Thursday, March 20, 2008

The great WPRB typo.


Acquiring and maintaining a valid FCC license requires quite a bit of paperwork. The occasional typo happens, it's Murphy's law. Usually these are found immediately through engineering reviews and the two dozen sets of eyeballs that see any change in capitalization. This one lasted a little longer than usual... over a decade.

In 1991, Princeton University’s 103.3 WPRB moved it's tower site to a tower just off Route 1. But the devils typo worked it's way into the text. It left the FCC thinking that WPRB was about 720 feet away from its actual tower site.

In the grand scheme of thing 720 feet isn't a big deal. If that was a change in HAAT that'd be a huge issue, but a lateral move of less than 1000 feet is normally minor. Except that WPRB is short-spaced to 103.5 WKTU and 103.3 WARM. It reminded engineers and all of radioland exactly how precarious this short-spacing is.

WPRB’s correction slightly decreases it's distance from WKTU but when WKTU moved to the Epire State Building they actually increased the distance. So you could say that PRB is scooting up on Manhattan but in reality the 1st adjacent stations are already overlapping well-into their protected contours. WPRB first went on air in 1940 as WPRU, WKTU in 1948 as WNNJ. It shouldn't have been licensed. But Princeton wasn't defending their turf.

The WARM short-spacing is equally nefarious only coming on air in York PA in 1986. Sharing the 103.3 frequency their short spacing can't be handled as delicately. Where PRB and KTU are actually listenable in their areas of overlap WARM and WPRB have an either/or relationship. And in the worst areas of overlap you hear nothing but interference. Boxing in a College radio station with dance music and Soft AC is a cruel joke but that's what you get when you don't file a petitions and watch local engineering changes.