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Radio Engineering War Stories with Charlie Wooten

Posted by Kirk Harnack [TWiRT] on Nov 9, 2013 7:51:00 PM

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TWiRT 190More War Stories, this time with Charlie Wooten, on "This Week in Radio Tech."

What kind of engineer travels to Africa and plants antennas on a beach in Mozambique? Or brings the sheriff to a competitor’s transmitter site to shut it off during a hurricane? Clear Channel’s Engineer of the Year from Panama City, Florida – Charlie Wooten – joins us for an hour of bravery, challenges, and engineering victory on this War Stories episode.



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Announcer: This Week In Radio Tech, episode 190, is brought to you by The Telos line of phone hybrids, talk show systems, and audio codecs. Practical tips and ideas are on the Telos Tech blog at TelosAlliance.com. And now, our feature presentation. TWIRT. What kind of engineer travels to Africa and plants antennas on the beaches of Mozambique or brings the sheriff to a competitor's transmitter site. [inaudible 00:00:30-00:00:40]

From his palatial office of important business, or in a choice hotel in a distant land, this is Kirk Harnack.

Kirk: Charley Wooten from Panama City Florida, joins Chris Tobin [SP] and me for a War Stories episodes, in the trenches and on the beach.

Announcer: You're dialed into This Week In Radio Tech. Hey, and welcome into Days Week In Radio Tick.

Kirk: Okay, and welcome into This Week And Radio tag. I'm Kirk Harnack, your host, and I'm so glad you joined us for this show. We had a great time talking about radio technology, were a bunch of engineers, IT guys. I'm still doing engineering even though I'm, well, I guess I'm still part owner of some radio stations. And one of our co-hosts, one of our regular co-hosts, is with us for this show. I always introduce him as the best-dressed engineer in radio. From Manhattan New York, it's Chris Tobin. Hey, Chris, welcome in.

Chris: Hello, Kirk, thank you.

Kirk: [Laughs]

Chris: Yes, good times here in Manhattan, it's getting cold. Winter is coming back again.

Kirk: Oh my ...

Chris: I'm [enjoying]

Kirk: . . . gosh. It's . . .

Chris: . . . my nice pumpkin ale.

Kirk: Oh, pumpkin ale.

Chris: Well, you know, I have to make full disclosure, I'm not at the GFQ TOC, so, as a result when the show comes to a conclusion I will not be able enjoying a nice [bar side] chats with several people [inaudible 00:01:49] this'll do [inaudible 00:01:51].

Kirk: We were complaining earlier that your audio was too loud and now it sounds like it's downward expanded too much because when you get quiet, it gets quite.

Chris: Downward expanded.

Kirk: That's what it sounds like. I'm an engineer. I'm supposed to know these things.

Chris: Must be that Gating System.

Kirk: But I could be wrong.

Chris: Yeah.

Kirk: I'm in Cleveland, Ohio. I'm not in my usual cozy home studio; I'm in Cleveland in the Telos Alliance training center. The camera over here in front of the Telos Rack O' Gear, and so, that's where I'm coming to you from. And it's cold, and windy, and a little bit rainy here in Cleveland, so I'm enjoying a beverage of hot cocoa that I found down in the employee break room.

So, that's what I'm having. This is a war stories episode. Every tenth episode we bring a guest on who's been there. He's been in the foxholes and the trenches, he's got dirt under his fingernails, and he's prepared to tell us about some interesting things, tough times to go through, challenges to overcome. And maybe we'll get a teachable moment out of some of these tough times, in the trenches stories.

He's been on the show before, but not for a while. I want to welcome in from Panama City, Florida, the Director of Engineering for Clear Channel Panama, it's Charlie Wooten. Hey, Charles, welcome in to This Week In Radio Tech.

Charlie: Thank you, I just cleaned my fingernails, so we're ready to go.

Kirk: Well, that's, good. It's just an expression.

Charlie: I understand.

Kirk: Hey, our show is brought to you by Telos Systems, my employer, for full disclosure. So, I really like their stuff and they really give me a paycheck every now and then, so I just appreciate the heck out of that. We'll talk about a couple of cool things from Telos here during our break. A couple of notes here, I was monitoring the GFQ Network, our home network where we broadcast from, and the previous show that was playing was What The Tech, with Paul Thurrott.

And it's always interesting-Andrew Zarian and Paul have a great, great time chatting about all things Windows and other operating [systems.] But Paul, Paul was dissing the Chromebook. And look what I got here, I got this in the last week or so, this Chromebook, and I've got to tell you. Okay, I've got this MacBook Pro, and it's powerful, it's bright, the display looks great, but it's kind of heavy. And I have so many things connected to it on my desk, that if I want to just grab it and bring it upstairs and, you know, have it as a second screen while I'm watching TV, that's just not a good choice. It's heavy, it's bulky, and it's got, you know, four plugs in it, usually.

Well the Chromebook, it's, like, instant on, and the battery life doesn't appear to be great, but it doesn't need to be. And it charges with little micro USB connectors. Let me see if you can see that there. There you go, micro USB for power, for charging that, two USB ports, and an audio port, as so many of them have. No HD OMNI port, no wired Ethernet ports, no VGA port like some other Chromebooks have. That's it, but it's lightweight and it's almost instant on.

Kirk: Now, I heard Andrew talking about TeamViewer on a Chrome OS, so I'm TeamViewed, here we go, sorry about that. I am TeamViewed into a computer back at the Harnack ranch, and it's running a multi- ping to a bunch of different sites. It's kind of interesting to watch that over 24 hours and see ping times go up substantially in the evening when everybody's watching Netflix. So anyway, that's my Chromebook. Andrew, if you want to pop your mic on and tell me what you think. Is that sexy enough for you?

Andrew: No, I think it's a cute little device. On the show we were talking about how I don't consider it a PC replacement yet.

Kirk: Oh. You're right, you're right.

Andrew: And the discussion pretty much, the argument was over people who were saying, 'Well, no, this is a PC replacement. You could replace your computer with this. If you're not doing a lot of stuff on a computer, you could just get rid of it and get this.' But my point was, well, if it wasn't $280 bucks, and let's say it was $380 bucks, would you be saying that? And most people have said, 'No, we wouldn't be saying that.'

Kirk: You know, the company I work for, Telos, we have moved into the world of Gmail, and Google Docs, and Google calendars and all that, and it's working better for us than any other "group-ware" solution has ever worked so far. So, I guess that's a compliment. And I've been in the Gmail, Google Docs world for quite some time, and I just haven't looked back. I really, really like it. And so, if you're in that world, is just gets you write in there. You can install apps that run, but I don't know all about how they run.

It's not an obvious browser window you are running in, but, I guess, some things are, some things aren't. But what I like about this is, we've got four or five tablets at our house, and they are great for consuming, but if you want to type an email, okay, yes, I do have a keyboard for one of my iPads, but it's not attached-you have to hold it at the right angle so the iPad fit in it. And if you put it at a different angle, the iPad will fall out of it. And so, this, you just toss it on your lap and you can do stuff.

Andrew: Kirk, let me ask you this. When you go away, and right now you're away, could you use that exclusively and not bring your MacBook?

Kirk: I brought the MacBook because today I gave a presentation at the Ohio Broadcasters meeting in Columbus. Now you can use Chromecast with this, but this doesn't have convenient VGA out. There are plenty of other Chromebook models that do have HDMI, and or VGA outputs, and wired ethernet. So, I want to the lightest one that I could get. Although I didn't want the Asus-that just seemed really plasticky and flimsy. I mean, all of this is plastic and flimsy, it somehow seems better.

I'll tell you what though, I've taken this on a couple airplane flights now and used it instead of the MacBook, with the Wi-Fi.

Andrew: Yeah.

