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GatesAir Flexiva Transmitter Boosts Performance and Operational Efficiency for KYWA-FM

Christian broadcaster eliminates costs and labor associated with aging tube transmitter, while improving on-air reliability and quality in time for annual pledge drive
Cincinnati, OH, June 06, 2016

GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for radio and TV broadcasters, has significantly improved on-air performance and reduced maintenance for KYWA-FM of Wichita, Kansas, one of more than 50 signals comprising the WAY Media family of Top 40 Christian music stations around the United States. The broadcaster replaced an aging 15kW tube transmitter from another supplier that had difficulty making power with a 10kW GatesAir Flexiva FAX solid-state air-cooled transmitter, at once improving audio quality and on-air reliability while eliminating the quickly escalating costs of maintaining the previous tube rig.

KYWA-FM was faced with several operational challenges that factored heavily into its decision. Electrical anomalies in its RF plant commonly led to off-air periods due to “nuisance trips” associated with transmitter plates and main breakers. Additionally, the engineering team was increasingly tasked with the costs and labor of parts replacement. The transmitter also had difficulty making or achieving its allotted 13.5kW power, resulting in coverage limitations on the outer market edges.

The latter point proved especially troublesome for WAY Media Director of Engineering and IT Dave Shelton, who urgently needed to improve reliability and coverage in advance of KYWA’s biggest annual pledge drive. Upon discussions with SCMS, a leading distributor of GatesAir and other radio solutions, Shelton discovered that GatesAir could quickly deliver a 10kW transmitter that, based on its compact footprint and modular design, could be on the air within 24 hours.

“We knew we would have a difficult time finding a transmitter that could make our 13.5kW TPO on such a tight budget and timeline, and since we were barely making 10.5kW with the old transmitter, we re-classed the station as a 10kW and ordered the Flexiva,” said Shelton. “I have had a lot of experience with GatesAir transmitters over the years, so I knew the reliability and quality would be great. What we didn’t project was the simple and efficiently timed installation. The receiving truck was onsite by 2pm, and we were on the air at midnight. The installation and commissioning was a breeze.”

Operational efficiencies have skyrocketed since turning on the Flexiva. At 10’x10’, the real estate limitations of the RF plant made tube transmitter maintenance an immense challenge. The smaller Flexiva footprint eliminated a full equipment rack, removing clutter while allowing Shelton to position the Flexiva 90-degrees off from the previous footprint for easier serviceability. Cooling requirements have been tremendously reduced; with Flexiva’s efficient air-cooled architecture, the heat load is substantially lower, enabling the three existing small portable AC units to better cool the building. Maintenance requirements are limited to occasional vacuuming of dust and dirt—the building itself is not fully sealed—while the costs and labor of spare parts replacement for a new Flexiva transmitter are virtually non-existent.

Most importantly for Shelton and WAY Media, the improved on-air reliability, coverage and audio fidelity allowed KYWA to hit its pledge drive goal for the first time in the station’s history.

“The performance benefits have been immediate; our expense in spare parts alone have been reduced to $0, and the Flexiva’s air-cooled design saved us the expense of a complete five-ton HVAC system,” said Shelton. “But the biggest benefit for us is consistently being on the air. The Flexiva installation is a major reason why we made our pledge drive goal. By having such an affordable and high-quality transmitter ready to ship on short notice, GatesAir and SCMS helped us through a very challenging situation, and allowed to rebuild credibility with our overall audience.”

Moving forward, Shelton plans to explore the Flexiva’s HD Radio capabilities, simplified through an in-the-field GatesAir exciter upgrade.

About GatesAir

GatesAir, Inc. provides complete solutions for over-the-air radio and television broadcasting, leveraging wireless spectrum to maximize performance for multichannel, mission-critical services. Powering over-the-air networks worldwide with unparalleled reliability for nearly 100 years, GatesAir’s turnkey solutions enable broadcasters to create, transport and transmit radio and TV content.  With customers in more than 185 countries, the company leads the industry in innovation and design breakthroughs, improving efficiency and reducing total cost of ownership. Visit www.gatesair.com for more information, Like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/gatesair, and follow us on Twitter at @GatesAir.

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