Dielectric is noting its 75th anniversary.The company, based in Raymond, Maine, makes antenna and RF systems for FM radio and TV broadcasters; since 2013 it has been a subsidiary of Sinclair. In announcing its plans, it stated, �The anniversary and its associated events are especially meaningful for a company that almost faded to black due to a changing industry and a challenging business environment but survived through sheer will, a supportive new owner and an unwavering dedication to innovation for the broadcast industry.�
We emailed withJay Martin, the company�s vice president of sales.�
Radio:Dielectric is 75.What is the company�s connection to and history with radio broadcasting, specifically?
Martin: Dielectric was intimately involved with the development of circular polarization for FM broadcast through the antenna designs created for RCA. Specifically the BFC, BFH, BFG arrays were developed by Dielectric engineers (including Ed Shively, the founder of Shively Laboratories) and incorporated into RCA�s portfolio. Later, Dielectric introduced the DCR-M �quadrapole� antenna supporting higher power levels and the need for bandwidth. In the early days of FM radio, isolation units or �isocouplers� were developed by Dielectric to allow this new service (FM broadcast) to be mounted on existing AM towers as AM had been the traditional radio broadcast medium to this point. Dielectric has always been at the forefront of innovation through the introduction of technologies to support the latest standard from FM Stereo to HD Radio.
Radio:What role does radio play for Dielectric today?
Martin: Dielectric is a leader in innovative and cost-effective FM radio solutions. In 2016, Dielectric installed the DCR-U antenna in Miami, a full-band, side-mounted, ring-style array with superior circularity. More recently, Dielectric demonstrated a full-scale nine-channel manifold combiner which has proven to be an extremely economical and efficient solution for combining multiple FM stations into a common array. From filters to transmission line to antennas, Dielectric has the most extensive portfolio for the FM broadcast industry.�
Radio:What should radio broadcasters know about the TV repack situation and the impact on their RF infrastructure plans?
Martin: There will be over 1,200 TV stations involved in the repack; and unlike the digital transition that lasted close to a decade, these stations will need to change antennas in a 36-month period. If there is a TV station on the tower that hosts your antenna, you should be in discussions (once the blackout period ends) with the owners on their specific timing and plans. If you as a radio broadcaster have plans to upgrade your system independent of any TV infrastructure build, get your work done now as once the repack hits, tower crews will be booked solid with the repack.�
Radio:How do the various kinds of digital radio around the world affect your business, and where do you see the global radio industry headed, as far as next changes in technology?
Martin: The FM band is expanding in both Japan and Brazil, putting new demands on antenna and filter equipment and there is discussion on a similar expansion of the FM band down to 82 MHz, the space currently occupied by Channel 6. DAB is alive and well in the VHF band in Australia and is the standard in some EU countries. Change is inevitable and with that change you need a dynamic partner, Dielectric is that partner.