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Building an FM radio station. Single-Channel Preamps
Old 16th December 2010
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Building an FM radio station.

I need help building an FM radio station... Seriously.

I have a solid building and an FM tower is sitting on the top of the building (which I am told has potential to be the farthest-reaching station in our area), BUT... The entire building was gutted.

I have worked in audio, video, so forth, but NEVER in radio. I need to know what equipment I need to purchase (bare essentials) in order to power and send an audio signal to this massive tower on top of my building. Having never done anything like this I am anticipating many ro*******s including FCC bandwidth, so forth.

If you have any experience in this, or can point me in the right direction, that would be awesome! Please don't tell me to 'google it' as I am already reading a few articles, I just wanted to ask on here since I actually respect the opinions of the contributors on this board.

Thank you in advance for your help!
Old 16th December 2010
  #2
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Fenris's Avatar
 

Stick with analog technology and older technology, if you want it to be reliable.

We're a 9200-watt college station. We use a 1970's transmitter with a grounded grid design. This design is the most stable and easy to repair, but is meant for lower-wattage stations. The processing chain is an Aphex Compellor and an Orban Optimod 8100 (no multi-band option), and we sound miles better than any of the commercial stations. We use Electro-Voice RE20 DJ mics, Symetrix 528E channel strips, Technics SL1200 MK2 turntables, cheap Stanton CD players (the "professional" Denon players are crap), older broadcast consoles (the new models are too flimsy), a second-hand digital profanity delay (new ones are cheaply built and not worth the $3000 price tag), a computer for cart playback, another computer to record airchecks, and an Emergency Alert System unit. We use a Tieline Commander remote unit and it works well, but anything digital-based will be obsolete in a few years. You won't need a site-to-transmitter link. I think that's everything!

Few stations have their own engineer these days, they've been replaced by freelancers who are responsible for a dozen or more stations. The pay is very low and young engineers aren't going into radio anymore. Good luck finding a good engineer!

http://commonfrequency.org/ is an organization that helps non-commercial radio stations get and stay on the air.
Old 16th December 2010
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Thank you for your awesomely detailed reply. I am with you 100% on RE20s and your compressor/limiter setup seems like a nice chain. Let me ask a more foundational question...

How do you get from your Aphex Compellor to the Antenna? Right now I have a tower sitting on my building and a single wire (heavily insulated) coming through the ceiling. I have nothing to power the tower with, and I have nothing to translate that stereo FM signal into current, or whatever it is technically called.

Like I said, I am a novice when it comes to radio. Well versed in audio world (generally).

Thank you again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
Stick with analog technology and older technology, if you want it to be reliable.

We're a 9200-watt college station. We use a 1970's transmitter with a grounded grid design. This design is the most stable and easy to repair, but is meant for lower-wattage stations. The processing chain is an Aphex Compellor and an Orban Optimod 8100 (no multi-band option), and we sound miles better than any of the commercial stations. We use Electro-Voice RE20 DJ mics, Symetrix 528E channel strips, Technics SL1200 MK2 turntables, cheap Stanton CD players (the "professional" Denon players are crap), older broadcast consoles (the new models are too flimsy), a second-hand digital profanity delay (new ones are cheaply built and not worth the $3000 price tag), a computer for cart playback, another computer to record airchecks, and an Emergency Alert System unit. We use a Tieline Commander remote unit and it works well, but anything digital-based will be obsolete in a few years. You won't need a site-to-transmitter link. I think that's everything!

Few stations have their own engineer these days, they've been replaced by freelancers who are responsible for a dozen or more stations. The pay is very low and young engineers aren't going into radio anymore. Good luck finding a good engineer!

Your Page Title is an organization that helps non-commercial radio stations get and stay on the air.
Old 17th December 2010
  #4
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Mike Pfeifer's Avatar
 

Building an FM radio station.

I seriously hope you are going to have this equipment installed and set up professionally and maintained professionally! If you don't know what you are doing with RF energy, especially at the high powers of an FM radio station, you or someone else could end up dead! That is not an exaggeration! Please be extremely careful.
Old 17th December 2010
  #5
Here for the gear
 
Mike Pfeifer's Avatar
 

Building an FM radio station.

Sorry, forgot to add this part:

If you are in the USA, you will have to deal with the FCC. You will need to be licensed and that is a major undertaking. I have not tried personally to do it, but from what I understand there are not many frequencies available. This obviously varies from place to place however. The link in the post higher up sounds like a great place to start.

Good luck, let us know how it goes.
Old 17th December 2010
  #6
Here for the gear
 

1. YES, I am going to have it professionally installed.
2. That organization might be helpful (I will write them) but their website is horrendous. They should stick to radio. (joke)
3. I am aware of the hardships of dealing with the FCC. Hopefully I can make it past that barrier, but we will see.

Thank you again for your feedback! This is going to be a long fight and will involve alot of reading on my part. FM/RF/AC... I have alot to learn.
Old 18th December 2010
  #7
Gear Addict
 
Fenris's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotconductor View Post

How do you get from your Aphex Compellor to the Antenna? Right now I have a tower sitting on my building and a single wire (heavily insulated) coming through the ceiling.
That depends on whether it's the right kind of wire to carry the signal from the transmitter to the antenna. The transmitter generates a lot of heat and has to go in an air-conditioned room, either on the roof or in the studio. Most transmitters use tubes, because transistors can't handle the necessary power levels. Like Mike said, you'll need an experienced radio engineer AND an antenna specialist with specialized equipment for testing the antenna.

We use the Compellor to optimize the level going into the STL. If you're not using an STL, you just need an Optimod or similar. The Optimod 8100 has an optional "studio chassis" if you want to adjust the settings in the studio or use it with an STL.

The signal chain is broadcast console to Optimod to transmitter to antenna. If you have more than one studio, you'll need a studio switch before the Optimod.
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