Not all Radio Nomad visits involve radio stations. I had a grand time visiting my friend Brian Adams, who runs High Plains Broadcasting in Southwest Kansas. Brian has combined the strength of five low-power TV transmitters to cover the same area as one full-power station, branded as TV 23 KDGL. Five transmitter sites? Wouldn’t that be a lot of tower rent? Not if you own the towers! That’s one of Brian’s business ventures – renting out and maintaining tower space.
The operation is headquartered at the Sublette transmitter site, which consists of a master control room, studio, production control room, office and editing room, workshop and transmitter room, all housed in an old 1956 AT&T Long Lines building. Brian has built a completely digital SD-SDI plant, both in master and production control. With 8 total sub-channels, he has to run SD, but keeping everything digital results in excellent near-HD quality on the air. You’d be hard pressed to tell the difference.
Brian has more than one repurposed AT&T site. One we visited near Plains, KS, was built in 1966 and is actually nuclear hardened! You can see the blast door entrance in the center picture above. These Microwave sites are easily recognized in the plains states by their distinctive self-standing towers. These towers originally supported massive microwave horns (old-timers sometimes call these “sugar scoops”) that beamed telephone, television, and secret cold war government stuff all around the country spaced at a distance of approximately 30 miles. Today, many of these microwave sites have been decommissioned and replaced with buried fiber-optic cables.
KDGL does a great job serving Southwest Kansas with unique programming and the ability to provide live, local content. Before High Plains Broadcasting, this part of the state only had television programming relayed from Wichita from the big three networks. The result was (and still is) news that’s really only applicable to viewers in the Wichita metro area. That’s where KDGL has a distinct advantage.
Be sure to check out their website and give them a like!
Thanks, Brian, for the visit. I look forward to visiting again soon!