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Josie Clarey, Published June 01 2011

WDAY TV, AM radio equipment damaged

FARGO – After Memorial Day storms brought station programming to a halt for WDAY TV and WDAY-AM 970 radio, engineers are assessing damage.

WDAY Channel 6 news went down Monday around 9 p.m., and when a generator couldn’t keep the equipment cool enough, programming was shut down.

“We’re working on getting a generator in to get the bigger air-handling unit back online,” said WDAY Operations Manager Sue Eider.

While regular programming resumed Tuesday afternoon, Xcel Energy restored power to the station about 4:50 p.m.

Although there was no direct damage to the building or the station, Eider said the temperature will take its toll on the equipment.

“This just added insult to injury with the radio towers on west Main going down,” she said.

Eider said there is no way to assess how much revenue was lost while programming was down.

“Network programming will be lost, there’s nothing we can do,” Eider said. “We’ll work with them (advertisers) to give them make-goods.”

Even though no permanent damage was sustained to the news station, storms damaged all three WDAY-AM 970 radio towers.

Talk-show host Jay Thomas was informed of the news shortly after 9 p.m. Monday.

“One tower was completely collapsed,” Thomas said. “It looks like somebody just grabbed it and slammed it into the ground. The second tower, a little above halfway up, is just snapped.”

Thomas said the third tower is still standing, but wind and tree damage has twisted the metal.

Eider said the radio station is able to stream radio programming. Listeners can hear programming online at www.wday.com or through their TVs on Channel 6-3. As of right now, Eider said crews are assessing whether the tower can be saved.

“We just don’t know yet,” Eider said. “We’re hopeful that we can get that one tower back up so we could be live.”

Like TV, Eider said there’s no way to determine yet how much radio revenue has been lost.

“Just like television, with advertisers, we will work with them and do the best we can to make good the spots once we get back up to power,” she said.

“We just don’t know when that is.”

As for the damaged towers, Eider said they will have to be completely rebuilt, and insurance talks have already started.

“We’re talking months before we’re back to where we were yesterday (Monday),” she said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Josie Clarey at (701) 241-5529