WAMU Set to Begin Tower Renovation, Antenna Replacement

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In the middle of the broadcast repack, and just after completion of its fall fundraiser, WAMU-FM, Washington, D.C., is set to begin a tower renovation and antenna replacement project. The non-commercial FM is also upgrading its transmitter to a more energy-efficient system.

Scheduling the project amid a record level of tower activity in the broadcast industry was “incredibly complicated,” according to WAMU, which noted tower companies and antenna manufacturers are working overtime to make the television channel repack deadlines.

The repack has created “intense competition” for resources, according to the station. “Due to the record level of tower activity in the industry, this was the only window in which WAMU was able to secure the resources necessary to complete this project,” says the station on its website. A $1.2 million bequest from a Virginia public school teacher is helping the station pay for the tower site work.  

The station told the FCC it plans to build a common antenna system for WAMU(FM) and several other stations on the same tower (ASR number 1045309). WAMU has been authorized to operate at 50 kW Effective Radiated Power with an antenna height of 152 meters HAAT since March 30, 1973. “This slightly exceeds the standard 50 kW at 150 meters for a Class B. As a ‘grandfathered’ facility, the proposal requests replication of the greater coverage per Section 73.511(c) of the rules,” the station requested in its construction permit application, which was granted.

WAMU proposed using a new Master FM system (ERI model number 1183-4CP-DA-SP 4-bay antenna.) It will be used by WAMU-FM, WPFW-FM, WETA-FM, and WTOP-FM – all licenced to the District of Columbia. Because no change in structure height is proposed, no change in the tower marking and lighting requirements is anticipated, the station told the agency. The tower was built in 2011.  

When work is complete, WAMU’s broadcast signal will reach approximately 400,000 more people, particularly in the suburbs of northern Virginia and parts of Maryland, according to the station. It believes existing and new listeners will experience better reception and less interference when the work is completed, which is anticipated to be before year-end, the Class B1 station says.

In the meantime, WAMU will broadcast from its Aux site in Arlington, Virginia; it anticipates reaching the majority of its core coverage area. Some listeners may experience signal disruptions due to the tower work, which is set to begin October 14.

October 11, 2019

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