Internal blog post
Engineering challenges

Probably top of the list of things a good radio station needs to have is a great engineering team.  If our output is unreliable or poor quality, we will lose listeners.

The good news is we have a GREAT team.  Led by Lawrence Card, the team of Dave Neal, Steve Simpson, Neil Stock, and Richard Hayes keep the plates spinning and make sure we can all get our content out on FM, on our website and across all popular radio apps.  Being part of the engineering team is a big commitment because we are a 24x7 operation but it is very rewarding.  If you would like to get involved and have a basic level of IT understanding, let Lawrence know.

This week, we have had some really difficult problems which have affected our FM output.

Last Saturday, we started to experience stuttering on our FM output.  This was quickly isolated to our transmission network and not our FM transmitter itself.  Then, the task of fault finding got a lot harder!   We have managed at most times to maintain our FM output, albeit at a lower sound quality than we would like; you might notice the occasional glitch or warble.  This has been the only way to maintain stable output on FM.

Our online output, which serves a growing part of our audience, has been unaffected.

The fault resolution has been made significantly more difficult because we have to take Covid precautions and the church tower where our FM transmitter is located is subject to visit timing restrictions due to the pandemic.

At the time of writing, we have an external engineer looking remotely at our link from the studio to the FM transmitter and a local company will be inspecting our link dish at the studio on Monday.

The plan is for some significant work to take place on Monday at the church tower to attempt to provide a backup solution and resolve issues on the main link.  This may disrupt FM output during the day on Monday.

The infrastructure we have has proved a huge benefit to us during this issue; the fact that we can do many things online from home without physical access has been essential especially during the pandemic.  We've invested time and money well in this over the last few years.

Last week, the Board met and considered spending plans to improve our resilience further and replace some ageing equipment (this was planned prior to the current issues).  The Board approved the plans and these will be going ahead over the next few months.  This will include failover internet access and spending to allow us more flexibility on audio routing.