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Nautel Brings FM Translators to AM Stations

Quality and features of VS Series please Twin Cities broadcaster

ST. PAUL, MINN. — WDGY(AM), “The Original Rock n Roll station,” or “Wee Gee,” is an institution in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and serves the Twin Cities area with “All the Hits of the ’60s and ’70s.” Our AM 740 station is daytime-only but we keep the rock and roll going through the night thanks to some well-placed FM translators on 103.7 and 92.1 MHz. Also in our group is WREY(AM), a Spanish-language station with 3 kW daytime and 2.4 kW nighttime operation. WREY is also served by an FM translator on 94.9 MHz.

This report concerns the translators, purchased and placed on the air in 2016. All three came from one of my favorite companies, Nautel. I’ve been doing business with them since the early 1990s, and with only one exception (I’m calling that exception a mistake) I have only purchased Nautel equipment during that time.

In 2009, the FCC issued a Report and Order formally allowing AM stations to run FM translators. However, they only allowed use of existing translators and were subject to the rules at the time regarding moving translators. In Market No. 16, this meant that there was nothing to be had within the budget of an AM-only group. However, in October 2015, when the move-in rules were released, we saw the opportunity to bring some additional energy to our stations with the January 2016 filing window. Applications were submitted and we got our opportunity to match FM translators with our AM stations.

We elected to use the Nautel VS Series FM transmitters for our translator sites. For WDGY, we put a Nautel VS1 (1 kW) on 103.7 FM and a VS300 (300 W) on 92.1 FM; and we installed a VS1 on 94.9 FM for WREY. These VS Series transmitters have some great capabilities including IP audio, USB backup audio, SNMP support and so on. We aren’t using all of the features, but it’s nice to know they are there.

One feature that is outstanding is built-in Orban Optimod audio processing, which allows us to achieve the perfect sound for our audiences on these transmitters. We sound every bit as good as — if not better than — the big corporate facilities in our market. We’ve even had “audio geeks” call us to rave about the great sound. Setting up the processing was easy, thanks to some presets that we were able to select.

Control is easy, too. We use the Advanced User Interface — AUI — to monitor all three of the translators, but so far we haven’t encountered any deviations that we need to adjust. In the event that there is a situation at the transmitter site, due to ice or AC power, usually logging into one of the transmitters and looking at the stored logs is enough to give us an idea as to what most likely happened.

Nautel transmitters are bulletproof. Set them and forget them. They operate without a glitch or hitch. Maintenance is simple too, with easily accessed, washable air filters. It is also nice to have the ability to update software — frequently Nautel will release an update that adds features. Their continuous improvement philosophy and attention to their customers’ input serves all of us well.

If you’re looking to expand your listening area with translators, my advice to you is “Don’t cut corners: Buy the highest quality equipment that you can.” You know it will work and serve you well.

For information, contact Wendell Lonergan at Nautel in Nova Scotia at 1-902- 823-5131 or visit