Kirk: Now, if you have trouble getting around Wi-Fi, this saint for you. You've got to have Wi-Fi connection for this to work. So, my T- Mobile phone often times is the best Internet connection that I have, and often times I'm getting 12 megs down and 3 megs, 4 megs up using it as a hotspot, so that works well.

I've also got a Verizon card with a cradle point. Depending on where I am, seems like the T-Mobile works well and Verizon doesn't, or vice versa. The Wi-Fi in the Southwest plane really is too slow to support much in the way of video, but for doing emails, it works just fine.

And if you're in the Google world your attachments are probably not even on your computer. They're probably living in Google Docs or you're just forwarding the attachment from somebody else and it never has to download to your computer and download back [backing up] up. So, if you're in that world, this works well. I also like the fact that, you know, I'm a basic man and I don't have a lot of time to be waiting on a computer to boot up, so, you know, when you open it up, voila, there it is.

I realize it's just asleep just then, but as far as booting, it doesn't take much time at all. I haven't timed it with a timer, but it doesn't take much time at all. So, I like it. Not as a primary computer yet, but, you know, for a lot of folks it would be fine. For my mom it would great is a primary computer. For my daughter in high school, it would work for her is a primary computer. So there you go. . . . Opinions?

Andrew: I like it. Here are the cons for me, 16 gigs of hard drive, that's it. You get 16 gigs of storage on that thing.

Kirk: You've got 100 gigs at Google . .

Andrew: 100 gigs . . .

Kirk: . . . that comes . . .

Andrew: . . . at Google.

Kirk: . . . with it.

Andrew: Yeah.

Kirk: Yeah.

Andrew: So, I mean, if you disconnected, you only get 16. But the good news is they're coming up with Haswell chipsets for that thing.

Kirk: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: And it should be here within the next couple weeks. So, you're going to get some powerful computers that are going to be running this thing.

Kirk: And with still good battery life? Not that this has good . . .

Andrew: Oh, better.

Kirk: . . . battery life.

Andrew: It should be better because the Haswell chipsets handled battery life much better.

Kirk: Mm-hmm. Okay.

Andrew: So we'll see.

Kirk: All right. Cool. Chris Tobin, you played with this yet?

Chris: I haven't played with one in a while, but I'm just thinking about the concept, and, I don't know. A lot of folks I know and talk to the still like the idea of having something [inaudible 00:10:24].

Kirk: Now, if you asked me to change two and a half years ago-two and half years ago I was in the world of Outlook. I was running a virtual machine on my Mac that ran Windows just like it ran out smoke. I tried the Mac version of Outlook and it didn't integrate with the calendar and it was just disastrous for me. And so two and a half years ago I would have said, 'No, there's no way that a Chromebook works.' But I made the jump away from Outlook, away from a mail client that resided on my computer, and totally into the world of just browser Gmail.

And as computers are fast enough, and as Internet connections are reasonably fast, I just don't notice lag anymore. If I click on email, and, bam, it's up. Okay, it may be a few milliseconds slower than it is on an app on your computer, but, man, it's plenty fast enough for me. So, yeah, I like. If somebody said, 'That's your only computer. Deal with it,' I could except for video and perhaps, you know, if I wanted instant picture storage it would all be up in the Cloud and not so many of them would be on the computer.

Chris: You know, if you saw me, I'm sorry, if you're somebody who breaks away from the traditional, as you pointed out, Outlook, called the Microsoft garden. You know, the velvet rope garden, you should be able to manage. But then, as you pointed out also, if you don't have Wi-Fi somewhere and you're accustomed to some [access] some way, [you may find it difficult.] Yeah, I can see if you change your complete eco-[system and you could probably make it work] [inaudible 00:11:52].

Kirk: Yeah.

Chris: You try to be a hybrid [between the two] I see [inaudible 00:11:57]. [Laughs]

Kirk: Yeah, the thing about my 17-year old daughter has only, since she was 13 years old, 12 years old, has lived around Wi-Fi. It's never not been part of her world. So they have Wi-Fi at school, we have Wi-Fi at the house, and it's there, so she's always used to that. As we grew up, you know, all of us old folks, [laughs] we grew up way before the Internet, so we want to latch on to having stuff on our computer. I get that-I'm kind of still that way too. I've got 300 gigs worth of stuff in SSD on this MacBook Pro, so I'm not totally there yet.

And if you want to do things, like, edit files, and I was making a Prezi presentation. Although, come to think of it, I was just thinking, you know with Prezi, which is what I typically use of presentations, they have a ways to add images to a Prezi. And the default way to do it is to do a Google search for images and add them. And you can tell it to search only for commercially licensed images too. It seems like moving that way, and if you want to do it, from a practical point of view, you probably can.

Andrew: Hey, Kirk, iPad or this? For someone that's not really tech savvy and they just want to get into this.

Kirk: Boy, that's a great question. The only thing I don't like about, that's not the only thing. I'm just so into Google world that using Mac products with Google doesn't always shuck and jive real well. I mean, especially when they brought out Mavericks here it apparently broke a lot of stuff about Gmail, because Gmail's not standard iMap, and there's some problems there. Hmm- mm. that's hard to say. If you got to type a lot, I'm not liking a tablet. I know there's keyboards, but again, the fit and finish between a keyboard.

You know, this is a laptop and it's a small one, but the keyboard's right there, it sits in the same place relative to the screen, so it's easier to type emails on them. And, of course, it's got a camera, and a mic, and it does hang out just fine. I guess it doesn't do Skype, does it? Because there's not a Skype client for this. And I haven't learned about hacking it yet to install other Linux apps on it or if that can work well. Maybe somebody in the chat room knows about that.

I was not confident and installing team viewer on it, so the TeamViewer that you were seen here on my screen, that is their weapon, I mean, that's their website running it, which, apparently they don't like. They try to discourage you from doing that, but that's what it is. Charlie, you have any experience with these oddball little computers?

Charlie: I haven't made the jump yet. I'm still the old-fashioned laptop guy right now. I will probably get a tablet here very soon. Probably an iPad, but I have not made the jump yet.

Kirk: Gotcha. Yeah, yeah. The reason why I bought that little tablet was for a second screen to watch TV, but also to travel. You know, when you pull out your 15 inch iPad and the guy in front of you leans his seat back, it's just useless. Well, at least in the economy class it's useless. But the little Chromebook was great.

Now Charlie, you've been doing some travel here lately. I think you've been out of the country at least twice in the last few months. This is a war stories show, I guess we can get right to it. And we can talk plenty about ham radio, too, so tell us about your adventures here lately.

Charlie: A well, about three weeks ago I left and went to Mozambique, and was there with a group of 14 other hams, and we did what's called a Dexpedition. And I don't know if Andrew can break up the website and show the graphic, but the call sign was C82DX Charlie82 Delta X-ray-it's www.C82DX.com. But there's a picture right on the front page there Andrew, you should have. Possibly it's a group picture of all of us standing on the beach or on the Indian Ocean. At some point we used mainly vertical antennas and made about 27,000 contacts.

Kirk: Oh my goodness. Over how long a period?

Charlie: It was about 10 days.

Kirk: Wow.

Charlie: We had 10 days. We had some horrendous static down there. Those African thunderstorms are amazing as far as the amount of noise they generate lower bands, but we had a great time. And it was interesting-Mozambique is truly a third-world country in many ways.

Kirk: Mm-hmm.

Charlie: Complete with the women with the stuff on their head, you know, walking around. It's amazing to watch them, how they balance it- they don't even put their hand up there to hold it, they just walk around with this big package of whatever it is up there, wood sticks or whatever.

Kirk: People pay good money here to go to finishing school, or they used to, to walk gracefully.

Charlie: [Laughs]

Kirk: And I guess you've got to walk gracefully to carry a big bowl on your head.

