The NASH: WNSH, Newark, NJ

Lately, I have been working at a site in West Orange, NJ connecting various parts and pieces and thought that this was interesting:

WNSH 94.7 MHz, Newark, NJ main antenna (top)
WNSH 94.7 MHz, Newark, NJ main antenna (top)

That is the main antenna for WNSH, 94.7 MHz Newark, NJ, aka “Nash-FM.”  Below that is the backup antenna for WEPN-FM (98.7 MHz), WQHT (97.1 MHz) and WFAN-FM (101.9 MHz).  More on those stations later.

WFME studio building
WFME studio building

This is the WFME studios, located off of NJ Route 10.  It is kind of hard to see the call letters behind all those trees and whatnot.  There is an older picture from 1999 floating around, which shows the studio building in better condition.  This is a better angle:

WFME studio
WFME studio

I believe WFME is still originating its programming here, now being broadcast on WFME 106.3 MHz, Mount Kisco.  I had to use the facilities there, the interior is like a way back 80’s time machine, which is kind of cool.  If I owned a radio station, I would go for the 70’s office decor; dark wood paneling, shag carpets, bright blue bathroom tile and avocado green appliances, but hey, that’s just me.

WNSH backup antenna, WFME-TV antenna
WNSH backup antenna, WFME-TV antenna

This is the WNSH backup antenna, mounted on top of a UHF slot antenna for WFME-TV.  There is an LP TV antenna mounted there also, but I don’ t know who it belongs to.  Overall, it is an interesting transmitter site on “First Mountain” in West Orange, NJ.  Also located here, WFMU-FM, an old ATT microwave site, now owned by American Tower and several cell carriers.   In other words, it is just like most other mountain top transmitter sites, except there is a shopping plaza across the street.

I gave a listen to the NASH while driving there.  For where it is, it seems to have a pretty good coverage area.  As for the music, well, I am not sure how a Manhattenite will relate to Tracy Byrd’s “I’m from the Country” wherein:

Everybody knows everybody, everybody calls you friend
You don’t need an invitation, kick off your shoes come on in
Yeah, we know how to work and we know how to play
We’re from the country and we like it that way

Being from upstate NY, I get it.  Perhaps the Manhattan salary man will too.  There are no DJ’s on air quite yet, just music, some commercials and a few “Nash-FM” liners that sound slightly distorted.

Zonecasting; the Technical Details

I saw this a item many weeks ago, however, had not had time to look at it until now.  Geo Broadcasting Solutions has filed Petition for Rule Making (RM-11659) based on a system divides the coverage area of major stations into smaller zones allowing for ad targeting of specific audiences.  They have coined the term “Zone Casting” to describe the scheme. It is covered by two US issued patents filed by Lazer Spots, LLC: 20120014370 and 20110065377.  After a look at these two patents, it seems there are three possible ways to accomplish this Zone Casting Scheme:

  1. In the first described method, the main transmitter is broadcasting area wide and all the zone transmitters are muted.  An inaudible signal is transmitted to all units, the main transmitter is then muted and the zone transmitters turn on and transmit localized content.  After the local information is transmitted, the zone transmitters mute and the main transmitter resumes broadcasting.
  2. In the second described method, the main transmitter and the zone transmitters are broadcasting area wide information.  The main transmitter ceases broadcasting area wide information and the zone transmitters begin broadcasting localized information.  At the end of the localized information the main transmitter and zone transmitters transmit area wide information.
  3. In the third describe method, the main transmitter and zone transmitters are broadcasting wide area information with “capture ratio pattern.”  The main transmitter initiates an alteration, temporarily becoming a zone transmitter.  The zone transmitters then transmit localized content.  After the localized content, the main transmitter becomes a main transmitter again.

All of the transmitters are linked to the studio via digital STL systems, content for the zone transmitters is distributed via IP network.  The transmitter frequencies are synced with GPS, similar to FM on channel booster stations.  Method number three includes possibly switching the transmitter output to a lower gain and or lower height antenna.

Zone Broadcasting Conceptual Diagram
Zone Broadcasting Conceptual Diagram

Of the three methods, the first system will result in the fewest interference issues.  No matter which method is used, there will be interference issues between the zone transmitters and or the main transmitter where the signal strengths are equal and the audio is 180 degrees out of phase.  These can be moved around slightly by adding delay to the audio signal, but they will always be present.  More about Same Frequency Networks (SFN) and Synchronized FM signals can be found here.  While the zone transmitters are transmitting dissimilar localized information, standard capture effect rules apply.

The system has had limited testing in Salt Lake City, Utah (KDUT) and Avon Park, Florida (WWOJ), which according to the filing and comments, went well.

Geo-Broadcasting is applying to conduct a full test with WRMF in Palm Beach, FL.  The expected installation will include up to 22 zone transmitters.

Conceptually, tightly targeted advertising is not a bad idea.  Advertisers like it because they perceive a better return for their dollar.  The cost of such a system is not insignificant. Transmitter site leases run $1-2K per month, leased data lines, equipment, installation work, equipment shelters, etc will likely run several hundred thousand dollars or more.

If it gets approved by the FCC, it will be interesting to see how it works and whether or not the system is financially justifiable.

 

North East Commerical Radio Antennas and Towers

NECRAT logo
NECRAT logo

Or NECRAT for those who have been around the internet for a while. Many, if not most of you will know Mike Fitzpatrick’s NECRAT website which features many pictures of radio transmitter sites around the country (not just the Northeast).

Even before I began blogging, I checked NECRAT often for interesting pictures of many different transmitter sites.

If you are one of the few who has not visited his site, go and check it out: http://www.necrat.us

PBS Frontline: Cell Tower Deaths

Interesting video (part 1 of 3) about the large numbers of Cell tower deaths in the last eight years:

Watch Cell Tower Deaths on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

There are two kinds of tower companies, those that have been around for a long time and do things right, and those that hire subcontractors who are minimally trained and take shortcuts. The reasons for this are the same and we hear them over and over again in all aspects of this business; budgetary constraints, time constraints and what, who me?

The rest of the videos can be found at PBS.org:  Frontline: Cell Tower Deaths

Written story from Propublica: In Race For Better Cell Service, Men who climb towers loose their lives.