Engineer's Corner

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

Have YOU experienced blanketing interference to 88.1? (see below)  Please take a minute to complete our survey about it.  It'll help us quantify the extent of the phenomena and guide our work with B101 to help resolve the problem.

Click here: 

http://goo.gl/forms/v4UInPKZFt

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(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.

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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".

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Engineer's Corner
11:13 pm
Sat November 15, 2014

TheEC: Better HD Radio for 102.7FM

Spectrum analyzer of WRNI-FM's signal, with adjustments in progress.
Credit Aaron Read RIPR

Friday night and mid-day Saturday (Nov.14 & 15) ended up being a bit of a saga for what was supposed to be a routine upgrade for our 102.7FM signal in South County.   So first off, an apology to our RIPR listeners on 102.7FM, and to MVYradio's listeners to the 96.5FM signal in Newport.  There were several dropouts, periods when RIPR was on backup transmitter (and thus 96.5 was off entirely), or when both transmitters were down.

Exactly what happened could be described as an avalanche of minutiae, but I'll lay it out as best I can.

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Engineer's Corner - Programming Announcement
4:48 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

TheEC: New NPR Clocks

Your Intrepid Engineer attempts to puzzle out the new NPR clocks.
Credit Dave Fallon RIPR

Starting on Monday Nov.17th, the clocks for Morning Edition, All Things Considered (both weekdays and weekends) and Weekend Edition  will be changing.  

Today's Engineer's Corner is co-authored with our Operations & Production Manager, James Baumgartner.  He and I are the ones directly responsible for organizing all the clock changes' impact on Rhode Island Public Radio, and we've put together this synopsis of what the changes mean for our listeners.

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Engineer's Corner
11:52 am
Tue September 30, 2014

TheEC: iOS8 and Streaming Problems

Credit Aaron Read RIPR

We have heard reports from fellow public radio stations that some users with older iPhones (like the iPhone 5/5S) who upgraded to the new iOS 8 are having problems listening to stations' webcasts.

There doesn't seem to be any particular pattern at this point, other than the problems started when the user updated to iOS 8.  Nor are we at RIPR aware of any RIPR listeners experiencing this problem.

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Engineer's Corner
5:05 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

102.7 Off Air on Saturday Afternoon

The three vertical orange radomes (ice shields) on the top left of the tower are the WRNI-FM 102.7 antenna array.
Credit Aaron Read RIPR

UPDATE: today's scheduled shutdown is not going to happen, due to a nesting osprey up on our tower.  The climbers have to wait until winter when he/she will leave.

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This Saturday (Sept.27) beginning around 1pm and possibly lasting until sunset, our 102.7FM signal will be either off the air, or operating at reduced power.

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Engineer's Corner
9:42 am
Wed September 24, 2014

TheEC: 8pm Newscast Tuesday Night

The USNO Master Clock
Credit Ben Simon

If you were listening to the 8pm newscast on Tuesday night (Sept.23) then you got to experience our new service that helps make sure your watch can be set to the most precise time possible!

Okay, that's not really what happened.  The newscast started out with the USNO's "time guy" (you can hear the automated time announces by dialing (719)567-6742 in Colorado; the DC numbers don't seem to work).  

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Engineer's Corner
1:03 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

TheEC: New Production Studio

The new "Studio B" production studio at RIPR.
Credit Aaron Read RIPR

Late last week I was very happy to execute the final changeover to RIPR's new PRODUCTION STUDIO.  This is a big deal for us; our studios were originally designed and constructed by WBUR, way back in the late 1990's when they owned RIPR (then just "WRNI") outright, and most of the "back office" personnel were still located in Boston.

Accordingly, we only have one "studio".  It's two connected rooms: a "control room" with the usual mix board, producer's station, director's station, etc...and a "mic booth" with just a trio of mics.   The idea was that a lot of the day-to-day, off-air, production work was happening up in Boston, where WBUR had four main studios and seven edit booths.  So the workload on RIPR's end would be pretty light.

Fast-forward to 2007 and now we're an independent news radio station with nine news staff and a ton of daily production needs.  Yet only one studio to do it in!  AAAAAHHHH!!!  Scheduling conflicts were rampant.

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Engineer's Corner
6:10 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

TheEC: New STL at 88.1FM

Your Intrepid "Engneah" poses with the new 950MHz Microwave STL transmit antenna on the roof of WELH's studios on the Wheeler School campus.
Credit David Schiano

UPDATE 7/22: After a weekend of solid operation, we've moved out of "beta" and into "gold", meaning when you listen to 88.1, you're hearing audio that's coming across the new microwave STL.

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Good news everyone!

Longtime Engineer's Corner readers know that we've had, well, "issues" with the STL or "Studio/Transmitter Link" for our 88.1FM signal in Providence.   The STL is what carries the audio from our studios in downtown Providence to the transmitter/tower at the Wheeler Farm in Seekonk.

Now a couple weeks ago we revealed that half of a new wireless microwave STL was installed, and that the other half would be installed soon.  Today, we fired it up for the first time and the results were gratifyingly positive!

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Engineer's Corner
6:26 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

TheEC: Zapped in Narragansett

Not nearly as romantic as "Lost in Austen", but the hefty thunderstorms that roared through Wednesday morning dumped a lot of rain and dropped a lot of lightning, both of which conspired to take RIPR's 102.7FM (and MVYradio's HD2) off the air for an hour or two.

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