“We’ve had a number of people asking if our signal is down via antenna on social. I have it at home with U-Verse. I’m wondering if ice on the tower is messing up the signal?”
That Sunday morning text from meteorologist Hayden Nix was the first clue that KARK and Fox16 had a big issue to deal with.
It turned out an overnight rain event causing pretty extensive icing high up on Shinall Mountain where the transmission towers for both television stations were housed. The towers send out signals for KARK, Fox16, CW, and KARZ-TV.
Electricity was knocked out. Though we had back-up generators on site, they only offered enough power to get out a weak signal.
The ice shattered two power poles. The damage would take electrical workers some 10 hours to repair. The fix was enough to get power to the KARK transmitter late Sunday.
Unfortunately, Fox wasn’t so lucky.
After fixing the poles, Entergy workers discovered damaged transmission bases near the Fox16 transmitter. At this point, rising temperatures were causing ice to melt sending massive chunks plunging below. As you’ll see in the video below, the situation was too dangerous for people to work around.
We’d have to wait until Monday.
Unfortunately, the first workday of the week wasn’t too kind to Team20. One of the pieces of falling ice hammered a shield covering a transmission dish. The ice was powerful enough to bend the shield and smash the dish — knocking all of the stations off the air and creating a new problem to do deal with.
Our engineers found a temporary fix to get KARK on the air Monday evening using a live truck and equipment from neighboring CBS station KTHV. We can’t thank them enough for their willingness to help out.
On Tuesday morning, tower crews arrived in town to address the dish damage while Entergy workers felt it was safe enough to try and restore power. Both crews discovered additional issues that would keep them at work throughout the evening.
Around 7 p.m., power was restored to the transmitter. Some three hours later, tower climbers repaired dish and line damage and got a signal out to Central Arkansas.
Additional repairs will have to be made and some fine tuning must be completed before the signal is truly HD again (and available to everyone). However, all four stations are back in action.
Throughout the process, viewers were forgiving. We understood their frustration over missing their shows (including Dallas Cowboys football [dramatic overtime win vs. Eagles!] and The Voice). Hopefully, this blog provides some insight into the multi-layered issue engineers and electrical crews faced — and how hard they worked to fix it.
We can’t thank you enough for your patience.
Update: On Thursday morning, overnight rain got into the transmission line — likely from the spots where repairs were made earlier in the week. The moisture caused the signals to go out again. Engineers spent the day orchestrating backup solutions while parts needed for repairs were ordered. The signals were back up by 6 p.m.
As of Friday afternoon, all sister stations were back on the air with signals at full-strength.