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WDFH FM 90.3
Westchester Public Radio
serving NY's lower Hudson valley

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Signal expansion project 2001-2009

 

The new tower site, June 2007, with the 40 foot mast drawn in for an illustration for the Zoning Board. 

Construction was completed in early 2009.  The mast was installed on Tuesday, January 6, and the antenna on Monday, January 19 see in-progress photos, in chronological order, below!

WDFH's signal expansion project is now complete!  We began broadcasting from the new site at reduced power on Saturday, January 24, 2009, at about 4:00 pm.  Full power operation commenced following the FCC's approval of our license application on January 29.

The project had a long history.  For years, our signal reached only about 10,000 people in scattered locations because of an unfortunate antenna location.  We started work to improve our signal in September 2001, just a few days before September 11.  For reasons not worth going into, after securing all zoning and FCC permits, we lost the originally-specified site and had to start the project all over in June 2007.  With the project now completed, WDFH's FM signal can reach about 400,000 potential listeners in the lower Hudson valley.

Here's how the project unfolded:

  • June-July 2007:  We secured the required zoning variance to allow us to put up a 40 foot mast atop an existing 125 foot tower (above right).

  • July-August 2007:  We hired a civil engineering firm to conduct a structural analysis.  The analysis determined that the existing tower structure could accommodate the additional weight and windloading of our proposed 40 foot mast and antenna, but that the tower foundations would have to be strengthened.

  • August 2007:  Working with our talented consulting engineer, Gray Haertig of Gray Frierson Haertig and Associates in Portland, Oregon, we filed a new application with the FCC.

  • August-October 2007:  The civil engineering firm completed the mechanical designs for the mast and the strengthening of the foundations.

  • December 2007:  The FCC granted the application.

  • January 2008:  The FAA determined that the tower, as extended by the 40 foot mast, would pose no hazard to aviation, and that the tower would therefore not need to be painted or lit.

  • January-September 2008:  With tremendous input from our exceptional attorneys, Timothy J. Fitzgibbon of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in DC and Alycia M. Vivona of DLA Piper in NYC, we negotiated the final lease terms with the company that owns the tower.

  • September 2008:  The lease was signed.

  • October 2008:  Construction began at the site.

  • November 2008:  The temporary wooden casings for the reinforced concrete to be added to the tower foundations were completed.

  • December 2008:  The concrete was poured and the wooden casings were removed (photos below).  Telecommunications services were installed.

  • January 5, 2009:  The 40 foot mast arrived on site and ground-based assembly was completed.

  • January 6, 2009:  The mast was installed, increasing the tower's height from 125 feet to 165 feet.

  • January 19, 2009:  Our new antenna was installed at the 160 foot level, and transmission cable was brought from the antenna, down the tower and into the building.  New electrical service was installed.

  • Wednesday, January 21, 2009:  We filed the FCC license application with supporting documentation.  This filing satisfied the January 23 deadline.

  • January 24, 2009:  We moved our transmitter and its associated equipment to the new site and WDFH began broadcasting with its new, much improved signal.  For a short time, we operated at reduced power as the FCC processed our license application.  After the FCC granted the application on January 29, we increased to our full power signal.

And that's it it's done.  Reception has been reported in far western Connecticut, along the I-684 corridor north to I-84, in southern Putnam County, throughout northern Westchester, and in much of the eastern half of Rockland County.  Listeners have reported reception in Rhinebeck, far to the north, and as far south as Yonkers.

If you're outside of our FM signal range, you can listen online.

We thank Sam Hariton and Mike O'Neill of American Tower Corporation, two more key people involved in bringing this often frustrating project to completion.

 

We need your help!

Your support is more important now than ever before.  WDFH is community radio dedicated to serving the needs of the community, powered by community volunteers, entirely nonprofit and noncommercial.

A critical part of the equation is community support.  Please make your tax-deductible contribution using our secure PayPal link (major credit cards accepted) on our pledge page.  Also, please consider joining our Fundraising Committee.

If you'd like to donate more than about $100, please send a check directly to us at:

WDFH
21 Brookside Lane
Dobbs Ferry, NY  10522

Thank you for your support!

