Tuning In: Star 94 FM upgrades with new FM signal, KNCO to follow | TheUnion.com

Tuning In: Star 94 FM upgrades with new FM signal, KNCO to follow

KNCO and Star 94 FM program director Tom Fitzsimmons sits at the controls of the station's sound board. Star recently relocated its transmitter, which will make the station more accessible to listeners in the area.
Jennifer Nobles/jnobles@theunion.com

Grass Valley’s own Star 94 FM radio station has received an upgrade.

The station, based out of the same studio as longtime Nevada County on-air presence KNCO, recently installed a transmitter that will project its broadcast to a wider audience.

To help achieve these results, the station moved its transmitter from a location on Banner Mountain to the Litton Building off Sierra College Drive. With the move, the station increased its output wattage from 600 watts to 3,000.

This means that the station will reach farther and wider than it previously did. In the past, the signal had trouble reaching downtown Grass Valley businesses and locations down the Highway 49 corridor.

KNCO Chief Engineer Kael Murray said, “It was because of the location of it on the mountain top. It wasn’t really loud enough to signal into town. But we couldn’t raise power (there) because we have to protect adjacent channels.”

Star 94 FM also announced that KNCO will receive a similar upgrade. In a project expected to be completed in late summer, KNCO will be found on the FM dial in addition to its home at 830 AM.

KNCO/Star Program Director Tom Fitzsimmons said, “Some people just don’t have good AM radios anymore, but it will be helpful to have them be able to switch over to FM. The station will remain on AM, but have FM capabilities.”

It remains unknown what the call numbers — also known as the frequency — of the updated FM version of KNCO will be.

Fitzsimmons and his team hope the improvements to the stations’ frequency will draw a greater listnership.

“I think some people in certain areas may have tuned out because they’re not used to being able to receive a signal, but that’s changed now,” said Fitzsimmons. “What we decided to do with the signal now, being much better in our local community, (was) to make the programming much more locally involved.

“That way we’re talking about what’s happening here, like traffic situations. In years past we didn’t have a great signal, we were more satellite driven. Now with local DJs on the air, they’re more able to talk about life here.”

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

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