Cumulus publishes analysis to counter prevailing sentiments about AM and radio in general
“Ford owners are massive users of AM radio.”
So writes Pierre Bouvard, chief insights office of Cumulus Media, citing data from MRI Simmons.
That is but one of his observations as Cumulus Media/Westwood One released an analysis of listening data from sources that also include the Nielsen fall 2022 survey, Edison Research’s “Share of Ear” and research by Advertiser Perceptions.
Bouvard regularly posts about the power of radio and what he calls misperceptions about the medium among the broader marketing community.
He summarized takeaways from the new Cumulus analysis:
“The Nielsen Fall 2022 survey reveals that 82,346,800 Americans listen to AM radio monthly; 57% of the AM radio audience listens to news/talk stations, the very outlets that Americans turn to in times of crisis and breaking local news; and one out of three American AM/FM radio listeners are reached monthly by AM radio,” he wrote. [Continue reading…]
“Some clouds over the city right now. I’m Paul Murnane,” says a familiar voice.
“I’m Wayne Cabot,” says another.
Few would know their faces. But as names, they’re as recognizable as anyone in New York.
Fewer still could tell you their address — an 11th floor studio in a light-brick high-rise in lower Manhattan, between a Chase bank branch and patisserie named Maman.
But hundreds of thousands know where to find them on the AM dial — right between 820 WNYC (“public affairs”) and 930 WPAT (“multi-ethnic”). That, for 56 years, has been the location of WCBS Newsradio 880 — one of those rare unchanging institutions in a changeable city. [Continue reading…]
GENEVA — The voices sound like well-known personalities, the music features trendy dance beats and hip-hop syncopations, and the jokes and laughter are contagious. But listeners of an offbeat Swiss public radio station repeatedly got the message on Thursday: Today’s programming is brought to you by Artificial Intelligence.
Three months in the making, the French-language station Couleur 3 (Color 3) is touting a one-day experiment using cloned voices of five real, human presenters — in what managers claim is a world first — and never-aired-before music composed almost entirely by computers, not people. From 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., the station said, AI controlled its airwaves. Every 20 minutes, listeners got a reminder. Continue reading →
I couldn’t find any information about Quindar Tones at the US Space and Rocket Center–although, admittedly, the place is massive and I could have easily overlooked it–so I did a little research when I returned home.
“I’ve always wondered what purpose the ‘beeps’ served that one heard intermittently during the voice communications with the Command and Lunar Modules during the Apollo missions, as well as other space missions.”
Journal Contributor Mike Dinn provides an MP3 clip ( 123k ) from a network audio check that includes numerous quindar tones.
Journal Contributor Markus Mehring replies:
“‘Other space missions’ is quite an accurate observation, since the ‘beeps’, in fact, are still in use today on Shuttle flights, at least on the UHF frequencies.”
“These beeps are called ‘Quindar-Tones’. Their purpose is to trigger the ground station transmitters when there is an outgoing transmission from Earth. The CapCom in the Mission Control Center, who is taking care of communications with the crew, uses his communication gear in a PTT mode exclusively. ‘PTT’ is short for Push-To-Talk, which means that the CapCom presses a button every time and as long as he wants to talk. (The crews back during Apollo – and also today – usually communicate via PTT as well, but they also have the so-called ‘VOX mode’ at their disposal, in which their microphones are voice-triggered by a certain adjustable threshold volume levels. VOX is used when they don’t necessarily have their hands free.)
When the CapCom presses his PTT button to start a transmission, an intro tone (2.525KHz sine wave with a length of 250ms) is generated and triggers the ground station transmitters to send. And when he is finished talking and releases the button again, a slightly lower outro tone (2.475KHz, sine, 250ms) is generated to trigger the ground station transmitters to turn off. So in short, these are remote control trigger tones.
Steve Schindler, an engineer with voice systems engineering at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, offers the following history of [Quindar Tones] origins.
“Quindar tones, named after the manufacturer of the tone generation and detection equipment, are actually used to turn on and off, or “key,” the remote transmitters at the various tracking stations (Merritt Island Launch Area–now Kennedy Space Center, Bermuda, Australia, etc.) that were used to communicate with the Mercury through Apollo spacecraft and, in some cases, are still used with the Space Shuttle.”
[…]”Although it usually worked well, there were a couple of peculiarities with this system. If the transmitter was keyed and the telephone line connection broken, the transmitter would never get the tone to turn off. To prevent this there was a “transmitter on” light at each remote site that would come on when the transmitter was keyed. Someone was supposed to monitor the circuit and if the audio dropped, but the “transmitter on” light was still on, they would have to manually unkey the transmitter. Also, just before communications was handed over to a new tracking station, the key-unkey tone pair was sent 10 times to ensure that everything was functioning correctly. This was done before the audio was patched to the tracking station’s line so it wasn’t heard in the control room or on NASA Select audio.
The Quindar system was actually built from a piece of equipment that was used to put multiple teletype circuits on a single phone line by means of frequency domain multiplexing. Because replacement parts are no longer available, an “out-of-band signaling” system was installed in 1998 for the transmitters located in the U.S. This system uses a continuous tone that is below the normal audio frequency range. When the tone is present, the transmitters are keyed. When the tone is not present, the transmitters are unkeyed. It worked fine, but the Astronaut Office complained about the lack of tones which everyone had become accustomed to as an alert that a transmission was about to start. So, the Quindar tone generator, which was still installed in case it was necessary to key the transmitters at an overseas site, was re-enabled.
Even though you won’t hear the same Quindar tones in present-day space missions, you can listen until your heart is content at the website Apollo In Real Time.
If you’re fascinated with the NASA audio soundscape in general, you might check out the electronic music duo Quindar featuring longtime Wilco member Mikael Jorgensen, and art historian-curator James Merle Thomas.
Quindar: Mikael Jorgensen & James Merle Thomas. Photo by Chad Ress, Spacesuits by Cassandra C. Jones
Science Friday featured an extended interview with the group in 2017. If you love electronic music–especially if you’re a fan of Wilco, it’s well worth a listen: