5/24/2011 4:33:00 PM
Paul McLane is U.S. editor in chief.
An event that many broadcast engineering folks look forward to after the dust settles from the Las Vegas NAB Show is the annual “Hamvention” held in Dayton, Ohio. This year’s event ran from May 20 through 22, attracting 20,000 people and 250 commercial venders. Radio World contributor James O’Neal was there and shared some fun pix.
The show’s theme was “Global Friendship,” with groups from amateur radio clubs in Great Britain, German, China, Japan and Qatar manning information booths.
Another feature was a visit by NASA astronaut Col. Douglas Wheelock, who served a six-month tour of duty aboard the International Space Station. In addition to his regular duties there, Wheelock operated its amateur radio equipment and communicated from space with numerous schools and ham operators.
| A special attraction was this tube-type Collins 20V-3 AM broadcast transmitter, which had been modified for amateur band frequencies and was operated from a generator, with its owner claiming it to be the first of its kind of mobile rigs.
5/24/2011 12:25:00 PM
Paul McLane is U.S. editor in chief.
Broadcast industry leaders who defend TV spectrum and push for adoption of radio in mobile devices often make the case that the broadcast infrastructure is reliable, staying on the air in times of crisis, while other platforms often do not.
A paragraph in a story in the Kansas City Star this week reminds us again that cell coverage has a nasty habit of falling apart at the worst times. “Cellphone coverage in the Joplin area was spotty, so Sprint, AT&T and Verizon Wireless sent mobile cell towers to restore service. They also were using generators to restore power to cell towers and get them running again,” it states. Read it here.
Similarly, the text at the bottom of the accompanying image here tells the tale.
Bobby Adams of GSS, whose business is in broadcast-based alerting, pointed me to this as yet another example of radio’s relative stability in in times of emergency.
5/12/2011 3:55:00 PM
Paul McLane is editor in chief/U.S.
I liked Meredith Attwell Baker as soon as I met her, briefly, at the NAB Show shortly after she came on as FCC commissioner. I found her warm, engaging and intelligent; and I liked what I perceived to be her moderate/conservative regulatory outlook. But she disappoints me with her decision to move so quickly into a job working for a company whose big merger she’d only recently voted on.
She’ll become senior VP of government affairs at NBCUniversal. (“VP of government affairs” means “lobbyist.”) Baker recently voted in favor of letting Comcast acquire majority control of NBCUniversal from General Electric Co. The Los Angeles Times quoted Free Press President/CEO Craig Aaron calling her job switch “just the latest — though perhaps most blatant — example of a so-called public servant cashing in at a company she is supposed to be regulating.”
Her move does make us want to re-read Baker’s recent speech in which she called for an overhaul in how the FCC reviews big communications mergers. If she didn’t tip her hand about her job plans then, she certainly was plain regarding her feelings about the commission’s way of handling deals like Comcast’s.
“I fear that the delay and uncertainty surrounding our current merger review process can have the unintended consequence of chilling consumer-enhancing investment,” she said. The FCC ought to establish “commonsense limits” on conditions it imposes: “The process is always at risk of devolving into how to get more ‘benefits’ from a given transaction: playing down the offered benefits and overstating predicted harms to compel more conditions.” She called it a “regulation-by-condition approach.”
The questions she raised in that speech at the Institute for Policy Innovation were valid ones. She strikes me as a thoughtful observer/critic of government policy, so maybe the new job is a better fit. I imagine she’ll advocate for the same positions from the industry side.
I have to agree though that her quick move to a prominent industry post is unsettling, or at best, unseemly, and raises the question of how effective regulators can be if they know (or suspect) that plum employment opportunities are waiting for them on the other side of their decision-making. Ah, but that’s Washington
5/11/2011 6:22:00 PM
Brett Moss is gear & technology editor.
Knowing my curmudgeon instincts, our editor Paul McLane thought it would be amusing (he’d describe it as something else …) to send me to the Library of Congress for its announcement of the National Jukebox project.
Hah! The joke’s on him! (Sort of.)
The National Jukebox is a co-op project with Sony Music Entertainment and the LOC. The concept is a website/streaming media portal, free to the general public. Think of it as a Pandora for the past.
The first installment contains 10,300 recordings “donated” by Sony Music Entertainment. It consists of nearly full catalogs of Victor, Columbia and OKeh recordings from the beginnings of those labels to 1925. Sony owns those back catalogs.
The iteration I saw at a press conference in Washington was quite impressive, not only in the breadth of recordings available but additional material. As the library recorded/digitized each record, it snapped a picture of the label. Bonus material was made available by the University of California at Santa Barbara, which has been building a database of information on old Victor recordings. Some missing links were provided by private collectors.
Good work all around and they should be commended.
