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A Visit to 4 Times Square

Posted by Kirk Harnack [TWiRT] on Dec 14, 2013 11:17:00 PM

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TWiRT 194Chris Tobin shows us the FM combiner room at 4 Times Square – a main transmitter site for some and a backup site for other New York City broadcasters. Plus, Scott Fybush is here with transmitter and tower stories, a radio discussion board, and his 2014 Tower Site Calendar.

 

 

 

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Announcer: This Week in Radio Tech, episode 194, is brought to you by 25- Seven and the range of time and audio program management devices including the Audio Time Manager and the Program Delay Manager. Find 25-Seven on the web through the web portal at telosalliance.com. And now, our feature presentation. TWiRT.

Kirk: Chris Tobin is live in the FM combiner room at 4 Times Square and Scott Fybush probably presents his Tower Site Calendar for 2014.

Announcer: All right, calm down. He says that to everyone. This calls for immediate discussion. What's up, Doc? All your base are belong to us. Hey, hey, hey. From his palatial office of important business. Or in a choice hotel in a distant land. This is Kirk Harnack. A tour of the present in New York and a look at the coming year with Scott Fybush. Let's go. You're dialed in to This Week in Radio Tech.

Kirk: Hey, welcome in. It's time for This Week in Radio Tech. I'm Kirk Harnack, your host. Delighted to be with you and if you're watching live, you're watching us at a very odd time. It's not Thursday evening in the U.S., it's Thursday morning. In fact we're starting the show at about 10:05 Eastern, excuse me, 11:05 Eastern Time. And we did that to accommodate my schedule. It is the holiday party time and so I appreciate you tuning in at a little different time for this show. As usual, it'll be available on the Internet to download, to watch, and to subscribe to.

So that's the way we do it here at This Week in Radio Tech and thanks to the GFQ Network for helping us out. Andrew's in there for producing our show almost, almost every week. Well, this week we've got with us Chris Tobin, we'll go to him in a minute, and our guest is Scott Fybush. Scott's been on the show several times before and his website is FYBUSH.COM, go ahead and crash the site now. FYBUSH, F-Y-B-U-S-H, .COM, and you'll see all the things that Scott's up to. Terrifically fascinating guy, so we got a lot to talk about and just one hour to do it all in.

Again, our show is brought to you by 25-Seven, my friends, part of the Telos Alliance, and they make equipment that, well, that makes radio, fitting, squeezing things into the radio easier. We'll talk about them about halfway through this show.

All right, let's get to it. I'm Kirk, I work for the folks at the Telos Alliance, myself. Thanks to them for sponsoring the show. I'm coming to you from my home studio in Nashville, Tennessee where it is 22 degrees outside right now. Holy moly it's cold. Where it may also be cold, way up high on top of a building somewhere in the middle of Manhattan near Times Square, Chris Tobin is with us. Hey, Chris. Welcome in to the best dressed engineer in radio, there you are, proving it again.

Chris: Hello, Kirk. Yes, hello everyone, I am at a transmitter room, known as the Radio Combiner Room here at 4 Times Square in New York City. And it's 25 degrees at ground level, it dropped to about 22 here at the top of the building. The height is quite high, that's all I can say. I have to thank the folks here at 4 Times Square and WBGO radio for accommodating us today, so I want to make sure I give the proper credits. And for product placement, what's behind me is a Shively Labs balanced combiner for FM stations. So, that's it for the moment. I have more stuff as we go along.

Kirk: Yeah. I want you to explain some of what we're seeing there. And I took a tour of 4 Times Square some years ago and didn't get to see that room that you're in. I saw the front side of the transmitters but not that room, so I want to hear about that. All right, joining us from his abode in, where are you? In Rochester, New York? Is that where you are?

Scott: Rochester, New York, where it is a balmy 11 degrees outside.

Kirk: Holy moly, I got nothing to brag about. Scott Fybush with FYBUSH.COM . . .

Scott: We call this summer here.

Kirk: . . . and Northeast Radio Watch. Welcome in, Scott, and glad to have you back.

Scott: Great to be here.

Kirk: Tell us about Scott Fybush, there are plenty of, you know, new viewers that haven't seen you before, don't know who you are and you are one heck of an interesting guy. So, let's, kind of give us the elevator speech. What's Scott Fybush all about?

Scott: I'm that guy who goes around and takes pictures of radio towers and puts their stories on the Internet. So I'm actually, my background is in radio news, I'm going to be bantering news casts later this afternoon as the matter of fact on WXXI here in Rochester. But I describe myself as a news guy who speaks fluent engineer. And I got fascinated very early on by the history of broadcasting and the history of broadcast technology.

And so I travel around whenever I get the chance and I take pictures of transmitter sites and studios, put those stories up on the web. I chronicle what's happening in real-time on Northeast Radio Watch at FYBUSH.COM every week, and for the last dozen years or so I've been the guy who puts out this thing that you might have seen on an engineering shop wall or hanging around at a transmitter site somewhere near you too.

Kirk: My favorite page is the centerfold.

Scott: They're all centerfolds, that's the best part.

Kirk: They're all centerfolds. We'll talk more about that calendar in a few minutes. I know you'd like to sell some calendars, and I know a lot of our viewers and listeners would like to own that calendar because some people think that towers are pretty, and I'm one of those people. I think towers are pretty. What reaction do you get, Scott? What are some of the stranger reactions you've gotten too when you've shown maybe relatives, people who aren't engineers, that you have a calendar with tower pictures?

Scott: The family pretty much thinks I'm weird already, they've known that for years, there's no question about that. My kids are pretty used to it. My five year old who's going to be home from kindergarten any second here, he draws pictures now of radio towers sometimes when we travel, which I think lots of fun. Just this year, as a matter of fact, one of the pictures that's in the calendar is WTGA in Worcester and we sent out a press release to the newspaper in Worcester, and I got a call from a reporter for the paper, he said, "You know, we got this press release and we thought somebody was pranking us, we were sure this was just some kind of a joke, then we looked it up and found out it's real. What's going on with that?"

Kirk: Well, you know, a lot of folks in the world think towers are ugly, that they're an eyesore, they're a blight on the horizon. And I have seen a couple that might look blighted but for the most part, man I love towers. I love to see them on the horizon on the top of a hill or a mountain. I've got towers here in Nashville just on a couple hills down the road from me, a couple of tall towers, three of them actually within a couple of miles. So, do you find that, that people say, "Why would you take pictures of towers? They're so ugly?"

Scott: I get some of that and the truth of the matter is there are definitely towers out there that are less attractive than other ones. You get those ones, you know, that the wireless operators have come and they've just loaded the whole thing up with transmission line and that's all you see from a distance is just, you know, a tower that could have just as well been made of transmission line with a whole bunch of those ugly cell antennas on it.