Charlie: Some of those packages had to weigh a couple hundred, no, not a couple hundred pounds. At least 75, 80 pounds . . .

Kirk: Wow.

Charlie: . . . looking at the stuff they were carrying. I don't know why they don't have neck pain.

Kirk: Wow.

Charlie: But we had Icom radios. Ray Novak, who I think you know, N9JA, he's the representative for Icom America, went along the trip and . . .

Kirk: Mm-mm.

Charlie: . . . we were furnished with four Icom 7600 transceivers. We used separate [RII Verticals], we had a 160 m vertical antenna which was 65 feet tall. It was made out of titanium, We had some high winds when we were there. One night they got up to about 55 or 60 miles an hour and they were still going the next morning early. We were able to take a picture and the vertical was laying over like this, but as soon . . .

Kirk: Oh.

Charlie: . . . as the wind when it's, hey, and went right straight back up . . .

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: . . . because of the titanium it doesn't give.

Kirk: Does this thing assemble in pieces? I mean, surely you can't . . .

Charlie: Yeah.

Kirk: . . . you can't carry a 65-foot long [inaudible 00:18:22]

Charlie: Yeah, yeah, it's in 15-foot sections.

Kirk: Okay.

Charlie: You know, it tapers down, but it's an amazing antenna when you see that high wind hit it.

Kirk: Well, it's better than breaking, I suppose.

Charlie: You know, the titanium, it's not going to break. It's just . . .

Kirk: Okay.

Charlie: . . . going to bend, and then it's got memory and it comes right back to where it was.

Kirk: How do you secure that to the ground? What's the base look like?

Charlie: It's almost like an AM broadcast antenna. We put about 16 radios out about 100 feet long, and it's got a little T-network at the base . . .

Kirk: Okay.

Charlie: . . . to tune it. Very much like an AM broadcast network for an AM tower, and we just use Dacron rope for the [guide] wires . . .

Kirk: Okay.

Charlie: . . . so they're nonconductive. And it works out very well.

Kirk: So is this sitting on an insulator?

Charlie: Yeah. Of course, it's sitting on an insulator-it's like a series-fed antenna, yeah.

Kirk: Okay. Amazing.

Charlie: And we, you know, tune it up and go for it.

Kirk: How much power would you run into that?

Charlie: A kilowatt.

Kirk: Kilowatt.

Charlie: Kilowatt, yeah. Now, you've got to remember, now, think about this, 160 meters is at 1.8 MHz. That's just . . .

Kirk: Yep.

Charlie: . . . above the AM broadcast band.

Kirk: Right.

Charlie: We worked stations on 160 meters from Mozambique, at our sunrise, in California, on the East Coast United States-all over. And during the night I was working in Europe, and places like Malaysia, and India, and places like that when it was nighttime there. And at our sunset, in the afternoon, which was darkness to the east of us, the very first contacts that we made were Hawaii of all things because we were in the darkness path of their sunrise.

So, first context that were made, actually, 160 m were Hawaiian stations, and there were, like, four stations, right in a row. And then they were gone. I mean, it's just while you have what's called the Gray Line as it moves . . .

Kirk: Yeah, yeah.

Charlie: . . . across the earth.

Kirk: Wow. Wow.

Charlie: Just imagine, basically, an AM broadcast band and working that kind of distance.

Kirk: You know, I wasn't really sure where Mozambique is, and there it is on the southeast portion of Africa, the continent of Africa. Right out from that across the Indian Ocean is Madagascar.

Charlie: Yeah, exactly.

Kirk: If you're a Disney fan you've heard of Madagascar.

Charlie: [Laughs]

Kirk: There it is. Pretty big Island too, my goodness. It's as big as a good part of the US, several states big. And a lot of folks, well, a lot of folks from Europe who are well off, favorite place to vacation, Mauritius is not far from there too.

Charlie: Oh, yeah, Mauritius is writes out there in the pond not far off the coast. There were a number of hotels that were abandoned in Mozambique because there had been a revolution overtaking the government back in the early 90s. And there were several very nice hotels that were completely abandoned and beaten up, you know, there were holes in them. Europeans used to go there, and is just beginning to come back now.

Kirk: So tell me about the infrastructure in Mozambique as far as, like, electricity, and Internet, and phone. What did you find there?

Charlie: Well, I guess there's two interesting stories there. First of all, let's talk about Internet. We arranged, and I don't want to go into the details exactly, but there is a ham in South Africa who works for the, one of the cellular companies, one of the large cellular companies that serves both South Africa and Mozambique. In his travels he has to go and service the facilities, the [RF] facilities, and the switches and what's not in Mozambique. I'll tell you what, people may not have anything to eat there, but they're damn sure going to have a cell phone. I have never seen so many cell phones . . .

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: . . . in my life.

Kirk: Really.

Charlie: It's amazing. It is absolutely amazing. But where we were, it was a little resort city called Xia-Xia. It's spelled X-I-A X-I- A, but you say it Shy-Shy. There was no Internet or connectivity except traditional voice cell phone. The cell site that coverage where we were, there was no Internet. We went into the city, about ten miles away knew that 3G, but where we were, there was none. Well this ham who works for the sale company patched a few things around and we had Internet over that cell site for the duration of the time we were there, and when we left he pulled it off. But . . .

Kirk: Wow.

Charlie: . . . . we did have Internet-my iPhone worked there perfectly. And one Sunday morning, or at least the Sunday morning that we were there, 6:00 a.m. straight up, the power goes out. It's one of them, 'Oh, S.', you know. So we do a little investigation, and about three hours later, the power magically comes back on. Well we come to find out that the power company cuts the power off every Sunday morning, so they can work on things. That's what . . .

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: . . . they do. And if we had known that we would have made arrangements for a generator, but they just dropped the power. And they don't have bucket trucks. They do . . .

Kirk: Oh.

Charlie: . . . not have bucket trucks-they climbed the poles.

Kirk: Yeah.

Charlie: They've got spikes and do it old school. And so that's when they do their work on the poles when they have to make changes, and change insulators, changes in the transmission system or whatever-that's when they do it one Sunday morning between about 6:00, and 10:00, or 11:00 a.m. And then it magically comes back on.

Kirk: And this, since they have the power off, they can go work anywhere on the poles as well as at the generating plants . . .

Charlie: Oh, yeah.

Kirk: . . . I assume.

Charlie: I think [don't] think they take the generators down, but they certainly go off-line off the grid. I think their power actually comes from South Africa, from some of . . .

Kirk: Oh.

Charlie: . . . the nuclear plants they have in South Africa because there is huge transmission lines that come from South Africa that comment to Mozambique. But I have an idea that most of the powers generated down there and they bring it up a couple of hundred miles up into Mozambique. But that was interesting, and we were trying to figure out what was going wrong, and people said, 'Oh, you didn't know? They take the power off Sunday . . .

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: . . . morning.'

Kirk: It's a normal thing.

Charlie: Like, what's the big deal? Well, we're trying to make contacts on the radio.

Kirk: What do citizens of Mozambique, what do they speak for language?

Charlie: It's Portuguese because it used to be a Portuguese colony. Of course, there's some other African dialects there, but most everybody speaks Portuguese. And people who speak English can get along there quite well.

Kirk: Hmm-mm. So enough people are bilingual or trilingual to . . .

Charlie: Yeah, yeah.

Kirk: . . . [kind of help you out.]

Charlie: And we had a couple of hams from South Africa who were on the trip and they, of course, speak Afrikaans, and some of the people there spoke Afrikaans, as well. So, we didn't have any problem with communication as far as verbal communication's concerned. We were careful about the water, we were careful about what we ate, and we actually had a person that went with us to do the cooking. So that person's sole purpose was to do the cooking for us. We had somebody who took care of that-they weren't ham, but they were hired to come with us strictly as a cook.

