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Blog Central

Tom Vernon

Tom Vernon's interest in electronics began in high school, when he joined an Explorer Post at a crystal plant in Carlisle, PA. He has worked in broadcasting for over 30 years, and is perhaps best known for his many articles in Radio World. Starting in 1983, Tom has written product reviews, features, how-to, and countless NAB articles. He was employed for a few years in the manufacturing end of the business, working as a wiring technician and customer service representative at Audio Accessories in Keene NH. Over the years he has performed engineering duties at a number of stations, including WNEV-TV, WBUR and Kiss-108 in Boston, as well as WXPN in Philadelphia. His hobbies include gardening, collecting vintage broadcast gear and vintage vinyl (over 3,000 albums and counting!), cardstock modeling and restoring his 19th-centurty house. Most recently, Tom has been taking flying lessons in a Piper Cherokee, and expects to soon have his private pilots license.

Recent Posts

Telos Tackles the Last Frontier

Posted by Tom Vernon on Dec 14, 2016 11:29:00 AM

Public radio has a special place in the hearts and minds of listeners in rural communities. Often, it's their only link to the outside world. So it is in Alaska. “The Last Frontier” is served by 26 public radio licensees. Scattered across the state, they cover over 90 percent of the population. Reflecting the unique needs of each community, their program content varies widely, ranging from locally-produced entertainment to town meetings to regional and national news and information. At the hub of this network is Alaska Public Broadcasting (APB), whose headquarters are in Anchorage.

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Topics: Axia Audio, Omnia Audio, Telos Systems, Telos Alliance 24/7 Support, Broadcast Engineering

Keeping it Simple with SNMP

Posted by Tom Vernon on Dec 7, 2016 1:00:00 PM

As broadcasters develop more complex networks for IP audio, SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) is becoming commonplace. At its most basic, it is a protocol for collecting information about and controlling managed devices on IP networks. These might include workstations, printers, servers, routers, and switchers. But it has the potential to do a great deal more for broadcasters.

Most of today's broadcast equipment with an IP connection supports the SNMP protocol. With a bit of time and creativity, SNMP can become the front end of a command and control system that feeds an onscreen dashboard, where all the key parameters of your station's facilities can be monitored.

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Topics: Axia Audio, SNMP

Found in the Attic: Detrola Model 276 “Super Pee Wee” Radio

Posted by Tom Vernon on Dec 7, 2016 9:29:00 AM

Long before the Motor City was known as “Motown” it was simply called Detroit. And while it was the hub of the automotive industry, it was also the home base for lots of other manufacturing concerns, including the 6th largest supplier of radios in the USA. This Found in the Attic examines the Detrola model 276 “Super Pee Wee” radio, discusses the history of the company, and talks about why private labelling was such a big deal for some manufacturers.

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Topics: Vintage Electronics

Found in the Attic: Heath SG-8 RF Signal Generator

Posted by Tom Vernon on Nov 29, 2016 10:13:00 AM

Heathkit equipment has consistently proven that you don't need to spend a lot of money to get reasonable test gear. This Found in the Attic feature, the SG-8 RF signal generator, is no exception. It was introduced by Heath in September of 1953, and sold for $19.50. Production continued through May of 1961. Despite the low cost, the stability and accuracy of this RF generator is pretty impressive.

The circuitry is simplicity in itself. The RF section consists of a single 12AU7. One triode section is a Colpitts oscillator, while the other is a buffer between the oscillator and output section. Four coils, for bands A-D, are switched via the band switch. The coil for band E, which covers 25-110 Mhz is really a section of bus bar wire.  Additionally, useful calibrated harmonics are available up to 220 Mhz.

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Topics: Vintage Technology

Omnia.7AM is the Answer for WHK

Posted by Tom Vernon on Nov 16, 2016 12:30:00 PM

We go to the far reaches of the globe to bring you stories about happy users of Telos Alliance equipment, along with the innovative ways they put it to use. But sometimes, a great story is right in our own back yard. This time, we'll take a short drive from our Cleveland headquarters and travel to legacy station WHK 1420 AM The Answer. It's now part of the Salem Media Group. The Cleveland cluster also includes WHKW 1220 The Word, WHKZ 1440 The Word, and WFHM 95.5 FM The Fish. When we get there, we'll meet up with Chief Engineer Brett Patram. He'll tell us about his experiences with Telos, and how the stations came to be a test site for Omnia processors, most recently the Omnia.7AM.