But then you get the pretty ones, you get those old cell supporters, you get those really nice looking ones that a lot of times have been standing there since the 1930's. You've got one near you in Nashville if you drive down I-65 down to WSM there, that gorgeous, gorgeous Blaw-Knox diamond-shaped tower. You know, the nice thing is I've managed to kind of surround myself with a community of people who get and it's not a huge niche but there are enough of us out there who get and who understand that this is, it's a piece of infrastructure.

That's kind of how I explain it to people, is this is another piece of the infrastructure around you that you never notice. You don't think about the power lines that bring power to your home, you don't necessarily think about what brings water into your home, this is what brings radio and TV into your home. And so a lot . . .

Kirk: Funny speaking about . . .

Scott: There are a lot . . .

Kirk: Yeah, so speaking of power lines . . . Oh, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. We got a good delay going on here. Go ahead and finish.

Scott: Oh, I was going to say, you know, a lot of times, you know, people don't realize this is some of the oldest infrastructure that they use in a lot of cases. Some of these tower sites have been around since the '20's and '30's and they still work just as well as they did the day that they were built and you can't say that about a lot of technology anymore.

Kirk: That's true. Like the power lines near my house that keep going down. Yeah, my goodness. And, now speaking of power lines, what I was going to say, I'm one of these guys, I think power lines are pretty ugly. Oh my goodness, they're, I would much prefer to live in a neighborhood where the power and cable and telephone was all underground. And, you know, that kind of has to do with money I suppose. You know, you build a new subdivision, you put that stuff underground if it's a moneyed subdivision. Do you find people who like the look of overhead power lines?

Scott: There are guys in Britain, and I almost hate to call them out because, you know, who am I to say anybody else's hobby is weird? There are guys in Britain who actually travel around, I kid you not, and they document, you know, they call them pylons there, and they document the numbering on them, and they take pictures of those and they put them up. It's like, I guess, Trainspotting taken to the next level. I think those guys are nuts but what do I know?

Kirk: You know, what I think is a little, is unsightly for sure, is infrastructure that is decaying. I think anybody would find that unattractive and there's an overhead, you know, big, you know, AT&T copper, what's the word I'm looking for? Cable, overhead near my house that, you know, the lacing from the carrier wire's come undone. And so it's drooping down a foot and a half or so and I've called AT&T and they don't care, apparently. And, you know, so decaying infrastructure I think looks bad. Would you agree?

Scott: Oh, I would. And, you know, it's just as true of broadcasting too. I mean, you get some of these sites that were built in the 1930's and there was that big trend, you know, you put curving glass block on the outside of your building and you put lettering up o it and everything and there are some of those sites where, you know, either they've let the glass block get cracked or they've just boarded it all up and they covered up the windows because nobody's around on a daily basis anymore checking up on it and they don't want the vandals getting in and stealing the copper and that's all understandable.

But you look at some of these sites and you think, "Wow, there was a time where this thing was beautiful." When you look at it now it's like, it's sad to look at but at the same time, you know, at least there's some pieces of history there that you can still grab onto and say, "This was something once." This is what I like to do on the website, is to go and say, "Hey, there's a picture of this thing. Look at what this was when it was new. You know, look at how much care went into this and respect the fact that at least it's still sitting here in some form 70 years later."

Kirk: I got more questions about tower sites for you but tell you what, we're going to go to Chris Tobin who is standing by live at a very interesting tower site in Manhattan at 4 Times Square. Scott, tell you what, you're familiar with this tower site, right? You know, on top of the building?

Scott: Oh, yeah.

Kirk: Would you set this up for us? Why don't you introduce Chris? Tell us a little bit about where he's at. What if I'm a tourist from the outside and look up, you know, what will I see, why is it there, why is there a multi-FM transmitter site at 4 Times Square? And then we'll go to Chris.

Scott: All right, the story of this goes back to just before 9/11 as a matter of fact. There was already a concern after the first World Trade Center bombing that there really needed to be a better backup location for all of those FM stations in New York City to go on. And it was Clear Channel primarily that pushed this pretty hard. There was a new building that was going up right in the heart of Times Square called 4 Times Square, and they worked with the building ownership and said, "Hey, we want to put a backup transmitter site in top of your building."

And then they put what at the time was just a fairly short tower up there. And the five Clear Channel FM stations went up there and I think one or two others and all the sudden 9/11 happened and one of those Clear Channel stations had been downtown on the Trade Center, 103.5 WKTU. It never missed a beat, it went right on from 4 Times Square and was literally never off the air. And so at that point there was a realization, "Hey, we got to build this thing up and make it a more hardened backup site, not just for FM but for TV."

And so John Lyons who had built the thing for Clear Channel moved over to the Durst Organization which owns the building and spent about a year removing the tower that was up there, putting up a 300-foot mast on top what was already I think about a 900- foot building, and all the sudden had the second tallest tower site facility in New York City. And everybody was so distracted by what was going on on the ground in Time Square, very few people ever really look up and notice it but it's up there.

Kirk: I got to visit this site a few years ago. What's the name of the fellow who gave the tour? John...

Scott: John Lyons.

Kirk: Lyons, yes, yes.

Scott: Yeah, John Lyons.

Kirk: He gave a wonderful tour. And my wife, Laura, was with me that day and we were touring, it turned out they were filming some scenes, some exterior scenes, for the Spider-Man 3 movie. And so we were on the roof, now I'm looking up at the antennas and stuff going, "Oh, wow. Look at the antennas. Oh, this transmission line is cool." And she's looking out for, oh, and she sees a star over there. And I'm not going to say mostly because I can't remember right now. He caught her looking at him and caught me with the camera and kind of, he looked at us like, "Don't take my picture. Please, don't take my picture." So we didn't. Anyway. So, okay, Chris, I'm sorry, bad sidebar. Chris Tobin, you're there at 4 Times Square. What's going on? Tell us about it.

Chris: Yes, here at 4 Times Square. Let's see. Well, I've got a few things, right behind me is the combiner, Shively combiner which takes the multiple FM transmitters and brings them together to go up to the antenna on the top of the tower that you spoke of. And then we have also the plumbing. The plumbing is what you see if you can see it at all in the pictures of the copper-looking pipes, horizontal, vertical elements. And this is a typical what's called an elbow, this is a double elbow and it's used in, you could use it for a patch for doing RF patching, okay? To make connections. And this is what it looks like inside, whoops, sorry.

All right, there's the center conductor is that silver piece and then that white disk is Teflon, that's the insulator that supports what we call the bullet which is the silver piece, and the outside is copper. So that's a typical transmission line piece of plumbing as we in the industry call it. And then there's also the smaller stuff, this is an inch and five- eighths, this is what's called a gas cap.

