Radio X, NMU’s student radio station, was approved last week on by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build a new transmitter.
A transmitter is a device connected to an antenna and is used to generate and amplify a radio signal. The new transmitter will be moved from Presque Isle to Morgan Meadows between Negaunee and Marquette, said Erin Astle, Radio X general manager.
“We submitted the application at the end of July, beginning of August,” Astle said. “We thought we wouldn’t hear back until February, so finding out that we had already received the construction permit was an awesome surprise.”
Astle was in charge of submitting and presenting the referendum proposal last winter semester, in which Radio X asked for a $0.70 increase per student per semester to pay for the new transmitter. Once the Radio X referendum passed, Radio X had to wait for approval from the NMU Board of Trustees for a loan and approval from the FCC, Astle said.
The new transmitter will be more powerful than the current transmitter, at 1,700 watts. The current transmitter is only 360 watts, said Charles Ganzert, Radio X faculty adviser.
“There are two things that determine where a station gets coverage. One is the amount of watts that you have, and the other is the height of the antenna,” Ganzert said. “We will be taller and have more watts, so we should cover the area quite nicely.”
The new transmitter will be placed on an already existing NMU antenna, Ganzert said. Negaunee, Ishpeming and Gwinn should get better Radio X reception, along with parts of Munising that aren’t behind a hill, he said.
“We will improve the signal in places that we already have it, and we’ll stretch out to farther places,” Ganzert said.
The current transmitter is inside a smokestack of the Wisconsin Electric Power Company. The environment is very dirty, and the coal dust and soot is eroding the equipment, Ganzert said. Radio X is currently off the air waves from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. because of this.
“It’s kind of an acidic environment, and it’s been causing us problems,” said Ganzert. “It’s been dripping water in there the last couple of years and electricity and water don’t make a very good combination.”
The project is estimated to cost about $100,000 dollars that Radio X will borrow from the university and pay back over time. The new transmitter will hopefully be up and running by the end of next summer, weather permitting, Ganzert said.