Monday, December 19, 2016


SPARK! will be taking a holiday break starting this Wednesday. New posts will resume on Monday, January 2, 2017. Please join us tomorrow for a special report about consultant Mike Henry’s WeedStream project in Denver.


If everything goes as planned, listeners in Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St, Paul will soon be able to receive stronger more robust signals of American Public Media (APM) stations. APM is installing MaxxCasting technology, a system that boosts transmission through buildings, tunnels, and small hills. It also mediates interfering signals and multipath issues found “urban office canyons.”

The MaxxCasting System combines radio signals and cellular technology to enable FM stations using boosters to enhance their signals. It creates mini boosters on cell towers that are low to the ground.  

MaxxCasting technology was developed by GeoBroadcast Solutions, LLC [link], in association with Harris Broadcasting.

How effective is MaxxCasting? GeoBroadcast claims it will bring more listeners and money for commercial stations.  The GeoBroadcast chart on the right shows the possible benefits of MaxxCasting: 11% growth in market share and 12% more potential listeners. GeoBroadcast does not provide a list of stations using the MaxxCasting System for proprietary and competitive reasons.

KEN SAYS: One of the reasons for APM’s success over four decades is the attention it has paid to the basics of broadcasting. This starts with having the best possible signals. In Minnesota, APM station signals cover almost every inch of the state. In Los Angeles APM’s KPCC gets maximum penetration by transmitting the 600-watt signal in mono. We recently reported [link] on KPCC’s new boosters to get steady coverage for listeners in West LA.


I was pleased to read Tyler Falk’s report in Current [link] that WAMU has extended the deadline to February to accommodate a potential buyer for Bluegrass Country’sHD channel and streaming audio service.

The Bluegrass Country Foundation, a community group, announced the pending deal on their website [link]:

UPDATE (4pm December 8, 2016) 

WAMU Management and members of the Bluegrass Country Foundation Board of Directors have been working diligently on ways to make the transfer of programming work. Initially, the deadline was January 1, 2017. Once we started working on the engineering, programming and legal details, we quickly realized it would be almost impossible to meet that January 1 deadline.

This afternoon, Jeff Ludin of the Bluegrass Country Foundation and members of WAMU Management held a teleconference and agreed to set a new deadline of Monday, February 6, 2017 so all the necessary details can be ironed out.

Hopefully, we can then realize the transfer of programming. Until then, programming on WAMU’s Bluegrass Country will continue. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Keep your fingers crossed as we continue to work on your behalf. — Katy Daley, Program Director and Morning Host, WAMU’s Bluegrass Country

Bluegrass Country Foundation still needs to raise more money and complete the agreement with WAMU. The foundation says it needs another $50,000. Negotiations with the third-party owner of a translator at 105.5 FM (where most people now hear Bluegrass Country) are also continuing.

The new deadline to culminate the agreement is February 6th, 2017.

In previous reports [link] we have cautioned that the acquisition of Bluegrass Country’s HD channel, streaming audio and intellectual property is very risky, particularly if it won’t continue to be heard on 105.5 FM. We wish the buyers well and hope Bluegrass Country continues to serve DC area listeners for many years.


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