We always hear the phrase “Minnesota Nice” but not everyone understands why we carry that title. I personally believe it has to do with our cold, windy and snowy winters. Often times in Minnesota you will see someone out jump starting a stalled car, shoveling someone else’s driveway, pulling a vehicle out of the ditch and donating coats, gloves and boots to young children in need. The good deed does not stop there, in many cases Minnesotans go above and beyond to help others in a time of need.
December 2015 in rural western Minnesota, there was a small team of people that helped get a local radio station get back on the air after a terrible situation.
Keith Wright (Operations Manager and my assistant)
nor I could bring it back up. Past experience had shown
us that, when that happened, it usually took a little tuning and
loading adjustment to get the transmitter up and running
again. Keith said he would make the 40-mile drive. But when
he got there he called and said, “we’ve got a lot bigger
problem than ice!”
He had driven as close as he could. There was a fair
amount of fresh snow on the ground and strong winds, but
more disturbing was the tangle of guy wire cables across the
path normally taken to our building! Then he noticed what
looked somewhat like a tower section – he sent me a picture.
It was painfully obvious that this transmitter was not going on
tonight … we had tower on the ground!
One extremely remote possibility I kept coming back to
was that our 6-bay backup antenna might still be up in the sky.
With that in mind, I called Luke Richter of MVTV (Minnesota
Valley TV), a TV cooperative that had, in the last few
years, been installing systems and providing wireless broadband
Internet to rural areas in southern and western Minnesota.
I knew Luke because they have systems on some of our
other towers. I told Luke that at least part of our tower was on
the ground, but I had no way of knowing how much was down
or how much was left standing. In the unlikely event our
backup antenna was still standing we would be needing
Internet service – would that be possible and how quickly
could he make it happen?
But as we got closer I was able to see the top of what was left
of the tower. That “extremely remote possibility” had become
a reality! The 6-bay was all there, intact. The tower had broken
off a mere ten feet above it.
The sight that met us at the top of the hill was indescribable.
Guy wires were tangled and scattered all around, as
were twisted and mangled chunks of tower. One section
appeared to be about 200 feet folded in half. That piece
missed the transmitter building by roughly 20 feet! There
were five or six other tower “chunks” on the ground. The
most impressive looked like a single 20-foot section that
must have slid down the guy wire all the way to the ground.
On its way down, cross-members were completely separated
from one leg! What we saw was that separated leg
leaning against the guy wire while the other two legs were
Next, we made a quick trip to Marshall to do a little
audio re-routing, then back to the tower site. When we
arrived, Luke was just finishing up with the broadband
installation. What happened next was “smoother than a
fresh jar of Skippy!” We turned the transmitter filaments on,
mounted the codec in the rack, connected power and network,
and within seconds we could see audio on the codec
meter display. A simple move of the XLR cables and we
were ready to light it up. Plates ON – little tuning and
loading – and we were ON THE AIR!
Except for part of the tower coming down, so many things
went right! First and foremost, the 6-bay was still standing.
Add to that, the building, the transmitter, and the line to the
antenna were not severely damaged. Luke was able to get
Internet service to the site right away and we had a codec we
could relocate. If any one of those factors had been different
it might have been days off the air. Instead, we were back on
in roughly 22 hours!
Article written by: Scott Schmeling, Chief Engineer for Minnesota
Valley Broadcasting. Click here for the full article.
That is an amazing article showing what can happen when we work together and help each other out. This radio station could have lost a lot of listeners and money if Luke and his team and Scott and his team refused to work together. Instead they worked hard through the Minnesota cold, snowing and blowing to get the radio station back on the air. That is a great story on why we are “Minnesota Nice”!
‘Connecting Rural Minnesota’