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Observer 11/24/14

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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow OPB tunes in to grant

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OPB tunes in to grant

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Many local Oregon Public Broadcasting viewers may soon have little need for the rabbit ears on their sets.

OPBs signal will be much easier to pick up because of a more powerful $218,595 transmitter that will be installed on Mount Fanny above Cove. OPB has received an $87,438 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerces National Telecommunication Information Agency for purchase of the transmitter for KTVR, La Grandes OPB station.

Oregon Public Broadcasting will provide the balance from its membership contributions.

A letter-writing campaign by public television viewers in Union County is a key reason why the federal grant was obtained, said Mel Waggoner of Oregon Public Broadcasting.

OPB received about 220 letters and e-mails from Grande Ronde Valley residents that pressed for the new transmitter. This was far beyond what Waggoner expected.

It really had a tremendous impact, he said. Everybody thought, Wow, they (the people of Union County) are pretty neat.

Waggoner said that a party saluting Union County-area residents for their support of the translator replacement project will be held this spring in La Grande.

The new transmitter will replace the 17-year-old, 1,600-watt one now on Mount Fanny.

It was becoming unreliable, said Everett Helm, director of engineering for OPBs radio frequency systems.

Helm added that it was getting difficult to find replacement parts for the transmitter because of its age. This was a major reason why new equipment was needed.

The transmitter will have a power of between 6,000 and 10,000 watts, depending on the model

purchased.

The greater wattage will improve the sound and picture quality for those now receiving OPBs signal. The transmitter will also enable more people to receive OPB in the valley, Helm said.

OPBs stronger signal will be less vulnerable to heavy rain, electronic interference and other things that affect the signal, he added.

It (the new transmitter) will stabilize coverage, Helm said.

The KTVR transmitter also serves Baker County with the help of a translator relay network. Helm said that the new transmitter will improve reception for OPB viewers in Baker County.

The transmitter could also improve OPB reception in Wallowa County. This is because KTVRs Mount Fanny signal is relayed from Elgin to Enterprise and the signal should be stronger.

KTVRs signal does not go directly into Wallowa County because of the mountainous terrain east of Mount Fanny. Such obstacles block television signals.

OPB will receive the new transmitter for KTVR in about a month. Installation of the equipment will begin in June or July. Work cannot begin sooner because the Mount Fanny transmitter site is difficult to reach for at least six months because of snow.

There are lots of years when we cant drive in until the Fourth of July, Helm said.

He hopes to have the transmitter installed by late July. The electronic device will be about the size of 1 1/2 refrigerators.

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