For years, the 107.9 MHz signal serving the Windy City has had penetration issues inside The Loop, due to high-rise buildings and other infrastructure blocking the station licensed to Aurora, Ill., from fully reaching listeners across much of Chicago.
Now, the current owner of the station on that frequency has a solution, thanks to the adoption of MaxxCasting technology created and owned by GeoBroadcast Solutions.
WLEY-FM 107.9 “La Ley,” a Class B owned by Spanish Broadcasting System and independently-owned Triple A WXRV-FM 92.5 in the Boston marketwith a regional Mexican format, is the latest station to go with MaxxCasting, following the lead of Bustos Media’s KDDS-FM 99.3 in the Seattle-Tacoma market .
While WLEY’s broadcast signal spans the majority of its legally-designated broadcast area, or service contour, the density of buildings in its urban environments creates multipath interference in population centers such as Pilsen — a high-density Hispanic neighborhood — that are crucial to the station. Such interference degrades the audio signal for listeners while limiting WLEY’s ability to reach Nielsen Portable People Meters (PPM).
“While WLEY’s contour covers the market pretty well, the areas that they had signal difficulties within happen to be the some of the most important demographic areas for their business,” said GeoBroadcast Solutions CTO Bill Hieatt. “I would estimate that 70% of the PPMs for Hispanic radio in the region are located in the Pilsen neighborhood, which is also a good indicator of the WLEY audience’s geographic concentration. With MaxxCasting, WLEY’s signal can be decoded into these meters considerably more proficiently than that of the station’s direct competitors, increasing WLEY’s revenue potential, while providing an improved audio experience to keep the station’s listeners engaged in their cars, homes and commercial buildings.”
The WLEY MaxxCasting deployment features three synchronized nodes in a single-frequency network (SFN) to overcome the multipath issues caused by urbanization. The low-height, low-power nodes are strategically targeted to fill in specific key geographic listening areas, with the MaxxCasting SFN architecture providing seamless transitions without audible disruption as drivers listening to the station move between transmitters.
SBS VP/Engineering Erik Peterson became familiar with the contour-to-coverage benefits of MaxxCasting when he joined a listening test for WXRV.
“As we drove around the neighborhoods of Boston listening to the smooth transition between MaxxCasting nodes, we quickly realized that this technology could solve the coverage problems we experienced in the Pilsen neighborhood without introducing new interference,” Peterson said. “Upon deployment, it was clear that our expectations have been exceeded. Our improved coverage will help us better serve the large Spanish-language communities in Chicago, while making WLEY a far more attractive advertising outlet for local businesses.”
The WLEY MaxxCasting installation was designed to enable at least four different broadcast stations to share the same site in the future, thus bringing down the costs for each. Rather than requiring separate sites, from an infrastructure perspective, new stations essentially need only add their transmitter, a combiner, and their audio feed. One additional station has already committed to becoming a MaxxCasting licensee and joining the WLEY SFN infrastructure, with deployment anticipated in the coming weeks.
Each node in the WLEY MaxxCasting system features a GatesAir Flexiva FAX transmitter operating at 99 Watts and uses GatesAir Intraplex IP networking solutions to simulcast and synchronize live program content, enabling the aforementioned seamless node-to-node transitions.