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C.Crane Radios with Bob Crane

Posted by Kirk Harnack [TWiRT] on Oct 6, 2014 9:51:00 AM

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TWiRT 229Anyone listening to late night talk radio has probably heard of the C. Crane Company and their high-quality consumer radios. As engineers we tend to worry about the studio and transmission end of radio broadcasting. Bob Crane, founder of C. Crane, took a different approach to broadcast quality. He and his engineers work on the receiving end, and it’s making a positive difference. Bob joins Chris Tobin and me to let us in on the magic behind great radio reception.

 

 

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Kirk: This week in Radio Tech, Episode 229 is brought to you by the Telos VX:Multistudio, multiline talk show system. Meet the Telos VX talk show system at telos-systems.com. By Lawo, maker of the new crystalCLEAR virtual radio console. crystalCLEAR is the radio console with a multi-touch touch screen interface. And by the Axia RAQ and DESQ: Big consoles for small places. Only Axia connects to so much so easily.

Hey, as engineers, we tend to worry about the studio and transmission end of radio broadcasting. Bob Crane, founder of C. Crane Company, took a different approach to broadcast quality. He and his engineers work on the receiving end, and it's making a positive difference. Bob joins Chris Tobin and me to let us in on the magic behind great radio reception.

Hey, welcome in to This Week in Radio Tech. I'm Kirk Harnack, your host. I'm delighted you're here. Another show that I'm really excited about. I can't wait to talk to our guest. But even closer than our guest, let's say hi to Chris Tobin.

Chris Tobin's in New York City, the best engineer in radio. Hey, Chris, good afternoon.

Chris: Well, hello there, good afternoon. Actually, it's turning out to be...well, still an overcast day, unfortunately. The weather's not bad.

Kirk: You're about to get a shot of colder weather, we've got a big cold front coming through here on Friday in Nashville, and a glorious sunny fall cool day here on Saturday. You might get that a day and a half later.

Chris: Actually, it was pretty cool last night and this morning. They're calling for low 60s. Summer has passed and fall has arrived and it's going to be that crazy up-and-down weather for a couple of weeks, I'm sure.

Kirk: Well, before everyone thinks this is This Week in Climatology, it's actually This Week in Radio Tech, where we talk about everything from the microphone to the light bulb at the top of the tower. Although this week, we're going pretty far afield and talk about the other end of what we do, the part that we use but have little control over, and I'll get to that in just a second.

Our sponsors for today's show are Lawo and the crystalCLEAR Audio Console, the virtual console that has a multi-touch touch screen interface. Also, our show is bring brought to you by the folks at Telos, my employer, delighted to have them along, and the VX Voice Over IP phone system. Also by the folks at Axia, and the gorgeous, cute, little, just awesome Desk Mixing Console and its little brother the Rack Mixing Console. I'll tell you about those as we go along.

Now, without further ado, I've been just delighted to, I never thought I'd have a chance to speak with this guy, and then one day it hit me: Well, why don't we just call him and see? So we actually wrote an email to the C. Crane Company, got a delightful email back from, I guess, their PR director, Jessica, and now we have on our show with us the founder and president of the C. Crane Company that makes fabulous radios, Bob Crane. Hey, Bob, welcome in.

Bob Crane: Well, thank you very much. I'm very impressed with your show and it's a pleasure to be on, and thank you for having the courage to put me on.

Kirk: I'm just impressed we've done so many episodes, mostly about the part of broadcasting that your radios receive. Folks, I doubt there's very many people watching or listening to this podcast today that haven't heard of C. Crane Company, and maybe you have or maybe you haven't ever bought one of their radios.

I want to get in with Bob about his business motivation for making radios. These radios typically are not...well, this is my opinion; Bob, I want you to correct me as we go along here. They're not top of the line, they're not cheap junk, but they're really great performers, especially for the price. In other words, they're popular prices. Most everything they have is well under a hundred dollars. They make some Wi-Fi radios that work great, and I just bought this little AM/FM weather radio, and it's just superb. I was expecting...I don't know what I was expecting, but I was delighted when I got it.

So Bob, why don't you just give us a little introduction to the C. Crane Company, and over the next hour we'll get into your motivations and some technical aspects of how you make your radios and the features you design into them. So tell us about C. Crane.

Bob: Well, your questions are very good, and that really is what I love to talk about. It surprises me to see why we got into radio, but most of it was I've always been interested in reception. How do you make a radio get good reception? We moved from San Francisco up to Fortuna where we live now, and reception was terrible. So that took it to a head right away. We got into AM reception because FM you can't get more than, what, a hundred miles or so no matter what you do. Also, audio quality. Audio to me was substandard. It was hard to get a radio that had voice quality. I listened to talk radio quite a bit and I had a hard time finding a radio that would sound good.

Kirk: So before you got into a company that manufactures and sells radios, what did you do before that? Anything related?

Bob: A little bit related, yeah. I've always been in radio; it just took me about 35 years to wake up to maybe I could make a living at it. But I worked with some interesting electronics companies in the Bay Area where I grew up. We built stereo systems for a company in San Carlos, California. I guess when you look back; I made a Sony-type Walkman in 1968, with a little transistor. I'd cut out the resistors and put a set of caulked headphones on it, but that was pretty remarkable for its time. So just in the peripheral I'd been in radio for a long time, since I was a little kid.

Kirk: Hey, Chris Tobin. Before Bob sets us straight, Chris, maybe you could give me your thoughts about C. Crane. You ever owned one? I've heard ads for C. Crane radios on late night radio, especially with Art Bell. Of course, Art's interested himself in people being able to pick up his show, and he was carried on lots and lots of 50 kilowatt stations late at night. Chris, what's your take on C. Crane before we get set straight?

Chris: Oh, I've had his stuff-actually, I'm trying to remember, it was one of the little square tabletop radios, I have it somewhere at my mom's-C. Crane, if you're a DXer, shortwave listener, ham operator, you should know C. Crane. If you don't, then that's an embarrassment. No, I'm only kidding.

Kirk: [laughs]

Chris: If you've been an owner of the GE Super Radio series or the GE Super Radios 2 and 3, you definitely would know C. Crane. The products are great. They do exactly as he advertises, and if you're someone that likes to listen and pull in those signals on AM, that's the radio to use these days. There's nothing else out there, I think, that puts the focus on trying to get the reception you want. I could be wrong, but at least my experience with the products, that's what I get.

And if I can say that the GE Super Radio set the standard back in the day many years ago-many, many years ago-and a lot of folks tried to duplicate it, never happened. Only C. Crane seems to be the closest to making it work. Bob's been at it, like he said, since 1960s and change, so with time and experience, that's the way it goes. For AM reception . . .

Kirk: So, Bob . . .

Chris: . . . and even the FM, it's great.

Kirk: So, Bob, as a businessman, I guess probably your overriding desire is to make products that people want to buy. That's what we have to do as any manufacturer. Doesn't matter if we make the most fabulous thing in the world, nobody wants it. But aside from making things people want to buy, tell us about your motivation, and ethic behind your radios.