 

DESIGN PLANS

Above: design detail for tower foundation strengthening.  The area in black represents the reinforced concrete that has now been added to the tower base.

 

Left: design detail for 40 foot tower extension atop existing 125 foot tower.

 

Below, photos in chronological order.

Below:  An aerial view of the new tower site.

Right: December 3, 2008 The crew from Cablevision is ready to install cable for the internet connection.  Left to right, Matt Dillon, Gary Buigues, and Tom Lynch.

Below:  November 11, 2008

The temporary wooden casings into which the concrete will be poured to reinforce the tower foundations.

Below:  December 25, 2008

The concrete work on the tower foundations is complete.  The temporary wooden casings have been removed.

Below:  January 5, 2009

The forty foot mast is on site.  Installation is scheduled for Tuesday, January 6.

 

Above:  The tower crew from Baran Telecom that will install the mast: left to right, Dan Cieniewicz, Dave Gascho, and Jeff Cronk.

 

Left:  The mast is 8 inches in diameter and consists of one 16 foot section and two 12 foot sections.  There are step bolts on each side of the mast to enable the crew to climb to the top.  On Tuesday, January 6, the mast will be raised by crane and bolted in place.

Below:  January 6, 2009

The mast is installed on the tower!

Above:  By about 1:10 PM, the three sections of the mast have been assembled, and the crane has started to lift the top end.

Right:  The mast on its way up.

Within just a few minutes, the mast is above the top of the tower and is being lowered into place.

4:30 PM:  First separation:  It's getting dark, light snow is falling, and one of the crew members, at the top, has just disconnected the crane cable.  For the first time, the mast is standing on its own.

Two views of the 50 ton crane used to install the mast.

January 6, 2009, 4:40 PM:  The mast installation is completed and the crane is about to be lowered.  The next step:  In the coming weeks, our new antenna will be installed five feet below the top of the mast.

Below:  January 19, 2009

The antenna and transmission line are installed on the tower.  (The actual antenna is inside the red plastic enclosure, which is called a radome and protects the antenna from icing.)  Paperwork documenting the completion of construction was filed with the FCC on January 21.

Above:  The antenna is assembled and is being carried out of the building.

Right:  The antenna is being hoisted to the top.

Securing the transmission line to the tower.

The WDFH antenna, now installed on the mast.

Supervising engineer Bud Williamson (left) and Sal D'Angelo, both of Digital Radio Engineering.

The tower crew from Northeast Towers (Farmington, CT) that installed the antenna and tranmission line: left to right, John Bernatchez, Matt Gezelman, and Tim Ruot.

One of the stakes placed by the surveyor extending in a line outward from the tower base.  WDFH's new signal employs a directional antenna so that our coverage can be maximized.  These stakes allow the ground-based supervising engineer and the tower crew to make sure that the antenna is pointing in the right direction.

The tower crew aligning the antenna.

Below:  The tower WDFH installation completed!  January 19, 2009.

On Saturday, January 24, 2009, we moved our transmitting equipment from the old site to the new one.  Using a borrowed transmitter, we were able to keep our off-air time to less than a minute during the switchover, which occurred at 4:00 PM.  (We transmitted at half power until the FCC granted our license on January 29; this enabled us to increase to full power.)  Unfortunately, we don't have pictures of the move, but the crew included longtime WDFH volunteer and training coordinator Cuper Vargas, Marilyn Sophos, Doug Koch, and Marc Sophos.

Right: Cuper on the air in 2003.

The final step of the move to our new transmitter site was completed on Sunday, February 15, 2009, when we gathered to remove our antenna from the hilltop Ossining site.  As you can see in the photo below, the antenna (the red blob on the pole) is well below the treeline, just 15 feet above ground.  This unfavorable antenna location was a necessary compromise but it severely limited WDFH's coverage from October 1997 until February 2009, when the expansion was completed.

Below, the crew that removed the Ossining antenna on February 15, 2009: left to right, Vinny Cohan, longtime WDFH volunteer; his son Sean Cohan; Marilyn Sophos, who was also part of the crew that put the antenna up in the fall of 1997; and Doug Koch.  Also working that day was Marc Sophos, who took the picture.