Tower Work To Reduce WVXU, WGUC Signals Temporarily

Jul 19, 2019

Tuesday July 23 update: Work resumes this week on WCPO-TV's tower -- from which Cincinnati Public Radio broadcasts -- requiring WVXU-FM and WGUC-FM to reduce power for the crew's safety. The work will take two or three weeks.

Original post Friday July 19: Work on WCPO-TV's tower – from which Cincinnati Public Radio broadcasts – will require WVXU-FM and WGUC-FM to reduce power starting at about noon today, and may requiring switching to a back-up antenna that has a smaller reach.

Channel 9 viewers will not be impacted by the work.

WCPO-TV is putting up a temporary antenna in preparation for installing a new antenna for its new digital frequency on its Symmes Street tower in Walnut Hills. The work will take "two or three weeks," says Larry Shields, WCPO-TV engineering director.

It's part of a nationwide TV channel realignment – called the "repack" – to make more of the broadcast spectrum available for cell phone and other wireless companies. Here's a link to my December 2017 story about the repack.

Channel 9's first step is installing a temporary antenna near the Cincinnati Public Radio antenna. So WVXU and WGUC must reduce power – or switch to its back-up antenna on the WSTR-TV tower on Winton Road – for the safety of the workers. Cincinnati Public Radio's back-up antenna has less power and antenna height, and can't broadcast HD2 channels, says Don Danko, Cincinnati Public Radio engineer.

No WCPO-TV viewers "will be impacted by the work happening now," Shields says. "A crew is installing an additional antenna which we’ll use in the fall when our main antenna is switched out. Most viewers won’t see any change when we’re on the interim antenna in the fall, but some viewers in distant counties could see a difference," he says.

"Throughout this process, our goal is to keep all interruption to our viewers and tenants like WVXU to a minimum," Shields says.

WVXU and WGUC listeners "may find that their reception has changed – especially outside the I-275 loop, or in Northern Kentucky," Danko says. "There will be no HD2 broadcasting (Jazz at WGUC HD2 and Radio Artifact at WVXU HD2) while utilizing the back-up site." 

Kevin Reynolds, Cincinnati Public Radio community relations manager, says listeners will still be able to hear their favorite classical music and news/information programs online (wguc.org and wvxu.org), through the stations' free mobile apps, and through smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa.

"We encourage listeners to regularly check our websites or social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) for continuing updates," Reynolds says.

WVXU and WGUC will return to full-power main transmission whenever workers are not on the tower, Danko says.

WMUB-FM, which broadcasts from an Oxford tower, will not be affected.

For the "repack," TV stations are being squeezed into digital Channels 2-36, from the current digital Channels 2-55.  Elliott Block's WOTH-TV (Channel 20) and other TV stations were paid to go away early last year after a Federal Communications Commission auction to make room for stations to move to lower digital channels.  

All Cincinnati area stations except WKRC-TV will be changing to new digital channels on Oct. 18. Over-the-air viewers will have to rescan their TVs after the switch, but not cable or satellite customers. Most viewers won't notice a difference, since they still see their old analog channels (5, 9, 12, 14, 19, 48) after stations switched to digital broadcasting in 2009.

Stay tuned.