctly.  Perhaps next week.

So I’ve decided, since it’s spring, to talk about tower painting and lighting.  The FCC has several “hot ticket” items they can get you on if your station is inspected.  Tower painting is one of them.  So is lighting.  As an ABIP inspector, I have a particular interest in these topics.

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Transmitter Site Maintenance: Time for Spring Cleaning

| May 2, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President   
TALKERS
Technical Editor 
NEW YORK — For most of us, spring has finally sprung, which is good news for that pesky groundhog.  I just came across an interesting recipe for groundhog stew.  Maybe next year.

But spring generally means spring cleaning.  I don’t know about where you are, but here in the northeast, the winter was a bear.  Snow, ice and wind can cause issues for your transmission facilities.  So it’s time to do a thorough inspection of your transmitter sites – both the main transmitter sites and anywhere you may have an STL transmitter or receiver.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

| April 19, 2013

premiere networks 2Premiere Networks Partners with Dave Kolin for Comedy Content.  Premiere Networks announces a partnership with comedy production pro David “Dr. Dave” Kolin that will involve a variety of content including services for radio talent, stations, digital outlets, video projects and more.  Additional details will be announced inkolindavid the near future.  Premiere EVP of music programming Jennifer Leimgruber states, “Dr. Dave is a fantastically creative person with a demonstrated record of success in a variety of media.  We were delighted when the opportunity to work with him presented itself.”  Dr. Dave states, “It is a dream come true and the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to apply my talents and skills with people who share the same vision for entertaining consumers in this multimedia world.  I look forward to revealing Dr. Dave 2.0.”  Kolin’s resume states that he was founder, director and president of DB Communications, Inc., a radio syndication company.  That company served as the nucleus for USRN, which he co-founded in 1994.  During his time with USRN, he wrote and performed much of the comedy product distributed by the network and served as the executive producer of the comedy department.  In addition, he served on the company’s board of directors and executive produced Pulse Comedy Prep.  He also has two decades of extensive television credits, including FOX, ABC, HBO and MTV.

wqamlogoJohn Renshaw Takes Midday Slot at WQAM, Miami.  Beasley Broadcasting promotes weekend sports talk host John Renshaw to the daily 10:00 am to 1:00 pm show left open by the departure of Dan Sileo back in early March.  According to the Sun-Sentinel, Renshaw will be joined on the air by Miami Hurricanes broadcaster Alex Donno.  WQAM program director Jorge Sedano tells the paper the move “made a lot of sense.  I know how smart, funny, entertaining and self-deprecating he is.  He’s everything you want in a sports talk radio show host.”

hillschlerethOdds & Sods.  Fox Sports Radio Network will simulcast the television program, “UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez,” on Saturday, April 20.  The fight originates from the HP Pavilion in San Jose and features four fights plus the main event, Benson Henderson versus Strikeforce Champion Gilbert Melendez.  Following the fights, mixed martial arts expert Larry Pepe will host a Fox Sports Radio wrap-up show with interviews and call ins from 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm ET…..ESPN Radio will be live from New York next Thursday for the NFL Draft. Coverage begins Thursday, April 25 at 7:00 pm and will feature Mike Hill and Mark Schlereth (pictured here), co-hosts of the network’s Hill & Schlereth evening show.  They’ll anchor from Radio City Music Hall and will be joined by ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton and ESPN Draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. providing analysis of each first-round pick…..The New York Post reports that it is slow going for Al Jazeera’s new American cable news/talk network – the former Current TV it purchased from founder Al Gore.  The paper says the Qatari government-owned network’s goal of launching in June is not doable and sources tell the Post it’s looking more like August or September.  So far the network has hired former CNN business analyst Ali Veshi and investigative reporter Ed Pound but has not been able to ink a news chief.  The piece noted one exec said he felt squeamish about the source of the network’s funding.

