Lake City station

The Lake City station was a particular challenge and a joy. Lake City is in a deep hole of the ancient Lake City volcanic caldera around a central Redcloud Peak at 14,034 feet above sea level. There were only two radio stations that could be heard in Lake City, and the styles did not appeal to everyone. A group from the Christian Camp Redcloud wanted Christian radio for both their camp and for the town of Lake City. Unfortunately, those two locations were on opposite sides of Redcloud Peak. FM radio propagates by line of sight, so putting the station at either location would result in the mountain blocking it from the other target location.

Furthermore there was the challenge of getting the incoming signal from Grand Junction. The first solution was to put the station on top of the high mountain ridge south of town where it could view both target locations and also potentially receive a direct signal from Grand Junction. Such a location had no electric power, was miles from a road whereby a propane tank could be delivered, and was on the high continental divide whereby lightning strikes would be common every year. Furthermore, the government agency in charge of the land proposed a rent of a thousand dollars per month, totally out of line with our expected budget.

The next solution was to put a station in the valley bottom and use a signal by satellite from the KWBI-FM network out of Morrison. But that meant a problem of trying to serve both targets with a high mountain in between blocking the signal. I studied topographic maps and ran computer simulations for radio beam views for a long time. Ultimately I noticed that on the southeast side of Lake San Cristobal there was a tall vertical cliff at about a 45 degree angle to a potential incoming signal from Lake City. That might act like a mirror and send the signal around the valley to Camp Redcloud. But the transmitter site would then need to be on a small ridge south of Lake City on which there was a high class residential neighborhood. The residents would be unlikely to want an unsightly radio tower in their midst.

Using a portable radio station broadcasting temporarily from that neighborhood we went around the valley with a truck to trace the path of the signal. It reached Camp Redcloud well and even went far beyond to the home of the owner of the Camp. The hunch worked. So I started work on the design of a radio station for Lake City. For the incoming signal from the satellite, a satellite dish was needed and entirely acceptable in such a high class neighborhood. Everyone else had a dish. For a tower I proposed a 25-foot aluminum flagpole on top of which would be a small set of bristling metal rods of an omni antenna. For the housing of the station I proposed a three-foot cube whose exterior was surfaced with talus rocks from a nearby rock pile. The radio station would be disguised as a monument.

As a bonus there was a dedication plaque on the station door (shown in the illustration). About a year earlier the local sheriff, a Christian, had been killed in the line of duty by some thieves passing through town. (One of the thieves suicided near where our radio station was built.) So we dedicated the station to the memory of sheriff Roger Coursey. The station has been serving Lake City since November 18, 1995, exactly a year after Roger's death.

Several years later the network of KJOL-FM and KWBI-FM was sold to the K-Love radio network working out of California. The personnel of KJOL formed a new station KJOL-AM, now broadcasting from Grand Junction at 620 and 1400 on the AM band and now at 99.5 on the FM band. (Www.kjol.org). The core of the personnel of KWBI eventually moved to serve the Denver area through the KPOF, AM91 station (www.AM91.org) which has been broadcasting since 1928. Of the five stations that I designed, three still operate under K-Love (www.klove.org). Montrose is now at 92.5, Gunnison still at 91.9, and Lake City still at 89.7, all broadcasting Christian content for decades 24/7.

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