So you have here the Teflon I spoke of, the centerpiece we call the bullet in the industry, right? That's the center conductor, mates two pipes together, two transmission lines. Then here at the top, this little piece that my finger is pointing to and touching is where the gas in, or where we would use nitrogen for drying out the line because you have to have an insulator in a transmission line. It could be the air, nitrogen, or the actual Teflon-type material itself, or foam which you see in smaller, lower power transmission lines. So this is what it looks like on the other side where you connect the transmission line, that's what it looks like. This is dented because this is a piece of used connector, it's no longer in use, it's been pulled off and taken out of service.

Here is a small section of transmission line, these are pieces you would throughout the facility at 4 Times Square. This is a small section for helping to connect transmission pieces of a longer length which I will show you in a second. So again, made of copper, very clean inside. I think you can see that, yeah, you can see reflections so you can see how well it stays clean when properly insulated, whether with nitrogen or dry air. And then there's.

Kirk: Oh.

Chris: Here we go. Now here's a piece of transmission line, very typical piece, matter of fact some of them are in use on the combiner behind me. And this is a nice, what is this? Three- inch? Yeah, this is a three-inch line, there's the Teflon centerpiece that supports the bullet, all right? That supports the bullet that connects another piece similar to this one together. And then it's tied together with bolts. And inside this is a hollow section which would be pressurized with nitrogen, dry air, or some other inert gas, we don't want anything flammable.

And that's pretty much what we have here. Let me put this down, give me, indulge me a moment, it is somewhat heavy. And since it's not mine I don't want to damage it by denting it. Denting it would definitely change its characteristics and those of you who do RF understand very well what happens when you do that, it's not a good thing. So behind me are the combiners, the combiners are filters, for those of you in the industry you know what a filter is, basically it's what the word says, it filters something either in or out, or attenuates, or gives it gain.

So in this case the filtering is designed to isolate multiple transmitters, so you can picture, say, in this case WBGO, WNYC, the Clear Channel stations that are all up, all feeding into transmission lines that I showed you, that large section of three-inch line, all being fed into what's behind me, is the combiner. And then they are combined through the filters and each filter has its purpose.

Filter one is filtering out the other stations so that WBGO can pass through its frequencies. The other filters are filtering out WBGO so they can pass their frequencies through and they all combine into a single transmission piece right here, I think you can see what I'm pressing. And this goes up to the rooftop and the rooftop tower, the base of the tower, is just above me. This plastic piece here, there's some work taking place upstairs so they have to make sure if anything drops down it doesn't hit people.

But I am beneath the tower section so if you're looking at the skyline of Manhattan in the picture, or Google Earth, or happen to be outside right now with a smartphone and watching this program, that large tower, 300-foot tower that Scott spoke of, I'm beneath it, I'm structurally beneath it. And it's pretty cool, so I hope it doesn't implode. Anyway, that's what we have here at 4 Times Square. So, it's an alternate site for some stations and others it's a primary site.

There are TV stations here too, digital TV as well as radio. And then there's also a lot of land mobile radio, two-way radio stuff for services like New York City Police, Department of Transportation, several federal agencies, and other things like that. But that's common in any city, any tall building everybody want sot be on top of to transmit from. And that's, let me see what else is there.

Kirk: What kind of power level is going from each transmitter and through the filters and then up to the, if you combined all the RF numbers together, how much power are we talking about?

Chris: I'm trying to think. Since they're all 50 kilowatt stations, class B's, I'm not sure of the specific specs but probably you're talking, you know, a good 50,000, 60,000 watts probably going up and out, everybody's combined.

Kirk: Yeah, right. So each station I'm guessing probably has somewhere between six and ten kilowatts of transmitter power output.

Chris: Yes, that's correct because of the height. You're already at 500 feet so you don't need 50 kilowatts.

Kirk: What kind of antenna, are they going into a multi-bay panel antenna on the tower?

Chris: It's a two-bay panel antenna, yes.

Kirk: Oh, just two bays, so there's not much gain going on there.

Chris: There's a blueprint on the wall here that I can't show you but I can look at it myself. Where is that FM? Oh, no, no, I take that back, it's a Shively three-fourths special, oh, it's a special master FM. And let me count the bays, "How do I count the ways?" One, two, three, four, five, six, wait a minute. One, two, three, four, five, six, six bays. It's a six-bay panel antenna, sorry.

Kirk: Oh, so there is some gain.

Chris: Yes, there is some gain. That makes sense, that would make sense with the height.

Kirk: Okay.

Chris: And, yeah. Yeah, I can't tell you the [inaudible 19:18].

Kirk: Now the antenna, the transmitter frequencies are all up and down the dial here, they're not clustered together, right?

Chris: That's correct because they go from 93 megahertz up to 103 megahertz and higher.

Kirk: So we couldn't count upon the six-bay antenna being a given particular gain for any one station, could we? I mean, it's going to be different for each station, I would suppose.

Chris: Well, it's based on, let me see if I remember correctly, the antenna theory where there's multiple bays, there's usually a sweet spot center band and then the gain is typically within usually a dB across the spectrum it's supposed to occupy.

Kirk: Oh, okay.

Chris: So I don't know, I know when I've worked on two-bay and three- bays that's how we've done it and I'm pretty sure, looking at this Shively, it's probably relatively flat across the dial. And yes, the ERP's are 13 kilowatts for the stations coming off the antenna, 7 kilowatts going in for the TPO, a couple of those are 12 kilowatts, I'm looking at a few of the other specs that are public knowledge, I'm not speaking out of school here. So we have a total of one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine radio stations have the ability to broadcast from here.

One of them is, two of them are full-time from here. And the other thing is too, you know, when you have a backup site the other problem you have, not problem, the other thing you need to concern yourself with is utilities. So the building actually has a fuel cell, if memory serves me right, and it goes back a ways. So that's fuel cell technology which is a little beyond the scope of this net cast but if you look that up you'll see. So the power source generation, actually I think the fuel cell is what maintains the power.

So you can operate without utilities from Con Edison which is the local utility here in New York City for some time and function, as Scott pointed out, uninterrupted. And the utilities also in the communication side, so like the Internet that I'm on is actually a wireless local loop. So, if for some reason the local career, say, Verizon lose a manhole outside the building which is always possible in the wintertime with salt and stuff, I'm connected wirelessly to a backbone from this building to another building which is actually outside the perimeter of Times Square. So, if something should happen, as long as the building does not collapse beneath my feet, I'm connected, I'm still doing everything as you can see right now even though the utilities are gone and maybe access to the building is limited because of some outside event.

Kirk: Well, let's try it. Find a big switch and turn it off.

Chris: There are several big switches here but they've all got the proper lockouts. And, you know, and those of us, and Scott knows this, those of us who know John Lyons, if it comes to being a prankster we don't want to do it to him because he's the master.

Scott: I hear you.

Kirk: So, there's nine FM stations there. Two are full-time and I guess seven have backups there.

Chris: Yes.

Kirk: But you mentioned there's a ton of other services there. Are you in an area where there's also television? Or is that a separate area?

