KPBS-FM Gets CP to Move to Soledad

After a three year wait, the FCC granted KPBS-FM a Construction Permit to move to Mt. Soledad in La Jolla. The proposed CP would have the station broadcasting omnidirectionally with 26 kW ERP from the KFMB-DT/FM transmission site.

The advantage in coverage of communities where wealthy KPBS patrons live is obvious. Residents of Rancho Santa Fe should receive a much stronger signal from Mt. Soledad than what was provided by the 2.7 kW signal from Mt. San Miguel far to the south.

Station Director of Engineering Leon Messenie says he has work to do. First, he would have to file a grant with the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) for the improvement project estimated to cost nearly a million dollars. If he gets that grant money, the station would have to replace the KFMB “Quadzilla” multiuser FM antenna that won’t currently handle KPBS’s input signal at 89.5 MHz.

Messenie considered the UCSD tower on the north edge of Mt. Soledad, but that tower is not built for multiple heavy FM antenna arrays and would likely run into problems with community acceptance should the tower need additional metal or replacement.

KPBS had sought to improve their signal in the past and was always hampered by their non-comm band proximity to XETV channel 6 in Tijuana. In 2007, the FCC changed its policy that previously had protected XETV, saying that the US had no treaty that required a US FM station to protect against interference to a Mexican TV signal penetrating into the US. This gave KSDS 88.3 MHz the green light to increase their power from 800 watts to 22 kW at their Mesa College campus in Linda Vista, though the FCC specified that the signal should be vertically polarized only. (XETV returned to horizontal polarization in 2009 after years as a CP station.) KPBS then felt empowered to increase their signal as well.