Radio tower installed over lodge as station aims for FM license

A Crescent City radio station has installed a new antenna, is working to create a clearer sound and hopes to transition onto FM radio.

KFUG AM1570 recently installed the 30-foot antenna on top of the Elks Lodge at 359 H St., said station owner Paul Critz. It broadcasts an uninterrupted signal from South Beach to Washington Boulevard.

Now, Critz said, he is in the process of obtaining a new transmitter to improve the listening experience.

"This will drown out the noise floor and generate a little more power to clean up the signal," he said, referring to the hissing noise AM stations sometimes have.

In October, KFUG will apply for a 100-watt FM license with the Federal Communications Commission, Critz said. He hopes to then install a 30-foot FM antenna on top of the Elks Lodge, which would allow the station to broadcast to the rest of Del Norte County and possibly Brookings.

A grant from the Humboldt Area Foundation is helping the station through this transition, Critz said.

"We're laying the groundwork," Critz said. "The FM antenna is sturdier. It's much simpler than AM broadcasting."

The Crescent City Planning Commission granted Critz a conditional use permit to install the 30-foot antenna atop the Elks Lodge in February. 21, said Associate City Planner Eric Taylor. KFUG had initially planned to install the antenna on the station's roof, but was unable to because of its location in the commercial waterfront zone, said Associate City Planner Eric Taylor.

Critz, whose father is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, received permission from the Elks Club to install the antenna. The lodge is locatedin the city's commercial district, Taylor said.

KFUG started out as an Internet-only station before moving to AM radio in 2012. Since then it has adopted a community radio format and is staffed primarily by volunteers, Critz said.

Its DJs are community members, Critz said, with the youngest being his 12-year-old daughter and the oldest being 60-year-old Rick Wafler. Shows range from classic rock shows to Youth Radio to Metal Mass, a heavy metal-themed show presented by 16-year-olds.

"There's a lot of cool, quirky and interesting people here," Critz said.

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