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KUSC's signal not so 'robust' at the moment

January 28, 2009 |  1:12 pm

KuscThere’s a reason L.A. classical music fans may have had trouble listening to KUSC-FM (91.5) this week.

Lightning struck both the station’s transmission line and antenna in the San Gabriel Valley on Sunday afternoon, eventually causing the station to operate with a temporary antenna at a reduced power of 2,000 watts,said general manager Eric DeWeese. The station normally operates at 39,000 watts, he said.

“Most people think if you double the power, you get twice the coverage,” DeWeese said. “That’s not the case. Between 2,000 and 39,000 watts is not as big as it sounds. It’s not like we’ll have 15 times the power. But the signal is not as robust in the normal coverage area.”

“The further you are from Mt. Wilson, the more trouble you’ll have picking it up,” he added.
He said the station’s engineers were working on the problem but didn’t know for sure when full power would be restored. (UPDATE: “If the antenna is not damaged by the transmitter, we’ll be back to power at the end of the week,” DeWeese said. “If there is damage to the transmitting antenna, it’ll be next week before we get back to full power.”)

Brenda Barnes, KUSC’s president, said the station hasn’t taken any financial hit so far. A non-profit service licensed to the University of Southern California, KUSC depends on its 34,000 members for donations.

“We’re hoping we can get a strong enough backup signal going that we won’t be affected financially,” said Barnes, who added that the station typically averages 700,000 listeners a week.

KUSC’s programming is streamed on the Internet and carried by radio stations in Palm Springs, Thousand Oaks and Santa Barbara. None of those outlets has been affected by the transmission problems here, Barnes said.

KUSC made several announcements about the reduced power, DeWeese said, including on the air, in an e-mail to its members and on the station’s website, which also offers live streaming audio of the station.

-- Mark Medina

Photo: KUSC hosts, from left, Dennis Bartel, Gail Eichenthal and Rich Capparela. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times. UPDATE: An earlier version of this caption switched Capparela's and Bartel's identifications.

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