A Day in the Life: KCRW’s Chief Engineer, Steve Herbert

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.