Radio Hillsboro Is OnThe Air
Millpoint, WV – It was an idea born in the 1990’s. Now, after years of planning and countless hours of fundraising by a cadre of dedicated volunteers, Radio Hillsboro is now a reality. The new FM transmitter, located in Mill Point near the High Rocks Academy grounds, is broadcasting Allegheny Mountain Radio’s signal as far north as Beard Heights and at times, as far south as Lewisburg. Engineering consultant Don Mussel explains why the identification for the new transmitter includes the word testing.
“Right now we’re testing the transmitter and antenna system to make sure it conforms with the definition of the license that we have” says Mussel. “And we’re finishing up the documentation right now and will submit an electronic application to the FCC. The FCC could take up to 10 days to give us final authorization.”
Mussel has been building transmitter sites for a living ever since his first one in 1970 – this is the fifth site he’s put together this year. He’s also been a long time consultant for AMR. He says his passion for radio started when he was about eight years old playing with electronics kits.
“There was one kit that said “Build a radio transmitter” and I put that thing together and realized that I could talk across the room with this little thing and I was hooked” says Mussel. “I became a radio amateur when I was ten, had a short wave set, built one of those; shocked myself a number of times. Probably that was where the permanent damage came in and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
A former resident of Churchville, VA, Mussel now calls Hawaii home. He says away from the busier tourist spots, it’s a lot like rural counties here – in fact he refers to it as Appalachia with beaches. He says construction of the new transmitter has been a smooth process.
“This is wonderful – everything just came together beautifully” he says. “Now I can say that on this end of it because when I arrived everything was ready to go. Obviously someone did a lot of work ahead of me. I nudged the process along via email and telephone, but Gibbs and Chuck really pushed everything through and made it happen and arranged for everything to go.”
That’s Gibbs Kinderman, Director of Special Projects for AMR and Chuck Niday, Chief Engineer. Niday says this transmitter is about 10 times as powerful as the translator in Durbin. But the antenna is pointed south to avoid interference with an Elkins station and the Observatory in Green Bank, so Radio Hillsboro won’t improve the signal in Marlinton. Niday says they’re planning to put another transmitter in the town to improve the signal there – that’s planned for the spring of 2011.
For now, Radio Hillsboro is broadcasting the signal from sister station WCHG in Bath County. Niday explains what needs to happen in order to broadcast the signal from WVMR in Frost.
“Well, we need some kind of direct connection to the Hillsboro transmitter” he says “and right now the way we’re looking at doing it is to lease a specialized circuit from the phone company that connects from Frost to Hillsboro. We’re running into difficulties with that – the phone company’s not quite sure how they’re going to do it. It’s a tariff service, meaning that they’ve told the state that they can do it, but they’re not quite sure how to do it, so they’re still trying to figure that out.”
Mussel says the phone company has created this kind of circuit for AMR before, but that was many years ago. Once the circuit is in place, WVMR-FM will be able to broadcast evening programming such as Warrior football and basketball games. The AM station, WVMR, is a daytime only station and must sign off at sundown.
Niday says he’ll take what he’s learned putting Radio Hillsboro on the air and apply it to the Marlinton transmitter.
“This is really the first broadcast station that I’ve helped put together” he says. “I’ve done lots of two-way radio stations and other types of radio transmitter sites, but I’ve never done a broadcast one. The only thing that was really different about it was the antenna; now that I’ve seen it go together it all makes sense.”
If you’re in the southern end of Pocahontas County, you’ll find Radio Hillsboro at 91.9 on your FM dial.