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Topics: Omnia Audio, Audio Processing, Omnia.7AM, audio processor

Found in the Attic: Shure M67 Mic Mixer

Posted by Tom Vernon on Nov 11, 2016 5:00:00 PM

Some pieces of broadcast equipment are destined to become classics. The Otari MX5050, Gates Sta-Level and Spotmaster 500 cart machines come to mind. All were rugged, easy to service, and affordable. And so is our current attic discovery, the Shure M67 microphone mixer.

The story begins almost 50 years ago, in 1968 when the M67 was introduced. Production continued through 1987. In 1968, many stations were still using portable mixers with vacuum tubes, so an upgrade to solid state was a plus. One of the early footnotes in the history of the M67 was its use in the recording of Woodstock in 1969.

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Topics: Vintage Audio Technology

Found in the Attic: GE Superadio III

Posted by Tom Vernon on Nov 1, 2016 9:47:00 AM

Is it too soon for a Found in the Attic ‘90s flashback? Before you answer yes, think about how much the mass media and technology have changed over the past 20 years. In the early 90s, the Internet hadn't yet happened, and there was no streaming media. Radio was still an AM-FM thing. In this world, specialty receivers were not uncommon. A few people were still interested in long-distance AM listening (DXing), and to meet that need, the GE Superadio series was offered. This Found in the Attic examines that series, and the Superadio III in particular.

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Topics: Vintage Electronics

Telos Z/IP ONE IP Codec Helps to Lay Down the Law

Posted by Tom Vernon on Oct 19, 2016 1:05:00 PM

Sadly, not long after this interview was completed, the engineer featured in this story, Joe Huk, passed away suddenly. Joe was a talented engineer and will be greatly missed. We extend our condolences to his friends and family.

* * *

It's been a yearly tradition at WMUZ since the late ‘80s. During the first week in June,  Crawford Broadcasting's Detroit operation partners with Goodwin & Scieszka for the annual Law Day remote, where the client provides free legal advice and gives away safety helmets and bicycles to children in the community. It's an event that requires a lot of planning and preparation from chief engineer Joe Huk, along with a dedicated team at the station. It also involves the Telos Z/IP ONE broadcast IP codec.

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Topics: Remote Broadcasts, Telos Systems, Telos Z/IP ONE, broadcast codec

Found in the Attic: Panasonic 8-Track Player

Posted by Tom Vernon on Oct 17, 2016 9:20:00 AM

Break out those Merle Haggard tapes, it's time to go 8-trackin'. During this trip to the attic, we'll revisit those 70s machines that go kachunk, 8-track players. We'll discover the history of this format, peek inside a Panasonic RS-804US 8-track player, and visit with 'Trackers', who keep everything 8-track alive.

It all began with a desire for freedom of choice. Back in the early 1960s, a few people had begun to resent the limited choices they had for music while driving. AM radio was predominately Top-40, with a very limited playlist. FM radio was in its infancy, and most car radios were AM only. Bottom line, if you lived outside urban areas, your options for automotive listening were limited. This restriction was especially felt by truck drivers, who spent countless hours on the road.

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Topics: Vintage Electronics

Radio Free Asia: Axia Early AoIP Adopters

Posted by Tom Vernon on Oct 5, 2016 1:30:00 PM

As Axia celebrates the 13th anniversary of our invention of AoIP audio, we like to look back and acknowledge some of our early adopters, those brave souls who purchased Axia gear at a time when breaking from AES3 or analog and going with IP audio represented some serious risk taking. One of those was Radio Free Asia (RFA), a nonprofit international broadcaster with its headquarters in Washington, DC and satellite studios throughout the Pacific Rim. RFA broadcasts in nine languages, via shortwave, satellite transmissions, medium-wave, FM, and streaming online. Most of the broadcasts are in Mandarin Chinese, which is broadcast twelve hours per day. We spoke with RFA's CTO, David Baden, who has recently returned from India, where he set up the remote equipment for Radio Free Asia's live coverage of the Tibetan elections.

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Topics: Axia Audio, Audio over IP, Livewire, aoip, Radio Free Asia