A Trip Up Mount Mansfield To VPR's Transmitter

Oct 9, 2018

Vermont Public Radio's broadcast signal — what listeners hear in the car, or on traditional radios at home or work — emanates from one of 18 transmitters across the state. VPR broadcast engineer Kira Parker travels the state for regular visits to ensure the transmitters are working and keeps the radio signal beaming. 

The Mount Mansfield co-located transmission facility.
Credit Matthew Smith / VPR

The Mount Mansfield co-located transmission facility, owned by WCAX-TV, features four TV and two radio FM transmitters.

The VPR antenna is on the tall structure on the far left. It's VPR's main transmitter, broadcasting as far south as Addison County and the Rutland area, to as far north as Quebec.

Parker visited the VPR transmitter in June to repair a faulty power amplifier inside one of the 16 power modules within the Nautel NV40 transmitter.

Parker replaces a power amplifier, one of nine amplifiers within a single power module. The VPR transmitter contains 16 modules.
Credit Matthew Smith / VPR

Parker removed one of the transmitter's 16 power modules, a large metal tray housing nine power amplifiers.

"We had one of them go out," Parker shrugged, "so I have to unscrew, unsolder, re-screw, re-solder. And that will hopefully get it back up and running."

Parker replaced the repaired power module back into the transmitter and watched the transmitter return to full power.

"Job well done," she laughed.

Parker puts the repaired module back in service.
Credit Matthew Smith / VPR

She has visited VPR's various transmitter sites for repairs large and small, and while the travel can be long (and difficult, especially when scaling mountainsides in the winter), Parker said it's all part of the work keeping VPR on the air.

"If we don't keep coming up here and fixing what breaks, eventually the transmitter itself might have issues," she said — and without the transmitter "you wouldn't get the signal out on the air."

Parker configures a new uninterruptable power supply (UPS) for the equipment at the transmitter.
Credit Matthew Smith / VPR

During the visit, Parker tended to other maintenance needs, like installing a new uninterruptable power supply, or UPS, for the equipment at the transmitter.  

"My job is to make sure you have the ability to hear what we broadcast. ... We need to have these sorts of communication mediums available, so that anybody can listen to what we put out on the air," she said.

For Parker, it's about more than getting VPR's news programs and music to listeners. It's about giving listeners a chance "to expand their horizons, and learn new things, and grow and understand their world a little better," she said. "And I'm quite honored to be a part of that."

Broadcast on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.