Local history of antenna TV

By Ed Lake
RF Tranlsator

As author of last week’s article on antenna TV it has been brought to my attention that I may have led some to believe antenna TV was in danger in Northeast Colorado.
If so, I apologize for the confusion as it is not in danger. The article was meant to provide some updates on the future for TV and have the public show some appreciation to the local public servants who continue to work together to make sure Antenna TV is provided to the community.
With that in mind I’d like to share some local history on antenna TV and the Region One Translator Association.
When it began over 40 years ago TV sets used tubes, and so did the TV transmitters. Rural America had a problem. TV viewers had no easy way of receiving TV stations from cities far away from them.
Regulatory advancements allowed for a new TV service to be implemented which came to be known as TV Translators. Translators allowed TV stations to be picked up from the city and converted or translated to a new channel. Those channels would broadcast within the rural community and the process could be repeated in the next community farther away from the city.
Forward minded county governments all over Western America began plans to provide TV service to their residents.
Dr. Byron St. Clair, a pioneer in both the technology and governmental regulations, was the go-to guy for setting up a TV translator network. Officials from Yuma, Phillips, and Sedgwick counties worked with Dr. St. Clair to plan and build the system. They spent time in a small aircraft piloted by Dr. St. Clair himself, surveying the land for the best locations to build the towers.
For many years local Colorado company TTC provided the electronic equipment and managed the maintenance of the new facilities. Over the years several individuals and local companies have contracted with Region One to maintain the towers, transmitters, and related facilities. Some individuals the community might remember are Harold Blecha and John Rietz.
The late Dr. St. Clair and his colleagues provided engineering support as needed, and still do.
Two of the original county officials still serve on the Region One board to this day. Stan Shafer for Yuma County and Richard Starkebaum for Phillips County.
Serving with them is Donald Schneider for Sedgwick County. Region One’s board works in cooperation with the County Commissioners and Administrators from each County to keep antenna TV running.