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Friday Feedback for July 21, 2023

This is WHQR's "Friday Feedback," featuring listener questions and comments — and updates about your public media station.

Here's WHQR Station Manager Kevin Crane:

Kevin Crane: We have had an interesting couple of weeks here at WHQR, to say the least. We got a number of calls from listeners on Friday, June 23 wondering why they could not receive either our news or classical stations.

The reason was that a broken water main below our building on Front Street flooded our basement overnight, cutting the power. Understandably cautious, the responding fire department turned off the natural gas feed as well, which prevented our backup generator from running, so when Ken Campbell arrived at the station that morning, he found it dark and off the air. It took us until early afternoon to make sure all was safe to turn the gas back on and run our generator to get back on the air. What we didn’t realize at the time was that we would rely on that backup generator to keep us on the air for the next three weeks.

I learned that our 20-year-old station generator is basically a car engine that turns a large alternator that generates the electricity, just like in your car but on a larger scale. If you have ever owned a 20-year-old car, imagine turning it on and running it 24/7 for three solid weeks. You’d expect it to have a few problems along the way, as we did, which took us off the air again periodically while we performed maintenance and repairs. Because this was powering our studios, when we’re not on generator power, streaming was interrupted as well.

Unfortunately, our studio generator does not power our air conditioning, so when our staff was in the building and on the air, they were working in temperatures in the upper 80’s into the 90’s. That faint buzzing you might have noticed was not your radio, it was probably a fan blowing in the background. I’d like to take this moment to publicly thank all our staff for their dedication to keeping us on the air in difficult conditions.

To add to the excitement around here, on July 5th our transmitter unexpectedly dropped to low power. Our engineer was able to bring it back up to about 60% power where it remains. We learned this week that this was a result of a lightning strike at our tower that appears to have damaged our broadcast antenna. This power drop resulted in a number of calls from listeners on the outer edge of our broadcast area who normally can receive our signals suddenly unable to get us. Another anomaly some called about was car radios repeating short segments of our broadcast. Our tech staff determined that this happened in cars with HD radios. When the digital HD signal gets weak, the radio switches to the analog broadcast, and when it picks up the digital feed again, which is slightly delayed, it switches back. Of course, this constant switching some experienced is very annoying. We apologize to those who have experienced this. By the way, if you’re a fan of pictures of lightning strikes, we posted pics of ours on the WHQR Facebook page on Tuesday.

And in the midst of all this, our spirits were lifted by our listeners’ support during our critical Summer Stealth Drive. Thanks to all of you who allowed us to reach our goal, we couldn't do it without you.

Thanks to everyone for your comments. We always love to hear from our listeners. We're on Facebook and Twitter, or write an email for Friday Feedback to feedback@whqr.org. We look forward to hearing from you.