The squat brick building on top of a tree-covered hill in Litchfield doesn’t give any hint of the complex transfers happening inside.

Seven microwave radio transmitters and receivers inside the Roland A. Desjardins Technical Center gather a microwave signal — generally originating in either Portland or Bangor — and relay it to other tower sites over the entire state of Maine.

Litchfield, one of 15 sites maintained by the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, is a critical connection in MPBN’s complex network stretching from Kittery to Fort Kent.

“It’s a junction; like a major interstate crossroad. It (the signal) comes into one location and we send it out where it needs to go,” said Bob Mullane, transmission manager for the southern system at MPBN.

Roughly every 30 miles, from Kittery to Fort Kent, there is a tower site, taking the signal and leap-frogging it across the state of Maine.

“A microwave signal can only travel about 30 miles before it becomes so weak that we can’t decode it properly,” Mullane said.

On top of relaying the microwave signal to the next receiver, the Litchfield site is also a television transmission site for MPBN’s Channel 10.

“On top of the tower is a tall stick that weights several tons. That is the antenna to broadcast television,” explained Mullane.

During the day, Channel 10 offers children’s programming and educational shows. In the evening, Masterpiece Theater and news are among the programs that hit the airwaves.


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