Bob: You know, that's something I don't talk about all the time, so I can't put it all in a few sentences, but I think talk radio's...you know, we have too big of a country at one time and still, to some degree, talk radio is the glue that keeps our country together. That's something that is not obvious to most people, but there's only Australia, Canada, and the United States love AM radio, and AM radio's still fairly strong.

And, you know, you brought up- that's why, it's for our country that we started building these radios. I think it's important that people have access to- even the Internet can't offer immediate contact for millions of people like national broadcast can. It's more difficult, the bandwidth is more troublesome, but go on there now and broadcast nationwide. You know, the President of the United States could go on there right now and you can't do that with any other media.

Kirk: Sure.

Bob: And also the entertainment value, but I think that's mostly the motivation right there, and I think personally, radio, to me, is the best darn thing in the world. You have to have food, shelter, and clothing, obviously, but past that, I'll take a radio any day.

Kirk: And, you know, radio is...well, it's both, I guess they call it, a lean back and a lean forward activity. For me, radio is usually lean back. I'm a broadcast station owner, so I tend to lean forward when the show segment is ending, like a talk show, and they're going into commercial. I want to make sure that my bumper runs correctly and my commercial starts.

Bob: [laughs]

Kirk: So my business partner Larry and I, we're driving down the road, and when Herman Cain is talking, the radio's turned down. But as soon as we hear the bumper music or he says he's going into break, turn the radio up! [laughs]

Bob: Your motivations are different.

Kirk: Yes, exactly.

Bob: "Help, we're off-air!"

Kirk: I want to mention something about...I had never owned a C. Crane radio until I received this in the mail yesterday. I ordered it from Amazon, and it came in two days, and I was telling Jessica, your PR director, that I was so impressed. It doesn't feel lightweight, it feels heavy enough to feel substantial. This is not the only thing C. Crane sells or makes, this is just one of many, many, many, but this is the one that I thought would meet my needs. And it's got this beautiful rubberized side around it, and that's just thoughtful because it's easy to hold, it's not going to slip out of your hand like my cell phone does.

And the frosting on the top of the cake was this. I took the battery cover off in order to put the batteries in for the first time, and look what's inside the battery cover. The instructions for things that you wouldn't know intuitively. How to make the radio go from 9 kilohertz spacing to 10 kilohertz spacing, or how to set the alarm or set the clock or turn the beep on or off.

I don't have to go to the manual now. I use the manual now, and three years from now, I pick the radio up and I still know how to turn the beep back on. Or if I carry this to somewhere where they have 9 kilohertz spacing, I can do that and I don't need to carry some paper or forget about that functionality. The other functions are...you want to set a memory preset, you tune to the station you want, you push down the button, like any other radio. But, Bob, thank you for that kind of smart design.

Bob: Well, that's what we try to specialize in. We don't always do it. There's some other features in there, some secret Easter eggs you'll need to read up on. A way to turn off the display on a weak AM station so the LCD doesn't make noise. I think there's another one or two also like that that are built in.

Kirk: Actually, yeah, I did see that display blanking, and I didn't have a chance to see what it changed about AM reception because I was listening to WSM which is 50 kilowatts four miles away from my house. But yeah . . .

Bob: You can alter the bandwidth a little bit, which is kind of interesting.

Kirk: Yes. I tried that. Actually, I had it first on two and a half kilohertz, and then I thought "Oh, you can make it go to four kilohertz wide," so I did that, and I guess four kilohertz must be the three dB point because it sounded like more than four kilohertz to me.

Bob: Yeah, it just sounds a lot better, and, you know, we're trying to take advantage of the new chip technology that's available now with the filtering that's selectable.

Kirk: So, if you would talk to Chris and me about...how do you think about a design for a new radio? "If I built a radio that had this"...how much of the design process are you involved with, is your company, and how much are you working with contract manufactures to help you with the design? Where does this begin?

Bob: Well, it's a chicken and the egg, and many years ago, we were more dependent on the manufacturers to help us with how things work, but now we do everything. We generally create most of the prototype, we do the design, we do all the-not the actual programming of the chip, but we do the flowchart of how the radio's going to work exactly, and so we're very involved. Much more involved than you would think. And it takes an awful lot of effort by many people over a long period of time to get it right.

It's a lot of fun doing it that way, but...what would you say, it's very rewarding when you get a radio right and you can send it out and people are happy. You get a very good feeling inside. Like...the battery cover, for example. I'd never seen that before, but "why don't we put it on the battery cover?" "Okay!" It's been fun.

Kirk: So how many different models-boy, it must be in the dozens if not hundreds-how many different models are you making?

Bob: It isn't that many, really. We come out with . . .

Kirk: Oh.

Bob: . . . one or two a year, is all we can do. But right now we have...oh, gosh...maybe 15 or 20 radios that we manufacture. But each one takes a certain amount of updating. You know, our chips go sour, or they don't make them anymore. "End of Life" is what they call it. So we always have to upgrade chips on our radios, that's one thing. But it just takes an awful long time to make a radio. And it's quite a process. We start with the customer input. Like I say, it's a chicken and egg. The customer may have an idea but maybe the chip ability to make that is not here right now.

So there's all kinds of different things to consider. So we do a feasibility study. What's on the market, does this fit in, is it offering a benefit? We don't always do it for money. We have a radio we have now that's been a wonderful experience called the EP, and it's an analog radio. I have one here I can put up on the camera.

Kirk: Yeah. Yeah, sure.

Bob: I think I can grab it here. Oh, I've got to take off my headset.

Kirk: Okay. Yeah, actually I've just found that online, the EP AM/FM Portable. It is an analog-tuned radio.

Bob: So this is a very simple radio, AM/FM. I think you can see that, it has a fine adjustment for AM.

Kirk: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Bob: Twin coil ferrite. But the audio is surprisingly great on this one. The newest model, it'll be coming out I think in the next month, we've redesigned the front-end so most people would not be able to know they're on AM if they're listening to music, that's how good it is.

Kirk: You know, I almost bought this EP radio, but when I was choosing one a couple days ago, I wanted one that I could throw in my suitcase and carry when I travel, and the EP was just a little bit bigger than what I wanted, but I did like the fact that it had an external FM connector on it. How many portable radios do you find that have an external FM connector on them?

Bob: Not too many, that's really a breakpoint. If you're going to put one on there, that's a good idea that the radio's a little bit better quality.

Kirk: And then you mentioned the dual ferrite AM. What does this do for you? There's two AM antennas inside?

Bob: In essence, yes, but it's actually just one ferrite antenna and we figured out that there's a north-south axis on the piece of ferrite, and we thought "Why don't we put two coils on there and then combine the signal into one?" And it worked, so we got a 3 dB gain out of doing that process. So we get 3 dB better than any radio made today, which is not huge, but it's a lot radio-wise.

Kirk: Ferrite antennas are directional anyway, does this make it any more directional than it was before?

Bob: Yes.

Kirk: I would guess so. It would make its lobes a little narrower, less fat.

Bob: I haven't seen the facts but my ears tell me yes, because the radio's so sharp when you turn it, and there's a lot of times you can nullify noise over another type of radio, so that would confirm that. We have a source of noise come in, and you can put it right to the pinpoint.

