We have completed another major milestone in our work to upgrade KOLU to 39,000 watts of power.  Thanks to a great deal of help from Craig-Co electrical contracting, we now have the 400A service that is necessary to run the high-powered transmitter to be used for this power level.

The work involved the installation of many items:

  • A new, larger transformer on the utility pole serving the transmitter site
  • Larger wire in the conduit feeding the building
  • Installation of a "CT Can", which is necessary since this high power cannot be run directly through the utility's power meter
  • Installation of a 400A panel, which will feed the transmitter, high powered air conditioner, and the old panel
  • Installation of a "disconnect", which enables quickly connecting and disconnecting power to the transmitter

Before this work was done, the floor was refinished with a new durable, washable white coating that will reduce dust (which can cause short circuits in the kind of high powered transmitter we will be using), and the present transmitter rack was moved and consolidated with another equipment rack to make room for the new equipment.

Here are some pictures of the electrical installation and one of our floor and rack move:

Craig-Co Staff, with disconnect (right) and new panel (left)

Craig-Co Staff, with disconnect (left) and new panel (right)

Benton PUD arrives to work on the service

Benton PUD arrives to work on the service

"CT Can" with new meter just about ready!

“CT Can” with new meter just about ready!

Bob Sutton working on rack after working on floor and walls

Bob Sutton working on rack after working on floor and walls

We have finalized the “exchange agreement” that will officially trade the Badger Mountain translator for a permit to construct a translator reaching Yakima and the Upper Yakima Valley.  All that remains is to have the authorized documents signed, then submitted to the FCC for approval.

Completing this milestone means that we should see approval in 6-8 weeks for the actual exchange.  While this is taking place, we will be finalizing our list of equipment and placing it on order, discussing lease terms with the site owner, and taking care of other preparations such as electricity and a connection to the internet that will be used to monitor operation of the translator.

Calculations have been done that show KOLU’s main transmitter will reach the site with adequate signal levels to provide a clear signal, yet at the same time we are preparing an alternate plan to provide KOLU’s signal via the Internet as a backup.  Our goal is to use high quality equipment and backup to enable the best possible signal in Yakima for Christian Family Radio.

Your prayers for this project are appreciated, as there are many things that have to be done before the February 2015 deadline.

Starting Thursday, October 2 at 1PM is the 2014 Sharathon!  We’re excited about the opportunities for expansion of this ministry to add another 200,000 potential listeners under our radio signal.  Read more on our Sharathon 2014 page.

Update: Power was restored to our transmitter at 8:56 PM.  Operation is normal.  Thank you for your patience.

As of this writing (6:45 PM), our main transmitter at 90.1, along with our Richland (90.5) and Prosser (92.3) translators, are off the air due to a power outage caused by severe icing conditions at the transmitter site.  Our Internet stream is still available, so listeners can still enjoy Christian Family Radio online.  Per Federal Communications Commission rules, the translators must automatically shut off when they lose signal from the main transmitter.

An inspection of the area today revealed over 6 inches of ice on towers and power lines in the vicinity.  Rising temperatures turned the ice more brittle, then winds stressed power lines enough to break them.  A PUD crew has been working since this morning to restore power to our site as well as others nearby.

 

Christian Family Radio is honored to add “Fortress of Faith” to our program line-up.  Hosted by Tom Wallace, this hard-hitting program exposes the true goals of Islam and it’s impact on North America and around the world.

The theme of the program is “Resisting Islam, Rescuing Muslims and Reviving America”.  Although he speaks plainly about Islam, Mr. Wallace is very compassionate of Muslims and works to lovingly expose them to spiritual truths.

Tom Wallace grew up in England as a missionary and returned to the States to prepare for the ministry. He studied both at Baptist University of America in Atlanta, GA and Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO.

The program airs on Christian Family Radio Monday through Friday at 1:05 PM.  You can learn more about Fortress of Faith at fortressoffaith.org.

UPDATE 3 (July 19) – We were able to configure the third transmitter to work at the site and it is now installed and operating, although it did indicate a less-than-perfect connection to the antenna.  This transmitter is on loan to us while we work on a more permanent solution.   Currently, we plan to move the antenna to a nearby tower to give it more “space” from other antennas installed at the present location, then thoroughly test the system.  This will take a few weeks as we need authorization from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to relocate the antenna.  Ultimately, we may have to purchase another transmitter.  In the meantime, we expect to continue with good service to the Lower Valley on 92.3.  Please let us know if you experience any problems.

