July 8, 2005

WOKQ's Transmitter Sites, Dover NH


Last week, we showed you the sleek new studios and offices that WOKQ (97.5 Dover) and its Citadel sister stations built a few years back, right next door to the spot where the station began back in 1970 as WDNH. This week, we'll wrap up our June 2005 visit to WOKQ by showing you what was left behind at the old studio - and what's out at the transmitter site a few miles away!

We'll start with the old building, which began in 1970 as a small studio and transmitter facility for WDNH alone. WDNH was running 50 kW from the beginning, but from an awfully short tower, just 290 feet above average terrain.

As the station grew, the original tower was replaced (around 1981) by the 435-footer that still sits out back, giving the station (by then WOKQ) a wider reach down the coast into Massachusetts and inland towards Manchester and Concord.

The building gradually grew, too, with an addition off the back that eventually housed more sales offices and a nice suite for the general manager. And the purchase of what was then WXBB (105.3 Kittery ME) and WXBP (102.1 Hampton NH) turned a production studio in the front of the building into the 105.3/102.1 air studio. It must have been quite a relief when the new building went up next door in 1999!

Today, the old building sits quietly in retirement, with most of the rooms empty, save for some boxes of T-shirts and other contest prizes in what looks like it was once a conference room near the main entrance. The studios were stripped, mostly, but a few odds and ends remain to testify that these were once lively hubs of activity.

And in what was once the main WOKQ transmitter room, a pair of auxiliary transmitters (a CCA for WOKQ, an old Rockwell Collins for WSHK 105.3) sit ready to carry the load if either station's main site goes off the air. This is also where all of the stations' STL and remote pickup functions are handled, through a number of microwave dishes on the tower feeding points as distant as Mount Washington (where WOKQ's sister station WPKQ 103.7 is located, reached through a hop from the WOKQ transmitter site) and as close as the WSHK transmitter, just across the river to the north, in Maine.

So where's WOKQ's transmitter now?

For that, we follow engineer Bob Perry through the back streets of Dover and out to the west, into the town of Barrington, down Atwood Road and up to Green Hill, where a locked gate and a stand of trees conceals the 384-foot tower that's now used by WOKQ.

(Yes, this one is shorter than the old stick - but its base sits about 250 feet higher than the old tower, which was barely above sea level. Moving here in 1990 brought about a considerable improvement in WOKQ's signal, especially inland.)

This is a simple, but functional, facility, with two prefab buildings to house the transmitter (at rear in the photo above) and a generator (in the foreground.)

The transmitters themselves are a Continental 816 for main use and a Harris for backup, along with the usual complement of processing and STL gear, plus the microwave link back to the old tower and on to Mount Washington for WPKQ.

And there's a neat twist that I somehow failed to photograph - there are spare antenna bays stored here, just in case. Where to put such ungainly items in a rather tight space? They're carefully hung from the cable trays that line two walls of the transmitter building!

So there's our rather comprehensive visit to this New England country giant. Next week, we'll head up to Rochester and then over to Concord to pay calls on a trio of interestingly community-oriented smaller stations.

Thanks to all the good folks at Citadel - especially to engineer Bob Perry for taking us out to the transmitters!

It's here - the 2005 Tower Site Calendar is now available at special clearance prices! Click here for ordering information!