Kirk: Is there something...you know what? I've got a couple questions coming up, and as usual I'm doing all the yapping and I haven't let Chris Tobin hardly get a word in edgewise, but we got to take a quick break here and tell you about our sponsor, the folks at Lawo. The folks at Lawo make a lot of our audio consoles. They make some big consoles, some smaller ones, they're getting into smaller consoles for the radio industry. But the one that they want you to know about is this really interesting crystalCLEAR. It's called a virtual radio mixing console. Virtual because the thing that you use, that the disk jockey uses to mix his show, is not a console at all but it's a PC with a multi-touch touch screen.

The software looks on the screen just like faders, just like buttons, and since it's all done in software everything can be context sensitive. So if you have a mic source and you want to adjust the mic processing, you touch a button at the top of the fader and the mic processing options show up, whereas if it's something that wouldn't require mic processing, you don't get mic processing, you get other options. So it's context sensitive with regard to the type of input that you're using at that moment.

In fact, the touchscreen handles up to 10 touches at the same time, so you could use all 10 fingers at the same time but you'd probably more often be sliding two faders up and down, or moving a fader and punching an on/off button at the same time. The crystalCLEAR console, some folks say, is faster and easier to use than traditional radio boards that have physical knobs and buttons. It has a flat menu structure, only two levels.

The top level is the main screen, which has all these familiar controls. The options screens that you may wish to access are only one touch away from that top screen. So you can get completely familiar with all the functions in ten or fifteen minutes. There's a large clock, and even a small event timer, that are central to the display.

It does smart auto mix, it does auto gains. So you bring a guest in the studio and you want to make sure that your faders going to ride in the right place. You have the speaker talk, you touch the auto gain button, and the gain for that channel is set, the input gain is set. So that now when you run the virtual fader up to its normal position, that talent is exactly at the right level. So you don't have to run talent way high or way low. It does support guests for talk backs, so you can talk back to individual headphones and say, "Hey, Bob, we've got to wrap this up pretty soon." You can do like that.

There are 24 audio sources available in the console. These come to the DSP engine, which is a one rack unit box that sits in a rack. All the audio inputs and outputs are right there in the back of that DSP engine. And then the control surface just connects over your network, over Ethernet. It connects to the same Ethernet switch that the DSP engine's connected to. You turn it on, you run the app, and it comes up and there's your console right in front of you.

It does have Program 1, Program 2, and Record busses, of course it has queue, prefader level metering, different scene presets, so if you have a morning show or an afternoon show that are different you can do that. It does have ASEBU inputs and outputs, and optional Ravenna Audio Over IP interfacing which is AES67 compliant. GPIO, of course, for your on-air lamps or to mute different things around the studio if you need to.

I want you to check it out; if this sounds sexy to you, then please do. Go to lawo.com: that's L-A-W-O. German company, great guys, they have a US office, they have an office in Canada. These are just really superb businesspeople and engineers. lawo.com, L-A-W-O, and look for the crystalCLEAR Audio Console. We thank Lawo for their sponsorship of This Week in Radio Tech.

We're talking to Bob Crane, founder of the C. Crane Company. Chris Tobin is our guest host on the show. Chris, what am I leaving out so far with regard to radio design that you want to ask Bob?

Chris: I don't think you've left anything out. One question I do have is that the twin coil ferrite AM antenna signal booster that's on your website, does that take advantage of the two coils in the ferrite rod?

Bob: That's correct, yes. That's the official name, "twin coil ferrite". And we have a utility patent on that that we got many years ago. It's still valid, I hope. It's an interesting little product. We sell it separately too. Like you said, the twin coil ferrite for someone that just wants to see what they can do by boosting their signal.

Also for...occasionally you have noise that's present locally, in your bedroom or in your home. You can get a fifty foot extension and put the antenna element away from the noise, outside or in the house somewhere like in a closet, and then run the wire back to your radio and put a little ferrite stick on your radio. Then you can actually overpower- it's so powerful that you can overpower the localized noise that you find where your host radio is. So that's a real asset for someone that's a diehard that goes "I can't get good reception!" Well, you can. It's the Ferrari of the AM world.

Kirk: I see that, yeah. That twin coil...so this is an antenna all by itself and then you run it into...I guess you have models of radios that this connects to.

Bob: Any radio it'll connect to . . .

Kirk: Oh, any, gotcha.

Bob: . . . wire system . . .

Kirk: Okay.

Bob: . . . ferrite, you know, by proximity, with the induction.

Kirk: Ah.

Bob: With a little . . .

Kirk: Yeah.

Bob: . . . ferrite stick. Yeah. So it does just about everything, and it works on a 9 volt battery too, so again, with about 33 dB gain or something, it can be really remarkable. In fact, it would be difficult to surpass that even with a fairly big loop antenna.

Kirk: Really? Broadcasters could use this. A lot of broadcasters have to pick up for the Emergency Activation System, the EAS. Emergency Alert System. They have to pick up an AM station, usually called an LP1 station, to monitor them, and this could really help in a broadcast environment to pick up a station that might otherwise be difficult.

Bob: That's on an AM signal, then, the LP1?

Kirk: Yeah.

Bob: Oh.

Kirk: Well, it could be either AM or FM but there are a lot of them that are AM.

Bob: Gotcha, okay. Yeah, so if they have to pick up a signal, then that could do it, tuned to that, right away. It's stable at AC power or backup power comes with it. So if the power's out, it'll still work.

Kirk: You make a radio that has a windup for a power source. How popular is that kind of radio? Are those all purchased by your Ted Nugent types?

Bob: You know, we . . .

Kirk: Survivalists.

Bob: . . . that's an interesting experience. We had three earthquakes between 6.3 and 7.2 in 17 hours in 1992 here in Fortuna. And so the foundation for that radio was quite obvious when my kids had used all the flashlight batteries up. They're wonderful kids. We couldn't get hardly anything to work, and people don't know unless they've been through a big earthquake like that, what it's really like, where there's not a square foot without a glass shard and there's no light with your bare feet to go past them.

So that radio was founded on that. We came out with a power pack originally with a solar panel and we put in a radio, and originally we went over to South Africa, a company called Bajin [SP] in South Africa was making that. We tried to contact them for six months to see if they'd be interested in working with us, and I finally realized they weren't probably getting back to us because the power was shut off at night in South Africa. Sure enough, when we sent them an email or tried to call them during their day, everything went a lot faster.

That radio is one of the more popular radios ever made, the Free Play and the Bajin, the original version. That radio is tremendous. Before Y2K and all that, everybody remembers that, that was very popular. I think quite a few of those were sold during that time period. Especially Art Bell, you mentioned him.

Kirk: Yeah, yeah. I've been collecting a few WiFi radios I don't have one of yours yet. I've got a few from, I think, the guys over at Grace. Tell me about the whole WiFi radio industry. What do you think about that and how are people...are ordinary folks deploying this or is it still kind of a geeky thing?

