The owner of 18 broadcast TV stations in such small markets as Binghamton, N.Y., and Waterloo, Iowa, has turned to GatesAir for transmitters — and related installation and commissioning services — for spectrum repack needs across its group.
The deal includes several new Maxiva ULXTE liquid-cooled UHF and VAXTE air-cooled VHF transmitters, while existing GatesAir transmitters at select stations will be modified to meet new channel assignments.
Brady Dreasler, Corporate Director of Engineering at the Quincy, Ill.-based multimedia compay, notes that the company’s stations fall “within all ten phases” of the repack.
“I’m mostly concerned with my Phase 1 stations around installation timelines, and we are conducting tower studies at all sites to confirm what level of reinforcement work will be required,” Dreasler said. “But we feel prepared with our transmitter choices, and the new TPO levels for each of these channels. The direct integration of GatesAir’s XTE exciter in these transmitters also sets us up for ATSC 3.0 transitions coming out of the repack period.”
Quincy Media uses GatesAir transmitters today across all of its stations, many of which are tube transmitters approaching two decades of service. Dreasler says the repack presents an ideal time to transition to newer solid-state transmitters that, in addition to simplifying channel relocation, will help to reduce the burden of utility costs and maintenance that come with older RF technology.
“Time moves very fast and many of these transmitters are nearing end of life,” he said. “Replacement tubes have become very expensive and more challenging to find. We anticipate a lot of savings ahead, especially on the UHF side where the liquid-cooled technology will move most of the heat in the building to the outside. That will at once reduce our cooling loads, and remove the need to work with an outside HVAC company to manage an air-cooled system.”
Quincy Media is also working closely with GatesAir to determine which existing transmitters can be channel-changed. With some RF plants able to accommodate only one transmitter due to limited square footage, Dreasler is working with GatesAir on a plan that brings temporary backup transmitters to these sites.
“At some sites, we can quickly install the new transmitters and it will be plug and play,” he said. “For the plants where we don’t physically have the space to house two transmitters, we’re working on a strategy with GatesAir to place temporary backup transmitters on a trailer that we can drive between sites, which will ensure seamless cut-overs to the new channel assignments. That will save us the costs and labor of adding more real estate to our RF plants.”
In addition to its group of TV stations, Quincy Media owns WGEM-AM & FM in Quincy, Ill., and the city’s primary newspaper, the Herald-Whig.