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WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

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MWmetalhead
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WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by MWmetalhead » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:37 am

WJR's signal strength west of M-66 in West Michigan is worst than ever!!! It is shockingly poor.

Are they broadcasting at reduced power? Or has their ground system simply gone to hell in a handbasket?

For years, the station would come in at full quieting all over the Lansing area, and really, for many miles west of Lansing. I usually had to get to western Ionia County to hear a little static and near the Gerald R. Ford Airport in Cascade Twp. (Kent County) before the static would become annoying.

These days, there is often bothersome static on the west side of Lansing, and the signal is so weak that it is completely unlistenable on my car radio by the time I reach Ford Aiport.

In that same location, the following stations were all stronger than WJR yesterday morning around 11:30a ET:
560 WIND (barely stronger, but still an impressive feat)
620 WTMJ* (lots of microprocessor interference, but very little static and locked in on seek on every attempt)
670 WSCR*
720 WGN*
750 WNDZ
780 WBBM*
820 WCPT (surprisingly strong - as good as 890 WLS)
890 WLS
1000 WMVP*

*= these stations were strong enough to stop the "seek" mode on multiple occasions

I didn't think of trying 1160 WYLL, but had I done so, I'm sure they would've been stronger, too! WOKY and WTKA are two others I wish I would've tried.

Other notes:
--The local station at AM 810 is broadcasting at greatly reduced power again. I bet they are using no more than 100 watts right now.
--790 WSGW was impossible to pick up near M-6 and 131. I suspect IBOC sidebands from WBBM are to blame.

For most of the 1990's, I remember 760 WJR being effortless to pick up on a GE clock radio at home with a signal nearly as good as Chicago's big 3 (WSCR, WGN, WBBM) and a noticeably better signal than 890 WLS. At my grandparents' house near John Ball Zoo, the signal was equally as good.

Over the years, WSCR, WGN, WBBM and WLS have seen little change in reception reliability (WMVP's signal is the best it's been in years) whereas WJR has gone straight into the toilet.
C'mon iHeartRadio - do the RIGHT thing for once! Please cancel "Rover's Morning Glory" from WBFX in Grand Rapids.

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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by audiophile » Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:33 am

You might be onto something...

I took to FI meter out and compared it to CKLW and the signal was 1/2 the intensity, where they should be almost the same.
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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by audiophile » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:04 am

My guess is they are running 15-20 kW and hoping no one would notice.
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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by k8jd » Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:41 pm

Surprizing that WCPT is that strong, compared to the big sticks in Chicago. It is listed as 5800 W Non directional in the day and quite dfirectional going northeast with 2500 W, * not sure if one listing is a CP for a change ?
* its an aux transmitter site, shared with another station using that directional antenna.

I noticed WJR is harder to get, going toward the Big Mac bridge with an interfering station running 1000W two tower directional. on 750 now near Petosky. Someone I recall saying the Ground radials at WJR may be deteriorating badly.

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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by k8jd » Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:48 pm

audiophile wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:33 am
You might be onto something...

I took to FI meter out and compared it to CKLW and the signal was 1/2 the intensity, where they should be almost the same.
I don't know where you are but CKLW's 5 tower antenna is aimed mostly AWAY from metro Detroit , days N.E. and S.W., at night E and N.E. The big ratings they had in Detroit in the top 40's days was mostly due to the music. All off the backside of the antenna :shock:

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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by audiophile » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:03 pm

I'm not in the null...

Based my zip code they should be about he same intensity.
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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by audiophile » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:05 pm

k8jd wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:41 pm
Surprizing that WCPT is that strong, compared to the big sticks in Chicago. It is listed as 5800 W Non directional in the day and quite dfirectional going northeast with 2500 W, * not sure if one listing is a CP for a change ?
* its an aux transmitter site, shared with another station using that directional antenna.

I noticed WJR is harder to get, going toward the Big Mac bridge with an interfering station running 1000W two tower directional. on 750 now near Petosky. Someone I recall saying the Ground radials at WJR may be deteriorating badly.
Would 220 feet of trash next to it screw it up?
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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by MWmetalhead » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:41 pm

Funny thing is, ever since CKLW returned to the air after being knocked off earlier this summer (or was it late spring?), their signal in my neck of the woods has been less than impressive.