Bob: You know, it's funny, but the young people are going to use their cellphones and think "I don't need that, I have it on my cell phone," and they do. But you don't have a radio experience, you don't have audio worth a hoot, and as I say, "You can't do dancing with dinner with a cell phone. It's just not going to work." It's very difficult to explore in the same way as you can with a WiFi radio.

So WiFi radio will be perhaps a smaller segment, but it's here to stay, and I think it provides more enjoyment to me on the radio side, or just as much as reaching out when shortwave was hot and heavy, so there's- it's remarkable. It's a truly remarkable experience. So we have, you mentioned it, we have a new one that just came out today. I think it's plugged in. Hold on one second.

This one's a new one that just came out, we just got in today, we'd been working on it two years...

Kirk: Oh!

Bob: . . . and it's based on TuneIn technology. This is a cherry version. Very handsome-looking radio, I believe. Again, it's just fun to explore the different things that are available on WiFi. It hasn't been the most popular form in the world, but...I can't really describe it.

Kirk: When you . . .

Bob: What do you think?

Kirk: ...well, I've had a couple of WiFi radios that I was very disappointed in. They kept losing connection with my WiFi and required reboots, and every time I would reboot it there was a new software version available, and then I'd have to key in my WiFi password, which is this long, over and over again. It was a little irritating.

Finally-this was one from another company-it settled in, things were okay. I actually do listen to a bunch of streaming radio on my cell phone. Usually it's my own stations, checking them. You know, they're a seven-hour drive away in Mississippi.

Bob: I've heard this story.

Kirk: Or I have two stations in American Samoa, so I check on them every now and then. But I'm streaming them, and then Bluetooth to the car receiver. Come to think of it, here in our house we do have a small-just a couple rooms-worth of Sonos [SP], and that's pretty convenient; a beautiful app to control it, so it's easy to go pick a Pandora channel or a broadcast station, something you want there.

What have you seen about the WiFi...not the technology of 2.4 gig WiFi but about the user interface. How have you seen that improve over time? And you mentioned TuneIn technology, is that in association with the TuneIn website to provide the selection of stations?

Bob: Yeah, we're always looking to improve that interface, but a lot of the features are built in to the chip, so you have to really go down to the chip level to start changing things around, and you have to have...like, you can't call TuneIn and say "Hey, can you change this programming for me?" "Oh, yeah."

Kirk: You're right.

Bob: Usually they don't want to do that. They have so much invested into what they have. There's other ways. You know, we have things we're working on in the background that are really intense, and unfortunately, the more we wait around, the better the technology to make it easier on what we finally come up with, so that's awesome. Kind of a fascinating chicken-and-egg thing.

But I think it's to the point where we could start producing our own app, so to speak, that runs our own WiFi radio. So that's pretty darn close right now. It'll be another year or two. Hopefully we'll have something out. But TuneIn, on the meantime, has all the podcasts available, has more extensive lists available than some of the other services, and I think it's the first WiFi radio with TuneIn.

Kirk: Yeah. Something that I would love to see happen-Chris Tobin, maybe you can chime in on this subject. Some years ago, the company that I work for, Telos-that would be Steve Church-Steve believed that sometime in the future, radio, or what we think of as radio now, is going to be customizable to the point that...let's say there is a German radio station that I really like. Actually, there's a Latvian radio station I visited that I really like, and they stream.

But I do want to hear, let's say, CBS News either once an hour on my stream or when I push a button. "Hey, I was away for the last three hours, I haven't heard the news lately, let me just get a CBS News update." I'd like to be able to easily and conveniently program my radio-maybe via my cell phone or some kind of app-that this is what I like, but I also like this and this. If I listen to Pandora, I'm not getting any news. I've got to go get up and do something to go hear the latest news.

And so I would love to have-I realize it's got to be easy. Maybe there's a deep dive to an advanced section. But I'd love to be able to customize what I hear based on all the things that are out there. Not just the stuff that's available on, say, one of my talk stations, but I want to customize that beyond what a radio station does and well beyond what, say, Pandora does. So maybe the music selection of Pandora along with some local news and some national news when I want it. Any thoughts about that whole idea?

Bob: Well, I think you're right on the money. I think I have the same-are you...I think Chris was going to answer that, or...?

Kirk: Chris, is that a crazy idea?

Chris: No, it's not a crazy idea; actually it's something that should have evolved probably five years ago with the way the Internet has grown and multimedia, web media. No, I think it's a great idea, and there's no reason why you couldn't do it. But I think the content providers, the broadcasters, would be the ones to hamper it. So it'd probably be a non-broadcast person or company that discovers a way to package it and get it to your phone or radio device or whatever it is, just as you pointed out.

Kirk: Bob, what are your thoughts, and then I've got a comment about that.

Bob: I have, I would say, I have a dream would be a good way to describe it, that the radio will be everywhere and you will create what you want. Because we're pretty close to the next step in technology where it will be everywhere and we'll get what we want when we want it. I've been dreaming about that too.

Kirk: I'd love to have another button to push called "Discovery".

Bob: Oh, yeah.

Kirk: Usually I have, on my iPod in the car, I've got 7,000 songs, but there are four hundred of them that are my favorites. And I could listen to those same four hundred songs until the day I die. But sometimes I'm in the mood-"You know, there's got to be other artists that are like The Pretenders, and I'd like to hear somebody with a voice like Chrissie Hynde whose music has a similar beat and rhythm but is not the Pretenders." I'd love to, like Pandora does, categorize these things and say "let me hear some things that are like this artist but not this artist" and have my radio go make arrangements for me to do that. When I'm in the mood for it. Not just all the time.

And then the thing I was going to say is, it seems like if you want to customize your radio...I know I mentioned CBS News, we carry that as well as Fox News on one of our radio stations, and I guess an app would have to have "Okay, do you want to hear news?" "Yes." "How often?" "Once an hour." "Does it have to be the top of the hour or close as possible?" "Close as possible." "Which news source would you like?" And now you've got radio news sources: Fox...I almost said Mutual, that dates me quite a bit. Different network news sources, and I realize the number of those is probably dwindling now. "Are you interested in the CBS Radio Network Morning News that's ten minutes long?" "Yeah, sure, I'd like that." "Are you interested in hearing-"...oh, who's the CBS commentator, Chris, that has a little . . .

Chris: Osgood.

Kirk: . . . commentary on CBS? Osgood, yes.

Chris: Charles Osgood.

Kirk: "Would you like to hear Charles Osgood from time to time?" "Well, yes I would." I'd like to be able to program that into an app and now it's my customized radio station. And of course, if there's something I don't like, unlike broadcast radio, I don't have to sit through it. "You know, this thing that Osgood is talking about today, I don't care about that." Hit a button and move on to the next thing. So it's my own playlist. That would be delightful.

Bob: That sounds good. That sounds like your studio control for a station, when you do all your songs and match them all up, and it's going to pull your feed from somewhere else, something like that is what it sounds like.

Kirk: Yeah.

Bob: You know, there's another thing that I found that is kind of a secret but it's not at all. And that is, when you go tune in a station from foreign country-and one of my particular favorites, not as far as a country but the music that is provided through that country, is Russia, and they have 101 RU is its hallmark. And they have, oh, 30% of the songs that the Rolling Stones and the Beatles have recorded that you've never heard.

