8 Track flashback has been on the air since November 1996, and in 1996 our transmitter was about 2 years old. Time goes on, and some 15 years later, 8 Track Flashback is still here, and so is our (now) 16 year old transmitter. In that time we’ve not been idle, we started a plan for the transmitter back in 2005 when in my role as chief engineer I started thinking about putting in a new transmitter and setting up our old one as a backup and updating various other parts of the station technical infrastructure.

To that end, we applied for and got a grant for implementing HD radio, this got us among other things a new system to get our program from our studio on campus out to our tower north of Durham which was worht over $12,000. We got new power monitoring equipment, new audio processing equipment, and updated our modulation and signal monitoring at the transmitter site and studio, in particular we set up systems for the equipment itself  to call me on my cell phone when anything went wrong. I also started keepin an eye out for equipment donations that would help us when it came time to add a new transmitter. I was able to get a motorized antenna transfer switch, a dummy load for transmitter testing and the expensive copper transmission line components which carry the high power signal from the transmitters through the transfer switch to the antenna.

Back at the station, as part of our grant process, we laid out a five year plan for the station, and in year three of that plan, we put installing a new transmitter to upgrade power on our HD digital channel. We specifically proposed installing one that combined the standard FM boracast signal with the higher HD power, so that in upgrading the HD signal we would replace our 16 your old FM only transmitter as our main 24/7 delivery system, and have a new, solid state transmitter doing both functions.

When the FCC finally released rules for HD power increases, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting established a grant program for stations to increase their digital power. On the strength of our 5 year plan and our committment to HD programming, they accepted our new transmitter plan for funding, contingent on our raising 20% of the cost of the transmitter project from other sources.

In the past, North Carolina Central University would cover a certain amount of our match, and we could cover the rest from general station funds. But times has changed, the State and Fedral support for NCCU has been cut substantially, and it now falls to us to make all of that 20% match. So now we need our listeners to support us in this project.

If you are interested in the transmitters we are looking at, go to Google and Google “Nautel NV20” and “Harris FAX20K”. We are required to put this transmitter out for bid to get multiple proposals, but at this point these two transmitters look like the most suitable units.