EL CENTRO — At sunrise on April 6, KGBA FM 100.1 officials excitedly watched workers assemble the radio station’s new antenna tower on Highway 111 and Cruickshank Road. The installation was anticipated for many years as the local radio station worked on the logistics and petitioned county officials for the approval to build the much-needed tower.
“Today is the culmination of two and a half years of preparation and finally, the construction of our 340-foot freestanding FM broadcast tower,” said Bob Sager, radio station owner and manager. “It’s a monument to the dedication of the people of the Imperial Valley to their local Christian radio station.”
Sager, with KGBA board member Marty Ellett, took turns using binoculars to monitor workers who used a crane to hoist one antenna tower section on top of another.
The weather was calm. It was a clear sunny morning with unnoticeable wind movement at ground level. However, the flag on top of the crane fluttered gently at about 300 feet. Any swaying of the hoisted material could make alignment difficult for the workers who looked like ants clinging to the sides of the tower.
“It’s just a big step forward for KGBA,” said Ellett. “All these years, we’ve been working on this project and it is finally coming to fruition. We started planning back in 2004.”
The project was placed on hold for a while in 2007 when the opportunity to add a 24-hour Spanish radio station became available. At that point, efforts were concentrated on the broadcast geared to reach the Spanish-speaking listeners in both Imperial and Mexicali valleys. It is currently broadcasting 24 hours each day, seven days a week.
The antenna tower occupies three acres of the 28-acre property owned by the radio station. The owners say there is room for future upgrades to keep Christian-themed topics and music broadcasting in this southern section of California that shares the international border with Mexicali in Mexico.
According to Sager, the location of the current antenna tower is 3,000 feet south of the new antenna tower, still located along Highway 111 near East Evan Hewes Highway. The move to the new site was prompted when landowners of the old site decided to place the property on the market for sale. Transferring the tower to the new site was economically beneficial and would save money in the long run, said Sager.
Even as the tower installation was on schedule, Sager was reserved in giving the exact date of its live operation. Transition from the old to the new antenna tower has been meticulously planned to keep at a minimum any disruption to listeners tuning in to their favorite programs, he said, and this will take several weeks.
KGBA’s improvement in the broadcasting industry here in the valley, according to Timothy Lozano, program director for KGBA 1490 AM, is fine-tuned to allow the radio programs to be listened to with a clear sound.
“We are very grateful for their (listeners) support throughout all these years, and belief in what KGBA stands for, the values that are represented, and we’re very thankful to be able to be part of the community,” Lozano said during an interview the following day at the radio station.
Currently, the Spanish and English stations are housed in the same building located at 605 West State Street in El Centro. The radio station’s website, http://kgba.org, describes itself as media missionaries serving the Imperial and Mexicali valleys. They are a non-profit, listener supported station, according to the website. Listeners may download the app so they can listen on their mobile devices.