November 26, 2010

Evanston, Wyoming

(Originally published May 23, 2008)

It's Tower Site Calendar time again, and this week we continue our look at the images you'll find in the 2011 edition with a brief detour into Wyoming.

This week's edition takes us to KEVA in Evanston, Wyoming, the featured photo at right and the first town over the state line on I-80 heading east from Salt Lake City.

It was there, as part of "Big Trip 2007," that we connected with a longtime e-mail acquaintance, Michael Richard, who's the webmaster of the ABDX DX club and was then a part-timer at KEVA, which we found in a prefab building off Airport Road on the west side of Evanston. (The "ABDX" license plates on Michael's car were a pretty good clue, too.)

As we head inside, we're greeted by a nifty sight - one wall of KEVA's lobby is made up of nothing but equipment racks, most of them full of the remains of old automation equipment from KEVA and its former sister station, the old KOTB (106.1, now KBMG). Behind the racks, we find two narrow studios, one for KEVA and the other for its current FM sister, KNYN (99.1 Fort Bridger WY) - and behind those, we find the KEVA transmitter room, where the tubes on that McMartin transmitter sure do make a nice glow. (Did we mention KEVA is in beautiful-sounding AM stereo?)

"Want to go see the FM site?", asks Michael as we head outside after the tour. You bet we do - and after a stop for lunch at a local burger joint, we're soon headed uphill on the east side of Evanston, pointed up the dirt road that leads to the top of Medicine Butte, 8600 feet above sea level. Most of what's up here is two-way and translators, but there are two (nominally) full-power FMs, too.

KNYN used to be a 27 kW class C1 facility up here, serving a big swath of southwestern Wyoming and adjacent Utah, but its old tower collapsed in 2005, and since then it's been running under Special Temporary Authority at extremely reduced power, making it not much more than a local Evanston station. See that one-bay vertical antenna on the tower just to the left of the transmitter building? That's KNYN's current antenna, and that CCA transmitter in the shack is long silent, with a 500-watt Nicom transmitter keeping "Magic 99" on the air for now.

(You can see many more pictures of the 2005 KNYN tower collapse at the ABDX website...)

This is a temporary setback for KNYN, and the reason can be viewed off in the haze to the southwest. Somewhere out there in the Uinta Mountains is a mountaintop site called Humpy Peak, and up there on Humpy is a massive master FM antenna site that serves six FM stations already, with construction permits and applications for several more to join them. KEVA's former FM sister on 106.1, now KBMG, is one of those stations; KNYN will eventually be another.

What's the appeal of Humpy Peak? Simple - while it's terrain-shadowed from Salt Lake City itself, it's close enough that the predicted 60 dBu contours of class C signals on Humpy cover most of the Wasatch Front's population - and it's just far enough from Farnsworth Peak to allow class C signals to be dropped in on second-adjacent channels to the main Salt Lake FMs.

As a result, the Humpy Peak FMs can put up boosters (up to 20 kW ERP) at various locations on the east side of the Salt Lake, Provo and Ogden areas, and of course most of the listenership is coming from those boosters, rather than from the "main" transmitters at Humpy. (In fact, a check of the dial here in Evanston finds that the main transmitter for that Evanston-licensed 106.1 isn't even on the air this particular Saturday morning.)

Nice move-ins, if you can get 'em...

There's one more FM up on Medicine Butte: in 2005, KPCW added a rebroadcast signal up here. KCWW (88.1 Evanston) runs 92 watts from its two-bay directional antenna on the back side of the butte, providing a nice signal to Evanston and vicinity.

2010 update: Michael's now the morning man at KEVA - and KNYN has left the building. With the end of its LMA, it's now working on its Humpy Peak move-in, and KEVA has flipped from classic country to oldies.

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