KPFT update: Back on the air


Pacifica’s KPFT-FM Houston returned to broadcasting after a 36-hour outage caused by copper thieves damaging the station’s transmitting facility.

According to a note from General Manager Duane Bradley, “The site manager for Crown Castle, the tower owner, estimated total damages at around $10K. He also mentioned a pattern of similar theft at tower sites around the country. Thank you for your support of Pacifica in Houston.”

The thievery is just the latest incident for a station which has a unique place in broadcast history as far as being the target of attacks. It is the only radio station every bombed off the air by the KKK – twice. That was in the 1970s. In 2005 youths pelted the studios with bricks, in 2006 someone showed up at the door with a shotgun and in 2007 someone fired a gunshot through the studio window. The thing that is really different about the latest damage to the station was that it appeared to be motivated by money, rather than politics.

RBR-TVBR observation: Copper theft has been a growing problem in recent years, perhaps spurred on by the recession. Dishonest people have figured out that telecommunications facilities, including radio transmitter buildings, are full of copper components which can be ripped out and sold for their scrap value. Despite the inherent risk, we have not heard of anyone being electrocuted while stealing copper from a live transmitter site.