The author is owner of WGTO (AM) and W266BS in Cassopolis, Mich. His commentaries are a recurring feature.
The last thing an AM station owner wants to see right now is a letter from the FCC that informs them that the translator application they just submitted has been dismissed! But that is exactly what is happening to a few applicants.
In one case, I reviewed the application and it seemed to be in order. The maps and contours all seemed to comply. But beware, because the FCC does check your work and the software they use might not line up perfectly with the software you use. The discrepancy can cost you an application. In the case of one I reviewed it shows the 60 dBu of the translator was very tight up against the 25-mile limit, but tight is OK if not over.
But alas the FCC letter to the applicant (WCXI) showed the FCC version of the same calculations and a bump in the 60 dB contour of the translator was just barely over the 25-mile line but over is over and close does not count. The application was dismissed and the "Sorry Charlie" letter was sent. What is the lesson?
In this case the station appears to have done the application on their own. This is okay if you really know what you are doing and have software that is known to be acceptable to the FCC. I consider myself a pretty good engineer but I have a reputable consultant review my work if I am doing the application, or I give them all my input and have them do the final calculations. In the case of WCXI the discrepancy was very, very minor and could have been easily corrected if reviewed by someone more familiar with the variances of different software and mapping programs.
I have said it before and most engineers agree, no matter what you think you know, when it comes to a one-shot deal like this it is best to spend the bucks and let a professional do it from scratch or pay to have them check your work against their programs before you submit. WCXI has learned the hard way and what looked like a nice application is now moot as a result. An appeal to the Media Bureau may be in order citing software variations, but who needs that hassle?