Roy Trumbull - Editor email@example.com
Bill Dempster - Artist
Econco - George Badger - 650-327-7599
Santucci Video Systems - Sandra Santucci - (818) 704-6324
Belden - Steve Lampen - (415) 440-8393
Orban - firstname.lastname@example.org - (510) 351-3500
MARCOM - Martin Jackson - (408) 768-8668
William F. Ruck, Jr. Broadcast Engineer - (415) 564-1450
Kathrein (Scala Division) - Michael Wm. Bach - (541) 779-6500
Hammett & Edison, Inc. - Dane E. Ericksen, P.E. - (707) 996-5200
LeBLANC - David A. Hill - (650) 574-4600
Improbable Missions Fource - Mike Schweizer - (888) 4-ISDN4U
Digi-Gear/Cancomm - Eric B. Lane - (818) 980-9188
RF Specialties of California - Bill Newbrough - (888) 737-7321
Pacific Radio Electronics - Sam Mao - (510) 636-0308
West Penn Wire/CDT - Michael J. La Porte - (650) 652-9080
Axcera - Russ Erickson - (877) 440-7877
Today [Friday, July 12, 2002], the FCC, in an unprecedented move, shut down every Los Angeles FM and TV station operating from Mt. Wilson in a surprise RF hazard inspection.The situation seems to have started a few weeks ago with the attempted installation of a new antenna for station KDOC, CH-56.
KDOC is located in the ground floor of the building known as the "Post Office." The KDOC antenna was to be mounted on a 150' pole [actually a 226' pole -Ed.] directly West of the Post office. KDOC engineers had calculated the stations that needed to reduce power and had sent out requests. When it came time to climb the pole, the tower crew found that the RF levels were still too high.
They eventually found that the offending signal was from an FM station that was not on the KDOC list of stations that needed to reduce power. The station's engineer was called and asked to reduce power to 80%. He was willing to comply but was overruled by a corporate engineer saying, "I can't reduce power while everyone is listening to my morning man!" (Note that the FCC order obliges stations to comply with requests to lower power as a safety matter and without regard to ratings or revenue issues. The corporate engineer may not have known that he was exposing his company to many thousands of dollars in fines.) The FM station, after a week of negotiating, finally agreed to cooperate.
Yesterday, a team of six FCC "agents" arrived at Mt. Wilson. Their first step was to perform a field intensity survey of their own. They located a site that, according to their instruments, did not meet the safety levels for public access. The site is the KMEX driveway as it rises up behind KBIG and until it reaches the KMEX building. Since there has been considerable construction in that driveway over the past few years, the gate has long since disappeared. Since there is no gate, the driveway is publicly accessible and therefore in violation. It would not have been a violation if there had been a chain across the driveway and a "No Trespassing" sign. (Ed note: Apparently there was a chain but it was down on that day due to work in progress.)
Today, the FCC showed up ready to find out who was responsible for that hot-spot in the driveway. They had called the Chief Engineers of every station to meet at Mt. Wilson at 12:00 noon.... They set up their meter at the hot-spot and then asked each station to shut down completely, one-by-one, just long enough to make another measurement. Most stations were off for from 20 seconds to 40 seconds. This process actually took hours to complete as communications was difficult between each transmitter and the man taking the measurements. The Fox-lot stations were then asked to do the same thing for another hot-spot over there. After all of the measurements were done, everyone met at the Mt. Wilson Pavilion to discuss the situation.
The agents said that they were not able to review the measurements in the field. Once they were reviewed at the office, there would be Notices of Violations and Notices of Liability (fines.) Many of the Chiefs felt that the stations exceeding the limits would probably be a handful of close-by FMs. The agents then spent a considerable time explaining the rules and the FCC's expectations. They said that the rules have been in place for several years now, and that they were no longer warning people, but enforcing the law. There was also a Q&A time. There was also considerable talk about a group of stations joining to have a new, comprehensive field study done by a qualified engineering firm. Such studies are required for licensees under the new rules. The last time this was done was in 1998 by Hammett & Edison. While some stations have shown little interest in joining the group, there is clearly a cost and accuracy benefit in having as many stations as possible join the group. Perhaps this incident will change the minds of the stations that show little interest. They are still looking for bids and there is not yet a cost estimate.
I also post the current newsletter at home.earthlink.net/~rhtrumbull but the posting is without links. - RT