By Rachel Hergett MSU NEWS SERVICE
BOZEMAN – The studios of KGLT are tucked into the third floor of Montana State University’s Strand Union Building, but the station’s growing reach extends well beyond campus.
In the last few years, the station brought in new listeners in the Big Timber area and strengthened its signal around Helena. This summer, the station expanded to Big Sky.
“At KGLT, we’re primarily focused on delivering this alternative, free-format radio to our listeners,” said KGLT General Manager Craig Clark. “We want to provide as much access as possible.”
A new translator in Big Sky has been on the station’s wish list for years. Service in the area was spotty and depended on how the main signal broadcasting from nearby Logan bounced through Gallatin Canyon. But at the end of July, KGLT installed the new translator on Andesite Mountain, near the top of Big Sky Resort’s Ramcharger and Thunder Wolf lifts. The 20-watt translator broadcasts, like the main KGLT transmitter, at 91.9 FM. The signal is fed over the internet to a facility at the top of the mountain, where it is translated into radio waves that cover Big Sky Town Center and Meadow Village.
Clark said an informal car radio test of the new signal showed drastically improved reception. And though mountainous topography still cuts off the signal in some areas, Clark said he was satisfied the translator would open up a new community of listeners.
“We’re providing more opportunities for people to listen wherever they go in the Gallatin County and eager to make connections in the Big Sky community,” he said.
KGLT has been working to acquire a translator in the area for about a year and a half, spearheaded by former station manager Ellen King-Rogers. Aside from the costs of equipment, frequencies are only available by license through the Federal Communications Commission and infrequently. The station was able to secure a license, then applied for a permit to change the frequency to 91.9 FM.
“It’s rare to have a translator at the same frequency,” Clark said, adding that it will help create seamless listening for those commuting between Big Sky and Bozeman.
Ron Craighead, marketing and underwriting director for the station, sees potential for creating greater connection between Bozeman and Big Sky over the airwaves. He and Clark are looking into partnerships with existing underwriters in Big Sky as well as ways to represent area nonprofit organizations through the station’s public service announcements.
“We’re just excited to welcome Big Sky into the KGLT family and look forward to serving the Big Sky community,” Craighead said.
KGLT began as a student station in 1968 and is still a program of the Associated Students of Montana State University. The station’s DJs include students, faculty and staff of the university as well as community members. Students also fill roles in production and support staff, such as the chief announcer and assistant music director.
“ASMSU is proud to support KGLT, our community radio station,” said Sophia Elias, ASMSU vice president. “We’re thrilled the new translator will help reach Bobcats all across the Big Sky.”
The station broadcasts at 91.9 FM and 97.1 FM in Bozeman; 91.9 FM in Big Sky; 89.1 FM in Helena; 89.5 FM in Livingston; 107.1 FM in Gardiner; 90.5 FM in Big Timber and online at kglt.net.