The recent fires in Southern California greatly affected the broadcasting community in general, but the effect on radio brings reality to engineers across the country. In an article written by Gary Stigall, posted on the SBE San Diego Chapter 36's website, Stigall highlights some of the most memorable moments to take away from the fires. Stigall wrote that on the evening of the first fires, Oct. 21, stations began going live wall-to-wall with neither commercials nor the usual primetime programming. Notably, all seven Clear Channel radio stations started simulcasting.
On Monday, Oct. 22, Stigall wrote, Lincoln Financial Media's KSOQ-FM 92.1 satellite station becomes the first casualty as fire burned electrical power lines feeding the station. "While less publicized, enormous fires also break out in Baja California, Mexico. One such fire, a few miles south of the Harris Ranch Fire, burns the electrical transmission lines feeding broadcast facilities on Cerro Bola near Tecate," Stigall wrote. "XEBCE (FM) is off the air until the line is prepared."
"Tuesday night," Stigall wrote, "KPBS crews bring a spare 1000 watt transmitter from their desert station in Calexico back to the San Diego State University studio site. Bext supplies a two-bay antenna from their shelf stock downtown, and KPBS staff mounts it overnight on their STL tower. By morning, KPBS-FM 89.5 is back on the air from Gateway Center at about 400-ft elevation AMSL."
On Wednesday, new poles were installed, putting KSOQ (FM) back on the air as KSON-FM, and Thursday, a motorcade of fuel trucks and broadcast engineers drove up Mt. San Miguel, refueling generator storage tanks. On Friday, KPBS put a temporary generator in place.
As of Oct. 23, the Southern California fires had burned a total of 347, 362 acres. To read Stigall's full article and see photos from the damage to KPBS, click here.