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Stagnitto: A View From New York

'We assume that the transmitter for WNJO(FM) ... is somewhere in the bay.'

Jim Stagnitto, director of engineering for WNYC, sat in the middle of Sandy’s assault on New York City. As one can imagine he’s been a very busy man for the past few days.

New York Public Radio comprises WNYC(AM/FM), WQXR(FM), the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space and New Jersey Public Radio as well; the organization describes its holdings as “America’s most listened-to AM/FM news and talk public radio stations, reaching 1.1 million listeners every week.”

“Stag” took a few moments late Thursday out of his busy schedule to apprise Radio World of the situation.

How were New York Public Radio stations affected by Sandy?
N.Y. Public Radio and N.J. Public Radio operations at our Varick Street location [in lower Manhattan] have been on generator power since Monday night. So far, we have been able to get fuel to keep operations up and running. We had engineers on standby duty as well at the NPR N.Y. bureau, which also has emergency power, should the generator at Varick Street fail.

In the past, the ATUs at the Kearny site [the WNYC AM site in New Jersey] took the brunt of any flood. This time, for the first time in memory, the water came into the transmitter building itself, approximately 18 inches. The access road to the site is still technically closed, though the site can be accessed only at low tide. [The photo shows damage to the walkway serving Tower No. 1. Friday, the station was working to get back on air with a 1 kW non-directional emergency signal.]

As for the New York FMs, Empire State Building worked fine, as did our 4 Times Square backup site. The biggest problem is the failure of multiple T-1 and telco services, which are still out as of today [late Thursday].

What about N.J. Public Radio?
The NJPR sites were hard hit, connectivity-wise. Both RF-based and wired STLs were lost. One RF link is now back, but two sites were on the air by virtue of alternate means — one an Internet connection to the NJPR webstream. Another is currently on via a POTS codec. We assume that the transmitter for WNJO(FM), which is located in Seaside Park, N.J., is somewhere in the bay. We have not been able to reach it since the height of the storm and cannot gain access to the barrier island the town is on.

How’s the staff?

As far as our staff, there is, of course, a skeleton staff for news, engineering and facilities actually on site, with a lot of people directing operations remotely. They are a dedicated, talented, versatile group of people who have been camping out in the darkness of downtown New York, and turning out some incredibly good radio coverage.

UPDATED: Jim informs us: “WNYC(AM) went back on the air with 1 kW at 5:58 p.m. [Friday] with a nondirectional temp rig. Now, comes the rebuilding.”

Tell Radio World about your station’s Sandy efforts or problems. Email
[email protected].