Fire melts WEBY-AM cables


A 209-acre brush fire remains 90% contained with crews monitoring possible hot spots for the next week. While there were few effects from the fire, Spinnaker License Corporation’s WEBY-AM Milton, FL transmission cables to their three antennas were melted by the intense heat and fire and they were knocked off the air around 3:48 p.m. 6/26.

Since then the station has returned to the air, but with less power.

Station owner and GM Mike Bates tells The Santa Rosa Press Gazette the station will be on reduced power from its transmitter for the next seven to 10 days.

Bates hopes to have some repairs made to the transmitter cables to increase the stations output, but it could be a significant time before the station returns to full power.

“I do not know how long it will take,” Bates said Tuesday night after he finally got to assess the damage. “It could be two to three months or longer. And at this time we do not even know how the cables are which are buried under the ground near the three towers. Upon entering the site the towers were standing, and the building looked okay from my initial vantage point. But once I got closer I saw that there was significant damage to other mission-critical structures. It was a fast moving fire that burned the entire site. But fortunately the flames did not ignite the building. It could have been much worse.”

The brush fire originated due to a mechanical issue just north of Interstate 10 around 1 p.m.

6/30 Update from WEBY:

Much sooner than originally thought possible, WEBY is again operating from its main transmitter site, albeit at reduced power.  General Manager Mike Bates said his engineers were able to salvage transmission lines from a part of the site that was not as severely burned as the rest of it.  “By using lines that were already on site, we avoided the delays that waiting for delivery of new lines would have caused,” Bates said. 
“This fix is temporary,” Bates said.  “It has us up and running, but it will take several months to complete the permanent repairs.”  Broadcasting from the main site resumed at 2:47pm Friday.
Kurt Gorman of Phasetek provided consulting services to WEBY’s on-site engineers.
Glen Clark of Glen Clark & Associates filed for the Special Temporary Authority with the FCC.
“Kurt Gorman and Glen Clark were instrumental in constructing this site six years ago.  Their services were outstanding then and were outstanding now.” Bates said.  “To be back up in less than 72 hours after such a devastating fire is incredible.  We never could have done it without their help.”
1330 AM WEBY is the most powerful AM radio station on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Tampa.  At 25,000 watts it can be heard in New Orleans.  “We’re now at 25% power, so our New Orleans listeners can’t hear us.  But our listeners in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties can all hear us again, and that is our primary market anyway. “Bates said.

See The Santa Rosa Press Gazette story here