NASB  Newsletter
March 2000

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SHORTWAVE BROADCASTERS, Inc.
10400 NW 240th Street, Okeechobee, Florida 34972

Ph:  (863) 763-0281               Fax: (863) 763-1034 or 8867               E-mail:  nasbmem@rocketmail.com

Member of AIB (The Association for International Broadcasting)
Associate Member of DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale)
 

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SHORTWAVE BROADCASTERS  12th ANNUAL MEETING
 
                     FRIDAY, MAY 5, 2000
                     Crown Plaza, National Airport (formerly a Holiday Inn)
                     1489 Jefferson Davis Highway
                     [Crystal City stop on Metro]
 
 
This year's program will include an up-date on digital radio developments;  a presentation by Mike Cronk, chairman of the DRM Commercial Committee and Head of the BBC World Service Transmission Services.  He will speak on the current status and developments relating to the DRM.  There will be a  session on international shortwave audience research by Dr. Graham Mytton, former Head of Audience Research of the BBC.  We're sure you won't want to miss the presentation on these and other important subjects for shortwave broadcasters.  A detailed program schedule will appear on the NASB site soon.

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WRMI News

The Radio Miami International office has been moved to 175 Fountainbleau Boulevard, Miami, Florida  33152.  The mailing address remains the same as before:  P.O. Box 526852, Miami, Florida  33152.  New telephone numbers are:
Telephone:  305-559-9764  Fax:  305-559-8186

The transmitter site did not change---it is located on the outskirts of the northwest side of Miami.  Almost all of our programming is broadcast from the transmitter site, where we have our master audio control and a series of satellite dishes and telephone lines to take program feeds from around the world.  Programmers send their program tapes to our address on Fountainbleau Boulevard, and we have a courier service which takes the tapes out to our transmitter site each day Monday-Friday.  Several local organizations record programs in our studio on Fountainbleau Boulevard for later broadcast, and we sometimes do live transmissions, such as "Viva Miami", from this studio also.
 
1999 Correspondence Analysis

An analysis of WRMI listener letters received during 1999 reveals some interesting statistics.  The largest percentage (39%) came from Latin America and the Caribbean, and the second-largest (29%) was from the United States and Canada.  We expect the North American percentage to rise somewhat with the addition of our new antenna directed to that region.  Europeans produced 23% of the correspondence, which is interesting since we don't really target that continent.  Six percent of the letters came from Asia and the Pacific, and the remaining 3% were from Africa.
 
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Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM)
John Wheatley
 
You have probably heard a lot about digital TV and its great advantages spelled out in lots of sales jargon! In the UK a Gallup survey revealed that almost half the British public intends to subscribe to digital TV in the next 3 years. Yet half of those did not know the difference between digital and analogue! "We don't know what it is, but we want it anyway!" Well, digital radio is also on its way, and it will have many advantages. But how many know what is different about it? And how soon will it be here?

Digital Radio Mondiale is an international consortium of radio stations and manufacturers of transmitters and radio sets. It was set up in 1998 to introduce a single world-wide digital-AM standard, and last year NASB became an Associate Member. Since we first introduced you to DRM in this Newsletter, what new developments have taken place?

DRM has grown from the 20 founding members to 46, and an enormous amount of work has been put into design of the system.  Extensive on-air tests were carried out in November/December by 8 major broadcasting organisations, checking the effects of varying propagation conditions on the digital system, and also gaining digital experience with several types of transmitters.  The official submission of the technical specifications were made to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Geneva in late December. In mid-1999 the ITU agreed to open the scene to any other competing organisations that wanted to submit systems for equal consideration. The deadline for such submissions is 15th January 2000. A US group, USADR has also submitted a system, but they have no SW operations or experience.

The ITU also created a task group to evaluate all such systems in a meeting in Geneva late-January, and to make a firm recommendation for adoption to the main body of the ITU meeting in May 2000.

The Pros and Cons of Digital AM Transmission

This technology will revolutionise the quality received by our listeners (both short-wave and medium-wave) as well as make new features available, while radically reducing the power required for broadcasting.

However, you probably already know that it comes with a price—listeners will need a new radio to take advantage of the dramatic improvement in quality.