Chris: The television is on a separate floor. I've been up to that floor, it's above, and then you have the waveguides up there for the TV folks and there's another floor for the land mobile services. So, John has broken up this, the levels ideally for the different industries that they support so you don't have everybody on top of each other which can be very messy as we all know.

Kirk: How, politically speaking or business speaking, how do nine stations get together to agree on building something like that and then how do they maintain it? It seems, well, there's probably a separate corporation that's hired to maintain that on behalf of the nine stations.

Chris: Well, in the case of I believe this location I believe the Durst Organization is providing that intermediary. At the Empire State Building, yes, there is an organization, a company that maintains that master antenna system on behalf of the radio stations. So there is a non-biased or, you know, non-conflict of interest individual organization, yes. You know what?

At the end of the day the one thing everybody knows is they have to transmit from a location. The locations provide proper security for everybody to maintain their required corporate, you know, we'll call it corporate secrets, corporate compliance for those that are publicly traded companies because you have to have control of your product otherwise you'll violate FCC rules. So, the locations have what they need for the radio stations to do their part and the radio stations know that locations like this, they play along.

You know, if this was out in the street in front of a storefront, you know, all bets are off. But facilities like this in most markets, the engineers, the managers of the stations all agree that yes, we have to abide by a common rue and it works. You're right though and it could be difficult but it works.

Kirk: In the chat room, Arleigh is concerned about RF radiation. Tell me about RF radiation in a place like that. Does RF come out of the filters or leak out of the coax? What danger are you in or what precautions must you take there?

Chris: Okay, very good question and I will say that the one thing that I enjoy about 4 Times Square is John Lyons has gone to great lengths to ensure RFR compliance. And the room that I'm in, because these are all solid copper pipes, the RF radiation, RFR, is way, way below any measurements, any measurement that would even be of concern, they've done that.

And throughout the facility on these floors and above and on the rooftop where you were, Kirk, for that movie shoot there are multicolored lights, I don't have access to them here, they're not in this particular view. They're, if you can think of a cylinder, you know, a paper towel roll cylinder, and then there are three colors, red yellow, and green.

Kirk: Yeah, like the top of a slot machine.

Chris: Pretty much, yes. So at any location where you have access to what they call the recon monitor system, any place that you could possibly have access to an RF environment in the facility those lights indicate green, yellow, or red saying, "Yes, you can go," or, "You can't." If you open a door, if you enter an area that is considered hazardous to, you know, to human exposure you could set off an alarm. Those alarms go off, they trip off several other alarms and notify several people and chaos ensues. So, the chances of walking into a hot spot as it's know is almost impossible without alerting literally everyone in the building, all the broadcasters, and others. And there's plenty of visual and audible indicators to let you know that you're entering an area that could possibly be hot.

Kirk: Areas that could be hot, those areas are, I take it, are places that are exposed to the RF coming from the antenna.

Chris: Yes.

Kirk: In other words, if you're around the filters, the transmitters, hard line of the feed line, that's not a problem because that stuff, the outer conductor is, you know, shields you from what's on the inner conductor and there's little RF there. I mean, more than, you know, if you go out in the middle of a pasture, but there's no RF concern there. It's when you're in sight of or exposed to the RF coming out of the antenna, right?

Chris: Yes, so basically any doorways that would exit onto the rooftop beneath the tower section, that would be protected. Parapets that may be below the rooftop but have RF exposure because of the downward tilt of the RF signal. Now remember, we're talking about FM stations at the moment where I'm standing but there are also TV stations, but there are also non-broadcast RF emitters here at the facility. So you have to take that into account. So you have 800- megahertz, 2-gig, 5-gig, 23-gig transmission point-to-point trunking systems which use multiple frequencies in a spread- spectrum approach. So those too have to be counted and that stuff sometimes can go way below a floor or parapet where the FM does or doesn't because the beam tilt. So yeah, there's a lot of stuff but the exposure control is maintained.

Kirk: Is this a good place for a pirate radio station to locate their antenna?

Chris: Absolutely, it's excellent. However the security of this place is quite the defense.

Kirk: You've got to be one heck of a pirate to get up there, don't you?

Chris: Yeah, that would be, the phrase would be "inside job" if you were trying to pull anything here.

Scott: May I jump in here?

Chris: Oh, go ahead, Scott.

Kirk: Yeah, Scott.

Scott: Can I jump in? One more really cool thing, you know, any situation like that where you have high RF exposure possibilities you're required to put some kind of notice up, right? That says to anybody who's coming in or doesn't have training, "Here's what you got to know." What John Lyons did, and I think this is so cool, is he actually set up, there are little boxes when you go out the door onto the roof...

Chris: Oh, to press a button.

Scott: . . . and you can get that message read to you and it's read to you by Valerie Smaldone who was the voice of Lite-FM in New York City for years and years and John actually went to her and said, "Will you record this for me so that we can put that in our boxes and so anyone who goes up on the roof gets to press the button and hear Valeria tell them about our RF safety?"

Chris: Yes, I forgot about that. Actually you know what, I'll try and see if I can record that and we'll do it for next week's show and you can hear what it sounds like. I'll see if I can pull that off.

Kirk: Wow. So, are there any ham radio repeaters on that building? Any idea?

Chris: You know what? I don't think so. I had one up here for some time but we moved it. I have to double check that, I don't think we have anybody up here at the moment. I'm going to have to talk to John about that. But they do have in this building a voice over Internet protocol first responder communication system as well, so they've gone pretty far with antennas throughout the building and what they call an active antenna system.

Kirk: As part of the tour John Lyons mentioned that, you know, during the big 9/11 problem when the planes hit the towers that so many agencies couldn't talk to each other and didn't have coverage deep inside of buildings and so at 4 Times Square they designed a lot of things to mitigate that where different agencies can talk to each other with the right gear and either leaky coax or, as you said, an active antenna systems, and I don't know what that means exactly, so that first responders can talk to each other even from, you know, deep inside the core of a building.

Chris: Yeah, the active antenna system is, the actual antenna is connected to a bidirectional amp so it permits transmit-receive and gain rather than just a passive emitter or, sorry, passive transmission like a leaky coax. So I'll step out of the frame of the video but I'm looking at the block diagram for the, what they call the first responders communication system and there are two sets of risers and redundancy built in and throughout the facility. So, there's a primary, secondary, tertiary system and direct connectivity to the local law enforcement, fire department, and stuff of that sort. And they also have the ability to communicate with their other buildings for interoperability.

So, John thought it out very well and given John's background, I mean, I wouldn't be surprised, I'm not surprised of what he did and how he did it and it's pretty cool. As a matter of fact, I know for a fact the company, one of the companies they worked with I used to deal with for intercom systems and they took design and approach in applying it to some of their products in Washington for the Department of Defense. That's all I can say about it, I know more about it but I can't say of anything. Then I think they put in a public release about two years ago.

Kirk: John Lyons sets a good example, doesn't he?

Chris: Oh, let me tell you. You know the old saying, "You know, that guy is the guy I want in my foxhole?" John Lyons.