Kirk: That's amazing. I want to know more about how you organized one of these [D- expeditions], but I'm also curious about some of the technical aspects of operating like that. You know, certainly I get things like hooking up two-meter antennas and frequencies where the antenna is a manageable size. But I'm so interested in understanding better, things, like, how you tune into a vertical, especially if you're going to be moving around in frequency. You said you had a tuning network at the base of this titanium Whip antenna.

Was it in any way automatic, or did you have to go manually to tune it up on a given frequency?

Charlie: Well, we were only operating on one particular frequency on 160 meters. Now we can move probably 10 or 20 kHz without touching it. And the SWR would be probably less than 1.5 to 1. But the other verticals that we're using were made by a company called SteppIR, and it's actually a motorized tape that runs up and down in a fiberglass tube. And you just move the length of the tape with a motor and it automatically goes to the correct frequency and length that it needs to be.

Kirk: What frequency bands are those for typically?

Charlie: Oh, the ones that we had would run anywhere from 80 to 10 meters.

Kirk: Oh. Okay.

Charlie: Oh, yeah, they were tall. And they were full-sized verticals 40 through 10, and then on 80 meters there was an additional loading [coil] that was used to make the coverage go down to 80 meters. And then we had one beam antenna, one that's called a Hex-Beam for operating too. And we had, you know, the four radios.

Kirk: What's your rule of thumb for deciding, am I going to use that being, or I'm going to use a vertical on the same band?

Charlie: Well, we had what was called the CW shack and we had the Sideband shack. We rented these, well, they called them villas, but I wouldn't call them villas, and you wouldn't call them villas.

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: You'd called them a concrete shack with a very marginal bathroom in them. We had the [force], or a Single sideband operators and one building, and the code guys in another building, and we try to separate the antenna. So, if we wanted to operate, let's say, at night, on 40 meter sideband and CW simultaneously, we try to use two antennas that were physically far enough apart so we wouldn't desense each other's receivers . . .

Kirk: Oh.

Charlie: . . . you know, because being so close in frequency. And it worked out pretty well sometimes-we did have some problems we were on some of the bands, but it worked out very well. We had another vertical that was down on the beach. And by the way, when I say on the beach, the beach 350, 400 feet from where we operated. And there was actually a dirt road that ran between us and the beach, so we had a guy, one of the locals there that we hired, and he kind of helped us do a lot of grunt work.

And he dug a trench across the road and we buried our cables under the road so that the vehicles traveling up and down the road would not damage them. And we actually had 350 feet of coaxial going out to these antennas that we had over there. We had a second vertical-we called it the Battle Creek Special. It's made by a group of hams and Battle Creek, Michigan.

Kirk: Oh.

Charlie: It's a three-band antenna, and it has a control cable that goes to it. And whenever you kick one relay in, it's on the 80 meters, when you kick another relay, then it's 40 meters, and if you have no relay at all, then it's on 160 meters. So we had a second vertical on the beach that we used, but it was separated from the other vertical by, I guess, 300 or 400 feet. We had some long runs of coaxial, but the losses of coaxial at that frequency, you know, they're intense of [dBc]. Don't really worry about running long [runs of coax] at 3 MHz, or 7 MHz, or 1.8 MHz.

Kirk: Wow. Wow. Okay, well, back to [inaudible 00:31:12]. How do you get involved with a group that does a Dexpedition? You know, a friend of mine, you probably know, Mark Stennett [SP] not too long ago . . .

Charlie: Oh, Mark's on Wake Island right now. He's actually on . . .

Kirk: On Wake Island.

Charlie: . . . Wake Island.

Kirk: Okay.

Charlie: Yeah.

Kirk: He had gone to American Samoa a year or two ago . . .

Charlie: Yeah.

Kirk: . . . maybe to Swains Island. I forget exactly which . . .

Charlie: Yeah . . .

Kirk: . . . island it was.

Charlie: . . . it was Swains.

Kirk: It was Swains?

Charlie: Yeah, it was Swains that he was on, yeah. Yeah, there is a group that's operating right now on Wake Island. You know, wake Island is an Air Force Base and . . .

Kirk: Oh.

Charlie: . . a lot of super secret crap goes on there . . .

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: . . . so they had to get all kinds of permission. And they were supposed to go about a month ago, but the government shutdown, mess them up, and they had to reschedule. They're over there right now-I've contacted them on several, as a matter of fact I've talked to Stennett [SP], I guess was the day before yesterday. I worked him and he was the operator because he said, 'Hello.' ,and said, 'This is Mark.'

Kirk: How do you guys get together? Is it the same group of guys a lot of times that go? How to use decide where to go? How much does this cost you to do this individually? To chip in to travel somewhere and to carry all this stuff, and freight, and hiring a cook, and a local laborer? It seems like an expensive hobby no matter how much you love it.

Charlie: It's expensive, but there's a lots of enjoyment. You remember a couple of years ago because we talked about it on the previous episode about the Midway Island expedition I was on. A lot of the same guys that went on that Midway expedition, or on Wake, or went with me to Mozambique-there's a core group. Of this particular group is probably 30 or 35 hams to participate in the expeditions that I've been in. And there's a couple of the guys that kind of hit it up, and do a lot of the logistics.

One of the guys lives up in Massachusetts and his forte is shipping logistics, and so he handles a lot of international shipping for clients. And so, he knows how to get things shipped from, say, JFK to Johannesburg, South Africa where we could pick it up and put it on a trailer, and take it to Mozambique. And there is this magic thing, and I don't know anything about it, perhaps you've heard of it, it's called a carnet, C-A-R . . .

Kirk: Yeah.

Charlie: . . . N-E-T. Okay.

Kirk: Heard of it, yeah.

Charlie: He knows all about that and how to use those things to be able to take things out of the country, enter another country, take them back out of the country, and bring them back to the original country without having to pay a bunch of fees and import duties and whatnot.

Kirk: You know, manufacturers like Telos, every broadcast manufacturer that goes into shows and exhibitions outside the country, like, IBC . . .

Charlie: Right.

Kirk: . . . in Amsterdam, or in Singapore, when we go to Broadcast Asia. Wherever we go we shipped the stuff there on a carnet, and basically it's a bond, it's an internationally agreed to by most countries, bond, that says, 'Here's what we're bringing in, and we promise we're going to bring it all back out. Nothing's going to stay, nothing's going to get sold, we're not illegally importing anything-it's all going back out.' And some bond money is put up, you know, and that kind of thing. So that's what a carnet is.

Charlie: Yeah.

Kirk: So you use that same legal instrument to get ham radio gear in an out of countries . . .

Charlie: Exactly.

Kirk: . . . that otherwise may want to charge you lots of import fees on it.

Charlie: Oh, yeah, exactly. That's exactly how we did it, and Don, this guy up in Massachusetts, he does that for a living. I mean, he sends road graders to Abu Dhabi or somewhere, I mean, he does all kinds of international shipping. He's not only a ham operator, but he knows how to take care of the shipping.

And then everybody chips in a little money-sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less, based on where you're going. Now, the guys that are on Wake Island right now, they had quite a ticket because they had to buy airline seats on a MATs flight that went from Hickam Air Force Base to Wake.

It was a 757 aircraft and so they had to pay for that. I'm thinking based on what we had to pay to go to Midway, I bet that airline ticket was probably $3,000 just to go to and from Awake from Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. And then, of course, you've got to buy your ticket from the states to . . .

Kirk: Hawaii.

Charlie: . . . Hawaii.

Kirk: Yeah.

Charlie: You know, you've got that one there. I would imagine that the guys that are on Wake right now are probably spending about $10,000 apiece.

Kirk: Wow.