Kirk: Really?

Bob: Yes.

Kirk: Oh.

Bob: My favorite is 101 RU Rock and Roll.

Kirk: Okay.

Bob: It's...I haven't heard a song ever in my life-I have to listen in a week-that I heard on American radio.

Kirk: Uh-huh.

Bob: But this song was incredibly good, well done, and by people you've never even heard of or wouldn't recognize the name. Or you might recognize them, but...I'm surprised, and this is the big secret of where you can find so much discovery and so much music, and I believe the only reason it's not here is because of the royalty structure that I'm sure Russia doesn't pay.

Kirk: Ha, yeah.

Bob: So it's kind of upsetting on that one, I don't feel good about...I'd rather have artists get paid, but for discovery it's really worth looking into. All kinds of . . .

Kirk: I keep seeing 101 RU show up in the list of stations when I use many of the different services out there, and I don't remember stopping on 101 RU, so I certainly will, especially that rock and roll channel you just mentioned.

Bob: Yes, it's really remarkable.

Kirk: We're talking to Bob Crane. He's the founder and president of the C. Crane Company and if you've not heard of them, they make an incredible variety of consumer radios, from small pocket models like this to larger radios. They also make a lot of accessories to help with reception. Various chargers, external antennas, things like that. Bob, in the next few minutes we're going to get more into the WiFi radio and what you see coming down the line. I've got a question from someone on Twitter. He asks about AM stereo compatible Sequans [SP] radios. Aside from a few aficionados, is there any call for that?

Bob: You know, I think we're way past that in the technology market. The newest technology is Silicon Labs. They've done a remarkable job, they've already sold over a billion AM and FM radio chips on the world market. That's remarkable. And their chip technology is so far above anything we've seen in the past hundred years that you have to be looking for them for a solution. They are the chips that we use on many of our radios now, and they have what's known as "brick wall filters". These radio chips are inexpensive, so you really only need to set up and attach an antenna and a speaker and you have a radio already done. But they've mastered what they want to do with the shape of the bandwidth. If we could convince them to do stereo, we would have a solution right off the bat. But it's going to be that solution, not going back to Sequans or some of the other stereo formats.

Kirk: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm really curious about HD radio and how your company feels about serving that market, and then also I want to ask you about-we'll take a break before we hit them, but...let's stick to HD. Tell me about HD radio. Do you make any HD radios at this point?

Bob: We did experiment in the beginning. We had one of the first HD radios we sold. Our experience with it was not overwhelming. We also participated in the original, for a few years, NRSC meetings where they made the standard before they came out with the HD radios, so we're fairly familiar with it. And we don't feel that AM HD is viable, for several reasons. It eliminates the long wave or the sky wave skip, which is very beneficial to 10% of the population in the United States which can't get radio elsewhere. And I think also, too, the actual distance for HD AM has not been proven, even at full power, to the extent that they would like it to work. I would be very careful as a station owner before committing expense in that area.

FM is a different story. You have multiple stations which is going to take a long time for that to become popular, but it's still a viable system.

Kirk: We're talking to Bob Crane of the C. Crane Company, and I'm Kirk Harnack along with Chris Tobin on This Week in Radio Tech, episode 229. Coming up, I want to ask Bob about other digital technologies that do work on AM like DRM and DRM Plus, DAB technologies, so we'll get into that in just the next few minutes.

Our show's brought to you in part by Telos and the Telos VX Broadcast Voice Over IP system. If you go to telos-systems.com and just look for the VX Talk show System, you'll find it. This is a system that uses natively Voice Over IP. It uses SIP-session initiation protocol, that's a real standard for Voice Over IP. It uses SIP connections. Now, you're a broadcast station engineer. You're looking for a way to save money on your phone lines. Hey, I know a guy right here in middle Tennessee, has ten request lines coming into his studios. $90 per line per month is the cost; he's spending $900 per month on POTS analog phone lines. Oh my goodness, this is expensive. You can almost always save money using Voice Over IP lines, but you've got to ask: "What about the quality? What about the reliability?" Well, it's gotten to the point, folks, where a lot of times your POTS lines are delivered to a building by DSL-type of technology. If you buy a T1 circuit, in many places you have a new T1 circuit involve, what you get is essentially a DSL line with a T1 conversion line at the end of it. We're already going to this kind of technology all over the place. Voice Over IP is used by major corporations, by broadcasters everywhere. ABC Evening News with Diane Sawyer-although I think she's leaving. A lot of the calls that you hear on national talk shows are Voice Over IP. They're coming in Voice Over IP. Or they're coming in a facility by, say, a PRI circuit and getting converted to Voice Over IP. The point is that the Telos VX system is ready for action with Voice Over IP and it is completely scalable. You can start with one or two studios, you can go up to...

[Unintelligible]

Kirk: -15, 20 studios. You got that thing taken care of? Okay. So serving broadcasters all over the place. Very flexible; you can attach ten studios to it or two studios to it, or anywhere in between. You can also attach a Telos VX system to, say, an Asterisk server and get all kinds of extra functionality: have your callers to your talk show first listen to a legal disclaimer if you need to. "Hey, your voice is going to be recorded. Your voice may be used in promotional competitions. If you want to go on the air with the disc jockey, press 1 now." Or they'll send you to the control room. There's all kinds of possibilities there. It's also possible to move studios now. So instead of having to unplug a bunch of phone lines and plug them into a patch bay or go to a different studio, just move to a different studio, go to the Telos VSat Controller and say "hey, I want to do the Bob Show from Studio B today instead of Studio A," and the whole show just moves over to the studio that you're in. Tons of advantages, the cost of the system is easily spread out over a few studios, and then the cost of your phone lines can go way, way down depending on what's important to you and how you want to bring your phone lines in. You can bring phone Lines over Internet. You can bring phone lines in over a dedicated circuit from, say, XL Communications or Time Warner or Windstream or whoever your VoIP provider might be. There's lots of possibilities. In fact, there are so many possibilities that I would just encourage you to have a conversation with a sales rep at Telos, your favorite Telos dealer, or we'll put you in touch with Joe Talbot or Joe Mach from Telos. These guys really get the details of putting in Voice Over IP systems: how to save you a ton of money and be very reliable, and the whole time you're going to improve the quality of the phone calls. In fact, CNN's chief audio engineer said "our calls have never sounded this good." Quite a good recommendation from the audio guys at CNN. Check it out on the web, telos-systems.com. Look for the Telos VX Broadcast Voice Over IP System. Thanks, Telos, for sponsoring This Week in Radio Tech.

All right, we're talking to Bob Crane, we're all here with Chris Tobin, and I want to get back into talking about these digital modes. We had a guest on recently, Bob Crane, who was a broadcast consulting engineer, and he thinks the answer to AM could just be blowing up the band and going all digital, whether it's all HD or whether it's all DRM, DRM Plus; that remains to be seen. What do you think about the future of AM as we get more and more noise sources and dwindling revenues?

