Frequencies and Reception Tips
KQED Television Transmission Information
KQED TV transmits on DT channel 30 (virtual ID: 9) from Sutro Tower in San Francisco.
The tower's geographical coordinates:
Latitude: 37.45.19 N (Decimal: 37.75556)
Longitude: 122.27.06 W (Decimal: -122.45139)
DT-9 Effective Radiated Power (ERP): 777kW
Frequency: 566-572 MHz.
Antenna height: 879' AMSL (above mean sea level).
KQED currently transmits 3 programming streams Over the Air from Sutro Tower:
DT9.1 - KQED HD (High Definition)
DT9.2 - KQED Plus (Standard Definition)
DT9.3 - KQED World (Standard Definition)
KQED TV is carried by cable companies in Northern California, including Comcast Cable, Astound Cable, Charter Cable, RCN Cable, San Bruno Cable, and SuddenLink. KQED TV is also carried on DirecTV, Dish Network and AT&T U-verse.
KQED TV is also rebroadcast by the following two translator TV stations. These translators pick up KQED-TV with an antenna, then translate KQED to another channel for local only reception. These translator stations are extremely low power and have a very short range, but do allow people in these immediate areas to receive KQED with an antenna. These translators are licensed to, operated, and maintained by the organizations listed below.
Television Improvement Assoc.
Yosemite Concession Services
To receive our digital programming Over The Air (OTA), one must live inside the hills surrounding the San Francisco Bay and either have an almost unobstructed view of Mt. Sutro (which may get you a picture with an indoor antenna) or an outside antenna. Unfortunately, even then, reception is not guaranteed. "Multipath" may cancel reception at a specific location.
KQED Inc. also operates two additional transmitters:
KQED Plus (call letters: KQEH), located on Monument Peak northeast of San Jose
Actual channel: 50 (Virtual ID: 54)
DT-54 Effective Radiated Power (ERP): 290kW
KQED currently transmits 5 programming streams Over the Air from Monument Peak, all in Standard Definition:
DT54.1 - KQED Plus
DT54.2 - KQED 9
DT54.3 - KQED Life
DT54.4 - KQED Kids
DT54.5 - V-Me
KQET, located on Fremont Peak northeast of Monterey
Actual channel: 25 (Virtual ID: 25)
DT-25 Effective Radiated Power (ERP): 81kW
KQED currently transmits 3 programming streams Over the Air from Fremont Peak:
DT25.1 - KQED HD (High Definition)
DT25.2 - KQED Plus (Standard Definition)
DT25.3 - V-me(Standard Definition)
KQED Plus' programming content is carried by several of the area's paid signal providers, but in a more limited geographical range. Some services may have the channel listed as KQEH, rather than KQED Plus. You need to verify with the provider you are considering as to whether you will receive KQED Plus or not.
KQED Life, KQED World, KQED Kids and V-me are carried only by Comcast Cable, and in some areas, Astound Cable.
Off Air Reception
Television signals do not go through hills. However, many different things manage to get the signals over and around hills so that you do not need to have a direct line-of-sight to our TV transmitter in order to receive its signal.
Weather conditions can affect how well the TV signal is propagated to you. If you live in a marginal or distant receiving location, changes in weather can change your reception. The signal can change with time of day and time of year. In the Bay Area, typical weather conditions in September, October, and November bring the worst reception.
Most viewers are not affected by weather changes. When a TV signal gets up to a certain minimum strength, an increase does not cause much perceptible change. As long as the signal stays above this minimum value, the viewer is not aware that the strength of the signal is changing.
The off air TV signal is somewhat like light. It can be reflected by objects such as hillsides, buildings, automobiles, and by people. The TV receiving antenna picks up both a signal directly from the transmitter and simultaneously a number of reflected signals. These reflected signals may interfere with the direct signal. This condition is known as multipath reception. On analog TVs, it shows up as "ghosts."
Because the wavelengths of different TV stations are not the same, the multipath situation is different for each individual channel. The location of the antenna will also affect the amount of multipath interference. An area such as the San Francisco Financial district has a very strong KQED-TV signal present. However, all the reflections from buildings can make reception difficult.
A better quality antenna will minimize reception of unwanted reflected signals to reduce multipath interference.
A good outdoor antenna will provide the best reception. "Consumer Reports" magazine periodically rates TV outdoor antennas. A copy should be available at your library.
A better resource available to people with internet access is the non-profit organization, AntennaWeb. They have a database based on zip code that rates reception areas by a color code. The consumer electronics industry, and specifically the antenna manufacturers, have agreed to use this color code on their products.
In general, you want a directional antenna which receives signals from one direction only. Do not use an omni-directional antenna which receives signals from all directions.
An outdoor antenna should be aimed for best reception. In most cases, best reception will occur with the antenna pointed at our KQED-TV transmitter on Mt. Sutro. In some cases, best reception will occur with the antenna pointed in a different direction. Experimentation is the key.
Outdoor antennas deteriorate with age. Metals corrode. Wind can flex the lead-in until metal breaks. An outdoor antenna should be inspected for damage annually.
No indoor antenna is as good as an outdoor antenna. However, landlords, deed restrictions, temporary housing, and other conditions may hamper your use of an outdoor antenna. As a compromise, some folks put an outdoor antenna in their attic. That gives better reception than an indoor antenna and avoids some of the roof problems.
However, in the late 1990's, Congress passed the "Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act." This established a federal law that overrides any and all state, local, condo association, landlord, etc. rules against outside antennas, including off-air broadcast antennas, as long as the installed antenna does not interfere with any neighbor's view. If the landlord entity making the rule does not wish to acknowledge the federal mandate, the individual or group may need to get a lawyer to fight this out, but will eventually win. Many apartment managers and condo associations have come into compliance with the law and established areas on their buildings for antennas.