UPDATE 2 (July 18) – With another report of problems, the translator was turned off Thursday night.  We have access to another transmitter that is different from the other two we were working with, and will try it by the weekend.  The most likely cause appears to be the antenna, however, which will require as much as a couple of weeks to repair.  Thank you for your prayers and patience as we work to restore reliable operation.

UPDATE – We visited the site both Thursday and Friday.  Thursday, we placed our alternate transmitter into service and noted that both our transmitters exhibited the intermittent problem.  One transmitter was taken back to our shop and ran flawlessly for over 14 hours using what is called a “dummy load”, which is, in effect, an ideal “antenna” when testing the transmitter.  (It also does not broadcast the signal.)  This led us to suspect that the problem was in the translator’s antenna.  We visited again Friday and climbed the tower to inspect the antenna and cable that leads to the antenna (known as “feedline”).  Before we started our work on Friday, we noted that both transmitters worked without any problems while we were checking out the antenna system.  All connections were tested for a problem, and we were not able to find any.

All this means that we have not found the root of the problem, but left the translator in good working condition.  We do have access to a third transmitter and will try this if we continue to have problems.  We request that our Lower Valley listeners let us know if they hear any problems with the translator, and report to us by leaving a message at 866-800-5658 or through our contact page.

Thank you again for your prayers and support.

Earlier report:

We have been experiencing more problems with our translator in Prosser, with it having an unstable output and working on and off.  I visited the site on Tuesday, July 9 and was able to get it working for a while, but shortly after I left the problems returned.

I will be returning to the site on Thursday with an alternate transmitter that we will use temporarily until we can either repair or replace the present one.  We appreciate your patience, and if you ever experience problems while listening to 92.3, be sure to contact us so that we can correct the problem as quickly as possible.

As a regular listener, you might just recently have noticed your car radio telling you that you are tuned to KOLU rather than 90.1.  Then, there’s other information such as the name of the program you are listening to, or the name of the song and who’s singing it, that scrolls across the front of your radio.  And, you might have been wondering how the information got there.

Well, we didn’t hook up your radio to the Internet.  What we did was install a technology called RDS, or Radio Data System.  This adds a signal that you can’t hear to what we broadcast on KOLU’s main transmitter, but the signal contains a “digital stream” of information about what we are playing.  This technology is built in to many newer car radios, and only needed us to “turn it on” for you to be able to see it.

Typically, systems to “encode” this information cost between $1,000 and $2,000.  We wanted to do this, but we didn’t have an RDS system in the budget.  Recently, however, we discovered a company called “Pira.CZ”, located in the Czech Republic, that had a very sophisticated system for a fraction of this cost.  Thanks to a generous donor, we didn’t have to take money from somewhere else, and were able to purchase this little box that does so much.

KOLU's New RDS Encoder

Our New RDS Encoder – The Little Box that Could!

Since we were already providing a “Now Playing” list on our web site, it was a fairly short project to create a program that would feed the same sort of information to our new RDS system.  The result is what you see on your radio dial.

We’d love to hear your comments on this, or anything else we do.  You can either comment on this post below, or you can use our contact page to send us a private email.  As always, thanks for listening to Christian Family Radio!

During the recent absence of Chief Operator Martin Gibbs from late May through early June, many of our programs did not air on their scheduled dates, causing repeats of some programs and others, such as our children’s programs, to air out of sequence.

First, we’d like to sincerely apologize to our listeners and let you know we will do our best to prevent this from happening in the future.

Many years ago, virtually all programming that was not live arrived on pre-recorded tapes through the mail.  Our operators would have to pick the proper program, place the tape on a playback machine, and then start it at the right time.  Since the operator was always present, there was plenty of time to insure the right program played at the right time.  Even though there was an occasional problem, it was almost always a single event.

With the advent of computerized automation, we run the station with far less staff and far better overall reliability.  However, often there is no one is present to “watch” the program and even if they are there, there is no simple “label” to look at to confirm that the correct program is playing.  While we find it convenient to blame the computer, in reality it is the information that people place on the computer that is the root of the problem.

Let me explain how we now receive the programming you hear on Christian Family Radio, which comes in a variety of ways.

