Calm during a storm is not always a good thing
Back-up generators are no guarantee your radio station will stay on the air.
Oahu's primary government-designated emergency radio station, KSSK-AM 590, stayed on the air through whipping winds and rampaging rains, but sister station KSSK-FM 92.3, on which Hawaii's No. 1 morning radio show is simulcast, did not.
At Palehua Ridge, the KSSK-FM generator encountered "different problems ... which we're addressing," said Chuck Cotton, vice president and general manager. He oversees the seven Oahu stations owned by Texas-based Clear Channel Communications Inc., of which KUCD-FM 101.9 is the third with back-up power, "but we're in the process of changing that," he said.
Engineer Jerry Varoujean trekked up the hill early Wednesday to get the FM back on. Adding insult to the miserable task-in-a-storm, he got a flat tire, Cotton said.
Yesterday, a different cause producing the same result -- dead air -- sent Chief Engineer Dale Machado to Palehua.
"The ultimate resolution requires that we make some changes to the equipment up there," said Cotton.
KRTR-FM 96.3, which is Oahu's secondary emergency station, had "some hiccups" but mostly stayed on the air, said Mike Kelly, vice president and general manager. It is one of six stations belonging to Georgia-based Cox Radio Inc.
KRTR and sister station KPHW-FM 104.3 transmit from Wiliwilinui Ridge, where the generator was started remotely after a 4-to-5 a.m. outage Wednesday.
A TV station and five radio stations with different owners share a 50-kilowatt generator at the Palehua site, but KSSK-FM is not among them. The generator "can run for a week. Hopefully it doesn't have to, but it's running now," Kelly said.
Generators are also keeping Cox's AM stations on the air from Kunia, where about a dozen utility poles fell.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org