Better Radio Update: Tower Installed!

Volunteers got together over the weekend to install Better Radio's tower, which will broadcast in 2015 from WBTS 88.5 FM.

Ham radio operator Walter Dutcher out of Rochester, N.Y., shared his extensive knowledge of radio frequencies and operating procedures which allowed the Better Radio committee, a division of betterArts, to experiment with signal strength and to get a better idea of how this project will work.

Walter, along with Rossie native Carl Frizzell, installed the radio tower on Saturday; and on Sunday Better Radio volunteers Eileen Kaleel and Dave Aitcheson did a signal-strength test locally to see where Better Radio will theoretically reach.
Communiques with fellow ham-radio operators living locally, along with the test drive, produced some startling results: Better Radio's reach is further than originally thought! Here's the short list (more test drives to come!):
  • Downtown Alexandria Bay
  • Kring's Point
  • Thousand Islands Winery
  • Downtown LaFargeville
  • Downtown Theresa
  • Evans Mills (limited signal)
  • Rossie
  • Downtown Redwood
  • The Indian River Lakes
  • Hammond
Here's the technical info, brought to you by Walter:

We have a construction permit for 100 W radiated power at 88.5 MHz.  We  have done a coverage evaluation at our location using 50 Watts FM into a HAM antenna (J pole) at 146.535 MHz using the tower and location we want to use for the LPFM station.  With 50 Watts, we got very respectable coverage all around us.  We have approximately a 10-mile radius before signal begins to drop off.  So, we would like to purchase equipment that we can use at this power range with the option to crank it up to our legal limit if necessary.  We ran the test using a 50’ tower and LMR-400 cable.  We have a supply of LDF4-50A which we can use for the permanent feedline. 

We need the transmitter and a good antenna; and the transmitter needs to have the FCC approval for this type of operation and some strong features  like RDS for station identification, ability to handle emergency broadcast feed (although we may start out on the cheap for this and bring a signal into our mixing console) but need the break in  capability for future, good compression and level balancing. We have funds raised throughout the last year to put toward this purchase, with additional fundraising ongoing. (To donate to the cause, email for tax-deductible donation information.)

We would like to be on the air around June 2015 but would love to get something up before the snow flies too much here for more testing and to aid in program development.
With all of that in mind, the next few months will be spent producing and archiving content—along with a few test broadcasts. Stay tuned for more updates on that so you can tune in!

If you would like to join the Better Radio family as a volunteer, producer, station hand, journalist, or benefactor, please contact or call (315) 482-2536. 

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.