The spectrum repack in the United States has created its share of operational challenges for TV and FM radio stations forced to move to new sites, or accommodate their broadcast peers. In South Tulsa, the relocation of KWHB-DT to a 60-story building with an existing broadcast tenant, demonstrates the significance that planning and execution plays in a successful move.
KWHB, a Family Broadcasting Corporation station serving Tulsa and Northeast Oklahoma, relocated to the tallest building in the CityPlex Towers office complex upon being repacked from UHF Channel 47 to Channel 16. This 60-foot skyscraper is also the longtime home of Oral Roberts University-owned KGEB-DT, an independent broadcaster repacked from UHF Channel 49 to VHF Channel 12.
Both stations hired DTVPros, a full-service buyer’s agent that specializes in RF system planning and selection processes for local TV stations, to manage the unique relocation project. The complex project required helicopter lifts to remove existing KGEB antennas, and install new Dielectric repack antennas for each broadcaster’s new channel assignment. New antenna mounts were also required to comply with modern building codes.
Working closely with GTI America, the broadcast services company in charge of installation, DTVPros expertly brought together all services and equipment in time for each station’s repack deadline. KGEB, a Phase 0 repack station, cut over to its new VHF Channel 12 assignment on September 4. KWHB, a Phase 2 repack station, will begin broadcasting on UHF Channel 16 in April 2019. DTVPros also worked closely with Hodge Structural Engineers of Evansville, Indiana, to produce the new specially designed mounts.
“This was a very unusual project as the installation was to take place on a building in a congested metropolitan area as opposed to a remote broadcast tower,” said Jim Heard, owner of DTVPros. “Additionally, the existing mounts were no longer in code, and we were under a tight timeline to find a helicopter service for antenna removal and installation. These were all obstacles that made overall program management among the most challenging of my career, but the professionalism of my partners shined through.”
John McKay, sales and project manager, GTI America, notes that the company specializes in “tall tower broadcast work” between 1000 and 2000 feet for TV, FM and AM antenna systems, making this a unique project that called for a unique approach. GTI America partnered with CHI Aviation to execute the helicopter lifts under their direction, and worked closely with the FAA to approve flight plans and schedules.
“On initial review, there was really no way to get a 40 to 50-foot-long antenna that weighs several thousand pounds through an elevator and onto the roof of a building,” said McKay. “We quickly concluded that a helicopter was the cleanest and fastest solution for removal and installation. Working with the CHI Aviation team, we first lifted the new steel mounts to the roof by elevator. Each mount weighed about 5000 pounds due to new building, wind load and design codes. The new antennas were put into place a few days later, taking only 45 minutes to finish.”
“DTVPros and GTI America turned what could have been a highly disruptive situation into an expertly managed project,” said Bill Lee, director of engineering, KGEB-DT. “They kept everything on schedule and within budget, without any compromises to the technology or quality of installation.”
Lee emphasizes that he was in constant communication with Wes Hylton, director of engineering for new KWHB, to ensure both broadcasters were aware of all developments as the project progressed.
McKay adds that he worked closely with Dielectric for antenna design specifics to ensure a quick and clean installation.
“Everything from the location of the lifting lugs to arrangement of the antenna bays were important,” said McKay. “We were tasked with bringing in large, long antennas horizontally on a transport truck, and then rigging it perfectly with the helicopter to avoid any damage. Dielectric worked closely with us on all physical dimensions, and detailed the lifting points for our team to make the right connections, and ensure a safe and effective lift.”
Dielectric supplied elliptically designed antennas for both stations for enhanced coverage and performance in ATSC 1.0, and in preparation for new multimedia opportunities – including streaming and mobile television – supported in the ATSC 3.0 standard. Once live on Channel 16, KWHB will use a TFU GTH Series UHF broadband slot antenna, which offers an electrically center-fed design for superior frequency response across one or more channels. KGEB is broadcasting from its new VHF assignment with a THV Series high-band directional antenna. The complete systems for each station also included Dielectric tunable waveguide filters and HELIAX flexible transmission line from CommScope.
“The overarching goal was to cause minimal disruption for both TV stations and the local business and residential communities,” said Heard. “The strategic business planning and technical contributions from CHI Aviation, Dielectric, GTI America and Hodge Engineering were invaluable to the execution of this challenging project.”