GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for radio and TV broadcasters, has received its second large FM radio transmitter order from Cumulus Media in the past year.
The new order covers 35 GatesAir Flexiva™ FAX air-cooled radio transmitters and continues the broadcaster’s mission to replace its aging, tube-based transmitters with energy-efficient, solid-state models that reduce carbon footprint and operating expenses network-wide.
The new order represents the second phase of a long-term FM transmitter upgrade plan by the prominent radio group, which deployed 70 Flexiva transmitters during phase one last year. Besides long-term sustainability, Cumulus Media seeks to further simplify maintenance and reduce downtime through the groundbreaking modular design of Flexiva transmitters with PowerSmart Plus technology.
“Our daily operations have greatly benefitted from the Flexiva’s modular design, notably hot-swappable power modules and dual power supplies,” said Yancy T. McNair, Vice President of Engineering for Cumulus Media. “This failsafe redundancy provides automatic detection of performance issues, and makes the necessary adjustments to ensure uptime. When it’s time to replace a module, we can maintain on-air operations as we perform our maintenance. Flexiva’s compact, lightweight design also reduces our transmitter footprint, freeing space for other equipment and making it more comfortable to perform maintenance inside the buildings.”
Cumulus Media expects to see a sizeable reduction in power costs resulting from some of its first wave of Flexiva transmitters – a benefit McNair expects to carry over with the phase two rollouts, which largely comprise high-power transmitters in the 10-to-40kW power range. McNair largely attributes the expected operational cost savings to be gained as a result of the more efficient operation and lower cooling requirements of solid-state transmitters.
While the majority of the sites are general transmitter replacement projects, a few interesting sites standout. In Youngstown, OH, the Flexiva transmitter design for WLLF(FM) will specifically address climate control to address problematic heating and cooling imbalances inside in the building. However, the crown jewel of phase two is a new auxiliary facility buildout for three FM stations (WNNX, WKHX and WWWQ) affected by the TV spectrum repack. That facility will ensure all three stations remain on the air and uninterrupted by work taking place inside the main facility and outside on the tower as TV operations relocate to new UHF channel assignments. Most transmitters have also been outfitted with HD Radio-ready GatesAir exciters to enable simple in-field transitions as stations add digital services in the future.
Prior to placing the first order in 2017, several Cumulus Media executives evaluated GatesAir’s products against those of other transmitter companies. The Cumulus team toured each supplier’s manufacturing center – an experience they found valuable as they learned about different transmitter designs, manufacturing operations and service programs. The visit to GatesAir’s Quincy, Illinois manufacturing center left a particularly strong impression.
“Beyond what we learned in Quincy, the post-sales service and support we have received during phase one has been excellent,” said McNair. “It’s clear that GatesAir is committed to keeping radio stations like ours on the air and profitable. We’ve been impressed with the level of attention we have received, and their responsiveness to any question or issue we may have. This reaffirms our confidence and trust in the company, its products and its longevity.”
“We’re delighted that Cumulus Media has decided to acquire and install a second phase of 35 Flexiva FM transmitters, largely based upon their positive experience with the first 70 transmitters deployed last year,” said Joseph Mack, Vice President of Sales, Americas, GatesAir. “It’s gratifying to see that Cumulus Media has already realized significant cost reductions due to our Flexiva’s high energy efficiency, and its modular design, which is simplifying maintenance while further reducing long-term operating costs. We are fully confident that these returns will multiply following the phase two rollouts.”