It is essential that we are ready to move with the rest of the radio industry so we have already been involved in a number of the DRM meetings. An example of an issue that will be crucial to NASB members is, "Will the system chosen allow simulcasting?" (i.e. transmitting both analogue and digital modes at the same time during the transition period). We have done some serious lobbying because the state broadcasters have plenty of transmitters and they see no problem with employing two transmitters for the same broadcast.

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Las Vegas April 8th – DRM Symposium (quote from DRM December Newsletter)

With the objective of sharing aspects of the DRM digital standard submitted for approval to the ITU this December 1999, DRM has planned to invite interested parties (i.e. Industry, Broad-casters, Regulatory Bodies, ITU, Receiver Manufacturers) to attend a DRM symposium that will be held in Las Vegas on the opening day of the NAB convention.
 
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Note: The DRM publication "Bytes & Pieces" can be accessed through the following URL: www.drm.org/drm_globpressreleas.htm

Below are the topics covered in the current issue (#3, December 1999)
 

1. The DRM specification goes to the ITU

2. DRM at International Exhibitions

3. DRM papers delivered

4. April 8, 2000 Las Vegas DRM workshop

5. Test transmissions

6. Roll Out workshop

7. New brochure

8. Web site new pages

9. New Membership scheme

10 DRM New Members

11.   From the Project Office

12.   Calendar of events 2000

Press Release:

USA Digital Radio and Digital Radio Mondiale to Collaborate on a Worldwide Standard for Digital AM Radio

Columbia, Md./Geneva, Switzerland,  24 January 2000: USA Digital Radio, Inc., a privately-held technology company owned by the largest radio broadcasters in the United States, and Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), a global consortium from the broadcasting industry, today announced plans to work together in developing and promoting a worldwide standard for digital AM broadcasting.

Digital radio gives consumers a far superior sound quality – and a crystal clear reception – when they tune into their favorite radio stations. It can also deliver a range of new data services on a radio screen from identifying song titles and artists to scrolling local traffic, weather and news.

'Our aim,' says Peter Senger, chairman of DRM, 'is to ensure that a receiver bought anywhere in the world will work anywhere in the world. Just as important, is ensuring that the transition from analog to digital is as smooth and as low-cost as possible both for the industry and the billions of listeners around the globe.  We warmly welcome the opportunity of working with USA Digital Radio. Developing a digital standard for the market worldwide has always been DRM's primary objective.'

'Our successful testing demonstrates the viability and superiority of our iDAB system,' said Robert J. Struble, president and chief executive officer, USA Digital Radio.  'We are prepared to take the next steps toward global implementation and look forward to working with DRM in developing a universal digital radio standard.'

Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) is a digital method of transmitting virtual CD-quality audio signals to radio receivers. iDAB is a broadcasting technology developed by USA Digital Radio that uses the current radio spectrum to transmit existing AM and FM analog simultaneously with new high-quality digital signals. This technology provides a unique opportunity for broadcasters and listeners to convert from analog to digital radio without service disruption while maintaining current dial positions of existing stations. Listeners who purchase digital radios would receive their favorite radio stations with superior sound quality free from static, hiss and noise, and with reduced interference. Additionally, listeners would have the capability to receive expanded auxiliary data services, such as station and program content, stock and news information, local traffic and weather, email and Internet access and much more.
 

About Digital Radio Mondiale

Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) is an international consortium of broadcast industry organizations, which have come together to develop a standard for digital broadcasting in the AM bands below 30 MHz. DRM's aim is to bring affordable, digital quality sound and services to the world radio market.

The DRM consortium was formally established in March '98 and members include leading broadcasters, network operators, transmitter and receiver manufacturers, research bodies and regulatory groups, from all corners of the globe. Membership continues to grow rapidly, as more organizations see the benefit of high-quality, wide area coverage at low cost.

DRM has worked hard to ensure that the more modern transmitters can be adapted to carry the DRM standard, so further reducing the cost of implementing the new digital technology.

DRM has lodged its proposal for a digital standard with the International Telecommunication Union and aims to start broadcasting late next year, with receivers entering the marketplace at about the same time.
 
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A summary of the content of several of the 1999 NASB Annual Meeting presentations follows.  The other presentations were summarized in earlier Newsletters and can be seen at the NASB website.

                             ---
Automation Systems for  HF  Broadcasters
Fred Riley, Continental Electronics
 

He stated that totally-unattended, automated operation of  HF  transmitters is not possible.

Automation can serve to relieve the operators in the area of routine operations.  The best systems of automation are a combination of what you would like, and what reality dictates.  They have found that the best approach for automation of a multi-transmitter site is to use individual sub-systems and have the sub-systems under the control of a master computer or an overall system control.  Using a single computer in such a situation puts a difficult burden on the processor and the program.  It will be trying to do too many things at one time.  This also makes it difficult to interface with the operator because it is completely tied up in its operations and doesn't have slack time for "interruptions".

The starting point for any automation system for a  HF broadcaster is looking at sub-systems for each transmitter, for antenna control, for audio control, etcetera.  Else many lines of code will be involved with nothing but trying to avoid collisions  between operations with the transmitters, operations in antenna switching, and with operations in the audio system.  Particularly at busy times, such as near the top of the hour, it will be very difficult to communicate with a one-computer system.  The code for such a system is much more expensive to develop because of the necessity to avoid conflicts between systems.  Changes made to totally integrated systems tend to have unforeseen effects in other parts of the automated operation.  As Fred said, "The Law of Unintended Consequences is applicable to any computer system, particularly when you try to do too much with one device".  He recommended for transmitter sub-systems that you not try to do everything.  Concentrate on the essentials---the major meters and status symbols, the frequency that the transmitter is on, and safety and security issues.  He mentioned water and air temperatures as useful indicators of normal operation.

Automation developers should work closely with the end users to get the most useful system.  Limit the amount of information that you display on any given screen else the operators will be bogged down in the details.

Use a master program to properly sequence all the sub-systems.  Using a master clock distributed to all computers gets around the synchronization of timing issues, but gives you just one more thing to go wrong.

One significant benefit of automation of a complex system is a significant reduction of operational errors.

For some functions, pre-determined malfunction handling can be implemented via automation (e.g. alternate audio feed should the proper one be missing).

Keep in mind that  HF  broadcasting poses requirements on an automated system that may not be addressed by standard  AM/FM  automation systems.  The person putting the automation system together must understand  HF broadcasting and the particular situation of the user.

In summary:

Utilize sub-systems for each area;  use a supervising computer to do the coordination---don't give time control to the individual devices;  limit the access---especially beware of any connection to the Internet;  "Dance with them that brought you"---talk first to the manufacturers of your equipment.  In cases of a high  RF  environment, it may be better to use relays for logic and control rather than solid state devices.

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Association for International Broadcasting
Jeff White

The Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) was recently formed by several ex-employees of the BBC.  The purpose of AIB is to promote international broadcasting on shortwave and other media.  The group seeks to accomplish this with activities such as attending international telecommunications conferences, publishing station broadcast schedules, and publishing a newsletter with developments relating to international broadcasting around the world.  Other AIB activities include representing international broadcasting to domestic media as a press resource, acting as an information exchange between stations, publicizing international broadcasting, lobbying for stations in times of crisis (financial, political, etc.) and operation of an Internet web site (www.aibcast.demon.co.uk).

The NASB recently joined AIB.  Other members include Adventist World Radio, British Satellite News, Channel Africa, Dalet Digital Media Systems, George Jacobs & Associates, Lextronix, NPR Worldwide, Radio Canada International, Radio Free Asia, Radio Miami International, Radio New Zealand International, Radio Polonia, Radio Prague, Radio Romania International, Radio Sweden, Radio Taipei International, Radio Vlaanderen Internationaal, Transmitter Documentation Project, United Christian Broadcasters, and World Radio Network.
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More News From the Association for International Broadcasting

TELECOM 99
There is a full report in "The Channel" on the AIB's participation at
this huge event last autumn. It was most encouraging to find that the
AIB is becoming accepted as representing the international broadcasting
community. Many companies approached us, to find out more about our
organisation, and enquiring about advertising their wares in "The
Channel".

CIBAR CONFERENCE
The AIB was represented at this gathering of international broadcast
audience research experts in Geneva, and many useful contacts were made,
especially with potential new members. CIBAR took a big step towards
becoming an organised entity rather than an informal gathering. Report
in "The Channel".

LOOKING AHEAD

CHALLENGES
This bi-annual conference is staged by Radio Canada International. It
takes place May 21-24 in Montreal. We hope that both Simon Spanswick and
Tom Walters will be there, as well as representatives of AIB members and
prospective members. This is a very important event at which significant
issues for the future of all of us will be discussed. We hope to meet a
lot of you there.

