Cost for New AM Facility

AM Radio discussion. Directional arrays are FUN!
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bmcglynn
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Cost for New AM Facility

Post by bmcglynn » Tue Aug 30, 2016 6:13 am

I'm looking at moving one of our AM radio stations to a new transmitter location and wanted to put together a budget for it to decide if it is worthwhile - or to plan for doing it.

I realize there could be quite a big range for these sorts of projects (land, zoning, engineering, phasors, transmitter, tower sizes, power, etc..). Is there any sort of rule of thumb around estimating the budget to build-out a new facility?

Any costing data, resources to work on estimates or war stories are greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Brian

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kkiddkkidd
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Re: Cost for New AM Facility

Post by kkiddkkidd » Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:08 am

bmcglynn wrote:I'm looking at moving one of our AM radio stations to a new transmitter location and wanted to put together a budget for it to decide if it is worthwhile - or to plan for doing it.

I realize there could be quite a big range for these sorts of projects (land, zoning, engineering, phasors, transmitter, tower sizes, power, etc..). Is there any sort of rule of thumb around estimating the budget to build-out a new facility?

Any costing data, resources to work on estimates or war stories are greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Brian
Brian,

It will depend largely on the design of the system, IE: ND, DA, Freq, site specifics, location, etc. HOWEVER, in recent years, the regulatory costs just to get the State, local and FCC permits in place have become major expenditures in many parts of the country.

A rough rule of thumb is that the basic ground system will cost about the same as the tower (not counting extended travel or bad site conditions).

Nice prefab concrete buildings can be bought fairly cheaply on the surplus market.

Regards,
--
Kevin C. Kidd CSRE/AMD
WD4RAT
AM Ground Systems Company
http://www.amgroundsystems.com
KK Broadcast Engineering
http://www.kkbc.com

W2XJ
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Re: Cost for New AM Facility

Post by W2XJ » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:43 am

That is a broad question. It could be from under $100K to north of 3 million, depending on the facility and how much the relocation affects protections. One comment, though, the less you spend initially the more it will cost over the operational life of the plant. Proper power and HVAC is critical although too often overlooked.

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kkiddkkidd
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Re: Cost for New AM Facility

Post by kkiddkkidd » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:14 pm

W2XJ wrote:That is a broad question. It could be from under $100K to north of 3 million, depending on the facility and how much the relocation affects protections. One comment, though, the less you spend initially the more it will cost over the operational life of the plant. Proper power and HVAC is critical although too often overlooked.
And to reiterate what Rob said... We recently built a 1kw ND site for a contract "not to exceed" $75k. It was a pretty nice little ND site in the middle of no-where with a surplus concrete building, a new tower, ground system AND transmitter. It ended up being almost exactly $75k with little regulatory problems.

On the other hand, we worked on a 50kw 3 tower DA in the middle of absolutely-no-where northern VA where the total cost was somewhere north of $2mil by the time all the governmental extortion was satisfied. The real cost of this project was probably not over $1mil not including the leased property.
--
Kevin C. Kidd CSRE/AMD
WD4RAT
AM Ground Systems Company
http://www.amgroundsystems.com
KK Broadcast Engineering
http://www.kkbc.com

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Deep Thought
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Re: Cost for New AM Facility

Post by Deep Thought » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:34 pm

If you can find a friendly host station with a tower (or two) that would work at your frequency I would recommend that you consider diplexing with them. It avoids all of the local zoning and permitting issues with new towers and can be quite thrifty compared to developing a greenfield site. Almost 75% of the new station construction I've been involved with over the last 10-15 years has involved combined site operation with one being four DA-2 stations sharing various combinations of seven towers.

If you are a ND on the upper half of the band you could also consider a Valcom "whip" antenna, which looks more like a flagpole than a radio antenna. Some of the local yokels have a problem with towers but these seem to be more invisible to them for whatever reason. They aren't cheap but can help get past a few barriers.

If you want to PM me the details and I can give you some options, for the special Virtual Engineer rate of $0. :mrgreen:
Mark Mueller • Mueller Broadcast Design • La Grange, IL • http://www.muellerbroadcastdesign.com

TPT
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Re: Cost for New AM Facility

Post by TPT » Thu Sep 01, 2016 6:49 am

If you can find a translator channel, you would be better advised to put the money towards that project. Unless there are external reasons why you absolutely must leave the present AM site.

The present "purchase" window expires October 31, the "application" window is supposed to open up early next year. Most rural areas have translator channels available--especially using the second or third adjacent "shadow" inside the contour of local FM stations (Look at Sec. 74.1204(d)).

If you are in an urban area the costs of moving the AM will far exceed the price of a move-in translator license ($35~$50K).

bmcglynn
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Re: Cost for New AM Facility

Post by bmcglynn » Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:42 am

Thanks for the information. This is for a go/no-go decision. I have the study performed and some candidate sites. Now, it comes down to the cost to permit and build it.

The station in question is in the higher end of the band and the design would necessitate a 3 or 4 tower DA. Unfortunately for this application, a translator would not be an option.

Deep Thought - Thanks for your offer. I just sent you a PM.

TPT
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Re: Cost for New AM Facility

Post by TPT » Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:00 am

I own three FM's, Used to own an AM. If this is New York state, given the cost of doing anything in the NE, I have my doubts that building a 3 tower DA --high end of the band--even in a middle size city--could be justified by the projected revenues.

At the very least you will need an expensive environmental study (at least 6K, probably more--I did mine for a single tower for 3, but I'm an attorney), then the cost of land, and the cost of an engineering consultant, and D.C. legal--before you even get to touch a shovel.

W2XJ
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Re: Cost for New AM Facility

Post by W2XJ » Sat Sep 03, 2016 10:42 pm

I would spitball at something near a mil for 3 or 4 towers on a new site. It could be less but start with that number so you won't get boxed in and end up with a nightmarish site that costs an even greater fortune to keep in compliance. If those numbers do work, just don't do it.

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Deep Thought
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Re: Cost for New AM Facility

Post by Deep Thought » Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:35 am

W2XJ wrote:a nightmarish site that costs an even greater fortune to keep in compliance
If that is what you end up with, you did it wrong.
Mark Mueller • Mueller Broadcast Design • La Grange, IL • http://www.muellerbroadcastdesign.com

W2XJ
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Re: Cost for New AM Facility

Post by W2XJ » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:37 am

There are too many sites done wrong and too many where shortcuts were taken.

rich wood
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Re: Cost for New AM Facility

Post by rich wood » Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:02 pm

I specialize in site build outs for radio and TV. A 3 or 4 tower directional would run close to a million dollars for a bare ground build out. Given the zoning atmosphere, public hearings can get very costly and difficult. If you can show a direct service gain for the community you plan to build in, it is a big asset. Local sports, high school and such draw in the community to see a need for the station. Some people show up at these zoning meetings and say just about any thing. I had an FM that wanted to move into a rural town, and a very pregnant lady stood up and said we were going to hurt her baby with our radio waves. I knew we were done, how can a town board rule in favor of a permit that may harm a future constituent?
Deep thought has a good point, if you can diplex, go for it.
Last year I worked on a 3 tower complete rebuild, towers, phasor, feed lines, tuning units and it came in at around $800K and there were no local zoning issues. It was a tough site and required extensive civil work and some very creative installation equipment and expertise that Kevin Kidd provided.
Hope that helps.

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