MOUNT VERNON — WNZR 90.9 FM, a broadcast ministry of Mount Vernon Nazarene University, recently finished a nearly three-year project to increase its signal strength.
The boost from the station’s original license of 100 watts to nearly 1,300 watts went live on Friday, May 21, taking WNZR’s signal beyond Mount Vernon and into outlying areas of Knox County and mid-Ohio.
The upgrade process began in 2007 when the Federal Communications Commission finalized a date for the broadcast television transition from analog to digital. That transition would eliminate interference issues limiting 90.9 FM’s signal strength. At that time, MVNU Director of Broadcasting Joe Rinehart and Station Engineer Mark Hiner of Wireless Radio worked together to research the options for WNZR. “We hired a broadcast engineering firm that specializes in these types of projects,” said Rinehart. “They were able to map out the parameters of a potential signal boost, and we found we could increase to 1,300 watts.”
Taking on the project meant purchasing a replacement transmitter and antenna, plus numerous facility improvements, so active fundraising for the project began in March 2008 during WNZR’s “Lifeline” Sharathon. The application to increase the signal strength was approved by the FCC two months later. The commission then issued a construction permit to WNZR, opening a three-year window to complete the project. By the fall of 2009, enough money had been raised to begin purchasing equipment and planning the physical upgrades to the station’s tower site, just off of Glen Road.
“Other than going on the air in 1986, this was, without question, the largest project for WNZR,” said Rinehart. “Once again, it was truly a team effort between our staff, Mark, MVNU Facilities Services, and of course, our amazing listeners!”
WNZR’s signal can now be heard clearly in areas where before it was non-existent or weak. “We are very strong now toward Fredericktown, Bellville and Lexington, and to the south as far as St. Louisville and the north edge of Newark,” said Rinehart. “The only limitations to our new signal are other stations on the 90.9 FM frequency, and those are in Lancaster and Wooster,” said Rinehart, “so we’re obviously limited somewhat to areas northeast and southeast of Mount Vernon. Still, we’re very happy with the increase, and it has definitely boosted our signal in areas where it was weak before.”
WNZR Station Manager Marcy Rinehart is excited about the potential to reach new listeners. “A stronger signal gives us the opportunity to reach new families with encouraging music and a message of hope. We thank the many donors who have partnered with us on this project. Your gifts have made this power increase a reality.”
WNZR 90.9 FM is celebrating 23 years as Knox County’s hometown Christian radio station and is a broadcast ministry of Mount Vernon Nazarene University. For more information about station events, visit www.wnzr.fm or contact (740) 392-9090.