KGLP is on a mission to improve and sustain our public radio station's rural service to the residents of the borderlands in Northwestern New Mexico and Northeastern Arizona, a diverse but particularly low-income region of the United States that includes Gallup, New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and the Pueblo of Zuni. Recent problems have affected our on-air signal, and we're also in need of better equipment to ensure improved audio coming out of the two little studios in our compact station.
Each year we get donations from some 200 of our approximately 2000 listeners that help with equipment maintenance, utilities, and general cash flow, but a recent transmitter failure puts us in a bit of a bind, and we aren't sure that we can expect increased contributions from our stalwart members to help catch up to the station's pending needs. And so we're reaching out further, with CrowdRise, on the chance that a few folks who know nothing about our work here might consider assisting our efforts to provide alternative news, music, and public affairs programming to the area.
In 1785, Scottish writer Robert Burns wrote a poem that lamented his destruction of a mouse's nest as Burns plowed his field. "To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough" featured a line that later was immortalized by John Steinbeck: "The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men gang aft agley", or as current English speakers might interpret, "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry in the end."
Nineteenth century engineers gave rise to what has become known as Murphy's Law: "Anything that CAN go wrong WILL go wrong," and its corollary, "Murphy was an optimist!"
During maintenance at our little Gibson Peak transmitter site Northeast of Gallup, New Mexico in February, our main transmitter short-circuited, dropping it's modest output of 1500 watts down to 200 watts, reducing our signal strength and on-air sound quality within a few miles of town. A month or so before, our two automation computers' DVD drives failed, with one short-circuiting and almost starting a fire (we removed the drive and cleaned up the scorch marks, but we're wondering how long the very expensive units will hold up - It certainly slowed down the digitizing of our music library!) Additionally, our two little studios are not producing audio of a quality that our listeners deserve, and we are hoping to upgrade them both to a more professional standard, easing access for students and community volunteers and improving our on-air sound for a very diverse listening area.
While KGLP remains on the air at low power, we are required by the FCC to restore our signal to the licensed power level as soon as is practical, which we anticipate will cost up to $13,000, with labor and parts. Shipping and repairing the existing 13-year-old transmitter would have cost at least $4,000, which we decided to apply to a new system, for maximum reliability. We are using funds that will soon deplete our reserves, likely leaving us "in the red" by the end of the year.
With more money, we can not only get a new transmitter, but bring our studios' audio quality up to a level that maximizes the benefits of that new transmitter. If there is any additional money left over, we could refurbish our 2 little automation computers with new towers, hard drives, and hopefully DVD drives that won't burn (oh, we did get a new Halotron fire extinguisher, of course! That we can afford...) Blue Sky, we also hope to breadboard a prototype for a haptic interface to help visually challenged students and community volunteers monitor audio levels with vibrating cuffs on their arms or legs, an ADA accommodation that we could then share with other stations.