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KMOS - A new antenna location

In 1978, Central Missouri State University, located in Warrensburg, MO, purchased bankrupt CBS-affiliate KMOS, located about 28 miles east in Sedalia. With PTFP assistance the station was put back on the air as a PBS affiliate in 1979. Today, KMOS-TV provides analog PBS service on Channel 6 to more than 800,000 people in 36 central Missouri counties.

MOS’s new 1925-foot tower in Tipton holds a digital slotted-line antenna at the very top and an analog three-faced panel antenna at 1860 feet.

In its migration to digital TV, the station has contended with several issues, including FCC deadlines, budget constraints, antenna location, and, of course, a nearly nonexistent DTV viewership.

To stay ahead of the FCC deadlines, the station made its case in 1997 for converting the station as soon as possible. In the latter part of 1998, the university initiated a $4.4 million bond debt service to fund the station's conversion. But, as often happens, increasing costs and other factors made it necessary for the station to seek supplemental funding. In 2001, the PTFP granted the station $778,000 to help purchase a digital transmitter. In 2002, the station received another $288,000 toward the purchase of a master control system. The plan is to beat the FCC's deadline for the station to duplicate at least 50 percent of its analog programming on its new digital Channel 15.

The first thing the station had to do was solve its antenna-location problem. The antenna tower was only 860 feet high and would have necessitated enormous amounts of power to duplicate the digital signal across the same area. Plus the tower was probably too old to support the addition of a digital antenna anyway. The obvious solution was to build a new, taller tower. But finding a suitable location was a challenge. Whiteman Air Force Base is located between Sedalia and Warrensburg. The FAA restricts the height of all structures within a radius of about 40 miles of the base. And the station couldn't build a tower 40 miles to the west of Whiteman because it would be too close to Channel 5 in Kansas City. So KMOS selected a site near Tipton, about 45 miles east of Whiteman and about 55 miles east of the studio in Warrensburg. The new tower is about 2000 feet high. The tower and the nearby digital and analog transmitters are connected to the Warrensburg studio through a microwave link at the old tower site in Sedalia.

Throughout this relocation and conversion process, the station has to maintain its analog service. It cannot shut down the old analog transmitter and antenna and move them to the new site. So, along with its digital purchases, the station had to purchase analog equipment for the new site, including a new analog antenna and a refurbished RCA analog transmitter.

The station switched its analog Channel 6 transmission to the new site in March 2002 and is ready to turn on digital Channel 15 in April of 2003.

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