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KSVY main antenna moves from tree to mountaintop

Long hard slog toward terrestrial signal boost finally over
KSVY main antenna moves from tree to mountaintop
A map of KSVY’s new coverage area.Source: KSVY

By Paul Goguen

Local Sonoma community radio station KSVY 93.1 FM recently announced a major milestone in the station’s development. In response to Sonoma County and the city of Sonoma’s expansion of emergency communications and preparedness, KSVY has acquired and installed a new antenna, 850 feet above sea level, overlooking Stage Gulch and Sonoma Valley.

With construction, installation, and testing complete, and official Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensing received, the station activated the new transmitter. The new range is robust and greatly exceeds the previous coverage area at over 450 terrestrial square miles. The significant achievement coincides with redesign of the station’s website, www. ksvy.org, and end-of-year fundraising, KSVY Connects!, a month-long campaign that began Nov. 30.

The upgrade bolsters the station’s broadcast range for all of Sonoma Valley and reaches potential new listeners in southern Sonoma County, Petaluma and Rohnert Park, and as far as St. Helena and American Canyon in Napa County.

The former omnidirectional transmitter site was not ideal. Located near residential areas, the configuration created “shadows” where objects and buildings obstructed the signal at low elevation. The location’s increased exposure to wildfires, along with frequent power outages, were also concerning disadvantages. Initially, the location was good for the set frequency and accessibility by the station’s small staff. However, the opportunities and challenges of the local community and region outgrew the site’s usability.

The new antenna is a directional, panel-type antenna with a very focused signal within a specific frequency pocket, with a more extensive range and far fewer shadows and dead spots. The new site also requires less power and benefits from the significantly higher elevation in the rural hillsides southwest of Sonoma. However, the former site and antenna are not obsolete and act as a backup transmitter, offering more resilience to the station’s emergency communications plan.

KSVY is a non-commercial community radio station. Grants from Sonoma Valley Fund and Community Foundation of Sonoma County, and a burgeoning partnership with Sonoma County, helped to fund the antenna upgrade. A final push from the “Signal Booster Society,” a listener and volunteer-fueled fundraiser, also contributed to the antenna upgrade.

KSVY broadcasts at 91.3 FM and livestreams at ksvy.org. For smart devices, just say, “Play K-S-V-Y” to listen live. KSVY is operated by Sonoma Valley Community Communications, which is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit funded entirely by listener contributions, grants, and sponsor underwriting. KSVY receives no support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and is not affiliated with NPR.

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