CPB Digital Radio Conversion Fund

  • Godell, Tom (PI)

    Grants and Contracts Details


    WUKY Radio's transmitter and antenna are currently located in Buena Vista KY on a tower owned by Sinclair Broadcasting/WDKY TV-56. Because that tower is unable to support WDKY's digital transmission system, the owners have decided to abandon the site some time in the very near future and construct a new tower at Clay's Ferry KY, in closer proximity to Lexington--our city of license. We have explored a wide range of options and concluded that we can dramatically improve the quality of our signal in Lexington without disenfranchising a significant number of current listeners by moving with WDKY to the new location. Construction of the new tower is expected to be completed by October 2004. The FCC has mandated that WUKY must transmit a directional signal in order to protect a commercial station at 92.1 in nearby Paris KY. As a result, we will need a new antenna to produce the proper pattern from the new site. Further, our Chief Engineer Gordon Brandenburg is concerned that our analog transmitter may not survive the move to the new site, because of its age (15+ years) and corrosion of the metal parts of the unit resulting from years of exposure to condensation (caused by overuse of air-conditioning inside the transmitter shed). Thus, we will purchase an entirely new analog transmitter. Happily this provides WUKY with an excellent opportunity to convert to HD radio. For the analog portion of this project, we will apply for PTFP funding in early in 2005. This application to CPB is intended to enable us to provide digital HD radio service from the new site. The analog equipment we propose purchasing with PTFP and local funds has been carefully selected so as to be compatible with the digital system requested in this grant application. The analog and digital transmitters, for example, will both come from the Harris Corporation. These units have been chosen so that we will be able to take advantage of the mid-level combining system invented by Harris. However, because PTFP and CPB have different grant cycles, we must delay installation of the digital equipment requested in this grant application until PTFP funds become available to us. (In the event that PTFP fails to fund our grant request, we will pursue local funds in order to complete this project within the timetable outlined below.) Once all funding is in place, we will construct our new analog and digital plants simultaneously. We anticipate that this project will be completed by December 2005--or slightly longer than the 12 month window suggested in CPB' s application materials. It is urgent that WUKY convert to HD Radio at this time for a variety of reasons. Competition with satellite radio has already begun to intensify. With Bob Edwards scheduled to debut his new program on XM this fall, we anticipate that many of our listeners will suddenly be willing to invest in that technology. We must be prepared to meet this challenge by offering a strong local service of similar audio quality with the capability of broadcasting multiple program streams from a single transmitter. We can expect HD radios to hit the Lexington market very shortly, and our listeners will expect us to have a presence in the new medium. If not, they'll quickly become accustomed to going elsewhere to obtain the programming they want (probably from satellite radio). Moreover, given the uncertain future of federal funding owing to the current budget deficit it is vital for us to invest in HD Radio now--when CPB and local dollars are , available--rather than waiting for the next grant round, if indeed there is one. HD Radio offers WUKY the opportunity to add many new services that will be valuable to our community. Because of the medium's multicasting capability, we would be able to present two or more programming streams simultaneously. At present, WUKY has only one transmitter in Lexington, and there are no available frequencies that would enable us to provide a second analog service. Using HD's subsidiary audio channel capability, we would be able to substantially increase our ability to serve the public with both local and national news/talk programming while at the same time expanding the availability of our AAA music programming. We also anticipate that there are many ways for us to provide improved community service through datacasting. In the short term, we'd be able to send critical weather and traffic information to commuters on a 24/7 basis. Further, there is potential for HD Radio's data transmission capacity to aid in homeland security efforts in central Kentucky by providing critical information to emergency workers and law enforcement personnel. To accomplish this we plan to coordinate our efforts with local officials and community leaders as we begin the transition to HD Radio.
    Effective start/end date12/31/0412/31/06


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