More Details Emerge On Hurricane Laura’s TV Tower Topples


As RBR+TVBR first reported Thursday, Gray Television‘s NBC affiliate in Lake Charles, La., suffered significant damage to its broadcast studios after its broadcast tower snapped in half and fell onto the station’s operations center.

On Friday, new images posted by the station show just how lucky the news team was by not broadcasting from the station.

These images were coupled by new information regarding the damage sustained to the SagamoreHill-owned CBS affiliate, a low-power facility, in Lake Charles.

At KPLC-7, the Gray property, a large amount of debris was found inside the station’s studio, where staff members would have been working had they not evacuated prior to the storm making landfall. Staff evacuated KPLC some 12 hours before the tower fell.

The KPLC-TV studios were damaged when a broadcast tower was toppled during Hurricane Laura Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020.

To be clear, the damaged tower adjacent to the KPLC studios and offices transmits the station’s signal to its larger main tower, located about 25 miles away.

What’s the status of the tower? “Crews have been unable to reach the larger tower to inspect it because roads leading to it are covered with large trees,” KPLC reports.

KPLC GM John Ware believes it could be up to a year before the station’s operations are fully restored. ”We will be phasing things as we get estimates on how to address the tower and make our building safe,” Ware said.

Gray-owned KALB-TV in Alexandria, La., and Baton Rouge CBS affiliate WAFB-9 have played host to KPLC staff since the threat of Hurricane Laura turned into an emergency on Wednesday morning.

The storm didn’t create the feared storm surge many meteorologists warned off, and this spared the Townsquare Media offices and studios located along Interstate 10 to the north of downtown Lake Charles. However, the home of KPLC meteorologist Ben Terry is considered to be a “total loss” after the roof was ripped off.

Then, there is the SagamoreHill Broadcasting-owned KSWL-LD 17, the CBS affiliate serving Lake Charles. It, too, lost its broadcast tower, with damage reports coming late Thursday.

KSWL is a sibling to MyNetwork TV KWWE-LD 19 in Lake Charles.

KSWL does not have a local news department. It dates to Feb. 15, 2017, and replaced in Lake Charles availability of KLFY-TV in Lafayette, La., as a local CBS affiliate.

The dual FOX/ABC-affiliated station in Lake Charles, KVHP-29, is operated by Gray via a Shared Services Agreement with American Spirit Media of Charlotte.