Today is the first time I've listened to CKLW where the audio levels seem normal again. Signal still seems a tad flimsy, though.
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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by 48125er » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:50 pm

1160 is scratchy during the day most of the time, I Have 670 on my presets for cubs games.

in hilly areas, all the Milwaukee chicago AM stations come in pretty clear.

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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by Big Signal » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:05 pm

WJR's ground radials are less than 10 years old. They were replaced when Kevin Hawley was Chief Engineer.
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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by MWmetalhead » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:13 pm

Interesting...I bet Audiophile is correct. They've gotta be running at reduced power. There is no other explanation for the fact such a wide disparity in signal strength exists relative to CKLW.
C'mon iHeartRadio - do the RIGHT thing for once! Please cancel "Rover's Morning Glory" from WBFX in Grand Rapids.

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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by Marcus » Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:49 pm

AM 800 CKLW's signal covers Metro Detroit better than some of the actual Detroit stations. In Eastern Wayne county and Macomb county the Windsor AM radio stations have always been strong. If WJR is weaker than normal, they might be using the auxiliary tower right now.

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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal

Post by Rich » Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:54 am

MWmetalhead wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:37 am
WJR's signal strength west of M-66 in West Michigan is worst than ever!!! It is shockingly poor. ... Are they broadcasting at reduced power? Or has their ground system simply gone to hell in a handbasket? ...
That may be due to the soil moisture content near the surface of the earth, for the groundwave propagation path. Earth conductivity decreases during dry periods, and groundwave propagation losses increase.

At 5 AM CST this morning from my home in west central Illinois, I compared the fields received from WJR and WBBM on a Tecsun PL880. Both stations were peaking at about 50 dBµV.*

This would not occur for skywave reception over similar path lengths with similar propagation conditions unless radiated powers were about the same from those stations. Both WJR and WBBM use single, ~195° radiators, so their elevation patterns are ~identical.

BTW, the groundwave fields of the two local nighttime AMs received at my location are only a few decibels greater than those nighttime fields of WJR and WBBM.

* The PL880 has a signal strength display showing the unprocessed r-f input voltage present within the receiver.

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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by craig11152 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:23 am

audiophile wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:04 am
My guess is they are running 15-20 kW and hoping no one would notice.
As an ignorant laymen I would assume such a thing would be a cost saving measure somehow?
How does that sort of thing work with money?
For that matter why does 75 Mbps of Internet cost more than 25Mbps? I assume its because it is more expensive to send somehow but can anybody explain it in idiot terms for me?
Finally, he switched to a bone saw to finish the job, and at 9:17 p.m., Mountain time, the head of the greatest hitter who ever lived had been sliced off.

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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by Turkeytop » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:24 pm

craig11152 wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:23 am
audiophile wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:04 am
My guess is they are running 15-20 kW and hoping no one would notice.
As an ignorant laymen I would assume such a thing would be a cost saving measure somehow?
How does that sort of thing work with money?
For that matter why does 75 Mbps of Internet cost more than 25Mbps? I assume its because it is more expensive to send somehow but can anybody explain it in idiot terms for me?

Also, as a layman, my guess is that their Transmitter needs some costly maintenance or repair. Rather than spending the money, they choose to just crank back the power to reduce the demand on the equipment.

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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by rst599 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:45 pm

craig11152 wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:23 am
audiophile wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:04 am
My guess is they are running 15-20 kW and hoping no one would notice.
As an ignorant laymen I would assume such a thing would be a cost saving measure somehow?
How does that sort of thing work with money?
Primary power customers are charged based on their peak usage, which in the case of a broadcast station doesn't change much from their average usage. Reducing power consumption doesn't automatically reduce the electric bill, as it would at home by using less air conditioning or turning out lights.

Of course, they'd need to get a STA to operate at reduced power if it's for more than 30 days if it's equipment problems, and a permanent power reduction would require a modification of the license. The minimum power for a Class A station is 10 kW.

