Storm quiets WGCH

Since late Monday night radio station WGCH’s airwaves have been filled with the sounds of silence, or make that the sounds of static, after it lost power and didn’t have a backup generator in place.

Jeff Weber said the station did have generators at both its 71 Lewis St., studio and at its Brookside Avenue location where its tower and transmitter are located when Blue Star Media Group bought the station in 2003.

Both were older and not replaced after they no longer operated, said Weber who is the company’s consultant operations officer.

He said it wasn’t his decision to forego the backup power. Instead – without naming him – Weber said it was the company’s former CEO Michael Metter who decided not to replace them.

“I have never been at a radio station small or large in my 35-year career that didn’t have a generator.”
Weber said he recommended generators be installed but that advice was not heeded.

“You can advocate as much as you want but sometimes it falls on deaf ears.”

He said the issue with putting a generator at the tower site is more complicated than installing a generator at its studio.

He said not only the cost of the generator has to be taken into account but also the cost of having an electrician doing the hookup, because he said it is more complicated than simply plugging in a residential portable generator.

As well, the transmitter throws off a lot of heat and it has to be in a building that is either air conditioned or properly ventilated. Throwing a generator in to the mix has to be done carefully he said in order to avoid the transmitter from overheating.

One avid listener of the station misses her storm updates.

State Rep. Livvy Floren, R-149th District, said she misses radio station WGCH’s presence after the storm knocked it off air late Monday night .

“My whole family was glued to it. They doing great and then Monday night about midnight it was all static. Then Tuesday morning it was just static.”

Floren said she is at a bit of a loss without her local station and hope it returns soon.

“I feel very bad for them.”

The station “dodged the bullet,” during the Oct. 2011 snow storm but did lose power during Aug. 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene and the March 2010 storm, Weber said.

He said they lost power for a day or two during Irene and about a day in March 2010.

Weber said the station hasn’t been told by CL&P when power will be restored to their transmitter and tower.

“Not at this point. They obviously have a pretty full plate they are working on,” he said.

He made a pitch for the importance of a local radio station staying on air during a crisis and hopes CL&P will take that into account during their restoration efforts.

“We are hoping that they recognize the need to get our power restored.”

Chris Duray