radio

Engineer's Corner
10:44 am
Tue December 16, 2014

B101 Blanking 88.1 in Downtown Providence

WWBB "B101" is the "X" like antenna in the center.
Credit Aaron Read RIPR

(Update 12/17 10:19am) B101 is back on OFP, and it's blanketing 88.1 again.  IHM engineers say they're testing a configuration and may be doing this for a half hour or so.

(Update 12/16 10:55am) Been in touch with IHM engineers; testing is done for the day and things are back to normal.  I'll be talking more with them in a little bit.

(Original Post 12/16 10:40am) On Tuesday morning (Dec.16), if you were listening to the radio in and around downtown Providence, you may have noticed B101's audio showing up across a lot of the dial, including 88.1FM.

This seems to be connected to B101's move to One Financial Center (aka the "Hospital Trust Skyscraper")

For the past few months, iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) has been executing a complicated series of modifications to three of their stations: WBWL 101.7FM in Boston, WCIB 101.9 in Falmouth, and WWBB (aka "B101") 101.5 in Providence.    Specifically, WCIB and WWBB are reducing their signals' reach to expand WBWL.

That seems counterintuitive, but it actually makes a fair amount of sense; it aligns each station's signal with its respective market much, much better.   And as part of all this, WWBB/B101 is being moved to the rooftop of 1 Financial Plaza (aka "Hospital Trust Tower"), the second tallest building in Providence and right in downtown.  

This morning at 8:30am, they fired up the new transmitter, and suddenly B101 wasn't just on 101.5 if you were listening in downtown.

Read more
Engineer's Corner
8:02 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

TheEC: "Whistling" While the (88.1FM Transmitter) Works

An Orban Optimod 8100A audio processor.
Credit Gearslutz.com

UPDATE DEC.1, 2014: our demo unit of the BW Broadcast DSPXmini-FM SE audio processor arrived today.   It's been installed on 88.1FM and initial tweaking is complete.  The sound seems markedly improved.  I'll be fiddling with it further to adjust it across different programs.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: About a week ago, your intrepid engineer made some changes to the airchain on our 88.1FM that should've, in theory, been wholly beneficial and with no potential for downside.  However, around that same time I started getting reports of an odd whistle...or just high-pitched static...that would come and go with no apparently rhyme or reason.

These reports aren't widespread, but there's been enough that I'm no longer inclined to think it's just an odd run of people happening to have poor reception.   The only commonality is that it seems to occur only when reception of 88.1 isn't very good to begin with.  Not necessarily "poor" reception at all, just not "super-solid".

Read more
RIPR News
4:18 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

RIPR's Own Dave Fallon Honored By Rhode Island Radio Hall Of Fame

Dave Fallon giving remarks after being named to the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame.
Credit John Bender / RIPR

The Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame announced its class of 2014 at a ceremony  Wednesday.

Seven people, who’ve played some part in Rhode Island radio were named to the hall of fame at an event in Smithfield. The list included anchors, hosts, an engineer, and programmers.

Among them was Rhode Island Public Radio’s own afternoon host Dave Fallon, who got his start in the Ocean State forty-six years ago, on an easy listening station.

Read more
Engineer's Corner
5:08 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

TheEC: Prison Radio

Sony SRF-39FP
Credit Museum of Everyday Objects

A recent article in the New Yorker about radio in prison piqued my interest.  Besides providing a window into a world that many of us know little or nothing about, it caught my eye that these Sony SRF-39FP ("FP" for "Federal Prison") radios are actually remarkably good receivers.  

Read more
Engineer's Corner
4:50 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

TheEC: 1290AM Heard in Norway

Longwire antenna used to successfully receive 1290AM in southwestern Norway.
Credit Arild Skalmeraas

We've talked in the past about skywave propagation, but it's cool when you heard about real-world examples of it.   Recently I've gotten several emails from "DX'ers" (Distant Reception enthusiasts) in Europe saying they've been able to hear Latino Public Radio on 1290AM all the way across the Atlantic!   

Read more
Engineer's Corner
1:43 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

TheEC: 91.5 is Back On the Air

From top to bottom, Bext LEX30 transmitter, Dayton 210 FM receiver tuned to 102.7 to get programming to feed the transmitter, and Inovonics 631 FM receiver to monitor 91.5 on the speakers above.
Credit Aaron Read

As of Tuesday November 12th, WCVY is back on the air in limited fashion.   As you know, WCVY suffered catastrophic damage to its equipment and facility from a roof leak during a thunderstorm in August.   The entire space had to be gutted to the concrete walls, and new electrical wiring and drywall installed.  Much of the transmitter gear either took direct water damage (e.g. electricity shorting out) or took indirect water damage (e.g. rust and other corrosion), and eventually a lot of it failed completely.

We have put a temporary setup in place with a donated 30 watt transmitter on loan (with the antenna array's gain factor of 2.1, it's really more like 63 watts of Effective Radiated Power), and a special radio that's tuned to 102.7FM (there's a high-gain FM antenna on the rooftop tower) and puts out the composite signal directly into the new transmitter.   This effectively makes 91.5 into a "repeater" of 102.7FM.

Read more
Engineer's Corner
2:53 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Why WCVY was Off the Air for a Few Days

Normally there'd be ceiling tiles above the black/green walls, but the rain melted them all into a foul-smelling sludge that's now splattered everywhere in the space.
Credit Aaron Read

When you’re a broadcast engineer, you get used to receiving calls at odd hours proclaiming things that tend to fall outside the bounds of “normal.”   It’s just the nature of the job.   But even your intrepid engineer can be surprised sometimes.  Friday morning, August 23rd, was one of those times. 

That morning I got a call informing me that WCVY, our 91.5FM signal for much of Kent County, was off the air.

Why was it off the air?

The roof collapsed and rain got in.  

Say what?
 

Read more