The CBC tower on Broadcast Hill will be broadcasting a new signal next month. Our own venerable campus and community radio station, CJSW, is hijacking the CBC tower for their own sake.
The new setup is expected to become operational sometime next month. Already, the station has ordered its new transmitter; studio translator link equipment for getting the signal from campus to the tower; and the one necessary part to keep the CJSW signal separate from the CBC signal.
"It's coming from Europe--Italy, I'm told," CJSW Station Manager Chad Saunders said.
The one remaining bureaucratic step is the U of C's approval of the translator link equipment. Saunders hopes that it's just a matter of getting something signed.
The radio station originally hoped to have the tower put up on campus, but they're still technically waiting for confirmation for that. By contrast, when they approached the federal government about using the CBC tower, the process was surprisingly quick. To even get as far as he did with the university, he had to battle a "round table" of interest groups and safety concerns. Some concerns he understood, while others made him shake his head.
"Some people said to me 'why do we even have a radio station on campus anyway?'" Saunders remembers, bewildered.
Saunders admits that the safety concerns of the government and the university are legitimate.
"Every cell phone tower, every satellite dish, every radio tower, they worry about. They don't want people getting all goofy-goofy with that stuff."
The new tower will be a huge improvement from any other previous broadcasting situation. Before the lease ran out, CJSW broadcast at 1,900 Watts from a 44-foot tower located on the SAIT campus. Currently, they are broadcasting at 190 Watts from a 15-foot "plastic stir stick" located downtown. Regulations state that when a station is broadcasting on standby, they must do so at ten per cent of their usual power. Come May, CJSW will be broadcasting at a juiced-up 4,000 Watts from a monolithic 900-foot tower.
"Our coverage area will be remarkably big," Saunders enthuses. "Right now we are just covering principal areas of Calgary."
Outlying Calgary communities such as Ranchlands and Deer Run are out of range of the current tower. When the new tower gets going, CJSW's signal will be picked up on a regular basis as far north as Carstairs, as far west as Seebe, as far south as High River and as far east as Strathmore.
"As far as students are concerned, their family and friends in McKenzie Towne will be able to hear their shows," Saunders said.
Saunders points out that the CJSW levy increase that passed in the March 2002 referendum and the annual funding drive are what made the new tower possible.
"All the listeners who supported us in the funding drive will be able to get a good signal, finally."
Saunders has big plans for when the station's new powers are fully achieved, after years of lobbying the university and the government.
"I'm getting loaded!" he laughs. "In May, we'll have a huge shaker. Everyone who loves CJSW and everyone who loves the number 4,000 is invited."
In Saunders' view, everything will be easier from now on.
"We're over the crest. Gravity is on our side."