In Philadelphia, Beasley Media Group’s Adult Hits WBEN-FM fooled listeners on Monday by playing non-stop TV theme songs. That was staged — as was a much-talked-about stunt involving Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
What seemed like an April Fool’s Day stunt across several Townsquare Media stations wasn’t — sending management and on-air talent scrambling to keep operations flowing with minimal disruption.
Problems started at the company’s Shreveport, La., stations on Monday morning, when the automated operations system for its six-station cluster crashed. Specifically, cryptolocker encryption malware is to blame, notes RadioInsight editor Lance Venta.
Townsquare stations in Boise, Idaho; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Portsmouth, N.H., were also reportedly impacted.
Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson was not immediately available for comment.
With a reversion to default operations, Townsquare’s six Shreveport stations saw KEEL-AM and FM translator K269GO morning hosts Robert J. Wright and Erin McCarty continue on-air minus bumper music or commercials. FOX News cues were heard, as computer commands to cease the network feed were no longer possible. Sports Talk KWKH-AM 1130 “The Tiger” faced a similar situation, resulting in an “uninterrupted sports gabfest.”
At KXKS-FM “KISS Country 93.7,” audio came via YouTube videos.
CHR/Pop KRUF-FM continued an abbreviated show by “hacking into their station’s ‘Emergency’ control room.
According to a report on KEEL’s website, Townsquare’s engineers and IT staff, both local and corporate, “continue to work on restoring the operating system to working order, though no time for a return to normal operation is known.”
In the meantime, the station added, “listeners’ patience for things out-of-the-ordinary is greatly appreciated and, hopefully, the interruptions in regular programming will be too small to notice.”