Bob: You know, that's an interesting question, and the noise sources are of course a major problem. But I think going to digital is very difficult because of the physical constraints of the bandwidth on AM.

Another is can you really get a good digital signal out and have it received properly. And DRM is another example that on the shortwave version it wasn't that good of reception between Europe and America, which means that you're going to have problems with distance and everything. There are no easy solutions that I've seen so far, and I think going forward, digital is...I would hate to say it, but I think it would put a nail in the coffin of AM more than helping AM.

So I think building receivers with different bandwidths that are brick wall, similar to what's Silicon Labs, and other solutions should be looked at that are much easier. There's no cost involved. You're going to provide a much better signal and receive experience for the consumer.

Kirk: I am . . .

Bob: Technology.

Kirk: Mm-hmm.

Bob: Yeah, it's technology. Yeah.

Kirk: I haven't kept up with it lately, but I know that in India, all India radio is transitioning to DRM on the AM band. I wasn't involved-I was going to India a few times a year some years ago, I haven't lately. Hope to be going back, actually, in February to their big convention in Delhi. But I'm curious to see how that's going, how their plans for moving the AM band to DRM are in India. Have you heard anything about that?

Bob: I haven't, but I did go to Australia a couple years ago, and I was shocked that their digital AM system was out. They had nothing to do with it, and it was, according to the people that I met, a failure. They're back to analog AM again. That was never in our news over here, for some unknown reason. [laughs]

Kirk: [laughs]

Bob: But that was the way it was: they're done. They had a lot of problems with it.

Kirk: Chris Tobin, you've got some experience . . .

Bob: They're back to regular AM.

Kirk: You've got some experience here, don't you, Chris?

Chris: Oh, with the digital? Yeah, yeah. I have to agree with Bob. My experience with HD digital signals, both in AM and FM...the FM's working. I don't know, I still think it's the best, but I suppose it'll just continue the way it's going. AM, if we just do the pure physics of it, Bob's right. The bandwidth's just not there. I've listened to some of the digital stuff in Europe and it's a tough one.

I know when I was working at stations that we were doing AM stereo, the independent sideband or the Sequans, that there was several radio manufacturers that were experimenting with some nice technologies-Spraig [SP] was one of them-that try and filter, and make some brick wall filtering-it wasn't exactly what Bob's talking about today because the technology's improved-but when you had the radio working the way it should, the AM reception in stereo mode was phenomenal, and you'd be hard-pressed to believe it wasn't an FM station.

So I think Bob's right, the approach we should be looking at as an industry is to take advantage of the technology we have to improve on what's available rather than try to reinvent the wheel and think that we can do something digital.

Keep in mind, if you do digital communications-I'll just call it a generic term-digital communications for the transmission, reception, decoding, whatever you want to call it, requires a lot more robustness than some of the analog versions. Unless you have a really stable environment, the bandwidth conditions are ideal in most situations, digital reception and recoding can be very difficult.

Just look at the public safety industry. A lot of digital implementations they've done there failed and they had to go back to analog because they can't make it work. Their narrow bandwidth devices-we're not talking 200 kilohertz here. We're talking 6.25 kilohertz and something less than that depending on where you are in the country. I really believe that for AM he's right. I think if we continue forcing the digital approach, we're probably looking at a nail in the coffin solution. Not solution, demise. The best thing AM broadcasters can do is maximize what you have, and push it.

Kirk: I would be worried that even if there were really good, robust digital transmission solutions that worked well on the AM band, even if there were, there's so many other places that consumers can get audio that they want to hear. If they're told "hey, your favorite radio station"-I don't know, let's say WLAC here in Nashville-"is going off the air, is switching to digital at some date." People are going to tune away, not tune back. "Oh, to pick up them I've got to buy a digital radio, they're $59, they're $159."

I can see the nail in the coffin even if the technology was really appropriate and worked really well. We're postulating that it doesn't work that well, so...just the transition itself, no matter how good it is, might be a killer.

Chris: Well, yeah, it'd have to be very compelling. You're right, you're absolutely right. It'd have to be very compelling for somebody to invest and make a change, considering the mature approach we've got with the current broadcast setup. Look at FM HD. I mean, people are jumping on the ship for that and buying new radios for their FM stations. I don't know of anybody that's gone crazy doing that. They've bought cars that happen to have it in there. That's about it.

Kirk: Bob, how about AM/FM WiFi radio? Are you making one of those yet? Or is there still a divide between broadcast and WiFi radios?

Bob: Well, we are working on that one too. We always have irons in the fire and tricks up our sleeve.

Kirk: [laughs]

Bob: But yeah, there hasn't been too many AM WiFi radios, but we think we have a solution for that. Because of the noise generated by the WiFi radio is going to interfere with the AM. So we have a solution for that we've invented here. That's not an issue anymore I don't believe. And so we're looking forward to having that type of radio out. It'll be wonderful, but I think that you're right: the selection between different formats is going to [inaudible 52:10]-you can do somehow.

Kirk: Bob, wouldn't it be a thing to have-and maybe this is a solution you're already working on-I want to tune to an AM station and it's too noisy, I can't pick it up. But this radio I'm using already has an Internet connection, and so it knows "hey, he's in this location, wants to listen to 84 WHAS in Louisville and we're not picking that up over AM so let's see if that's available over stream." And it goes and makes a query, finds a stream, and plays your 84 WHAS's stream from iHeartRadio or somebody.

Bob: I think that's a great solution and that technology is here. It could even be monitoring in the background every minute to make sure it has a signal strong. All that technology is here, it's more the funds to do the software. Software is a very important part in radio, obviously. I'm sure it is in your broadcast arena, and it is on the receiver side too. To justify $100,000 or $200,000 in software costs or, in many cases, $1 million or $2 million for the software costs, you have to be very careful, because if your product doesn't fly you don't have anything to resell at a discount. You're done. So anyway.

Kirk: As a broadcast manufacturer-and Chris Tobin has worked in this field as well-of course we never try to ship a product that doesn't have reliable software, but there are always software updates. I would think that in your position, it's got to make you almost not sleep at night to make you think you might ship a product that has a fatal flaw, a bug, that's going to require the return of every single one you've ever sold. If you do an update, you've got to make sure that the process of updating works and doesn't kill 10% of the receivers that are out there; I'm talking about WiFi radios. How do you get past that problem?

Bob: Well, you're right, and that is terrible. I don't know of a new radio that comes out without some sort of a bug to begin with. But we have a very expensive and time-consuming process where we have usually 50 of the radios-like this new radio here, this is a CC WiFi 2-is made. We only got 50 of them made, and we sent them out to employees and friends of our company to test and see what problems they have.

Now, the radio is certainly not perfect, nor is any radio made perfect. But we did find some big problems that we had to solve before we released. And that's the only way to do it. That time involved and the cost...manufacturers hate to make 50 of one item. They'd rather make 50,000 of one item.

Kirk: Yeah.

Bob: And they want you to sign off and take possession as soon as you can. I think this one was stalled for about...almost a year before we got it right, before we could release it. And we did that on all products now, because the alternative is just not fun.

