KWFN “The Fan” Building FM Booster Network

Entercom, owners of KWFN 97.3 FM San Diego, commissioned GEO Broadcast Solutions to install a network of FM boosters for the station. The FCC in late May issued a license to cover the construction of a co-channel FM booster station for La Jolla (Bird Rock). They were also granted Construction Permits for boosters in Escondido, Romona, San Marcos, and Encinitas.

Entercom management hopes the five new boosters will help extend coverage and reduce multipath in the regions chosen for enhancement. Remember that KWFN swapped frequencies with KSON in November 2017 in order to give KSON’s country music fans greater coverage from Mt. Soledad. This left KWFN disadvantaged serving north San Diego County listeners.

KWFN-FM1 is atop a building on La Jolla Boulevard in the Bird Rock neighborhood. The FCC granted the license for this site May 15, 2019. JR Rogers, San Diego market Technical Operations Director, said, “The project in La Jolla is a piece of the ‘Grand Experiment.’ La Jolla was our test case and seems to be doing what we need it to do. We will be adding a few more to see if the system benefits or hampers us.”

In late May, the FCC granted four additional KWFN (FM) Construction Permits. KWFN-2 would be located on a cell tower near downtown Romona; KWFN-3 at the 92.1 facility near San Marcos that used to house KSOQ 92.1, the original and highly effective KSON booster; KWFN-FM4 Escondido at Black Mountain and aimed north-northwest to serve the I-15 corridor, an infamous FM reception strip; and KWFN-FM5 Encinitas at the I-5 Leucadia Boulevard exit to serve the I-5 corridor northwest toward Carlsbad and Oceanside.

GEO Broadcast Solutions installs GatesAir low power boosters that both synchronize their low power signals with the main transmitter signal and rebroadcast the HD signal. Synchronization can now be maintained to within ±2 µS. The boosters are fed by IP.

GEO asked the FCC late last year to allow booster station to originate some programming so that they could geo-target advertising (“ZoneCasting”) and emergency alerts as cable companies have long done. The FCC has not acted on that rule change.

KXST (later KPRI) 102.1 Oceanside experimented with boosters in the 1990’s to help extend their signal to geographically challenged locations to the south, like Mission Valley and Pacific Beach. However, they had no means to synchronize the signals, so the boosters tended to create significant interference zones with mobile reception sounding like multipath. The project was scrapped after a short time and the station changed its city of license to Encinitas in order to move the transmitter to Mt. Soledad.

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