It looks like WSIU-TV (channel 8) will soon be easier to receive in parts of Southern Illinois.
The PBS station, which is owned and operated by Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, has received complaints from viewers in its coverage area that they have difficulty picking up the station. It's not an unusual problem; other VHF-based stations across the country have had similar issues, including our local ABC affiliate, WEHT Local, Indianapolis CBS affiliate WISH-TV and WTVF-NewsChannel 5 in Nashville.
WISH-TV and WTVF have each built what are known as UHF replacement translators, which have improved over-the-air signal strength and reliability for thousands of viewers in their respective areas.
Now the FCC is allowing WSIU to do the same, but in a manner somewhat different from the path chosen by WISH-TV and WTVF. Instead of using just one replacement translator, WSIU will use four.
The first of these, with a power of 15 kW on channel 40 in Carbondale, was approved in August. Last week, three more were approved:
- Channel 28 (5 kW), Cape Girardeau, Mo.
- Channel 41 (1 kW), Edwardsville, Ill.
- Channel 43 (2 kW), Vienna, Ill.
All of the translators will, per FCC regulations, be licensed under the WSIU-TV call sign and map to channels 8.1 through 8.4 on viewers' TV screens, as they will simply augment the hard-to-get VHF signal now being broadcast on channel 8. (Channel 8, which beams a 53-kW signal from its transmitter near Tamaroa along U.S. 51, is not going away.)
It's not currently clear when construction will begin on these stations or when they might go on the air, but I'll of course keep you posted when any new information becomes available.
EDITOR'S NOTE: WSIU also owns and operates WUSI-TV (channel 16) in Olney, which carries the same programming and can also be seen in portions of the Tri-State.