Kirk: You just mentioned this Wi-Fi too; this does have FM and WiFi, it just doesn't have AM because-as you mentioned-the technical difficulty of incorporating AM into that environment.

Bob: Yes. FM is easy because it's noise-free. AM is much more difficult. Like I say, we got it. But this is...I don't know. We have to take one step at a time with the radios, and our experience. We have one or two engineers here at C. Crane. We're a small company, and we stretch out limits every day. We try to never get satisfied with what we're doing, that's for sure. But we have our limitations. It's not Apple here. [laughs]

Kirk: We have the same thing in our company. "How come we can't get this fixed?" "Well, you know, Apple would throw a thousand engineers at that problem." "We don't have a thousand engineers."

Bob: That make $150,000 a year. Let's add that up...oh my god.

Kirk: So what do you see on the horizon for either C. Crane or companies that make receivers? AM, FM, WiFi, do you see anything that's kind of tickling your fancy or interest in the out years, five or ten years down the road?

Bob: You know, it's funny but I...the future of radio is actually quite good. It's still strong. AM radio in all its senior band moments is still very strong compared to television or perhaps FM as far as the amount that it's been reduced, as far as listenership. It's been reduced less than other formats. So I think we're going to have to be satisfied with that.

Again, I would look for...you know, I've written my letters to the FCC and stuff to try and get the bandwidth increased. But the technology's here, and to be satisfied with increasing the bandwidth of both the receiving and possibly narrowing the increasing that of the broadcast is something that we're going to be happy with to improve the band. I think that it's historical how good it is and I think...I don't know, AM listeners are not going to brag about that they listen to AM but there's still a lot of people listening.

And I think the economy has a bigger impact on radio than anything right now. As the economy really improves, I think we'll see the industry have more advertising, which I'm sure that's what you're looking at. I'm sure. And sales of radios. But, you know, you have a whole young population that wants everything on their phone too, so how that relates and how it's going to come out in the wash is anybody's guess at this point.

One last item too is that there's a lot of death in the radio industry, and if that can't be paid-and I'm going to suspect that a lot of it can't be-then you're going to have a change in radio at that point, and you're not going to have the homogenization you have now. You're going to have new talent that's going to come on, you're going to have different stations and opportunities for new talent that will hopefully be more relevant to what a younger person would like to listen to. I know I'd like to listen to it, but I think that'll be interesting change coming up that I don't know how it's going to come out.

Kirk: You're talking to an audience of broadcast engineers chiefly here on this podcast. Is there something that broadcasters are doing technically that just drives you nuts? That some stations..."please, fix this?" Is there something we can do better to make reception better?

Bob: I would keep in mind in the long term to look at how we can make the bandwidth part of our solution. If we had a bandwidth...say we had to go down to 2 or 3 kilohertz to get your signal on noise free but then it was so powerful compared to your offending station, or maybe you could put your signal up 2 or 3 kilohertz above your midpoint and have the other offending station go below, and have your receiver compensate automatically for the one you want to listen to, I think those are solutions that might work that are a lot less...they're not expensive, and they're a solution.

I would look for those types of solutions going forward to be aware of. But as far as a radio station, no, you guys are doing great. You're in the same boat as me and probably everyone. There should be more of you and you should get paid more, right?

Kirk: Absolutely. Chris, I've got one more big question after our last spot break. What do you have to ask right now, Chris, if anything?

Chris: I was just curious as I was looking through the website. Two things. One, I see that you have the radios with two-meter reception, two-meter amateur radio band reception, and then there's another one called "Base Camp" with an FRS radio built in. How did you come to do those? Customer feedback? People asking? You just thought of an idea and tossed it out there to see if it'd stick? I'm just curious.

Bob: Well, that one's pretty simple. The CC Radio 2E, that's the newest version, has a two-meter ham. The reason is that when we had our earthquakes here in '92, that was one of the solutions. The two-meter ham was so important, in others we had...people don't realize that there's only maybe, in a small town or an average town, there might be 50 total policemen. People that can look out and see what's going on.

Well, there's a lot more ham radio operators. There might be 200, 300. And so they end up doing most of the coordination efforts, like with the Red Cross and other things. The police are generally hopelessly overloaded, and so the two-meter ham in some circumstances-certainly not everywhere, in the hurricanes and the earthquakes-they come to the forefront. They're unsung heroes. If you're in a situation where you don't know what's going on, the ham operators...you know, you can make your radio, if you put it in dollar terms, this radio's worth $10,000 today because I know what's going on out there. And so I think that's why we put it in: again for the disasters and to help with communication.

The other FRS unit you talked about is one we've been reselling. We didn't make that one, and so it's not in our catalog this year. And I should say this came out today, the C. Crane catalog.

Kirk: Ah.

Bob: The new one.

Kirk: Soon as I register my radio, I'll be on your mailing list I hope.

Bob: [laughs] Okay, good.

Kirk: Hey, our show is brought to you in part by-stay tuned, we've got one more cool thing to cover. It's I think the gem of the show, so that's coming up. Bob doesn't even know what I'm talking about. Actually, he'll recognize it. Our show's brought to you in part by the folks at Axia. And I want to tell you about a console that I personally own at my stations in American Samoa. It's the Axia Desq, D-E-S-Q, console. And the RAQ, R-A-Q, console.

Actually, I own the RAQ console, it's in the newsroom at our radio station in American Samoa. Pongo Pongo, American Samoa. Monica Miller, our crack news lady who's not afraid to ask the tough questions to the corrupt officials there. She does all her news on an Axia RAQ console.

The RAQ and the DESQ are small consoles. They easily fit in most workspaces. They're six faders apiece. The DESQ console has linear faders and a single on/off button for each channel. The RAQ console has rotary faders on it. It goes in a 19-inch rack. It's just a few rack spaces high, I think it may be about, what, six rack spaces tall or so? And either one of these-or, actually, both of them-connect to our Core 32 engine or to a Core 16 engine.

You can actually connect two of these consoles to the same Core 16 engine if that suits you as far as the number of inputs and outputs available. That gets your cost per console really, really down. They're fully Axia-compatible, Livewire, Audio Over IP, all the whole low-latency thing, easy connectivity and talks to 30, 40, 50 different manufacturers. Automation systems and outboard gear. It even talks directly to, say, a Notel [SP] transmitter that has a Livewire jack built on the back of that, or an IDC satellite receiver with a Livewire jack built on the back of that. Of course, almost any Omnia audio processor or Telos phone system plugs right in through the Ethernet network.

But the RAQ and the DESQ are...well, they're cute, diminutive, and yet they're sturdy, they're strong. Very well-built. They use these gorgeous organic LEDs, OLEDs, as the display mechanism for your meters, for your channel description, for what's going on in that channel, we show your confidence, a meter for your pre-fader levels for what's coming in, your talkback levels. I could just go on and on about what's available.

Oh! The RAQ and the DESQ, they're the console surface, they plug into one of our engines called the Core 16 or the Core 32. Both of these products-the Core 16 and Core 32-they have mic inputs already on them, they have plenty of analog line inputs and even some AESBU inputs and outputs. GPIO contact closures built right in the back of them.

