UPDATE DEC.1, 2014: our demo unit of the BW Broadcast DSPXmini-FM SE audio processor arrived today. It's been installed on 88.1FM and initial tweaking is complete. The sound seems markedly improved. I'll be fiddling with it further to adjust it across different programs.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: About a week ago, your intrepid engineer made some changes to the airchain on our 88.1FM that should've, in theory, been wholly beneficial and with no potential for downside. However, around that same time I started getting reports of an odd whistle...or just high-pitched static...that would come and go with no apparently rhyme or reason.
These reports aren't widespread, but there's been enough that I'm no longer inclined to think it's just an odd run of people happening to have poor reception. The only commonality is that it seems to occur only when reception of 88.1 isn't very good to begin with. Not necessarily "poor" reception at all, just not "super-solid".
Late last week I was very happy to execute the final changeover to RIPR's new PRODUCTION STUDIO. This is a big deal for us; our studios were originally designed and constructed by WBUR, way back in the late 1990's when they owned RIPR (then just "WRNI") outright, and most of the "back office" personnel were still located in Boston.
Accordingly, we only have one "studio". It's two connected rooms: a "control room" with the usual mix board, producer's station, director's station, etc...and a "mic booth" with just a trio of mics. The idea was that a lot of the day-to-day, off-air, production work was happening up in Boston, where WBUR had four main studios and seven edit booths. So the workload on RIPR's end would be pretty light.
Fast-forward to 2007 and now we're an independent news radio station with nine news staff and a ton of daily production needs. Yet only one studio to do it in! AAAAAHHHH!!! Scheduling conflicts were rampant.
In light of ongoing issues with the Studio/Transmitter Link (STL) for WELH 88.1, we have implemented a new STL schema. If you heard a lot of odd audio dropouts on 88.1 today, that was the reason.
The good news is that we should have a pretty good temporary solution in place, and a solid path for a permanent solution is on the horizon (tentatively scheduled for mid-March). Best of all, I was able to put in a new(er) Orban Optimod 8100A audio processor to replace the less-capable Inovonics DAVID-III. There's a little sibilance still, so I need to tweak the settings. But overall the sound should be much louder, fuller, and more consistent.
We have put a temporary setup in place with a donated 30 watt transmitter on loan (with the antenna array's gain factor of 2.1, it's really more like 63 watts of Effective Radiated Power), and a special radio that's tuned to 102.7FM (there's a high-gain FM antenna on the rooftop tower) and puts out the composite signal directly into the new transmitter. This effectively makes 91.5 into a "repeater" of 102.7FM.