WQED Coverage Area
As head of WQED’s engineering department, I must admit that I was concerned when I learned in March of 2020 that we would be closing the building on Fifth Avenue and working remotely for the foreseeable future. After all, we had five television channels, two radio stations and multiple audio and video internet streams that needed to run 24/7/365 and I wasn’t at all certain that we could do that from home! How were Jim and Anna going to broadcast their daily live shows, how were our videographers and editors going to shoot and edit their stories, how were we going to keep everyone safe and still stay on the air? Those were just a few of the many questions that ran through my mind that day in March of 2020, but I’m happy to say that we quickly figured everything out and we have not only survived but thrived during the pandemic. Our work from home plans, which we thought might last three to six months are actually going to last for a year and a half as we will return to the Studio after Labor Day. Remarkably, everything went pretty smoothly during that time with one notable exception, which I will describe below.
At 2 PM on Thursday, November 26th (Thanksgiving Day) I got a call from a listener saying that WQED-FM was off the air. I jumped in the car and headed for our tower site thinking that a power surge had probably tripped a circuit breaker and I would be able to quickly get us back on the air by simply flipping the switch. Little did I know that we would not be able to return to full power operation until more than three weeks later. It turned out that a lightning strike near the top of our broadcast tower damaged the transmission line which carries the signal from the transmitter to the antenna at the top of the tower. A rigging crew had to be called in to remove all 600 feet of the line, clean it and reinstall it on the tower. This was a tedious process interrupted several times by inclement weather conditions and several other problems, including one of the tower workers needing an emergency appendectomy. Then, just when we thought we were finished we discovered that the antenna had also been damaged by the lightning strike. So it had to be removed from the tower and sent back to the factory for repair. Once it was reinstalled on the tower, we were able to return WQED-FM to full power operation on December 18th at 3:20 PM. What a relief!
Looking back on the past 15 months, I’m pleased with the way we were able to handle our operations during the crisis and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone back in the office in September.
Paul Byers, Executive Director of Engineering
WQED-DT, WQED-FM and WQEJ serve all or parts of the following counties: