Tag Archives: Issue 114

EAS Updates – Nationwide Test, Filing Deadline for Revised Form 1, and New Rules for Use of EAS Tones and Reporting of False Alerts

David Oxenford - Color
David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP

The last month has been one where there has been lots of activity dealing with EAS. The FCC announced that it will be conducting a Nationwide EAS Test on September 20, 2018. The FCC has been conducting these Nationwide tests routinely over the last few years (see, for instance, our articles here and here on past tests). This test will include wireless carriers as well as broadcasters. To be prepared for this test, the FCC reminded EAS participants to file their updated ETRS Form One by August 27 (see our article here), and to be prepared to file the post-test Forms Two (filed on the day of the test) and Three (due by November 5) to report on the results of the test at their stations.

At its July meeting (as we briefly noted here), the FCC adopted an Order making some changes to the EAS rules, as well as asking further questions in an included Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The changes included:

  • New rules allowing “live code testing” – using actual EAS alert tones in practice alerts, but only after providing lots of publicity that the tones are being used only as part of a test.
  • Allowing the use of the EAS attention signal in PSAs and other informational announcements from FEMA and other public interest organizations – but only where simulated tones developed by FEMA are used, as these simulated tones will not trigger other station’s EAS alerts, and only where the tones used are specifically identified as not being a real notice of an emergency.
  • Use of the alert tones like this have been approved in the past by the FCC, but only by use of a waiver process. The FCC actions allow for more testing and more public information without having to request FCC approval for each such use.

The FCC also adopted a requirement for stations to notify the FCC when they broadcast a false EAS alert – requiring that notification be provided within 24 hours of becoming aware of such a broadcast. Right now, only a simple email to the FCC Ops Center will be required, but the Further Notice asks whether a more detailed reporting system should be created, allowing for the reporting of false alerts not just by the EAS participants, but also by the public and other interested organizations.

The order also adopted certain technical validation requirements for EAS systems, requiring new codes in the EAS test messages limiting the period in which those messages are valid, to avoid having outdated emergency messages popping up on stations after the emergency is over. Other technical changes dealing with the authentication of EAS alerts are postponed while the industry works out appropriate protocols for that authentication.

Watch for the effective dates of the requirements to notify the FCC of false EAS tests, and look for updates to your EAS receivers to include the new validation limiter (to become effective within a year). And be sure to file the required ETRS Form One by the August 27 deadline, and be ready for this year’s national test of the EAS system.

David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).

There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your MAB membership.

WHTC Celebrates 70 Years!

Midwest Communication’s WHTC-AM (Holland) celebrated its 70th year on the air July 31,
with a morning full of special programming filled with memories.  The event attracted listeners and staff past and present, including Michigan Representative Fred Upton  (R-MI 6th District).

General Manager Kevin Oswald presided over a ribbon cutting and building dedication honoring long-time host, Juke Van Oss, who died on March 7, 2016. Oswald, noting that the sign marking Mr. Van Oss’ parking spot had been kept in place until this week. Few, if any visitors parked there, and station employees refused to use the space out of respect for Mr. Van Oss’ memory.

“Yesterday that sign was removed and relaced with a vistor parking sign but it’s also been replaced with a much nicer, permanent sign,” Oswald said, having station employees Patty Vandenberg and Margie Boerman unveil a sign near the front door, welcoming visitors to the Juke Van Oss Building, surprising Van Oss’ family members.

WHTC Talk of the Town host Ed Ver Schure recalled his first appearace on the station, on Miss Jean’s Story Hour, when he was just 5 years old.

“I cried the whole time,” he said, smiling at the recollection. “I got kicked out of the studio.”

(L-R) WHTC General Manager Kevin Oswald and Rep. Fred Upton.



WWTV/WWUP-TV Chief Engineer Lowell Shore Retires After 58 Years

Lowell Shore

After nearly six decades, WWTV/WWUP-TV (Cadillac) Chief Engineer Lowell Shore has retired.

Shore, known to broadcasters all over the state and especially in Northern Michigan has been at it since August of 1960.  Lowell started at the station as a junior engineer six years after the WWTV tower was built in 1954.

“Engineers did a lot more than they do now. Lots of tubes, we were always checking tubes in our spare time to keep things up and it was a long time before we had anything in here that had transistors, years. I went from that to chips and servers,” explained Shore to 9and10 News..

Just over a year into his job, there was a fire. “The original building caught fire and burned more than you think a cement building would burn, and we were left here with a TV station with not a lot to work with. RCA sent a moving van with everything we needed and we were back on the air in two weeks. That was quite a feat,” Shore said.

He became chief engineer in 1976.

“I enjoyed working here and there was never any reason to leave. I was doing work that I enjoyed,” explained Lowell.

“Fifty eight years all together, which is a long career, and the company has always been good to work for. I woke up in the morning and I was eager to get to work, but it’s time for retirement now, other plans,” said Shore.

Kevin Dunaway, Vice President/General Manager of the stations told the MAB that a search is underway for Shore’s replacement, but “It’s not an easy job to fill.”

See a video tribute to Lowell Shore on the station’s website here.

Tactics that Increase Ratings. Yes, These do Work!

Gary Berkowitz

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

As we approach the fall book, here are 10 “easy to implement” tips that will make a difference in the way you sound, and the outcome of the book.

You may read these and think “we already do these” but please take a closer look. Many “basics” often get overlooked or forgotten.

Keep the music familiar and focused. Be careful and choosy with new music. Check the log carefully daily for balance and flow. Avoid clumping of any same sounds. Keep the tempo “even.”

Sell the music position and the benefits of listening to the station. Music is the #1 reason people listen to the radio. Sell your music quantity and quality benefits. Specific music quantity benefits work much better than generic. Example: “Continuous Half Hours” are better than “Long Sets.”

Own at work listening. Winning 8 a.m. -4 p.m. (real at work hours) is the key to 25-54 ratings success. Make sure you are using your morning show to promote the stations at work benefits. Stop talking about at work by 4 p.m. After all, who wants to be reminded of work late in the day?

Morning fun. Keep the morning show bright, up and most important, loaded with interesting, fun and compelling material. Remember, there is a difference between “fun” and “funny.” If your morning show is music based, play at least nine songs an hour in AMD.

Branding. Attach your calls to all services and features. Make sure it is not “Your traffic” versus “WXXX Traffic” Sell your positioning statement and key benefits. Always, when going back to music from spots. Always, on the end of weather when going back to music. Nielsen reports that over 85% of diary keepers record listening by exact frequency. Avoid “phantom cume.” Calls and frequency can never be said enough.

Use as much “Appointment” promotion as possible. Creating more occasions of listening is the #1 way to increase time spent listening. Make sure each morning show promo has a specific reason and time for tune-in. Same applies to contesting. Let them know when you will be playing your contest.

Keep listener testimonials fresh. Listener testimonials are strong weapons to credibly promote the key station benefits. Make sure all testimonials talk about a specific thing such as morning show, most music, best music etc. Stay away from “stroke” testimonials such as “we love you.” Live testimonials versus phone type’s sound and work best.

Watch the talk. Keep the personality but also keep a lid on extra, non-essential talk. It is amazing how much unnecessary talk happens on radio stations.

Sell “More Music Weekends.” Many stations have a much more music intense sound on the weekend due to lower commercial loads and less services. Take advantage of this and promote as a benefit. “Weekends always mean more music” or “It’s a More Music Weekend.”

Production elements. Make sure all liners and sweepers clearly promote the strategy. If it’s more music, focus on it and sell it hard. Work in some jingle cuts you have not used in awhile. Look at prior packages that have not been used recently. If re-writing liners/sweepers be careful not to lose the basic point.

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. www.garyberk.com

Hackers set off Sirens in Genesee County

Genesee County 911 Board Director Mark Emmendorfer has told WEYI-TV (Flint) that the county has been having problems with their emergency warning sirens being set off–and that they are now searching for the culprit or culprits behind the incidents.

The warning sirens in Genesee County have been activated a handful of times over the span of a month and a half, including Tuesday night (7/31), but there was no imminent weather or safety threat at the time.

After the sirens would be turned off, they would somehow be reactivated again. Genesee County 911 contacted West Shore Services, the company that made Genesee County’s warning sirens to investigate.  Engineers and the 911 board are 90% certain that the sirens were deliberately being set off by hackers.  Its reported at the FBI and the FCC is involved in the investigation.

Appeals Court Upholds FCC’s UHF Discount

A three-judge panel of the federal court of appeals in Washington dismissed a challenge to the FCC vote last fall to restore the UHF discount. As a result, the UHF discount remains in place while the FCC continues its review of the national cap. The court did not set a deadline for the FCC’s cap review. The National Association of Broadcasters was an intervenor in the litigation supporting the FCC.

In its decision, the Court did not reach the merits of the FCC’s reinstatement order, but instead dismissed the appeal because the public advocacy groups had not established “standing.” That is, they did not show, as required, that at least one of their members stood to be injured as a result of the FCC’s order. Therefore, the UHF discount will remain in effect until such time as the FCC decides to eliminate or alter it.


House Passes Bill to Raise Pirate Radio Fines

The House of Representatives has unanimously passed the “PIRATE” Act (H.R. 5709) – legislation introduced by Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) to combat illegal radio operations.

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Increase fines for illegal pirate radio operation as much as $2 million for ignoring warnings to shut down a pirate station as a means for greater to deterrence and to ensure greater attention to the issue from federal law enforcement;
  • Require enforcement sweeps in radio markets with the highest concentration of illegal pirate operations;
  • Create liability for those who “knowingly” facilitate pirate operators, including property owners and businesses providing ‘physical goods or services’ to the unlicensed station; and
  • Expedite the process for shutting down an illegal station.

Court Rules to Uphold Straight-Ticket Voting Stays

A federal court struck down this week a 2015 Michigan law removing the straight-ticket voting option from the ballot. This means that Michigan voters will continue to have the option to select a party’s slate of candidates by making a single selection on their ballot.

U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain ruled that Public Act 268 of 2015 would impose “disparate impact” on African-Americans, who use the straight-ticket option far more than other demographics, leading to “drastically longer lines” at the polls. The judge held that the law violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

Beasley Media Group Detroit’s Mac Edwards Radio Ink Finalist

Mac Edwards

Beasley Media Group has announced that eight of its managers and sales executives have been named among the finalists for the 2018 Radio Wayne Awards, presented by Radio Ink magazine.  Included in this list of eight is Mac Edwards, Beasley Detroit VP/Market Manager.

Edwards is a finalist in the Market or General Manager of the Year Category.  Edwards is the only finalist from Michigan.

The awards will be presented at this year’s Radio Show Advertiser Breakfast in Orlando on September 27. Named for Wayne Cornils, who championed excellence and integrity in the radio industry, the awards recognize the best in radio sales and management.

“The talent and dedication represented by these Radio Wayne finalists are qualities in which the radio industry can take great pride. Every one of them demonstrates professional excellence and deserves our admiration and respect for making radio an important product mover that touches the lives and livelihoods of communities and businesses across the country,” said Deborah Parenti, Publisher of Radio Ink in making the announcement.

Read the Beasley press release here.  For a full list of Radio Wayne finalists, click here.

WKAR’s Susi Elkins, Gary Blievernicht Talk ATSC 3.0

By: Russ White, MSU Today

Michigan State University and WKAR-TV (East Lansing) have received a license from the Federal Communications Commission to launch an experimental next generation TV broadcasting station to focus on digital advancement and internet based connectivity.

Listen to Russ White’s interview with WKAR Public Media’s Susi Elkins and Gary Blievernicht:

Based on a new set of digital TV standards called ATSC 3.0, Next Gen TV adds internet-style information and interactivity, plus advanced technologies, such as 4K ultra high-definition video and multichannel, immersive audio, to over-the-air television broadcasts.

“Well, ATSC 3.0 is an exciting new way to broadcast that allows for a much more connected, interactive experience for the user,” says Susi Elkins, director of broadcasting for MSU and general manager of WKAR Public Media. “And there are other benefits that relate to revenue generation, a prettier picture, and more audio options. We’re interested in the education component and the public service component. So I think there will be a lot of broadcasters who are interested in how to generate revenue and how to serve the general public. And public broadcasters like WKAR are interested in how to utilize it for education and public service purposes.”

“ATSC 3.0 enhances the ability to transmit multiple things at the same time,” adds Gary Blievernicht, WKAR’s manager of technical services. “You can do data, you can do video, and you can do additional audio channels all at once. So it’s much more robust. The signal will be much stronger and much easier to decode once we’ve made this transition.”

So what’s ATSC 3.0 for viewers?

“I think what’s exciting for viewers is the ability for increased mobility,” says Elkins. “People will be able to watch live television on their phones, or pads, wherever they are. We’ll see how that really plays out, but we know that there will be increased mobility, for sure. And also, it’s just a much better viewing experience, and the audio experience is robust, too, with so many more channels and options. The most unique part about the standard may be its hybrid nature. So it’s a hybrid of broadcasting and IP delivery. And so when you think about integrating what you use the internet for and your broadcast experience and put that together, you can imagine what the possibilities are. And well, we’re trying to imagine that right now.

“So there are a lot of ways that I think this will benefit viewers and users. But it’s really up to us to try to figure out what those are, and offer opportunities, and then the consumers will decide what they like and what they really want to use.”

MSU will open the Next Gen Media Innovation Lab, a new research facility within WKAR, and the College of Communication Arts and Sciences on the MSU campus. The lab will have an emphasis on outcomes related to education, and public media content.

“One of the things we need to do as broadcasters is to figure out how to utilize this new standard and all the benefits that it could potentially bring,” Elkins says. “In the lab we’ll study what the standard can offer so we can create applications. Our interest in particular is in early childhood education. There are some stations interested in warning systems and alert systems. We’ve talked about automated vehicles and agricultural applications. We’re here at Michigan State University where there are all kinds of researchers who are interested in how they could use this hybrid application, or this ability, to benefit their life’s work. So we’re creating a space where researchers and broadcasters from around the country who have ideas on how they would like to serve their local communities have a place where they can come and research and test ideas.”

WKAR is the first public broadcasting station in the United States to receive FCC authorization to begin experimental ATSC 3.0 broadcasts.

“Well, when we first started hearing about the possibilities of ATSC 3, MSU was really interested because they saw benefits for research, business and public service. And thinking about our land grant mission, it just made a lot of sense for us to learn a little bit more about it,” says Elkins. “And MSU has been interested from the start in terms of building research relationships around ATSC 3.0. And so we’ll see potentially how to use the data, how to use the applications. And it is quite an honor to have been granted the experimental license, we’re the first public broadcaster to get it. A lot of people across the country are intrigued by what we will study in the lab, and that’s why we want to have it open. We want people to be able to apply to come and do testing on ideas that they have. And I think that’s really what MSU does best, and WKAR is perfectly positioned through the work that Gary and his engineers have done to build out the transmitter site. All of the stars aligned to allow us to be ready to build it at our site and apply for the license. Now that it’s been granted we have a lot of work to do in the next few months.”

WKAR expects to begin ATSC 3.0 experimental broadcasting in September. WKAR’s experimental ATSC 3.0 station will broadcast in mid-Michigan on digital frequency 35, with a broadcast reach of approximately 40 miles. Consumer products that can receive ATSC 3.0 signals are not expected to be widely available in the U.S. before 2020.

“I believe this new technology could really have a very strong impact, particularly in the world of education,” adds Elkins. “Right now you can use a second screen and you can somewhat interact with what you see on your television, or certainly you can interact if you’re streaming. But imagine putting that all together in a really robust way that doesn’t go down when a cell tower goes down. There’s just so much possibility with the robustness of the actual transmitter site and using the broadcast piece of it. So as technology changes and people increasingly expect mobility, I think that it will be really exciting for all of us. Those who are creating content and trying to meet the needs of the users, and then also just the people who are looking for a new, unique, very tailored experience can benefit from this. I think that’s what this can bring is even more localization, more experiences. I think stations will be able to super serve their communities because we can localize even more than we ever have. And public broadcasters have been great at localization since day one. But this really potentially could increase that tenfold.”

Reprinted by permission.