High 90 mph gusts collapse two West Virginia AM radio station towers

In Featured News by Wireless Estimator

Drone Photo Credit: WCHS-TV. Inset photo, Chris Lawrence WCHS

Drone Photo Credit: WCHS-TV. Inset photo, Chris Lawrence WCHS

High winds with gusts reaching 90 mph struck Charleston, West Virginia, on April 2, causing significant damage by bringing down two of the four broadcast towers utilized by WCHS (AM) and impacting its sister station WSWW (FM). These towers are part of the infrastructure supporting WCHS, the flagship station of the West Virginia MetroNews network, which serves as a crucial news source for southern and southwestern West Virginia. This disruption also temporarily halted the broadcasts of Charleston’s ESPN Radio affiliate, WSWW-AM.

WCHS, owned by West Virginia Radio Corp. of Charleston (WVRC) Media, operates on 580 kHz and is licensed to broadcast both day and night; it uses a nondirectional signal during the day and switches to a directional signal utilizing multiple towers at night. The station is also a Primary Entry Point for the state’s Emergency Alert System, amplifying its role in providing critical information during emergencies.

The tower collapses not only halted AM broadcasting but also affected two FM translators that relay WCHS’s signal on 96.5 and 104.5 FM, both of which were off-air following the storm. The immediate response included efforts to resume broadcasting, which successfully began the next day, although the full repair of the damaged infrastructure is still ongoing. The future of the fallen towers remains uncertain.

In addition to the broadcasting disruptions, approximately 140,000 West Virginia residents faced power outages because of the storm, which also triggered sixteen tornadoes across various states, highlighting the extensive reach and destructive power of the spring storm system.