We've Got More Letters

Readers wrote in to tell us what they thought about the BBG, AM revitalization and recent walks down memory lane
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BBG AND SHORTWAVE

I found it interesting that while the BBG committee eagerly condemned the high cost of shortwave (“Shortwave Audience Still Dropping in Most Markets,” Aug. 4, 2014), they made no comparisons of the cost of switching to other mediums or the availability of necessary infrastructure in the target areas.

Also no mention was made of the fact that, often, shortwave broadcasts were recorded and then distributed in other mediums (i.e. MP3, CD and others).

And finally there is the consideration of the fact that in countries with repressive regimes, the population being surveyed would be afraid to admit to possession or usage of banned devices such as shortwave receivers.

I find that these issues negate the accuracy of the report and indicate that it was prepared to cause inaccurate conclusions deliberately.

Ken Porter
Porter Services
Marshfield, Mo.

TELETYPE MEMORIES

I read with interest and not a little nostalgia the 2011 essay by Charles “Buc” Fitch about teletype/teleprinters (“Clack-Clack-Clack-Clack-Clack,” radioworld.com, keyword clack). I was an announcer, news reader, classical music host and engineer at a tiny AM/FM radio station during the years of my undergraduate studies in western Pennsylvania

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San Francisco NBC announcer Bud Heyde checks a row of teletypes in 1954. Photo courtesy John Schneider Buc made mention of KYW’s ubiquitous “clack-clack-clack” as a background to the newsreaders. When my family and I moved from North Jersey to South Jersey (about 10 miles from Philadelphia) a few years ago, I was surprised to hear the sound of that old-fashioned machine. You may be interested to know that even now, in the waning days of 2014, it is still used.

Daniel J. Weitner
Sewell, N.J.

WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE

I read with many fond recollections the walk down memory lane as penned by Bill Betlej in the Aug. 1 issue, titled “Work for the Glow.”

I lost count years ago of all the trips to the studios and/or transmitter’s in the four decades I took care of the technical facilities for radio stations in markets from Brownwood, Texas, to L.A. A few times I’ve tried to remember the call letters of all those stations as well as their dial positions and transmitter types but without much luck since time has erased so many of them, but what I do recall with vivid memories is exactly what Bill wrote in regards to the “warmth” from the glow of those big glass bottles humming away with the station’s programming.

I think this is what got me interested in being a chief engineer. I used to listen to the big top-40 AM in my hometown and the first time I actually got to see the main rig, a Collins 21E 5kw “monster,” it was the blue glow from the rectifiers that kept me mesmerized. A few years later, I had my “head in the oven” as it were, changing out a tube socket for one of those bottles when lightning took its toll.

It wasn’t all peaches and cream, as many readers can attest. There was that time when the electrician and I were in the elevator at the top of a 1,500 -foot tower in Dallas trying to repair a j-box for the antenna heaters that had been hit by lightning and when finished we started the long trip back down only to have the elevator stall some 1,300 feet off the ground. I still believe I could see southern Oklahoma from there.

I consider myself very lucky to have worked in the industry when the kind of memories the article brought back were pre-Internet and pre-computer and radio was fun!

Steve Keating
President/Chief Engineer
Mission Electronics Corp.
Las Vegas

AM REVITALIZATION

Here are my suggestions about the AM band to add to Tom King’s, with which I agree 100 percent (“King Lays Out ‘Critical Steps,’” Sept. 24, 2014).

It is important to the U.S. to improve the quality of the band. My wife and I own WMRO(AM), Gallatin, Tenn., a Class D daytimer at 1,000 watts daytime, 3 watts at night. We are 730 miles from the Class A station we have to protect at night, 1560 WQEW in New York. WMRO should have at least 100 watts at night for ballgames, local nighttime church services, etc., bad weather and community functions that are at night. Class A protection should be lowered from 750 miles to 500 miles from their tower sites so Class D stations can compete, and serve their communities.

FM translators are not the answer to AM’s problems. Since the FCC allowed AMs to use translators I know of several AMs abusing the privilege. They turn off the AM and just broadcast on their FM translator. I made comments about this to the FCC; nothing has been done about the problem. To me this is not fair to AM stations that lack translators. Moving AMs to the overcrowded FM band is a huge mistake, and AMs now are trying to compete with new LPFMs as well. 

We need to fix the problems on AM, as King is suggesting. Translators are not the answer. I was under the impression that this whole ordeal of revitalization was to focus on AM only!

The FCC and Congress need to work with automobile manufacturers, make them keep AM in the dashboard of automobiles. Improve the quality of the AM signal and bring back AM stereo.

I support digital AM as well; it can be done and be made mandatory. A fellow broadcaster in my area, Bud Walters, made me aware of this a few years ago. I knew there had to be an answer to keep AM in the dashboard of the new automobiles, rolling off the assembly line and to the dealerships. I praise Mr. Walters, owner of the Cromwell Group, for his advice, concerns and playing fair by the rules.

When the FCC extended the band to 1710 kHz, one or two channels between 1610 and 1700 should have been assigned as Class C (old Class IV) channels. There is a Class C channel to which my station can move, but I can’t get anybody to agree with me except my consultant engineers Jim Turvaville and Gary Brown. AM stations should be allowed to change frequency as a minor change of facility, instead of the AM station being stuck on a channel that is far past any good for them. We should be allowed to change frequencies and not have to wait for a “Major Change of Facilities Window,” which has only come up one time since 1996 that I am aware of.

Also, AMs should be allowed to use shorter ground radials and towers. In communities all over the U.S., property is scarce, with higher prices and land insufficient to build or move an AM. Zoning laws and home subdivision board members protest tall towers. I have preached to the engineering community for 10 years that something must be done about this problem, and especially for Class D AM stations. This is why some in the past five years have gone off the air. The 282 mV/m required field efficiency should be lowered to a 241 mV/m, same as the Class C stations. Using the Kintronic folded unipole is excellent to meet 241 mV/m field efficiency with shorter ground radials and no high angle radiation at night. This would help AMs tremendously.

Scott Bailey
Owner/General Manager
WMRO(AM)

Gallatin, Tenn.

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