Radio Stations Fall Victim to Cyberattack (Again)

Several radio stations in small markets throughout the United States are licking their wounds after suffering cyber-intrusions.

The alarm was first sounded by a cluster of radio stations in Louisiana on October 16. When the morning crews arrived, they found they had no access to the stations’ automation systems or music libraries. Instead, the data on their computers had been encrypted and frozen…and then they began to receive e-mails asking them to pay hundreds of dollars in order to set their machines free.

The stations’ owner reports that instead of paying the ransom demand, they’ve reported the intrusions to the police and plan to rebuild their systems from scratch. It will cost “tens of thousands of dollars” to undo the damage that the malicious software has inflicted, and they apparently keep finding more compromises as they continue their damage assessment.

Then last week, stations in Arkansas and Virginia announced that they, too had been infected by software that scrambled several of their computer systems and demanded payment to restore them. And this week, a cluster of stations in Michigan belatedly reported that they suffered the same sort of attack in September. Read More

FM-in-Smartphones Effort Goes Global

A consortium of broadcasters, including the The European Broadcast Union, the BBC, and several commercial broadcasters in the U.S., U.K, and Australia have launched the “Universal Smartphone Radio Project,” a campaign to lobby for building radio reception into smartphones. Sales of stand-alone radio receivers (both analog and digital) have been in steady decline for the last decade, and as media consumption-time shifts to mobile devices, radio broadcasters have found themselves by and large not in the mix.

The fix for this is what is now being called “hybrid radio,” defined as a radio signal plus a mobile data connection to provide enhanced content beyond audio and some interactivity. In the EU, this effort is being led by RadioDNS; in the States, it’s NextRadio. The campaign’s been in the talking stages since at least February and covered extensively in a presentation to the EBU in July. Read More

NAB v. DPR: Showdown in San Antonio?

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers holds its annual Broadcast Symposium in San Antonio this week. And if I could be there, I’d be hitting up the last session of Thursday afternoon, for there may be a few fireworks.

There are two planned speakers: first up is David Layer, the Director of NAB Labs’ Radio Technology Committee, who will give a status report on the state of all-digital AM-HD signal testing. The most recent round concluded in Seattle, and depending on who you ask, the results were either spectacular or so-so. Read More

Pretty Outside, Broken Inside

You may have noticed that this site is now on a bona-fide blog platform…about a dozen-plus years late to the party, but hey, it finally happened. However, the transition has been a trainwreck behind the scenes. While things are clean-looking, (somewhat) searchable, and dialogue-enabled, the design, configuration, and content-migration did not go remotely as I’d hoped.

For one thing, most internal links within posts are broken, which requires hand-code fixes. Not only just for links to other site-content, but also to links to locally-hosted media files (audio/video/pictures). With 1,000+ posts over 17+ years, it’s a mind-numbing task, but I hope to have it complete within the next week or two. (As of today, all posts from 2006-present have been fixed). Read More

HD Radio: New Frontier in Norway?

Fresh off the heels of the NAB Radio Show came news that an FM broadcaster in Norway is testing the all-digital FM-HD Radio system. According to Radio World, the tests have been conducted under the auspices of the Norweigan Local Radio Association, the industry’s longest-running trade association.

Recently, two large commercial broadcasters split off from the NLRA and have created their own lobbying arm, advocating for the eventual switch-off of FM broadcasting in Norway (in favor of DAB+). The NLRA has long promoted allowing broadcasters to retain their legacy FM infrastructure; is this affair with HD Radio a strategic maneuver to convince Norwegian regulators to drop the switchoff? Read More