NPR Distribution Creates Emergency Backup Transmitter, Antenna & Studio Kits for Stations

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The Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS) has created a new program to make available emergency backup transmitter kits and portable studio systems that can be used by public radio stations in the event their on-air operations are disrupted by natural disasters, equipment failures, construction activities, and other potential broadcast threats. This program is the product of a series of collaborations between the PRSS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which provided the necessary funding.

The kits will be created, assembled, and tested by NPR Distribution, which manages the PRSS, to allow stations to continue operations on a temporary basis until their broadcast infrastructure is restored. NPR Distribution, which is kicking off the project by initially developing three emergency transmitter and antenna kits and two emergency studio kits, will also be in charge of shipping the kits out to stations that submit a request and to maintaining them when they have been sent back.

 “It’s only been in the last few years that we’ve seen public radio stations in New Jersey and Puerto Rico disrupted due to disastrous hurricanes, and we’ve seen plenty of other stations challenged by tornadoes, wildfires, heavy snow and flooding. We also know that the FCC-mandated ‘repack’ has the potential to affect a great number of stations” said Michael Beach, Vice President of NPR Distribution. “One of our mandates is to deliver best-in-class technologies, business practices and support to help public radio stations reach their audience, and these emergency kits are a unique and important way to provide assistance when it’s needed most.”

Emergency Transmitter Kit

Three emergency transmitter kits will be available.  Each transmitter is air-cooled and runs on 120-volt, 60 Hz AC power using local power or a generator and will consist of the following:

  • One 300-watt FM transmitter with internal frequency agile exciter, which supports 87.5 to 108 MHz and integrated audio processor
  • One FM receiver for “off-air” monitoring with level meters
  • One power conditioner
  • One 12’ N-N jumper cable
  • Two 25’ Ethernet cables
  • Three 30’ XLR cables
  • One heavy-duty rack case.

In addition, by request NPR Distribution can also provide a 1-5/8” to N adaptor or a 3-1/8” to N adaptor for connecting into an existing line and antenna

Emergency Antenna Kit

Three antenna kits will be available to the system that consist of:

  • One Broadband FM antenna
  • One 75 foot RFC-400-UF cable with N connectors
  • One 30’ portable mast with guy ropes

Emergency Studio Kit

Two emergency studio kits have also been developed, with each containing the following:

  • One audio mixer and recorder
  • Three dynamic microphones
  • Three desktop microphone stands
  • Three pairs of headphones
  • All necessary cables and adaptors
  • Road case with foam insert.

Kit Pricing Structure

According to NPR Distribution’s policies on the kits, stations desiring to use a kit must contact the PRSS Help Desk with their requested dates of having them. They will have the option to use the kits for up to 90 days. Stations will be required to contact NPR Distribution – before the date when they originally agreed to return the kits – if they wish to extend the duration of their contract for the kits.

The kits will be available to stations for a modest fee:

  • Transmitter Kit - $275 for first month / $550 for each subsequent month
  • Antenna Kit:  $100 for first month / $200 for each subsequent month
  • Studio Kit:  $200 for first month / $400 for each subsequent month

When requesting an emergency kit, stations will be asked to provide an end date for when they intend to ship the kits back to NPR Distribution. In order to ensure that the kits are available for those stations that reserve it for specific dates, NPR Distribution will apply late fees if they are not returned on the agreed-upon date (following a 10-day grace period). Shipping costs will be paid by the station.

NPR Distribution staff has begun communicating the availability and functionality of the kits to station decision-makers and plans to hold a webinar for station staff in the late spring or early summer to demonstrate use of the emergency kits.

The procedure for a station requesting an emergency kit will be to contact the PRSS Help Desk, which is available 24/7/365, at 800.971.7677 or prsshelp@npr.org. Upon doing so, NPR Distribution will determine availability of the kits and contact the station.  

Posted: May 13, 2019