Gray Television’s Eau Claire, WI NBC affiliate WEAU-TV 13’s transmitting tower in Fairchild, WI has collapsed. About 8:30 the night of 3/22 WEAU went off the air and several pieces of gear fell from the 2,000-ft. tower (pictured). Maverick Media’s Country WAXX-FM was also on the tower and also went off air at the time. The tower fell in about three different directions. It’s unclear exactly what caused the tower to collapse but the weather Tuesday night was windy and icy. The station had to broadcast its 10 p.m. newscast over the Internet, rather than television, and will keep doing so until it can be determined how to get the station back on air and on cable.
They’re currently working on alternative plans to bring NBC and local programming back to the market. Heidi Bohl, WEAU 13 News Assignment Desk Editor, tells RBR-TVBR: “The bosses are in a meeting right now talking about what we’re going to do. Keep checking www.weau.com . We’ll post the latest on there as soon as we know!”
“About a mile from here I got a call from Ron Viste at the station, one of the other engineers, and he informed me that the tower is down. The county called him and told him that and it just basically made me sick to my stomach,” said WEAU 13 CE Ron Wiedemeier.
He says when he was headed down to the tower, because of the station going off air, he thought it might just be a power outage but this was what he was the tower on its side. The tower now only stands about 25 feet tall.
Firefighters on scene were concerned because a gas tank was leaking and there were live power lines down. The power was shut down and the gas was shut off without any incident.
There were no injuries and there are no homes around the area. The tower in Fairchild was contracted back in 1966. It was one of the tallest structures in the country and up to this point, has held strong through the worst Wisconsin weather.