SHOW LOW, Ariz. — Having worked in radio broadcasting for 26 years, I have dealt with a fair number of manufacturers. Particularly when it comes to mission-critical purchases such as a transmitter, I have learned to value suppliers who provide reliable products backed by efficient support.
For an FM transmitter for KVSL(AM/FM) in Show Low, Ariz., I recommended the Crown FME-350FS.
I run Peak Broadcasting, providing engineering services to many AM, FM and TV stations in northeastern Arizona; and I serve as chief engineer for the New Directions Media organization, which owns KVSL(AM), 1450 kHz.
New Directions recently purchased KVSL, and with the recent changes that allow AMs to use FM translators, KVSL now simulcasts with a translator (K300CL) on 107.9 MHz. My role was to recommend and implement the best transmitter for the new translator.
Robert Zellmer, owner of New Directions Media, asked my opinion. Two factors came to mind: durability and simplicity. You want a unit built to withstand the environment of a transmitter site (lightning and power surges top the concerns), a unit that gives you what you need without time-consuming complexity.
Also, you want a company that provides good support when needed. All units put out an RF signal and have similar audio specs; but Crown gives you neat features like the Web interface and proven reliability.
Years ago, I purchased a Crown 250-watt transmitter for use in my business. When a station’s exciter or main transmitter would fail, I would use this transmitter as a temporary backup. The transmitter has worked flawlessly at many places, appreciated for its good sound and simplicity.
I can see that the FME-350FS is an even better unit, with more features and the same rock-solid design. The newer unit is built around a direct-to-channel digital modulator; it’s the newest technology and should deliver even greater audio quality and reliability.
The FME-350FS provides a greater level of control and information than I have seen. T∑he translator is on top of Porter Mountain, five miles southeast of Show Low. Since Internet is available there, we access the unit via the Web interface. Telemetry and control functions can be accessed easily.
With the TCP/IP option, we received the system’s Advanced Measurement Interface. Although I have not yet explored this to the full, it seems to be a comprehensive overview of the transmitter operation, with a display of detailed analysis of the RF spectrum, MPX spectrum, audio spectrum and peak meters.
We selected a year’s subscription to the EMR service for maintenance reporting. EMR gives me online access to key parameters and sends regular reports so that I am kept informed of maintenance issues that should be addressed. Let’s face it, most of us can do with an extra set of eyes and ears.
With a one-year EMR subscription, we receive a 10-year warranty on the FM-E350FS system, a sign of a manufacturer with confidence in their design and one of these things that helps me sleep a little easier.
The unit was installed Oct. 25, 2013. We utilize a two-bay circularly-polarized antenna operating with a TPO of 200 watts, well within the transmitter rating of 350 watts. The station is collocated with another FM and many low-power users.
I initially tried to set up the unit from the front panel, but found the Web interface method simpler and less time-consuming. If you need to make changes to the unit and do not have your computer with you, the front-panel access is convenient.
Crown transmitters set the standard when it comes to quality, reliability, and effortless interface and control. The company has always been a phone call away when needed, providing excellent customer service.
For information, contact Kent Koselke at Crown Broadcast in Indiana at (866) 262-8972 or visit www.crownbroadcast.com.