When Lightning Hit, McCoy Stepped Up
Broadcast Group does a great job of highlighting engineers when it
salutes outstanding employees each year. More radio groups should
single out technical staff members in this way.
knee-deep in wiring pulling out old cable. Standing is Dave Cooke, IT
manager in Fayetteville.
recently the company, which has 44 stations in 11 markets, made
special note of the work of Charlie McCoy.
oversees the technical infrastructure of Beasley’s Augusta, Ga.,
cluster, including radio station studios for seven FMs and three AMs,
transmitter sites and IT. In the press release, Vice President
and Chief Technology Officer Mike Cooney was quoted saying McCoy had
really stepped up in a recent lightning strike incident.
was interested in hearing more so I asked Cooney for details.
months ago, the building or STL tower in Augusta, Ga., sustained a
lightning strike that knocked all 10 collocated stations off the
air,” Cooney told me by email.
25 percent of the cluster’s router was damaged, as were several
pieces of studio electronics. That router model is no longer
manufactured, and the staff would have needed to send the circuit
cards and consoles in for repair or replace them with a new product.
The stations had already intended to replace the older router with an
IP system, so they ordered two new consoles from Wheatstone and
reconfigured the old one to get back on the air temporarily.
a day, Charlie McCoy had made the necessary changes to the old router
to get all 10 stations back on-air and operating normally. Within
about 10 days, he had replaced much of the other damaged studio
two new consoles and router showed up at the stations in due course. But Charlie’s work wasn’t done.
the new consoles and router were still in the hallway, waiting for
installation, the building took yet another lightning strike. This
one was more severe. The first strike caused about $60,000 in damage
and the second strike caused at least $150,000 in additional damage,”
second bolt destroyed the entire old router, every existing console,
eight studio phone systems, two STLs, three Sage EAS units, every
satellite receiver, the building phone and security systems and
dozens of other studio electronics. It also blew a hole in the roof
of the hotel next door and took out much of their electronics.
Lightning is bad
Cooney said, the majority of the BE AudioVault systems were still
operating, as were most of the STLs.
started with the highest-billing station and worked his way through
the cluster to start putting the stations back on the air. “Charlie
had eight of the stations back on the air within a day,” Cooney
staff immediately ordered more new consoles and routers.
real work started when the consoles showed up and the team started to
remove the dead router and all the cabling. Wheatstone shipped
products quickly and sent engineers to help with the installation.
Cooke, engineer for Beasley’s Fayetteville, N.C., cluster, traveled
to Augusta and gave Charlie vital onsite support. I flew into the
market to help manage the project, concentrating primarily on making
sure this never happened again,” Cooney said.
a week of the second strike, we made major changes to the grounding
of the tower, satellite dishes, electrical system and all the
work during this “engineer’s nightmare,” Cooney concluded, is
why Charlie McCoy was an obvious choice to receive recognition from
Beasley at the company’s annual meeting.
can’t say enough about what an amazing job Charlie did to get the
stations back on the air during both lightning strikes.”
I can’t say enough about companies that take the time to appreciate
the efforts of their engineers and technical staff during trying