"Rabbit ears" antennas may work in strong signal areas. Find a dealer who will let you try the antenna on a money-back agreement. The antenna may or may not work at your location.
Some indoor antennas have a built-in RF booster amplifier, which increases the strength of the signal before it goes to the TV. The instruction sheet for the antenna will tell if it includes an amplifier.
Coaxial cable (RG-6 or RG-6U) can be used to connect the TV antenna to your receiver. A matching transformer, known as a balun, may have to be used on both ends of the cable. See your antenna and receiver instruction manuals for more information. Connect coaxial cable only to the terminals marked "75 ohms." If the terminals are marked "300 ohms," a balun must be used between the cable and the terminals. The dealer who sells the antenna can advise you.
DTV Troubleshooting Tips
Receiving Video, but no Sound
Occasionally viewers will discover that while they can generally watch KQED HD and KQED Plus with no problem, there might be a few programs (often British in origin), where the video is fine, but the sound is missing. If you are a Comcast customer, the method for solving the issue depends on the color of your Comcast remote control, and is outlined below. If you are an Over the Air viewer, tips for checking the settings on your digital TV (or converter box plugged into your analog TV) are also outlined below.
If you have a black remote from Comcast, look for a small button near the bottom labeled "Lang". Push it, and if it comes up saying your language preference is French or Spanish, keep pushing it until it says English.
If you have a silver remote from Comcast, check your TV for the two issues as outlined below. If you're convinced your TV is okay, then you'll need to call Comcast and have them walk you through the menus for the control box to check two areas - SAP setting and language preference. Make sure they walk you through both, not just one.
Over the Air Viewers
1) Tune to whichever KQED Channel you're experiencing the problem on, then check your audio settings, and make sure you don't have the SAP channel turned on. (Some new digital TVs remember SAP preferences channel by channel, which is why you need to tune to whichever of our channels you've been watching as you do this check.) It's the channel that DVI (Descriptive Video Info) is on, and the occasional foreign language translation of a TV show. But neither service is used very often. What often happens is someone will be playing around with the audio settings, maybe to hear the difference between Mono and Stereo. Then they turn on SAP, and if nothing is there, the "stereo" sounds even more expanded. Folks think "hey, that sounds even better!" and leave it set that way, and months can go by with no problems.
However, occasionally producers will use that same audio channel for pre-productions activities, like a field producer laying down a few comments to the studio editor about what they want done with the video they're sending in. Or it might be the communications channel for the whole production, and a lot of chatter gets recorded initially. BBC World News America is one of the shows that often uses that track for production notes. In post production, they'll then wipe out all that commentary by laying down a new track of "silence" - white noise at a level so low humans cannot hear it, but still creates activity on the channel that machines can recognize. So modern sets realize the channel is "in use" (even for silence, since it was recorded on there), and will activate it. If you have your SAP channel on, then the silence on channel 3 or 4 is over-riding the normal audio from channels 1 & 2.
2) The other thing to check are the Language settings, probably also part of your audio menu. Again, while tuned to whichever KQED Channel you're experiencing the problem on, make sure you're set on English, not French or Spanish. Many shows feed English audio on all those options when they aren't using them for one of the others, but some shows don't.
In some cases, TVs or converter boxes built outside the US might come set on the default audio channels of the country they're built in, rather than US settings. Another theory I've heard concerns the newer sets that remember viewer preferences channel by channel. And that is that watching a DVD that has Surround Sound (which uses all available audio channels), and not shutting it down precisely correctly, can leave all the audio channels open (sometimes resetting the language in the process), but only on the TV channel that was being watched right before the DVD was played.
One of the two solutions above should restore your sound on the "problem" programs.
Lost or exceptionally weak signal
On occasion, KQED or other TV stations will experience technical difficulties which result in the station being off the air. While most modern receivers will automatically restore a channel once it's back on the air, some OTA viewers have discovered that their boxes/TVs do not. These viewers will need to manually add the channel back into their receiver's memory, or use one of the rescan methods described above to recover missing channels. Here are some tips:
- Manually Add a Single Channel: IF your converter box or digital TV set has this option,
turn it on, then try entering "9" (our Virtual ID number). If that doesn't bring up picture and sound for
DT9-1, then try entering our actual transmission frequency, "30". IF your unit finds a signal there,
it will realize that our Virtual ID is 9, and should drop us into your line-up as DT9.
For KQED Plus: Virtual ID is 54, actual frequency is 50.
For KQET: Virtual ID and frequency match... 25.
- Simple Rescan: Use the rescan option on the remote for your converter box or digital TV.
- Forced Double Rescan: If a simple rescan doesn't work, a forced double rescan should reset it.
1. Disconnect the antenna from your converter box or TV set.
2. Rescan without your antenna connected.
3. When the box/set reports 0 channels found, unplug it from the power outlet for a little over an hour.
4. Reattach the antenna, making sure the connection is tight. Plug the box/set back into the outlet.
5. Rescan a second time.
- We are seeing more problems from people with indoor antennas. Try first moving your indoor antenna around, preferably to an open area close to windows or doors to increase reception. If this doesn't work you may need an amplified antenna (one that has its own power source and plugs in.) Or you may need to upgrade to an outdoor antenna.
- If you are close to Sutro Tower, but having problems with reception and have an amplified (plugs in) antenna; try unplugging the antenna. (Keep the antenna connected but unplug the power to the antenna.)
Also on KQED.org this week ...
Taking "The Leap" — KQED's New Podcast
A new KQED storytelling podcast about people making dramatic, risky changes, told by award-winning public radio reporters Amy Standen and Judy Campbell.
Watch Film School Shorts Online
KQED's national half-hour weekly series showcases short student films from across the country. Watch well-crafted films online now.