Charlie: To do what they're doing. Luckily, this one to Mozambique was not as expensive. The major cost was an airline ticket from Panama City, Florida to Johannesburg, and that was about $2,000. And then there was another, probably, $1,500 to $2,000 in cost. Some of that was for the Dexpedition expenses, but I had to get a visa-US citizens have to have a visa to go to Mozambique. That was 80 bucks, but then you had FedEx to and from the Mozambique Embassy.

And then we had to have all these shots, and I think I've probably spent $300 on shots . . .


Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: . . . and malaria pills, and things like that. So, you know, it can get to be pretty expensive. You've got to look at the other side-it was a hell of a good time, I mean, we had a great time. As far as being able to put Mozambique on the air for the hams all over the world because there aren't any hams and Mozambique.

Kirk: Oh, really. Oh.

Charlie: No.

Kirk: That makes it all the more desirable to be there . . .

Charlie: Yeah.

Kirk: . . . and make contact.

Charlie: Yeah, it's a fairly rare country.

Kirk: What do you need for licensing to operate from Mozambique?

Chris: I have the license, it's in the house. I'm in my man cave out here . . .

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: But I actually have a Mozambique ham license, and it's a little card with a seal of the [PTT] on it, and a big stamp on it, and my call sign. My call sign was C92A Charlie 92 Alpha. Every operator that went there got an individual license with a call sign, and then we had the overall call sign that we used when you're on the Dexpedition, which was C82DX. C9 and C8 are the prefixes you used in Mozambique for all communications, just like we use W and K here . . .

Kirk: Oh.

Charlie: . . . in the . . .

Kirk: Okay.

Charlie: . . . United States. Yeah, that's the warrants that the ITU has assigned to Mozambique.

Kirk: So even a country like Mozambique has a communications department which has people that are at least somewhat qualified to understand, you know, radio frequency, allocations . . .

Charlie: Oh, yeah.

Kirk: . . . and set-up rules, and issue licenses.

Charlie: Oh, yeah, yeah, they have a [PTT]-it's called a Frequency, Spectrum Management, something like that. I forget what the Department of Frequency Spectrum Management, or Frequency Management or something like that. A lot of broadcast stations there, and a lot of television there. And, of course, cellular telephone, this is what I was talking about earlier, Kirk. It is amazing. There are two carriers-there's Vodacom and MCel, and they advertise. Every other billboard is a cellular billboard.

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: They have children walking around with MCel vests on. And you can buy time, you know, your little cards that you can upgrade for blocks of time to use on your phone. You can buy it everywhere-it's amazing, the amount of competition that they have there for cellular. But people may not have enough to eat, like I said, but they're damn sure going to have a cell phone. It's amazing there. I can't figure that out.

There is a lot of RF floating around. I mean, when we were on the highway between Maputo, which is the capital city, and Xia- Xia, there was microwave antennas every 20 miles with cell sites and microwave backbone all over the place. It's a lot of communications there.

Kirk: Wow. Hey, we're doing This Week In Radio Tech. It's a War Stories episodes with our guest, Charlie Wooten. Charlie is the Director of Engineering for Clear Channel in Panama City, Florida, and he's also a world-renowned ham radio operator. And by world renowned, he actually goes around the world to different places. We're talking about ham radio-we're going to talk about whatever Charlie's doing in broadcast radio too, because he posts on Facebook, 'Oh, this died today, I've got to fix this or that.'

So there's things going on in broadcast radio too. This is a War Stories episodes-we talk about what's going on in the trenches. And if we happen to put him to sleep yet, I guess he isn't, Chris Tobin is with us, as well. Hey, Chris, you still around?

Chris: I'm still here and enjoying . . .

Kirk: Oh.

Chris: . . . every bit that Charlie has to say-it's really good.

Kirk: Okay.

Chris: I'm enjoying it.

Kirk: I am too. Hey, our sponsor for This Week In Radio Tech this week is my employer, Telos Systems. And I want to give you a little comparison here. Here is a Telos switch console. You've probably seen this in radio stations all over the world-I certainly have. From Asia, to India, to Europe, to Africa, to South America, Central America, and here in the US, even in Hawaii and Canada, and Alaska too, seen these switch consoles. They've been around a long, long time.

And we still make them-we still service them, we still make them. It's a controller for a multiline phone system, and at the moment, it's the 1X6 multiline phone system that this controls. Oh, and here's a 1X6 right here behind me-there's six [POTS] lines and one hybrid. Let's me compare that with a new work phone controller. Now this is a 12 line controller, it's also available in a six line version, and a one line version too, if you just need that.

But this is a Telos VSet12, and is quite different from the 186. It's got these beautiful color VGA displays, they show caller ID, they lets you set up the whole thing, they can show you the listener called the lines. You can divide up your show to have hotlines you want, gas lines and such. You've got options like Busy, All, Screened Hold-you have all kinds of options to make your shows easy and convenient, and run very well. Also, it's powered over POE, Power Over Ethernet, so it's a worldwide standard on how to powered gear. It works with a phone system like our HX6 and our VX phone system.

And the VX is right here-the VX is a multi-studio, multiline SIP-base Voice Over IP multi-studio talk show system. So you can put lots of studios on the air and have them all come in over SIP. We also have the, in the right here, and HX1-this is a single line POTS, ordinary analog phone hybrid. Very useful for newsrooms, for pod casters to do an interview with somebody on the phone. It's also available in a double version called the HX2, and a lot of folks put those in a [Rack] Room so they have a couple of hybrids right there.

You can also use them for a talk show if you're just going to do a two line talk show. Are NX12, this is a 12 line hybrid talk show system, it's got four hybrids in it. And it will speak Livewire if you need it to, it also has, on the back, either analog or AES, and now puts on XLR connectors. So it's a great hybrid to use if you just need one studio, or you can split it for two studios, talk show system there. Hey, also in the rack, I've got a Telos ProStream.

This is what Andrews Zarian on the GFQ Network uses. If you listen to their live audio feed, you're hearing a Telos ProStream. It's that Omnia Audio processing in it, and then streaming and coding by Telos with all the popular codecs for streaming audio. Also in the rack here I've got, oh, what a stalwart. This is the Telos Xstream. And you know what, even though ISDN in a lot of places is going away, we're still shipping a bunch of these-people are buying these all over the world, still, to conduct ISDN or communications over a V.35 or X21.

It also does do IP. Now, it's kind of limited-it's IP streaming. But the Telos Xstream, we still make them. Very basic between the Zephyr, its predecessor, and the Xstream, these things have been around for over 20 years now, so the ISDN coding. So if you want to check out tell us for talk shows, for audio streaming, for codecs, for your content contribution, or distribution, check us out on the web at Telos-systems.com, Telos -systems.com. And on the website you can sign up for, where did I put it? Oh, it's here under the Chromebook. You can sign up, we'll send you a catalog.

One of these right here. We'll send you a catalog, and if you'll want to subscribe to our e-news, it's very unobtrusive, comes out about once a month and always chock-full of engineering information and a little bit of an update about the company and products and such. Also, a quick announcement, I want to congratulate our Linear Acoustics Division, and Tim Carroll, who's our chief technology officer, won another Emmy. Now they've got five of them and they've got to build a bigger case for them.

They won a technical Emmy for Linear Acoustics' work on the Olympics that went on in London, so congratulations to Tim Carroll. So, our show brought to you by Telos Systems, and I thank them very much for their sponsorship of This Week In Radio Tech. It's episode 190, War Stories. We're talking with Charlie Wooten, and also with us, it is Chris Tobin. All right, let's see if we've got a war story. Let's see if we can pull a war story out of Charlie Wooten. Charlie, what's been going on in broadcasting that, you know, you got your hands dirty and had to fix something?

