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Build Better Backups
At this point you might be asking, "What's the payoff? This all sounds impossibly expensive." Well, there was an instance about three years ago when one of the power dividers on the master antenna flamed out, and we used 4TS for nine days straight at our full ERP while some other stations opted to use the upper bay of the ESB antenna at 1/4 of their nominal ERP. (If you look at a typical ESB license (using Z100 as an example) you'll note that the ERP is 6kW with a height above average terrain of 415 meters. The corresponding auxiliary license for 4TS is 13kW with an HAAT of 281 meters.) Then there was the time at the end of last year when a water leak directly over the Z100 transmitter (completely out of our control) took out the main transmitter at 3 p.m. on a Friday. 4TS put itself on the air automatically, then called and e-mailed me to tell me about it. Oh yes -- then there was the time, about a year ago, when we had a weather event, which is now known simply as "Sandy" that effectively took out our ESB transmitters leaving us with our 4TS site and its full capability.
Any transmitter site, even with the best redundancy, is still subject to problems that are out of your control: weather events, such as tornadoes, floods, hurricanes. Mountain top sites can be snowed in during the winter and exposed to forest fires during the summer. If the opportunity presents itself for you to develop an alternative transmitter site, I recommend taking it. The extra peace of mind one develops knowing your plans are in place is really satisfying and ultimately makes this job easier.
Irwin is RF engineer/project manager for Clear Channel Los Angeles. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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