WJR is also using MDCL (modulation-dependent carrier level), which reduces the carrier power during quiet periods*, so you'll notice lower field strength at times. The meter on the field set should bounce around with modulation more than you would expect. MDCL needs to be disabled in order to get an accurate field strength reading.

As Big Signal mentioned, the ground system was rebuilt a few years ago. A large arc to the west-northwest was found to be heavily deteriorated. It could be that the same effects are at work and have caused erosion to the new ground system as well. You'd expect a shift in base impedance if that were the case.

Consider also that groundwave tends to worsen in the summer and even though it hasn't been a particularly dry one, there is still some drop in conductivity.

* //edit: WJR has notified FCC that it's using Adaptive Modulation Control MDCL technology which actually reduces carrier power with upward modulation, so full carrier is achieved at 0-10% modulation, reducing up to 3 dB (half power) at modulation peaks, so the field meter would probably deflect downward with modulation.
Last edited by rst599 on Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: WJR's signal

Post by Rich » Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:15 pm

If anybody has access to a calibrated field intensity meter and the interest to do so, measuring the groundwave field intensity of WJR at a radius of 1 km from their active, main tower should show about 2.84 V/m with 50 kW of applied carrier power.

If that field exists at 1 km, then any reduction of the groundwave field from normal in western Michigan must be related to propagation (or other) effects.

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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by audiophile » Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:27 pm

rst599 wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:45 pm
craig11152 wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:23 am
audiophile wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:04 am
My guess is they are running 15-20 kW and hoping no one would notice.
As an ignorant laymen I would assume such a thing would be a cost saving measure somehow?
How does that sort of thing work with money?
Primary power customers are charged based on their peak usage, which in the case of a broadcast station doesn't change much from their average usage. Reducing power consumption doesn't automatically reduce the electric bill, as it would at home by using less air conditioning or turning out lights.

That's not how demand works. There is one monthly charge for the demand and another for actual kWh consumed. The kWH is the more expensive part of bill.

Of course, they'd need to get a STA to operate at reduced power if it's for more than 30 days if it's equipment problems, and a permanent power reduction would require a modification of the license. The minimum power for a Class A station is 10 kW.

WJR is also using MDCL (modulation-dependent carrier level), which reduces the carrier power during quiet periods*, so you'll notice lower field strength at times. The meter on the field set should bounce around with modulation more than you would expect. MDCL needs to be disabled in order to get an accurate field strength reading.

It is indeed bouncing on the FI.

As Big Signal mentioned, the ground system was rebuilt a few years ago. A large arc to the west-northwest was found to be heavily deteriorated. It could be that the same effects are at work and have caused erosion to the new ground system as well. You'd expect a shift in base impedance if that were the case.

Consider also that groundwave tends to worsen in the summer and even though it hasn't been a particularly dry one, there is still some drop in conductivity.

This summer has is not been dry.

* //edit: WJR has notified FCC that it's using Adaptive Modulation Control MDCL technology which actually reduces carrier power with upward modulation, so full carrier is achieved at 0-10% modulation, reducing up to 3 dB (half power) at modulation peaks, so the field meter would probably deflect downward with modulation.

There is no STA on file.
reply in red.
Last edited by audiophile on Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by MWmetalhead » Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:18 pm

As Big Signal mentioned, the ground system was rebuilt a few years ago. A large arc to the west-northwest was found to be heavily deteriorated. It could be that the same effects are at work and have caused erosion to the new ground system as well. You'd expect a shift in base impedance if that were the case.
Interesting...perhaps the same forces are at work again.
Consider also that groundwave tends to worsen in the summer and even though it hasn't been a particularly dry one, there is still some drop in conductivity.
Parts of West MI along the I-96 corridor have been abnormally dry. That said, stations that never used to outperform WJR in the signal strength department outperformed it dramatically this past weekend.
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Re: WJR's ever-diminishing signal in West Michigan

Post by audiophile » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:44 pm

If they are using MDCL they should stop.

Maybe they could use ACC...AMC hurts fringe coverage.
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