Chicago’s Spanish Broadcasting System Station Improves PPM and Audience Reach in Key Neighborhoods with MaxxCasting™ System

Adoption of the patented MaxxCasting technology created and owned by GeoBroadcast Solutions (GBS) continues to accelerate, with Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc. station WLEY (FM) the most recent MaxxCasting licensee to go live with the system and immediately reap its benefits.

The WLEY implementation of MaxxCasting has enabled the Aurora, Illinois-licensed station to increase its coverage-to-contour ratio by overcoming signal strength issues that impeded its ability to fully reach its adult Hispanic target audience in key Chicago neighborhoods with its regional Mexican format.

While WLEY’s broadcast signal spans the majority of its legally-designated broadcast area, or service contour, the density of buildings in its urban environments creates multipath interference in population centers such as Pilsen that are crucial to the station. Such interference degrades the audio signal for listeners while limiting WLEY’s ability to reach Nielsen Portable People Meters (PPM), important tools in measuring audience exposure and listener metrics that radio stations use to attract new advertisers and set their rates.

“While WLEY’s contour covers the market pretty well, the areas that they had signal difficulties within happen to be the some of the most important demographic areas for their business,” said Bill Hieatt, CTO, GeoBroadcast Solutions. “I would estimate that 70% of the PPMs for Hispanic radio in the region are located in the Pilsen neighborhood, which is also a good indicator of the WLEY audience’s geographic concentration. With MaxxCasting, WLEY’s signal can be decoded into these meters considerably more proficiently than that of the station’s direct competitors, increasing WLEY’s revenue potential, while providing an improved audio experience to keep the station’s listeners engaged in their cars, homes and commercial buildings.”

The WLEY MaxxCasting deployment features three synchronized nodes in a single-frequency network (SFN) to overcome the multipath issues caused by urbanization. The low-height, low-power nodes are strategically targeted to fill in specific key geographic listening areas, with the MaxxCasting SFN architecture providing seamless transitions without audible disruption as drivers listening to the station move between transmitters.

Erik Peterson, vice president of engineering for Spanish Broadcasting System, became familiar with the contour-to-coverage benefits of MaxxCasting when he joined a listening test for WXRV in Boston.

“As we drove around the neighborhoods of Boston listening to the smooth transition between MaxxCasting nodes, we quickly realized that this technology could solve the coverage problems we experienced in the Pilsen neighborhood without introducing new interference,” said Peterson. “Upon deployment, it was clear that our expectations have been exceeded. Our improved coverage will help us better serve the large Spanish-language communities in Chicago, while making WLEY a far more attractive advertising outlet for local businesses. MaxxCasting is giving broadcasters who have turned away from FM radio advertising a viable reason to return.”

Leveraging the MaxxCasting platform’s flexible scalability, the WLEY MaxxCasting installation was designed to enable at least four different broadcast stations to share the same site in the future, thus bringing down the costs for each. Rather than requiring separate sites, from an infrastructure perspective, new stations essentially need only add their transmitter, a combiner, and their audio feed. One additional station has already committed to becoming a MaxxCasting licensee and joining the WLEY SFN infrastructure, with deployment anticipated in the coming weeks.

Each node in the WLEY MaxxCasting system features a 3Flexiva FAX transmitter operating at 99 Watts and uses GatesAir Intraplex IP networking solutions to simulcast and synchronize live program content, enabling the aforementioned seamless node-to-node transitions.

With the WLEY deployment, Spanish Broadcasting System joins other top-tier media organizations using the MaxxCasting system to maximize their radio broadcast coverage and revenue opportunities in markets including Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, Seattle and West Virginia.

In addition to vastly improving coverage-to-contour ratio and market penetration, the patented MaxxCasting solution eliminates the self-interference and signal degradation problems that commonly plague legacy booster systems. GBS uses highly accurate modeling software, drive testing and proprietary formulas to measure a variety of environmental factors that affect coverage. Calculations related to height above average terrain, distance and power ratio between nodes, and antenna patterns versus interference areas, are among those used to predict coverage improvements and outperform traditional approaches.

Dielectric Quick-Ships 10 Spectrum Repack Antennas to Puerto Rican TV Stations Devastated by Hurricanes

Nearly one year since Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, most TV stations remain dark due to widespread destruction of the country’s infrastructure and power grid.

To help broadcasters resume broadcast services to local communities and meet accelerated repack deadlines, Dielectric has expedited antenna orders to Puerto Rican TV stations impacted by the storms.

To date, Dielectric has received 11 orders from Puerto Rican broadcasters, 10 of which are for spectrum repack antennas. The eleventh order will replace an antenna damaged in the storms. The orders, which include top-mounted and side-mounted primary antennas, are in various stages of manufacturing and shipping.

“While the spectrum repack is challenging for all U.S. broadcasters, those in our ‘51st state’ are starting from scratch,” said Jay Martin, Dielectric’s VP of Sales. “During the intense storms, many of their TV towers collapsed, and essential infrastructure for fiber networks, microwave links, and electrical power was damaged. Those that escaped damage managed to stay on the air provided they can fuel their generators during regular power outages.”

To accelerate the restoration process, the FCC amended its spectrum repack transition plan to re-assign TV stations across Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to a new Pre-Phase 1 deadline of August 1, 2018. Prior to this change, Puerto Rican stations were not slated to move to their post-repack channels until either Phase 3 or 10, with deadlines of 2019 or 2020 respectively.

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Without this FCC action, these broadcasters would have to spend a lot of money restoring operations on their existing channels, only to have to spend more money to relocate to their new post-repack channels one year later.

“While Dielectric has the industry’s broadest capacity across two facilities to build and ship large numbers of antennas, there will always be logistical challenges when there are close to 500 other repack antenna orders in various stages of completion,” Martin said. “However, that isn’t going to stand in the way of helping our friends in Puerto Rico. We proactively reached out to them to find out what they needed, and we’ve been diligently generating technical proposals for antenna systems that address their unique needs, such as withstanding Category 5 force winds and other extreme weather conditions.”

Among the repack orders destined for Puerto Rico are mid-to-high power, side-mount UHF antennas from the TFU Series; and TLP Series antenna from Dielectric’s Powerlite UHF low-power family. Dielectric also delivered the necessary RF filters and components to OEMs for these systems.

Martin noted that 80 percent of the orders were from long-term Dielectric customers, but the company’s customer-first approach and reputation for finely engineered, highly durable antenna systems attracted some new customers.

“We won over some broadcasters that worked with other vendors in the past due to our responsiveness and painstaking attention to detail,” he added. “When you go through many design iterations and reach ‘rev 6’ of the proposal process, the customer realizes how dedicated you are to meeting their needs. We’re honored to help all of these broadcasters return to the air.”

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