Clearly, this has not been a pleasant winter for anyone in New England, and our 102.7FM tower site in Narragansett is no exception. This past Saturday (3/28) we had scheduled time for two different AT&T Wireless tower crews to go up on the Narragansett tower to work on their cellphone antennas.
During such times, we shut down 102.7FM (if possible we'll only reduce power, but in this case it has to be all the way "off") so the tower climbers don't get RF burns from our FM signal.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans and it snowed a lot of the day on Saturday. One crew had to bag it entirely, and the other was highly limited in what they could do. It's not just a question of it being safe to climb the tower in the snow; these guys are pretty hardy and can climb in almost anything. The real problem is the equipment itself can't be exposed to too much precipitation or it shorts out. Normally there's rain/snow/ice shields on it all, but they have to open those shields up to work on the antennas.
Accordingly, we're going to have more shutdowns in our future. The next shutdown of 102.7 is scheduled for between 12noon and 3pm on Tuesday March 31st. We're not sure exactly when, but it shouldn't last for more than an hour or so.
Beginning at 10:00am on Saturday March 28th there will be an extended outage of RIPR's 102.7FM signal. It is expected to last several hours at least, possibly until sunset (around 6:30pm).
We may be able to continue operating at reduced power. But it's likely that 102.7 will just be completely off the air. Please note: whenever 102.7 is off, our WCVY 91.5FM signal in Coventry will be off as well. (it gets its content via a radio receiver tuned to 102.7)
Friday night and mid-day Saturday (Nov.14 & 15) ended up being a bit of a saga for what was supposed to be a routine upgrade for our 102.7FM signal in South County. So first off, an apology to our RIPR listeners on 102.7FM, and to MVYradio's listeners to the 96.5FM signal in Newport. There were several dropouts, periods when RIPR was on backup transmitter (and thus 96.5 was off entirely), or when both transmitters were down.
Exactly what happened could be described as an avalanche of minutiae, but I'll lay it out as best I can.
Not nearly as romantic as "Lost in Austen", but the hefty thunderstorms that roared through Wednesday morning dumped a lot of rain and dropped a lot of lightning, both of which conspired to take RIPR's 102.7FM (and MVYradio's HD2) off the air for an hour or two.
Sharp-eared listeners may have noticed some announcements this morning on RIPR, having to do with our FCC broadcast licenses. In fact, listeners to every radio station in Rhode Island, and all of New England, will be hearing similar announcements today. It’s because every eight years, AM & FM broadcast licenses expire and must be renewed; these announcements are required by the FCC as part of that process.
Air conditioning. Cool heaven for those who have it, blazing hell for those who don't. It didn't used to be terribly common in broadcast engineering, but it's become moreso in the last ten years. The reason is that, more and more, audio processors, RDS encoders, audio encoders/decoders, studio/transmitter links, remote control systems, and even the transmitters themselves, have all become increasingly "computer-like" with IC's, hard disk drives, power supplies, electrolytic capacitors and the like. All things that fail quickly when operated in temperatures above 80 or so, and the warmer it gets, the faster they fail!