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Towering Over Wyoming
The state of Wyoming is famous for its diverse geography. The mountainous terrain of the western half of the state contrasts sharply with the high-altitude prairie region of the easternmost areas. Near the eastern city of Gillette, the unusual surface features pose distinct challenges for building new transmission facilities. The terrain, climate and other environmental factors all play decisive roles in the planning and execution of the project.
Legend Communications, which operates 14 radio stations in Wyoming, recently added two new stations to its Basin Radio Network in Gillette: KAML-FM, upgraded from a C1 station at 96.9 to a C0 at 97.3, and KDDV-FM. The Basin Radio Network serves the Gillette market and beyond in the eastern part of the state, known for its flat landscape, clay-like ground surface and generally arid climate.
With these factors in play, locating the ideal site to erect a tower was an effort. The absence of mountains made it difficult to pinpoint a location with enough height to reach the outer edges of the listening area. The closest sites with suitable heights were too far east or west to cover the market.
After much consideration, a plot on private land with access to three-phase power was secured 15 miles from Gillette. The flat topography required a tower that is the tallest man-made structure in Wyoming. The 1,153' ERI tower features a single combined antenna that emanates separate FM signals from two Harris HT30 transmitters. The transmitters, featuring Harris Digit exciters, went online in October, each broadcasting at 25kW to local audiences. The height study, conducted by consulting engineer Jeff Brock, confirmed each station would reach the entire market. Harris provided the complete transmission package outside of the tower for both stations.
The initial tower specification called for a height between 1,200' to 1,300' to accommodate two dedicated antennas. The weight of the second antenna and associated transmission line would adversely affect structural balances, driving the expense of the project up. The switch to a single combined antenna eliminated the cost of the added support.
Rocky Mountain Erection, a structural steel firm based in Yukon, OK, installed the foundation for the tower and raised the structure. After initial engineering studies to evaluate the ground structure, the RME team was brought on-site to drill holes, remove rock and anchor the base. The flat terrain collects water easily, so the project was scheduled around the rainier months to ensure a work environment relatively free of mud and poor weather conditions.
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