By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The all-volunteer nonprofit station began broadcasting a mix of music and information from its studio at Mountain View Commons, 1919 Blaine St., on May 14, 2011, with 900 watts of power.
Next week, during a spring fund drive, station operators will “flip the switch” and begin using a 2,200-watt signal that will reach some areas where the broadcast currently is blocked by distance and geography.
“This will expand our reach and allow more people to hear us,” said board member Collin Brown.
“We don't have a strong signal in Port Ludlow and hope that will change,” he said, “and while we can be heard in Sequim, the signal starts to fade when you get to Port Angeles.”
Port Angeles should be within range once the signal is strengthened, he said.
There will be significant improvements in reception south toward Quilcene and Port Ludlow, as well as toward Sequim and in Coupeville on Whidbey Island, though the station is not allowed to increase its signal toward Canada, Brown said.
The power boost will require more money to run the broadcast operation, so the previously planned spring pledge drive is coming at a fortunate time, Brown said.
The drive takes place from next Wednesday, May 8, to May 11, with the goal of raising $15,000 to pay for operating expenses and increased costs resulting from the power boost.
It will be lower-key than last year, when the station hosted a benefit dance at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
This year, fundraising will only be on the air during the four-day pledge drive.
Chief Engineer Bill Putney said the station was built with the capacity to broadcast at a higher power level but needed to resolve a signal overlap issue from a station on Bainbridge Island.
KPTZ's signal boost will change many areas of the region from “city grade,” defined by the Federal Communications Commission as good coverage, to a “fade proof” signal level that is 10 times stronger than city grade.
After the power increase, KPTZ's “fade proof” area will extend farther toward the Jefferson County International Airport 4 miles southwest of Port Townsend, as well as Kala Point and Port Hadlock areas.
“In some areas, the signal will go from being noisy to clear, so the broadcast will be silent where it needs to be silent,” Putney said.
As the second anniversary nears, Brown said the station has succeeded beyond its expectations.
“We didn't think we would accomplish as much as we have in the first two years,” he said.
“We've become a place where people can learn about radio, and it's become a great opportunity for volunteers.”
KPTZ also broadcasts on the Internet from its website at www.kptz.org.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.