beckasingsKOIL, Omaha’s Tom Becka Channels the Rat Pack.  Omaha talk radio personality Tom Becka is pictured here at the Omaha Press Club Show giving attendees at taste of 1960s Las Vegas lounge singing as he does a take-off on Dean Martin’s “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” with the chorus changed to “there’s better things up ahead.”  Becka tells TALKERS magazine, “The show is an annual event that raises thousands of dollars for journalism scholarships.  Over the years the show has featured such dignitaries as Chuck Hagel, Warren Buffett, Herman Cain, Bill Gates and others.  They asked me to write and sing a song chronicling the year I had, starting with getting fired from Clear Channel, and ending with landing on my feet at NRG Media’s Mighty 1290 KOIL.”

raytomIP in Our Broadcast World:  Don’t Fear the Internet.  Noted consultant and TALKERS technical editor Tom Ray points out that the subjects of IP and IP codecs are increasingly becoming a major concern among broadcasters – a conversation that quickly escalated when Verizon quietly started telling customers in the northeast that ISDN was soon to be history. In the latest in his enlightening series on the subject (must-reading for programmers and management charged with taking a more hands-on approach to the tech end of things in this new economic environment), Ray responds to a question he heard raised at the recent NAB Show in Las Vegas: “Would you trust your high dollar sports remote to an IP connection over the public internet?”  Apparently, CBS television has answered that question in the company’s recent coverage of college basketball’s Final Four.  Ray explains how and takes us deeper into understanding the growing importance of IP and IP codecs in the radio broadcasting world.  Basically it comes down to embracing the internet, not fearing it – and learning everything you can about IP and IP codecs.  To read Tom Ray’s column, click here.

KFWB300Dial Global and NBC Radio Sports Reps Visit KFWB, Los Angeles.  Following last week’s announcement of KFWB, Los Angeles’ new sports talk programming, representatives from Dial Global and NBC Radio Sports stopped by KFWB’s studios in Los Angeles yesterday (4/18) to meet the staff.  Pictured (l-r): Diane Sutter, president of the KFWB Asset Trust, co-host Eytan Shander of The Amani & Eytan Show weeknights 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm on KFWB, Dial Global EVP/GM Chris Corcoran, NBC Sports Radio program director Jack Silver and KFWB general manager Valerie K. Blackburn.

wpg100benztown100WPGG (“WPG Talk Radio 1450″), Atlantic City Wins Benztown Contest to Receive a Year’s Worth of Free Voiceover and Imaging Service.  Burbank, California-based syndication and imaging company, Benztown tells TALKERS that Townsquare Media-owned Atlantic City radio station, WPG Talk Radio 1450, is the winner of its “Love Your Station, Elevate Your Sound” contest. The news/talk station will receive a full year of free voice-over services from voice-over icon, Joe Cipriano. WPGG will also receive a full year of free professional imaging services from the company.  WPGG PD/brand manager Chris Coleman, explains “I was a huge fan of Benztown before winning the contest. WPGG went on the air this past October (six days before Hurricane Sandy passed over Atlantic City) and when I was building the station, I wanted and needed a big, news/talk voice. However, with a tiny budget, I was really concerned that how I wanted the station to sound wasn’t going to be possible… then I found Benztown. Through Benztown, I was able to hook up with Greg O’Neill, who is nothing short of excellent to work with. Being able to launch a news/talk station with the voice of Fox News made us sound HUGE on day one.”  Coleman continues, “Fast forward a few months and I found Benztown’s “Love Your Station, Elevate Your Sound” contest and entered it. Much to my surprise, Masa Patterson called me and told me I won! Being the PD/brand manager of a six-month-old news/talk station that has access to two of the biggest voice-over guys in the country, on top of the world-class imaging and production that Benztown has to offer, is truly amazing.” In addition to being the PD/brand manager of WPGG,  Coleman also handles afternoon drive on Townsquare’s country station and is the production director for their five-station cluster. No doubt, his prize will come in handy!

