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Bext Cruises on Route 66

User Report: FM transmitter’s low maintenance profile is appreciated at remote Arizona Site

KINGMAN, Ariz. I am the director of engineering for the K-Jazz Radio Network and station manager of KJZK(FM), a new noncommercial educational and public radio station in Kingman, Ariz., located on Route 66 about an hour from Las Vegas.

KJZK(FM) covers three counties, three states, two time zones (in season) and numerous prairie dog colonies in western Arizona.

The K-Jazz Radio Network serves central and western Arizona with stations in Kingman, Williams, Flagstaff and Prescott broadcasting in partnership with PRI member station KAWC at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz.

The mission of the station group is to serve the needs of the residents of rural Arizona with a focus on community college education and programming. The stations broadcast public radio programming, local and regional news and information, along with an extensive lineup of locally-produced, community-based programs.

Transmitter selection

In 2009 we found ourselves in the market for a new transmitter for KJZK(FM). We selected a Bext XL-3500 FM transmitter (3500 W), which we installed at a transmitter site that is collocated with a Frontier Communications/Mohave Wireless Cellular site 18 miles east of Kingman in a remote area atop Blake Ranch Mountain.

When we received the transmitter we were surprised by how easy it was to install. From uncrating to on-air it took less than 10 minutes. The compact four-rack-space size integrated nicely into the small area available inside the cell-site building.

KJZK’s antennas are at the top of the Mohave Cellular 200-foot tower. We use a two-bay PSI directional array at a licensed power of 4.5 kW. Like most remote sites it’s a long, dusty trail to the top. Sometimes we can get there, often we cannot. Weather may make it impossible to even attempt the trip, so we are pleased with the performance of the Bext XL-3500 transmitter inasmuch as it needs no recurring maintenance whatsoever.

The XL-3500 has solid engineering. The best way to describe the unit is to compare it to my wife’s favorite pasta sauce. “It’s all in there!” … the exciter, the stereo generator, the audio processor, the power amp … all in an enclosure small enough to take up only four RU. And, importantly, in this installation it works nicely on 220 V single-phase drawing less than 20 amps per leg. No messy external power requirements.

We evaluated dozens of potential transmitters for this location and know of no other unit capable of doing what the Bext XL-3500 transmitter does for us. It’s practical, user-friendly and value-priced. We have also noticed that it has excellent electrical efficiency.

KJZK’s contract maintenance engineer is Mark Parthe of Arizona Broadcast Service in Prescott. He raves about the design, cost and tech support. But he also quipped, “I’m not making many trips to the transmitter sites these days and that’s cutting into my billable hours big time.”

All in all, we are overwhelmingly pleased with the BEXT XL-3500 and recommend the line for broadcast budgets of any size and requirement. For our upcoming projects we are preparing purchase orders for more Bext equipment, including new transmitters at several other power levels.

by Tom Erickson is a station manager with KJZK(FM).

For information, contact Bext in California at (619) 239-8462 or