And here's something that's really cool, this will absolutely save you time and money: these little console engines have an ethernet switch built right in on the back. Already configured for Livewire. Of course, they'll handle other traffic as well, they're just designed to be set right up for Livewire. Some of the ports on these feature Power over Ethernet right on them. So if you've got a Telos phone system-like a Telos VX we talked about earlier-you can just plug the Telos VSet right into the Core 16 or Core 32, it provides power and all the network connectivity for that device.

If you've got other devices that need Power over Ethernet, or maybe PoE is their backup power source, like maybe you have an XNode that uses shore power, 100 volt AC, or PoE to power, or both at the same time. All that's built into this great little Core 16, Core 32. Very affordable, these are on the order of, I believe, about $6,000 street price for one of these consoles. And again, full Axia compatibility. I want you to check them out on the web, axiaaudio.com/desq, D-E-S-Q. axiaaudio.com/desq. Great little consoles, talk to your favorite Axia dealer about getting the price down by connecting two of these to a single Core engine. There's a diagram at the bottom of the page there I just described that shows how that is done. Really cool.

All right, thanks to Axia for being a sponsor on This Week in Radio Tech. Now, we're talking with Bob Crane, we're just about done with the show, but I've got something I just want to give Bob big props on, it's one of his webpages. It is called C. Crane University. Bob, this is an incredible resource.

Bob: Oh, thank you very much. There's a lot of people that have done a lot of work on that.

Kirk: Man, if you want to know about...I mean, here are the questions that are answered here in these great formats: "a list of shortwave frequencies"; "NOAH weather radio, one of the best-kept secrets in the world"; "an interview with radio maverick Michael Harrison"; "what will I hear on the two-meter band"; "how to set up a wireless network".

So you've got articles in here in C. Crane University that cover from simple stuff to rather complicated stuff. What gave you the impetus to help your customers, and even those that aren't your customers, with this great information?

Bob: Oh, just saving time, how about that?

Kirk: Yeah.

Bob: When we get questions from customers and they tend to fall into the same group, it's really worth your effort to take the time to do it right and do a little research and make sure you have all the right answers there. So it's pretty simple. We enjoy helping a blind person too when they need to learn one of our new products, so we help them out.

But after a while we record it, and then they can get it for free by clicking on the web. It ends up being...I would say less time, and that's a selfish reason, but the joy you have from helping someone and the effect it has for their lives sometimes is a huge reward. So thank you very much for those kind words.

Kirk: Boy, here: "improving AM reception in an office building".

Bob: [laughs]

Kirk: Every day, people can use that. I love this one: "Who invented radio?"

Bob: Uh-oh.

Kirk: Was it Tesla? Or...who exactly was it?

Bob: You know, I forgot to tell you about our friend Dan too, when you said how do we make a radio that's durable and reliable. We have Dan Van Hoen [SP] who lives in Hong Kong, and travels into China all the time. And he's a guy that, any time there's a hint of a production, he's over there, "What's going on? How's it going? Let's check one out." That's the other big secret of our success, is hard work from Dan over there.

Kirk: Cool. Chris Tobin, last comments from you, buddy. What's up?

Chris: Oh, no, no, I was just looking at the University and Conelrad [SP] and other things like you mentioned. Who invented radio and the first broadcast. It's cool stuff, definitely something to look over.

Kirk: "Interview with Art Bell" and the whole article on slinky antennas. I gotta read that one, gonna be interesting.

Bob: [laughs]

Kirk: This is great work.

Bob: It's been great.

Kirk: Do you ever allow people to link to these articles? I'd like to post a couple of these on Facebook from time to time, this is some good information.

Bob: Sure, I think anyone's welcome to link. We do appreciate a little thing, "From C. Crane," that's fine. And that's all we ask.

Kirk: Yeah, they'll be going to your website to read the article itself.

Bob: That's fine, either way is fine. Also, too, I want to take this opportunity to say it's been very interesting to learn more about your show, TWiRT. It's hopefully some kind of learning experience talking to me, but it's certainly been listening to your show, and it's just so interesting we're both in the same business.

Kirk: But at different ends of the transmission chain.

Bob: Yeah. So anyway, I thought I'd mention that.

Kirk: Hey, Bob, thank you so much for appearing on our show, taking an hour and a half out of your day and spending it with us. I know I appreciate it, and I hope our listeners and viewers do too.

Bob: I hope so too, it's been fantastic to be on air with you, and I hope you have a...let's see how radio goes, all right?

Kirk: Yeah. Well, some new technology comes along, or a big improvement, give us a shout or I'll call you and we'll get you back on to talk about it.

Bob: That sounds fantastic.

Kirk: Chris Tobin, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to be with us, I sure appreciate it.

Chris: Oh, no problem. I look forward to it every week.

Kirk: Next week, our show is gonna be done from somewhere. I'll be in Albany, New York. Long story. That's where I'll be to do the show. Chris, it's going to be a war story show. Maybe you can round up some war stories for us between now and then.

Chris: Sure, sure, sure. And before I forget, remember we had Charlie Toner [SP] on, with the SNMP?

Kirk: Yes, actually, I wasn't...you hosted that show, I wasn't on that show.

Chris: Well, I had the opportunity to go to the Central Canada Broadcast Engineering Conferences this past week and Charlie and I hooked up. Let me just say that Charlie and tree trekking, that's a story that we'll have to have at a later netcast. It'll make you laugh and cry. But also, I have to congratulate Wally Lennox [SP], because he's a favorite viewer of TWiRT. Wally is the director of radio engineering here at Bell Media. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award at CCBC this past week.

Kirk: Really!

Chris: Yes! And . . .

Kirk: Yes, I've met Wally!

Chris: Yes, and those in Canada who work in the broadcast industry know Wally very well, and he's been a really great mentor for a lot of folks, and he's been a great person to talk with over the years, so I just thought it'd be nice to put that out there. It was a fun time at the grand dinner they have, and they made the announcement, and I don't think there was anyone in the room-about 250 people attended-and I don't think there was anyone in the room who didn't believe that Charlie was well-suited for that award. That Wally was.

Kirk: Good to hear that. Hey! Chris, will you be in Verona next week at the SB Meeting?

Chris: I was going to try and make Verona, but I cannot. I have a few other things that day. I will be able to make the show, but Verona, no.

Kirk: We'll be at AES together, though, next week. Unfortunately, I couldn't arrange to get this show done from Los Angeles. If I had a transporter, I could have made it happen, but bear lines being what they are, can't happen.

So we'll do the show next week- actually, the funny thing is, I may very well be doing the show next week from the Albany airport from Million Air, the fixed-base operator, the people that sell private plane fuel at the airport. That's one possibility, either there or some radio studios. We'll get it figured out and be on the air from there.

Chris: Okay, all right, I'll just be ready with my roving kit.

Kirk: Good. Good, good, good. All right, thanks everybody. Our sponsors: Lawo and the crystalCLEAR console; Telos and the VX VoIP-based phone system, it's just awesome; and the Axia RAQ and DESQ consoles, I own one myself. We'll see you next week on This Week in Radio Tech. Bye-bye, everybody.

Topics: Radios