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KVPR kicks off fundraising to replace main station transmitters

Valley Public Radio's transmitter site at Round Mountain near Bakersfield.
Valley Public Radio
Valley Public Radio's transmitter site at Round Mountain near Bakersfield.

The rapid pace of technological change and advancement is a hallmark of our age. Technologies that we take for granted today didn’t exist a decade ago. And the systems we rely on one minute are increasingly becoming obsolete the next.

Radio isn’t immune to these changes, even with big infrastructure like radio transmitters. The transmitters that currently serve both the Fresno and Bakersfield areas are both approaching 20 years old, and are nearing the end of their operational lifespans. In some cases, replacement parts are no longer available, and in others, the risk of a potential catastrophic failure is heightened. That’s why this month, KVPR is kicking off a campaign to purchase state-of-the-art new transmitters in both Bakersfield and Fresno, as well as associated equipment. It’s estimated to be around a $200,000 project.

Technological advances
The station’s current transmitters were purchased in 2006. At the time they were state-of-the-art, but technology has improved in dramatic ways in the last 17 years. Just like the Windows XP PC you may have used in the mid-2000s, technology has come a long way in broadcasting.

New state-of-the-art transmitters for both 89.3 and 89.1 will improve KVPR's service to the community
New state-of-the-art transmitters for both 89.3 and 89.1 will improve KVPR's service to the community

New transmitters are more reliable, vastly more energy efficient and have new capabilities. Most importantly, the replacement of our Bakersfield transmitter would allow us to for the first time, bring our KVPR Classical station to the airwaves of Kern County, bringing 24/7 classical music to the local radio market for the first time ever, over FM 89.1 HD-2.

Expanded service
“Our top priority is replacing our main Bakersfield transmitter,” said KVPR General Manager Joe Moore. “It’s an urgent need. On top of the issue of parts availability, and the lack of support, the particular model we have there has proven to be unreliable. It also lacks the capability to broadcast KVPR Classical via a HD Radio sub channel on 89.1. Our Fresno area classical audience has really enjoyed hearing classical music over the airwaves 24/7, and we are eager to bring that service to Bakersfield-area listeners. Unlike 20 years ago, the majority of new vehicles sold in the U.S. now come with HD Radio capability built in, so we think the time is right to bring this free, over-the-air service to Bakersfield. “We basically will be adding an entire new public radio station to the Bakersfield market – one completely dedicated to classical music,” said Moore. Beyond the transmitter, other critical pieces of infrastructure at the 89.1 transmitter site on Round Mountain are 35+ years old, and also need replacement.

Stronger KVPR Classical signal
“Our second priority is replacing our main Fresno area transmitter,” said Moore. “The model we have in Fresno is just as old as the one in Bakersfield, but it has proven to be a little more reliable than its south valley counterpart. It still needs replacement soon, the situation just isn’t quite as dire as in Bakersfield. The Fresno area transmitter is the only first generation HD Radio transmitter still in operation in the San Joaquin Valley, according to our engineers. The systems today are now fourth generation transmitters, and are remarkably more energy efficient, more compact and have all sorts of new capabilities. There’s also another advantage to this upgrade. A new transmitter in the Fresno area will also allow the station to more than double the signal strength of its HD-2 KVPR Classical service on 89.3 HD-2, allowing for better reception with a larger coverage area.

The total project is estimated to cost around $200,000, including the transmitters, other related hardware, software and installation. “Transmitters are generational investments. 20 years ago the station began raising money to install our current equipment. Now the time has come to take the next step forward and in technology, which will serve our listeners for the next 20 years.”

For information about how you can help this project, please contact Joe Moore at 559-862-2481 or jmoore@kvpr.org

Fundraising Campaign Highlights:

  • $200,000 goal
  • Replace existing transmitters & related equipment in Bakersfield and Fresno (17-35 years old)
  • Bring KVPR Classical programming to Bakersfield-area airwaves via 89.1 HD-2 channel
  • Better reception for KVPR Classical in Fresno/Clovis area on 89.3 HD-2 channel
  • Improved reliability & energy efficiency