NPR trying to return to the airwaves |

NPR trying to return to the airwaves

Connie Steiert
Kathy Heicher/Enterprise file photo

EAGLE COUNTY -If you’ve been wondering why you haven’t been able to tune into one of the stations that broadcasts NPR locally, don’t blame your radio.Earlier this month, KUNC, which airs NPR programs on at 99.7 FM, had its signal interrupted and local listeners lost the station. It’s a situation that KUNC General Manager Neil Best said will hopefully be a temporary inconvenience.”We deeply regret this,” Best said.

NPR can also be heard on KPRE 89.9 and on its Web site, KUNC’s local tower is on top of Castle Peak. Earlier this month, a new station, KLRY, took to the local airwaves. The close proximity of KLRY’s transmission facilities to KUNC’s has overwhelmed and interrupted the KUNC’s signal.”It’s not their fault,” said Best. The new station is in full compliance with FCC rules and regulations, he added. Best explains that it is like having a conversation with a friend at a local café, and then a group comes in and sits next to you and starts talking. Even if their conversation is at normal levels, it likely will make your conversation more difficult to hear.

“It’s not really loud, but it filters into the conversation,” Best said.KUNC has ordered $5,000 worth of additional equipment it plans to install at its Castle Peak facility. Because the equipment must be installed atop Castle Peak, snowy conditions make the area difficult to reach this time of year. As it is, it must be ferried up the mountain by snowcat.Best and crew won’t know the success of the plan until the new equipment is up and running. “If it doesn’t work,” he said, “we’ll be back to plans A, B or C.”Plans A, B and C include petitioning the FCC for a waiver to allow a translator feed via satellite or microwave. The company is also in the process of petitioning the FCC to increase the power of its signal at 88.5 FM in Steamboat, which might then be strong enough to be picked up at Castle Peak. K

UNC is also in the process of obtaining a translator license in Leadville, which might make it likely that the signal could be picked up at the Castle Peak facility as well.”We won’t stop working on this until we get this back on the air,” Best said. Vail, Colorado

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