UPDATE 8/24/17, 3:25 p.m.: KETR's operations team successfully reinstated partial power to the transmitter at 12:30 p.m. today. The output power will remain at or below 50% for the rest of today and will be increased incrementally over the coming days, as workers exit the site. The transmitter had been operating at only 50% of its capacity throughout most of the building process over the last couple of months due to the potential for higher-than-normal radiation exposure by construction workers. The operations team expects to be a full power ahead of the Lions first game of the season next Thursday, 8/31/17.
UPDATE 8/24/17, 8:33 a.m.: In spite of the diligent work of the maintenance and engineering crews on site, some necessary work has spilled over into Thursday. The operations team is estimating a return to partial power at or around 10:00 a.m. In the meantime, these images (in the slideshow above) may provide some idea of the physical resource required in an upgrade like this.
UPDATE 8/14/17: Due to heavy rainfall, the expected date for the transmitter's power-down and relocation has been changed to Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017. If all goes well, listeners may expect a return to full power at or before 5pm on Thursday, August 24th.
Original post follows:
This summer, 88.9 KETR's transmitter site has been undergoing an upgrade. The cinder block building that played home to the station's analog and digital broadcast transmission equipment for more than 40 years had begun to show its significant age.
KETR's operations team, along with engineering support and University facilities input, designed and ordered a new steel building which will be much more energy efficient. The old building has no insulation; the new one will. The old building utilized a massive central air conditioner and two window units to barely keep the equipment cool; the new building will have a larger, newer unit designed to keep a much larger space cool and keep those 210-degree Fahrenheit exhaust temperatures at bay. The old building has the equivalent of a crawl space to access the connections, dials, and adjustments on the station's high-tech digital transmission and processing units; the new building has room for grown people to walk and work comfortably around our existing equipment, and to expand our capabilities.
The new building, when it comes on line in late August, will also contain a major point of pride for KETR's operation: an emergency broadcast center. This secure facility will provide a last-resort studio for the station's operators to use in any potential scenario where our on-campus studios may not be accessible, or where the fiber-optic station-transmitter link becomes broken. This facility, when coupled with the station's two backup generators which can provide ample power to critical systems for about three days without a refuel, is now even more prepared to fulfill the station's mission to provide vital news and information in real time to its listeners.
This new transmitter building will also house a storage room, effectively doubling the station's capacity for short- and long-term storage. The upgrade is expected to allow the station to utilize it's Binnion Hall studio and office space more efficiently.
Tentatively, listeners may expect the station to go off-air temporarily to allow workers to transfer electrical, data, and broadcast equipment from the old building to the new one beginning on Tuesday, August 15th, 2017. The station's operation is expected to return to normal, broadcasting at full power, by Friday, August 19th or sooner.