In what can only be described as a major bid for stability, the A’s extended their deal with upstart AM sports station KTRB through 2019. We’ve been crying out for some semblance of consistency since the KSFO days, so it’s nice to know that we’re getting it. The long-term deal should also propel KTRB towards broadcasting truly local shows, not just the pre/postgame sandwich. As I understand it, KTRB has been operating without a Bay Area studio, choosing instead to rent out other facilities as needs arise. This should get them going on a proper SF or Oakland studio with real local “talent.” I’m happy.
However, not everything’s wine and roses. Listeners in the Berkeley/Oakland hills were left feeling neglected, as KTRB’s signal was noticeably poor throughout last season, day or night. When we last left off, KTRB was pursuing a second broadcast site in Sonoma County. Things have changed, and it’s hard to say if it’s for the better.
The FCC granted a new Class B transmitter construction permit to KTRB in July. As is often the case with radio stations, there’s more than one transmitter location. In fact, there are three. All three won’t be used at the same time, instead they’ll be time-based. The nighttime transmitter location will remain at the current site near Sunol/Livermore, with no change in orientation. During the day, the transmitter will be at the eastern foot of the San Mateo Bridge. Then there’s the “critical hours” phase, better known as dawn and dusk. During that period – two hours after sunrise and two before sunset – stations are often required to reduce power. In this case, that means dropping from 50,000 to 40,000 watts. That could have negative effects on A’s broadcasts, since most weeknight games will have at least a portion of the game broadcast during critical hours. That’s not the only critical hours change, as the transmitter in the application for that timeframe is not at either of the aforementioned sites. Instead, the critical hours transmitter is slated to be placed just west of Bethel Island. At this point, it’s impossible to say if this will result in an improvement for the people of the Berkeley/Oakland hills. I’m crossing my fingers.
Note: I’ve looked further into the critical hours situation. The FCC defines sunrise and sunset on a monthly basis. Here’s how they define sunset going forward:
Local Standard Time (Non-Advanced)
April – 6:45 PM
May – 7:15 PM
June – 7:30 PM
July – 7:30 PM
August – 7:00 PM
September – 6:15 PM
October – 5:30 PM
I’m not sure how Daylight Savings Time factors in.