RADIOWORLD ENGINEERING EXTRA
Update on NRSC RDS PI Codes The chairman of the NRSC Metadata Usage Working Group explains recent changes BY ALAN JURISON
In 2017, the NRSC launched a new website for FM Translator RDS PI codes. We discussed this in detail in the Dec. 20, 2017 issue of Radio World and online here: https://www.radioworld. com/tech-and-gear/check-out-the-nrscpi-code-allocation-website. At the 2018 Radio Show, the NRSC unveiled an updated website that also provides PI codes for full-service FM and LPFM stations in the United States that have four alphabetic characters (i.e. KAAA, WZZZ, etc.). The URL to access this site is still the same: http:// picodes.nrscstandards.org. Now, visitors to the website are brought to a portal that asks what database the visitor wants to access. The translator and full-service databases are kept separate, as they are calculated differently. Historically, fullservice FM stations have had to calculate their PI code using a formula in NRSC-4-B based on their assigned FCC call sign. That formula only worked with four alphabetic characters call signs that begin with K or W. Translator call signs are structured differently and did not work with this formula. Also, due to the high concentration of translators and their comparatively smaller coverage areas, the translator calculation database must duplicate codes to avoid exhaustion, but does so to avoid geographic conflicts and ensures the assignments are RadioDNS-compliant. It became apparent in our discussions regarding PI codes for FM translators that there was not an authoritative database for full-service stations. Many calculated their PI code manually by following the formula in the NRSC-4-B document. The industry also resorted to various private websites or calculator programs over the years. These pro-
grams were helpful to get the industry pointed in the right direction, but they were not authoritative. Some versions of the calculation tools had errors in their calculations as well, and that caused a problem with conflicts in some instances. This new database helps alleviate these problems. The NRSC worked again with NAB Pilot to expand
the capabilities of the website to include these fullservice stations. Just like the translator database, the full-power PI code assignments are processed daily and include anything new published in the FCC FM Database.
vCLOCK (continued from page 6)
IFTTT stands for “If This, Then That,” and it allows you to build all kinds of interesting rules with electronic devices. RULES, RULES, RULES … Many of the rules I have built for home use weather as a predictor. “If it is cloudy, turn certain lights on,” etc. As I played around with vClock, I realized it can take HTML commands, so I built a connection to the web and then built rules with IFTTT using a widget called Webroot. The first connection was based on motion outside our building or someone ringing the doorbell. For a small station, often only one person is working, and if you are in a studio, you will hear nothing. Now you receive an alert on the screen. After we built that rule, we worked on others for wind and snow. If wind exceeds a certain threshold, it sends a command to my vClock to trigger a wind alert. The wind alert triggers a Wheatstone macro to change our primary input from satellite to a Barix codec (internet feed). The macro also makes the satellite backup. When the winds are below a certain threshold, it changes back again after a minimum amount of time. I built a similar rule for gusting snow, which also has created trouble in the past. The goal of the wind
February 6, 2019
REPORT CHANGES A new feature was added that allows both the fullservice and translator stations to report what code may be in-use if it differs from the listed assignment. There are a few limited cases where this is possible. For instance, it’s possible when there is a 100 percent time-aligned simulcast of several signals to share the PI code to aide in Alternate Frequency (AF) switching between the stations. Another situation that arises is where a station carries RDS TMC (Traffic Message Channel) in the United States to transmit traffic data to embedded navigation systems. These stations often need to set the first nibble of their PI code as 0x1 for compatibility with some RDS TMC capable receivers. Now, stations that transmit a PI code that is different than what is calculated or assigned by the NRSC have a mechanism to inform the NRSC and ultimately the rest of the broadcast industry what code is in use. Alan Jurison is a senior operations engineer for iHeartMedia’s Engineering and Systems Integration Group. He chairs the NRSC Metadata Usage Working Group. His opinions are not necessarily those of iHeartMedia, the NRSC or Radio World. and snow rules is to simply make for a better listening experience. There are loads of rules we have built using this software. It is not a simple clock. Some of the rules can be seen when looking at the clock, such as studio in use, station down or wind/snow alerts, but many others are not visible. One of the reasons I started looking for automation software was because the handoff of metadata to our streaming software was not typically clean, so today I have built our schedule into vClock, and it handles the metadata for us. Eventually I will get back to looking for the right automation software, but this is a good interim solution for the main problem we have. We also use vClock as scheduling software for Wheatstone, allowing us to trigger macro changes based on the time or other factors. As an example, I am building rules that will turn off all non-essential Wheatstone blades and surfaces when our building alarm is turned on. When the alarm is deactivated, it will turn all the key items back on. There are endless possibilities with the right software to make all our jobs a little easier and allow us to focus on the right things for our business. Frank Eliason is a consultant helping Fortune 500 brands with customer experience and digital disruption. He is an author and director of operations for Holy Spirit Radio in the Philadelphia area. RW Engineering Extra wants to hear how you solved your own technical problems. Email email@example.com.
Radio World Engineering Extra 253 - February 6, 2019