Well the major rain storms that affected the Chicagoland area caused flooding everywhere. Apparently this has beeen the wettest May on record in the city. This is the first time this has reportedly ever happened at the Tower. The city also had to reverse the flow of the Chicago River, which is a rare step that doesnt happen very often. Sending rain water into Lake Michigan.
The Sears (Willis)Tower has just completed rebuilding the lower levels of the former worlds tallest building, into a big shopping venue. WBBM was not the only tv station that was affected. The building also houses the HQ for United Airlines which affected their operations. 2 other major tv stations were affected as well. PBS affiliate WTTW and all its digital substations were knocked off air. As well as all the stations for WCIU and its suite of channels went dark. This also affected several radio stations including WFMT, WTTW's companion classical music station. WLS Radio was knocked off but they were able to switch to their transmitter at the John Hancock Centre.
Power was partially restored on the afternoon Friday May 22 allowing the AM/FM and WBBM TV to return to air (as it’s air cooled) that afternoon and the following Saturday at 11AM the remaining water cooled stations (most of the full powered and low powered) returned to air at their regular transmission points. WGN (Ind) and WLS (ABC) had existing auxiliary transmission facilities on the John Hancock Tower that automatically turned on, and because of the spectrum repack WFLD (Fox) and WMAQ (NBC) used the Hancock Tower for interim facilities they were able to get back on the air quickly as well (don’t know if for Fox and NBC it would be automatic or if it would require someone to turn it on).
If you ask to join this group on Facebook
you’ll read a pretty interesting account of what it took to take CW station WCIU back on air at low power and a tour of the transmission area. Once you’re approved for membership you’ll want to read first this post by a WCIU engineer
and these two videos by the same engineer
. In the videos you can see the WLS and WCIU and the WMAQ transmitter rooms. Apparently water was dripping into the WLS Suite.
Don’t let anyone treat you like you’re a VO/SOT when you’re a PKG.