Charlie: Well, I had a little situation here, actually, while I was gone to Mozambique. We were riding down the highway in Mozambique and my phone rings and is one of my transmitter sites. It's 9:00 a.m. in the morning-9:00 a.m. in the morning in Mozambique, it was about 1:00 a.m. in the morning here. And for some reason one of my transmitters decided to dump off, it might have been a power bump or something, but it called me and we were heading from Mozambique back to South Africa, and I punched up on my iPhone, got the keypad going, and I brought the transmitter right back up while we were out down the road in Mozambique.

There's a broadcast and Mozambique story together. You were just talking about ISDN; ISDN's still alive and well here, Kirk.

Kirk: Hmm-mm. Mm-hmm.

Charlie: We're lucky we're an old BellSouth here, which is now AT&T, and we're still using ISDN here. I've just had the BBC here a month ago. They did an interview with someone and came in to do that. Called and asked if they could come into the studio and do a session with us. We do a session with the BBC three or four times a year. Different people are here on vacation and they run them down here, and they're still using a lot of ISDN.

Kirk: Now, is your ISDN costing you about the same that it always has? I just heard another story of somebody . . .

Charlie: Hasn't changed.

Kirk: . . . who used to pay $90 a month and now we're paying $360 a month for the same thing.

Charlie: No, ours is still running about, I think it's about $85 a month.

Kirk: Wow.

Charlie: It went up one time. When we first put them in about ten years ago, they were about $62, I think. But right now it's running about $85 a month-it hasn't gone up.

Kirk: I wonder how there can be so much disparity there. In fact, it was this morning I was talking to a broadcast engineer at the Ohio Association of Broadcasters meeting in Columbus, and they were telling me, yeah, it's, like, $360 a month now for what we used to pay on it. And in Tennessee, I don't know, you know, I haven't had ISDN at the house for a while now, but in Tennessee it used to be really cheap.

Charlie: I guess different states have different tariffs.

Kirk: Sure.

Charlie: And we're lucky here, but I got an Xstream and I've still got two Zephyrs that we use all the time.

Kirk: And they won't die will they? Doggone it we can't [inaudible 00:48:22].

Charlie: No, they won't die. In fact, you know, it's funny, well, I do have one that got hit by lightning. And it's a perfectly nice, pretty cabinet and everything, but it won't do anything. I can't throw it away. I just can't bring myself to throw it away-we had to buy a new one. But that was eight or nine years ago, and I just can't bring myself to throw it away. It's still in a Telos box sitting in my closet in my office. I just can't bring myself to throw it away because it can't be repaired. But, anyhow.

Kirk: Oh, I'm sorry, go ahead.

Charlie: Go ahead. Go ahead.

Kirk: Well, you mentioned lightning, and I've got to believe that there in the Panhandle of Florida you do deal with lightning. Whenever I've been there, it seems like there's a thunderstorm every afternoon and there's lightning involved with it.

Charlie: You know, Florida has more lightning hits than most states.

Kirk: Yeah.

Charlie: Now, there's a little belt area that runs from Tampa, through Orlando, over to, really, right over to Cape Canaveral. And that's where they really get it. I think I've heard that there's as many lightning hits here as anywhere in the United States over the course of the year. And you can set your watch every afternoon, 2:30 p.m. 2:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m., about 20 miles, and we have what we call the seabreeze thundershowers. And it'll be perfectly sunny in Panama City, but my tower for two of my big 100,000 watt FMs is inland about 26 or 27 miles, and they'll kick off for a second and come right back on with a power bump.

And people say, 'What's it doing that for?' I said, 'Well, it's lightning up there-the power's bumping.'

Kirk: Mm-mm.

Charlie: And out brings up my app on my iPhone and show them the radar, and it'll be all red and everything around . . .

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: . . . where the tower is. And it'll be perfectly sunny 30 miles away, so . . .

Kirk: Sure.

Charlie: . . . that's Florida weather.

Kirk: Do you have some rules of thumb about lightning protection? Or lightning avoidance?

Charlie: Well, I have learned one thing, and I'm sure Chris has run into this. Of course, we have very sandy soil here, and if you look at the AM ground conductivity for the Florida Panhandle, the only place that's worse is around Stone Mountain Georgia up around Atlanta, or Tallahassee is actually worse than Panama City. But it's next to nothing for ground conductivity, so it's really hard to get. You really can't get a one or two around here, it's going to be somewhere around eight to ten ohms if you really try really, really hard . . .

Kirk: Wow.

Charlie: . . . that's as good as you can get. And, I know, Chris, you could probably do better than that 30 stories up in the skyscraper in Newark, can't you?

Chris: Absolutely. We've done a much better with the AM towers in the Meadowlands, as well.

Charlie: Oh, yeah. Yeah, again, Meadowlands you would have, it's the marshy area, right?

Chris: Yeah, the only problem you have there is you've got about a dozen towers and, you know, lightning rods all sticking up in the ground, so . . .

Charlie: Yeah.

Chris: . . . they attract a lot of things.

Charlie: Yeah. We have a hard time getting a good ground and we've actually had situations here. Kirk, you may have heard of this, where if you have a good stroke, there is so much heat around the ground rods that it melts the sand and glass and actually makes your ground rod and insulator stick [inaudible 00:52:11].

Kirk: I've heard of that. Is that true?

Charlie: Yeah, it's absolutely true. Absolutely.

Kirk: Oh, jeeze.

Charlie: Yeah. Yeah. It'll just be coated. It'll be like a porcelain, you know, it won't be porcelain, but it's the same porcelain coated steel, it's the same thing. You have a copper ground rod and it'll be coated with glass, but from the sand.

Kirk: So I used to have 10 ohms to ground now I have 10,000 ohms to ground.

Charlie: Yeah, well, I had a situation where I had ten ohms here when we did some remodeling in 1998. We had a ground system put in and we got ten ohms and we were very happy with that. And over a period of time, about, I guess, six or seven years later, we got the hell knocked out of us one morning about 8:30 a.m. And I had the electrician who put in the system come out and he measured it and it was 150 ohms. It had gone up 150 ohms, and so we had to completely redo, you know, drive new rods, do all the cad welding, and we were able to get it back down to where it was before.

And knock on, [knocking sound] knock on wood-it's still holding today.

Kirk: For our listeners that are still learning about this stuff, we've been talking about, you know, 1 ohm, 8 ohms, 150 ohms. So what's the significance of having this extremely low resistance path to ground when lightning strikes? What happens when you have 150 ohms to ground when lightning strikes the tower?

Charlie: Well, just think about this. You've got a power supply, and you hook your resistor-one end of the resistor is ground, and one end of the resistor is connected to the power supply. You know, you're going to have a voltage across that resistor. If it's not all the way to ground, if you put another 100 ohms below on that second resistor to ground . . .

Kirk: Mm-hmm.

Charlie: . . . from the first resistor, your voltage and your current's got to go somewhere, and it's going to go in your equipment. It's going to find another place to go because you want to be able to soak that charge up. You don't want it going anywhere else but straight to ground, but if you give it any more resistance it's going to find another path.

Kirk: It's going to find another path, okay. But

Charlie: Yeah.

Kirk: So, if you've got a very low resistance and impedance because our lightning is . . .

Charlie: Yeah, yeah.

Kirk: . . . [RF] too. If this goes to ground easily then your equipment can sit there and just watch it go to ground and not be totally affected. But if that path to ground has some resistance or even some impedance, than that lightning is going to say, 'You know what, that equipment looks pretty good right now too.'

Charlie: Yeah.

Kirk: And a portion of the lightning strike will go into your equipment at that point.

Charlie: Exactly, exactly.

Kirk: Okay.

