KPCW, Park City’s community radio station since 1980, began its long awaited power upgrade and signal move. The station’s main transmitter site on Quarry Mountain will increase its power output from 250 watts to 1,800 watts, giving it a wider reach with a stereo signal.
In conjunction with the power upgrade, KPCW also plans to move down the dial from 91.9 FM to 91.7 FM. The station expects that frequency move to take place June 1, pending FCC approval of the signal testing, which will begin as soon as a new transmitter is installed.
To switch out antennas, a broadcast tower crew scaled the mountaintop antenna, and attached the old antenna and antenna pole to a crane which lifted it off. On the ground, broadcast engineers assembled a new two antenna system on the pole and the crane lifted it into place.
The lift of the new antenna was a difficult process as afternoon winds came up and caused the dangling antenna to swing in the wind. “It was like threading a needle in a windstorm,” KPCW President and General Manager Larry Warren reported. “Hats off to the tower crew who consider this just another day at the office.”
KPCW had already planned to upgrade the signal strength Summer 2016, but Warren reported that a partnership with Broadway Media, a commercial broadcaster in Salt Lake, was forged last fall in which KPCW agreed to move its frequency so Broadway could power up its adjacent commercial signal which was blocked by the KPCW 91.9 signal.
“Moving to 91.7 means stronger signals for both stations,” Warren said. “The other incentive to move was Broadway’s generous gift of a commercial FM radio station serving the Wasatch Front on 107.9 FM. That station returns to the air this weekend with a quality rock format that will be unique in that market.”
Warren says the ultimate plan for the Salt Lake station is to sell it, providing KPCW with its first ever endowment.
“We’re all excited to see this signal improvement taking shape,” KPCW Board of Trustees Chair Bob Richer commented. “We’ll have the strongest signal we’ve ever had, and the strongest financial base we’ve ever had—this is a major step forward in KPCW’s history.”
KPCW also intends to begin construction of new transmission facilities to serve the Heber Valley next week. The Heber signal will remain on 91.9 FM so it does not interfere with the new 91.7 signal.
“What our listeners need to know is that we’ve been able to build all three of our transmission sites [the third is on Lewis Peak near Coalville] with donations and grants from entities along the Wasatch Front,” Richer said. “We’ve been able to upgrade all our sites without asking for money from Summit County residents. We did not need to compete with other local nonprofits with our own capital campaign for major contributions.”
KPCW plans an awareness campaign prior to making the signal switch, which is tentatively set for June 1.