JUNE 2018

This month, we are featuring the broadcast tower crew technicians working tirelessly to move, adjust and replace antennas nationwide as a result of stations moving frequencies. Read on for our Q-and-A with broadcast tower technician Jeremy Hulse.  

Also, NAB member stations Milwaukee PBS and WXOW in La Crosse, Wisc., appeared before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Consumer Advisory Committee meeting to share their stations’ successful #PlanToRescan initiatives.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates and connect with us using #PlanToRescan to share what you're doing to inform your audiences about rescanning.

FCC Meeting Update

FCC Meeting Update

NAB member stations Milwaukee PBS and WXOW in La Crosse, Wisc., shared their experiences educating their viewers about their stations’ frequency moves with the FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee on June 8.  

Milwaukee PBS General Manager Bohdan Zachary shared how his station used local talent for rescan spots to connect a trusted voice with viewers, created a comprehensive web page that included numerous viewer resources and took advantage of the station's phone bank by training staff to address viewer rescan issues. 

WXOW's Vice President and General Manager Dave Booth and parent company Quincy Media's Corporate Director of Engineering Brady Creasler explained to the committee how a combination of customized and TV Answers resources — and even home visits — helped them to successfully navigate viewers’ rescanning issues in a region with a comparatively high over-the-air viewership. 

Two tips from their presentations that may help stations gearing up for their rescan dates:

  1. Expect multi-day call volume increases and plan accordingly.
  2. Aggressively communicate actionable information to viewers in advance of your rescan date.

Taking the Repack to New Heights: Tower Crew Feature

The TV Answers team spoke with Jeremy Hulse, a broadcast tower technician based in College Station, Texas, to learn more about how television antennas are moved, what challenges technicians face and how stations are impacted.

Broadcast Tower

What does it mean when we hear TV stations are moving to “new frequencies”?

When a TV station moves to a new frequency, we physically change the antennas on top of the broadcast towers. We remove the current antenna from the tower top and install a new one. Sometimes different antennas are needed to be able to handle the new frequencies.

What does the process look like to move the tower antennas?

In order to move a tower antenna, we rig the tower with a gin pole, place all of our equipment near the top and remove the old antenna. A new antenna is shipped to our crew from the manufacturer, loaded off a truck with a crane and is placed on top of the tower. The towers themselves are approximately 2,000 feet tall, and some antennas can weigh around 13,000 pounds.

How long does this process take?

Once we have all of the equipment in place, it takes about one day to take the old antenna down and one day to bring the new antenna up. However, we need to bring our towers up to new engineering standards, so each job is different depending on the tower and engineering needs. In some cases, we need to make many different adjustments to the towers and other towers only require minor changes. In the shortest of cases, the entire process can take two to three weeks, and the longest I have experienced is four months.

Unfortunately, weather is the most significant delay to our process, particularly wind, because the towers are so high. During all of these changes stations may have to operate at a reduced power, which mostly affects rural and distant viewers.

How many tower crew technicians/crews move the tower cables?

We typically operate on a six-man crew, but it varies greatly depending on the scale of the job and if we need to add additional hands.

What upcoming challenges do you see foresee?

Safety is our number-one priority, and with our increased quality control measures it has unfortunately slowed down our antenna-moving process in the end. Also, we definitely see that the need for more and expanded tower crews exists, especially as the number of towers needing adjustments increases.

Though we cannot control the weather, we also see our time management affected in the near future due to weather changes moving into the fall and winter. If you miss one deadline, it becomes a ripple effect that slows everything else down.

How can stations help your process?

Most general managers and chief engineers are already very knowledgeable and on point when talking to viewers. Most of the people we work with from the station are doing everything they can, because they want their antennas up and running as soon as possible. If you haven’t already, we encourage station managers and engineers to stay communicative with us and continue to share information with their viewers about the upcoming changes regularly.

Want to see a tower crew in action? Check it out here.

Have You Set a Transition Date? Let Us Know!

As your transition plans become firm, please let us know the date you’ll be moving to a new frequency by completing this form.

TVAnswers Resources

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