Sadness and the WRGP rebranding.

I apologize in advance, I tend to get a little politically incorrect when you take something I held dear, grind it to dust, mix it with dirty sewer water from the pipes under the campus Burger King, and shoot it through a Pepsi machine.

Years ago when I was in school I was working for Radiate FM, WRGP-FM 88.1 FM Miami.

Radiate promo image by Dr. Sprock.
Radiate promo image by Dr. Sprock.

We called it Radiate FM, the Radioactive Underground.

As of about the middle of last year it fell under new management, and subesquently, down the proverbial toilet. Staff who had been with the station for years were suddenly fired for merely playing songs the new general manager didn’t like, the conditions under which one could get a show on the station changed in very awful ways, and it generally just lost all its staff and character.

I very much enjoy one former staff member’s review of the new format he posted to Facebook using their emoji feature:

radiateRebrandingIt’s now just “WRGP, FIU Student Radio”, but it’s not there for the students anymore. It’s there for the new general manager and her sorority buddies. That’s about it.

I have no idea if their new transmitter installation is finished or not (whatever the hell is in that room nowadays, it bleeds like hell and I’ve had to replace and shield the hell out of cabling in the next room over to keep a modulation monitor and Arbitron PPM decoder happy!). Either way, they’re on the air, and you can tune in any time and enjoy them becoming progressively less and less enjoyable to listen to.


Back when I worked there, we were reminded by a few engineering consultants that the station’s license including its two translators were worth about $25 million… we tried very hard to ensure that none of the consultants would convey this information up to Mitch Maidique, who had the campus named after his grubbing slimy ass as part of his golden parachute, since he was hellbent on liquidating and lend/leasing every part of the university they didn’t absolutely need to remain in basic operation and keep attracting new students.

Meanwhile we had a pretty damn huge base of loyal listeners who really enjoyed our programming, from South Florida and all around the world via a streaming system I set up. The budget wasn’t there for like, a proper system like Streamguys or whatever, so I just pretty much put it all through Icecast on a Linux box and it allowed as many people to stream as would fit over the pipe the university gave us. We won the Miami New Times award for best radio station for several years, beating out WVUM, which is, well, WVUM. (Stay tuned for my thoughts on WVUM’s programming some time, it’s kinda… silly…)

One of many, many godawful video billboard installations around campus.
One of many, many godawful video billboard installations around campus.

Several times it came up that there was some group that really wanted the license for a while to convert WRGP into an NPR affiliate (you know, in addition to WLRN-FM just across town?) and remove all the student participation and programming… The school thankfully said “not for sale… for now.”

"I'm wearing this shit eating grin because I just scored another few million for me and my bud Armando Codina!"
“I’m wearing this shit eating grin because I just scored another few million for me and my bud Armando Codina!”

Hell, the building that contained Radiate’s studios, classroom space, the university bookstore, and most of the student life offices almost got converted into a shopping mall on several occasions.

And we held out for this?

Their new logo isn’t even worth posting, it’s just a vaguely soundwave like line behind the letters “WRGP”. Yawn.

I’m not totally sure how Radiate could return to its former glory now, as the new management and media board worked together closely to ensure that only current staff members, carefully handpicked by the new management, can provide any input to the media board on the station’s image and charter… maybe someday when they all graduate, there will be an opening for someone who actually knows how to run a radio station. Until then, sit back and laugh at those fools gradually starting to gravitate towards an oh so hot early 2000s mallcore sound on 88.1 WRGP-FM Homestead, 95.3 W237CP Miami, 96.9 W245BF North Miami Beach……..

Dell… What a turdbrick…

Can’t use it as a computer, can’t even set it on fire. This is why I’ll never willingly buy a Dell.

Do not try this at home. I am a Certified Broadcast Technologist and juuuuuust irresponsible enough to do this without setting myself on fire as well. 😉

“Spontaneous Disassembly” or EXPLOSIVE Z-Bola.

Never a dull moment. See this breaker? I flicked it earlier in the week to reset the transmitter’s control shelf (just visible off to the left of the photo with its huge nest of ribbon cables).

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Then came the phone call on a Sunday morning that we were off the air. I came into the room, opened the back of the transmitter, found CB1 had tripped, reset it and began to walk away…

And then came the explosion. Yep, my transmitter SHARTED. Here’s the aftermath.
Read more ““Spontaneous Disassembly” or EXPLOSIVE Z-Bola.”

