Mother Nature Pulled Our Plugs!

Pulling the Plug!

In my corner of the Pacific Northwest we had a horrible windstorm on Thursday. My home power was out from 11:30 AM until 8:37 PM. I was never fully disconnected from communications thank goodness for batteries. I have my cell phone, a tablet and a tethering device for wi-fi. When the batteries drain, I can take a meaningless drive somewhere and charge my batteries. Or, if I want to be practical, I can actually go somewhere I need to go while I charge my batteries. One year I tried to charge my batteries without my truck running, to my surprise after a few hours my vehicle battery was drained…..surprised I was.  I did not expect that kind of power draw from mobile devices.

Stock photo, wind damage PNW

I have other friends, one up near Mount Baker and another in Bow, WA, who have now been without power — light or heat or hot water in their cases — since Thursday. I was noticing that Mike Cherry was not posting much lately here at QZVX — so Jason and I, along with articles by some of our favorite contributors such as Ron DeHart and Duane Smart have kept us in current content. It may not be as timely to the industry as Mike provides, but we are still kicking. Mike had warned us a month back that at his home on Salt Spring Island in B.C. , when the winds arrive, he could be without power for some length of time. On fateful Thursday, when we communicated in the morning, it was wilder here than it was there. In fact, down Jason’s way it was worse earlier….he lost power before the rest of us. But that obviously changed, Mike got hit hard. We received this Email today…sent from a school building on Salt Spring…which probably has more reliable internet than residences do.

Mike Cherry, excused absence

Hi everyone. This message is from my husband Mike Cherry. We had a huge windstorm which has left most of our island a disaster zone. We are OK and have no damage to our house but we have no power, water, phone, internet for maybe up to 2 weeks. Will take pictures to post later. I’ll be back ASAP! Merry Christmas!

I am thinking he might use this an excuse to slack off at his blogging for at least a few days. Drat.


On a related topic, I was out driving today and at least two local A.M. stations seem to be off the air. KBAI 930 was pure static. I used to own that station when it was KBFW, and the power challenges in fall and winter are a big hassle. When I had it, we had studios in the city and relayed our audio from the studio to our King Mountain (north of Bellingham) transmitter site. The three studio locations we had, when I was there from about 1972 to 1999, were fairly reliable. But that transmitter site is out in the woods, trees all around it, gravel road and above ground power lines. When the wind hit and the power died, it could be out for days. That was not typical, but it happened a couple times when I was there. One time we worked out a trade with a store that sold generators. They loaned us the generator, we bought the gas and kept it filled. On the air, our part of the trade, we would say: “KBFW is on the air compliments of emergency power supplied by Bellingham Mower & Saw. See them on Cornwall Avenue for all of your generator needs.” I got the better part of the filling the gas tank. I filled it in the daylight hours. Another guy had to go out after dark and wrestle the resident Sasquatch and the cougars off the road before he could get to the generator. I imagine the present station owners have a similar situation — all systems go except the transmitter. I do not know if their small F.M. translator is operating or not.  I think it gets power from the KPUG building which is close to, but a mile or so away and less rural, than our old transmitter site.

Another signal that was out was 1430 KBRC in Mount Vernon. Their co-owned station KAPS A.M. was on-the-air, but 1430 was only static.  I believe they have two transmitter sites, so maybe there is no power at the KBRC transmitter, a kinda rural area across the river from Mount Vernon. Again, their low-power F.M. may be operating…I don’t know on that.

I think it is likely that there are other stations in Western Washington and B.C. that are presently off the air as a result of the recent wind. The big stations often have backup power, as do the ones that receive government funding to be primary Emergency Broadcast Affiliates, but many smaller operations are left to pound sand when the power goes out.

Any QZVX aficionados, or busy bodies, who can actively or intuitively provide updates on stations that are off-the-air or suffering, please feel free to log your reports or status updates in the comments.

I am going to now celebrate that I have power by bellying up to the bar. Clarification: Does that mean lifting and resting your belly on the bar? I want to get it right!


Author: Steven Smith

Presently editor and historical writer with QZVX.COM in Seattle. Former radio broadcaster and radio station owner, 1970-1999. Journalism and speech communications degrees. I enjoy researching articles and online reporting that allows me to meld together words, audio and video. P.S. I appreciate and encourage reader comments and opinions. View other articles by Steven Smith

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