[UPDATED Feb 2 2010] The new Campo FM station KSIQ on 96.1 MHz is on the air. Its antenna location is strategically located as close as possible to alternate channel Mt. Soledad broadcasters KYXY 96.5 and KUSS 95.7. Bob Gonsett, Consulting Engineer of Communications General Corporation last month asked a number of questions regarding this move in this reprint from his CGC Communicator:
A NEW LIMITED-COVERAGE FM STATION IS COMING TO SAN DIEGO
A new FM station for south San Diego has been in the making for years. Keep your ears tuned to 96.1 MHz. Here’s the story:
KSIQ-FM has reliably served Brawley and vicinity for many years with deep-penetrating Class B coverage. Now, the station is leaving Brawley in favor of serving south San Diego and a small number of people in and around Campo, CA. It looks like this unusual situation will be accomplished in a three-step process as follows:
- Step one is to remove 96.1 MHz from Brawley and to allotit to Campo while simultaneously downgrading the facility from Class B to Class B1 status. The FCC granted this request in July 2006 and the URL is given in the following story. Moving to Campo is important to the station. This would allow KSIQ to throw its theoretical 57 dBu primary coverage contour over the southern portion of the San Diego metro area even though intervening terrain would prevent the actual signal from reaching there — hold onto that thought for a moment. (The tower could not be moved any closer to San Diego without creating a short spacing to KUSS and KYXY.)
- Step two is for KSIQ to file an application to physically build its new Class B1 transmitter at Campo. That application was filed in October 2006 and modified in September 2009 (see next story). The tower is now up and the station is apparently set to begin broadcasting from Campo if it has not done so already. Of course, turning off the Brawley transmitter is the other part of the equation.
- Step three is to file a booster application for San Miguel Mountain in San Diego to back fill the area that the Campo facility would serve on paper, yet could not serve in reality because of intervening terrain. This was accomplished in an October 2008 application for a “Santee” booster (125 watts ERP, directional) as modified in December 2009 (700 watts ERP, directional).
Now the pieces fit together. The real audience for this station will be in south San Diego County as fed by the booster. The coverage to Campo and vicinity will probably be immaterial to the net value of the station. The applicant has installed an 8-bay antenna at Campo using horizontal polarization only. These steps were apparently taken to hold power costs to a minimum since few people will ever hear the Campo facility.
KSIQ STORY LINKS
Following are the critical KSIQ(FM) applications and exhibits posted in chronological order:
- July 28, 2006 – FCC releases Report & Order in MM Docket 05-219, modifying the license of KSIQ(FM), Brawley, to downgrade the station to Class B1 status and move the allotment to Campo. http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1532A1.doc
- October 25, 2006 – A CP application is filed (and later granted) to move KSIQ’s primary transmitter to Campo and downgrade the facility to Class B1 status.
- October 15, 2008 – A CP application is filed (and later granted) to establish a San Miguel Mountain booster station with 125 watts ERP, directional, with vertical polarization only.
Here is the 57 dBu coverage map for the KSIQ Campo transmitter and its booster on San Miguel. These facilities were never built (as far as we know) and simply represented first iteration engineering.
- September 30, 2009 – A CP application is filed (and later granted) to specify the details of the main transmitter plant that would actually be built at Campo.
- December 17, 2009 – A CP application is filed (and later granted) to modify the San Miguel Mountain booster. This application calls for 700 watts ERP directional and slant (45 degree) polarization using an obscure Italian antenna. There are some concerns with this application. http://tinyurl.com/KSIQboosterTwo
Here is the 57 dBu coverage map for the KSIQ Campo transmitter and its booster on San Miguel. The Campo transmitter is in place at this time and presumably the San Miguel booster is being built if it is not on the air already.
- January 7, 2010 – An application is filed to license the Campo transmitter site. The app has not yet been granted. The studio is listed as 13881 Highway 94 in Jamul, CA.
Not yet filed or announced as filed: An application to license the booster on San Miguel Mountain.
CONCERNS WITH THE 700W BOOSTER APPLICATION
Per the 12/17/09 booster application, the transmitting antenna will be built on San Miguel at coordinates 32-41-51N, 116-56-00W (degrees-minutes-seconds format, NAD27 datum), the main lobe will be pointed at 242 degrees true (WSW), the maximum ERP will be 700 watts and slant (45 degree) polarization will be used.
However, data supplied by the antenna manufacturer and furnished by the applicant in Attachment 17 is anything but clear. Notably, the manufacturer seems to state that vertical (not slant) polarization will be used and the maximum ERP will be 1.5664 kW as stated at the bottom of the first polar plot. The real problem is that the antenna manufacturer never defines most of the parameters shown and gives us no idea of what the
finished installation should look like.
Complicating matters is the Relative Field Polar Plot linked to the application. It shows the main beam of the antenna pointing due north and states that, “Any specified rotation has already been applied to the plotted pattern.” Trouble is, the 242 degree clockwise rotation specified by KSIQ’s narrative has NOT been built into the pattern, so the plot is misleading.
The booster is designed to serve south San Diego, but turning the antenna north (in the general direction of Escondido) will drastically alter the coverage of this station.
It is suggested that concerned broadcasters review the 700 watt booster application from scratch. In the field, there are a few things that can be done immediately. Does a tower exist at coordinates 32-41-51N, 116-56-00W (degrees-minutes-seconds format, NAD27 datum)? Has the booster antenna been installed? What does it look like and where is it pointing?