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Movin' On Up: Our New Transmitter Arrives with Style

WWOZ is spreading its wings! We have long been plotting the installation of a new transmitter that will boost our broadcast signal from 4,000 watts to 100,000 watts. This means that our signal will be stronger in New Orleans, and will expand further outside the city, particularly into St. Tammany, St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes.

This map shows our expanding signal. The blue circle designates our current terrestial broadcast area with 4,000 watts. The red line shows an approximate of our new 100,000 watt broadcast signal.

In making this happen, we've had to overcome a number of challenges, including that of lifting our enormous new transmitter to the roof of a 25-story building.

Here's how WWOZ General Manager David Freedman tells it:

What happens when you increase from 4,000 to 100,000 watts? Well, the signal would carry a lot further—across the lake, down the coast, deep toward the east into Mississippi! It would make WWOZ the only non-commercial FM in Louisiana to broadcast at that power. So, that's exactly what we decided to do.

It all sounded so simple—back in December when we hired a moving company to lug our big black box weighing about a ton pounds up our 25 story building.  But once the movers got to the top of the building, they discovered that our transmitter was too big to get through the doorway leading to the roof.

So, we dragged it back down the stairway and put it into storage while we made other arrangements. Finally, in January, we found a big ass crane that could reach 25 stories high and had it brought into town. The owner of that crane applied for the necessary permits, but the city dragged its feet for a month, missing meetings and deadlines, so the crane owner took off for bigger and better jobs in Texas.
 
Then a friend of the station found a crew of really ripped firemen who were convinced they could get the Thing onto the roof by sheer force of will and a different angle through the doorway. Once more the big black box was carried up 25 stories only to come back down, too big to succeed.
 
Then in February, another crane operator was located in Gonzales, south of Baton Rouge. He drove down to the city, looked the situation over and declared that his crane was too small for the job. ‘OZ was running out of time and ideas. According to our FCC permit, the new transmitter had to be up and running no later than April 8. What to do? 
 
We looked to the heavens for inspiration. And, lo, there was a helicopter! 
 

On Saturday, March 9 we flew the new transmitter to its new home on the 26-story rooftop at 1440 Canal. The photos below show the process as a helicopter came in and carefully lifted two loads of equipment onto the building.

Now our engineers have begun the real work of setting it up! We are currently broadcasting from a backup transmitter on the West Bank, so be aware that WWOZ's terrestrial signal might change in strength and coverage area in the coming days - and might even reach some new areas. This process is just temporary growing pains, and we thank you for your patience! WWOZ will soon have a much stronger signal.

This project would not have been possible with out the generous contributions from New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and RosaMary Foundation.

PHOTOS: WWOZ's Flying Transmitter

Comments

Roof Dilemna

After lugging that thing up 25 floors, I think I'd have torn out/rebuilt the door. I would think you could hire a carpenter cheaper than a helicopter!

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