Kirk: Yes, yes.

Chris: But also remember he's a prankster so be careful. Sometimes those explosions may be him with firecrackers.

Kirk: I didn't know that.

Chris: Yeah, he's a toot.

Kirk: That's Chris Tobin. He's live at 4 Times Square on This Week in Radio Tech from the FM Combiner Room giving us a brief tour there. So that is awfully, awfully cool. Speaking of, you're watching This Week in Radio Tech, it's episode number 194. Yes, Scott Fybush is our guest, we're going to get to Scott completely here in just a few minutes to talk about what's going on in his world, the calendar, tower sites he's been to lately, and all that kind of thing.

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All right, it's This Week in Radio Tech, episode 194. I'm Kirk Harnack, Chris Tobin is live at 4 Times Square right there in the combiner room and also Scott Fybush is with us. Scott, all right, Scott, let's jump in and get right to it. You talked about the calendar briefly, we'll tell people where to go to order that in a few minutes. So, tell us what else is going on in Scott Fybush's life. You've been to some transmitter sites lately?

Scott: I have been to some transmitter sites, the one thing I want to mention too before I forget is I've got another new project that I'm involved in now. You remember those discussion boards that used to exist at RadioInfo and then RadioDiscussions.com? They just went poof last week.

Kirk: Yeah, yeah.

Scott: Yeah, there's a replacement forum and I'm involved with that. I've been working with my friend, Lance Venta down in New Jersey and he's kind of been the technical brains behind all this. But he's got it up and running now and we are at RadioInsightcommunity.com and so there's all kinds of discussion going on over there about things radio with both professional radio people, and retired radio people, and fans of the medium, and it's a good conversation, we're hoping to grow that. So we got that going on, that's exiting, so I wanted to mention that.

Kirk: You can go to radioinsightcommunity, all that one word, RadioInsightcommunity.com, it actually leads you to RadioInsight.com/community, so you can probably get there either way. But lots of good discussions going on there including plenty for the Northeast. And speaking of the Northeast, Scott, Northeast Radio Watch, I want you to tell us what that's about again because we do have plenty of engineers in the Northeast U.S. with interest there.

Scott: We do, this is closing in on 20 years. I can't believe it's actually got the 20th anniversary coming up in February. But this is the column that for nearly two decades now has been sort of my attempt to keep tabs on everything that's happening in the world of radio programming, radio station ownership, radio engineering in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada and it appears every Monday on my website at Fybush.com. Most of it is subscription only, you can read the lead story for free every week, there's 20 years' worth of archives that are available now.

But I kind of call it the tribal drum of radio and TV in the Northeast and it's become sort of a gathering place where everybody who needs to keep tabs on what's happening, you know, instead of spending all week looking through the FCC website and reading every trade publication on Earth, you don't have time for that. So I do that, I summarize it all and it's right there in one easy to read column every Monday morning with updates as needed on the web and on Twitter and Facebook, it's everywhere.

Kirk: And that is by subscription, right? Northeast Radio Watch?

Scott: That is by subscription, you can try it out, there's a one week option for $5.99 that gets you access to everything on there for a week. You go up a top level for $75 a year, you get a free calendar thrown in too, so I think that's a pretty good deal for a little more than a dollar a week to get all that information all pumped right to you.

Kirk: Now, if you're like me and you enjoy seeing a new picture of a tower site every week or so, because you do a site of the week, right?

Scott: I do, and that's free to everybody, that goes up on Fridays at FYBUSH.COM. And that usually runs about two years behind in wherever I've been traveling.

Kirk: Oh my gosh, you don't want people to be stalking you, do you?

Scott: Well, I'm just behind, that's all. There's so much to put in there.

Kirk: You've got that much content? That much content is stored and ready to go?

Scott: No, I'm writing it every week to try to keep up with the backlog.

Kirk: Oh, you're writing it. Okay, okay.

Scott: But, you know, it started out with just, "Hey, I'm going to throw a few pictures up here." And then there were the stories to be told.

Kirk: Yeah.

Scoot: Yeah, I try now to dig in and find out as much as I can about, "Okay, when did they go to this site? Why did they move here? What frequency were they on before there?" And there are some great resources out there. A guy named David Gleason, and he really ought to get on the show as a guest, has scanned the entire run of Broadcasting Yearbooks, nearly the entire run of Broadcasting Magazine from 1933 forward until it stopped carrying about radio a few years ago. All kinds of great old stuff and he's got that all up on Americanradiohistory.com, all free for the talking, all there is PDF's you can search, and so I get caught up in that sometimes. And I'll start reading some of these histories and figuring out who got sold to whom and why this transmitter site used to be something else, you know, so I'll spend a whole day now sometimes just writing these things up which I guess is, I'm two years back on it at the moment. So I just finished chronicling a bunch of travel through Indiana and Illinois, next up on tap there's actually some New York City stuff that'll be up there in a week or so, there's some Boston stuff that's going up tomorrow, and then some of my trips from 2012 and 2013 including my big journey to North Dakota this past summer.

Kirk: All right, now. Okay, it's easy to make fun of North Dakota. What's in North Dakota that's exciting in terms of radio?

Scott: Well, tallest tower in America, baby.

Kirk: Really? What is it?

Scott: Really, 2,063 feet, KVLY-TV channel 11 outside of Fargo. It was their attempt, back in 1963 to serve both Fargo and Grand Forks which are about 65 miles apart from each other. They said, "Hey, it's big and flat. We can throw 2,000 feet of tower right in the middle in this big piece of farmland and we can reach everybody." And it also served a lot of Manitoba by the time they got done with it.

Kirk: Oh yeah, yeah. Wow, wow. So, what's kind of on your mind? I mean, what's an interesting tower site or a really interesting story that you've come across in the last few weeks or months or since the last time we talked to you? What would you like to tell us about?

Scott: I've been thinking a lot, you know, this whole topic of AM radio revitalization is very big right now. We're coming up on the comment deadline in front of the FCC for people to file comments. I'm working on comments that I'm hoping to get into them, you know, based on my travels around and talking to station owners. And what we're really seeing now is this question of, "Okay. Do you try to preserve AM radio as a medium of AM transmission on medium wave frequencies or do you focus more on trying to preserve the stations and the programming that they're offering whether you do it on AM or whether you do it as an FM translator or whether you do it as streaming?"

And the answers are very different depending on who you talk to. There is no one size fits all answer to this right now and so there are a lot of small station owners who would like nothing more than to jump right onto the FM dial with a translator, you know, serve their community of 5,000, or 10,000, or 15,000 people and never have to think about AM again. And then surprisingly in some very big markets you've got stations and groups that are still very heavily invested in AM that would like to be able to increase power, that would like to be able to reduce the amount of electrical interference out there, and keep chugging along on medium wave.