The streamed recordings are as primitive-sounding — tinny, scratchy — as the day they were recorded. No electrical aid at all; this is pure “acoustical” recording. From what I can tell, no effort has been made to use digital processing to clean them up or even enhance them. That might be a nice experimental project for some ambitious audio engineer or school.
It will be interesting to see what kind of traffic this oldies Pandora generates.
Of course this project isn’t completely free. Despite the great gift from the Packard Foundation of the LOC’s “Culpeper” or “Packard Campus” National Audiovisual Conservation Center facility, which did and continues the work, there are costs of personnel, equipment, maintenance and continuing operations. One of the press conference speakers, I believe Gene DeAnna, head of the Recorded Sound Section, said it took 18 months to complete the mission. The recordings are made in real time. That can’t be speeded up appreciably.
Obviously Sony isn’t being completely altruisti
5/6/2011 2:39:00 PM
Brett Moss is gear & technology editor.
So how does a guy known to many as “Silent Bob” get a radio gig? Well, it’s complicated yet simple.
Silent Bob is the creation of comic, actor, writer, director, producer Kevin Smith. The ever-loquacious Smith is nothing if not creative (and almost omnipresent). He’s inked a deal with Stitcher Radio
, an Internet radio aggregator, to make Stitcher’s SmartRadio app (Apple, Android, BlackBerry and Palm smartphones) the “official mobile partner” of Smith’s new venture SModcast Internet Radio (S.I.R.). That’s an Internet radio-powered version of Smith’s podcast warehouse website, SModcast
Smith and companions have been quite fruitful in creating podcasts — most with the same juvenile, drug-addled/sex-crazed low-rent (and low-cost) slacker humor that made Smith millions and famous. Rather than have them just lay there, Smith has decided to become active and “air” the podcasts. And just in case anyone claims that he’s doing nothing but running prerecorded material, Smith and friends are planning on generating live content and fresh podcasts — seemingly at a prodigious rate. Stitcher’s been making them available for some time to its audience.
For S.I.R. Smith and (wife) Jennifer Schwalbach will do “SMornings With Kev and Jen” and then Smith will don his cap and trench coat for “Jay and Silent Bob Get Jobs” — in tandem with Jason “Jay” Mewes. There’s a promise of “more” than four hours a day of new programming. Stitcher is promoting a contest to win a trip to L.A. to hang with Smith’s gang. Comedian Jon Lovitz seems to have been roped into the deal in some capacity as well. These people appear to mean business.
So why should anyone in radio pay attention to what might strike a lot as a vanity project (and one that cannot be kept going at the frenetic pace it has set for itself)?
Here’s Smith: “Podcasting is what indie film was to me in the early ’90s … The power to broadcast’s now in everybody’s hands. Podcasts democratize talk radio, allowing anyone a platform and everyone a voice. With S.I.R., we’re just taking that notion and running with it.”
5/6/2011 2:35:00 PM
Brett Moss is gear and technology editor.
This might surprise some readers, but Tennessee doesn’t have a hall of fame for radio broadcasters. Neighboring states do, but somehow Tennessee seems to have not gotten around to it.
Considering that one of the highlights of the NAB Show was induction of Nashville’s Gerry House into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and that WVVR(FM) of Clarksville snagged a Crystal Radio Award, the lack of an HOF is more noticeable. And those are just from this spring. Let’s not even mention country radio’s deep historical presence in Tennessee. (Oops, we mentioned it.)
Now a few Tennesseans have decided to do something about that.
Led by Lee Dorman, GM of WQKR(AM/FM) and author of the book, “Nashville Broadcasting,” the foundation for a Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame has been laid.
Dorman started this ball rolling after attending ceremonies at the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame last year and wondering, “Why can’t we in Tennessee have something like this?” He points at a number of nationally-known folks who have sat behind the mic in Tennessee: Dinah Shore, Phil Harris, Oprah Winfrey, Pat Sajak, Wink Martindale and Scott Shannon.
“There are many fine radio stations throughout this state which have informed and entertained audiences for decades with outstanding talent, and we feel it is time to pay homage to them.”
He added: “They made it possible for us to have the careers we have had, and they entertained and informed millions of Tennesseans, in small towns and big cities, over the years. We expect an initial ‘class’ of about 15 honorees at our First Annual Banquet and Induction Ceremony in May, 2012.” The site is to be determined.
Learning of the effort, Radio World nudged Dorman to include technical engineers and innovators in any planned salutes. A few state associations and local broadcast halls of fame include technical innovators, like chief engineers and early inventors; but others tend to forget, focusing mostly on air talent and owner/GMs.
Dorman replied, “We will not fail to recognize engineers and their many contributions to radio in Tennessee. I am quite certain that one of our first inductees will be John De