(Update 02/03 5:00pm) B101 has officially moved to One Financial Plaza (aka Hospital Trust tower) in downtown Providence as their new permanent home. A "license to cover" has been granted by the FCC.
What does this mean for your listening to 88.1FM?
If you live within approx. 1.5km of One Financial Plaza (see map at right) and you are experiencing blanketing interference to RIPR, then the FCC rules (47 CFR § 73.318(b)) mandate that WWBB must "satisfy all complaints of blanketing interference which are received by the station during a one year period." That period began 1/27/2015 and ends 1/27/2016 but please don't delay!
You can contact Troy Langham at (918) 664-4581 or FCCcontact@clearchannel.com to log a blanketing interference complaint and request assistance from their engineers. Make sure to mention it's under "FCC rule section seventy-three dot three-one-eight". Give your name, physical address, and a way to contact you (email or phone).
Also, please take a minute to fill out an RIPR survey about blanketing interference. It will help us define the scope of the problem and provide useful info for our discussions with iHeartMedia's engineers and corporate offices.
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".
A recent article in the New Yorker about radio in prison piqued my interest. Besides providing a window into a world that many of us know little or nothing about, it caught my eye that these Sony SRF-39FP ("FP" for "Federal Prison") radios are actually remarkably good receivers.
We've talked in the past about skywave propagation, but it's cool when you heard about real-world examples of it. Recently I've gotten several emails from "DX'ers" (Distant Reception enthusiasts) in Europe saying they've been able to hear Latino Public Radio on 1290AM all the way across the Atlantic!
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.
When you’re a broadcast engineer, you get used to receiving calls at odd hours proclaiming things that tend to fall outside the bounds of “normal.” It’s just the nature of the job. But even your intrepid engineer can be surprised sometimes. Friday morning, August 23rd, was one of those times.
That morning I got a call informing me that WCVY, our 91.5FM signal for much of Kent County, was off the air.