bq_41913Blanquita Cullum Continues to ask The Hard Question.  Controversy continues to surround the future of the Keystone Pipeline. Is the pipeline a symbol of an environmental movement? Or is the country about to capitalize on the greatest economic opportunity from our neighbor to the North – Canada.  The second in the series of “The Hard Question” debates hosted by talk radio veteran and former U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors member Blanquita Cullum recently (4/10) tackled the critical discussion over the Keystone Pipeline at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.  Participants included U.S. Senator Don Nickles (retired, R-OK); U.S. Senator Bryon Dorgan (retired, D-ND); Anthony Swift, Natural Resource Defense Council; Chris Faulkner, Breitling Oil & Gas; Doug Cain, Lake Truck Lines; Brian Ambrose, Vencedor Energy Partners and Lane Sloan, Greater Houston Partnership. To view highlights of the debate click here.  “The Hard Question” is a weekly TV news program and quarterly debate series hosted by Blanquita Cullum to get to the root of critical energy issues that impact the US and the world. The pilot TV programs were aired on June 24th and July 15th in 2012 on KTRK-TV (ABC) in Houston and won the top spots in their time periods. The program will go national in 2013 on MHz Networks national channel and plans are in place to launch a radio/audio version of the program.

earthdaylogoCBS Radio Philadelphia Gets a Jump on Earth Day.  Tomorrow (4/20) CBS Radio Philadelphia will be involved in its Fourth Annual Earthfest Celebration in partnership with the Clean Air Council.  The 5K Run for Clean Air is Philadelphia’s leading green run. For 2013, the Run’s Earth Day Celebration has moved to the base of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps. CBS Radio participation will include the KYW Newsradio Kidcast Mobile Studio, presented by United Healthcare, on-site. This opportunity gives kids a chance to be a KYW news anchor. Kids can download and listen to their very own news report, and share it with family and friends.  Sports talk WIP’s “Tailgate Team” will offer participants the opportunity to play games to win prizes and get involved in a sports conversation about all the Philadelphia sports teams.  98.1 WOGL’s Ross Brittain will be providing “music and fun for everyone.”  Talk Radio 1210 WPHT “Big Money” host Steve Cordasco, will present his weekly radio program live from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. Steve will discuss the growing popularity of green or socially conscious investing.  Over the past 32 years, the 5K Run for Clean Air has grown into Philadelphia’s largest Earth Day Celebration.  Earth Day is Monday April 22.

Boston Marathon Bombing the Top News/Talk Story for the Week of April 15-19.  The bombing at Monday’s Boston Marathon and the subsequent deaths and injuries were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, landing atop the Talkers TenTM for the week.  Following at #2 was gun legislation activity in Washington.  At #3 was the immigration bill debate followed by the DC ricin incidents at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s chart here.

Verizon: No Longer Taking Orders for ISDN Service in Northeast Starting May 18

| March 28, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President
TALKERS
Technical Editor

NEW YORK — You may have noticed that my column is late this week.  I normally write it over the weekend.  Something told me to hold off.  And today there is something to talk about.

verizon logo 100It came out today that Verizon, at least in the Northeast, has been telling people that they will no longer be taking orders for ISDN service starting May 18.  That’s right.  ISDN is on the way out.

And I said this at least 5 years ago.

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EAS LESSON: Protect Your Station
from Hackers

| February 14, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President
TALKERS
Technical Editor

NEW YORK — By now, you have heard that there was an EAS hack at a TV station the other day.  An alert went out about a zombie attack.  Now, before anyone goes off about EAS, it should be noted that the CAP feed was not affected.  This appears to be strictly a case of computer network security.

And before we go deeper, it should be stated that when something like this happens, it is only natural that it becomes a news story.  And news stories require actualities.  If something goes awry with EAS, please keep in mind that it is OK to play the actual audio message that went out – but it CANNOT contain the EAS data bursts or the two-tone alert signal.  It is illegal to transmit those outside of an actual EAS activation or test, per FCC regulation 47 CFR 11.45.

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