Flooding knocks KATH off the air

Local NBC affiliate now showing programming from Anchorage, return to air date uncertain

Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Flooding at KATH-TV has forced the local NBC affiliate to evacuate the building. Programming is still on the air, but with a few changes.

Mikko Wilson / For the Juneau Empire
Mikko Wilson / For the Juneau Empire

Those tuning in to KATH will now get programming directly from KTUU in Anchorage. KATH’s chief engineer, Mikko Wilson, said despite the change most of the schedule will remain the same, including broadcast news and other programming that the station already receives from KTUU.

He said the biggest change is KATH cannot air local commercials or broadcasts until repairs from the flooding are complete. He said this will not cause drastic changes, as a large portion of KATH’s broadcasts match what come from Anchorage.

“Any Alaska news that we have will still come in as normal,” Wilson said.

Wilson said another consequence of the flood is the high-definition feed is no longer in service for the time being. All programs will be in standard definition.

Wilson said it’s too early to put a date on when programming will return to normal. He said it will stay this way at least until next week.

The situation began when a water main broke at the station’s old location at 1107 W. Eighth St., Wilson said. He was there when a sprinkler pipe on the second floor burst around 9:40 p.m. Sunday.

“In about 30 minutes it filled up to about 5 inches,” Wilson said. “It was raining everywhere.”

Wilson shut down the broadcast immediately and worked on saving some critical equipment from the rushing water.

KATH-TV is now situated at 3161 Channel Drive, which is owned by the same landlords as the other building. He said it was lucky there was space available on the first floor of the new building when the emergency hit.

The flooding left the old building uninhabitable. Full repairs could take several months. Wilson said the immediate concern is to sort out the boxes of equipment to see what is salvageable and to get programming back to normal with local content.

He said everyone scrambled to get the programming routed from KTUU immediately after the flood. As the two stations work together anyway, everyone there was willing to facilitate the process in expedited time. Wilson said the switch was easy due to GCI’s statewide network, which allows the Anchorage station to route directly here.

Wilson said the Douglas Indian Association, which occupied the same West Eighth Street building, also evacuated. A representative could not be reached by press time Tuesday.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass
at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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