Pocahontas 911 Advisory Board Considers AMR Request
Marlinton, WV – WVMR-FM, Radio Hillsboro, is not the only new transmitter that Allegheny Mountain Radio is hoping to get on the air in the near future. They’re also working on WNMP, a new transmitter in Marlinton. AMR’s Director of Special Projects, Gibbs Kinderman and Chief Engineer Chuck Niday spoke about the project with members of the Pocahontas County 911 Advisory board recently.
AMR would like to lease space on the tower that 911 is currently using as part of their communications network. WVMR 1370am, is licensed as a daytime only station.
Kinderman says the Marlinton and Hillsboro FM transmitters would allow AMR to provide local programming in the evening.
“Chuck’s working with the phone company to get a link so that we can send programming from the Frost studio to this transmitter and the Hillsboro transmitter” says Kinderman. “So we’ll be able to originate programs at Frost, and the one I’ve been waiting for, for 20 years, is PCHS football and basketball.”
Board member Don McNeel asked why the Marlinton transmitter is needed in addition to the Hillsboro transmitter. Chief Engineer Chuck Niday says there’s no guarantee that the Hillsboro signal will reach Marlinton.
“Where the transmitter’s going to be located, it’s fairly shielded” says Niday “even though it’s [only] five [or] six miles away from here, there’s a lot of dirt between here and there that’s going to block it off.”
The antenna for Hillsboro will also face south to avoid interference with an Elkins station on the same frequency as Hillsboro.
There are other concerns with the current 911 tower in Marlinton. It’s located on private property with restricted access. The county 911 has a verbal agreement with the property owners for access to the site, but the owners are not interested in signing a written lease. And if 911 agrees to allow AMR space on the tower, it’s likely a new, more powerful generator would have to be installed.
Pocahontas County 911 Director Bill McLaughlin says there is another possible tower site in the Marlinton area.
“The Spruce Flats tower site, [used by] the Marlinton Fire Dept, is sitting up there, dead empty” says McLaughlin. “It’s got a tower, everything, it’s got power, the whole nine yards. Marlinton Fire Dept just pulled their stuff out and they was having a little bit of trouble with vandalism.”
The site also includes a building to house equipment. Niday says he’s willing to look at Spruce Flats, but notes the site could present other problem to address.
“I’m not familiar with the site although the quick and dirty figures I did when I first heard about Spruce Flats – we gain like a thousand feet in elevation” says Niday. “It’s almost line of site towards the [National Radio Astronomy] Observatory [in Green Bank] – I’m pretty sure we’d have to use a directional antenna.”
McLaughlin says if they do agree to allow AMR on the 911 tower, he would want access to the tower restricted. Niday says he has no problem with coming to the 911 office to get keys to the site. He notes that he has a similar arrangement with the Homestead in Bath County for access to the WCHG transmitter.
McLaughlin says the 911 advisory board will take the request under consideration and may have an answer at their next meeting.