96.1 FM, 780 AM, Yours for Western Alaska

Preparing for winter

Tara throws the switch

Volunteer Tara Cicatello at our FM transmitter de-icer switch.

In the photo above, volunteer Tara Cicatello is throwing the switch for our FM transmitter tower’s de-icing mechanism – but she may as well be throwing the switch for winter itself. As you read this, we’re at the start of our long, sub-Arctic winter.

As rain and mud turn to snow and ice underfoot, we, like our listeners, are taking all the steps you’d expect to prepare for the colder months to come. In particular, we’re making sure our transmitters and other facilities are ready for a half-year of snow, frigid winds, sub-zero temperatures, and ice.

FM transmitter tower

KNOM’s FM transmitter tower (complete with illuminated Christmas star, turned on during the Advent and Christmas season).

It’s this latter problem that the de-icer combats. The metal tubing of FM transmitter towers – like KNOM’s 90-foot tower, pictured – are set at precise lengths and angles to suit the frequency of the station (in our case, 96.1 FM). When ice forms on the tower, the tubes effectively become longer, which not only weakens the signal but can actually cause damage.

The de-icer prevents these hazards, and it does so economically: by dynamically activating only when the temperature falls below a certain range. Thanks to your support, we’re doing all we can to keep our signal broadcasting – through rain, sleet, snow, and ice.