Art Bell is Returning To the Air

Art Bell is returning to the air September 16th on Sirius XM Radio channel 104.  His website is active now, at

Sirius is a pay-for satellite network.  You can also receive programming via the Internet for the same amount of money.  That’s the downside.  The upside is that since it is subscription based, there are no commercials, and thus no sponsors directing what is acceptable or not on air, nor does the F.C.C. sensor satellite radio so it ought to be interesting.  The cost should you desire to listen is $14.95 per month and that also gives you access to many other Sirius XM stations.

I’ve always enjoyed Art Bell, not just for the material content but because he is who he is.  When he was on the air before, he had his own studio in his home, complete with cart machines which lead to a rather humorous (from the listeners perspective) event in which he attempted to repair a cart rack with superglue and, in the process, glued his lips together, during a broadcast.  I wish that would happen to politicians on a more permanent basis.  But I respect the fact that he is knowledgeable and capable enough to create the show himself, do his own mixing, queuing, much of his own engineering, and even research guests for his show.  In the old days even answered lines unscreened, which is something clear channel ruined.

I’m happy that soon there will be at least one non-automated non-drone, real human being on the air again.  Wish it weren’t just satellite.

FM Band Propagation from the North

Propagation from the North seems to be stronger than usual during the warm afternoons of the last few days.  Normally, here in Shoreline, I can pick up 100.3 CKKQ “The Q” reasonably well, but not so with CHTT “Jack FM” on 103.1.  It’s usually pretty marginal.

These last few days I’ve been able to listen to them on the car radio as I drive around the Seattle / Shoreline area.

At first I wondered if they might have received a power increase or increased their antenna height, but then I tuned in the other morning and it was just marginally receivable as usual.

I’m guessing perhaps we’ve got a bit of a temperature inversion over the water in the afternoon resulting in a bit of tropospheric bending.

It’s always fun being able to listen to something that ordinarily wouldn’t make the trip so well.

I do wonder how they get “Jack FM” out of “CHTT”, but then if you pronounce “CHTT” it’s close enough to something you don’t want to be associated with that you’ll find anything else to call yourself.

Kudos KMCQ

I’ve been quick to criticize the bad clipped horrid audio of the vast majority of the Seattle area radio stations.

I thought I’d take a moment to make a positive comment about one exception.  104.5 FM, KMCQ, wonderfully clean audio.  Percussion instruments still sound like musical instruments instead of gated white-noise.

I’m not overly fond of the format, automated oldies, often of the slow dreary variety, but when they do get a good song on there it sounds good, so kudos to the engineering staff there!

Slightly Less Gloomy

It appears KZOK finally repaired whatever was causing the horrid audio, now it’s just back to the normal clipped and overly compressed audio those of us who live in the Seattle market are used to.

I’ve never really understood what it is with this region of the country, the obsession with being “loud” is extreme.  I understand the need on AM where the signal to noise ratio is bad unless you live next to the antenna, but on FM it makes no sense.

One notable exception is KMCQ, 104.5, one of the few stations in the Seattle market that isn’t badly clipped.  It’s nice to hear percussion instruments actually sound like the instrument instead of gated white noise.  Kudos…  I’m not real fond of the format, not that I have anything against oldies, but I don’t really care for the sedate, and I don’t like automation and the total lack of audience interaction, that’s just me, but I do appreciate good clean audio.

Some day I have to string up a shortwave antenna and see if I can receive anything beside computer hash.  The built-in antenna on my little SW receiver is completely useless in this house.

Radio Blog Blues

I apologize for the lack of posts here recently but truth be told, the state of radio is so depressing that I’ve lacked motivation.

Commercial Broadcasting in the Seattle area has consolidated into a handful of mostly right-wing mega-corporations that play nothing but bland automated crap or spew right-wing propaganda all day long, with the exception of one station that spews pseudo left wing propaganda that is so blatantly bogus that it’s an embarrassment to listen to.

KNDD used to be my favorite radio station for modern music but anymore, during the hours of the day it’s not automated, anytime they get a radio personality that actually has one, they’re rapidly replaced.  It’s as if they’ve cloned pig-vomit and sent a clone to every station in the Seattle market.

I don’t want to bash Mike Kaplan anymore. I’m sure he is doing the best he can.  However, either his aesthetics and mine are 180 degrees out of phase, or the upper management have clamped down on the budget so much that things like the Beach House, live talented original creative and funny radio personalities, and good website design are just out of reach now, but whatever it is, I don’t like it.

