KJOL-FM for Montrose, Colorado

In 1982 we (Bureau of Reclamation) explored the Grand Mesa in western Colorado for our next weather research project area. I discovered that the Grand Junction Christian radio station, KJOL- FM (Joy Of the Lord) had a 10-watt translator (repeater) station in Cedaredge on the south side of the Grand Mesa. When we moved to Montrose (1983 to 1988) I could barely receive that Cedaredge station at my home, but not in the city.

Part way through our stay in Montrose I received a phone call from an agent of Lutheran Brotherhood (LB), a fraternal insurance group. He asked me if I would help organize a local fraternal group for Colorado's West Slope, being one of the officers. I felt that I should do so and asked to be the treasurer of the group. I learned the rules and procedures whereby LB made local distributions of money. Later I proposed that we build a 10-watt FM translator station for Montrose using local financial contributions and LB matching funds. Our fund raiser had a time limit and the needed funds were completed only in the final two weeks, after some eager appeals. Meanwhile, I had been searching for a site for the station.

The station had to be at a high elevation to receive the incoming radio signal from Grand Junction and have a good view of the Uncompahgre Valley and Montrose in order to beam the signal to the people below. We had to have electric power and landowner permission. Eventually I found a corner of property on a ridge on the west side of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The corner was bordered by federal land with poorly surveyed boundaries. (There was a very old fence line.) I had to do my own amateur surveying to discover a need to move my intended site many tens of feet westward to try to avoid any trespassing of guy wires onto federal property. Electric power had to be extended to the site. The rocky ground had to be dug for concrete pads for the tower and guy wire anchors. I worked with Al Stewart of the KWBI-FM network in Morrison (southwest of Denver) to learn the antenna requirements and propose a tower design. I also designed and built the instrument shelter myself, giving it a strong metal shield for some protection from hunters. Eventually the system was built and turned on December 8, 1987. The coverage of the valley was excellent, and the station has been broadcasting 24/7 since then. This photo looks up at the tower.

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