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Two Feeds From Twin Falls With GatesAir

CSN International deploys HD Radio so it can feed a translator

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 transmitters.

Based in picturesque Twin Falls, Idaho, listener-supported CSN International brings Christian youth-oriented music and bible teachings to 42 full-power AM and FM stations and 337 translators in 43 states. 

The network had been fully analog until September, when it took the step of launching its first HD Radio signal on KKJA(FM) in Redmond, Ore., a 1.5 kW ERP station serving the broader market of Bend.

There was another first to accompany the milestone, as the broadcaster chose GatesAir as its transmission supplier for the first time to satisfy specific technical requirements. 

The project’s main motivation was to bring Effect Radio, CSN’s secondary network, to the Bend market and gain value from a redundant translator that provided no additional coverage to KKJA. 

“Our network is mainly satellite-fed, but we have to feed commercial-band translators with off-air signals,” said Dustin Pamplona, CSN International’s director of engineering. “The only off-air signal we could receive at this location was from KKJA, a CSN station. Due to FCC rules, we could not get Effect Radio to the translator via satellite. Adding an HD Radio service allowed us to feed an off-air signal to the translator using the HD2 channel.”

That requirement inspired Pamplona to evaluate a small group of HD Radio transmission suppliers with which the company hadn’t worked before. One particular element of the GatesAir solution, which includes a Flexiva FAX air-cooled transmitter and FMXi 4g program importer/exporter, made it stand apart.

“The FMXi 4g includes embedded software to manage FM and HD Radio time alignment, which I found impressive,” said Pamplona. “The other solution I strongly considered required a separate hardware device to address time alignment. That magnified how GatesAir offered a more polished system.”

Pamplona installed the FMXi 4g with the FAX transmitter at the RF site due to the distance from Twin Falls. 

“The transmitter is on top of Grizzly Mountain, so by co-locating the importer and exporter we have no concerns about maintaining a stable internet connection,” said Pamplona, who adds that the Flexiva design is “modular, accessible and well-thought out,” simplifying maintenance. 

“The Flexiva has been rock-solid in performance and provides our listeners in the Bend market with a robust signal for our secondary programming.”

[Read More Buyers Guide Reviews Here]