by John Caracciolo
President and Director of Engineering
The Morey Organization Inc.
RONKONKOMA, N.Y. You wouldn’t think that a new antenna could make that much of a difference, but in our case it led to a major life-change for our station and helped open up an unexpectedly new and profitable business model.
WLIR(FM) is based in Ronkonkoma, which is about in the middle of Long Island. In 2007, we played alternative rock; our station was affectionately known in the New York area market as “The World Famous WLIR” because we have played alternative new wave music since 1982 and the fact we launched the careers of many famous disk jockeys, like Denis MacNamara, Larry The Duck and Malibu Sue, and we were the first station in the country to play bands like Depeche Mode and Erasure.
Jampro Penetrator At that time we had the opportunity to relocate our antenna site about 5 miles westward. This move would not only substantially increase our population coverage, but also allow us to reach Montauk Point, the furthest point east on the island and be able to cover the affluent communities in the Hampton’s, a highly desirable, valuable demographic.
I knew it would be an asset to the station to make this move. It would increase our coverage and increase our population, but the directional pattern I needed was a tough one and critical to making the move.
I knew I needed to work with an antenna company that could partner with me to develop a unique directional pattern. Although I had never bought a Jampro antenna, I had worked with them a few years earlier when we were looking at a pattern that never materialized. But after checking around, doing my research and talking to other engineers about my problem, they all said that Jampro and its engineering staff out there in California were second to none.
The company offered a range of antenna models and full-field testing facility.
First, I actually designed a rough pattern myself and found exactly what I needed. I also gave Jampro a sketch of where the populations and water were located. I sent this information to the Jampro engineers and worked with them, back and forth many times, as they fine-tuned the pattern on the test range to maximize every point of coverage.
It was a challenge. The pattern had to be unique. Our station is short-spaced to a co-channel and also on the eastern end of Long Island. We faced problems from the north from Connecticut, problems from the southwest with New Jersey and a host of problems from New York City to the west. The only problem we didn’t have was east towards France.
It was a very, very tight pattern and I had to look to maximize it where I could; I had some nulls that I had to hit to make the FCC happy and meet the contour protection that they required.
Jampro was great when it came to modifying the pattern several times.
When we found a pattern that I was comfortable with, they shipped me a JMPC two-bay “penetrator” model antenna with the custom pattern and a lower-power JMPC single-bay with an omnidirectional pattern to use for backup and maintenance.
We leased space at the new location on a Verizon tower. In September of 2007, we had no problems putting up the two-bay at 300 feet and the single-bay below it. The instructions were perfect and the installation was a breeze because the tower crew had worked with Jampro many times. The crew swung the antenna to the proper azimuth and our ground surveyor certified it.
Because we mounted on a Verizon tower, we were concerned about downward radiation and interference from many kinds of telecommunications gear, T1 lines, switching equipment and cellular transmissions. However, there have been no ill effects whatsoever since we’ve been on the air with the new antenna.
With the new antenna location we cover all of eastern Suffolk County, from Montauk Point to mid-Suffolk County. It’s a great coverage area for a Class A station of 6,000 watts, reaching highly populated areas and affluent towns.
Our penetration into buildings has also improved, it sounds cleaner with less picket-fencing. I haven’t had a single listener complain that they could not get the signal. In areas where we had been a little scratchy before, the signal has improved dramatically and we experience less multipaths.
As a result of the new location, increased coverage and signal so good, ESPN decided they wanted to extend their coverage. In January we inked a deal with 1050 ESPN out of New York City to become an affiliate and simulcast the ESPN Sports Radio feed, which we now carry as our exclusive programming. ESPN is thrilled with our new signal and the fact that it also covers the Hamptons, a premier demographic that they wanted to reach.
ESPN comes into us via satellite and we go out single-mode fiber optic to our tower. We changed nothing in our transmission facility and kept our Harris Z-10. We just got an outstanding antenna from Jampro, developed a unique pattern and moved it to a better site. ESPN Sports Radio has picked up additional advertising for us and it has helped us with business by increasing income to the station. It’s worked out very well for us.
Contact Jampro in California at (916) 383-1177 or visit www.jampro.com.