EXECUTIVE COUNCIL
An organisation such as the AIB must reflect the interests of its
members, and be as closely as possible in touch with real-world
developments and trends. In addition, members of an Association such as
ours are entitled to an organisation with a clearly-defined structure,
and clear paths of accountability.

The Directors therefore propose to invite a number of leading figures
from the industry to form the first Executive Council of the AIB.
Council members will serve two years in office, with elections at the
AIB General Assembly, to be held every other year. The first Council
will decide on formats for the future shape and role of the Association.

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Audience Research For Shortwave
Graham Mytton, former head of Audience Research of the BBC

No matter how advanced a technology you use to transmit your programs, it serves no purpose if no one is listening.  Audience research concerns itself with what listeners are really doing.  Who is actually listening?  Where are they?  What do they listen to?  How successful is one broadcaster as compared to other broadcasters?

The results of this research are available and can be purchased.

Audience research attempts to track with changes in the market.  (Change in technology, change in regulation, and change in consumer behavior).  One international trend in recent years is the emergence of many non-state broadcasters.  Mostly, it is Islamic countries and other totalitarian governments that resist liberalization of broadcasting within a country.

Research shows that it is only in areas that there are very few independent domestic radio stations to choose from that you get lots of listeners to  HF broadcasters.  As soon as a country de-regulates and boosts the number of stations the people can listen to, that's when the shortwave audience reduces to a much lower level.

A study done about two years ago in Kano, Nigeria shows the effects of monopolistic state broadcasting.  At that time, Kano had  FM stations and TV, but all state-run.  Eighty percent of the adult population of Kano listened to a foreign broadcast via shortwave radio at least once a week.

People will go through the trouble of listening to shortwave, even when reception is difficult, if it provides something that they otherwise cannot get.
 
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Digital Audio Systems for Program Automation
Ken Tankel Dalet

This presentation made extensive use of the projected display from a lap-top computer.  Being very visually based, it is difficult to make a useful written summary.  This report should not be considered  to represent the scope of the material that was presented.

Several of the broadcasters present were in the process of implementing Dalet systems.

Dalet Digital Media Systems is a world-wide company.  Started in 1990, they have focused on broadcasters' needs.  They use the industry standard  NT  Operating System.  The look of the Dalet file system is very similar to the Windows system.

The modular approach of the Dalet system lends itself to convenience of expansion.  This system provides a unified approach for handling the various aspects of production, storage, and playback using digital techniques.  It supports fully or partially automated operation of the audio part of a broadcast chain.

All of the audio in a Dalet network is stored on a central file server (or multiple servers).  Any audio file can be edited while it is still recording.  All the audio files are available to any station on the Dalet system network for use or editing.

It provides for non-destructive editing, making it convenient to recover from editing errors.  The system supports the use of the Internet for program delivery to the various sites that need the program and is able to provide directly for ongoing, streaming updates to a website, even as a broadcast is being done.

Audio files can be moved to other locations using drag-and-drop techniques.

Tankel gave many examples of the capabilities of the Dalet system using the projected output of his lap-top computer.

The Dalet system supports MPEG-2 compression at variable rates.  The system supports multiple audio inputs and a given system can support multiple radio stations.

The Dalet system provides a user-friendly way of putting together a schedule for automated playback or modifying an existing schedule.

The system can set up record schedules as well as playback schedules.  For offset playback, the system can begin playing a feed-back while the file is still recording;  e.g.  to delay playback by 1 minute or 10 minutes.

A  GPS  option can be used to time-sync the entire system.

Cuts can be stretched or shortened by a chosen percentage to more properly fit a given time slot.

Any option installed anywhere in the system can be used by any station anywhere in the system depending on the access allocated to a given station.

Comment was made from the floor that the Dalet system learning curve is fairly quick and the training is good---it's not a difficult system to learn.

Many redundancies and protection options are available.

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NASB Members:

Adventist World Radio
Family Radio Network
Far East Broadcasting Co.
Herald Broadcasting Syndicate
High Adventure Ministries
LeSea Broadcasting Corp.
Radio Miami International
TransWorld Radio
World Christian Broadcasting
WorldWide Catholic Radio
 

NASB Associate Members:

Antenna Products
Continental Electronics Corp.
George Jacobs & Associates
HCJB World Radio
IBB
Technology for Communication Int'l.
THOMCAST, Inc.
 
 
 
 

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