As KCRW’s Chief Engineer I’m responsible for the 12 transmitter installations we operate throughout 9 counties in Southern California.  Often I try to visit a couple of transmitter sites and cluster my visits to make the best use of my time and the resources required to get there.  When I’m on site I like taking a scenic picture from the hilltop to share with our staff so they experience the other parts of KCRW outside of the basement studios.   On Thursday June 2, I found myself visiting three separate locations in 14 hours, logging 400 miles of driving in the process.

My first stop was at 7:40 am above Santa Paula as to correct a situation which was triggering a monitor alarm for the site. The alarm threshold was set a little too tight which in turn sent text alerts to us through out the previous night. 

The site is a location called South Mountain which straddles the communities of Santa Paula and Moorpark in Ventura County.  The mountain top rises some 2300′ above sea level and is surrounded by orange and avocado groves, with oil wells all along the hillside, a very active oil field.   Here’s a shot of Moorpark take from the site at 7:30 that morning.  On the trip off the hillside I saw a mountain lion.

From South Mountain I headed to our KCRI transmitter above Indio which is accessed via unpaved road across the desert and a climb only possible in a 4WD vehicle. I was delivering equipment to project engineers Tom King and Hal Williams who were working at the site.   Access to the site is across land which is actively being mined by a neighboring cement plant to use for gravel.   It requires leaving the main highway and transversing a rough utility road through the locked mining area.  Once through that we drive through some deep sand to reach the base of the step climb up to the site.  Here’s a shot of the road and our truck with the hilltop and road up the hilltop visible in the distance. I was on site for a couple of hours arriving around noon and then scrambled off to reach site number three for the day.
This was to our 90.9 signal located in the San Gorgonio mountains above Banning and Beaumont. The site is called “Snow Peak” at 7980′ and is snowed in from November through May.  Here’s some pictures of the site in May with ice on the tower, antennas and trees with a temperature that day of 38 degrees.
On the the June trip it was in the low 60′s and you’d never guess there had been snow there.   I arrived there around 3:30pm and successfully repaired a cooling fan on the transmitter for that site.  This day I saw several deer, a fox and coyote (I believe) as I drove up and down the dirt mountain roads to the site.  It’s not uncommon to encounter bear at this site as well.
While its unusual to hit three sites in the same day, not unusual are the scenic views, the wildlife, and the long hours and miles of driving it takes to reach these sites in the effort to provide our radio signals of KCRW to you.

  • http://twitter.com/lrlee @lrlee

    Except for driving and having to do actual work, this looks pretty nice.

  • Sarah Spitz

    Wow. Whole lotta engineering goin' on!

  • http://twitter.com/itsAndyKing @itsAndyKing

    Pretty cool to read about—thanks for sharing. I live in Ventura County and drive through five different KCRW frequencies fairly regularly, so five of my six car radio presets are for KCRW!

    • Steve Herbert

      I'm so happy you are able to utilize the string of signals in your area!

  • http://www.creativepr.org kathy

    Thanks for doing all of this so that we can hear KCRW. Is one of the towers in Laurel Canyon?

  • Howard

    Very interesting, Steve. Love the pictures. Aside from crawling up the rocky roads, these days would seem like a great escape to me.

    • Steve Herbert

      I certainly feel very fortunate to have a job which lets me experience settings like these & get paid for it as well!!! At the same time, it's still a job…a great job…but a job! <g>

  • tvc15u2

    pretty cool thanks for sharing. I too work on some hilltop transmission stations in the desert, and yes the views can be spectacular (specially sunrises and sunsets). thankfully I have not encountered bears or mountain lions!

    • Steve Herbert

      I was back up to the Snow Peak site on Wednesday and had a bear dash across the mountain road ahead of me, diving down a steep slope to my left of the road, maybe 50 yards ahead. From my vantage point it looked almost like someone in a bear suit going over the edge!

  • Happy Scrappy Blogger

    Thanks for braving the Indio tower location so that we in the Coachella Valley can listen to KCRW in our cars!

    • Steve Herbert

      You are very welcome. We are upgrading the site there with some newer equipment which will improve our HD service in the coming months. I expect to be out on site there all next week!

  • Sean

    Thanks for this very informational post Steve! I wish that KCRW could be broadcasted un-interrupted from LA to San Diego, or LA to Palm Springs!

    • Steve Herbert

      Me too Sean! Unfortunately our network of signals are carved out in what was available frequency space at the time we established them. There is no more available space on the dial, so we're left with the patchwork network of signals we operate now.

  • http://twitter.com/MicheleChavez @MicheleChavez

    Great photos! All your hard work is worth the membership renewal that I better get out in the mail today.

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    Surest way to be with nature and working it the field of communication , pretty cool sir you get the chance to go outdoors and fixed those network canopies for transmission

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