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KZZJ coming to FM radio

By Staff | Aug 24, 2018

Submitted photos A crew climbs Rugby Broadcasters’ tower to install an antenna that will be used with an FM translator. The FM translator will carry AM 1450 KZZJ on FM stereo.

Rugby Broadcasters, Inc. has had an AM radio station in operation for 57 years.

Soon that AM station will be able to be heard on FM radio.

Rugby Broadcasters Owner Lila Harstad said the heavy work had been done last week, but one piece of equipment is still needed before its FM translator will be online. The FM translator will allow what is playing on an AM station to be simulcast in FM stereo.

“So exactly what’s on AM 1450 [KZZJ] will now be on FM 92.1,” said Harstad.

Harstad said the process for getting the FM translator in place has taken a year to implement, with Federal Communications Commission regulations, paperwork and engineering. With engineering and a crew to get an antenna in place on Rugby Broadcasters’ tower, the cost ranged from $20-$25,000.

Harstad said getting FM in place was a 7-year process.

Harstad said with the translator the range may not be as far as it is with the AM station. Harstad said AM follows the “lay of the land” and with the area terrain the FM signal can reach to just about Minot, Devils Lake, Harvey and the Canadian border, whereas FM follows “line of sight.” Harstad said Rugby Broadcasters’ other FM station, 95.3 FM KKWZ, gets about the same coverage the AM station does.

Harstad said Rugby Broadcasters hopes to have the equipment it needs within the next two to three weeks.

“Rugby Broadcasters just tries to stay current, stay local, stay relevant and stay up with the latest technology,” said Harstad, “and that’s the reason why the FM translator.”

Broadcasting for 57 years

As of tomorrow, Rugby Broadcasters will have been in business for 57 years.

KGCA was Rugby’s first radio station, coming on-air on Saturday, Aug. 26, 1961. It got its start when three men-Ray Friedrich, Olaf Falkvold and Oscar Halvorson-applied for a construction permit with the FCC in late 1957, and met with Rugby’s Economic Development Corporation with a proposal to run a radio station in 1959.

The FCC granted the construction permit in July 1960, and the land on which the station was to built was purchased from Kermit & Fern Blessum, of Rugby.

Del Nygard bought the station in 1985 and made several changes, including the call letters from KGCA to KZZJ; increasing the power with which the station operated from 250 watts to 1,000 watts; and constructing the 130 square-foot facility and studios.

Harstad, who was hired as station manager in November 1999, purchased KZZJ from Nygard in December 2002. In January 2003 a the 180-degree towner used for broadcasting, a new transmitter and computerized broadcasting equipment were put in place.

KKWZ aired in June 2016.

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