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NPR Illinois Working to Restore WIPA Signal

It will deploy a temporary transmitter from NPR Distribution shortly

A transmitter failure appears to be the cause of the silence of NPR Illinois station WIPA(FM).

The 50 kW station has been off the air since late July. Management now hopes to have the signal back on the air soon, with a little help from NPR Distribution.

On Sept. 8, a tower crew inspected the antenna and transmission cable, and found no issues, according to General Manager Randy Eccles.

“Chief Engineer Tim Boll then went to restart the transmitter and it will not restart. The transmitter is over 30 years old and well past life expectancy,” Eccles told us in an email.

“Fortunately, Radio World had covered the WIPA outage, and engineers at NPR Distribution read it. They contacted NPR Illinois to let us know they had a portable, emergency transmitter available they could ship to us to use until we can repair or replace the WIPA transmitter.”

Eccles said if all goes well, this temporary measure will bring back lower-power service this week. “NPR uses these portable transmitters to help stations that have been impacted in emergencies and severe weather — another great service donors have built through their support of their network member station.”

But he said replacing the transmitter and other needed parts of the audio chain at WIPA may cost around $300,000 based on early estimates. “We are looking at potential sources for these costs. One timely option may be the CPB NGWS grant (Next Generation Warning System). We are actively preparing an application.”

The existing Broadcast Electronics FM-20B transmitter feeds an oddball antenna that is mounted at 492 feet above average terrain on a structure made by Central Tower. 

The silent signal serves a rural area to the west of WUIS, between St. Louis, Quincy and Peoria. The main signal of NPR Illinois, WUIS(FM) in Springfield, is not affected by the outage.

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