A few of our programs, notably  IRN/USA Radio Network News, Crosstalk, and Music ‘Til Dawn, are aired directly off of a satellite receiver at their scheduled times.  The remainder of programs that are not either music or live broadcasts that originate in our studio must be stored on our system and aired at their scheduled times.

About 30% of these programs are placed on our system using the “AMB-OS” system.  This system is sponsored by a consortium of Christian broadcasters and uses a combination of satellite and internet technology to place programming directly on our server.  This system proven to be the most reliable in insuring that the correct program is ready to be played at the scheduled time.  Examples of programs that come to us through the AMB-OS system are Focus on the Family, Love Worth Finding, Unshackled, Adventures in Odyssey and Our Daily Bread.

The remaining 29 programs either arrive on CD or must be manually downloaded from the Internet. These require our staff to perform the transfers and track on log sheets the status of each program.

Christian Family Radio runs on a weekly schedule.  Each month is divided into numbered weeks, Week 1 through Week 5 (for longer months), starting on Monday and running through Sunday.  Early Monday morning, the appropriate week is transferred to the system.  If this is not done, the previous week’s programming would air.  If a mistake is made anywhere along the way, one program or the entire week’s programs would be wrong.

Sometimes programs come in late, just before their scheduled air time.  Such programs require “special handling” for us to manually move them to the proper place on the server.

In these most recent problems, I was able to review the state of our programming on Monday, June 10 while still on vacation.  “Week 2” was scheduled to play, according to our calendar.  While looking at the programs that we received complaints about, I found that “Week 4” from May was actually playing.  So, Monday afternoon, I restored the “Week 2” programs and all appeared to be correct, but this caused another change in the sequence of children’s programs that were reported to me by listeners on Tuesday.  So, to the best of our knowledge, the correct programming is now playing on Christian Family Radio.

We will be reviewing our procedures with our staff and seeing if there is something we can do to better insure that you hear your favorite program on its scheduled date.  Thank you for your faithful listening, and many thanks to those of you that called our attention to our problem.  If you do suspect you hear something repeated or out of sequence, we really do want to hear from you.  Please feel free to use the contact forms on this web site or give us a call so we can quickly fix the problem to keep it from getting worse.

UPDATE – The installation went very smooth with only a couple of short interruptions to our on-air sound.  The new STL transmitter came up with no problems and tested and calibrated fine.  Again, thank you for your support and understanding.

EARLIER POST – We will be completing the installation of our brand-new STL (Studio-Transmitter Link) today (Saturday, May 18) between the hours of 1:30 and 2:00 PM.  During that time, our over-the-air broadcast signal for our main transmitter serving the Tri-Cities, Walla Walla and parts of Northeast Oregon, as well as our translators in the Lower Yakima Valley and Richland, will be interrupted for short periods of time.  Our streaming signal here at kolu.com will not be affected.

2013-05 KOLU TFT STL Transmitter

Our new STL transmitter, right out of the box!

The STL transmitter is part of the vital link that carries the programming 11 miles from our studio in West Pasco to our transmitter site on Beck Mountain south of Kennewick.  Our old STL transmitter, in continuous service since 1995, has recently been showing signs of failure.  Replacing it insures that we won’t go off the air unexpectedly and allows us to thoroughly inspect the old transmitter and have it available as a “backup” that can be used should we experience problems in the future with the newer unit.

Thanks to our listeners who have rallied around this important need, supplying the funds necessary for this equipment.  Please keep Christian Family Radio in your prayers and be sure to tell others about the unique Christ-honoring and family-friendly programming!

UPDATE-I was able to visit the site Thursday morning, and found a problem with the receiver that picks up KOLU on 90.1 that was turning the transmitter on and off.  Changing a control wire fixed the problem.  Thank you for your patience.

Older Post: I f you listen to our translator on 92.3 in Prosser, you’ve undoubtedly noticed a noisy and intermittent signal.  We have an engineer visiting the site the night of Wednesday, March 6 to troubleshoot the situation.  If he is unable to fix the problem, Chief Engineer Martin Gibbs will visit the site Thursday morning.

In the meantime, if possible, you can listen on the web right here at kolu.com.  We’ll work to fix the problem as soon as we can, and update you as to the status of the Christian Family Radio translator in Prosser, and have it back to a clear signal as soon as possible.

Thank you for your prayers, concern and support.