Summit County risks losing all its over-the-air TV and half of its FM radio stations | SummitDaily.com

Summit County risks losing all its over-the-air TV and half of its FM radio stations

The message in Summit Public Radio and TV's latest fundraising campaign is dramatic — without hundreds of thousands of dollars, Summit County risks losing all its over-the-air TV and half of its FM radio stations.

The lineup in limbo includes all the county's major broadcast TV channels like ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox that are brought into local homes through digital antennas, along with more than a dozen FM stations.

SPRTV is a local nonprofit that rebroadcasts TV and radio stations from its transition tower on Bald Mountain, east of Breckenridge. Without SPRTV, most of those stations would go sailing over Summit County, blocked by the mountains, without ever having made it to local viewers and listeners.

SPRTV is governed by a board of 12 volunteers, the vast majority of whom receive no compensation for their work. It's a necessary arrangement because the group operates on about $50,000 a year, and there's no way SPRTV could ever afford to pay them.

Also because SPRTV is a nonprofit, it must file certain tax documents with the IRS, and those documents are public records. For 2015, the most recent year they were available, SPRTV listed $44,768 in contributions, gifts, grants and other sources of income with barely over $200,000 in assets.

Those are minuscule figures compared to the $450,000 that board president John Mirro says SPRTV needs to cover a capital project that can be described as expensive, necessary and now overdue.

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"Here's what is driving us," Mirro said, answering a question about when all the stations carried by SPRTV might go silent without that money. "There's nothing written in stone that says we have to have it in a certain amount of time."

Rather, Mirro explained, about five years ago SPRTV noticed its power line running up to its tower on Bald Mountain was "constantly" in need of repairs. At the same time SPRTV was making those repairs, the nonprofit commissioned an engineering firm to study the problem and determine how much "useful life" the power line had left in it.

Useful life is not an exact measure for when something might fail, but stands as a best-guess estimate for its foreseeable lifespan. Oftentimes, buildings and other depreciable fixed assets can survive much longer than their "useful life" estimates. Other times, they don't.

"They said five to seven years," Mirro recalled of the firm's assessment of SPRTV's power line. "It could be 10 years before it goes out, I don't know. But (the engineers) said, 'Keep the five to seven years figure in your head.'"

That was about five years ago. While the power remains on for the time being, there's no guarantee the cable won't fail in the near future or that, if it does, SPRTV will have the money at the time to get it up and going again.

The biggest problem with the power line is its insulation is breaking down, a result of natural causes, wear and tear over time, animals chewing through it and other factors.

For SPRTV, it's not a cheap fix. Adding to the problem, redoing the power line means a lot more than simply running a new power line up the mountain. There are switches and metering boxes, in addition to ground work and other things that must be done to replace and upgrade the power cable.

"The way the project is laid out," Mirro said, "we decided to eat the elephant one bite at a time, and we've divided the project into manageable phases."

Mirro described each phase in detail and provided individual cost estimates. The way the project breaks down, it's $40,000 here and another $70,000 there until he gets to $450,000. If there's any good news, it's that SPRTV has already put a nice dent in the fundraising effort with almost $150,000 received or promised so far.

Mirro cautioned that, as SPRTV works to complete the project over the coming years, costs are expected to rise and so too could the overall pricetag.

In a mission to drum up support and let local entities know how SPRTV has been spending the money that's been given to it, Mirro has been making the rounds at Summit County's town councils the last couple months. He's been to Breckenridge, Silverthorne, Dillon and Frisco, each time coming prepared with a piece of the power line that had to be replaced, just to give the elected officials an idea of the issue.

In those presentations, Mirro also talked about the progress SPRTV has made so far. If everything goes according to plan, he said, the first phase of the project is already paid for and should be complete before "the snow flies" this fall. Additionally, the second phase is currently in progress, and it too could be complete as early as this year or by sometime next spring.

"Phase 1 and phase 2 take care of the base (of the mountain)," Mirro said. "Between a number of towns, The Summit Foundation, Summit County and private donors, we have funded that, … so we're feeling pretty good that we have a firm grasp on the project and paid-for progress. It's not all wishful thinking right now."

For more about the nonprofit or its fundraising mission, go to SPRTV.org.

Summit Public radio and TV

These FM radio stations and over-the-air antenna TV channels are part of the Summit Public Radio and TV family. Some of the radio stations are carried on additional frequencies.

Radio Stations

KUNC 88.1 FM/90.7 FM (NPR News/Talk)

KCME 89.3 FM (Classical Music)

KUVO 89.7 FM (Jazz, Blues & NPR News)

KLDV 90.9 FM (Contemporary Christian Music and News)

KTLF 91.3 FM (Light Praise Radio)

KYSL 93.9 FM (Local News, Weather and Adult Rock)

KJAC 94.3 FM (all music, commercial free)

KSKE 95.3 FM (Country & Western)

KQSE 97.5 FM (Spanish-Language Local News and Music)

KSKE 99.1 FM (Country & Western)

KIFT 99.7 FM (Pop, Urban, Hip-Hop, Alternative, Rock & Roll)

KSMT 102.1 FM (Local News, Weather and Adult Alt Rock)

KKVM 104.7 FM (Local News, Weather and Adult Alt Rock)

KLDV 107.9 FM (Contemporary Christian Music and News )

Over-the-air TV

KRMA PBS–Rocky Mountain PBS

KBDI Colorado Public Television

KCFR Colorado Public Radio (audio only)

KPXC ION Life

KCNC CBS

KMGH ABC

KUSA NBC

KPXC ION Television

KDVR FOX

KDVR Antenna

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