Have YOU experienced blanketing interference to 88.1? (see below) Please take a minute to complete our survey about it. It'll help us quantify the extent of the phenomena and guide our work with B101 to help resolve the problem.
(Update 12/17 10:19am) B101 is back on OFP, and it's blanketing 88.1 again. IHM engineers say they're testing a configuration and may be doing this for a half hour or so.
(Update 12/16 10:55am) Been in touch with IHM engineers; testing is done for the day and things are back to normal. I'll be talking more with them in a little bit.
(Original Post 12/16 10:40am) On Tuesday morning (Dec.16), if you were listening to the radio in and around downtown Providence, you may have noticed B101's audio showing up across a lot of the dial, including 88.1FM.
This seems to be connected to B101's move to One Financial Center (aka the "Hospital Trust Skyscraper")
For the past few months, iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) has been executing a complicated series of modifications to three of their stations: WBWL 101.7FM in Boston, WCIB 101.9 in Falmouth, and WWBB (aka "B101") 101.5 in Providence. Specifically, WCIB and WWBB are reducing their signals' reach to expand WBWL.
That seems counterintuitive, but it actually makes a fair amount of sense; it aligns each station's signal with its respective market much, much better. And as part of all this, WWBB/B101 is being moved to the rooftop of 1 Financial Plaza (aka "Hospital Trust Tower"), the second tallest building in Providence and right in downtown.
This morning at 8:30am, they fired up the new transmitter, and suddenly B101 wasn't just on 101.5 if you were listening in downtown.
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.
Longtime Engineer's Corner readers know that we've had, well, "issues" with the STL or "Studio/Transmitter Link" for our 88.1FM signal in Providence. The STL is what carries the audio from our studios in downtown Providence to the transmitter/tower at the Wheeler Farm in Seekonk.
Now a couple weeks ago we revealed that half of a new wireless microwave STL was installed, and that the other half would be installed soon. Today, we fired it up for the first time and the results were gratifyingly positive!
UPDATE @ 1pm : 88.1FM is back at normal power! Pics are available on our Twitter feed here, here, here and here. By the way, many of these pics were taken with a stock iPhone 5S using this telephoto lens attachment. Pretty good for $45!
On Wednesday June 18th, beginning around 9:30 or 10am, 88.1FM will be running on the backup transmitter & antenna for a few hours to install new equipment on the top of the tower. We must run on the lower-power backup for the health & safety of our tower climber.
The backup operates using a one-bay vertically-polarized omnidirectional antenna and about one-tenth our normal power.
THIS WILL NOT IMPACT OUR 91.5 OR 102.7FM SIGNALS, NOR OUR WEBCAST.
The morning of April 30th saw several odd "dropouts" in the audio on 88.1FM, usually lasting 5 to 8 seconds each, happening as often as 2 or 3 times a minute, but more commonly once every 10 to 15 minutes.
There was also an odd "repeating audio" effect some people noticed, when the audio came back.
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.