Radiogurl a la Carte

Friday, Aug. 12, 2005
Lightning Camera Action

You know the saying, "When it rains it pours?" Well that's only PART of the story. Because when it rains, it pours - and floods and lightnings and thunders and hails and wreaks general havoc.

In fact, I can attest to that because I dealt with all of the above today. I left work on time, feeling good because I'd gotten EVERYTHING done today and figured I wouldn't have to come back in all weekend, a first in a while.

HA!

HA, I say again!

I'd just left work for the day and drove to the bank - about five minutes from work on a normal day, but this was 1) a Friday and 2) by the time I got to within a block of the bank the sky opened up. We're talking rain, hail, and winds so hard that when I finished up at the bank I had to pull over and wait because I couldn't see to drive. Once things eased enough for me to at least risk pulling out onto the road, there was water absolutely everywhere, running across the roadway, closing some roads, streams and washes overflowing... Street lights weren't working even at the main intersection of two major highways.

I snapped a couple of photos of the deluge but didn't bring my camera in tonight and I'm not going to go to the car to get it until later, probably tomorrow sometime.

I had my car radio going as I drove and was halfway expecting us to go off the air because of a power outage (though we do have backups and if there's a short outage we won't go down.)

Because of something about the area where I live, I normally lose our signal when I pull into my carport at home (though I can get the station inside the house,) so I didn't think anything about it when I lost the station.

I was still in the car, in my parking place at home, when my cell phone rang. It was my afternoon guy telling me we'd sustained a direct lightning hit. The electricity from the hit arced all through the building, fried equipment right and left. We didn't know the full extent of things at that point, just that the two people who'd been in our studios at the time were pretty shaken up.

When I got back to the studios, maybe ten minutes later, we were starting to get the picture, and it wasn't pretty. Our main control room board was toasted. The afternoon guy did a flying run to retrieve a cheapo Radio Shack mixer board just to get us back on the air, which was fine - except that's when we discovered that our transmitter had also been damaged. We do have a backup transmitter but it hadn't yet been installed (which was good, all things considered.) Fortunately, the damage to the transmitter was fairly limited. It only took a small part - one I didn't recognize - to get it working. My boss (the station owner) is going to make a flying trip to retrieve a new main board from the Valley tomorrow, and my weekend off will be spent at least in part installing that.

We were actually lucky; we were back on the air, albeit not at our best, in about 45 minutes. Our sister station, in the same building as us, sustained a heck of a lot more damage. They lost their main board, their satellite system, their main computer, the mechanism that runs their commercials (I can't remember what it's called) and God only knows what else. They were barely on the air when I left - about 2-1/2 hours after the hit - and at that point they had no way of running commercials or automating for the overnight shift. What's more, this was merely the culmination of a whole WEEK of technical problems for them. It wasn't pretty.

The lightning struck the main tower in back, bypassing the 200-foot lightning rods designed to deflect the problem. It knocked out the light and shield atop the tower.

I'm going to do the vegetable thing tonight and watch a couple of hours of television - because I have a feeling it could be the last break I get all weekend.

Before - After

In the grander scheme of things, no soul can truly be replaced. Each one of us has a place in the universal tapestry. We each contribute our own color and texture. When one thread is snipped too soon, it distorts all the threads around it. Other lives can unravel and tear. If the wrong thread is ripped away, the whole fabric of life becomes dangerously fragile.
- LeiLani, aka Radiogurl aka Bright Opal (1957 - )