If you’re a regular listener to ultra106.5fm you may have noticed the increase in the number of times we’ve been off-air in the past twelve months. It’s not fun for our listeners, it’s costly for us, and usually takes the better part of an hour to get things working again (if not more). These outages are partly caused by equipment failure (our current transmission equipment is at the end of its life-span and due for replacement), and partly due to weather. The good news about it is that there’s something we can do to fix both of these problems.
Let’s talk about the weather.
The best thing about having a radio transmitter at the top of Mount Wellington is that our signal can be broadcast to a huge chunk of Southern Tasmania, so people as far north as Campbelltown and as far south as you can drive are able to listen to the great music and message on ultra106.5fm. The worst thing about having a radio transmitter on the top of Mount Wellington is that, without the right equipment, when the weather causes the signal to go off someone actually needs to go up there in the snow and ice to reset it, and when there’s snow down to the 200 metre level that’s sometimes not possible. In a best-case scenario resetting the transmitter takes an hour. In our worst case of transmission failure last year ultra106.5fm was off air for eleven hours.
Our solution is Telemetry.
In order to limit our no-transmission time from hours to minutes we need to purchase telemetry equipment, which will enable us to monitor, restart, or switch over transmitters, all from the Elizabeth Street studios. In 80% of the circumstances over the last 12 months having telemetry equipment like this would have meant five minutes off air, not hours.
New transmitter also needed.
Our transmitter, like all modern electrical equipment, has a limited lifespan. Radio transmitters generally wear out after ten years—ours has moved into overtime, being now twelve years old. It’s currently running on half of its power, with broken modules being repaired in Italy. Repairs to this transmitter have cost us over $12,000 in the last twelve months, and there are a further $8,000 worth of repairs still needed to be done to restore this transmitter to full working order.
We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve not had bigger problems in the past decade. After a transmitter failure in 2006 we were off air for about a week while we waited for parts to be repaired in Italy. Unfortunately, for specialised equipment such as this, repairs are neither easy nor cheap.
The good news…and the need
We have applied for and received two grants in the past three months, giving us almost enough money to replace our transmitter (around $70,000). These grants are a huge blessing, but we still need more money for cabling and connectors, and for installation costs.
With new equipment we’ll be able to restructure our system, so we can use our existing transmitter as a back-up, something we don’t currently have. This would mean no more late-night-in-the-snow trips up the mountain for Nathaniel, and allow us to have almost no time off air, ever.
Please help us raise $132,000 by June 26th
This year’s Radiothon is our most important one yet. As well needing to reach our target of $100,000 for everyday running costs, we’re asking for an extra $32,000 to connect and install our new transmitter, and to purchase and set up equipment that will keep ultra106.5fm running at full power for the decade to come.
Together we can do this. Please help us by partnering together so we can continue to provide a positive, life-changing message to the people of Hobart.