I like radio that actually involves and interacts with the audience, and even with the expanded play list, I still here the same song 2-4 times if I listen a whole day.  And maybe it’s just me, I mean I know I’m ADD’ish, but I get bored hearing the same song again and again all day long.

Jack-FM doesn’t play the same song twice in a day, but they play what they want, not want I want, so I find myself turning jack off quickly.  The station is the antithesis of audience involvement, completely automated, and I hate everything it stands for.

I used to like KZOK for older rock, and often still I’ll tune in and hear a favorite old song, but the sound quality is so atrocious that I can not stand it for more than about 30 seconds.

And KISW, which has remained true to it’s format for more than 30 years, now censors Show Biz Kids like everyone else.  Guess they’ve been castrated too.

Local content is almost non-existent in the Seattle market.  Want to find out what’s going on locally?  Forget radio, pick up a copy of Seattle Weekly or something.

So much for AM/FM broadcast in the Seattle market…

I think the FCC should go back to the old rules where no entity could own more than three stations in a market, one AM, one FM, and one television.  I also think they should go back to the old rule where at least 12 hours of every day must be local content and get rid of the 24×7 network crap stations.

I used to enjoy shortwave, but now all I get is computer hash from 1.7Mhz all the way to 30Mhz.  Not surprising in my house, but now if I take a portable and walk the neighborhood, it’s the same everywhere.  The FCC is obviously not enforcing part 15 when it comes to incidental radiation and that’s not an accident, it’s a way of reducing the exposure of US citizens to some less brain-dead brain-washed ideas from around the world.

So in a nutshell, that’s why I haven’t been posting much, general disgust with the broadcast scene in the Seattle market.

KZOK 102.5 FM Audio

Was wondering if anyone has knowledge of what happened to KZOK’s audio? It sounds like a 24 Kb/s MP3, which is to say horrid.  Pretty much anything over about 8Khz seems to be gone, but it sounds like there is a big peak just before it rolls off and everything sounds squished.  This has been going on for several weeks now.  I received no response to an inquiry I sent to CBS Radio.

Whatever it is, I sure hope it’s not permanent.


Just returned from a visit to KNDD’s web site.   Got to say it matches the rest of the station, sterile, boring, devoid of the life it used to have.

Several years ago, 2006-2008ish…  It was exciting, the Beach House, Block Party Weekends, End Sessions with cutting edge musicians, a station with an air staff that wasn’t afraid to be bold, and fun, now it’s just blah.

The website has followed suit, it’s blah too.

I am glad to see the end has increased their play list, now at least it’s possible to listen to more than two hours without hearing the same song three times.

I’m thinking Seattle needs a new alternative station, one that gets cutting edge artists exposed, gravitates to high energy music, not the bordering on elevator music that is about 80% of the playlist these days.

Ultrawide Broadband

The rate at which data can be transmitted is a function of signal-to-noise ratio and bandwidth. Even with a signal significantly below the noise level, data can be transmitted at high speeds if enough spectrum is available.

Orthogonal frequency division multiplexing uses a large number of parallel narrow channels integrating the received signal over a relatively long period of time. Each channel carries only a low data rate but combining a large number of channels allows high data rates.

This form of modulation is very resistant to noise and multipath because of the long integration period of each carrier.  If you are driving and a carrier is momentarily interrupted, it does not cause a loss of information because it’s only a very small interruption in a relatively long integration time.

There is a limit to how long this interval can be and how narrow each carrier can be based upon the acceptable latency for an application.  For example, a two-way telephone conversation would need a low enough latency that the conversing parties would not notice the delay.  But radio or television could easily handle a delay of several seconds without problems.

Other than regulatory limits, the only limit to the number of carriers and total data capacity that can be transmitted is the speed of the digital signal processors and the bandwidth of the radio frequency amplifiers and antenna.  Fractal antennas and newer semi-conductors have extended these limits quite a bit.

This is going to continue to expand to provide faster wireless data rates as faster digital signal processors and better algorithms become available.

Single channel per carrier services are going to largely go away and ultra-wide broadband internet will occupy most of the spectrum with radio and television being largely replaced with audio and video over Internet Protocol across ultra-wide broadband networks.

Economies of spectrum, power, and infrastructure will fuel this conversion.  A public tired of having half a dozen mega-corporations owning all of the broadcast stations in a market and hungry for choice beyond what satellite operators offer as well as the superior quality that wider bandwidth will make available will also factor in.

