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By Nicholas Hodell
Arizona PBS has expanded its reach within the state of Arizona with the installation of a new digital transmitter in the Gila Mountains near the city of Yuma.
The new transmitter focuses on serving Yuma and its surrounding area, replacing an older analog transmitter that previously served the area.
The transmitter, which went online July 12 after a week-long installation process, offers expanded coverage to communities in and around Yuma. New coverage areas provided by the digital transmitter focus on expanding communities east of Yuma, adding to Arizona PBS’s reach of nearly two million households.
Households in the transmitter’s coverage area with an antenna will benefit greatly with programming options that were not possible with the old analog transmitter. Arizona PBS on Channel 8.1 will now be offered in high definition thanks to the new transmitter.
In addition to having Channel 8.1 in HD, households will now receive all channels in Arizona PBS’s portfolio, including Arizona PBS, Life, World and Arizona PBS Kids.
Karl Voss, the chief broadcast engineer for Arizona PBS, said the installation process was the culmination of five years of hard work to give the Yuma area all of Arizona PBS’s programming options.
Voss said the biggest challenge during the week-long installation process was managing the intense summer heat.
“We went through anywhere from 40 to 60 pounds of ice a day up there in order to try and manage it,” Voss said.
Adrienne Fairwell, the general manager of Arizona PBS, said the transition from an analog transmitter to a digital one will help the station increase the quality and reach of its programming.
“We are excited to have made the transition to digital for our broadcast viewing audience in Yuma. This means better picture quality and audio, but also the opportunity to access increased programming from Arizona PBS,” Fairwell said in a statement. “I’m grateful to our engineering team who worked so hard to make this transition possible.”
Although the transmitter is operational, Voss said work will continue on the site. The verification of the transmitter’s signal coverage area will be done at a later time to avoid the peak of Arizona’s summer heat.
Viewers with an antenna in the new transmitter’s coverage area will need to do a channel scan on their televisions in order to receive all of Arizona PBS’s offerings.