Some Summit Public Radio listeners struggle to hear public radio |

Some Summit Public Radio listeners struggle to hear public radio

Sean Egan
Summit County, CO Colorado
Alex Miller/Summit Daily NewsGary Peterson, Summit Public Radio's head technician, inspects some of the transmitter equipment atop Mt. Baldy last fall. Peterson and SPR are scrambling now to address concerns that some listeners of KUNC at 88.3 FM aren't getting a clear signal.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” Some Summit County public radio fans ” especially around Frisco ” are having trouble tuning in to KUNC programming. Since KUNC switched from broadcasting on both 107.1 FM and 88.3 FM frequencies to just 88.3 FM, Summit Public Radio has received numerous e-mails from listeners who just can’t get 88.3 FM to come in on their radio.

On the dial, 107.1 FM now carries La Nueva Mix, the area’s first Spanish radio station. Though the addition is touted as a great service to community members, some listeners wonder why the switch was made in the first place.

“On balance, we’ve done a wonderful thing for this community,” said SPR Board President Sue Greene. “We’ve really helped an under-served population.”

Roughly a year ago, according to Greene, Colorado broadcaster NRC approached Summit Public Radio seeking available commercial frequencies. Since KUNC was operating on two frequencies, SPR had available space for NRC to implement a similar service that already operates in Garfield and Eagle counties. With the support of KUNC, SPR made the switch.

“88.3 is as strong a signal as we have for any of our other stations,” said Greene. “I’ve driven every corner of this county, and got it totally fine.”

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This isn’t to say Greene doubts listeners’ genuine reception problems. In fact, Greene and SPR’s VP of Engineering, Gary Peterson, have responded to every e-mail they have received asking for help with reception difficulties.

Peterson even makes house calls.

“I’m just doing whatever I can to recover their signal,” said Peterson.

The nature of FM

Doing whatever he can includes fixing external antennas to listeners’ home entertainment systems and personal radios when listeners place a distress call. Peterson even climbed up the frequency’s translator tower on Mt. Baldy to aim a higher power antenna at Frisco, where most of the reception difficulties have occurred.

“It’s just the nature of FM signals,” said Peterson. “The terrain prevents the signal from getting down to listeners, and we can’t increase the power any more because it’s specified by the FCC.”

However, Greene said this doesn’t mean listeners are out of luck.

“In order to get this switch going without waiting for the snow to melt we ended up with an antenna that was not optimally placed,” Greene said. “We’re doing what we can in this period of time dealing with this weather, we will fix it.”

Greene also mentioned that KUNC has applied to the FCC for another FM broadcasting frequency and is currently awaiting a decision.

Though the switch has created some disruption, some community members feel it was the right move.

“This station provides our only means of communicating with the large Spanish-speaking population,” said Megan Bonta of the Family Intercultural Resource Center. “I’ve had people tell me how much it has helped them, it’s just such an important resource for Summit County.”

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