Fort Collins radio station KRFC flips the switch on the new signal

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KRFC 88.9 FM is coming on a wave near and far.

After years of hard work and fundraising, the Fort Collins-based community radio station will flip the switch on its new radio tower at 1 p.m. Thursday, launching a 50-kilowatt radio signal and doubling its broadcast range in the process. .

The new signal will reach north to the Wyoming border, south down the Interstate 25 corridor to north of Denver, past Greeley to the east, and parts of Boulder County to the south and east. west, KRFC executive director Jen Parker told the Coloradoan on Wednesday.

“It’s quite rare for a community radio station to build its own tower,” Parker said, noting that the project had been a talking point at KRFC for most of its 19 years on the air.

The new signal allows the station to expand beyond the 3 kilowatt signal it previously leased from a tower on a farm east of Fort Collins.

Having its own tower also means that KRFC will be able to rent space to other stations or organizations. This could bring more revenue to the station to help offset the increased costs of running its own tower and signal – Parker estimated that the change would raise the station’s monthly electricity bills from $400 to around $2,000.

No station or organization was renting space outside the tower on Wednesday, Parker said.

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KRFC 88.9 FM will turn on its new radio tower on May 12, 2022. The tower is pictured here May 11, 2022, outside of Fort Collins, Colorado.  Its 50 kilowatt radio signal will reach north to the Wyoming border, south down the Interstate 25 corridor to just north of Denver, past Greeley to the east and parts of Boulder County to the south and West.

Construction of the tower was made possible by KRFC’s Power the Tower fundraising campaign, which raised nearly $500,000 in 3½ years, according to Parker.

While KRFC’s new signal was originally scheduled to launch in the spring of 2020, the process of identifying the right land for the tower and obtaining the necessary approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration for its construction proved complicated. The station eventually leased land from the farmer who owned the tower to which it had previously leased its signal, Parker said.

The COVID-19 pandemic made the project even worse as COVID-related supply chain issues drove up construction costs, Parker said.

Despite the delay, Parker welcomed the signal’s launch on Thursday, calling it an “incredible achievement” for the largely volunteer-powered radio station.

“We have 90 DJs and 64 shows a week – 62 of them are scheduled at KRFC,” Parker said, noting that KRFC’s extensive volunteer lineup and regular live shows are increasingly rare on radio. .

“All of our programmers have slots in our crazy schedule. They’re passionate members of the community — lawyers, accountants, CSU students, retirees, architects, teachers, professors, techies from various companies,” Parker said. “They are amazing.”

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The new radio tower transmitter for KRFC 88.9 FM is pictured Wednesday, May 11, 2022, outside of Fort Collins, Colorado.  The 50 kilowatt radio signal will reach north to the Wyoming border, south down the Interstate 25 corridor to just north of Denver, past Greeley to the east and parts of Boulder County to the south and West.

The station has a total of 180 volunteers and a small staff, two full-time and six part-time.

The launch of the station’s new signal coincides with other changes at KRFC, including a new KRFC 88.9 FM app that allows users to stream its broadcast from anywhere, an enhanced video streaming option on its website and a digital radio signal that now allows listeners to see the name of the song and artist they’re listening to on their radio screen, Parker said.

“It was true community radio at its best,” Parker said of KRFC’s journey to have its own tower and signal, thanking listener members, donors, staff, volunteers and the board. station administration for bringing the station to this point.

“We set out to be one of the biggest community radio stations in the country – that’s been our goal, and our community has really dug in and they believe in this station and what it does.”

A free concert to celebrate KRFC’s new signal will begin at 4 p.m. May 21 at New Belgium Brewing, 500 Linden St. Sweet Virginia and AJ Fullerton are set to perform, complete with food trucks, an auction and d other festivities planned.

Erin Udell reports on current affairs, culture, history and more for the Coloradoan. Contact her at [email protected] The only way she can keep doing what she does is with your support. If you subscribe, thank you. Otherwise, sign up for a digital subscription to the Coloradoan today.

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