Construction Begins on Charlotte DTV Transmitter Facility

Planning has been underway for a DTV Transmitter building in Charlotte for several years. Due to changes in FCC rules and deadlines as well as transmitter technology, the plan changed over the years – but it is now taking final shape.

These pictures tell the story. Photos illustrate our progress from startup to date. The cold weather has made the work tough…but so far, everything is on schedule.

Soil test
The first soil test probes begin.
Construction begins
Construction started on the site on January 5th.
Crews prepare to pour the footings.
Concrete is poured for the footings.
Top ice shield
The all-important, and expensive, ice shield goes into place.
Walls begin rising.
Partial walls
Partial walls show the building taking shape.

Digital broadcasting for WJZY and WWWB began in mid 2002 with the minimal number of transmitter cabinets (one for each station – no redundancy). This was done to save costs while complying with FCC deadlines. By installing with a minimal sized transmitter we were able to economize at the time even more by using space in our existing analog transmitter buildings. This arrangement worked well for our start up effort in digital and saved a great deal of money by delaying DTV building construction.

The digital signals are now carried by Time Warner on cable channels 250 for WJZY HD and 251 for WJZY SD, as well as 255 for WWWB HD and 256 for WWWB. This cable coverage has dramatically increased viewers for HD, so reliability is more important. We determined we need to increase redundancy by installing multiple cabinets for WJZY and WWWB digital. We also plan to increase power up to the limit of 1 Megawatt as soon as it is feasible.

In September 2004, the final plan began to take shape. An agreement was reached that involved downsizing and changing locations for the Charlotte DTV building. This was possible since technology changes allow desired power to be obtained with less equipment than a few years ago. Less equipment means a smaller, less costly DTV building. Further cost savings were realized by a plan of transferring our WJZY transmitter equipment to WRAZ. This allows WRAZ to add to their equipment to achieve 1MW of power at a lower cost than buying new equipment. At the same time WJZY will install a redundant 2 cabinet transmitter that can achieve 1MW. Previously, this would have required 3 cabinets. WWWB will remain as is for now due to FCC rules. We hope to increase power and provide redundancy on it in the near future.

WRAZ is required to upgrade to 1MW of power by July 1, 2005. Therefore it created quite a rush in Charlotte to get a new building designed, funds approved, contractor selected and construction begun as soon as possible.

During October, November and December, budgets were set, designs drawn and contractors interviewed. Final financial approval was granted on January 3, 2005. The contractor crews were assembled on January 4 and the next day, January 5, construction work on site began.

The plan calls for the building to be completed on March 14. Then Harris will install a new 1MW transmitter system for WJZY – to be completed by April 11. Next, our old transmitter will be packed up and delivered to WRAZ. Once on site in Raleigh, it will be modified for WRAZ and installed so they are on the air at full power by July 1 st.

Thanks to WJZY’s John Bishop for this capcom story and these capcom photos.

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