PRICHARD, W.Va. — One of my clients, Summit Media, operates five stations in West Virginia. Their country station in Sutton — WDBS(FM), “The Boss” 97.1, acquired in 2000 — had undergone a major rebuild about a decade ago but later began having issues with their transmitter and exciter. That exciter, which had sounded decent, became problematic, with intermittent power problems, and had been sent back to the factory twice.
On its third failure I suggested to the owner that he purchase a Nautel VS300 for use as an exciter; if the main transmitter were to fail again, the VS300 could be used as the on-air transmitter in a pinch. This happened several times.
The switching of exciters to the VS300 was relatively painless. I had to change a relay contact to invert the mute line on the resident transmitter so that it would unmute the VS300 when exciter power was needed and the station was on the air.
The VS300 sounded great, and with the nearly transparent composite clipper turned on, it was loud and audio quality was much improved. The station was so loud, in fact, the owner did not believe he was legal, and asked me to prove that the modulation was where it needed to be. I took a video of the mod monitor to show him and he was quite surprised.
The station’s Optimod 8200 processor required only small changes to reduce the high end. The owner liked the way the VS300 sounded, so much so that he purchased a VS1 for another station, WVBD(FM), to replace a transmitter that had never sounded quite right. WVBD, Fayetteville, W.Va., is using an Optimod 8100XT processor and easily is the loudest and best-sounding station in the market.
When the main transmitter at WDBS gave out for the last time, after just 10 years of service and many major outages, the station purchased a Nautel NV20 transmitter, freeing the VS300 exciter for other uses. Now it is running at another station, WKQV(FM) in Cowen as the exciter and backup transmitter to an Armstrong FM2500B. Coincidentally, that station’s slogan is “We Rock West Virginia Louder,” and now thanks to the VS300, they actually do.
When each of these Nautel units was installed, we noticed a slight coverage increase along with the incredible increase in loudness and audio quality. Summit Media is a happy Nautel customer. Other stations in their markets are baffled by WDBS’, WVBD’s and WKQV’s loudness and quality of audio.
Both the VS300 and VS1 units have been rock-solid in performance. With the built-in AUI interface they are easy to manage now that the stations have IP connectivity to all their sites. It is easy to manage one of these units and see at a glance if anything is wrong — simple enough for a station owner to do, but intuitive enough for an engineer to get to the root of the issue.
For information, contact Wendell Lonergan at Nautel in Nova Scotia at (902) 823-5131 or visit www.nautel.com.