And so, you know, it's a medium that on the one hand, yeah, sure, it's 90 years old and, you know, is it going to be around for 100? Is it going to be around for 110? Maybe not, but somebody's still seeing a future out there right now for it.

Kirk: Yeah, yeah. Do you have your own thoughts about the future of AM?

Scoot: I do. You know, I'm very skeptical, I know there are some station owners who are out there saying right now, "Well, we absolutely have to be able to put more power on at night if we're a daytime or in order to survive. And we absolutely have to be able to reduce the interference protected contours of the big AMs because who needs 50,000 watts anymore?"

I'm pretty convinced that that's a mistake, and I think it reflects a misunderstanding of medium wave propagation. Those signals get out, that's what they want to do, they want to travel with even a little bit of power and we've seen what happens as you start loading up that band with more and more power, you create more interference. It would be wonderful to be able to go back and revisit a lot of what happened from the '40's on through about the 1970's when a lot of daytimers were dropped in, when a lot of very directional AM facilities were dropped in that are now taking up a lot of land and not necessarily serving the areas that they want to go to.

It would be fascinating to be able to revisit that right now and say, "Wait a minute, look 50 years forward and see if you're still going to want to be doing this 50 years out." You can't do that, of course, you're stuck with what's out there. There probably unfortunately has to be some kind of thinning of the herd whether you do that by moving some stations completely off of AM, letting them have FM translators as essentially a primary service.

And then the flip side of that of course is you're dealing with an incredibly crowded FM dial. You've got thousands of LPFM applications that the FCC is sorting through right now, you've got another translator window yet to come for AM stations to apply for translators. It is a crowded, crowded area right now, there's a lot of demand here for everybody who says broadcast radio's dying, you can't tell it by the number of people who seem to want broadcast frequencies right now.

Kirk: If you had a choice, if we went the direction of trying to make AM better on the band, you know, the way it is now but just make it better, would we be better focusing on reducing, I hate to call them extraneous, I mean, I probably own an extraneous AM station if you want to think about it that way. You know, extraneous AM stations that are causing lots of interference and have very low listenership, you know, that were shoehorned in one way or another? Or, or do you work harder on eliminating consumer based interference, like CF light bulbs, or LED's, or switch mode power supplies, all the things that make listening in my house almost impossible?

Scott: I have LED street lights just down the street from me and if I could get rid of those I would do it in a heartbeat. I've thought of going out and, you know, taking alternate measures to try to make that happen but I'm a good law abiding citizen, I'm not going to do that. It would be great to be able to go back, you know, before everybody started having all the devices and really say, "Okay, we're going to enforce these Part 15 rules."

I fear at this point that that genie is so far out of the bottle, there's so much stuff out there, I don't know how you would do it at this point. You know, think of the number of switching mode power supplies that you've got plugged into everything around the house now, the phone chargers and the, you know, the electric razor chargers, and all of that stuff. I think about the only way that you can really make anything happen at this point is going to be more on the transmission end.

I think for a lot of stations it probably means recognizing that the future is more on an FM translator than it is on AM and at that point you have to look at, "Okay, can we clear the band by getting some of these AM signals off the air as a result of that?" And the problem is every time some of them get cleared off there always seems to be some loophole in the FCC rules that somebody looks and says, "Oh, filing window. We can get a new one on there and take that space." Nothing ever seems to stay clear as long as anybody thought it would.

Remember the expanded AM band? That was going to be the savior of everything in the 1990's? And what? Three, four of those stations went off in the long run, it did nothing. Even the FCC acknowledges now to reduce interference. So that's, it's problematic, there's not an easy solution, it's going to be interesting to see as we go another decade or so forward to see how many of these stations depend more on streaming than necessarily on over the air transmission to reach more of their core audience. I'd love to be able to predict where we are ten years from now on that, I think there is still a place for one to many RF broadcast transmission at high power, I would hate to see that go away, it's just too valuable.

Kirk: If we were to take the Glynn Walden approach and blowup the AM band and just get rid of all the analogue and let it come back as digital only, that wouldn't solve the problem of, I mean, I like that idea myself. But that wouldn't solve the problem of localized interference from consumer products. You'd have to, I mean, I realize that in some ways digital can be more immune to interference, it's you're either going to get the signal or you're not going to get the signal based upon, you know, bit error rates and such as that. You have any thoughts about blowing up the band?

Scott: I think with the installed receiver base out there it's a great idea, I have a lot of respect for Glynn Walden, he just gave me a great tour of his KYW site just a few weeks ago when I was down in Philadelphia so I had a chance to see that one. I tried out, I played with that test that they did on WBT out of Charlotte, I was staying up late at night with my Sony Tuner here trying to receive it and it's still fragile.

You know, as robust as they try to make that signal, even digital only I had to really work to get a signal clean enough and even then it didn't really lock as well as I hoped that it would. You will have to have a plan I think for much better integration with the consumer electronics industry. You'd really have to be working very closely with them in the same way that the XM and Sirius people did. You know, they ended up having to spend some pretty serious money on their end to get their products in vehicles and to provide bonuses and payoffs, if you will, for places like Best Buy to push their product.

Radio's not used to doing that and I think you would have to have a much more concerted effort on the part of radio working together to push the idea of getting these receivers out there. Without the receiver base you're not going to get anywhere. And I don't see everybody in radio willing to pull together to do that. There was a time the NAB might have been behind that, they're more focused on issues like, you know, TV range transmission and spectrum repacking over on that end of things, so there comes a question of who would push it. And I don't know who would at this point.

Kirk: Wow. Chris Tobin, I'm sure you've got a thought or two on that whole AM band issue. You want to share with us?

Chris: Sure. Sure, sure, sure. Well, I would say in the early days of some of the AM stuff I did with AM stereo, both C-QUAM and the ISB Kahn system, one of the things that I remembered working with the programmers, their biggest question and complaint was, "Why are there no radio receivers that are being pushed? Why is the industry not pushing for better technology in that respect, as Scott pointed out earlier?"

At the time, Sprague Electronics was actually introducing, or trying to introduce, a blanking chip, a noise blanking chip to help mitigate some of the man-made noise that was being created on the AM band. This was back in 1987, '88 period and it actually worked really well, I got a chance to play with a couple of demo products and drive around our noisy area for a 1,000 watt AM station in AM stereo and it worked really well.

I think Scott's point is spot on, we need to look at the transmission side/receiving end and work more with that part of the equation. Glynn's point, Glynn Walden's point about blowing up the AM band, I understand where he's coming from, I get it, I do respect him greatly, I think that approach probably will not work as well as we'd like because, you know, let's face it, when you blow things up there's always some mess that doesn't come back the way you'd like it to.

And with digital, as Scott pointed out, I did listen to those tests and tried my best also to tune in and it was tough. I could give it a example, here in New York City several years ago there was a push for local emergency responders, or first responders, to change out their communication system to something more robust, at least they claim, because in many cases they would be going to an alarm, this case was the fire department, was going to a response, a call, and for whatever reason communications were not as robust as they should be, at least they thought.

