2017 Station Update

It occurs to me that I haven’t given an overall update on the state of Radio Richmond in a while.

You may figured out the developments by watching the home page changes, but if not then here’s what’s new:

Automation – the old automation computer finally bit the dust. It’s been replaced with a new laptop also running Zara Radio free edition. At the same time, I updated the music scheduling scripts to eliminate artist patterns and repeating song patterns. The scripts are available on GitHub if you’re interested in using them or hacking them for your own purposes.

I strongly considered switching to the excellent RadioDJ software for its superior track rotation ability. However, at the time the automated time and temperature announcements were not easy to do and for this station T&T are a must have, because I like them, so I stuck with Zara.

There is a long term project underway to move the entire automation system to a RaspberryPi computer. Don’t wait up though.

Format – I tightened the music format to only BigBand Jazz and Swing from the first half of the 20th century, plus “The Oompah Hour”. There is no longer any early Country or other “odd” stuff in the music library. The music library is also expanded so that songs repeat much less often. Jean Shepherd is still heard at night and SomaFM’s SF-1033 is still played during the overnight hours.

Equipment – I’ve been able to bring the station squarely into the 1980s with the addition of an Optimod-AM 9100A multi-band processor. This unit was a generous gift from a local broadcast engineer. Check out this video posted to YouTube which shows the processor in action.

The Optimod replaces the combination of the Aphex 320A Compellor and Inovonics 222 NRSC processor. That combo is being kept as a backup.

It’s been a long time but I think I am ready to do the work to install a second transmitter. I have another Rangemaster AM 1000 and antenna waiting to be installed and the idea of better coverage of the neighborhood that I think I can get by adding it is exciting, to me at least. When a break in the weather coincides with a break in my schedule, I will get the other AM1000 mounted and phased so the two transmitters are working together to provide more solid coverage of the neighborhood.

Promotion – when I have opportunity to tell people about my little hobby, the question I invariably get is “Do you have any listeners?” or “How do you know if anybody is listening?”

While I appreciate the question, strange as it may seem, I really do all this for myself and my own enjoyment. Whether anybody else listens is really a distant secondary concern for me.

That’s said, my plan for 2017 is to record an announcement inviting anybody that hears the station to call a special phone number and provide a reception report, if they feel so inclined. This number will be published on the air only so the only way to know the number is to hear the station.

To go along with the station listener line, I will be “advertising” the station with a WiFi module with the SSID set to “Neighborhood Radio – Tune 1700 AM.” The idea being that if you are close enough to see the WiFi hotspot then you are probably close enough to hear the station. I like this idea better than posting flyers around the neighborhood.

That’s about it for where the station is at and where I hope for it go in 2017.

P.S.  I am again toying with the idea of building out a Part 15 FM station (I know, crazy! right?)  I’d probably call it “Rock FM” or “Apartment Block Radio” since listening much away from my home will not be possible. It will not be a simulcast of AM 1700. “Rock FM” will most likely be a classic and hard rock format with music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Believe it or not, with the demise of 92.3 KSJO, there is actually a gap in programming. It’s hard to find good, hard rock and prog rock in the Bay Area. KFOG has gone down the toilet. and 107.7 “The Bone” plays only the most pedestrian and approved rock. If you are a rocker older than 40, there is really not much of “your” music on the radio anymore. It’s possible that I would also stream “Rock FM” if I can deal with the music royalty mess. No promises.