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Rarey Now Leads NPR Labs

NPR Distribution promotes Murphy

Rich Rarey NPR has made two recent, notable technical promotions.

Rich Rarey becomes director of NPR Labs, succeeding Mike Starling, who recently retired. Mark Murphy meanwhile is director of engineering for NPR Distribution, a new position.

Rarey had been manager of strategic technology applications. He started at NPR in 1980 as engineer of the Chicago Bureau; he was master control supervisor before moving to “Labs” in 2008. Based in Washington, he’ll manage a staff of two plus three interns; he reports to Marty Garrison, vice president of technology operations, distribution and broadcast engineering.

NPR has “reimagined” the mission of NPR Labs, Rarey said, to expand on its core mission of supporting the organization and the broader public radio system through technical and other services. Over time, it has added grant-funded work and fee-based consulting, developing and testing products and services for clients.

Customers include stations that need accurate mapping products for proposed HD Radio coverage or customized Program Service Data tools; and internal NPR divisions for mapping products. The organization has provided consultations on audio codecs, streaming bit rate selection and loudness; it has done research for clients such as Nautel, the National Radio Systems Committee, Consumer Electronics Association and the Broadcast Traffic Consortium, of which NPR is a member.

Looking forward, Rarey said, areas of interest include evaluation and development of program service data tools, audio standards and loudness, program accessibility and media technology issues across a variety of platforms.

Rarey is working on a Department of Homeland Security Alerting project for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. This involves development of an accessible FM RBDS receiver to be used in an emergency alerting demonstration program in the Gulf Coast region. The CEA selected the receiver as a 2014 CES Innovations Awards honoree, as we’ve reported.

Mark Murphy The work — funded by FEMA, and managed by DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate — involves testing broadcast emergency texts with up to 500 deaf/hard-of-hearing volunteers through 26 public stations in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

NPR Labs is also working with the NRSC on studies to determine compatibility of FM single-sideband transmissions and a study on AM modulation-dependent carrier level transmissions. It is also updating its HD Radio power calculator.

Separately, Mark Murphy has been promoted to director of engineering for NPR Distribution, a new position. Previously, he was the division’s deputy director of engineering.

Since joining NPR in 1981, Murphy has held a variety of technical roles including satellite repair depot supervisor and senior project engineer. Most recently, he has been the engineering lead for the Public Radio Satellite System’s multiyear PRSS “Forward” project. The PRSS is managed by NPR.

In that role, he’s been responsible for the installation of new satellite dishes and other ground equipment at more than 80 public radio stations.

Murphy oversees the satellite and terrestrial technologies that the PRSS uses to distribute broadcast content as well as a team of engineers. Murphy, based in Washington, will manage a team of five and reports to Steve Densmore, director of broadcast operations.