June 2016
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Downgrading an AM radio station

WGHQ in Kingston, NY has been downgraded from a 5KW DA-1 to a 1KW non-DA system.  This was done because two of the three towers in the directional antenna array dated from 1960, were in very rough condition and needed to be replaced.  The remaining tower (furthest from the transmitter building) had been replaced in 1994, is in good condition and is being kept as the non-directional radiator.

Here are a few pictures:

WGHQ 3 tower directional antenna array, Port Ewen, NY

WGHQ 3 tower directional antenna array, Port Ewen, NY

More deferred maintenance

More deferred maintenance

RF and tower light feed disconnected from tower base

RF and tower light feed disconnected from tower base

Second tower base vegetation not as bad, tower disconnected

Second tower base vegetation not as bad, tower disconnected

WGHQ transmitter and original Collins phasing cabinet

WGHQ transmitter and original Collins phasing cabinet

First tower video (sorry, I appear to have no idea what I am doing with the camera):

Second tower video, this one is better:

Towers on the ground:

I made measurements on the third tower and constructed a temporary ATU with parts on hand to get the station back on the air. They are now running 1 KW day, 38 watts night, as per their CP. I will be going back up to finish the job once the brush has been removed from around the existing tower and the ATU building has been repaired.  The coverage with 1 KW is not bad, actually:

Predicted coverage map from FCC website

Predicted coverage map from FCC website

The translator is on its way.

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10 comments to Downgrading an AM radio station

  • Matt

    Good to see that the station is getting some engineering and is staying on the air rather than becoming another AM casualty.

  • elliot

    Sad indeed.
    I remember when a tech told me that the building was always left unlocked,he was right.
    None of your buisness if this First Phone ever visited personally to varify.
    I had my own sites to be conserned with.
    82 John Street was a haunted house with bats flying through the studios including that tight sounding WBPM automation room.It had some kind of reciept printer as a logger.
    “WBPM…chich ching kingston” was kinda the sound during station ID in the room I remember from my visits.
    Hey, I decomissioned a TV studio today,at least I got to bring in the original manager( to help with the lighting grid clearance) from 1995 and let him turn the lights out.Yep, things ain’t what they used to be.

  • Geoff PR

    Paul, what kind of coverage do they get on a blow-torch 38 watts?

    2-3 miles?

  • Geoff PR

    EDIT – Never mind, radio locator shows a variable pattern of approx. 30 km on 78 watts.


    The 38 watts kinda puzzled me a bit…

  • Chuck Gennaro

    The plot you linked shows the night pattern before the downgrade. Here’s the 38 watt ND plot:

    There a couple stations I’ve dealt with on the low end of the band (570, 590, etc) that could cover surprisingly well on flea power. Up on the high end of the band, forget it.

  • Lester Daffin

    Curious, if the station is in this bad of shape, why even keep it running? Is it a viable operation at all? Shame to see AM stations fall by the wayside, but if the revenue is not there, well…………………..Thanks

  • elliot

    I imagine that Pamal was forced to take WGHQ as a deal maker” in order to acquire the WBPM property which was upgradable, it was a 760 watt shoestring with technical headroom for buildout.
    This is not an unusual business arrangement.
    Though a 5Kw, it lost tons of relevance compared to WKNY and the now legendary Warren Lawrence.
    Local intern from the 70’s who was a humble , loyal broadcaster still sells to local business and loved by the community on it’s seaminly mere 1Kw signal, true local radio. That’s as good as it gets!
    Paul has featured the site here in his pages and it’s one of those 1 stick wonders that just sits there on Kingston Beach and makes power 24/7 to paraphrase him , great job Paul!
    In contrast, Pamal got WBNR, Beacon in pristine condition (IMHO).
    It’s array was rebuilt( late 80’s ) and built out to include a 400w night signal with featuring 2 huge night towers to maximize it’s throw and reversing it’s pattern.
    This site had a fantastic sounding stereo oldies format afterwards that would blow your socks off.
    It was my pleasure to work there and help out during the transition of both stations including WSPK.
    Tale of 2 legacies.

  • Tom Osenkowsky

    There is a legal value in the videos of dropping the towers. They can be used to demonstrate that towers with multiple guy anchor distances do not fall completely over, they kink in the middle.
    This can be useful at zoning and ZBA hearings where setback is a concern. Testifying at those can be gruesome at times when the facts or unknown or severely distorted far from reality.

  • Alfonso

    Hi Paul,
    Which make is the actual AM TX ?
    What analyser was used to make the nice RX sweep ?
    Many Tnx and 73´s

  • Paul Thurst

    Alfonso, the AM transmitter pictured is a Nautel ND-5. Those units were built like tanks and many are still in service. The antenna sweep was made with an Array Solutions 4170D. That is a good unit, however, I would recommend buying the high powered unit. Array Solutions says they are coming out with a new model, Power AIM 150 the first quarter of next year.

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