2013 wasn’t the smoothest year for WPFW-FM—-a fraught relocation, the effective firing of its general manager, the aftershocks of last year’s attempted programming shakeup—-so it clearly couldn’t end without at least one more micro-crisis. Christmas week delivered: Last Monday, the “jazz and justice” station lost its terrestrial signal, a problem it was unable to fix until earlier this afternoon. For the last week, listeners could only tune in via the station’s online stream.
“We should never have been off of the air this long,” Interim General Manager Michelle Price wrote in a message to members of the station’s community today. According to Price, the Farragut-based station was cut off from its transmitter at American University because of damage to an underground “trunk” line—-a problem that Verizon employees did not diagnose when they attempted to fix the problem on Dec. 24, the day after the station went off air, but finally figured out today. (If you’re interested in the technical details, that’s all here.) Price didn’t respond to requests for comment.
This is at least the second time WPFW’s broadcast has experienced problems since the station relocated to a temporary studio after leaving its longtime home in Adams Morgan earlier this year. (Washington City Paper used to be based in the same building). A weakened signal plagued the station for much of the summer, while the past week’s disruption seemed to briefly reignite the listener discontent that has flared occasionally in recent years. So what’s coming in 2014? The station still needs to find a permanent home, is unveiling a modified programming grid early next year, and earlier this month announced plans to air more local news breaks throughout the day.
As long as those Saturday-morning soul programs are untouched, sounds good to me.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery