KSMQ-TV’s 440-foot broadcast tower came toppling down during a wind storm early in the morning of Sept. 5, in Austin, Minn., causing no injuries but taking the public station off the air until 8 p.m. that night using a temporary tower.
“Thank goodness no one was hurt. We will be cleaning up over the coming weeks and our insurance adjusters are working with us to begin the reconstruction process,” Eric Olson, KSMQ president and CEO, said on KTTC’s report.
The tower supported the station’s studio-to-transmitter microwave link, which transmitted KSMQ-TV’s broadcast signal to at tower near Grand Meadow, Minn. It fell in an area that was half its height, thus avoiding damage to nearby buildings.
With some fast thinking and some luck, KSMQ-TV was back on the air within 24 hours. After the tower went down, KSMQ’s chief engineer worked a colleague from KTTC in Rochester, quickly designing a temporary solution. Using equipment rescued from the down tower and spare parts on hand, they improvised a microwave link using a nearby 200-foot tower. After making a number of calls, they found a tower crew out of Oklahoma that was in the area without work that day, which did the installation.
“It was just remarkable watching the engineers doing their thing,” Olson told AGL Bulletin.
The estimated cost to the station for rebuilding is $10,000. Saying it had many uninsured expenses resulting from the event, the station made a plea for listeners to contribute to its KSMQ Media Fund.