No static at all.
For radio listeners of the city's UNBC campus radio station, CFUR 88.7 FM, tuning in to a Steely Dan classic wasn't always so clear. In a city surrounded by hills, its low-power transmitter never failed to find a few dead zones.
But there's good news on the western horizon.
CFUR is now pumping more wattage into your cottage.
As of July 4, CFUR quadrupled its effective radiated power from 100 watts to 400 watts. That's significantly extended the broadcast range for avid listeners of the station's signature programs -- Greg the Egg's Big Air Guitar Show, Grandpa's Spells, RIP Radio, In the Mosh Pit and Trashcan Americana.
"It's pretty awesome, it's been a long time coming," said CFUR station manager Fraser Hayes.
"Out west, you can drive quite a ways down the highway and still get the signal and it's the same with the Hart. I was coming in from Edmonton and I started to get it at Purden Lake and it was completely clear at Giscome Road. "
The station began operating in 2000 with just four watts of transmitter power. Funded by student fees of $5 per student per semester, CFUR used a few thousand dollars of that accumulated budget to upgrade its infrastructure. In addition to the more powerful transmitter, CFUR has added an antenna to the three existing broadcast poles on the rooftop of the UNBC library building. Plans are in the works to set up a studio to accommodate live on-air musicians, and there are also new computers on order, which should ensure smooth sailing ahead for online streaming broadcasts.
"We're licensed to broadcast up to 500 watts and we're going to do some tweaking to get it closer to that," said Hayes, a fourth-year UNBC student in outdoor recreation/conservation. "Our online streaming hasn't been reliable the last few months but now it's back up and running."
Produced by volunteers, who also supply their own broadcast voices, CFUR has added 10 new programs over the last couple months, most of which feature independent musicians. The station also puts out syndicated news programs such as Democracy Now. Hayes anticipates more regular local news shows like the Northern Medical Program's Health on the Hill, Planets without Borders, CFUR the Planet, and the UNBC Sports Studio will return once the bulk of the student population returns in September for the fall semester.
About half of CFUR's programs are student-driven, with community volunteers producing the rest. A $20 membership is all that's required for community members to become on-air personalities.
"It's unique programming, we're a non-profit, we play all kinds of music, and we're not mandated to play the same 50 songs," said Hayes. "We play anything we want and the people who do shows do it because they want to show people the music they love. They play what they're passionate about, and you can tell."
Tuning in to FM in P.G.
Here, from lowest to highest frequency, with station format and broadcasting power, are the stations heard on Prince George's FM radio band:
88.7 - CFUR, college radio, 400 watts
90.3 - CFPG (CBC Radio 2), public radio, music variety, 183 watts
91.5 - CBYG (CBC Radio 1), public radio, news/information, music variety, 100,000 watts
93.1- CFIS, community radio, classic hits, five watts
94.3 - CIRX 94X, popular album-oriented rock, 11,500 watts
95.5 - CBUF-4 (CBC French), news/information, French-Canadian music, 130 watts
97.3 - CJCI (The Wolf), hot country, southern rock, 12,000 watts
99.3 - CKDV (The Drive), classic rock, 9,300 watts
101.3 - CKKN (The River), hot adult contemporary, 9,100 watts