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Guam Media Meets with Governor’s Office

Lack of fuel, generators is keeping several stations off the air

Guamanian broadcasters met with Office of Civil Defense Administrator Charles Esteves and Krystal Paco-San Agustin, communications director for Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, on May 26 to determine how to restore communications across the island in the wake of Typhoon Mawar.

According to a report in The Pacific Daily News, radio and television stations were largely knocked off the air by the storm and the territorial government is working to help stations get back on air quickly.

[Related: “Typhoon Mawar Takes Stations Off the Air”]

Power was the primary issue according to stations during the meeting. The media representatives asked the governor’s office to help stations secure diesel fuel and working generators to keep stations broadcasting until power is restored.

Speaking on KUAM-TV earlier in the day, Paco-San Agustin  highlighted efforts to restore power across the island with a focus on critical infrastructure — hospitals, wells, wastewater facilities and telecommunications. “We’re going to get our radio stations back online … yesterday, we were in the dark a bit, you know, with no radio communications so people of Guam are very anxious for information.”

The report noted that K-Stereo (KSTO), the primary radio station designated to relay 24/7 information from the government during emergencies, remains off the air because it lacks power and its generator isn’t working.

On Sunday morning local time May 28, The Point, KUSG(FM), posted to its Facebook page that all Choice Broadcasting stations, which also includes Boss 104.3 (KIJI-FM) and Star 101 (KNUT(FM)), on the island “are offline due to generator fuel issues.”

Guam Power Authority is working to restore power on the island, but it is asking for patience. As of 1 p.m. Chamorro Standard Time (UTC+10) on May 26, only about 3.8% of customers had power; 41.4% of substations had been re-energized; and 15.9% of feeder circuits had been restored.

Telecom links were another concern for the stations, and according to the report, Esteves also met with telecom companies regarding their network restoration efforts. According to The Guam Daily Post, the island’s three main carriers are having trouble accessing cell tower sites and also need generators and fuel.

Super Typhoon Mawar has continued to strengthen after passing the Mariana Islands with maximum sustained winds reaching 185 mph on Friday afternoon local time. The storm, which will be renamed Typhoon Betty as it approaches the Philippines, could bring winds and rain to the Philippine capital, Manila, and the rest of the island of Luzon on Sunday or Monday.

Updated on May 28 to include Choice Broadcasting statement.

Update: May 31, 2023

A week after Typhoon Mawar grazed the U.S. Pacific territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, most of Guam’s radio stations remain off the air. The FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System reports on the typhoon notes that two TV stations — KUAM-TV and KTGM — and three radio stations — KUAM-FM, KZGU, and KZGZ — remain off the air as of May 30. KUAM-FM and -TV are owned by Pacific Telestations LLC; KZGU and KXGZ are Sorensen Media Group stations.

Although not included in the DIRS report, other stations across Guam remain off the air according to posts to their websites and social media. Choice Broadcasting’s KNUT and Harvest Family Radio’s KHMG both encouraged listeners via Facebook to tune to their webcasts, which were restored on May 31.

Although some stations have reported damage to their facilities, a lack of power is reportedly the primary reason stations are off the air. Guam Power Authority on the evening of May 31 local time noted that 28% of customers have had power restored; 95.8% of substations have been restored; and 61.9% of feeders/circuits have been restored.

The storm, known as Typhoon Betty in the Philippines, is moving slowly through the Philippine Sea, brining rain, winds, and heavy surf, but not much damage to the island of Luzon in the Philippines and eastern Taiwan. The storm expected to turn towards Japan’s Ryūkyū Islands, including Okinawa, over the weekend.

Update June 2, 2023:

Joy FM, KSDA-FM, returned to air on May 25 with reduced power after four days off the air. The station posted to Facebook on May 31 that Typhoon Mawar dropped the station’s tower and blew out doors and windows on the transmitter building. However, despite water intruding into the building, the station’s transmitter was still on the air. The transmitter was shut down at that point until more fuel for the generator could arrive. The station posted on June 1 a video of the Nautel GV5 transmitter successfully rebooting.

Hit Radio 100, KOKU, and Harvest Family Radio, KHMG, also both posted to Facebook that they were back on the air as of June 2 local time, albeit with limited broadcast hours in an effort to conserve generator fuel.