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More than Seven Dirty Words

Get to Know the Federal Communications Commission

The FCC is more than "Seven Dirty Words." It's over 1400 employees, 80 years of history, and countless untold stories and unsung heroes. The Official FCC Podcast will bring you those stories, featuring interviews with FCC staff and others in the communications space.

Episodes

#1225 minutes

Engineering at the FCC

How has the agency evolved to keep pace with new tech?

It's a cliche, but that doesn't make it any less true: technology has changed rapidly over the past few decades. And the FCC has played a role in enabling the introduction of new services that we use in our daily lives. But few people have had the unique perspective of today's guest, who has overseen these developments for, um, quite some time. Evan is joined by Julie Knapp, Chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) at the FCC. They discuss the evolution of the OET from past to present—from the brick cell phones of the 1980's to the smartphones of today. And what technologies on the horizon are most exciting to the FCC's chief engineer? (Disclaimer)

#1126 minutes

For Tower Climbers, It's Safety First

How does the National Wireless Safety Alliance work?

As the demand for broadband and mobile data grows exponentially, so does the need for broadband jobs in every part of the Internet ecosystem—from the hoodie-wearing coders in coffee shops writing software to the tower climbers who deploy cell sites to the manufacturers who make steel towers and equipment. But no matter how high the demand for service, safety and proper training must always be front and center. Evan is joined by Duane MacEntee, Executive Director of the National Wireless Safety Alliance. They discuss the safety, certification, and coordination initiatives for tower climbers. In the past, far too many climbers suffered injuries, or, in the worst cases, paid with their lives. How did the industry get from the dark times of the past to the national safety and certification standards used today? What lessons can be learned and, as the race to 5G heats up, what new education initiatives are coming down the pike? (Disclaimer)

#1024 minutes

Experimenting with the FCC

How do new radio technologies get from the test phase to market?

So you want to try out a new technology? Where do you start? The FCC's experimental licensing program has played a key role in the development of new products and services—from smartphones to new 5G equipment. But how does the program work, and what sorts of technologies have come through it? Some we may be using in our daily lives. Others may have been a bit too wild to make it to market. From universities to hospitals, what sort of entities are taking advantage of this opportunity? And what should consumers and engineers know about the program? Evan discusses all that and more with Walter Johnston, Former Chief of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Division in the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology. (Disclaimer)

#917 minutes

Women in Wireless

With sky-high demand for tower crews, what can be done to strengthen America's wireless workforce?

With the broadcast repack in full swing and the race to 5G heating up, tower work is essential to getting those efforts across the finish line. Demand for tower crews is sky high—whether it's working a 50-foot cell tower or a 2,000-foot broadcast tower. And it's easy to take for granted when our cell phones and televisions work, but it's not magic or pixie dust. It's hard, often gritty, and even dangerous work that ensures America's communications services continue to work well and are upgraded as technology improves. So what efforts are underway to develop and strengthen this vital workforce, particularly when it comes to women? Evan is joined by Andy Lee of Lee Antenna and Line Service and Chairwoman of the Women of NATE (National Association of Tower Erectors) and Miranda Allen of Radio Frequency Safety International and a member of the Women of NATE Committee. (Disclaimer)

#823 minutes

Broadcasting in Wildfires

When wildfires hit California, how did local broadcasters respond?

Local news is important for many reasons, but it's often said that local broadcasters are at their finest when disaster strikes. We've seen this time and again, whether it was the hurricanes in Florida, Puerto Rico, and Houston, or other crises that impacted communities across the country. And we saw it when wild fires and mud slides hit California. So, what role did broadcasting play in public safety and the response to these months-long disasters? What sort of coordination happened between TV and radio stations and first responders? For the first time, the FCC podcast hits the road as Evan is joined by Mark Danielson, general manager of the News Press Gazette Company, which owns Santa Barbara's KEYT, where this episode was recorded. (Disclaimer)

