KRUA lost their radio signal for several hours the morning of May 26, when a wire connecting their studio and their studio-transmitter link was severed during renovation of a classroom in the Professional Studies Building.
“What happened is our audio has to travel to a piece of equipment called an STL…Our audio didn’t actually run from point A to point B. It ran around through different distribution amps that sent it somewhere else,” said Zac Clark, KRUA station manager. “Imagine a crazy, twisty highway of audio that runs through this whole building.”
The station’s chief engineer, Dave Taylor, discovered the source of the problem.
“There was some audio live wires which would go from the KRUA studio to where the other equipment was, we have an audio processor and a studio-to-transmitter link unit that was located in another part of Building K,” Taylor said. “The people who work in the audio-video section of the building had a section where Channel 7 used to be located and they were in the process of tearing all of that out. They did not realize that KRUA’s audio line went through that equipment, and in doing so it took the station off the air so that the audio feed was broken from between the studio and where the equipment was that feeds it to the transmitter.”
KRUA was airing a training session with a new disc jockey when the blackout occurred. During the blackout, KRUA maintained streaming the station’s music online.
“We were still streaming online when our FM signal was nothing but white noise,” said J.R. Zufelt, KRUA program director. “When I checked we had four listeners online, one of which was from New Jersey and he e-mailed us and said, ‘Thanks for still playing good music even though your local listeners are blacked out.’”
In order to resume local FM broadcasting, station employees moved a computer with a preprogrammed playlist into the equipment room where the STL is located, bypassing the circuit of cable and distribution amplifiers that had been severed.
“We’ve been coming in and updating (the playlist) putting new music in and then generating new playlists, updating PSA, updating promos,” Zufelt said. “We actually have new shows coming on so we added a new promo the other day for the new show.”
The situation forced the student-run station to cancel all live shows for more than a week.
“There’s not really any inputs for microphones or CD players, or anything to kind of ‘Jerry’-rig something. So we have not been able to do live shows at all,” Zufelt said.
The disruption of live shows left four students waiting to finish their on-air training. KRUA currently features 24 live programs hosted by 27 student DJs.
Once the repairs are complete, the STL will be collocated with the studio, eliminating the excess cable and the distribution amplifiers.
“(The audio) will be going from the board, from our console right into our audio processor, from the audio processor into the STL transmitter, which will then send the signal wirelessly to the transmitter site in Eagle River,” said Taylor, who has been corroborating with Facilities and Planning to resolve the situation.
As of June 5, KRUA planned to be ready to resume live shows early that week.
UAA Campus Life Director Annie Route thinks the station will ultimately benefit because of the accident.
“Because of conditions beyond our control, this room was remodeled, revamped and this cable was severed, leaving the station unable to do any live shows, but in fact prompting a change that needed to happen a long time ago.”