LITTLE CURRENT—Manitoulin’s Country radio station, 100.7 The Island, is currently working with consultants from the McLean’s Mountain wind turbine farm operator Northland Power to find a solution to a recently discovered issue where the wind turbines are interfering with the station’s reception along the southern reaches of Manitoulin Island.
“We had heard some complaints but we didn’t really think that much about it at first,” said radio station co-owner Craig Timmermans. “We were down in Mindemoya doing a remote broadcast. I set up the equipment and tuned into the station. There was nothing there.”
Mr. Timmermans at first thought there was an issue with the station. “I thought ‘oh my gosh, we are off the air’,” he recalled. “But when he checked the system, all indicators were that the broadcast transmitter was operating properly and at full power. “We took the van we have with a very sensitive radio down the road and we started getting a weak signal.”
Mr. Timmermans then embarked on a cross Island odyssey to discover where the issue was cropping up. “We found places where we had not had a problem before, that suddenly we were not able to reach,” he said. The issue of interference with the station’s signal seems to run from Mindemoya south as far as South Baymouth.
Even more disconcerting were reports that the station was reaching almost to the outskirts of North Bay. “We were being picked up in Sturgeon Falls,” said Mr. Timmermans. “Suddenly we were not able to reach the south of the Island where we wanted to be and were licenced for, but we were reaching far beyond where we should have been to the east.”
Research soon determined that the likely culprit was, in fact, the wind turbines on McLean’s Mountain near where the radio station’s antenna was located.
Mr. Timmermans contacted the wind farm operators and after discussions with their own engineers, the company determined that there was indeed an indication that an issue likely existed.
“It was one of those things that your study says probably won’t be an issue but then it turns out that it is,” said wind farm project manager Paul Kaminski, who confirmed that the wind farm operator’s consultants are working with the radio station to find a solution to the issue.
CBC’s expert on radio interference, engineer Julie Bergeron in the public broadcaster’s Montreal office, was unavailable for comment by press time, but Martin R. Marcotte, director of transmission at CBC’s Toronto office, noted that “wind turbine interference to an FM station would be rather unusual given the wavelength of the signal.”
Both Mr. Timmermans and Mr. Kaminski indicated that they believe a solution has been found through the consultation between Northland Power’s own consultants and the radio station’s engineers. “Basically, if we increase the height of the radio tower from 300 feet that it currently is to 400 feet, it should get above the interference and allow us to reach the areas we need to,” said Mr. Timmermans. “CBC television had a similar problem happen in Quebec.”
Mr. Timmermans said that if listeners are experiencing issues with reception of 100.7 The Island, he would urge them to contact the station with information on where they are located and when they first noticed the issue occurring.
Mr. Kaminski said that he was confident that the issue could be resolved. “If there is an issue, and at this time there does appear to be an issue, then we need to resolve it,” he said. “If we caused the problem, we have to rectify the problem.”