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W62AB, Westerly RI

by Peter Q. George
with information provided by Bob Knott, Chief Engineer, WSBE-TV

W62AB was a full-time translator for co-owned and operated WSBE-TV/36 Providence. It came on the air on April 23, 1973 to provide public television service to the Town of Westerly and adjacent communities. This area of Southwestern Rhode Island was unable to get an adequate signal of WSBE-TV since, at the time W62AB came to the air, channel 36 was only using a fraction of the power it operates with today.

W62AB operated with 1.1kW into a directional antenna, transmitting the entire WSBE-TV composite signal with stereo and SAP subcarriers intact. In addition, high speed data was broadcast on lines 14-16. The W62AB legal ID was amplitude modulated using the aural portion of the downconverter, gated from a drum and photocell.

WSBE-TV logo
around the time
of W62AB's demise

It left the air on August 17, 2000 for three reasons: First, WSBE-TV was unable to secure a new lease agreement with the landowner who owned the site where the W62AB facility was located. Second, cable penetration in Southern Rhode Island was reaching nearly 80%. Third, economics; WSBE-TV is partially funded by the State of Rhode Island and, since by 2000 it was carried on virtually all cable systems in Southeastern New England, the need for W62AB was no longer economically feasible.

Later, WSBE-TV moved to the former studios of WPRO-TV/12 on Mason Street in Providence at the Cherry and Webb Building before again moving to a brand new state-of-the-art facility on Park Lane. The WSBE-TV transmitter and antenna is located atop a hill in Johnston, co-located with WPRO-FM/92.3 Providence. Channel 36 operated from that site with 1.2MW, providing a signal covering all of Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts; since the digital transition it transmits on channel 21 (virtual 36) with 50kW. WSBE-TV actually discontinued analog operation a few weeks ahead of the original February 17, 2009 scheduled shutdown: On January 16 the aging water-cooled RCA transmitter developed a leak in its cooling system and was left dark due to the cost of repairs and scarcity of parts.

This article originally appeared in the author's "UHF Morgue" at his former RadioDXer site and is republished here with his permission. Reformatting by K.M. Richards.

© World Radio History. Original site concept by Clarke Ingram. Site design and management by K.M. Richards.