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07/08/2019

KAKT(FM) Becomes First Commercial Broadcaster In The Oregon Market

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GatesAir has helped Stephens Media Group of Medford's country station KAKT(FM) become the first commercial HD Radio broadcaster in the Medford, Oregon market.

The station is now delivering two HD Radio channels alongside its main FM program, using a complete GatesAir HD Radio Gen4 solution with high-efficiency transmission, embedded signal processing, and IP networking gear.

The Stephens Media Group of Medford engineering team worked closely with GatesAir channel partner SCMS to identify a solution that would help launch an HD Radio service while also transitioning to solid-state transmission. KAKT selected a GatesAir Flexiva FAX20 (20kW) air-cooled transmitter, retiring tube transmitters that had grown challenging to service. Klein-White Broadcast Engineering, a full-service design and engineering firm, added value through turnkey installation and commissioning services that brought the new solid-state system to air quickly.

"Solid-state brings a great deal of new maintenance and efficiency benefits over tubes, and spare parts have become expensive and tougher to find," said Dan Sullivan, Chief Engineer, Stephens Media Group of Medford. "The Flexiva is half the size of our tube transmitter, which reduces cooling requirements and returns a great deal of space in a rather small room. Our new transmitter is very accessible for maintenance, with a plug-and-play, hot-swappable design that will simplify our workload and ensure we can service the transmitter while on the air."

The FAX20 accommodates the FM, HD1 and HD2 channels, with an HD3 channel to be added in the future. GatesAir’s Flexiva FMXi 4g embedded HD Radio solution provides a single Importer/Exporter to manage the audio and data within Stephens Media Group of Medford’s IT infrastructure. This eliminates the need for separate systems with moving parts, and centralizes all related signal processing and multiplexing.

The FMXi 4g also time-aligns the analog and digital program audio without the need for a separate modulation monitor or other hardware unit that was required before GatesAir’s innovation. KAKT uses a traditional microwave STL system to transport its FM signal, and GatesAir Intraplex IP Link 200 codecs to network both HD Radio channels over IP. Sullivan adds that the IP Links operate reliably over what he calls “a slow network,” with no obvious signs of packet loss as the program audio moves from the studio to the transmitter site over IP.

Feedback from the Medford community has been positive since launching the new system, particularly in regards to HD Radio audio quality. Sullivan notes that the new transmitter is also covering the market with a much stronger broadcast signal, ensuring that its FM and HD programming reach the largest possible audience.

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