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Dielectric Accelerates a Transition in the Maritimes

MBS Radio has moved several AM stations over to the FM band

Radio World Buyer’s Guide articles are intended to help readers understand why their colleagues chose particular products to solve various technical situations. This month’s articles focus on antennas and RF support products.

Canadian broadcaster MBS Radio, which owns and operates 22 radio stations across Atlantic Canada, has transitioned several former AM stations to FM frequencies. CKNB(FM) on the Quebec/New Brunswick border is the most recent, switching from 950 kHz to 100.7 MHz on Nov. 14.

“AM transmits using the ground plane, and we could reach listeners well given the regional topography,” said Kevin Feltmate, director of information technology at MBS Radio. “Audio quality and listenership is limited, however, and with our transmitter showing signs of age we didn’t want to invest in new AM technology.”

FM would reach more listeners with improved audio quality, but it required an entirely new infrastructure. MBS Radio erected a new 120-foot tower and side-mounted a new Dielectric DCR-H ring-style FM antenna at the 100-foot elevation on the tower to enable the switch. 

Installation work in progress.

Feltmate asked contract engineer Francois Gauthier to determine the antenna specifications best suited for the regional topography. 

“Francois worked closely with Dielectric on the pattern and antenna design and confirmed that a two-bay array would keep our 1.4 kW signal within our regulated boundaries. We have installed DCR-H antennas at another FM station recently. This site is more challenging for coverage due to signal reflection from a mountain range.”

The CKNB(FM) antenna is itself notable because it was among the first virtually modeled Dielectric antennas. The manufacturer said this greatly reduced the time and labor of physical antenna modeling. Feltmate plans to order another Dielectric antenna for CJCW(FM) in Sussex using the same Dielectric Artificial Intelligence Optimization technology. He anticipates a spring installation.

He said installation of the DCR-H with radomes was simple and that Dielectric suppled the connectors and flex transmission line. “The riggers used a basic boom truck to raise and mount the antenna, and the radome protects the antenna in a wild climate that ranges from –20 to 30 Celsius. Outside of building the tower, Dielectric supplies all the components we need for a new FM antenna system. They take care of everything.”

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