Thursday, January 10, 2008


I know that KLOL had some problems with the FCC in the 1990's because of some of the on the air content and got a big fine. KLOL in its formative days in the mid 1970s had some problems with the FCC in its formative days too.

But, in the case of its problems after moving from the Rice Hotel to 510 Lovett Blvd. in Montrose, it was a technical issue. Our broadcast signal at 101.1 FM was interfering with airline and control tower communications at Hobby airport.

Technically speaking, our signal was radiating in the first harmonic 10 megacycles up in frequency onto 110.1 megacycles (110.1 FM) . It was interfering with important landing communications that used that frequency. The pilots were hearing KLOL on their aircraft radios and not the control tower communications. The FCC gave us a 7 day deadline to clean up the problem, or they were going to shut us down cold. No more KLOL until we could correct the problem.

Assistant engineer Bob West and the chief engineer were at their wit's end, having gone throught the big 100,000 watt transmitter from front to back and finding nothing. They also tore the studio equipment apart. The deadline for us going dark was fast approaching.

We had about an hour left on the final afternoon before we were to turn everything off when Bob West did a walkthrough of the studio in a last ditch attempt to find the problem and fix it.

We used an old time cathedral radio as part of our logo on bumper stickers and T-shirts, and a real radio of this type was used in our reception area as the on the air radio monitor for the off the air staff to listen to. It was an old relic 1930s which had FM reception added by someone.

I the last few minutes before going dark, Bob West went over to the old radio and on a hunch, turned off the radio. Like magic, the problem was solved. As it happened, the airplanes flew over the KLOL studios and the old radio on their landing and take off paths to and from Hobby airport.

The old radio in the reception area was the culprit. As the planes flew over the building and the radio relatively close, they were close enough to pick up the interference that the old radio was radiating straight up in the short distance from us to them to interfere with the airplane's two way radios.

The FCC got off our backs, and we replaced the innards of the old radio with a modern FM receiver. I don't know if Bob got a bonus for figuring this out, but he sure deserved it.

Radio studio and transmitter engineers are really unsung heroes and are often taken for granted at a lot of stations. Through their maintenence and tweaking the equipment, they keep the place on the air in more ways than one.

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