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Dielectric has been developing and expanding its portfolio of lower-power broadcast systems.
Two examples of recent installs of low-power FM antenna systems are WSRQ(AM) in Florida and WMDD(AM) in Puerto Rico. Hal Kneller, a broadcast industry veteran and independent consultant managed these projects. He chose Dielectric DCR-T antennas for the stations’ FM translators.
The DCR-T is a branch-fed, circularly polarized antenna. It gives low-power FM broadcasters a cost-efficient alternative for single-station systems looking to improve signal coverage, the company says.
WSRQ’s translator for 106.9 FM (W295BH) is part of a blended SFN and simulcasting network that synchronizes programming across four stations in the Sarasota/Bradenton (Florida) market. In an effort to improve coverage, the 250-watt translator was moved from Bradenton to Sarasota. As part of the move, the existing antenna needed to be replaced.
Kneller kept the station on the air with a backup system while the one-bay DCR-T antenna was installed on its new tower. The compact DCR-T design was top-mounted on the 475-foot tower, using a tower pipe initially intended for cellular antennas. The top-mounted position, combined with the directional pattern designed for the translator, has substantially improved the translator’s effectiveness.
Kneller also purchased two Dielectric FM filters for the Sarasota site’s transmitter building, with one feeding 106.9 and the other feeding a system on 99.1 FM. The two antennas are installed on the same tower at the same elevation.
The WMDD system in Puerto Rico is also a “cross-service translator” that simulcasts the main AM signal on 106.5. Licensed to the city of Fajardo, the translator is located 30 miles outside of San Juan on the eastern edge of the island. The translator is on the AM station’s 400-foot tower and provides better sounding FM service to the local population.
“Puerto Rico is very mountainous and has a challenging terrain for FM coverage in the area surrounding Fajardo,” said Kneller. “We specified an omnidirectional two-bay DCR-T antenna with half-wavelength spacing, which directed the signal up and away from the ground. This is a common practice for translators and avoids interference with another radio station’s contour on the ground. Dielectric’s design solved these concerns up front, and they packaged and shipped the antenna in a way that helped us quickly bring all of the elements together. It took less than two days to install the antenna and new isocoupler, hang the two bays, and run the new 7/8-inch transmission line down the tower.”
Kneller adds that the robust quality of Dielectric products provides added resilience against the frequent tropical storms these two sites experience.