Mississippi-based Boswell Media learned that good can spring from tragedy — even a tragedy that resulted in the downing of a 350-foot tower, the smashing of a studio roof and the loss of radio stations from the air.
After Hurricane Ida tore through Louisiana in early September, it turned toward Kosciusko, a city of nearly 7,500 in central Mississippi and the home of Boswell Media. Winds of 100 mph whipped through the area, deluging the city with hard rain and felling trees all across town.
“The ground had been so wet here after so much rain,” said Johnny Boswell, president of Boswell Media. At about 4:45 pm on Sept. 1, a staffer in the studio heard a thud as a tree from an adjacent property fell and landed on one of the tower’s guy wires. Even as the tree lay overturned on the guy wire, “the tower was doing its best to right itself,” Boswell said. But the combination of wet ground and fallen tree won the battle, bringing the tower down on the station roof.
The good news: the staffer inside the building was not injured even as the studio roof absorbed 100% of the tower weight. The bad news, however, was that the collapse cut off transmission of station WLIN(FM) and the network that feeds two other stations — WCKK(FM) and WKOZ(FM).
Over the next few weeks, the mangled tower was hauled away, a new concrete support structure was installed and dozens trees around the studio were removed. “We took the opportunity to eradicate around the perimeter over 50 trees close to the property line,” Boswell said. For a station that’s been in that same location since 1947, the lesson here is to watch out as nature grows and changes around towers and other buildings. “[Things like that] can creep up on you,” Boswell said.
The stations were brought back on air soon after the accident via a temporary antenna atop a power pole. “We had an STL and we were able to get to our other transmitting tower via our codecs,” Boswell said. “Everything is now up and running.”
After a new tower was located in Virginia, the station contracted with J Crow Tower in Philadelphia, Miss., to install a Rohn 65G, a 350-foot tower with a wind load of 90 to 110 mph. The station is also taking the opportunity to add a new temporary antenna to the tower. “Now we’ll have a good low-power option,” Boswell said.
By mid-October, the tower was in the midst of being painted and prepped for installation. And what’s more, the station found a way to turn tragedy into opportunity.
“There were so many trees that were cut and some logs that came out that were useable,” Boswell said. He coordinated with the team cutting the trees and together they decided to cut the logs to a useable length. The reclaimed wood has been donated to a saw mill rehabilitation program at a local correctional facility.
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