And there was a big push for digital technology, digital two-way radios, that was a whole big thing and you probably read about it. Interestingly enough that technology which started coming out in the late, early '90's had its problems. One of which we all took for granted, if you're a ham operator you know what I'm going to talk about, if you're not a ham operator I'll try to explain it to you in the simplest terms. Take for instance when you're in a room with multiple audio devices and they're in the analogue domain, all of the devices are listening to the same source, say it's your favorite radio station, music or news, and all of the audio coming to your ears is in time, is in step, it's synchronized, it's doesn't sound out of place or delayed.

Now let's apply the digital technology, believe it or not you take several of those digital radios and put them in the same room and guess what you have, a slight delay between each one's processor. Now I did this with a couple of ham radios that were digitized, or a digital test, and I did it with a friend of mine who worked for a local law enforcement communications division several years ago with their new, brand new digital Motorola radios and I think GE and we put several of them in the room and started talking on the channel and every one of them was out of sync, delayed, and confusing. So picture yourself at an emergency event, several dozen people with these radios that have all this delay and all this phasing and all this chaos, what happens? It falls apart. Fast-forward to now, today, AM band, "Let's do this, let's do that."

I don't see it working. I think what we need to do is look at transmission. Does it make sense to pre-emphasize the AM signal? Not at all. Does it make sense to do some of the things we're doing to it? Not at all. We need to step back, as Scott pointed out, go back to the early days, rethink some of the stuff that we, at the time, probably couldn't implement because the technology may not have been state of the art, maybe the willingness was not there because at the time everybody was making money and who cared. Now today it's different. I still think radio, AM radio has a potential, two things have to happen. One, better programming, end of story. If you don't want to do programming, just get out. Shut the doors, close it, go home. If you want to do something then do it right.

And then the second thing is NAB needs to come back to the fold and say, "Hey, we're for broadcasters, AM, FM, TV." As we know, they're focused, as Scott pointed out, to other things and that's part of the problem. The NAB is your lobbying group. How else do things get put through congress? The lobbyists. Where's ours? AM broadcasters should be up in arms screaming, should be asking for better representation. They should go to CEA and say, "Hey, we got this new approach to do with AM radios, we need some insight, understanding."

Sirius and XM have put chips in cars, they've had to pay a dear price for it but you know what? They're in, they're there, it's happening. So, what happened? HD radio came along, that was a, you know, that's one of those things that has any opinions and very few facts. So, you know, that's where we're at, it's just a question of your willingness and if you really, you know, I don't think the technology approach and using that as an excuse is the way to go.

And overcrowded? Yeah, AM band is overcrowded. Who's fault is that? You know? Lobbyists who lobby for it, who lobby for those, you know, the FCC dockets, the 80-90's and all the others that were out there over the years. We just haven't been forceful and Scott's right, a lot of people just aren't doing anything. That's my opinion. Again, that's just an opinion, it's not based on any, you know, I'm not endorsing anything, no one's paid me, you know, this is purely my opinion.

Kirk: I always enjoy this debate about analogue versus digital and holding onto older technology versus looking at newer technology. And in the chat room, Arleigh has made a really good comment here, I like this. "Don't complain about the digital splinter in my eye when you've got an analogue in yours." We got to admit, I mean, analogue has its share of problems and we all listen with what? Rose-colored earphones, right? I've listened of course to many, many, many hours of AM radio and enjoyed so much of it and I can't listen to AM radio anymore. I'm maybe six miles from the WSM transmitter site, 50 kilowatts, and it's, it's, on the stereo upstairs it won't come in at all.

Chris: Here's something for you to chew on, so to speak. Speaking of technology, AM, being AM, FM, or VSB or any of that technologies, whether it's old or new I don't care, it doesn't matter, it's just a method of transmission. Because, you know, when you get in a plane and travel, the cockpit communication is over AM anyway.

So, you know, is it good or bad technology? Who's to speak? It's a different frequency it's being used on. Just for fun. Here's something, I travel the subways of New York City quite often, that's how most of us here in Manhattan do it, and the five boroughs of New York City. On many occasions I take my AM/FM portable radio with me into the subway and just for giggles and grins I dial along the AM band to see, or listen to, the noises of the subway.

And yes, there are many noises, I will grant you that. However, I will tell you that on several occasions and several places I have repeated, I've been able to go to the same subway station stop and repeat this. I have been able to listen to at least one 50,000 watt AM radio station. Yes, it's noise, but I could make out what they're saying. So if you had a DSP chip that sort of cleared out the noise like they do on ham radio communications and other technologies, other industries. It's possible, you could probably hear that station clearly enough to be able to listen and participate in what they're doing.

That's the old news radio station here in town. They're 12 miles away from the city, they're directional toward the city but they optimized their facility. I can tell you that the technologies, everything about the place is spot on 100 percent, that's why it works. So what if you took that same principle and applied it to all these other places that claim to have issues, as the analog in my eye or digital in my eye comment, and maybe find a way to go in that direction?

I'm listening to an AM station underground at a subway platform where trains come and go, there's plenty of noise, and yet I can hear it. That's not intentional, it's just a byproduct, as Scott pointed out, the waves just want to go out, they just want to go somewhere. If I can hear it there with a little portable radio and still make it out, what if you improved that reception device? Or maybe improved something on the transmission side as Representative [Pye] I think is trying to push through and say, "Maybe we need to rethink the techno specs of AM and maybe, you know, come up with a better way to do things." Think about it. I mean, that's the approach I would suggest is to take a look at that and see if that makes any sense.

Scott: It's a challenge, I think, I think it's a challenge of incentives. You know, there's no incentive right now. I mean, Sony could probably sell another few thousand of that wonderful little XDR-F1 tuner that they made. But for whatever reason they discontinued it and nobody seems to be able to get them to bring it back or introduce a replacement. I'd buy a couple more if I could get my hands on them.

The problem is there's no incentive for them to do that, there's no incentive if you're sitting on one of these facilities now that's doing nothing but simulcasting, that's rundown. There's no incentive for you to improve it because that costs money to put copper in the ground, there's no incentive for you to turn it off because then you've just walked away from your investment, and again there's nobody, like you said Chris, who can put together this kind of unified lobbying proposal to put together and say, "Well, you know, what if there were some sort of incentive program to get operators who aren't making money on their AM's to shut them off and allow others to grow?" There's not really a program to do that and nobody seems to have anything like that in the works.

And so right now where the incentives point is, "Yeah. just keep it chugging along. Yeah, I know it doesn't really meet its directional pattern, it probably doesn't power down at night and tower three is rusting away, but why turn it off as long as it keeps running? How do you make it stop? Nobody's found a way to do that yet.

