Two More Upgrades

Mid-October is apparently the season for local TV and radio signal upgrades, and there are two more we haven’t yet told you about.

Briefly before that: everyone short of the Cuyahoga County dog catcher has E-mailed us to let us know that producer/sidekick/update anchor Josh Sabo is apparently out at Good Karma sports WKNR/850 Cleveland “ESPN 850”, at least according to an announcement made on the station’s “Really Big Show with Tony Rizzo” earlier today.

We didn’t hear the announcement, and as of yet, don’t know any details about Sabo’s apparent departure from the sports talk station. If we find out anything, we’ll let you know.

For now, back to the technical facilities upgrades…one on the TV side, one on radio:

49 PLUS 70: A Cuyahoga County viewer E-mailed us late last week, wondering if Western Reserve PBS’ WEAO/49 Akron had upgraded its digital over-air facilities on RF channel 50. He tells us he’s seeing a stronger signal from the station.

No, you aren’t imagining that, and it’s not just temporary atmospheric conditions (or shedding leaves).

Our good friends over at Campus Center Drive in Kent tell us that indeed, WEAO lit up its post-transition “maximized” construction permit on October 15th. The upgrade pushes the Akron half of the Western Reserve PBS simulcast from 180 kW to 250 kW.

It’s not the only facility upgrade for the public TV outlet.

OMW also hears that Youngstown viewers will get the digital replacement for the former analog translator on Channel 58, soon…with arrival and installation of the new digital Channel 44 translator (W44CR) expected within the next couple of weeks.

RADIO UPGRADE: Canton-based religious broadcaster WILB/1060 has lit up its upgraded facility.

The upgrade takes WILB “Living Bread Radio” from 5 kW to 15 kW, and gets it at least a chunk of Cuyahoga County.

Not like you’d know they realize that, from an announcement on the Living Bread Radio website:

WE’RE ON THE AIR!
Catholic Radio in Cleveland – AM 1060

AM 1060 WILB has expanded its coverage area from 1 million listeners to more than 2 million in Northeast Ohio. With the completion of a two year 15,000 watt signal upgrade project and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval of the upgrade AM 106(0) began transmitting at 15,000 watts on October 20, 2009.

(snip)

We say hello to Cuyahoga County and surrounding areas after more than 5 years of transmitting the Word of God to Stark, Summit and Carroll Counties. Join us as we welcome Cleveland and the surrounding areas to our AM 1060 Radio Family.

They were in such a hurry to announce the upgrade, the Living Bread Radio folks grabbed another web page about another event, and blew past the spacebar a few times.

Of course, even with 15 kW of power, there are other problems for WILB.

First and foremost, it is and will always be a daytime station, at least as long as CBS Radio powerhouse KYW/1060 is around.

Second, even within the daytime parameters, WILB had to squeeze in next to other stations – like second adjacent WJTB/1040 North Ridgeville, and had to consider first adjacent CHOK/1070 Sarnia ONT, second adjacent WWNL/1080 Pittsburgh and the like.

(Our favorite part of the WILB construction permit application – the station showing that 1090 kHz wasn’t a problem, since no station in the entire region will ever be authorized for 1090 with Clear Channel talk giant WTAM on 1100.)

We haven’t been on the northern edge of the new WILB signal yet, and weren’t really listeners before, anyway…but a quick radio check today easily shows a more powerful WILB than we remember hearing. A lot of times, these upgrades on the AM side aren’t just about reaching new areas…they’re about punching through the increased noise on the AM band…

AND TV RELATED RADIO: OMW hears that as scheduled, New Vision CBS affiliate WKBN-TV/27 Youngstown has turned off its transmitter today – to allow the move of its digital antenna to the top of the 1432 foot tower today.

The move from “side mount” to “top mount” could improve fringe area or nearby market reception of WKBN’s digital signal, which also carries sister Fox affiliate “Fox Youngstown” on digital subchannel 27.2 (in high-definition, along with WKBN).

Those looking for the missing over-air CBS and Fox programming in Youngstown can find it on Time Warner Cable and Armstrong Cable, which are fed via fiber from the stations’ Sunset Boulevard studios. We aren’t in the market to check, but we’ll assume the station is also continuing to feed the original low-power analog TV homes of Fox Youngstown programming – WYFX-LP 62 Youngstown and WFXI-CA 17 Mercer.

One thing we didn’t mention earlier: the WKBN-TV antenna move today also affects a former sister station.

Yes, that’s the former WKBN-FM on the WKBN-TV tower. Clear Channel Youngstown director of engineering John Clarke checks in with OMW about the status of WMXY/98.9:

WMXY’s (original calls WKBN-FM) main antenna is located at the 1370 foot level on the South tower at Sunset Blvd, just below the top mount TV stick.

When the tower crew is within 100 feet of our main panel antenna, we move WMXY over to our Auxiliary antenna site on the 550 foot North tower.

We have been operating on the auxiliary antenna during the daytime hours most good weather days the last week…while they rig the tower for the move.

While we are operating at 25 KW ERP from the Auxiliary antenna, we lose some fringe coverage and no HD operation from the Auxiliary site.

So, if you’re a bit far afield from Youngstown today and having trouble receiving the station now known as hot AC WMXY/98.9 “Mix 98.9”, you’ll know why.

One of our readers in Cleveland’s Slavic Village area is asking if the WKBN-TV upgrade will get its signal into downtown Cleveland.

Well, probably not, we’d guess. We know people as far west as Parma who’ve been able to get the WKBN signal, but we’d be shocked if it was a regular visitor into downtown Cleveland.

More so than from Cleveland/Akron/Canton viewers, the WKBN upgrade today will likely be welcomed by in-market viewers in places like Mercer County PA…any reception we get over on this side of Youngstown, outside of its home market, is a sheer bonus…

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