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Davis, California

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

KDVS is back on air after seven-week hiatus

The radio station spent several weeks off of the air due to a broadcast tower malfunction

By RACHEL GAUER— campus@theaggie.org

As of Nov. 7, UC Davis’ student-run radio station KDVS is back on air after a seven-week hiatus caused by technical difficulties. The station was forced to pause its FM radio broadcast during this time due to a broadcast tower malfunction, but its online stream continued broadcasting throughout the entirety of the maintenance period. 

The outage lasted from mid-September through early November, according to fourth-year sociology major and KDVS General Manager Cate Hatcher. The malfunction itself was caused by an outage of one of the tower’s RF power modules, which Hatcher explained is a core function that amplifies the frequency of the radio broadcast. 

Hatcher went on to say that the process of repair was prolonged by the long shipping time to and from the part’s repair office in Maine, as well as by an unpaid invoice to the company. 

“The invoice was from March of this year, and it sat unpaid for six or seven months,” Hatcher said. “It’s not something that I [could] take care of on my end. We had to wait an extra week because the company wouldn’t accept a new job from us until we settled the old payment.” 

Though KDVS continued to stream online, the FM broadcast is the primary way listeners tune into the station, according to Hatcher — which is why the radio outage was so significant to the group’s operations. 

“Usually for shows, we always get callers and people letting us know about our show and obviously we were not getting as many callers,” Hatcher said. “It was kind of like just putting music out into a void.”

 Jacob Ikuna, a fourth-year sociology and cinema and digital media double major, serves as the assistant general manager at KDVS. Ikuna explained that some listeners solely have access to the FM broadcast and were unable to listen during the hiatus. 

“There is one listener in particular who calls in very regularly to our shows, and he talks about how he doesn’t have a TV,” Ikuna said. “His radio is his main source of entertainment. We also get a lot of truckers who listen as they drive through the region.”

Ikuna explained that because the signal power is so strong, KDVS is typically able to reach a large number of communities and individuals within the general region. Among the regular listeners who tune into the FM station are incarcerated individuals at Folsom State Prison, which is located over 30 miles from the station’s transmitter. 

“There are a handful of shows that have dedicated fans that are people who are incarcerated, ” Ikuna said. “For a lot of those regular listeners, they just basically lost access to KDVS for that period of time, which was very unfortunate, [and] it definitely was damaging to a lot of our listener base.”

Though the outage impacted regular listenership, Hatcher said that they felt like it also revealed the significance of the station to its fans. 

“I will say, while we were down we got over probably a couple hundred phone calls, emails and social media messages from listeners asking, ‘Where are you guys? What happened?’” Hatcher said. “[The situation] was frustrating, [but] it was good to know that so many people were looking for KDVS. It was really reassuring.”

Max Bahena, a third-year animal science major who serves as one of the community coordinators at KDVS, notes the impact the outage had on the overall ambiance within the station. 

“We usually have the radio station playing in our lounge, but because of the tower issue it was always pretty dead and quiet,” Bahena said. “Now that it’s up and running, it feels nice. “It feels like we are KDVS again.”

Written by: Rachel Gauer — campus@theaggie.org