Cavell, Mertz Team

John C. Kean

Before joining Cavell, Mertz, John was Senior Technologist for National Public Radio from 2004 until 2015, where he was developed projects, procedures and standards and supervised all technical projects of NPR Labs, the only not-for-profit broadcast engineering laboratory in the U.S. Mr. Kean also was a Senior Engineer at NPR from 1980 to 1986, where he supported new broadcast technology and pioneered expansion of FM transmission services.

At NPR Labs, he completed a thorough study of the compatibility of AM Modulation-Dependent Carrier Level with HD Radio®, for the National Radio Systems Committee.  Also for the NRSC, he conducted a study of the performance of Single-Sideband FM Stereo and it compatibility with present-day FM receivers.  He developed and supervised a major study for the Consumer Electronics Association into loudness range preferences of listeners.  This study is now being adopted by the CEA’s Audio Systems Committee as a CEA Technical Standard.  Through a series of published articles and training, he introduced ITU loudness measurements to the public radio industry, which is now adopted by all NPR departments and is used to normalize all network audio content.

For the U.S. Dept. of Commerce/NTIA Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, he developed and supervised the production of detailed terrain-sensitive coverage maps and population demographic studies of more than 850 FM stations, all 750 public television stations, and their associated translators.  The results are publicly available in an interactive web site on the Internet.  Other studies for digital television include a measurement of interference susceptibility of consumer DTV receivers with NCE-FM signals and, for Sirius-XM Radio, a study of protection ratios with over-the-air signals from potential high-power FM modulators.

In 2008, he directed an 18-month project for the CPB on the coverage capabilities of HD Radio, the U.S. digital audio broadcast system.  Comprehensive software on the ESRI ArcMap GIS platform produced nearly four-thousand detailed signal-interference maps of U.S. public radio stations.  From this research he developed a technical algorithm for determining the signal coverage capability of In-Band On-Channel (“HD Radio”) broadcasting for which he was issued a U.S. patent (#8,374,556 B2).  This model was extensively field-verified for accuracy.

From 2000 to 2004, John served as Director of Wireless Architecture for XO Communications. While at XO, he held key responsibility for fixed wireless technology at one of the largest spectrum holders in the U.S. (101 LMDS licenses totaling 1.5 billion MHz-Pops), provided wireless network design oversight and integration into metro optical-fiber networks, provided regulatory representation on FCC technical rules and rule-making proceedings, and performed business case analysis and model development for fixed wireless networks, to determine product sets, price points, and return on investment (including development of fixed wireless for cellular backhaul applications).

Prior to the XO posting, John was with Moffet Larson & Johnson, Inc., an engineering consulting firm, dealing in the fields of analog and digital TV and radio facilities, FCC regulations, microwave and satellite systems, and mobile cellular networks. Some of the telecommunications client projects he handled include:

  • RFP development with Israel’s Ministry of Communications for the first private cellular telephone license; provided follow-on bidder evaluations and selection.
  • Supervising engineering design teams in Seattle, Houston and other cities for major PCS clients using advanced RF mapping and GIS tools;
  • Leading cellular phone systems design in Egypt, Ghana-W. Africa using GIS tools and data developed in-house.
  • Consulting the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to allocate of spectrum for a nationwide mobile cellular network, which required extensive GIS mapping and demographic analysis of South Africa.
  • Research and development of mobile RF field measurement systems for real-world PCS and cellular propagation studies using custom mapping engines.
  • Technology selection and business case study of LMDS service for Partners Communications (Orange), Israel, and
  • Serving as Lead engineer on a feasibility study for the first VHF marine radiotelephone system in the Sultanate of Oman.

John has been a Senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Past President of the IEEE Broadcast Symposium.  He also served as Chairman of the National Radio Systems Committee’s AM Study Task Group and is past president of the Audio Engineering Society (Washington DC Section), and was a contributing author to three Editions of the National Associations of Broadcasters’ NAB Engineering Handbook.

John was also co-author of the Recommendation for Loudness of Audio Streaming and Network File Playback, the Audio Engineering Society’s first technical document providing metrics for Internet audio, Oct. 2015.

Finally, John has been a presenter of numerous papers in the field of radio systems engineering to the National Association of Broadcasters’ Engineering Conference, the International Engineering Consortium, the Wireless Communications Association, Shorecliff International Conferences, and Public Radio Conferences.

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