San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

May 21st, 2008
Ten years after applying for license, city cleared for low-wattage radio station

From the city of San Marcos

FM 92.5. In the future, that’s where San Marcos residents may turn their radio dials for emergency alerts as well as other community information from the city of San Marcos.

The San Marcos city council approved a budget amendment Tuesday night to buy equipment for a low power 100-watt FM band radio station in San Marcos to provide emergency communications to residents.

The $43,000 approved by council Tuesday night will help locate a tower, transmitter other equipment needed to start the city-owned station, which will have a range of about five miles. No call letters have yet been assigned.

The Federal Communications Commission issued a construction authorization for the low power station in April, more than nine years after the city first applied for the license. The 500 year flood of 1998, which required the evacuation of thousands of residents, inspired the city’s application in 1999 for the FCC license.

“At the time we had no way to reach the public with information about evacuations, closed roads and shelters,” said Ken Bell, the city’s emergency management coordinator. “San Marcos had no commercial radio station and the regional nature of the crisis made it difficult to send information to our citizens.”

The initial steps will include locating a tower, identifying the equipment needed and setting up short term and long term operational goals. Under the permit, the station must become operational in 18 months.

Bell hopes that in time, the 24-hour station will be able to broadcast tourist information, live meetings, rebroadcast meetings and programs, and be able to simulcast with KTSW , the Texas State University campus radio station, during emergencies.

He plans to discuss with Texas State University the possibility of students assisting with operational management of the station.

The budget amendment appropriated funds from the General Fund, Water/Wastewater Fund and the Electric Utility Fund to support the station.

— MELISSA MILLECAM

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