For the many of us in the northern Black Hills who are frustrated by the lack of a good signal from South Dakota Public Radio, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. The 91.1 Mhz translator on Lookout Mountain along Interstate 90 in Spearfish is old and unreliable -- causing much anguish when listeners find news stories interrupted mid-stream, or their favorite musical pieces dashed by dead air.
We learn from South Dakota Public Broadcasting's Julie Andersen that a couple of significant steps have been realized toward bringing reliable public radio service to the Spearfish and northern Hills region.
Last year, SDPB applied for a federal grant from the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program in the Department of Commerce. Seeking some $462,123 for the $770,205 needed to bring "full service" to the Spearfish and Belle Fourche regions, the network has been notified that the project has been funded. Although we don't know the specific amount, this is a major step forward.
Too, the Federal Communications Commission has already issued a Construction Permit for the facility, which we first described here some time back.
SDPB is also finalizing negotiations for the location of the facility, which would be on the southwest side of Spearfish.
We'll keep you posted as we hear more.