WNIU broadcasts from new tower

By Suzanne Tomse

While WNIU’s damaged transmission tower remained unrepaired, the station began broadcasts Dec. 31 over a new radio tower located at Route 69 and Interstate 39.

The new tower will be used for all WNIU broadcasting but it will not “totally” replace the damaged tower, located next to Kishwaukee Hall on College Avenue, said Mike Lazar, WNIU general manager.

When repairs are complete on the damaged tower, it will serve as a backup tower if needed. In addition, a “microwave dish” will be attached to the old tower in order to transmit signals to the new radio tower, Lazar said.

Construction of the tower began in November and was completed after several weeks. The equipment was then tested and approved by the FCC. The entire cost of the tower was approximately $400,000, which included construction, equipment and legal fees, Lazar said. Funding for the project came from corporate and individual grants, from the NIU Foundation and from WNIU listeners. The station “sold the tower by the inch” to listeners for $66, said Lazar.

Lazar said the station has received favorable reactions from listeners concerning the reception of the transmission tower. “It has been very gratifying to receive letters and calls from listeners,” said Lazar.

Despite the favorable reaction, WNIU has had some reception problems with the tower in the DeKalb area and on campus.

“People were used to the strong signals from the old tower and did not need to use their radio antennas. Now they need to use them,” Lazar said.

Repairs of the damaged transmission tower “hopefully” will begin today, said Conrad Miller, director of the NIU Physical Plant. Previous scheduling conflicts with the Utility Tower Company, contracted out of Okalahoma City, Okla. for the repair work, had postponed the work three times.

The company was first scheduled one week after the accident, which occurred on Nov. 26, but was delayed because the company had prior commitments. The company postponed sending a crew the week of Dec. 31 and on Jan. 5 due to the weather, Miller said.

epairs will include replacing the bottom third of the 300-foot tower, which was damaged when an NIU grounds crew worker accidently severed a guide line that supports the structure. In order to replace the broken section, the entire tower will be dismantled by hand, and the new parts will be added.

Miller said the project should be finished in seven to 10 days, depending on the weather, and will cost approximately $22,000. Funding for the repair work will come from Physical Plant funds.