Aaron Read

Director of Information Technology & Engineering

Aaron leads the team that keeps our transmitters, computers and studios working at peak proficiency while strategizing future technical improvements.   Born in Westerly and raised in nearby Mystic, CT, Aaron has lived in New England for over 30 years...albeit with a five year detour to the Finger Lakes of NY and Santa Barbara, CA.  

Prior to joining RIPR in 2012, he's worked at, with, or for a multitude of NPR and college radio outlets; including WBUR (Boston University), WEOS & WHWS (Hobart & William Smith Colleges), KCSB (UC, Santa Barbara), KCBX (San Luis Obispo), WMFO (Tufts University), WBRS (Brandeis University), WZBC (Boston College), WZLY (Wellesley College), and also the public radio programs The Infinite Mind and Living on Earth.

Read has a BA in Psychology from Boston University, is a Certified Broadcast Technologist in the Society of Broadcast Engineers, and relishes his "jack of all trades" reputation.  He writes The Engineer's Corner, an occasional series on technical topics involving RIPR.

Ways to Connect

TheEC: Zombies and EAS

Feb 12, 2013

“This is not a test, the dead are rising from the grave.”

Not quite what was spoken, nor quite a real alert, this weekend nonetheless saw KRTV-TV in Great Falls issue a LAE (Local Area Emergency) alert for several counties in Montana, and spread as far as WLW in Chicago.   The LAE was, yes, a zombie alert, with an audio component that said: “the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living. Do not attempt to apprehend or approach these bodies as they are considered extremely dangerous.”

RIPR Satellite Dish Heater
Aaron Read

  Oh the weather outside is frightful…

Actually, this winter we haven’t seen too much snow.  Nevertheless, snow is something of a chore for us at RIPR, because it builds up on our SATELLITE DISH, which blocks the satellite signal.  Specifically, our NPR and BBC signal, and that means when it snows = dead air on RIPR!

TheEC: Lightbulbs!

Jan 1, 2013
Track lights
Aaron Read

It’s a Star in the East!   It’s shiny Christmas lights!  It’s a slightly-silly, holiday-themed ENGINEERS CORNER on LIGHTBULBS!

Here at RIPR, our offices and studios in 1 Union Station were designed in 1999, and designed to look like our original owner’s studios, WBUR.   Their studios were designed and built in the salad days of the dot-com era: 1995.   So to say that incandescent track lighting is a big part of our lighting scheme, is an understatement.

Providence, RI – This week on the Engineer's Corner we talk about power. Not so much "fight the" as "emergency backup"! In fact, this week we're installing a new power generator for our 88.1FM (WELH) transmitter facility. You might've noticed we had issues with a lack of reliable power for almost three days during Hurricane Sandy; we had a generator but it just didn't have the features and capacity we needed.

So in advance of winter storms, falling trees, rime ice and downed power lines, we're putting in a Kohler RES14a propane generator with three 100lb tanks. Yes, the same company that makes excellent faucets for your kitchen, also makes excellent generators, believe it or not.

TheEC: Solar Outages

Oct 11, 2012

It has to do with our satellite downlink from NPR. We have a hefty 13-foot-diameter satellite dish, located in North Providence; there's no room for it at One Union Station! It points to "Galaxy 16," a telecommunications satellite in "geostationary" orbit that all NPR stations use.

"Geostationary," also popularly referred to as "geosynchronous," means that the satellite orbits the Earth in sync with the Earth's rotation...about 6800 MPH. That's pretty fast, but the key is that it's the SAME speed for both. So from our perspective here on Earth, the satellite just floats there, not moving, over 22,000 miles up in the sky!  To put that in perspective, it's like driving from northeastern Maine to southwestern California, SEVEN TIMES.

In Galaxy 16's case, the satellite is at 99.0 degrees west longitude, meaning it's fixed above a point on the equator over the Pacific Ocean, about 500 miles west of the Galapagos Islands (near Ecuador).

In general, geostationary orbits work great for communications satellites like for NPR, but there's a catch: twice a year there's times when the Sun, the satellite, and our dish all line up perfectly.  It's only for four or five days, and only for four or five minutes per day...but the Sun puts out so much energy on ALL frequencies that it completely swamps the satellite's own signal, so we lose all NPR, BBC and other satellite programming.

A common tech support request I get is for help with our stream/webcast from our listeners. The "digital illuminati" often like to claim that the web will mean the death of radio any day now, but streaming is still decidedly more complex and more tricky than radio's "push button, turn knob, get programming" simplicity.

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