And then on the other hand you have stations like WFAN in New York which was all set to take all of its local programming completely over to FM and put the CBS National Sports Network on 660 and discovered there were so many people listening to that 50,000 watt analogue signal on 660 and, oh by the way, the Yankees wanted to be on 50,000 watts of Clear Channel analogue AM. And so now they're basically locked into continuing to simulcast for the foreseeable future because they couldn't give up AM, it was making them too much money. That's fine but I can't see us walking away hat and going digital.

Chris: No, but that's it, the only people who, you know, are pushing or lobbying for the digital technology solutions, I'll call it, are those who invested interest in making money of it. That's really what it comes down to.

Because you pointed out right there, programming. 50,000-watt station, well known, has been around for a long time, audience is unbelievable outside the five boroughs, and the programming dictated the future of that station's direction, or the future of the station. Okay, take that same thinking, that was incentive. The incentive was New York Yankees want to be on AM. "Okay, here's what we're going to do. You want us? This is what we want, thank you very much." Negotiate.

 

So maybe there's an AM station somewhere across the country that has something or may not have something but maybe something in town could be used to negotiate to give them some incentive. Maybe syndicators, and maybe they should go to syndicators and say, "Hey, guys. You got some incubation or incubator programs that you don't know what to do with but you don't want to let go because they might turn into something?"

Maybe they should be the incentive for some stations that need something rather than simulcasting their FM or, who knows what they're doing. I mean, I work with several syndicators on a few other projects and it's interesting how difficult it is for them to get the no-name shows, you know, we all know that, onto a medium that is a one to many. I worked at a network many years ago where we had this no-name talk show guy who was the most belligerent person, if he said things, people were like, "Oh my God, he said it again, I don't believe this. What the Devil is he doing? This can't be."

But yet the programming department said, "Look, the guy's got the numbers, we're getting advertising, they love him, you know, he brings an audience to the table and it's a low cost. And it's a low cost, you know, not low cost, but it works. Let's continue, let's do this and that." That person, his name you might know it, Sean Hannity. Okay? He's one of many I've worked with and I could tell you they started out with no names. Rush Limbaugh is another one. So why not take that same thinking and say, "How do we bring that along and just be willing?"

See, the problem is no one's willing to do anything, they want a, you know, sure-fire solution. "You got 30 days, make it happen." That doesn't work this way. So I agree with Scott, the incentives is where we need to go and it's just a question of who's willing to say the first thing at a table, to go, "Okay, what about this?" But think about it, how many top program, talk show people are out there that probably, you know, would love a break on some station and be able to just do their thing. With no guarantees, you tell them upfront, "Hey look, this is how it's going to be. There's no guarantee but we're going to give you an opportunity."

And tell that station owner or operator, "We'll give you an incentive." I don't know what possible incentive you could do, you know, I'm not saying tax breaks but something, there's got to be other things. I don't operate a radio station so I don't know all the inner, you know, success stories you could ask for incentive but that's the way to go. The digital stuff I think just leave it be, just focus on, you know, getting the message out to people. Perfect example, FAN, New York Yankees. You could easily still do FM and AM but at that point it's just, it just duplicated, it doesn't serve any purpose.

Kirk: Guys, we are out of time but I want to give Scott a moment to tell us where we can see his tower site catalog and get one of our own. I'm on the website right now at Fybush.com. Scott, is that the official place to get a calendar?

Scott: That is, there's actually a store link there you can go straight to Store.Fybush.com and that'll show you the product lineup. There is this year's calendar, you can get it signed and numbered, there's a limited edition signed and numbered version available. And we still have some back stock of some older issues, the calendars themselves maybe a little out of date but, boy, the pictures, picture sure are pretty on all of them. Suitable for framing and yes, there is indeed the lovely centerfold at the back of it there. Those are available at Store.Fybush.com, you can check that out and of course you can subscribe to the website too, there or at Fybush.com.

Kirk: Cool. All right, Fybush.com and click on the tower site calendar link there. And then there's also, you have Northeast Radio Watch if you're in the Northeast or care about radio in the Northeast, good thing to subscribe to there. It's an update, is that daily or weekly updates?

Scott: That comes out every Monday and then it gets updated if there's a big story during the week, it'll get updated on the website. Otherwise there's a Facebook page at Northeast Radio Watch and a Twitter feed @NERadioWatch, you can sign up and get Tweets there. And of course now RadioInsight is breaking radio news every day on the front page and then the RadioInsight Community is talking about it on the community page.

Kirk: Okay. So both, RadioInsight and the RadioInsight Community page. We'll put links to those in the show notes. Scott, any parting words? We got to go.

Scott: You know, AM radio's coming up on 100 years old and somehow it is still working and what other technology can you say that about, right?

Kirk: That's right. Oh goodness. Maybe buggy whips, but we don't use them anymore, they would work if we did. But we still use AM radio, cool. Hey, Chris Tobin, from 4 Times Square, thanks for being with us so far up in the sky, appreciate it.

Chris: Oh, my pleasure. I thought, "Why not? Scott Fybush, transmitter talker, site calendar, why not go to one and talk from here." So, just reminder everybody, plumbing, RF plumbing, looks like this. Myat is the company that this is manufactured by, product placement behind me is Shively Labs for the combiners and the antenna on top of where I'm standing, the 300-foot tower here at 4 Times Square.

Kirk: Lots of engineering goes into that and care and it's just amazing the expertise that goes into making all that work, and when it does it works really well. And you've got, you're showing us equipment there that lasts for decades and decades and decades.

Chris: Absolutely.

Kirk: Appreciate your help, Chris Tobin.

Chris: Absolutely. And just, again I have to say thank you very much, thanks go to WBGO radio, Newark Public Radio, Newark, New Jersey. And also the Durst Organization for allowing us to, you know, pop up here and also the other broadcasters that share this space, who I know many of the engineers so I think them all for allowing us to talk about their home and what's going on. So, make sure we say thanks to all them.

Kirk: Good deal. Scott Fybush, thanks for joining us, we'll have you back again, well, sometime when you have some new stories to tell. And FYBUSH.COM would be the website to connect with you, right?

Scott: You bet, looking forward to it.

Kirk: All right, and thank you for watching This Week in Radio Tech. Next week we're back at our regular time which will be in the evening on December the 19th, we have a really interesting author who's going to be with us who writes about radio, television, and we'll tell you more about it when we get closer. You can always connect with us at ThisWeekinRadioTech.com or at GFQNetwork.com. You can always watch us at GFQLive.tv and I encourage you to check out and sample the other programs on the GFQ Network. Thanks for joining us, thanks to 25-Seven for sponsoring This Week in Radio Tech. We'll see you next week right back here. Take care, bye-bye.

Announcer: That's all the bandwidth we could pilfer this week, another TWiRT has propagated. And all the transmitters and audio equipment live 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.

He's unique, wouldn't you say? I just want to get it over with. This ends this transmission. Tango, whiskey, India, Romeo, tango, signing off, okay.

Topics: Radio