Off Air? Here’s Why…

It’s unfortunate, but sometimes radio (and TV) stations go off air for various reasons. It’s as frustrating for us as it is for you. Why does it happen? Why does it last so long, sometimes? Are you aware it happens? All good questions, with good answers. Below are a few situations and explanations as to why we’re off air.

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Automation System at WUOL

1. There’s no sound. Only popping and hissing. This could be a problem at our transmitter in New Albany, Indiana, or with the signal from our studios to the transmitter. We’re still transmitting, but for some reason no music is reaching the tower. This could be a computer error with our “Automation System” (pictured right), when someone isn’t in our studio.

2. My radio is set to 90.5 FM, but I’m hearing a different station. Chances are we have lost power at our transmitter and a nearby station on the same frequency is bleeding on to our channel. This requires our engineer to high-tail it out to the transmitter in New Albany to address the problem, which could range from a fuse blowing to a major power outage, or even damaged equipment (over-heating in the summer or freezing in the winter).

WUOL Transmitter in New Albany, IN.

WUOL Transmitter in New Albany, IN.

3. There is a lot of static. It’s hard to pinpoint this problem since there is a lot out of our control, like atmospheric conditions, the quality of your antenna or structural interference (office buildings, large structures, etc). This is most likely impossible to fix, since too many factors are at play.

4. You’re not playing music. Is someone asleep at the studio? Are you aware of the problem? We are always aware of the outages. Many of us who work at Louisville Public Media receive email and text alerts on our phones when we go off air. It looks like this:
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Contrary to what you might think and hear, we don’t have someone who is sitting in the WUOL studio 24 hours a day. Some of our live hosts are coming to us from a shared service in St. Paul, Minnesota. Why? We simply don’t have the financial support to provide live hosts who work in our studios in downtown Louisville, 24-hours a day. Using this service allows us to provide excellent music in an affordable way. We hope this helps you understand some of the off air issues and how we work to correct them as quickly as possible. If you would like to learn how you can support the purchase of new equipment or new staff people, please feel free to contact our development team at (502) 814-6500. If you have other questions about Classical 90.5, please email us: studio@wuol.org.

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Classical 90.5 studio board

2 Responses to “Off Air? Here’s Why…”

  1. On 07/14/14 7:10 PM, Thomas Mueller said:

    I notice some of the time, especially at night, that one or more LPM stations are off the air: nothing, and no popping and hissing. It happens with WFPL and WFPK as well as WUOL.

  2. On 07/14/14 8:19 PM, Phil Sheets said:

    I listen to WUOL regularly. For the last month or two I’ve noticed a different sound from the “mike” ie. somewhat of an echo. Why is this?

    Phil Sheets

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