What Radio Looks Like, From Behind...


Ever wonder what a radio station looks like from the business end? I did too not too long ago. When you think radio I'm sure some things come to mind. A picture of an old guy behind the mic in front of a mixer and a few turntables. HAH! Some places, it's still like that, except the turntables are traded in for some CD players. The studio side is still the same in a lot of places. That same mixer (or console as it's referred to), and turntables, CD players, tape decks, and most of the time a computer, are still there, that hasn't changed much over the years. What I'm thinking about is the BUSINESS end of everything. The side nobody really gets to see. The transmitters, the audio processing that happens, the special equipment you need to even start a radio station.


I've only been in the "biz" for about 5 years. So far i've met quite a few people who are pretty important in this business. And also accumulated quite a few pictures. Ever wonder what's around those huge 1500 foot towers you see? Well here's a few pictures of what's under the ShoreView, MN tower.


Shoreview, MN 1500 Foot tall tower.


Base of the shoreview tower, note the pipes, those are what feed power up to the antenna elements.

That's a LOOOONG way up there. Again, see the 2 pipes in the center...

Some power boxes most likeley for the beacons and other lights.


A long shot of the base of the tower.


The Innards of a radio station...

The outside is quite boring, yet impressive. The real engineering feats exist inside. As a friend of mine once said, "inside a transmitter is quite possibly the best engineering in the world, and all it took was 37 screws, some sheet metal, and a LOT of power"


Here's some transmitter pictures for you. These are what make the sound you hear when you press "FM".



Here's a BE 20kW tube based transmitter. You might think "TUBE? LIKE OLD VACUUM TUBES?!" Yep, cept these are a bit larger, capable of making 20,000 watts of power. Note the little need for more equipment than just the transmitter? The rack next to it contains some audio processing, a phone remote control, and a microwave reciever.

Then you have these old beasts. That's a Continental 20kW transmitter for WLTE-FM. See all the older equipment in the racks? There's a pair of Gregg Labs audio processors there in the right side, middle.


This is the controller for EVERY (11) transmitter in the place, getting ready to be combined into one signal, and multiplexed up the tower. Each transmitter averages 16-20kW input. We found out the computer is Y2K compliant. :)


Look at those RF combiners. A good 20 feet long each. This is the output side.

A row of inputs.

Here's the final stage combiner for all that power.

All the RF combiners. The scope there is reading the IBOC signal from MPR (99.5 KSJN-FM) who was testing an IBOC transmitter from BE... Only a few hundred thousand dollars... and the only one in Minnesota. (I'm not bitter...)

Here's an individual input into the RF cavity.