Engineer's Corner

Credit Ryan T Conaty

The Engineer's Corner is an occasional series penned by RIPR's IT & Engineering Director, Aaron Read.  

Any time he thinks there's something useful, important, amusing, or otherwise interesting enough to write about?  This is where you'll find it.  The highest compliment he gets, and frequently, is from readers who assure him that even though they have no idea what he's writing about, they love that he's writing it.

Front and back of SureStreamer

Transmitting audio over the internet is a fact of almost every radio station's life these days, and RIPR is no exception.  In fact, we use it even for mission-critical purposes like getting our main programming audio from our studios to our transmitters in Seekonk (88.1FM/Providence) and South County (102.7FM/Narragansett Pier).  But while audio over the internet is so ubiquitous that everyone takes it for granted, it's important to remember that, strictly speaking, it's a terrible idea and the internet was never designed for it.

That's where nifty devices like the new APT SureStreamer come in.

Logitek Mosaic mixer
Aaron Read RIPR

Our new Logitek Audio-over-IP (AoIP) mix console system, and its accompanying ENCO automation system, is in the process of being installed.  We'll have some on-site visits starting Nov.2nd and the big changeover will be the week of Nov. 16th.

Download audio of local newscasts
Aaron Read RIPR

Starting on August 18, 2015 we've added a new feature to the homepage: you can download MP3 audio files of the three most recent local newscasts!  So if you just missed the news, but still want to get caught up on the most breaking of breaking developments, fear not - you can get it right from our website!

Lost mode in Find My iPhone

We've all been there.  Even your Intrepid Engineer has done it.  You're having a perfectly lovely day.  You decide you want to check your email, so you reach for your phone and...


...where's my phone?

...WHERE'S MY $#%%!@*^& PHONE?!?!?

Oh no, you've lost your phone. Now what?

Cute dog listening to headphones

Listening to RIPR online gets easier every day!  But since the webcasting world is constantly changing, we have to change, too! If you've got a problem hearing us on your Android phone, or you want to know what's going with the stream on our website?  Or maybe you need a little help choosing a wifi radio?  

All is revealed on our Streaming Help page at

Check it out for all sorts of helpful info on how to keep the bits flowing and RIPR on your speakers - now freshly updated by your Intrepid Engineer with new info on podcasts and NPR One!

RDS on 881FM
Aaron Read RIPR

Ever looked at your radio and noticed there's text there, showing the artist and title of the song you're hearing on your favorite FM station?  Ever wonder what that is? I'll tell you: RDS!  Starting in the early 1990's, radios in the USA had the ability to display Radio Broadcast Data System text information, more commonly known as RBDS or just RDS.   

Multiple TV's in Studio A at RIPR
Aaron Read RIPR

Thanks to a recent major grant that RIPR applied for and received, we have added several 40-inch LCD TV screens to Studio A, our "air studio".   Four total, plus a fifth existing LCD TV.  So we can watch ALL the things!!!

AT&T Tower Climbers on 102.7 Tower
Aaron Read RIPR

This past Saturday, AT&T Wireless performed a hardware upgrade to their cellphone antennas that're on the same tower RIPR's 102.7FM signal is, in Narragansett.   This entailed two tower climbers spending nearly six hours up on the tower, within about 20-30 feet of our Shively 3-bay antenna.  Fortunately between the laws of antenna physics, and judicious reduction in transmitter power, RIPR could stay on the air without jeopardizing worker safety!

WRNI-FM utility rack
Aaron Read RIPR

UPDATE: More tower work Saturday April 11th beginning at 10am.

The second AT&T crew is returning for another try for antenna replacement on Saturday 4/11 starting at 10am and lasting most of the day.  

Based on previous experience, we are hoping to maintain normal operations on 102.7...or at worst just run at half-power.   Check the @RINPR twitter feed for updates.


102.7FM tower
Aaron Read RIPR

Beginning at 10:00am on Saturday March 28th there will be an extended outage of RIPR's 102.7FM signal.   It is expected to last several hours at least, possibly until sunset (around 6:30pm).

We may be able to continue operating at reduced power.  But it's likely that 102.7 will just be completely off the air.   Please note: whenever 102.7 is off, our WCVY 91.5FM signal in Coventry will be off as well.  (it gets its content via a radio receiver tuned to 102.7)

WWBB Blanketing Contour Map
Aaron Read RIPR

(Update 02/03 5:00pm) B101 has officially moved to One Financial Plaza (aka Hospital Trust tower) in downtown Providence as their new permanent home.  A "license to cover" has been granted by the FCC

What does this mean for your listening to 88.1FM?

If you live within approx. 1.5km of One Financial Plaza (see map at right) and you are experiencing blanketing interference to RIPR, then the FCC rules (47 CFR § 73.318(b)) mandate that WWBB must "satisfy all complaints of blanketing interference which are received  by the station during a one year period."   That period began 1/27/2015 and ends 1/27/2016 but please don't delay!

You can contact Troy Langham at (918) 664-4581 or to log a blanketing interference complaint and request assistance from their engineers.  Make sure to mention it's under "FCC rule section seventy-three dot three-one-eight".   Give your name, physical address, and a way to contact you (email or phone).

Also, please take a minute to fill out an RIPR survey about blanketing interference.  It will help us define the scope of the problem and provide useful info for our discussions with iHeartMedia's engineers and corporate offices.

Survey =


Optimod 8100A

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".

Spectrum Analyzer
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.

Aaron Read puzzles over the new NPR clocks
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.

Buggiest iOS Ever?
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.