Charlie: That's one of the weather things that we have to deal with here in Florida. The other thing's hurricanes. We've been pretty lucky here the last couple of years, again, [knocking sound] knock on wood. We haven't had any hurricanes come to this area, but that can be a real problem. We've had hurricanes come through Panama City; the last one was Opal which was a category three, and did a lot of damage. Brought down a 400-foot broadcast tower that had three FM stations on it, and made a lot of money off that one.

But because we had to put up all kinds of emergency antennas, we had to have a bunch of one kilowatt transmitters brought in by hot truck and ERI had to furnish us a bunch of antennas in a hurry. That can be a real war, right there, talk about war stories. You could do a whole show on . . .

Kirk: Yeah.

Charlie: . . . hurricanes.

Kirk: Oh, we did some on Sandy and [some of the things] . . .

Charlie: Yeah, super storm Sandy. I'm sure that Chris could talk about Sandy a lot.

Kirk: Yeah. Chris did some heroics himself after Sandy came through. Chris?

Chris: My heroics. I was stuck in San Francisco during the . . .

Charlie: [Laughs]

Chris: . . . height . . .

Kirk: Oh, you were.

Chris: . . . of that storm.

Kirk: Okay. Well, you had to a lot of . . .

Chris: Yes.

Kirk: . . . info about, you know, cell phone coverage and, what works and what didn't, and where the power was off in Manhattan.

Chris: Yes.

Kirk: And then we talked to the guy some Greater Media-they had one station one side of the eye, another station on the other side of the eye as it came right on shore.

Chris: Oh, yeah, yeah . . .

Kirk: [In New Jersey.]

Chris: . . . no, when I got back to the city, self-service, it was the most eerie feeling one could hang out. If you can imagine the image of New York City at night, it's well lit anywhere you're going in Manhattan or the boroughs. And in the evenings would come because of that [substation] explosion on the lower West side, lower Manhattan was basically dark. And it was the most eerie feeling to walk along Houston Street, or Varick Street, or Hudson, and no streetlights, no traffic lights, no motor traffic, maybe one or two persons walking around.

And all you heard in the background was the whirring sound of small generators powering lamps in a restaurant, or powering pumps at the subway entrances pulling water out-that's it. It was pitch black in downtown Manhattan. And then during the day, you could walk along those same streets and is just empty. So if you ever saw the movie with Will Smith, 'I Am Legend'.

Kirk: Oh. Yes, yes.

Chris: Which, they actually filmed portions near my old studios near where I was working in uptown Manhattan on seventh Avenue, so it was pretty funny watching them film and then watched the movie a year later, but it was sort of like that. Lower Manhattan, below Houston Street, basically, Canal Street, was just empty. You know, again, a couple cars here and there, a couple of folks walking around-nothing else. And then if you get to sixth Avenue and Houston, you look north, you can see straight up the Avenue and then you can see, literally, traffic lights starting, cars, people going back and forth, left to right, east and west, so to speak, north and south.

But everything below, just blank, dead. No traffic. Nothing.


Kirk: Mm-mm.

Chris: It was fascinating. It was an experience I don't think I'll ever, you know, you'll ever capture again, but that's my best story on that one.

Kirk: By the way, we had some talk about Verizon and their big wiring vaults, and tunnels and things. Has all of that been rebuilt, or parts of it . . .

Chris: Most of it.

Kirk: . . . or the most important parts?

Chris: Most of it has been rebuilt. There are still some buildings in lower Manhattan just east of, yes, east of the financial district, still have pumps, there are still generators running, pumps running, and electric vaults being rewired with fiber. You have Verizon is still pulling out copper and placing fiber in its place, putting new fiber in. It's still going on. It's fascinating some of the pictures that I saw, you probably see them on the Internet now, but some of the electrical phone vaults, the telecom vaults that I saw, some that I've been in over the years. This is unbelievable how the brine of the water just destroyed everything.

Kirk: Mm-mm.

Chris: It's just fascinating to see it. Those of us that have dabbled in electrical and electronics and know the outcome of water and electricity just don't go together. Just imagine submerging five, six, seven, maybe ten huge cables of 300 pair wires, just, you know, saltwater-done. Just totally destroyed.

Kirk: Charlie, yeah, go ahead.

Chris: It's fascinating.

Charlie: I was going to tell you one more, not real publicized war story regarding hurricanes. There was a hurricane called Dennis that went into Pensacola, but we had some pretty good winds here, we had 70 an hour winds and we were under a hurricane warning. And one of my stations, WPAP which is on 92.5, is the [LP1], the EAS [LP1] station. And I had been up to that transmitter site at about 3:00 in the morning because I went ahead and just put the site on the generator because we kept getting power line hits.

So I went up there and just manually transferred to the generator and told the controller not to transfer it back. And I came back to the house and changed clothes because it was blowing rain and I was on my way to the studio and I noticed that WPAP sounded strange. There was something about the signaling-it was cutting in and out or something, and I couldn't figure it out. And I got to the studio, and it seemed like the more I went in that direction the more interference there seemed to be on the station.

And about the time I got to the studio my son called me on the cell phone. He said, 'Dad, there's something wrong with WPAP.' And I said, 'Yeah, I'm noticing that.' And I started shaking and we had a competitor who had cranked up a one-kilowatt frequency agile transmitter. While I say the competitor did, an employee of the competitor did, on 92.5 with an unmodulated carrier with stereo pilot. And I DF'd it-it took me a few minutes to get together the equipment to DF it, but I went and DF'd it.

Kirk: DF, Direction Find. So you've . . .

Charlie: Direction Find.

Kirk: . . . triangulated where the . . .

Charlie: Yeah.

Kirk: . . . transmission was coming from.

Charlie: I found out where it was coming from, I pulled over, and I called my regional engineer from Clear Channel. And I can't give to you the exact expletives that were used . . .

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: . . . in that conversation. But, you know, I said, 'You're not going to believe what I just found.' And, of course, he said, 'You've got to be kidding me.' That's not exactly what he said, but.

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: And I said, 'Is it okay for me to call the sheriff's department and have them come? I know somebody at the sheriff's department, and have them come with me and we go to that building and have that turned off.' He says, 'Sure.' So, I called my general manager and let them know about it, and we had to go get the sheriff. I called a friend of mine who was at the sheriff's department. And I was born and raised here in Panama City, so I know a lot of people, so I called and we got a deputy to come out.

And walked into the, knocked on the door, this particular person came to the door, he was the only one there, and said we'd like to look in your [Rack] Room. And he said, 'Sure.' So we went back there, and there's this PTEK one kilowatt frequency agile transmitter which they had used for a backup, I guess. And they had a 4- Band antenna about 100 feet on their studio tower.

Kirk: Mm-mm.

Charlie: And there it was cranking out 1,000 W or 92.5, just an unmodulated carrier with stereo pilot. Well, I mean, not unmodulated, but only modulated with the stereo pilot.

Kirk: Sure.

Charlie: And so I said to the deputy, I said, 'Do you mind telling me what you see on this readout?' There was an orange display. I said, 'Does is say 92.5?' 'Yes, sir, it says 92.5.' 'Can you remember that so if you have to answer that in a court of law when in that position, you can do so?' He said, 'Sure. Okay.' So I asked the guy if I could turn off his transmitter, and, of course, I did. And a few expletives later I left the building, so, you know, that was a strange situation there.

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: [I don't know.]

Kirk: I take it that this employee was being malicious.

Charlie: Yeah.

Kirk: Was he just smart enough to fiddle around and put it on 92.5 and turn it on to see what mischief he could cause?

Charlie: I really don't know, all I know is the guy got fired.

Kirk: Oh.

Charlie: And he had been around for a while. This particular person had been around. He was not a youngster by no means-he was probably 40ish and had been in broadcasting for quite a while. So he probably knew his way. He knew enough to be dangerous. I guess they probably had a procedure there, they had four radio stations at this particular group.