#722 minutes

Connecting America

FCC CAF II Auction to Bring Broadband to Rural Homes and Businesses

The U.S. has made tremendous strides over the past two decades in connecting Americans to high-speed broadband. But hurdles remain, as 24 million Americans still lack access. This is particularly true for sparsely populated areas where the economics of broadband are challenging. While only 2% of urban residents lack access, that number increases to 30% for rural residents. The FCC's number one mission is the close the Digital Divide, and there are many efforts under way, including the recent "Connect American Fund Phase II" auction. How does the auction work, and what will it mean for rural America? Joining Evan is Chelsea Fallon, Director of the FCC's Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force. For more information on the auction results, check out the FCC's interactive CAF II map. (Disclaimer)

#624 minutes

Robocalls

Spoofing, scamming, and the FCC's crackdown on unwanted calls

It's not just you—everyone is getting robocalled. By one estimate, 50% of all calls will be spam by the end of 2019. To be sure, robocalls have been a problem for decades, but it seems like recently we've gotten to a boiling point, particularly when it comes to our cell phones. How did we get here, and what's being done about it? Evan is joined by Mark Stone, Deputy Bureau Chief of the FCC's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau. They discuss the history of robocalls, the laws that combat them, and the actions the FCC is taking to stamp them out. Is there such a thing as a "good" robocall? And what is "neighborhood spoofing?" What can consumers and companies do to avoid scams? For more information, see the FCC's guide on unwanted calls and texts. (Disclaimer)

#521 minutes

I'm Evan, And I Approve This Podcast

Equal time, lowest unit prices, and how a touring music man becomes the FCC's political ad guy

With the midterm elections fast approaching, political ads are sure to be flooding your TVs and radios. The Federal Election Commission certainly has plenty of work to do, but what role will the FCC play, given that radio and television are under its jurisdiction? Evan is joined by Bobby Baker, Assistant Division Chief of the Policy Division in the FCC's Media Bureau. They discuss the FCC's political ad rules—from equal time and opportunity to lowest unit prices to the always-exciting paperwork requirements. And how did Bobby go from being a touring music man in the 70s and 80s to running point at the FCC on political ad regulations? (Disclaimer)

#434 minutes

The Personal Story Behind Kari's Law

Hank Hunt joins Chairman Pai and Evan to share the heart wrenching story of his daughter Kari's murder, his granddaughter who tried to call 911 but couldn't get through, a promise he made, and his successful crusade to fix a glaring problem with 911 calls

In 2013, Hank Hunt's daughter, Kari, was attacked and killed by her estranged husband in a Marshall, Texas hotel room. Kari's nine-year-old daughter was in the room and tried calling 911 on the hotel phone. She dialed 911 four times as her mother was attacked. But not one of her calls ever went through. Why? The hotel phone required guests to dial a "9" before calling outside the hotel—even for 911. Since that day, Hank has worked tirelessly—and successfully—with the FCC and Congress to change the law so that a "9" is no longer needed for 911 calls from multi-line systems like hotel phones. His efforts culminated in Kari's Law becoming the law of the land on Feb. 16, 2018. Hank joins Chairman Pai to share his story and discuss his five-year journey to enact Kari's law, including his work with the FCC. (Disclaimer)

#316 minutes

This Is Not A Drill

Lisa Fowlkes discusses the latest in emergency alerting

On January 13, 2018, a false ballistic missile alert went out all over Hawaii. The message caused 38 minutes of panic and confusion until corrections were sent to residents' cell phones, televisions and radios through Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and the Emergency Alert System (EAS). When went wrong in Hawaii, and what did the FCC find in its investigation and report? While what happened in Hawaii may be an extreme example, Americans have become familiar with emergency alerts over the years—from flash flood and tornado warnings to AMBER Alerts when children go missing. What are some of the successes of the system, and what are some of the challenges? What is the FCC doing to improve WEAs, particularly when it comes to geotargeting and providing more information through the alerts? What should listeners expect when FEMA conducts a nationwide test on October 3, 2018? (Note: that test was originally scheduled for September 20). And finally, what do the latest innovations on the horizon mean for public safety? Evan discusses all that and more with Lisa Fowlkes, Chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. (Disclaimer)