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Tom Vernon

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

Recent Posts

Saving Sounds from the Dumpster

By Tom Vernon on Mar 2, 2017 12:00:00 PM

As the Twentieth Century is rapidly receding in the rear-view mirror, historians, archivists and collectors furiously gather artifacts and documents before they all disappear. Forgotten by many, but not all, are the soundscapes of the past; both technological and natural in origin.

If you've worked in radio long enough, you already know something about changing soundscapes. The clattering of a teletype machine in the newsroom, the sound of records and reel tapes being cued and the once per second chunk-chunk-chunk of the Western Union master clock as it counts down the time remaining till the next hourly newscast, are all gone but not forgotten.

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Topics: Broadcast History, audio

Axia Sets the Tone for UK College Station

By Tom Vernon on Jan 25, 2017 1:55:00 PM

For Tone Radio, the student-run radio station at the University of Glousterchire in the UK, the time for a change was long overdue. They started out in 2006 with a limited FM signal that covered the campus. In 2008, Tone began streaming online. Jack Higgins, Audio and Music Technician at the university, explains the decision point.

“We started out with mostly analog gear. Over the years, our broadcast consoles had completely broken down, and were replaced with live music soundboards which were difficult for some of our volunteers to use.” Higgins and the students worked with Richard Lawley of Radio Studio Services Ltd., who helped in the procurement and design for new studios and equipment. The three studios were equipped with QOR.32 integrated console engines and Axia iQ AoIP mixing consoles, with the one in the control room having a 6-channel extender board.

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Topics: Axia Audio, college radio, ip consoles

The Support Team with the Most, from Here to the Coast

By Tom Vernon on Jan 11, 2017 9:06:00 AM

When you purchase a piece of equipment from The Telos Alliance, you're not just getting great gear. You're really getting the Telos Experience. From first contact with the sales staff, who can match your requirements with our equipment, through installation help from our 24/7 technical support team, as well as ongoing assistance with troubleshooting and software upgrades, we're there for you.

But wait, there's more. Sometimes our customers imagine applications that have never been done before, occasionally by combining Telos and non-Telos equipment. Don't be shy about asking for help, the tech support folks love a good challenge. Just ask Rich Parker.

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Topics: Axia Audio, Telos Alliance 24/7 Support

Found in the Attic: Heathkit GR-81 Economy Short Wave Radio

By Tom Vernon on Jan 9, 2017 10:00:00 AM

An ancient Chinese proverb says, “The longest journey begins with the first step.” And so it is with building Heathkits. Over the years, I've assembled countless Heathkit projects, most for personal use, some for the electronics workbench at college media centers and radio stations, and a few as gifts. But you never forget your very first one. When I made my most recent trip to the attic, I came down with numero uno, my first electronics kit, a Heath GR-81 economy short wave radio. This three-tube, four-band receiver covered 140 Khz to 18 Mhz. The GR-81 had a long production run, from 1961-1972. List price in the 1967 catalog was $23.50. The estimated time for completion was about six hours.

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Topics: Vintage Radio Technology, Vintage Electronics

Found in the Attic: Western Electric gear, or... Dumpster Diving at Ma Bell

By Tom Vernon on Dec 21, 2016 9:49:00 AM

As an electronics geek coming of age in the 1970s, my need for components and other gear often outstripped my meager budget. Between construction projects in Popular Electronics and restoration of surplus grab gear, the revenue from the allowance and part-time job wasn't enough.

Fortunately, help was at hand. With the rapid obsolescence of equipment and a thriving economy, it was often simpler for both consumers and companies to replace than repair. Picking up discarded TVs and stereos during the town's annual spring cleanup yielded a wealth of components. Occasionally, colleges got overwhelmed with components from surplus grabs and would pass some along to deserving high school students.

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Topics: Vintage Electronics

Telos Tackles the Last Frontier

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

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

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

Keeping it Simple with SNMP

By Tom Vernon on Dec 7, 2016 1:00:00 PM

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

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

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Topics: Axia Audio, SNMP

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

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

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

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Topics: Vintage Electronics

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

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

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

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

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Topics: Vintage Technology

Omnia.7AM is the Answer for WHK

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

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

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


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