Kirk: Oh, yes. And they would need to [tune it] around the different ones [as a backup] [inaudible 01:04:54].

Charlie: Yeah, they had a procedure that, you know, you do this and you do this and put it on this frequency. So anyhow, that did happen. That's a . . .

Kirk: So, you don't . . .

Charlie: . . . war story.

Kirk: . . . put it on your competitor's frequency and turn it on.

Charlie: Well, the problem was we had 70 mile an hour winds-I had better things to do than to DF this . . .

Kirk: Oh. This problem.

Charlie: . . . I mean, this was at the height of the storm is when all of was going on. There were roads closed, there were power lines down, there were trees down. The bridge going to the beach was closed because any time the wind gets over 55 miles an hour they close this bridge because it's a high-rise bridge . . .

Kirk: Yeah.

Charlie: . . . so you can't go from Panama City to Panama City Beach except under extreme emergencies. I mean, we were in the storm- this was during the height of the storm when all this was going on. And I had better things to then to be DF'ing some idiot who decided to put a carrier on the [LP1] station which was carrying weather bulletins for everybody to rebroadcast. And from the state EOC we have a [VSet] that's connected back and let it to the state EOC and that's how they get the information out to the broadcasters, is the [LP1] broadcast it then they trigger the other stations.

Kirk: Sure.

Charlie: So anyhow, that was an interesting situation.

Kirk: Well, it sounds like you dealt with it. What made you decide that the way you needed to handle this is to bring the sheriff in? Just so you could have backup? Is it in terms of, if it ever went to court later you would have some [fight] to say, 'Well, this is what I saw Charlie do. This is what the problem was.'

Charlie: Yeah, I wanted to have a witness that would be . . .

Kirk: A witness, [that's what it] [not able 01:06:46].

Charlie: A third party, a third-party witness that was not affiliated with either Clear Channel or with the competitor. You know?

Kirk: Yeah.

Charlie: This was a third party and so if you was ever deposed he would be able to confirm what he saw on that panel.

Kirk: Yeah.

Charlie: It was just a bad situation.

Kirk: It sounds like you handled it appropriately and I'm glad you had the connections that you did, and, you know, a good reputation in the town with the sheriff's department so that they would cooperate easily. And they wouldn't just have probably have done that for anybody-they know you're a standup guy, and you wouldn't call them [inaudible 01:07:25]

Charlie: Well, we do a lot of stuff for the sheriff's department on the air, you know. They do a lot of things with the youth and what not, and they have the rodeo. In fact, the sheriff's rodeo, I think, was either last week in or it's coming up this weekend. But, you know, we do a lot of things with the sheriff's department, so it was just a good situation to be able to call them. And they came, I mean, they were literally there less than five minutes, and they had a lot of things going on that morning with road closures and whatnot.

And we did have a tornado right down the road from where this happened too, within an hour or so of this happening. It was just a bad situation-the guy was really stupid doing it.

Kirk: Wow. Well, you know, stupidity abounds. It's everywhere.

Charlie: Abound, it does. It really does. Yep.

Kirk: Hey, we're kind of out of time. Charlie Wooten, I really appreciate you joining us for this War Stories episode and telling us about Mozambique, and ham radio from there, and what you went through. And then a couple of stories of broadcast derring-do and getting things fixed. Thanks for coming on the show, I appreciate it.

Charlie: I enjoyed it, I really did. Even on short notice . . .

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: . . . it just happened to work out good for me tonight. I was happy to be able to fill land for, I guess, Chris Tarr was away tonight?

Kirk: Yeah, yeah. Well, I'm glad you could make it. And Chris Tobin, you know, Charlie's a good storyteller-I got a few words in, I'm sorry you hardly got any words in edgewise, but thanks for joining us, as well. Chris Tobin, did you have any last minute things you wanted to tell us?

Chris: No, no, no. Charlie's stories of Mozambique were great. I know . . .

Kirk: Yeah.

Chris: . . . A lot of friends of mine who are hams, as I'm a ham operator, so hearing that kind of stuff is exciting. And also is part of the craft that keeps us going in even the broadcast side, with the tinkering and having fun.

Kirk: Yep, it sure does. Installing for a minute here to see, it seems like I've got something planned for next week, but I don't know if it's on my calendar yet. I've think we've got a guest next week, but I'm not sure who it is. So, I guess I can't tell you who it is because I'm not sure who. We do this War Stories thing once every tenth episode. We try to bring a seasoned engineer in here, well, I mean, you know, besides ourselves, to give us some stories and some learning opportunities to find out what to do.

So, hey, if somebody starts transmitting on your frequency and messing up with you, go get the sheriff. There you go. Go get the sheriff.

Kirk: Charlie, if folks want to find you, and follow you, or know about your ham activities, how would people who are interested in Charlie Wooten find out what you're doing?

Charlie: Well, I'm on Facebook, as you know.

Kirk: Yep.

Charlie: I don't even know, actually. I mean, it's Charles Wooten or something, but I'll look on the handy iPhone, here. But I think that's what it is-it's Charles Wooten. But I put a lot of stuff up there about ham radio, and . . .

Kirk: Yeah.

Charlie: . . . of course, deer season is coming up, you know, Kirk, and that's one of my favorite vices.

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: You'll be seeing a lot of pictures of food from the camp instead of food from restaurants.

Kirk: [Laughs]

Charlie: And maybe a couple of pictures of some dead deer, I hope.

Kirk: Indeed, on Facebook you are Charles Wooten, so if you're interested in following Charles, you can make friends with him or be a fan or something like that. Charles, what's your ham call?

Charlie: It's NF4A, NovemberFox4Alpha.

Kirk: NovemberFox4Alpha. So if you're a ham, you know where to look call signs up and you can look up Charlie that way, and of course, make contact with him on the airwaves. If there's a contest going on, I'm pretty sure that NovemberFox4Alpha is going to be on the air somewhere.

Charlie: I do a lot of contesting. Those are the two things I do, were DX'ing contesting and ham radio. I don't do a lot of the 2 meter handy talkie type stuff, but I do enjoy contesting and DX'ing.

Kirk: Good deal. Charles, thanks for being with us, I appreciate it. And Chris Tobin, thanks for being with us too. I appreciate you being here. You've been watching This Week In Radio Tech, War Stories episode 190, productivity by telling us Systems, on the web at Telos-systems.com. Makers of fine telephone hybrids, and SIP multi-studio talk show systems, and POTS and ISDN talk show systems. As well as IP codecs, and ISDN codecs, and streaming equipment too-streaming encoders. Check them out on the web, Telos-systems.com.

That's it for This Week In Radio Tech. Thanks to Andrew Zarian at the GFQ Network, where you'll find lots of shows to watch. Go to GFQnetwork.com, find our show, subscribe to other shows- you'll enjoy it all, and thanks to Andrew Zarian. We'll see you next week on This Week In Radio Tech, bye-bye everybody.

Announcer: That's all the bandwidth we can pilfer this week. Another tort is propagated, and all the transmitters and audio equipment lived happily ever after thanks to the handsome engineer and his kind, benevolent care. We'll be back next week. [Lord willing and the creek don't rise.] This Week In Radio Tech. Subscribe to iTunes and you'll never miss a show. Search for This Week In Radio Tech in the iTunes Store. Soliciting is strictly encouraged. If you liked today's show, tell a friend. If you didn't like it, we were never here.

Kirk Harnack's wardrobe provided by the Salvation Army and the Red Cross Disaster Relief Services. Hair and makeup provided by Penny [Lupe]-Garcia-Hernandez-Weinberg. [voices] This ends this transmission. Tango, whiskey, India, Romeo, tango. Signing off. Okay.

Topics: Radio Engineering