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South Dakota Public Broadcasting announces a new radio tower to be built in Mitchell in summer 2024

According to the head of engineering, the new tower will allow for better radio reception as far north as Artesian, as far south as Parkston, reaching past Alexandria to the east and Mount Vernon on the west.

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Pictured is Julie Overgaard, exective director of SDPB, and SeVern Ashes, head of engineering.
Cassie Williams / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — South Dakota Public Broadcasting announced Wednesday, Oct. 5 that it will be building a new broadcasting radio tower.

The tower is expected to be built within the next few years, with a target date of summer 2024 and a final deadline of January 2025, with the total expected cost being approximately $500,000.

“The new FM radio frequency will be upgraded to a 21,000 watt-transmitter,” SeVern Ashes, head of engineering, explained. “The current one only operates on a 250 watt-translator, which means its frequency isn’t as widespreadly-reliable as the new one being built.”

According to Ashes, the new tower will allow for better radio reception as far north as Artesian, south to Parkston, reaching past Alexandria to the east and Mount Vernon on the west.

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The above image shows the expected signal reach for channel 89.1FM with the new 21,000-watt transmitter.
Courtesy of South Dakota Public Broadcasting

South Dakota Public Broadcasting Executive Director Julie Overgaard noted that the current radio station is “low power” as she described the coming of a new tower as “a good thing for the city of Mitchell."

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“Mitchell is one of the up-and-coming cities in South Dakota,” Overgaard said. “We have a big vision on how we want to get involved with communities and know what’s important to the people that live in this state, so we're starting with something we know this city has needed for a while.”

The FM radio license was granted by the FCC on January 20, 2022, which allowed the SDPB to expand their stations further than the company's origin in Vermillion.

However, the broadcasting company ran into problems when they realized that another station's tower in town overpowered their small tower, resulting in that station drowning out most others.

“A few years back, when one of the religious broadcasters in [Mitchell] got permission to up their power level, it just blew [our station] out of the water,” Overgaard explained during an informational meeting hosted on Wednesday. “So the only way to remedy the situation was to apply for a license and put a full-power station on the air.”

According to Overgaard, SDPB applied twice prior for the proper licensing for a new broadcasting station in Mitchell but both times the licensing went to other cities in South Dakota.

Overgaard also hinted at more to come after the completion of the tower.

"The SDPB will be discussing a partnership with Dakota Wesleyan University regarding the installment of a boutique studio, a studio solely on the output of community-based content, as they have with other universities like Northern State University and South Dakota State University," she said during Wednesday's meeting.

“There’s been a lot of growth here,” Overgaard said. “We want to try to continue that.”

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Related Topics: MITCHELLSOUTH DAKOTARADIO
Cassie Williams joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2022. To get in contact with Cassie about potential stories, feel free to email her at cwilliams@mitchellrepublic.com.
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