The trenches of broadcast engineering

There are days that I miss being couped up in my window-less office, being a broadcast engineer, and working all the wires and parts to keep two radio stations in operation, every single day. When I read things like this, I have to say that I miss it even more.

KHKE Tower Collapses

The tower for 89.5, our classical service in Cedar Falls/Waterloo has collapsed – the victim of an inch-thick coating of ice and 30-40 mile per hour winds.

The latest from Wayne Jarvis, Iowa Public Radio’s Network Operations Director:

The tower and antenna are a total loss and the arc-over when the guy wires hit our power-feed connection may have damaged the transmitter and other equipment in the tower building. The building itself wasn’t damaged but there are other structural issues and we will want to replace it when the tower is rebuilt. I’m investigating to see how we might fund the rebuilding. [iowapublicradio]

This is a neighbor station to the north of where I used to be, but apparently this storm hit close to home as well.

AND THERE’S MORE: 91.7 in Iowa City/Cedar Rapids is at 50% power; the power is off at the transmitter site and we’ve been operating off of the generator since Saturday. IPTV over-the-air viewers on channel 12: we share the same tower and we’re working with IPTV’s engineers to get their service up at reduced power, too, as soon as possible.

UPDATE: IPTV-12 is back on the air with very low power, but enough to give many cable viewers access to the signal again.

I thought you’d like to see this note from Engineer Jim Davies in Iowa City, describing what sounds like the near-failure of the IPTV/IPR tower in West Branch:

On Saturday the tower was loaded bad enough with ice that it was bending out of plumb quite a bit. The winds would hit and the top guy wire on the NW side would droop down below the next guy wire. A very good indication that failure would occur soon. We watched the tower dance for over an hour at the end of the lane in my Yukon. When it got dark we decided to get home. Nothing we could do would keep the tower upright if it decided to fail. [iowapublicradio]

It sounds a little strange, but folks who work in the broadcast engineering world, this is what fuels hours and hours of stories over meals or just standing around. It’s like war vets sharing their tales of what it was like. I think I learned more about what stupid things to not do from things like that.

Why do we live for stuff like this? Well, how often do you get to see tons of steel come crashing down? When those guy wires snap or pieces of tower come down vertically, your life can end in an instance. Morbid and fascinating, all at the same time. Oh yeah, and that tower is approximately 1,200 feet tall. Also, people don’t like it when something they expect to be there isn’t, especially when you provide a public service.

I have faith in those guys, especially Jim, to get it all sorted out. I expect pictures, so you can check back in the next few days in case I hear anything.

Update: There are a variety of pictures of the KHKE collapse here. Also heard word from Jim that the KSUI/IPTV tower in West Branch held, but there is another storm approaching today(Wednesday).

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