Student radio station recovers from transmitter malfunction

By filling the 90.3FM airwaves with all things KDVS, there’s no more static fuzz when you turn on the radio at the student-run radio station UC Davis. With the replacement of some bulbs and wiring, the transmitter, which stopped working on September 17, was repaired.

“Fortunately, the repairs were quite minor,” said KDVS general manager Cate Hatcher.

She said they’ve had the transmitter for about a decade, so it’s no surprise the electrical components are starting to wear out. However, which raises some concern that other transmitter parts may have the same problem in the future.

Everyone who usually listened to KDVS on their radio had to switch to the internet stream while the transmitter was down, so many listeners probably started using the streaming option for the first time last month, Hatcher explained. . “We continued our 24/7 broadcast and we still got calls from listeners, but not at the same rate we’re getting now that the broadcast is back on,” she added. .

Specifically, the radio frequency power module, which converts low power frequencies to higher power, has stopped working. RF power amplifiers, or modules, increase the gain, power and bandwidth of a signal and regulate signal compression and several other aspects of the radio signal before it is broadcast from the tower, Hatcher explained. .

“Because the RF power module is specialized equipment, we had to either purchase another module or have it repaired by the source company, Nautel, so we returned the module and its corresponding circuit board to Nautel for repair,” she said. .

It took Nautel longer than expected to repair the module. Nautel originally estimated a repair window of 14 business days, so KDVS expected to be off the air for three to four weeks, which took over seven weeks.

Hatcher said the process of shipping the module to Nautel was initially delayed for a week because the university failed to settle an outstanding invoice that KDVS had owed Nautel since March. She said it had not been paid for so long because ASUCD had control over the management of KDVS bank accounts for service payments, meaning student staff could not authorize payment.

“The invoice stayed with university staff for six months until we realized that Nautel would not accept our parts for repair because we had been negligent in making this payment. It was frustrating to learn something so simple that cost us a week of airing,” she said. So Hatcher began looking at what recourse KDVS student staff might have to better control all of their accounts to avoid this problem in the future.

Anyone can join KDVS, but only undergraduate university students can be part of the core student staff, which runs the station.

Like most KDVS operations, student base staff facilitated these repairs independently. Station engineer Tim Parish helped diagnose the problem with the transmitter, contact Nautel about repairs, and reinstall the module. “Tim is a tremendous help and resource to KDVS, but he is only affiliated with the university through his contract with KDVS,” Hatcher explained.

Not broadcasting for a month and a half hurt DJ morale, Hatcher said. “Our DJ team is used to much higher listening levels than we had during this time, more calls and more enthusiasm from listeners over time. an FM broadcast in the digital age,” she said.

With the show on hiatus, UC Davis’ KDVS station was missing one of its key features for nearly two months: the live stream of the show airing in real time in the station’s lounge. “The DJs expressed how sad it was to enter the silent station for so many weeks, but the flow is back and our hearts are once again filled with freeform radio,” she said. . “KDVS listeners were understandably very discouraged as well.”

KDVS has received at least a hundred social media posts, emails, and phone calls regarding the missing show from people across Northern California, so their absence is not certainly did not go unnoticed. KDVS held several successful live music events during the outage, and the artists they booked for these events were very understanding and supportive after hearing that the broadcast was down.

Although there is no way to count the exact number of listeners to our radio show, they usually reach a few thousand listeners at a time with the FM broadcast and several hundred more on the Internet stream, Hatcher explained. This varies throughout the day and week, with peak viewing during peak commuter times and on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Their semi-annual fundraiser is currently underway through November 19, with another scheduled for the spring. In the meantime, they are focused on planning an upcoming move out of Lower Freeborn Hall, training new radio DJs, and planning more events and collaborations with other student groups at UC Davis. They have several live music events coming up before the end of UCD’s fall term, and they will be planning their annual spring music festival, Operation Restore Maximum Freedom (ORMF), for the next few months.

Listen to KDVS on 90.3FM or stream the station on kdvs.org or any radio app.

— Contact Monica Stark at [email protected]

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