After more than 35 years as a broadcast technical consultant, Laura Mizrahi is ready to retire, or “ride off into the sunset,” as you might hear her say.
Over the years, Mizrahi primarily focused on evaluating allocation studies — which are used in conjunction with new or modified broadcast facility proposals — as well as the design of facility coverage areas that are in compliance with FCC Rules.
She began her career as an technical consultant in 1986, when she started working with Clarence Beverage, the founder of Communications Technologies, Inc. — now simply known as Communications Technologies.
In the beginning, Mizrahi was largely hand drawing specific radials onto topographic maps to be used by contract engineers doing field strength measurements for AM stations, as well as the extrapolation of graphed readings into AM proof of performance applications. “Thankfully, much of this type of work is either now automated … or eliminated,” she told Radio World.
Newer broadcasters may not remember but, for industry vets like Mizrahi, she recalls all too clearly the flurry of paper, hand-typed, notarized applications and the need for multiple copies to be overnighted to the FCC to meet various, very short filing deadlines.
“I do not miss those days AT ALL!” she told Radio World in an email.
From there, Mizrahi’s work branched into the FM part of the business, regularly studying the FCC’s Public Notices for new and evolving policy, and becoming educated about the rules with respect to the FM band.
Throughout this work, Mizrahi said Clarence Beverage became an invaluable mentor, advising her in all aspects of her technical broadcasting career.
It was a relationship that continued to grow and evolve over time, both professionally and personally.
At the start of 1988, Mizrahi became the vice president of Communications Technologies, Inc. Then, by the time December 1988 rolled around, she and Beverage were married.
“Having met at work, Clarence and I found our approaches to be complementary — which was a definite plus once we married,” said Mizrahi. “We have a policy that all applications, studies and essentially any work product gets the ‘second set of eyes’ review.”
While their firm works across all broadcast avenues, Mizrahi said Beverage is known for his knowledge of AM antenna design work. Her particular focus, however, was on FM and FM translators with a specialty in Non-Commercial FM work, including LPFM.
“This led to my close association over my entire career with entities such as the National Association of College Broadcasters (NACB), which ultimately became College Broadcasters, Inc. (CBI), [and] participating regularly at their conventions on panels with FCC attorneys and other technical specialists.”
Mizrahi said some of her proudest achievements during her decades-long career happened about 15 years ago. The first of which was the successful grant of a new construction permit for an existing, full-service Class C2 non-commercial FM station — which Mizrahi said they proposed to upgrade to a Class C1 facility.
“This upgrade was unique as it required a waiver of Section 73.509 of the [FCC] Rules which, by strict interpretation of the rule, would not have been permitted,” she said. “However, [I] cited several precedents that were deemed acceptable under current commission policy at the time, and the application was subsequently granted.”
The second achievement involved a Class D station, which had formerly been involved in a share time situation with another Class D facility, which was faced with an imminent loss of its transmitter site when the share time condition no longer existed.
“Given the congested nature of the allocation picture in the portion of the country in which the station existed, the location of a new transmitter site was particularly sensitive. An existing tower site was determined viable from an allocation’s standpoint, but the proposed location required a waiver.”
Ultimately, the waiver request was granted, and Mizrahi left work happy.
When asked about the most important current or coming trends in radio broadcast technology, Mizrahi noted the FCC’s proposal to allow FM stations to increase their HD power level to 10 percent of the analog power level.
“This opportunity could convince more stations to adopt HD operation and would potentially lead to the day when FM will become an all-digital platform which will allow additional ancillary program channels to be added,” she said.
[Related: “FCC Advances FM HD Power Proposal“]
As she ends her career in the broadcast biz, Mizrahi shared a few final thoughts about her profession. She said broadcast technical consultants have access to more than just the engineering software needed to perform the studies and showings for any application that goes before the commission.
“They also, over time and with experience, possess the ability to creatively assist their clients in ways that fall ‘outside of the box’ of the strict interpretation of the [FCC] Rules,” she said. “A good consultant is able to do both of these things in order to provide comprehensive services and technical solutions to the most challenging broadcasting dilemmas.”
And as for some advice for those interested in becoming a technical consultant: “It is also important to have or develop good written and oral communication skills,” she added. “The ability to explain in understandable layman’s terms what you are proposing for a specific application is a bonus for both the consulting engineer and the client.”
Finally, looking ahead, Mizrahi said she plans on traveling more, enjoying senior priced matinees, catching up on some much overdue reading and spending more quality time with friends and family.
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