Forty-eight hours plus off the air tells you who your friends are.
Early Thursday morning, lightning struck the main Tucson Mountain transmitter of KOLD News 13, frying our signal output. Those of you who watch us on Cox and Comcast cable likely never knew what happened. But if you rely on DirecTV, Dish or rabbit ears, you found dead air where Channel 13 should be. And you let us know about it in droves.
Hundreds of calls poured into our station from people who wanted to know 1) if we knew we were off the air (we did) and 2) when would we be back on. A large contigent of you wanted to know if we would regain our signal before or after "Big Brother." The best we could tell you is, "We're working on it."
And that's the truth. If it were only as easy as running down to Pep Boys and picking up a few replacement parts. But transmitters are highly specialized pieces of equipment, and when a part goes bad, the replacement is flying in from somewhere across the country. The problem worsens as the transmitter ages, technology progresses, and spare parts get harder to find. Saturday, more than two days after the blackening bolt, a team of engineers resurrected the old Harris on the mountain.
But that wasn't before we heard scores of your comments. Many were civil and understanding. Some of you weren't. A few folks cursed out people who had nothing to do with the problem. One guy said he'd never watch us again, the most laughable threat I've ever heard. Has anyone ever made good on that threat?
We also heard comments along these lines:
"We love Channel 13!"
"Your're our favorite station!"
"We really like your news."
"We like Chuck George!" Chuck, by the way, went to grab some dinner one night during the outage and immediately found himself pelted by questions about what was going on with our signal.
So those of you without cable, we're back on. We're sorry we were gone. If the dead air frustrated you, just imagine the frustration for all of us here at the station who work round the clock and yet are enslaved to the ways of nature. That lightning bolt hit us right in the heart, in more ways in one. As much as you love watching our shows, we love bringing them to you. If the word of the 10pm newscast producer means anything, know that we are working on ways to prevent a repeat of what happened. I can't elaborate because our plan of action will be determined by others.
Thank you for your patience and support, wherever you're tuning in.