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A small voice getting bigger

Troy Hunt and KCEU's award-winning student station manager Sheraya Barajas have plans to use the station's "newly empowered" status to reach further into the county.

Until now, a hamster on a treadmill could have generated enough power to keep the USU-CEU radio station on the air. In another two weeks or so, they'll need a horse.

That's because the station will be taking advantage of its Federal Communications Commission license to pump out 500 watts of pure power - 20,000 times more juice than the 25 milliwatts its FM signal it has been limited to. The FCC construction permit KCEU got two years ago authorizes the station to go as high as 6 kilowatts on its FM signal.

What that means is that the station will be able to extend its reach beyond the campus and out into the surrounding community.

Troy Hunt, chair of the college's communications department, said the signal at 89.9 on the FM dial will have to be tested to see how far it really goes. Theoretically, the transmitter on Wood Hill should be able to reach into Wellington and Helper as well as all of Price.

That boost in power should provide a corresponding boost in morale for broadcast students. "For years now, the saying has been, 'Hey, that was a great job. I only wish someone could have heard it,'" Hunt quipped. With the added potential to reach hundreds or thousands of listeners, there will be more satisfaction in the work.

Students at large should also benefit from the stronger signal. The Eagle, the student newspaper, comes out twice a month. The Edge will be a daily broadcast of campus issues and events, which may help to "draw more bodies to events," Hunt explained.

The increase in power is no threat to the area's commercial stations. "We can't sell ads. That's the law for public broadcasting stations," Hunt stated. KCEU can only accept underwriting contributions as the University of Utah's KUER and other public stations do.

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