WOIR-AM… There are no words

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Greetings! I am FAILTUNER! Enjoy my field of nightmares!

I saw two AM towers I’d never noticed before while driving away from the site WDNA-FM is on after fixing a major case of explosive Z-Bola (more on that in another post). I’d never seen them lit before despite them having beacons at the tops? I drove in for a closer look and whooooa brother is there ever a mess to be found here. This is a good example of bad broadcast engineering and maintenance practices. FOUL!!!
Read more “WOIR-AM… There are no words”

Y’alls on crack.

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I bought some Lite-On led displays with integrated shift register driver a few years back. They’re kinda cool, reducing the microcontroller pin count needed to drive two digits of alphanumeric displays to a mere three — chip select/enable, clock, data in. Not bad at all, even if they don’t have serial out like a proper shift register; the last cell of the shift register is connected to output latch to remove the need to externally fire the latch.

But good luck reading that datasheet.

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So far so good, right?

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aargh.

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AAAUGH. WHY?! WHHHHYYYYY??!!! All this is missing is a liberal use of Comic Sans.

Please, do not do this.

Fiber Seeking Backhoe incidents are uh, phun

Wild-Backhoe-Appears

Even more challenging when your backup network connection is an old AT&T “Business Class” ADSL that gives you 786 kilobits *when* it feels like working, interspersed with random 1-7 second dropouts. Oh well. Crank the Delay Cushion on the Comrex Access up to 10000 mSec and have, uh, …. phun.

Bye now Florida.

Scottdemort won. After mostly destroying the state and its economy in his first term, he now has four more years to finish the job.

 

Funny how accurate this is for being over half a century old — South America does pretty much own at least most of South Florida.

See also

 

Comcast BVE / Business Voice Edge settings you should hopefully never need

Useful info for the Comcast Business Voice Edge service:

The portal login is at https://voiceedge.comcast.com/ – at the time of this writing the security certificate is expired (way to go Cumcast)
To log in as admin, you must add TA to the end of your username authorized as administrator. For instance: rmutt1917TA

If your phones lose their settings including the provisioning server they will act really stupid. Press Menu -> Status -> Network to find the phone’s IP address then log into it from a web browser. On Polycom phones the admin password is 456

Go to Settings -> Provisioning Server. The Comcast business voice / Comcast BVE provisioning server address is http://bvedms01.wdv.comcast.net:80/dms/bw/host/wdv-7/dms-psip/
No password.
Server user: PlcmSpIp
Tag SN to UA disabled

If you have other WORKING phones on your network when this happens, please confirm the provisioning address on those first – the fact that it ends in 01 makes me wonder if this may vary regionally. (???)

Note that if the DHCP on your network provides an option 66 response to point phones to a TFTP server, the provisioning WILL fail as the phone is too dumb to proceed to the programmed provisioning server address. Once it gets a tftp address passed to it and this provisioning method fails, it will give up immediately and throw the toys right out of the pram. Wondering if your lan’s dhcp provides response 66? Did you set it to? If not, then it doesn’t. End of story. Honestly, most embedded device/router DHCP daemons don’t even support it.

You can use firmware versions later than what Comcast provides and I’ve had much better results doing so (better audio quality, fixes phone UI hangs/reboots….)
Go to Utilities -> Software Upgrade in the web UI. If you’ve never done this before, go ahead and select Polycom hosted server, click check for updates. The software version selector will populate. Choose the latest version and make it so.

If you HAVE done this before, do not click check for updates. The web UI and then the phone itself will freeze*. Uhhhh, it’s a feature, not a bug?! Click clear upgrade server. The phone will reboot, DOWNGRADE to whatever Comcast provides you, then you’ll be able to do the aforementioned procedure. Hey, we didn’t become Comcast customers because we wanted sane, reasonable, and logical services, did we?

* may be a model dependent thing. The SoundPoint 335 locks up like a dumb brick and eventually reboots itself, but the SoundStation will just do it all right. Who knows. I hate these things, they always make it sound like the person you’re talking to is actually talking waaaay too close to your ear and like you’re half expecting to spit down your ear canal or drool on your shoulder

Things that make you go NOPE.

NopeMeter
I’ve been shouting NOPE way too much as of late, haven’t I?

It just happens that the world of engineering presents me with way too much nope.

Here, have some nope from my collection.