In honor of the 40th anniversary of the station, WREK radio officially kicked off their HD station using their new HD transmitter on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 at 12:12 PM.
At the unveiling ceremony in the Student Center, students watched via web cam as WREK chief engineer Thomas Shanks disconnected the old analog transmitter and started broadcasting using the new transmitter. WREK general manager Brad Petrick spoke the first words using the new HD technology, “You are listening to WREK Atlanta in HD.”
The new Harris 25 kilowatt transmitter weighs 1.3 tons and delivers 2.5 times more transmitting power than the old transmitter. This will improve the sound quality and reliability of WREK broadcasts.
“The [FM broadcasts] should be greatly improved. The station won’t drop out at random hours or during baseball games anymore. The old transmitter was from November 1988, 20 years old and breaking down…It was time for a new transmitter,” Shanks said.
The transmitter will not only provide better sound quality in regular FM broadcasting, but gives WREK HD broadcasting capabilities. This will allow WREK to have multi-cast technology. This means that by the beginning of the next fall semester, WREK will be running a second channel on HD radio along with the main channel that is run both on FM and HD radio. The second channel will allow WREK to provide even more diverse programming and give listeners another option if a certain sound block is not to their liking.
“WREK has provided forty years of quality and diverse programming to the campus and the Atlanta community. Nowhere else can people find such unique programming as on WREK. We have everything from Indian Masala, our Indian music show, to Kosher Noise, which is the only Jewish music radio show in the Atlanta area. This transmitter will allow us to expand that even more. We’re excited that the new transmitter will be able to provide more ways for students to express themselves,” Petrick said.
The transmitter will help keep WREK in current technology.
“It is important to make sure that we stay on the cutting-edge of technology here at Tech, so HD radio was an important step,” said Petrick. Only a handful of fully college-run stations have HD technology, and Tech will be one of less than 10 with a second station come fall.
“You can’t hear the primary harmonic of a flute on FM radio, but in HD, we can get almost equal quality as CDs,” Shanks said.
The transmitter was delivered Tuesday, March 11, and then assembled during the entirety of Spring Break by two professionals, Shanks and a team of station engineers with the help of Jim Evans, former WREK chief engineer and a Tech graduate class of ’73.
It took almost 100 hours to get in place and working. These 100 hours are just a fraction of the research and planning of the past three years that WREK has been planning to get HD Radio. For WREK radio, this makes the transmitter a huge accomplishment.
“Three years of work are all coming to today. This is a really momentous occasion for WREK and the whole campus,” Petrick said.