“Can't you do something about The Peak's signal!?”
That's the single question we hear most here at The Peak, and the short answer is that (sadly) we can't.
Let me explain as briefly as possible:
Commercial FM radio stations in the USA come in 3 sizes – local (Class A – 6,000 watts) city (Class B – 50,000 watts,) and regional (Class C - 100,000+ watts.) Most of the stations in New York City are Class B and broadcast from the top of the Empire State Building, which gives them “line of sight” to most of the tri-state listening area. Big city signals with clear reception throughout metro New York.
107.1 The Peak is licensed by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) as a Class A FM (local.) Our transmitter is in Valhalla next to the Sprain Brook Parkway on a tower inside the Westchester County Correctional Facility. Because of the height of the tower we're located on, our actual power is limited by the FCC to 1,850 watts, or about 1/5 th the power of the NYC stations. In short, we're much less powerful and not nearly as high above the horizon as the other stations on the dial.
Maybe more importantly, two other FM stations in the tri-state area also share the 107.1 FM frequency with The Peak. WWZY (107.1 The Breeze) is in Long Branch NJ and just 56 miles from us. WLIR (107.1 ESPN) is on Long Island in the Hamptons and just 73 miles from us.
Here are links to their coverage maps:
WWZY: 107.1 The Breeze Coverage Map
WLIR: 107.1 ESPN Coverage Map
As you can see, they are very close!
The close proximity of these three stations is the reason we just can't “turn it up.” We'd interfere with them more than we already do and the FCC would never allow us to. The three stations are already way too close to each other. In fact, when The Peak's transmitter is tuned off, you can hear 107.1 The Breeze in most of Westchester County – that's how close they are.
During the late spring, summer and early fall, an atmospheric condition called “tropospheric ducting” makes our close proximity an even larger liability. In the least technical of terms, an inversion layer in the atmosphere sometimes “traps” FM signals near the ground and greatly increases interference between the three stations. If you have experienced really bad reception of The Peak on a summer day, that's the reason. Here's a link to a map that predicts the phenomenon: William Hepburn's Tropospheric Ducting Forecasts
A final challenge for The Peak's signal comes from the general topography of Westchester, Fairfield, Rockland and Bergen Counties. FM reception works best when you have “line of sight” to the transmitter. In the Hudson Valley and adjacent region, the valleys can be relatively deep and the surrounding hills made of granite. This creates “shadows” in our broadcast pattern where the signal barely reaches. Put simply, if you are on the other side of a granite hill from an FM transmitter, the signal – especially a Class A or local signal one like ours – can easily be compromised.
Taken together, our signal has some challenges and we have virtually no control over the three variables of topography, atmospheric conditions, or FCC power limitations.
The best thing we could do is buy the other two stations on 107.1 only to turn them off which is economically unfeasible. In the meantime we tweak what we can and monitor our power output like a hawk to insure we're always broadcasting with all the power we're legally allowed to.
In the meantime, I‘d like to encourage you to use The Peak's fantastic online broadcast which is never affected by weather or topography! We broadcast at a high bit rate with nearly FM quality sound. Here's a link to the stream:
Peak Online Broadcast
If you want to listen on an iPhone, Blackberry, Sonos or other portable streaming platform, here's a direct link to our HA-AACv1 (AACplus) encoded stream:
There are also lots of adjustments that can be made to antenna setups that will greatly increase your odds of getting the Peak more clearly. Please send me an email and we'll review your situation and make some recommendations.
Thanks for your inquiry, concern and ultimately your patience. We're always hopeful to upgrade our signal or move to another frequency. In the meantime please know that we're doing everything we can and are always here to help you listen to The Peak!