Internet automobile receivers are already available.  These have the advantage of making a much larger amount of program sources available than even satellite services like Sirius.  The horrid licensing arrangements that the various record labels and artists unions impose on Internet broadcasters places some constraints on music being broadcast via this medium, but I think eventually enough artists will go Independent that these organizations will be forced to change their business model or die and become irrelevant.  Why should artists get less than 1% of sales and put up with very limited exposure just so labels can get rich?

Internet stations have a world-wide audience by the very nature of their operation, but at the same time they’re competing with a much larger number of stations than conventional broadcasters.  This will make very specialized program economically viable and more generalized programming less so.  Unfortunately, it also will continue to kill local markets and stations that cater to local markets.

Digital Radio

In the United States, iBiquity’s proprietary and bandwidth wasting HD-Radio is the only digital radio format approved by the FCC for digital radio broadcasting on AM and FM.

Outside the US, Digital Radio Mondaile (DRM) and Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) are widely used.  Both systems are open rather than proprietary. Manufacturers of receivers and transmitting equipment don’t have to pay license fees to enable their equipment to receive DRM or DMB which means the equipment is less expensive for consumers to buy.

Digital Radio Mondaile works in a 9Khz bandwidth rather than the 30Khz required by HD-Radio, which destroys two adjacent channels.  Thus it is possible to operate three DRM stations in the same spectrum as one HD-Radio could operate in while providing superior audio quality.

The main disadvantage is that you don’t have an analog signal, you need a DRM equipped receiver to receive a DRM signal.

The FCC should drop HD-Radio because of the adjacent channel interference issue and because it’s not proper to give a licensing monopoly to one company, and because it is not making efficient use of available spectrum.  The FCC should open up the market to DRM and DMB and let the chips fall where they may.

Because both DRM and DMB are going to use digital signal processors to decode them and only the software will be different, and because both are open standards, it would be trivial for a receiver manufacturer to offer receivers that can decode both. Because the additional license fees wouldn’t be built into the cost of the receiver, adoption would likely be more rapid.

If the real reason the FCC adopted iBiquity’s HD-Radio as “the standard” was to maintain compatibility with existing receivers, then the FCC would not have adopted the standard for television which obsoleted millions of televisions.

The FCC dictating one standard while the rest of the world uses another guarantees US citizens won’t have direct access to foreign broadcasts.  Instead, our information can be carefully filtered to comply with what the US government wants it’s citizens to see and hear.

For that reason alone, we should have a world standard, not one standard for North America, another for the rest of the world.  The 3x better use of spectrum favors DRM over HD-Radio as does the superior audio quality.  The lower cost to consumers favors DRM.

I’d like to encourage people to write to your congress critters to force the issue with the FCC.

KNDD – Mike Kaplan – Station Direction

KNDD has been running spots where Mike Kaplan is soliciting listener input.  I wish I could say I was optimistic about anything good happening because it seems to me it’s just gone downhill the last few years..  Now Harms is leaving.

I enjoyed about Lazlo’s time there because he went out of his way to get the audience involved in the station.  The Alki Beach House gave people a chance to get to know both artists and the on-air personalities face to face and it added a lot of excitement to the station.

DJ No-name was another person who was really good at getting the audience involved and creating community.

They seemed a lot less prone to censorship in those days, songs tended to have a better chance of being played unneutered. The emphasis on independent artists seemed stronger than today.

Automation used to be reserved for the wee early morning hours, which if there is any place for automation, that would be it.  These days, people have portable MP3 players, smart phones, mp3 players on their computers, etc.  If they want automatic music they can program their own selection to their specific tastes without commercials, so why should they want to listen to automation that is hit-n-miss as far as their musical taste is concerned, interrupted by commercials, and with audio quality that is generally crushed and inferior to what they can get from their player?

Which brings up another of my complaints, The End’s audio quality has also gone down hill in the last three years, at least that’s my perception.

And I know I’m old school but I really like it when the on-air personality can hit queues well, so well you sometimes can’t tell where one song ended and another begins, so well they never have dead air nor do they ever stomp on lyrics.  Harms was all that and he also knew the music, the artists, and was a good people person. I hate to see him go.

Since Mr. Kaplan is asking for input, let’s oblige him and give him some.  I’d really like to see KNND get the kind of audience involvement it used to have, the sense of no fear let’s do it-ness it used to have, and I know they’ve got a bunch of highly competent engineers that could restore the audio to what it used to be if they so desired, turn off that filter that drops everything below 80hz and stop clipping the highs to death, or maybe everyone’s gone deaf and doesn’t care:

Mike Kaplan, KNDD Program Director