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Smoking FM Antenna in Atlanta Caught on Video

Lower bay of an ERI antenna caught fire before engineers shut the transmitter down

Smoke pouring from a rooftop FM broadcast antenna in Atlanta was a brief but scary sight on Monday afternoon.

Cumulus station WNNX(FM) — which goes by “99X” but is heard at 100.5 MHz — posted a video on its Facebook page that day saying that its transmitter was on fire:

The smoke however was not coming from a transmitter, as most Radio World readers would realize from the video, but from the lowest bay of the station’s four-bay antenna, which is mounted atop the Westin Hotel in the Buckhead district of Atlanta. FCC records indicate that the station uses a directional ERI MP-4AC-DA-HW-SP antenna sitting about 820 feet above ground level to achieve its 13.5 kW ERP.

According to a Cumulus spokeswoman, it started at 1:30 p.m. on Monday and was extinguished 10 minutes later when the chief engineer powered the transmitter down.

The spokeswoman confirmed that the incident was not a stunt.

“The fire was caused by moisture entering the conduit carrying power to the antenna, which caused an arc that reached the fourth and lowest bay of the four-bay main antenna,” she wrote in an email.

The signal reach of the station has not been materially compromised, she said, without providing details. This is presumably thanks to the use of a backup air chain.

Bryan Waters is Cumulus Atlanta’s director of engineering.