Coast Radio revitalization

Coast Radio’s antennas sit atop Glenada Hill, south of Florence. Recent upgrades have improved and increased reception for both their FM stations, 106.9 and 104.1. Early reception tests are showing that 104.1 is clearly listenable as far into Douglas County as the Lakeside area. Courtesy photo

Florence radio station boosts signal strength and fidelity with upgrades to transmitters and antennas

March 30, 2023 — The recent completion of upgrade projects to Coast Radio's popular 106.9 and 104.1 stations are now providing listeners with improved coverage and reception in a wide area of western Lane County.

KCST 106.9 now transmits from the top of a 240 foot tall tower, while KCFM 104.1 has its antenna atop an adjacent 140 foot tall tower.

During the planning stages of the project, permission was sought and granted by the FCC to increase KCFM's output power to nearly double what it had been, and the orientation of the antenna was changed to provide areas to the south of Florence with a much stronger signal. Early reception tests are showing that 104.1 is clearly listenable as far into Douglas County as the Lakeside area.

“It has been a little disruptive over the past year. We’ve had periods of time when our signal has been reduced, off the air or interrupted as we’ve upgraded and moved transmitters and antennas,” explained Coast Broadcasting General Manager Jon Thompson.

Although the transmitting antennas for both stations were moved only 300 feet across the top of Glenada Hill south of town, construction was delayed several times by weather, holiday vacation travel, and contractor scheduling conflicts. The transmitting antennas were removed from one tower, and reinstalled about one hundred feet higher, respectively, on two nearby towers. The additional height for both antennas has improved reception in outlying area considerably. New transmitters for both stations were purchased, replacing equipment that was nearing the end of useful life. The new transmitters are more compact and consume energy in a more efficient manner than that of older models and modern circuit designs and components have resulted in a noticeable improvement in audio fidelity and stereo separation. The equipment shelter at the new location is much more robust and better organized, with more reliable backup generator power available. In addition, the tower supporting KCST's antenna is engineered to survive a 9.0 earthquake, ensuring that the station will be on the air during times of emergency.

Lease payments for the facility will be staying in the Florence area, supporting non-profit West Lane Translator Incorporated, rather than being sent out of state to an investor-owned tower farm owner as had been the case previously.

“We are especially pleased to be leasing facilities from West Lane Translator. We are closely aligned with their mission of providing the area with free over-the-air news, emergency information and entertainment. The move was overdue,” Thompson added.

Tower work was contracted out to employee-owned Silke Communications of Eugene, which was founded by the late Jim Silke, a long-term resident of Dunes City in the Siltcoos area.

“Our station engineer R “Sparks” Scott was invaluable in design conception to installation, added Thompson. “Sparks has been a significant contributor to many of the station’s broadcast projects over the years including our construction of the first KinStar Tower in the world, a low profile “green” AM antenna system we placed into service in 2008.”

The improvement to these two stations is complemented by a project completed last year to upgrade Coast Radio's KCFM signal in Mapleton at 103.1 MHz, which increased coverage upriver on the Siuslaw and Lake Creek drainages, bringing news, sports and entertainment to Deadwood and beyond.

The station also recently made an investment in the installation of fiber in partnership with local provider Hyak which will allow Coast Radio to expand its audio streaming and video on additional media platforms.

“This has been a year of improvement projects and a significant capital investment by the company to ensure that we will be able to serve Florence and surrounding communities in many capacities well into the future,” added Thompson.

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